Best Intellectual Exercise 2016 | University of Denver Enrichment Program | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Most "lifelong learning" programs seem cobbled together, a way of occupying professors' free time while providing a little extra "enrichment" to their institution. But the University of Denver's popular and varied offerings range from art- and music-appreciation courses to writing workshops and cooking classes, culture-soaked trips abroad, lectures on current events and more. The instructors include some faculty but also quite a few professionals in various fields, immersed in the topics they're presenting. Think of these sessions as booster shots for the mind and spirit, without the tedium and hefty tuition bills of full-time higher education.

The cops just shut down your DIY gallery opening because you were charging for beer. A website just lifted your image without permission. What's an artist to do? Contact Colorado Attorneys for the Arts, a new program offered by the thirty-year-old Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, which recognized that the demise of Colorado Lawyers for the Arts left a major hole in services available for local artists. Through CAFTA, the CBCA will connect qualifying artists and creative organizations with volunteer attorneys who'll help them through the legal thicket so that they can concentrate on what they do best: make art.


Tap into your creative side with a craft class at Craftsman and Apprentice. Whether you're interested in baking, wood carving, knot tying or hand lettering, this creative factory has you covered. Craftsman and Apprentice opened in late 2014, and its classes — offered for kids and adults in a very hands-on teaching style — quickly started selling out. It's a great place to acquire a new skill or just have fun with friends. Either way, it's never too late to learn.

Best Block for Shopping and a History Lesson

Larimer Square

Reborn at a time when Denver had demolition on the brain, the 1400 block of Larimer Street was dubbed Larimer Square fifty years ago and soon after named the city's first historic district. The turn-of-the-last-century buildings that were saved along this one-block strip of downtown have continued to survive all of Denver's booms and busts, and today Larimer Square is a must-visit destination for tourists and Denver residents alike. With international stores such as John Fluevog, as well as hometown retailers like Cry Baby Ranch, Larimer Square offers an eclectic mix for the discriminating shopper. The food options are equally diverse, with The Market serving up coffee and pastries at an old-school sidewalk cafe while chef-driven restaurants like Rioja and Bistro Vendôme offer an elevated dining experience. In Denver, nothing compares to Larimer Square — where the Old West meets the modern world.

What better way to improve your capabilities as a nature photographer than to spend a little time outdoors with John Fielder, the state's renowned chronicler of epic landscapes, hidden meadows and delicate wildflowers? Fielder's workshops last from one to three days and involve classroom sessions and field shoots in places such as Telluride (nice for fall foliage) and the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, with the aim of bringing the skills of "practiced beginners" or intermediate shutterbugs into sharper focus.

Opened last year on the West Colfax strip in Lakewood by the mother-daughter team of Rose Whitlock and Alisha Mullins, Lost Love is a salute to mid-century kitsch and simpler times, when most kids wanted to be cowboys and cowgirls, and circle skirts and Bakelite jewelry were in vogue. You'll also find retro fashions here, from open-toed shoes and '60s shifts to rockabilly duds and Mexican resort wear, as well as wacky lamps and collectible figurines. Your favorite anachronisms are alive and well at Lost Love.

9797 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood

Best Shopping for Antiques and Locally Made Goods

Antique Row

One of Denver's most vibrant shopping districts, Antique Row — from 1200 to 1800 South Broadway — is renowned for its collections of antiques stores; staples such as Black Tulip and Corky's have been bringing collectors and estate-sale diggers to the area for decades. But there's more than just vintage housewares and hard-to-find furniture along the seven-block stretch: Shoppers can also scout out the perfect painting at Brushstrokes Studio-Gallery, revel in handmade costumes and masks at Artsmyths and peruse the costume jewelry at Somewhere in Time; afterward, they can stop in at Black Crown Lounge for refreshment and hear live jazz at La Cour. Wander the blocks to find a world of surprises: On Antique Row, dozens of local merchants, businesses and restaurants are just waiting to be discovered.
Kristin Pazulski

There's a lot going on inside the quaint two-story carriage house that's home to Weathervane Cafe. The initial draw of this coffee shop is a menu of great coffee, vast tea options and a rotating selection of small plates and local sweets coming out of the petite kitchen. But Weathervane's self-described "retail pantry" is reason to stay for a little more to drink — and a lot of shopping. The uncluttered shelves of this pantry hold many delightful things: locally made jewelry, jams, pickles, honeys, tonics, housewares and even apparel. From healing bee pollens to decorative houseplants and distinctive pottery, this hip general store is a best-kept-secret one-stop shop for gifts, especially during the stressful holiday season.

By Lonnie Hanzon, courtesy of the Wizard's Chest

After more than three decades in Cherry Creek North, the Wizard's Chest decided to leave its quaint castle for a bigger, better kingdom on 4th and Broadway. Going from 8,500 to 18,000 square feet, Denver's beloved home base for Magic: The Gathering aficionados, puzzle masters and costume seekers creates a magical new world from the ground up. The store brought in artist and designer Lonnie Hanzon to craft the perfect facade for the new fortress of fun. Hanzon — who's been involved with the Wizard's Chest since its early-'80s beginnings — is the magician behind the store's iconic and bold castle aesthetic, and the new spot is just as whimsical and inviting as the original. Plus — abracadabra! — there's parking.


Ever since Fifty Two 80's opened its doors two years ago, filled to the brim with every bit of pop culture that defined that tubular decade, the store's Denver Broncos memorabilia section has been front and center, no matter how the team has performed on any given Sunday. And while those classic pieces were a big draw during this winning Super Bowl season, there's still plenty left. So if you want to show off your team-rooting roots with a T-shirt or tumbler bearing that classic D logo with the sneering horse (a true throwback to the Elway era), then make your way to this South Broadway site to stock up for next year. After all, it's never too early — or too late — to be a fan.

1874 S. Broadway

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