Denver Bicycle Cafe

The Denver Bicycle Cafe sells and repairs bikes, but this shop is special because it serves up so much more: coffee, local brews and baked goods here and there, to be specific. Yes, there are beards everywhere, but you'll love the speed at which these bike repairmen work. No matter how busy it gets, you're always treated kindly and taken care of quickly. The bike shop is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 to 5 on Sundays. The cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day and transforms into a beer hall from 3 p.m. to midnight, catering to damn near every kind of human, making it a popular hangout in the Uptown neighborhood. Bike, beer and coffee snobs come together as one, and if that isn't Denver, we don't know what is.

Tight switchbacks, long, slow, steady climbing, challenging steps and water bars, technical rocky sections through the trees — all hallmarks of a great gonzo mountain-bike ride. Bergen Peak is a 9.4-mile (round-trip) Jeffco open-space gem with a little bit of everything. It makes riders work hard for the rewards, which include killer views of the surrounding mountains from the flat stretch at the top, and a very, very fast descent. In addition to the Bergen Peak Trail itself, there are about a half-dozen other trails that can be linked up for more mileage and fast fun. But keep your head up: Elk and deer are everywhere here.

Elk Park Trailhead on Stagecoach Parkway, Evergreen

Readers' Choice: Buffalo Creek Recreation Area

Not only does Esters Neighborhood Pub serves some of the best pizza in town, but it's also designed to maximize the enjoyment of sports, with TVs visible from every vantage point and a hip neighborhood feel. Need a break from the cheering? Head out to the inviting deck for some fresh air and the quiet of the surrounding Virginia Village neighborhood. And if you have a big group and want some private time, the back room, called Sully's, has eight TVs and communal tables — perfect for a party. Brunch is the bomb, with a killer plate of chicken and waffles, and beer is the preferred beverage here, with 22 craft versions on tap.

1950 South Holly Street

303-955-4904

estersdenver.com

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Watching the game puts us in a competitive mood, so when there's a break in the action, we like to be at Gibby's, which not only has pool tables, air hockey, shuffleboard and video games, but also a nice selection of board games. Out in that big back yard, there's volleyball, soccer, cornhole and beer pong. It all feels like a get-together with friends from the neighborhood. No matter where you are inside, you can see a TV, and the pub-grub menu — including a top-notch Cubano and shards of deep-fried onion and jalapeño called "toothpicks" — go well with the twelve beers on tap.

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Spot Bar & Grill
Eric Gruneisen

When we're watching the big game, we don't need fancy grub and a wine list that looks like a copy of War and Peace. All we want is a nice, juicy burger and homemade onion rings, maybe some spicy, crispy wings or nachos with the works and, of course, good, cheap beer. Spot Bar & Grill has all of that and more, including TVs mounted everywhere and a welcoming neighborhood vibe — and $2 Coors Banquet bottles and generous $5 Jameson shots all day, every day. Also, about those wings: Spot offers several sauce options, but the smoked wings slathered in a sweet, earthy barbecue sauce are amazing.

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Project Rise Fitness
Project Rise Denver

If you like results, high-fives and post-exercise beers, head to Project Rise Fitness for a high-intensity workout suitable for seasoned athletes and newbies alike. Owner Caleb Sommer delivers a brutal but fun cardio program drawing on aerobics, gymnastics and strength training. Sweat sessions are coupled with nutrition coaching, too, for a comprehensive approach promoting long-term health. Forget about fitness plateaus: Like snowflakes and Lady Gaga's hairstyles, no two Rise workouts are exactly the same. Variety is good, but it's the unique community of fitness enthusiasts that'll keep you coming back for more. Between wine-workout parties, weekend partner drills and Friday night sweat sessions with catered food and beverages, Rise is more than a gym — it's a close-knit clan of welcoming wellness junkies.

Way out west in the Four Corners region of Colorado lies the town of Mancos, a cultural gem on the edge of Mesa Verde National Park that's not only a gateway to several of the nation's most treasured archaeological hot spots, but also a real, working cowtown situated in the valley made famous by the Westerns of Louis L'Amour. To counter that, it's also a town of artisans and summer balloon fests and art fairs. And Mancos is a stop on two of Colorado's designated scenic byways: For a true Rocky Mountain adventure, make your way to Mancos via the breathtaking San Juan Skyway, rolling past mining towns and hot springs and over the cliff-hanging Million Dollar Highway, or opt for the Trail of the Ancients, a Four Corners loop with stops at Mesa Verde, Lowry Pueblo, the Anasazi Heritage Center and Hovenweep.

mesaverdecountry.com

The Colorado grasslands aren't for everyone. Their lush periods are slight while the dry spells are brutal, but if you fine-tune your eye (which has probably been spoiled by all those mountain vistas) to the more subtle charms of the plains landscape, visiting them is well worth the drive. Find out what the fuss was all about when the U.S. Army tried — and eventually failed — to expand its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site by encroaching on the grassland ten years ago: There are dino tracks preserved in the canyon along the Purgatoire River (anglicized to "Picketwire" by its American denizens), the ruins of the Dolores Mission to explore, and petroglyphs and tipi circles in Picture Canyon. Wildlife runs the gamut from prairie chickens and pronghorns to collared lizards and roadrunners, and you can even follow the Santa Fe Trail, imagining yourself crossing the plains in a covered wagon.

visitlajunta.net/comanche

Rich in mining lore, Texas-sized belt buckles and beautiful scenery, the Silver Thread Byway follows the Rio Grande River out of South Fork, passing by the Collier State Wildlife Area on ancient Ute Indian lands on the way to historic Creede, a mining town reinvented with art galleries, eateries and a famed summer repertory theater on Main Street. In spite of its charming new directions, you can still revisit Creede's mining past firsthand at the Underground Mining Museum or on side trips into the hills above town before heading over steep Spring Creek Pass and past Lake San Cristobal to picturesque Lake City, a Victorian aerie perched high in the San Juans. From there, it's on through high-walled canyons to Gunnison — and back again.

colorado.com

You can add to or take away from this extensive loop by stitching together a variety of scenic byways and national heritage areas, but whichever route you commit to, you're going to gain a new appreciation for northern Colorado — and especially for its rugged scenery, from the Poudre Canyon to the headwaters of the Colorado River. Highlights range from the de rigueur Trail Ridge Road and Rocky Mountain National Park to the pristine and nature-heavy beauty of North Park and Walden, the Rawah Wilderness and the Medicine Bow and Never Summer Mountains.

northcoloradolooptour.com

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