Best Free Tour to Spirits 2018 | Colorado Spirits Trail | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Colorado has plenty of liquid assets. Not only does it rank near the top of the country for craft breweries per capita, but this state's craft distilleries are booming, too. Want proof? Follow the Colorado Spirits Trail. Working with the Colorado Tourism Office, the Colorado Distillers Guild created the Colorado Spirits Trail, a map that tracks 45 (and counting) of this state's independent distilleries by region, offering background on each and helping you plan an itinerary that will let you drink up as much of the business as you can handle.

Take a self-guided tour of Lower Downtown, the area where Denver got its start. Download the Explore LoDo app, created for the LoDo District in partnership with Historic Denver and the Denver Public Library, and then start walking. The tour will take you to more than 25 historic locations, and at each stop, you can read the story of the site while comparing historic photos to the current reality. Denver is changing fast, and the rich past of this area makes its present status as a city hot spot all the more meaningful.

For both lovers of old-time acoustic music and lovers of the outdoors in general (which covers just about everyone), RockyGrass is an absolute gem of a festival. The four-day get-together takes place on the beautiful twenty-acre Planet Bluegrass, home base of the Telluride Bluegrass and Rocky Mountain Folks festivals, and the magnificent wooden stage here has seen the likes of Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle and hometown heroes Hot Rize, among others. The vibe is fun and family-friendly, and most fans camp out and bring instruments for jam sessions that stretch into the night. The St. Vrain River runs through the property, so you can hang out in the water all day, right next to the stage.

Readers' Choice: Underground Music Showcase

Colorado Unicorn Festival

Leave it to event-meister Dana Cain to discover the next big thing: Her first Unicorn Festival turned Littleton's Clement Park into an enchanted world last summer, one where princesses, wizards and mermaids frolicked and unicorn rides seemed required for all ages. The even bigger, better 2018 Unicorn Fest will return on June 23, with two special guests: Morgan and Me author Stephen Cosgrove and his magical companion and favorite book character, Morgan the Unicorn.

Readers' Choice: Truck Stop

SUPERNOVA Outdoor Festival of Digital Animation and Art is one of the few Denver film festivals exclusively programming short films at the cutting edge of technology. This free festival, held in and around the Denver Theatre District, democratizes the movie-going experience, giving audiences a look into the future of the medium. Running an entire weekend, SUPERNOVA includes a juried competition, educational opportunities, presentations by filmmakers, and outdoor screenings of artist-made movies from around the world. This year, the festival's third, promises to be as forward-thinking and fun as ever.

Best Instagram Devoted to a Denver Gone By


Just beneath the thin, glossy veneer of a new Denver that has emerged over the past decade lies the real city — and the @OldDenver Instagram account is making sure it isn't forgotten. A loose-knit collective of regular contributors share stories of the people, places and neighborhoods that define old-school Denver: a black-and-white photo of cooks working the flat-top at 20th Street Cafe comes with the simple caption "in operation since 1946"; images of paleteros hustling popsicles in Civic Center show up alongside snapshots of Federal Boulevard on a Sunday that include classic cars with shiny rims showing off in the parking lot of Grandpa's Burger Haven. The @OldDenver account is an equal-opportunity Instagram: Use the hashtag #OldDenver on an image and your documentation of a Denver gone by could be featured in the feed.


The ever-evolving alley between the 2500 and 2900 blocks of Walnut and Larimer streets provides endless inspiration for Instagrammers. Long before this place became a canvas for the annual CRUSH festival, the ancient warehouse walls on both sides attracted graffiti artists as well as fans of urban grit. As big, shiny buildings pop up all over River North, this stretch remains an unexpected oasis of Colorado cool, layered with ever-changing art that's both official and definitely unofficial. As a result, you're not likely to take the same photo twice while shooting these colorful walls. Just be sure to credit the artists!

Readers' Choice: RiNo District

The unassuming Ramada Inn at the corner of Speer Boulevard and I-25 is just the right spot to capture sunrise in Denver. From its perch overlooking downtown, you see an urban landscape stretching from Coors Field to Mile High Stadium, with everything in between, including Elitch Gardens, Confluence Park and the downtown cityscape, with bonus points for Pikes Peak off in the distance. Get a coffee on your way, look for the glowing "Hotel" lettering, grab your camera...and turn east to start your morning right.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Best Place to Photograph the Sunset in Denver

Washington Park

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Denver is blessed with many parks with stunning views, and it's no secret that both Cheesman and City parks offer some phenomenal sunset photo ops. But for the best, head over to the east side of Washington Park, near Arizona Avenue and Franklin Street. Through your viewfinder, not only will you catch the sun going down behind the mountains, but Grasmere Lake provides stunning reflections of the west for your photos. Just watch out for the geese and their nemesis, the Goosinator.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The Rocky Mountain Land Library has added a Denver outpost to the original in South Park, where the organization devoted to a growing collection of books on natural history is turning an old ranch into a very special world devoted to words. But it has one project that you can participate in no matter where you happen to be in Colorado. The first and only requirement of the Cloud Atlas Project is that you look up — and, if you can, record what you see, as weather changes and sunsets occur and cloud after cloud rolls by in the Colorado sky. Whatever you capture, you can share it, helping to build an archive of imagery destined for a book. Other goals include related public programming, a gallery show, the building of cloud-spotting stations in prime locations and more. Things are definitely looking up!

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