Bound By Design

You're a tender tattoo newbie, and about to be even more tender — so where to go for that initial ink? Bound By Design feels your pain and endeavors to help you navigate the process in the gentlest way possible. The team of talented longtime artists includes a dozen pros, so you're likely to find one whose style matches your vision. In addition, they all know how to work with first-timers in figuring out things like placement, tattoo size as it relates to pain tolerance, and what kind of care cream to use for the best results. The space is comfortable and colorful, filled with distracting art and a mesmerizing display of body jewelry. This is a good pick for your first piercing, too, and since it's your first time, we have another tip: If you like what you get, don't forget the gratuity.

Readers' Choice: Certified Customs

Sol Tribe Tattoo & Body Piercing
Courtesy Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing Facebook page

Alicia Cardenas opened Twisted Sol in 1997 to honor her cultural commitment to ritualistic body modification. In 2009, that spot morphed into Sol Tribe Tattoo & Body Piercing, a beautifully decorated shop that continues Cardenas's commitment to ritual and cultural sensitivity. The spiritual gravity the artists at Sol Tribe bring to their work is reason enough to go there for one final tattoo, and their creativity seals the deal. If you're looking for a transcendental body modification experience (because you think about that kind of stuff, especially at the end, right?), there's no better shop to visit.

Readers' Choice: Dedication Tattoo

Thick as Thieves Tattoo
Courtesy Thick as Thieves Facebook page

If you're looking for some ink and don't want to wait, Thick as Thieves has garnered a reputation for being Denver's best walk-in tattoo shop. Come in with an idea, and if it's simple enough, one of the skilled artists will draw it up on the spot and get it done. (More complex ideas will require an appointment.) For the helpful artists, there's no such thing as a stupid question. Be on the lookout for Thick as Thieves' holiday specials, like $13 flash tattoos for Friday the 13th and $31 jobs for Halloween.

Readers' Choice: End of Days

Purple Haze
Courtesy Purple Haze Facebook page

Denver provides tokers their pick of the litter, but it's hard to match Purple Haze's level of quantity, quality and consistency over the years. The head shop chain's four metro locations carry an exceptional mix of affordable glassware, art from local glass blowers, blunt sticks and joint papers, dabbing tools and vape gear to peruse, and employees are usually friendly enough to throw together a deal for you if you buy multiple items. Hey, some of us like to haggle — and a 40 percent discount on any piece of glass in the store on your birthday doesn't hurt, either.

Readers' Choice: Purple Haze

Break The Stigma Fitness
Courtesy Break the Stigma Facebook page

Although Colorado still hasn't fully figured out social consumption, private classes and events that incorporate cannabis use are finally starting to pop up more — and, more important — stick around. Break the Stigma Fitness, the metro's only cannabis-infused fitness center, has managed to not only stick around, but thrive as it sparks up bowls and heart rates in Wheat Ridge. Founder Jennessa Lea says she lost 110 pounds and ended a decade of prescription drug use thanks to a regimen of cannabis, nutrition and fitness, so she opened an exercise class in a private residence that allows optional pot use for guests. Now her staff of women trainers teach an array of classes, ranging from yoga to self-defense, proving you can get high and get fit — in no particular order.

Readers' Choice: My 420 Tours

L'Eagle
Lindsey Bartlett

With hundreds of cultivations to choose from in the Denver area, it's safe to say that there are at least a couple of commercial grows out there doing it the right way. The team behind past Best of Denver winners L'Eagle hasn't just been growing the right way; it's been advocating for others to do the same. L'Eagle's sustainable growing methods and organically motivated practices earned a Clean Green Certified seal from the City of Denver, and owners Amy and John Andrle have spoken out against unsafe pesticide use and cutting corners in grows. Every pot shop says it has the dankest Sour Diesel and Strawberry Cough, but L'Eagle is one of the few that can truly say that without selling its customers steroided buds showered in mildew killer. Nowadays, that means a lot.

Readers' Choice: Good Chemistry

The Herbal Cure
Scott Lentz

You'll find dispensaries around Denver with longer menus, but the Herbal Cure's unique mix of exotic strains and timeless classics can satisfy your wildest terpene desires and recommended medical needs. Winners of multiple awards from the Grow Off for its strength in the grow room, the Herbal Cure has proven itself against the other heavyweights in Colorado, and it switches up the menu enough to keep surprising regular customers. The Cure's stiff, flavorful cuts of Cactus Breath, Do-Si-Dos and Lemon Sorbet stand alone in the Mile High City, with prices friendlier to your budget than most top-tier pot shops.

Readers' Choice: The Health Center

House of Dankness
Courtesy House of Dankness Colorado Facebook page

Deals are abundant in a city with hundreds of pot shops, but how much is a $5 pre-roll really worth if it tastes like crap? House of Dankness isn't heavy on coupons, but its texting alerts and random deals posted on social media and Leafly tip customers off about $15 eighths, half-off concentrates, $100 ounces and more. It's not the only shop with deals like that, but once you realize that House of Dankness and its breeding company, Rare Dankness, are responsible for some of the best indica genetics on the West Coast (and you see how much other dispensaries charge for its wholesale bud), you'll be white-knuckling out I-70 to get there.

Readers' Choice: The Green Solution

Best Topicals Company
Courtesy Mary's Medicinals Facebook page

The benefit of topicals can vary from person to person, but cannabis-infused lotions, balms and salves have proven to be a potential alternative to pills for chronic and extreme pain. Mary's Medicinals is one of Colorado's OGs in both topicals and infused products, along with transdermal patches, capsules and concentrates aimed at treating pain. The brand is available in most Colorado dispensaries, incorporating trends likes CBD, distillate and CBN into its products long before consumers demanded them. All of that innovation should equal one proud Mary.

Readers' Choice: Evolve Formulas

marysmedicinals.com

Best Edibles Company
binske.com

Binske's line of edibles aren't new or groundbreaking — the company currently sells infused chocolate, honey, olive oil and fruit leathers — but its commitment to flavor and style has certainly won us over. Binske brought in graphic artist Martin O'Neill to create mesmerizing labels that play off hundreds of etchings and watercolor reproductions of natural-history archives, and its variety of Chilean honeys and Greek olive oils allow you to put that creative inspiration to work in the kitchen. As for the pre-made treats, Binske's chocolates, made with Honduran and Peruvian cacao paired with hazelnuts from Oregon, are a luxurious dessert, while its tart Granny Smith fruit leathers will take you back to fifth grade and have you giggling like a child.

Readers' Choice: Wana Brands

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