While Denver residents clamor for the city to invest more in pickleball, one of the country's fastest-growing sports, another metro parks department has gotten into the game. APEX Parks and Recreation District in Arvada sponsors tournaments, indoor and outdoor play, mixers, camps and clinics for picklers of all skill levels. People can work with the department to put on their own tournaments or set up private lessons, while less-structure-oriented fans of the sport can drop in at one of the district's four pickleball locations for a game.

Although Gates Tennis Center mainly focuses on the sport in its name, pickleball enthusiasts can enjoy themselves at the center's eight pickleball courts for just $6 an hour per person. But there's another major perk: three pickleball pros. If you want a private lesson, it's $60 an hour; grab up to five friends and you can split an $80 charge. Some of the tennis pros, jealous of how much fun the pickleball pros are having, occasionally step in to help with kids' classes, adding to Gates's pickleball coaching repertoire. Invest in your game or book a night of learning with friends; either way, you'll walk away slightly sweaty and fully satisfied.

The PickleBall Food Pub doesn't actually have food — it partners with nearby Marco's Pizza to let people order in — but it has a full bar and, most important, eight indoor courts. This facility in a former Sears store opened early in 2022 and has been a hit from the start. Reserve a court with friends for $30 before 5 p.m. most days and for $40 in the evening; you'll stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer while drinking a beer and dinking a pickleball.

pickleballfoodpub.com

Bowling with friends makes for a winning evening, but the cost of renting shoes and then playing multiple games can add up. The workaround to those pricey bowling nights? AMF Belleview Lanes, which offers unlimited bowling sessions at later hours on certain nights. The prices for unlimited bowling range from $14.59 to $15.99, with shoes thrown into the deal. The trick is to come with a small group and lots of stamina so you can get in as many games as possible.

The store is listed as Square One Games, but Games Workshop is the name on the side of the building. No matter what you call it, this shop is the best in town for gaming supplies. It stocks tabletop stuff for Dungeons & Dragons-like role-playing games: dice and intricate dioramic landscapes; miniatures of warriors and wizards and wraiths and wyrms; and all the shades of paints to bring those minis to life. While it's officially devoted to Warhammer and other Games Workshop-proprietary stuff, the sheer joy of rolling dice and demolishing your friend's elven armies is something gamers from any system can appreciate.

games-workshop.com

Hall of Justice Comics might not be the stately meeting place of the Super Friends from Saturday morning, but it almost feels like that when you walk through the door. Owner Jon Garnett got snake-bit by the comic-book explosion of the '80s and '90s, when everything coming out — Spawn, the Death of Superman, the five covers to X-Men #1 — was going to be worth as much as Amazing Fantasy 15 someday. That day, alas, will never come. But like any hero worth his underwear worn on the outside, Garnett persevered, and went from online retailer to brick-and-mortar proprietor faster than a speeding bullet. His selection and service? Truly heroic.

10136 Parkglenn Way, Parker
303-484-9103
hallofjusticecomics.com

The Boulder Book Store was founded in 1973, four years before Pearl Street became a pedestrian mall, and today it's an institution. Its current 20,000-square-foot space houses more than 100,000 titles arrayed on three floors; the collection includes the latest must-haves as well as more obscure tomes in a dizzying variety of categories. This is also the area's top locale for bargain books, ranging from forgotten pulp masterworks to photo-heavy selections that will improve any coffee table. But above all, this store shows just how much a community can form around books and literary events. It's the write stuff.

Take a break from the workaday world and head to West Side Books, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in Highland this year. It's easy to lose track of time in the store's twists and towers of tomes — but despite its whimsical layout, each section is carefully labeled, making it easy to find what you're looking for, whether it's an unusual read or a highly sought-after title. And if West Side doesn't have it, staffers will do their best to locate a copy, no matter how rare. The store also hosts events for book lovers of all ages, including a few monthly book clubs.

When Sue Lubeck, the owner, heart and soul of the Bookies, passed away last summer on the eve of its fiftieth anniversary, it threw the beloved book store geared toward children and educators into limbo. The store was put up for sale, with faithful employees working on in hopes of continuing Lubeck's legacy. And in November, Nicole Sullivan of BookBar came to the rescue, taking the Bookies under her wing and pledging to work with the staff to continue the traditions that have worked so well for fifty years.

thebookies.com

Families rule at Stanley Marketplace, so it's no surprise that when the new Tattered Cover ownership added that complex to its expansion plans, it focused on a store for children. The result is a new chapter in children's bookstores, complete with kid-sized shelving, a wraparound decorative mural, an event space, and storytimes under a tree that kids can climb. Plus — attention, parents — an after-story snack is just a few steps away. Another win for Stanley, another win for kids.

facebook.com/TatteredCoverKids

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