Founded in 2010 by then-high-schooler Demi Merritt, Demi's Animal Rescue is a no-kill shelter that offers pet retention support, adoptions and spay/neuter events. In order to cover the cost of rehabilitating high-risk cats that might be overlooked by those adopting pets, Merritt created the thrift store. It's a well-organized shop with donated clothing, household and sporting goods, and two rooms full of free-roaming available cats.

5895 East Evans Avenue, #102

Walter, a Great Pyrenees rescue, greets customers in this carefully curated, vintage-vibed store that stocks handmade pet accessories, cocktail kits, soap, retro kitchen goods, baby gifts, animal-themed tarot cards and jewelry. Many items are created locally, including artisan caramels made in Wheat Ridge.

1502 Kearney Street

Does your dog go wherever you go, no matter what? You're in luck: Every Fido and Fifi is admitted inside participating Aspen Grove businesses displaying a decal picture of mascot dog "Croix" in the window. There are rules that dog owners must follow, but the whole shopping center goes out of its way to welcome leashed or carrier-bound canine visitors with water dishes placed by shop doors, complimentary treats and even poop bags neatly stashed in the decorative planters lining the sidewalk. Next stop, dog park?

If you have a particularly rambunctious pup, head for this hill. Barnum Dog Park is somewhat bare-bones, with pebble landscaping rather than grass that tends to wear out your dog sooner, and it's consistently clean. With a gated area for small dogs, you won't have to worry about any larger dogs backing yours into a corner. What we love most about this park, though, is its clear view of the Denver skyline. The nearby gazebos present a chill place to kick back, and if you're looking to get some human exercise, you can walk Fido down to the Barnum Park Lake Reservoir.

Flickr/Jeffrey Beall

Craving the outdoors, but don't want to drive to the mountains? Get your nature fix at the 160-acre Washington Park. With two lakes and sprawling lawns with pristine trails, the park makes for an ideal outing any time of the year. There are two flower gardens (one a replica of George Washington's) that burst with color in the spring, and come summer, there are multiple recreational options, with tennis and basketball courts, grills for barbecuing, pedal boat rentals and several trails, including a 2.3-mile path circling the park. And don't forget your binoculars: Wash Park is a favorite for bird watching in Denver.

At the Simms Street Recreation Center in Arvada, pickleball enthusiasts have their choice of playing the game indoors or outdoors, with the Marquardt-Miles Outdoor Pickleball Courts outside the rec center, and indoor drop-in games available from November through March. Players will appreciate the low cost and the chance to bring a group of friends to enjoy every dink, swoosh and thwack of the energetic game.

Enjoy the views while you throw your disc at Wondervu Disc Golf Course. The course is just a quick jaunt into the foothills from Denver, providing a variety of holes not often seen at mountain disc golf courses and covering plenty of distance for those looking to escape into a game. Wondervu is making major improvements for the 2023 season, including adding more picnic tables and redesigning holes to make play even better.

136 Camp Eden Road, Coal Creek

The Yetman family — the same crew that started the Horseshoe Market in Denver — made their next dream come true in 2021, when they restored an abandoned farmhouse on four acres in south Lakewood, near the Bear Creek Greenway, in search of a simpler, earthier way of life. Since then, they've created a sustainable farm with a compost pile, animals, a massive cutting-flower garden and a welcoming invitation to visitors for summer camps (2023 is sold out!), pick-your-own-flowers days, a cut-flower CSA program, tours and a fall festival.

2995 South Estes Street, Lakewood

Best Place to Buy Pollinator-Friendly Garden Plants

Finding Nectar Nursery

If you've noticed fewer birds and bees in the backyard than you used to see, a good way to encourage them to come back is to put in a garden of plants that attract them: Pollinators go where the food is. Brad Kuhn's Finding Nectar Nursery makes it easy, because he only grows the pollinator-friendly plants that encourage cooperation among species; the bees, birds and butterflies eat heartily, then fly off to scatter pollen and seeds elsewhere. It's nature's way, and beautiful to look at, too.

15550 CO-72, Arvada

Open since 1987, Nick's is a longtime staple that's much more than just a place to pick up plants, soil and shovels (though it has plenty of those, and much more to offer). In the fall, it's where families flock for freshly roasted green chiles and to pick out pumpkins for Halloween. It even has its own haunted house! In the spring and summer, there's a plentiful selection of fresh produce, and you can often catch live music when you visit. Then, come winter, it's all about Christmas trees and fresh wreaths. This is a store where shopping is more than an errand; it's an experience.

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