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Bristlecone offers an encouraging environment for people who want to learn more about firearms but aren't draped in a "Don't Tread on Me" flag (though those people would probably be welcomed, too). Owned by husband-wife duo Bryan and Jacquelyn Clark, the shop offers affordable ammo and firearms to rent and buy, multiple ranges and a virtual-reality shooting and training simulator. Unlike most spots, when the ammo shortage of 2020-2021 hit, Bristlecone didn't jack up its prices; it's also known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly ranges in town. Bristlecone has instructors who are well trained, sensible and friendly, teaching classes in self-defense as well as shotgun, rifle and pistol training, with special attention to the importance of addressing mental health issues and gun safety.

If you want a quick pickup game or some easy 3-on-3, it's tough to beat one of the dozens of indoor gyms in Denver or popular parks like Sloan's Lake and Washington Park — but when it comes to working on your long-range skills, it's time to try rooftop shooting at 1125 17th Street. You might have to befriend a resident of the adjacent apartment building that owns the court (or find a way to sneak up there, which we would never tell you to do), but after you hit a few 3s in solitude while downtown Denver conducts its business twenty feet below, you'll be on top of the world — or at least the 5280.

Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Thriving in the heart of Denver for over a quarter of a century, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center defies categorization — and attracts hordes of tourists as well as local shoppers ever year. Far more than just your average mall, Cherry Creek offers a high-end shopping experience through retail experts like Nordstrom, Hyde Park and Neiman Marcus, as well as more down-to-earth service at spots like Apple, Gap and Sephora — a combination no other commercial area in the state provides. The center also offers luxury seating for weary shoppers, fancy restrooms, two Starbucks locations and a bevy of food options at all price ranges, not to mention a playground for kids. And later this year, the best will get even better when Cherry Creek adds a four-story Restoration Hardware (complete with its own cafe), along with 38,000 more square feet of shopping space.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Thriving in the heart of Denver for over a quarter of a century, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center defies categorization — and attracts hordes of tourists as well as local shoppers ever year. Far more than just your average mall, Cherry Creek offers a high-end shopping experience through retail experts like Nordstrom, Hyde Park and Neiman Marcus, as well as more down-to-earth service at spots like Apple, Gap and Sephora — a combination no other commercial area in the state provides. The center also offers luxury seating for weary shoppers, fancy restrooms, two Starbucks locations and a bevy of food options at all price ranges, not to mention a playground for kids. And later this year, the best will get even better when Cherry Creek adds a four-story Restoration Hardware (complete with its own cafe), along with 38,000 more square feet of shopping space.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Rock'n Jam'n 1

It's never cold and rainy at ROCK'n & JAM'n, which means that parents and kiddos can enjoy the indoor climbing gyms virtually anytime. For those ages five to eighteen, programs range from parent-child bonding classes to competitive climbing courses. Whatever you choose, it's all about technique — something that helps youngsters develop fine and gross motor skills while building confidence. Both gyms also offer introductory classes for adults, and there are auto belays for families with limited climbing knowledge.

Best 18 Things Peyton Manning Should Know About Denver

Invesco Field at Mile High

Number 18, you're not in Indiana anymore. You may be Denver's most famous newcomer, but you're a newcomer, nonetheless — and there are certain things that every newcomer needs to know about this city if they're going to not just survive, but thrive. If they're going to come to see Denver as the very best possible place to live, as we do. Over the previous 28 editions of the Best of Denver, we've celebrated just about everything that makes this city special for newcomers and natives alike. So for veterans, the following list of eighteen things every Denverite should know will be a refresher course — but for you, Peyton Manning, it's the playbook.

1. This city really is a Mile High. Remember to breathe — and hydrate. Also, be careful when you're out drinking — but any NFL quarterback already knows that, right? And just in case, the Broncos appear to have defense attorney Harvey Steinberg on speed-dial.

2. Want proof that this city is really a Mile High? There's a plaque outside the State Capitol that marks the exact step that's 5,280 feet above sea level (more or less; like you, Peyton, it's settled some). A line around the top of the mayor's office in City Hall does the same; John Hickenlooper put it there when he ran the city (as governor, his desk is naturally higher). At City Park, you can work out along the Mile High Loop, which follows the city's contour lines and points out the spots where you're a mile high. And it's surprisingly easy to join the Mile High Club.

3. The mountains — with 54 (by the Colorado Mountain Club count) peaks over 14,000 feet — are to the west. Dove Valley is to the south. Indianapolis is to the east.

4. The City of Denver has not just one, but two bison herds. Buffalo Bill, who is buried on Lookout Mountain, was once the most famous man in the world — but you could beat him if you bring Denver a Super Bowl.

5. Since you have year-old twins, you'll want to go to Casa Bonita at least once. And, yes, it's even weirder than it seems on South Park.

6. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, are from here. If they can make a blockbuster hit out of The Book of Mormon (coming to Denver in August), you can survive the fallout from the virgin sacrifice of Tim Tebow.

7. The Denver Mint, a top tourist attraction, is right downtown. And, yes, it prints money — though perhaps not enough to cover your contract.

8. Although the Barnes Dance — the engineering marvel that allowed pedestrians to cross streets on the diagonal — disappeared last year, Denver's other infamous traffic-control invention, the Denver Boot, is still going strong. Two unpaid parking tickets in town and you could get sacked.

9. That yellow thing in the sky is the sun. And although those much-touted 300 days of sunshine a year in Denver actually translate to 300 days with at least one hour of sunshine, according to the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, that's still a big improvement over Indiana.

10. Medical marijuana is one of the city's biggest growth industries, which is why Thanksgiving is affectionately dubbed "Danksgiving" here. But at least you'll have no problem getting "medication" for your bad neck.

11. The other big growth industry on the Front Range is beer production, and we frequently clock in at number one for craft beer. And Colorado is certainly the only state whose governor got his start in the public eye as a bar owner.

12. The Tattered Cover. Any city is lucky to have an independent bookstore that cares about the intellectual health of the community: Denver has three Tattered Covers alone.

13. Green chile might have originated in New Mexico, but it reached its apotheosis in Denver, where breakfast-burrito vendors peddle their wares at office buildings each weekday morning, and you can enjoy a green-chile-smothered Mexican hamburger, a definite Denver creation (unlike the much-celebrated cheeseburger).

14. Speaking of cheeseburgers, last fall the metro area got its first Steak 'n Shake, the only thing you might miss about Indiana.

15. Denver offers every kind of free public-park option: dog parks, skate parks, bike parks, walking parks, grassy parks, gay parks, terrain parks at Winter Park..and, above all, Red Rocks.

16. Jack Kerouac got the inspiration for On the Road during a trip to Denver; a plaque at My Brother's Bar commemorates the tab that Neal Cassady rang up there when it was known as Paul's Place. And the beat still goes on for the arts in this town, which sell more tickets than sporting events.

17. Our football stadium is not indoors. And Broncos purists will always refer to it as Mile High.

18. Broncos are a lot more rambunctious than Colts — and so are their fans.

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa is like a hot springs buffet. The place boasts 21 mineral pools, some indoors and some out, whose temperatures range from 95 degrees (for the timid) to 112 degrees (for the bold...and boiled). The all-natural water is chock-full of stuff like sodium, sulfate and magnesium, which sound like ingredients for a chemistry experiment but are supposed to be good for your skin. And while the pools smell like sulfur, the odor isn't overwhelming or unpleasant. For $17.50 a day, it doesn't get much more relaxing than this.

Opened four years ago, the Shootist stands out for several reasons. For one, the ten 75-yard lanes are situated underground, so the place stays cool, even in the summer. It's also well-lit, and because the owners used to be in the heating and air-conditioning business, the ventilation is top-notch -- not a small concern when you're burning through hundreds of .357 rounds. Pistols and .22-caliber rifles only; $9 if you buy your ammo there, $13 otherwise.


Opened four years ago, the Shootist stands out for several reasons. For one, the ten 75-yard lanes are situated underground, so the place stays cool, even in the summer. It's also well-lit, and because the owners used to be in the heating and air-conditioning business, the ventilation is top-notch -- not a small concern when you're burning through hundreds of .357 rounds. Pistols and .22-caliber rifles only; $9 if you buy your ammo there, $13 otherwise.

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