Seven Ways to Avoid Black Friday — and a Mall — in Denver

Outdoor co-operative and national retailer REI is hanging up the “gone fishin’” sign on all of its stores on Black Friday and encouraging its employees to go take a hike instead — on the payroll. Take this as a sign to customers everywhere that it’s okay to kick back on the day after Thanksgiving, rather than standing in those long lines of fully loaded shoppers — elbows out and ready to rush the deal-packed stores with their lists. Here are seven alternatives to mingling with the door-busting masses on Black Friday, in no particular order.
7) Fresh Air Friday
42 Colorado State Parks 
Friday, November 27

You might run into a few REI folks at any of Colorado’s 42 state parks on Black Friday — thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, park fees will be waived on November 27 for Fresh Air Friday, a new tradition inviting folks to enjoy our state’s public lands free of charge. Take a hike, bring binoculars and go nature-peeping or — given the season — strap on some snowshoes for a walk in the park.

6) The Great Waddle Walk-Off
Barr Lake State Park
13401 Picadilly Road in Brighton
10 a.m.  to 5 p.m. Friday, November 27

Barr Lake, a participant in Fresh Air Friday, will offer outdoorsy folks a chance to work off that turkey dinner on a three-mile nature stroll through the beautiful park, where bald eagles are known to court and build nests in the winter in anticipation of spring hatchings. Barr Lake is also dog-friendly, so bring along your well-behaved, leashed pups.
5) Take Back Your Black Friday
Clyfford Still Museum
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, November 27
Free admission

Not the outdoorsy type? To celebrate another year of great programming, including free admission on Friday Nights, Denver’s jewel-box art museum, the Clyfford Still, will waive fees all day on Black Friday. Free guided tours of the current exhibit Repeat/Recreate (which critics, including Westword’s Michael Paglia, are calling the museum’s best show to date) will be offered at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 3 and 6:30 p.m. After 5, the museum invites revelers heading downtown for the Grand Illumination to stop in for free cookies and hot drinks provided by Peteybird.

4) Thanksgiving Break at the DAM
Denver Art Museum
Daily November 27-29
Included in museum admission

The Denver Art Museum, where all children ages eighteen and under are admitted free, is pumping up its activities for families throughout Thanksgiving week. Looking for a more grownup museum experience? The DAM is offering a $2 discount on tickets for Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio, available online, using the promo code: THANKS, through November 29

3) Put A Little Color In Your Black Friday
Leon Gallery
Noon to 5 p.m. Friday, November 27

If a gallery is the last place you think of going on Black Friday, think again. Leon has a fabulous show up — Left Ajar: Plastic Old and Our Bright and Shiny Future Together, featuring works and collaborations by Diego Rodriguez-Warner and Matthew J. Mahoney — and invites art-lovers to drop by for an afternoon walk through the gallery with a glass of wine in hand. They'll also be handing out free tickets for the Clyfford Still Museum, in case you can't make it there today. Black Friday be gone!
2) Rocky Mountain Auto Show
Colorado Convention Center
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 27-28
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, November 29
Tickets: $3 to $15

The Rocky Mountain Auto Show, aka the Créme de Chrome of the Rockies, is an after-Thanksgiving tradition in Denver, offering respite from the shopping hordes for cranky families. The three-day expo, a spectacular grab-bag of automotive beauty, displays everything from race cars to hot rods and customs, and includes such side shows as a live automobile and motorcycle auction hosted by Superior Collector Car Auctions and the Art of the Automobile, complete with a live panel jam and auction.
1) Downtown Denver Grand Illumination
6 p.m. Friday, November 27

Seeing the holiday lights switch on at the Denver City and County Building or Union Station is a seasonal must-do and a perfect way to round up disparate family members of all ages — and it’s free. Take in the music and fanfare at Civic Center, stroll down the 16th Street Mall to skate at the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park or enjoy the amenities of the beautifully lit Union Station; along the way you'll spot many more lights on 14th, Curtis and California streets and in Larimer Square.

Also opening to the public on November 27: Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Trail of Lights at Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms and A Hudson Christmas at Hudson Gardens.