It's the time of year when even the couch potatoes among us realize we should get off our asses and do something. But what? And where?
In the tradition of our recent posts featuring the ten best Colorado hikes and the ten best places to stay cool during a heat wave, we've dug into our Best of Denver archive to find ten great options for outdoors and in. Check them out below.
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Best Park for Cycling: Washington Park The Washington Park neighborhood offers one of the best assets to urban cyclists looking for a good workout: a 2.27-mile perimeter around its lush, lake-filled recreation area. The two-lane track, bordered by the picturesque 'hood, works for all skill levels of cyclists, from the extreme amateur looking for an afternoon jaunt on a cruiser to the seasoned veteran looking to increase stamina and endurance. For safety's sake, speed is limited to fifteen miles per hour (although it's often ignored), as the park also packs in walking families, runners and rentable pedal-powered cars. And for those biking in, Wash Park is easily accessible from the Platte River path coming from the south or the Cherry Creek path that runs along Speer Boulevard. Best Skate Park: Arvada Skate Park The massive new 40,000-square-foot Arvada Skate Park was designed and built by the skater-owned Team Pain Skate Parks crew and overseen by local skater James Hedrick as part of the first phase of development at Gibbs West Community Park. Approximately 97 percent of the $2.1 million price tag was funded by grants from the Tony Hawk Foundation, Colorado Lottery, Great Outdoors Colorado and Jefferson County Open Space, and it was worth every penny. The park caters to skaters of all levels and persuasions, featuring bowls both big and small, a long and flowing snake run, granite ledges, handrail/stair sets, and some of the most innovative, sculptural features and architectural landscape designs we've ever seen, including a few that we weren't sure what to make of until we started seeing local skaters getting creative out there. Even if you don't skate, this is worth a look. Page down to see more of our ten great Best of Denver places to get your recreation on. Best Park for Running: Sloan's Lake Park Runners, let's be honest: Running on treadmills is boring, and the scenery never changes. In fact, the only reason we do it is because running up hills makes us feel winded and feeble, while treadmills rarely challenge us with difficult terrain, and they count how many miles we've run, which makes us feel cool. Well, Sloan's Lake Park offers all that and more: The trail around the lake is as flat as a British apartment, and at exactly 2.6 miles from starting point back to starting point, it makes it easy for those of us who predicate our self-worth on how far we can run to chart, you know, how far we're running. Plus, Sloan's Lake is a lovely park, with plenty of shady trees and open spaces and an excellent playground to distract the kids while you sweat out the fear dreams. Best Dog Park: Stapleton Here's the thing about dog parks: They're for dogs, and mostly medium-to-large dogs that need some exercise. So while you, the human, might like a spot with a lot of grass, shade, benches, pedicures and an espresso bar, your dog wants a huge expanse of land to burn off its energy. Stapleton fits that description better than any park in the city. It's massive and it's all sand. Rocky may have made running in sand look easy and super-awesome, but it will have your dog's tongue hanging in no time. Page down to see more of our ten great Best of Denver places to get your recreation on. Best Place to Wear Out Your Kids: Great Play What do you do when you need to burn off some steam? A lot of us check in at the gym. The idea behind Great Play is that, in an age when we're being bombarded with news about childhood obesity, maybe the kids should be doing the same. That's the whole point of the national franchise operation, which recently made its debut in the Denver area. Unlike other sport facilities for kids (specifically, kids ages six months through elementary-school age), Great Play offers a number of programs under one roof, from age-specific classes to open gym time, when children can just untether after a morning of too much TV. Also -- and of great importance to the founders of Great Play, Englewood residents Keith and Jyl Camhi -- is the non-competitive bent of the instruction, which encourages children to have fun first, and to learn specific skills (how to throw a ball or swing a bat, for example) in easy increments. It's their way of proving that exercise is good for you and therefore something worth encouraging; the goal of the Great Play method is to make it a natural part of kids' lives as they grow. The Colorado Boulevard gym is the first of several planned in the state (another will be opening in Highlands Ranch soon). In gymnastics vernacular, Great Play sticks it! Best Park for Fishing: Aurora Reservoir It's tough to catch a good fish in the big city. But if you're willing to drive out to the 'burbs, it's as easy as spending the day at the Aurora Reservoir. Home to the $10K Trout Tournament, the reservoir provides 820 acres of water. Bad-ass water, that is. Here's how the city of Aurora describes it: "The best water grows the baddest fish! Aurora's reservoirs have some of the best water around and have grown four state record fish: Tiger muskie, catfish, smallmouth bass and white sucker." According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the reservoir is also tops for rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, wipers, largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie. Fishing in the city? Holy crappie! Page down to see more of our ten great Best of Denver places to get your recreation on. Best Nearby Zipline: Denver Adventures If you want to fly through the air and scope out some nice scenery while you're up there, but don't want to make the haul to the Royal Gorge or Durango, just drive to Golden and check out one of Denver Adventures' zipline packages. Denver Adventures offers four- and six-zipline tours and boasts the fastest and longest ziplines in Colorado. You can travel at up to 50 mph and as far as 1,900 feet on one zipline. Better bring an extra pair of pants, just in case. Best Mountain Bike Park: Trestle Bike Park The Gravity Logic crew at Winter Park has been redefining downhill mountain biking over the past few years, greatly expanding its trail system and special features in the Trestle Bike Park each summer and hosting Crankworx Colorado as its signature event. This summer, look for the opening of three new trails, including the aptly named "Cruel and Unusual," and for the inaugural Colorado Freeride Festival July 26-29. Need a refresher session in between trips over Berthoud Pass? Try the new Trestle Bike Park outpost in Denver's Barnum North Park, near Sixth and Federal; the skills park opened in the summer of 2011 and will be back in action this summer as soon as the Gravity Logic crews can get to pushing some dirt around. Page down to see more of our ten great Best of Denver places to get your recreation on. Best Climbing Gym: Movement Climbing + Fitness The world -- well, the International Olympic Committee, anyway -- was watching when Boulder-based USA Climbing hosted the International Federation of Sport Climbing Lead Climbing World Cup in October at Movement Climbing + Fitness. It was the first time the competition has been held in the U.S. since 1988: Sport climbing is on the shortlist to become an Olympic medal sport, and the IOC had to have liked what it saw at Movement. The three-year-old Boulder gym has become an indoor mecca for Colorado's climbing community, thanks to the work of climbing-wall designer Cort Gariepy and the Rockwerx Climbing crew. It also features TechnoGym equipment, a room full of Saris CycleOps machines, and a first-rate staff of personal trainers. Wondering how the World Cup climbers get into some of those positions on their way up the wall? Check out Movement's full complement of yoga classes, including Acro Yoga sessions that incorporate elements of Thai massage, active inversions and partner-supported acrobatic positions. Best Park for a Picnic: City Park It's big, it's bold, and it's hard to beat when it comes to throwing down a blanket and relaxing under a tree. Bring your favorite dish from home or stop by a market (Marczyk, 770 East 17th Avenue, or Spinelli's, 4621 East 23rd Avenue, are nearby options) and pick something up. Then scope out a spot in front of the museum or by Ferril Lake, or around the gardens near East High School. On Sunday evenings in the summer, you can join thousands of your closest picnicking friends for the free City Park Jazz, a perfect way to end the weekend.