Visit Denver fills your bucket list with lots of beer...and more suds at Smiley's

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Good news! The world is not going to end on December 21, 2012. That's the word from Dawn Engle, co-producer of 2012: The True Mayan Prophecy, which airs tonight on Colorado Public Television. But just in case she's wrong, we asked some state leaders for their can't-miss Colorado activities in the new year.

The bucket lists of Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor John Hancock will be posted later today. In the meantime, here's the word from Rich Grant, communications director of Visit Denver, the city's convention and tourism bureau:

The bucket list for Denver would include: hear a concert at Red Rocks; stand a mile high on the steps of the State Capitol; ride a carriage down the mile-long 16th Street Mall; climb a 14er by foot, cog railroad or car; wear a Rockmount shirt and cowboy hat to the Stock Show; drink a microbrew in LoDo before seeing the game on Opening Day; debate for at least one hour whether or not Tebow is really any good; walk underneath the Blue Bear; learn how to make money on a tour of the US Mint; try green chilli and chips and salsa; try a reindeer dog at Biker Jim's; say with authority and a straight face when it's five degrees below zero that "it's a dry cold and Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year"; climb the 45-foot rock wall at REI; have a sopapilla at Casa Bonita; play a round of golf at Arrowhead; ride a B-cycle in a suit; have buffalo at The Fort and high tea at the Brown Palace; see the model trains under Union Station; throw some coins on Buffalo Bill's grave; take the short tour at Coors and have a Barman Pilsner (only available in Golden); ride the Denver Post train to Cheyenne Frontier Days; see the fireworks on the mall and the Denver City and County Building lights on New Year's Eve; walk the flower gardens of Washington Park on a summer evening; sit in the Tattered Cover browsing on a cold afternoon; watch the Broncos with friends; drive over Trail Ridge Road; visit one of the cemeteries or ghost towns around Central City and scare out-of-town friends by driving over the "Oh my god road"; have a beer at the bar in the Wynkoop when the late afternoon sun is streaming in and coloring all the wood and backlit beers the same golden brown; go to the Zombie Crawl and Tour de Fat and Gorilla Run and Turkey Trot; have a drink in the Goth bar at The Church, get out of the car and actually walk down Broadway from the Mayan to Caboose Hobbies, stopping along the way; read Westword while doing your laundry at Smiley's on the world's longest business street.

A great list, all in all. That last item is a reference to a visit the Today show paid Denver back in the '80s, when the economy was reeling and this city had just been named the most livable in the country. The crew asked me (Rich Grant and I may be the only people who've had the same job for three decades) for some suggestions of Denver amenities, and among the many places I sent them was Smiley's, then the biggest laundramat in the world, operating 24/7 on Colfax Avenue. Grant has never let me forget it.

Colfax is still the longest business street, and one definitely worth a stroll -- although you might not want to tackle all 26 miles. As for Smiley's? It's still spinning, although as we report in Off Limits this week, plans for a big development on the block have gone down the drain, and the business was recently sold to a longtime employee, who now closes the place at 11 p.m.

This sud's for you!

Denver was named the most livable city 25 years ago, and it's just been labeled the "coolest city" in the country. Click to read "Fifteen reasons why young people are moving to Denver," and then check out the slide show "15 Reasons Denver is the Coolest City."

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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