Patio of the Day

The Big Wonderful Is the Ultimate Patio Experience

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The Big Wonderful is an outdoor food and beer market that takes up an entire block between RiNo and Five Points. The founders of the market call it "a tiki bar meets exotic food and flea vendors meets a music festival," which is pretty accurate, except for the tiki part -- at least on my visits. It's not your typical patio, in fact it's more of a fair than a patio, but with lawn games, beer and mixed drinks, live music and a wealth of food trucks, you could call it the ultimate patio experience.

The Big Wonderful, which will be open for two more weekends, has been taking place every Saturday afternoon and evening and every Final Friday since July 12. I've attended three, and each one was slightly different.

On the first visit, I took our friends who were visiting from Wisconsin. There's a bar in the center -- fashioned from an old freight car -- serving beer, cider and mixed drinks. On one side of the park is a lawn-game section; we spent more than an hour playing a nearly impossible Frisbee game where the object is to toss the disc into a black plastic barrel.

On the other side, there is a semicircle of vendors: food trucks and artisans selling packaged foods, clothes, jewelry, art and more. We had smoked pizzas by Five Points Pizza; the smoky dough brought out the saltiness in the cheese and even though small, was a great example of Denver doing pizza well. A DJ on the stage was driving the audience away, but the band Kinky Fingers, who describe themselves as an eclectic American rock and Santa Fe surf trio, took over and brought the crowd back to dance.

Our visiting friends took one look at the small crowd, sipped their drinks and listened to the music under our big blue sky and announced they wanted to move here.

The second time we visited, we played cornhole in the lawn-games section, which is next to a dog park, sand volleyball courts and a horseshoe pit. The Big Wonderful is not just dog-friendly: there is a sandbox for kids with digging toys and later in the evening, kids take over the sand volleyball courts.

Now that fall is here, the outdoor party reminds me of Linvilla Orchards, where as a kid I'd pick apples, enjoy a hayride and pet the llamas, which for a suburban Philadelphia kid was pretty farmy and exciting. Hay bales and pumpkins border the Big Wonderful's entry; on October 25, it's hosting a pumpkin carving contest.

Keep reading for more about the Big Wonderful...

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Kristin Pazulski has been a renaissance faire wench, a reporter, an espresso-shot slinger, an editor of a newspaper for the homeless and a grant writer. She's now a freelance writer covering Denver's restaurant scene.
Contact: Kristin Pazulski