If I'm going to be honest, this post should be called, 'Four Things to Do Outside Denver, Only Two of Which I Personally Experienced Due to Time Constraints'. Denver is a great travel hub for a road trip, especially with Rocky Mountain National Park close by. But if you're short on time, as I was, here are a few options closer to town.
After tea and a tour of Molly Brown's home, Meaghan and I picked up the rental car and headed toward the city of Golden, Colorado. Golden's claim to fame is being the home of Coors Beer. We arrived at the brewery only a few minutes before closing time, and so were unable to take a tour.
We headed west out of town. 19th Street turned into Lookout Mountain Road/Lariat Loop. As you wind your way up the foothills of the Rockies, you get a great vista of Denver to one side and mountains to the other.
At the top of Lookout Mountain, you'll find Buffalo Bill's grave site. Family lore said my grandfather was related to Buffalo Bill Cody, though I've found nothing to back that up in genealogical research. I'd also seen the grave site featured on a ghost hunter program not long before. I'm the type of skeptic that doesn't believe in ghosts and would rather not be proved wrong, but the kitschy feel of the tourist stop lent itself to the slightly weird and wacky.
Lookout Mountain Road connects with Interstate 70 on the western side, meaning you don't have to retrace your steps. We took 470 around Denver to Ken Caryl, where we'd booked a room in a chain hotel with our friend Erin for the next two nights.
By the next morning, most of the gang had arrived for the wedding later that afternoon. I love my friends, because like me, they're total dorks. We decided to check out the nearby Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center. Wildly painted dinosaurs greeted us - we suddenly had doubts as to the authenticity of the whole thing. But then we did a guided walk and were delighted to see dinosaur footprints. Some were fossilized in the rock as you'd expect, but the coolest part to me was a Brontosaurus footprint from underneath - the earlier layers of rock had been cut away to reveal it from below.
Dinosaur Ridge is probably best for kids or the young at heart, but it is a legit paleontological sight - the first stegosaurus fossil was discovered here. It also had great views of the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is supposed to be an amazing venue for concerts. But for us, it was time to head to our friend's wedding!