Area Codes--In Denver and Boulder, the telephone area codes are 303 and 720. In Colorado Springs, the area code is 719.
Business Hours--Generally, business offices are open weekdays from 9am to 5pm and government offices are open from 8am until 4:30 or 5pm. Stores are open 6 days a week, with many also open on Sunday; department stores usually stay open until 9pm at least 1 day a week. Discount stores and supermarkets are often open later than other stores, and some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
Banks are usually open weekdays from 9am to 5pm, occasionally a bit later on Friday, and sometimes on Saturday. There’s 24-hour access to automated teller machines (ATMs) at most banks, plus in many shopping centers and other outlets.
Drinking Laws--The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it’s always a good idea to bring ID when you go out.
Bars legally close at 2am in Colorado, liquor stores at midnight. In 2008, Colorado retracted its “blue laws,” which had banned the sale on Sundays of liquor and beer containing more than 3.2% alcohol.
Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn’t zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot. And nothing will ruin your trip faster than getting a citation for DUI (“driving under the influence”), so don’t even think about driving while intoxicated.
Electricity--Like Canada, the United States uses 110–120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220–240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220–240 volts to 110–120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.
Embassies & Consulates--All embassies are in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Some consulates are in major U.S. cities, and most nations have a mission to the United Nations in New York City. If your country isn’t listed below, call for directory information in Washington, D.C. (tel. 202/555-1212) or check www.embassy.org/embassies.
The embassy of Australia is at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/797-3000; http://australia.visahq.com). Consulates are in New York, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The embassy of Canada is at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel. 202/682-1740; www.canadainternational.gc.ca/washington). Other Canadian consulates are in Buffalo (New York), Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
The embassy of Ireland is at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/462-3939; www.embassyofireland.org). Irish consulates are in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other cities. See website for complete listing.
The embassy of New Zealand is at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/328-4800; www.nzembassy.com). New Zealand consulates are in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The embassy of the United Kingdom is at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/588-6500; http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk). Other British consulates are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Emergencies--Call tel. 911. For the Colorado Poison Center, call tel. 303/739-1123. For the Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Hotline, call tel. 303/318-9989.
Gasoline (Petrol)--At press time, the cost of gasoline (also known as gas, but never petrol), was about $2.75 a gallon in Denver and vicinity. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallon. Fill-up locations are known as gas or service stations.
Holidays--Banks, government offices, post offices, and many stores, restaurants, and museums are closed on the following legal national holidays: January 1 (New Year’s Day), the third Monday in January (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day), the third Monday in February (Presidents’ Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), the first Monday in September (Labor Day), the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans Day/Armistice Day), the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day), and December 25 (Christmas). The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day, a federal government holiday in presidential-election years (held every 4 years, and next in 2012).
Insurance--Although it’s not required of travelers, health insurance is highly recommended. Most health insurance policies cover you if you get sick away from home--but check your coverage before you leave.
International visitors to the U.S. should note that unlike many European countries, the United States does not usually offer free or low-cost medical care to its citizens or visitors. Doctors and hospitals are expensive, and in most cases will require advance payment or proof of coverage before they render their services. Good policies will cover the costs of an accident, repatriation, or death.
For information on traveler’s insurance, trip-cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, please visit www.frommers.com/tips.
Internet Access--Coffee shops, libraries, and most hotels offer Internet access on Colorado’s Front Range. Also see “Staying Connected,” in chapter 3.
Legal Aid--If you are “pulled over” for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. Here the burden is on the state to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or actually arrested. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. The international visitor should call his or her embassy or consulate.
Mail--At press time, domestic postage rates were 28¢ for a postcard and 44¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs 98¢ (75¢ to Canada and 79¢ to Mexico); a first-class postcard costs the same as a letter. For more information go to www.usps.com.
If you aren’t sure what your address will be in the United States, mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver’s license, passport, and so on). Most post offices will hold mail for up to 1 month, and are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don’t know your zip code, visit www.usps.com/zip4.
Police--Call tel. 911 for emergencies.
Smoking--Since 2006, smoking has been banned in all public places in Colorado, including restaurants and bars.
Taxes--Colorado has a 2.9% state sales tax; local jurisdictions often add another 4% or 5%. Lodging tax is typically 10% to 15%. The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear on price tags.
Time--All of Colorado is in the Mountain Standard Time Zone. The continental United States is divided into four time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, when it’s 9am in Los Angeles (PST), it’s 7am in Honolulu (HST),10am in Denver (MST), 11am in Chicago (CST), noon in New York City (EST), 5pm in London (GMT), and 2am the next day in Sydney.
Daylight saving time (summertime) is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November, except in Arizona, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Tipping--In Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, tips are a very important part of certain workers’ income, and gratuities are the standard way of showing appreciation for services provided. (Tipping is certainly not compulsory if the service is poor!)
In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $2 per day (more if you’ve left a big mess for him or her to clean up). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet-parking attendant $1 every time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 per vehicle.
As for other service personnel, tip cabdrivers 15% of the fare; tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage); and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.
Toilets--You won’t find public toilets or “restrooms” on the streets in most U.S. cities but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. Restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their restrooms for patrons.
Useful Phone Numbers--City of Denver (nonemergency): tel. 311; Colorado Road Conditions: tel. 303/639-1111; U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisory: tel. 202/647-5225 (staffed 24 hr.); U.S. Passport Agency: tel. 202/647-0518; U.S. Centers for Disease Control International Traveler’s Hotline: tel. 404/332-4559.
Visitor Information--Start by contacting the Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202 (tel. 800/COLORADO [265-6573]; www.colorado.com), for a free copy of the official state vacation guide, which includes a state map and describes attractions, activities, and lodgings throughout Colorado. Another good source for Colorado information is the website of the Denver Post, the state’s major daily newspaper, at www.denverpost.com.
The Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, 999 18th St., Suite 1240, Denver, CO 80202 (tel. 303/297-8335; www.coloradolodging.com), offers a free guide to lodging across the state. The nonprofit Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado, P.O. Box 38416, Colorado Springs, CO 80937 (tel. 800/265-7696; www.innsofcolorado.org), distributes a free directory describing about 100 B&Bs across the state, including a number of historic inns in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Water--The tap water here is potable and safe to drink, but don't drink out of any creeks, rivers, or streams, no matter how clear the water.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.