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Denver, an intriguing combination of modern American city and overgrown Old West town, offers a wide variety of attractions, activities, and events. Thanks to its geographic isolation, it’s a true cultural hub for a significant chunk of the country: You’ll discover art, history, sports, recreation, shopping, and plenty of nightlife. It is quite easy to spend an entire week of vacation in the city, but Denver also makes a convenient base for trips to Boulder, Colorado Springs, and the mountains.

Historic Buildings

Denver encompasses 17 recognized historic districts, including Capitol Hill, the Clements District (around 21st St. and Tremont St., just east of downtown), and 9th Street Park in Auraria (off 9th St. and W. Colfax Ave.). Historic Denver (tel. 303/534-5288; www.historicdenver.org) offers publications covering many of these areas and organizes several annual events. 

Museums & Galleries

The Colorado History Museum closed in 2010 to make way for the new History Colorado Center, a block south of the old museum at 12th Avenue and Broadway. Construction was underway at press time; officials expect the new museum to open by the end of 2011. Consult www.coloradohistory.org for up-to-date news on the opening date.

Delayed but also slated to open by the end of 2011, the Clyfford Still Museum (www.clyffordstillmuseum.org) will house 2,400 of the late abstract expressionist works in a “bold and iconoclastic building” adjacent to the Denver Art Museum.

Brewery Tours

Whether or not you drink beer, it can be fun to look behind the scenes and see how beer is made. Denver’s first modern microbrewery, the Wynkoop Brewing Co., 1634 18th St., at Wynkoop Street (tel. 303/297-2700; www.wynkoop.com), offers tours every Saturday between 1 and 5pm. Housed in the renovated 1898 J. S. Brown Mercantile Building across from Union Station, the Wynkoop is also a popular restaurant. At least 10 beers are always on tap, including a few exotic recipes--the spicy chile beer is my favorite. If you can’t decide which one to try, the “taster set” provides a nice sampling: nine 4-ounce glasses of different brews. For non–beer drinkers, the Wynkoop offers some of the best root beer in town. On the second floor is a top-notch pool hall with billiards, snooker, and darts.

Also downtown, Great Divide Brewing Co., 2201 Arapahoe St. (tel. 303/296-9460, ext. 26; www.greatdivide.com), has a terrific taproom and free samples. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 3 and 4pm and on the hour on Saturdays from 2 to 7pm. Great Divide is known for being a beer-lover’s brewery, crafting such favorites as the rice-based Samurai and the aptly named Yeti Imperial Stout.

Since it opened in 1991, Rock Bottom Brewery, 1001 16th St. (tel. 303/534-7616; www.rockbottom.com), has been one of the leading brewpubs in the area. Tours, which are given upon request, offer great views of the brewing process, plus a sampling of the product.

A mile south of downtown, Breckenridge Brewery, 471 Kalamath St. (tel. 303/573-0341; www.breckenridgebrewery.com), also lets you see the brewing process. Free brewery tours are given by appointment. In addition to its award-winning ales, the brewery serves traditional pub fare.

East of downtown in the Uptown neighborhood, the same folks behind Mountain Sun in Boulder opened Vine Street Pub & Brewery in 2008; it’s at 1700 Vine St. (tel. 303/388-2337) and has a fun and funky neighborhood vibe with a healthful bent to its menu. In Cherry Creek, Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery, 4700 Cherry Creek Dr. S. (tel. 303/759-0333; www.bullandbush.com), produces about 10 handcrafted ales and will give tours of its facilities upon request.

For a look at the other side of the coin, take a trip to nearby Golden for a look at Coors, one of the world’s largest breweries.

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.