5 free things to do in the Denver area

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 13, 2012 at 9:10 am •  Published: December 13, 2012
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SLOAN'S LAKE

Get a panoramic view of the mountains and a good hike without leaving the Denver sunbelt at this 177-acre (72 hectares) lake on the far western edge of Denver. The city lies in the rain shadow of the Front Range of the Rockies, which means that even if it's snowing at higher elevations it's often sunny and dry down below. The path around Sloan's runs 2.5 miles (4 kilometers). For about half of that distance you are treated to a front-row view of the Rockies. To the far right (north) sits 14,259-foot-high (4,346 meters) Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Below that are a chain of serrated 12,000- and 13,000-foot (about 3,660 and 3,960 meters) summits known as the Indian Peaks. The panorama ends with the broad, hulking mass of 14,265-foot (4,347-meter) Mount Evans.

Sloan's is also an urban oasis, full of Rollerbladers, bikers, joggers and families picnicking and fishing on the lawns that flank the lake. For even more strolling opportunities, the residential Highlands neighborhood to the north is lined with graceful Victorians and full of cafes, bars and restaurants. Or walk other iconic Denver lakes in Washington Park or City Park.

TATTERED COVER BOOK STORE

You wouldn't know it from the marketing materials festooned with skiers and beer, but Denver is one of the most highly educated and literate cities in the country. That much is obvious inside Tattered Cover, a celebrated independent bookstore with two Denver locations (and one in the suburbs) that dwarf most superstores.

The downtown branch is housed in a bulky brick warehouse, while the one on Colfax Avenue occupies an airy, converted theater. Both are chock-a-block with fully stocked shelves, knowledgeable staff and plenty of plush oversized chairs for a relaxing free read. They also boast bustling coffee bars and plenty of additional browsing and people-watching opportunities nearby — either in Lower Downtown's shopping and entertainment district or, on Colfax, in the adjoining independent record store Twist & Shout, another local icon.

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Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt and P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.

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