Denver: The Cultural Experience

As a third-generation Denverite whose ancestors arrived in Colorado by covered wagon in 1884, Charles Burdick, director of guest services for the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Denver, is a fount of insider's tips on what to see and do in the Mile High City.

"People often think of Denver as a cow town and forget that it's a sophisticated city with lots of cultural attractions," says Burdick. "On Blake Street in LoDo, for instance, there are 30 art galleries that were there long before the sports bars and shops. They offer art lovers everything from Impressionist art to the Old Masters, and they're located in authentic turn-of-the-century buildings that have been upgraded and restored, but have kept their original character."

Although Larimer Square and the 16th Street Mall are justifiably famous for their myriad shopping opportunities, Burdick also recommends travelers visit for the free entertainment that's almost always on the schedule. At least two or three times a month, he says, Larimer Square stages presentations of plays or appearances by the Symphony, while strolling performers strut their stuff up and down the 16th Street Mall.

Denver offers families a mind-boggling array of children's activities and attractions, but one of the best, says Burdick, is also one of the least known. "The Denver Performing Arts Complex has seven theaters, including the Stage, one of its smaller spaces, where special children's productions are frequently held in conjunction with the Denver Public Library. On certain weekends, they offer presentations of children's puppet shows and fairy tales."

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Famous luminaries who have lived in Denver include Buffalo Bill, whose house (now a museum) and grave are popular attractions; the "unsinkable" Molly Brown, who survived the Titanic disaster and whose beautiful Victorian house is now a museum; the young Golda Meir, who later became prime minister of Israel; Dr. Justina Ford, Denver's first African-American doctor, whose former residence now houses the Black American West Museum; silent movie star Douglas Fairbanks, and actress Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Academy Award for her performance in "Gone With the Wind."

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