Best. Summer. Ever.

After last year’s bummer of a summer, here’s how to make the most of Mile High life in 2021

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/28/21

Did your funnel cake intake stay at zero last year? Has it been a while since you’ve danced in anything but pajamas? If you’re among the millions ready to shed some pent-up energy as the summer …

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Best. Summer. Ever.

After last year’s bummer of a summer, here’s how to make the most of Mile High life in 2021

Posted

Did your funnel cake intake stay at zero last year? Has it been a while since you’ve danced in anything but pajamas? If you’re among the millions ready to shed some pent-up energy as the summer of 2021 dawns, here’s a few events coming back or scaling up this year.

First Friday art walks

After a hiatus in 2020, the First Friday Art Walk returns to the Art District on Santa Fe on June 4 and continuing the first Friday of every month thereafter. The signature art walk in the Denver area, Santa Fe’s takes visitors into a variety of galleries, studios, lofts and alleys. The District is big, but most of the action is on Santa Fe Drive between 5th and 11th streets. Masks and social distancing still required — for now. Other art walks are in RiNo and on South Pearl Street.

DenversArtDistrict.org

Film on the Rocks

What could be a more Colorado moment than watching “The Shining” — inspired by Estes Park’s Stanley Hotel — at Red Rocks? Film on the Rocks is back at Colorado’s most beloved concert venue, with a twist — most of this year’s 24 cult classics will be screened drive-in style in the lower parking lot, with Creation and Ship rocks as a backdrop. Just three films — “Casino Royale,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Princess Bride” — will be screened in the amphitheatre itself. Drive-in tickets are $59.50 per car (but hey, you get some Coke, popcorn and candy out of the deal), or $16 a person for the amphitheatre shows. Book ‘em soon, they sell out quick!

DenverFilm.org

Renaissance Festival

If you’re the type who really prefers to inspect your swords before you buy them, don’t miss the return of the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Colorado’s celebration of all things magical and medieval occupies a purpose-built village in the enchanted forest outside Larkspur. Quaff a hearty ale and gobble a turkey leg beneath the pines while the kids make merry with legions of jugglers, fire-breathers, jousters and magicians. Over 200 crafters and artisans hawk their wares, from suits of armor to love potions. Not to be missed: the dungeon museum, featuring mannequins enduring shockingly innovative medieval torture devices. Ticket prices haven’t been announced yet. The fest runs eight weekends starting July 3.

ColoradoRenaissance.com

Arapahoe County Fair

Arapahoe County may not be associated with spurs and cowboy hats much anymore, but by gum, there’s enough Wild West left in it to put on a rootin’ tootin’ county fair. The fair returns to the county fairgrounds on East Quincy Avenue, on the edge of the prairie, but close enough for suburbanites to enjoy rodeos, tractor pulls, and the Dock Dogs — high-diving dogs who plunge 40 feet into a pool. Don’t miss the 4-H barns filled with all creatures bovine, equine and porcine. And, of course, the ultimate county fair challenge: chowing down on fair food, then trying to keep it down after a few carnival rides. The fair runs July 22-25.

ArapahoeCountyFair.com

Clear Creek Whitewater Park

There are lots of lovely ways to see Golden, but perhaps the best is by inner tube. After spending much of the summer of 2020 closed, Clear Creek Whitewater Park is open to floaters and boaters this year — just in time for a wet spring and some epic snowmelt. Grab a tube and head to the west end of 10th St., then walk upstream as far as your flip-flops will take you. Most folks get out around the baseball diamond to go back upstream and float the stretch again, but intrepid floaters can continue northeast through town — just make sure you get out before the Coors brewery. The best part? A post-tubing detour up Washington Street, to downtown Golden’s many excellent restaurants and pubs.

CityOfGolden.net

Levitt Pavilion

Say “Ruby Hill” to Denver-area old-timers and they’ll likely conjure memories of sledding down the epic incline, but the younger generation may grow up thinking of it as one of the best summertime spots as well. Levitt Pavilion, one of Denver’s finest free cultural amenities, is back with a full lineup of free summer concerts. This year’s roster includes Colorado originals like the Flobots and Yonder Mountain String Band — and a few ticketed events, including the legendary Melissa Etheridge on Aug. 13. Even if you visit on a night without a concert, check out another of the best shows in town: the view of the Denver skyline from the north end of Ruby Hill Park. Picnic blankets not included.

LevittDenver.org

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