Welcome to Colorado, Rookie: 5 Crucial Experiences Newbies Must Do to Initiate Themselves into Denver Culture

#1: Memorize the Shane Company Radio Jingle

This is singlehandedly the most important thing you can do to fit in here.

Though tedious, it will all make sense one day. Because one day you’ll drive past an unassuming building just off Arapahoe Road and Emporia Street, realizing you have a friend in the diamond business, and harboring uncanny awareness that they closed hours ago.

#2: Rearrange Your Childhood Memories to Include Casa Bonita

Find natives to join you on your inaugural visit to Casa Bonita; watch their faces light up. Study their oral history of the original gorilla act or how cousin Timmy once stuck his finger in their enchilada during their 10th birthday party.

There’s a reason why this place reached folkloric proportions. It’s amazing.

Located in the corner of a strip mall off Colfax Ave, the outside creates poor first impressions. Once inside, find yourself transported into the Mexican food version of Meow Wolf, complete with cliff divers and limitless sopapillas.

Incorporate the experience into your formative years and then raise that flag, friend!

#3: Slack Around Denver’s Living Room

Local slang for the Grand Hall of Union Station, “Denver’s living room” was coined by preservation queen, Dana Crawford. She also saved our beloved Larimer Square!

The 2014 makeover of Union Station was one of Dana’s more recent projects in which she outbid 10 other big-name developers including the Trump himself. Nowadays, this living room pumps out 80 trains daily into the outlying arterial light-rail network and serves thousands of passengers.

So, grab your laptop and stake out a recliner with outlet access for the long haul. The security personnel like to nag as much as your mom; wearing pants isn’t optional.

Initiation in 1986 was a bit more intense: bouldering on the Pearl Street mall. No gear. Bare hands. Mullets only.

#4: Stare into the Eyes of Your Own Mortality

Maybe you saw that giant blue horse when you got off the plane from California or Texas; maybe you didn’t. It’s Blucifer—one of the most controversial pieces of art in the city—the rearing equine statue at the entrance to DIA.

Blucifer took the life of his creator, Luis Jiménez, in 2006 when a segment of the mustang fell from industrial scaffolding and tragically crushed the artist. Family and friends finished the piece two years later, bringing to completion a bitter battle between Jiménez and the airport over long-missed deadlines and lawsuits regarding the commissioned artwork.

Nothing says hello or goodbye like those glowing red eyes. They are purportedly symbolic of the artist’s father, who operated a neon-sign business and shunned his son because he chose the path of art instead of architecture.

Throughout his life, Luis Jiménez was reminded of his own mortality (he had a glass eye.) If a trip to the airport isn’t enough to remind you of the fragility of life, Blucifer is happy to help.

#5: Chug a Glass of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout at Wynkoop Brewery

Learn the difference in pronunciation between the brewery and the street and you’re ahead of the pack. Edward Wynkoop was Denver’s first sheriff and namesake of the thoroughfare, pronounced “wine-koop.”

Wynkoop Brewery opened in 1988. One of its founders, Governor John Hickenlooper, didn’t want the place associated with wine so referred to his new establishment as “win-koop.” Like a chicken coop full of winners. His was one of the first microbreweries in town; now Denver is the Napa Valley of beer. An estimated 350+ breweries saturate the state.

And the Rocky Mountain oysters? Classic cowtown food packed with vitamins and minerals!

But you wouldn’t even know there had been three bull testicles soaking in that booze if I hadn’t told you.

Bottoms up!

 

Want to know more about Denver? Join us for a free, one-hour tour of Denver’s lower downtown, an experience jam-packed with fun and new friends! Stroll 1.5 miles as we give you a crash course in the best parts of LoDo including the ballpark area, Market Street, Larimer Square, and the Dairy Block. Learn more here.

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