Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 16, 2017

© Scott Dressler-Martin / Visit Denver

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Denver

From Beat kids to voracious carnivores, the Mile High City for every kind of traveller

Beat tourist

Jack Kerouac was so down with Denver he bought a house there. You can see it, and many other Beat haunts made famous by On the Road. All tours are self-guided, but that’s OK: would the Beats want you lamely tagging along after a guide? Follow the Bona Fide Beat Train tour (see litkicks.com/Denver), or do what the Beats themselves woulda done: hotwire* a car and drive!

Here are a few spots you won't want to miss: My Brother's Bar at 15th and Platte is the oldest bar in Denver still serving in its original location. Ask for a copy of a letter that Neal Cassady, inspiration for On the Road’s Dean Moriarty, wrote to a friend from jail, asking him to pay off his bar tab.

The suburban neighbourhood of Lakewood iswhereJack Kerouac's former home at 6100 West Center Avenue is located. Kerouac bought it with his advance from The Town and the City.

The Five Points neighbourhood, the onetime heart of the city's African American community was where all the big jazz legends played and Jack and Neal did some serious carousing. Finish your tour with a trip to the Tattered Cover bookstore and reread your favourite Beat passages.

*Don’t actually, though

Meat eater

Start sharpening your canines, because when it comes to red meat, Denver's a veritable bloodbath. Make yourself at home on the range by starting out with some buffalo at the Buckhorn Exchange, which opened in 1893 and proudly serves elk, quail and rattlesnake as well.

For an informal snack, stop at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs for Alaskan reindeer sausage, elk jalapeno cheddar brats, or a Southwest buffalo dog. Or, for a fabulous family-style meal, dig into Italian-Wild West fusion cuisine at Cafe Jordano, which serves buffalo scaloppini, buffalo pizzalola, buffalo bolognese and more.

Foodies: if you want local organic "field-to-fork" meats, Root Down, where they have actively taken on the "omnivore's dilemma," is the place for you. They happily accommodate a wide variety of special diets and serve up a cozy community-feel Sunday dinner with dishes like grilled pork loin from a nearby ranch, roasted baby beets, and croissant bread pudding with organic sour cream.

Cowboy fashionista

Denver does it up when it comes to snazzy shops. Rockmount Ranchwear in the LoDo district (short for "lower downtown") is a celebrity fav — Elvis was on the customer list, and Springsteen still is. It's the place for fringed leather.

Cry Baby Ranch brings a blast of colour to western wear and has a great "cowkid" selection, and Eve Inc.is the fashionista's high-end urban-meets-western boutique.

You may not have a horse under you, but if you enjoy the big skies as much as the cowgirls did, you'll love Outdoor DIVAS, a high-end outdoor gear store for women.

If your stamina's flagging, perk it up with a truffle or a chocolate apple at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the jolly 16th Street Mall area.

Yogic mountain goat

Boulder is a mecca for avid hikers and crunchy-granola types, and it's only 40 minutes from downtown Denver. Crawling with yoga studios, buddhist temples and Eastern-themed stores and restaurants, Boulder has some of the best easily-accessible hikes in the country. Start with the Boulder Creek Path, an easy 10-kilometre trail which starts in the plains and ends in the mountains, passing through town in the middle.

Get off the path for a tea and a snack at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was made by hand in Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The menu is all over the map, with everything from duck bulgogi to Tajikistani plov to Mexican pork shoulder.

See if you can catch a lecture on meditation or modern dance at Naropa University, founded in 1974 by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa and home of Jack Kerouac's School of Disembodied Poetics. There's also a tiny gem of a poetry store downtown, the Beat Book Shop, with an irresistible collection of Allen Ginsberg's writings.

Visual hound

Keep your eyes peeled for the bright red flashing neon heart — that's how you know you've arrived at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art. Inside you'll find fun, interactive art by mostly Colorado artists.

The Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building is even easier for art hounds to spot, with its razor-sharp titanium-shingled fins. The Museum has a fantastic collection of American Indian art as well as a nearly top-notch level of everything else.

See the sun without squinting through a telescope at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, let the kids ogle dinosaur bones, or romp through their many other interactive exhibits.

And don't miss a drive-by of the Denver Public Library, one of the city's most distinctive landmarks with its dramatic, multicoloured turrets, towers and rotundas.

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