The scenery at Fossil Trace Golf Club will distract even the most seasoned golfers. This public course, just 15 minutes from downtown Denver, is surrounded by gorgeous, 64-million-year-old, 20-foot-tall sandstone rock formations. Golf Digest magazine called Fossil Trace a “must-play,” and the course offers a satisfying experience for every level of player. You’ll want to take a break at hole 12, though — that’s where the fossilized triceratops footprints are.
After your workout on the greens, treat yourself to an indulgent and relaxing spa experience made for Colorado’s climate and lifestyle. At The Oxford Hotel's spa, ask for a decadent mimosa sugar scrub or chocolate mousse wrap to get you ready for a night on the town.
Or, at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, try the High Country Tranquility Wrap, an aromatic treatment that has a woodsy blend of vanilla, rosewood, cedar and palmarosa essential oils. The Four Seasons Hotel Denver's spa offers a High-Altitude Full-Body Revival, a massage and reflexology treatment designed to hydrate skin and naturally increase your body’s oxygen levels.
Next, visit the Brown Palace Hotel (affectionately nicknamed “The Brown” by locals) for a touch of Old World class in the Mile High City. And it doesn’t get any classier than the traditional afternoon tea here, served daily from noon to 4pm. With the sound of a harpist or pianist wafting through the hotel’s famed atrium lobby, enjoy freshly made scones, sweet pastries and dainty tea sandwiches.
Denver’s cuisine scene has been earning national raves in the past decade thanks to innovative, superstar chefs blending culinary skill with a love of locally grown ingredients. Some of the restaurants garnering the highest praise include Mizuna, where master chef Frank Bonanno’s ingredient-obsessed approach yields plated perfection in dishes such as lobster mac-and-cheese; Fruition Restaurant, where chef Alex Seidel recently earned recognition among Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2010; Restaurant Kevin Taylor, which has been pleasing particular palates since 1998 with finely composed, French-inspired dishes and a staggering wine list; and Elway’s, a wildly successful venture by beloved Broncos quarterback John Elway that takes surf-and-turf to a very sophisticated level. Visit eatdenver.com to locate Denver’s other independent restaurants.
But don’t go anywhere before you explore the beautifully restored Union Station. It isn’t just a place you go to get somewhere — it’s a destination in and of itself, a vibrant gathering place bursting with history, with several shops, 11 places to grab a bite and a boutique hotel celebrating the romance of rail travel. At its center is the Great Hall, full of elegance and nostalgia, glistening chandeliers and enormous arched windows.
After-dinner entertainment at the Denver Performing Arts Complex will put to rest the myth that the arts only thrive on the coasts. The DPAC is the largest performing arts complex under one roof, and on any given night, culture vultures can choose from a blockbuster touring Broadway musical, a stirring performance by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, an internationally acclaimed opera or a beloved ballet.
Photos: Courtesy of The Spa at The Four Seasons Hotel Denver; Fossil Trace Golf Club; The Brown Palace Hotel; Elway's at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver; flickr/David Friedel.