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Denver may be known for its outdoorsy and fitness-focused culture, but the city’s identity is also inextricably linked with two legal, mind-altering substances: cannabis and alcohol (namely craft beer). So, despite the plethora of exciting urban events and outdoor excursions on the Front Range, sometimes it can be difficult to find truly sober activities around town. (Read more about how alcohol permeates Colorado’s outdoor culture here.) Whether you’re looking to cut back, expecting a new bundle of joy, or want to adopt a cleaner lifestyle, here are 10 ways to still have fun in the Mile High City, sans IPAs.
Colorado Sake Co. might not sound like the best place for a libation-free evening, but every weekend, the back of the taproom transforms into the Denver Comedy Lounge. Stop by to catch one of two shows as part of the Saturday stand-up showcase series, which begin at 6 and 8 p.m. If you’re not the kind to clutch your pearls at raunchy jokes, the lounge also offers a naughty show series every Saturday night at 10 p.m. Plus, you’ll enjoy table service where you can sip on a bubbly, champagne-free lavender lemonade and chow down on sashimi and sushi rolls. Although ticket prices vary (check the online calendar), there is no drink minimum to see a show. Prices vary; Colorado Sake Co., 3559 Larimer St.
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Are you and your friends smart enough to pull off a casino heist? Find out at Escape Works, where each hour-long scenario tests you and your teammates’ logic and clue-finding abilities. Like a board game come to life, each themed chamber has a different storyline and asks the players to uncover clues and solve a series of riddles within a set amount of time. Escape Works is notably challenging, even for seasoned clue solvers; the “easiest” room, Blackbeard’s Brig, has only been solved by 46 percent of visitors. Are you up for the challenge? $35 per person; 1529 Champa St.
Every Friday night, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver hosts Black Sheep Fridays, a weekly series for those who find ritualistic bar hopping boring. Learn how to make a festive holiday garland out of trash on November 10, take a K-pop dance class and try weird sodas on November 17, or stop by on December 15 to learn how to make sexy holiday decorations. Each Black Sheep Friday also features a different host, like Meow Wolf costume designer Kate Major or visual artist Steffie Notion. Visit the MCA Denver website for the full lineup. $20 per person; 1486 Delgany St.
Meetups are a great resource for anyone who is looking to meet like-minded individuals. Though finding other non-drinkers can be hard in day-to-day life—asking strangers about their drinking habits isn’t exactly small-talk fodder—organized dry events, and even a sober category on meetup.com, makes it just a little easier. Sober groups include those tailored to the LGBTQ community, outdoorsy folks, motorcycle enthusiasts, those interested in mindfulness and yoga, and more. Prices and locations vary
Though Denver’s mocktail scene still has plenty of room to grow, there are a handful of restaurants that make exceptional N/A drinks. In addition to our list of ten places to get a great mocktail in the Denver area, we’re partial to the drinks at Slashers on Colfax, where you can imbibe on a zero-proof beverage and watch horror movies on the TVs throughout the bar. Colorado’s kombucha scene is also in full-swing; here are three suggestions for where to find locally made versions of the effervescent, probiotic drink around town.
Don’t let the name fool you—this downtown joint isn’t just another coffeeshop. In addition to serving excellent espresso and a surprisingly robust menu of Mexican food, Mercury Cafe is a true haven for creative souls and outside-the-box thinkers. As a live performance venue, Mercury focuses on giving a voice to local artists’ poetry, dance, and music. Though alcohol is served there, the Mercury’s appeal is far from boozy. In fact, its eclectic calendar includes regular open mic nights, poetry slams, storytelling, belly dancing classes, tango lessons, live jazz performances, and much more. Check Mercury Cafe’s online calendar for the full list of events. 2199 California St.
Every Saturday at this hip shop in West Highland, Candelaria hosts workshops where you can learn how to pour your own candles. After learning the basics of candle-making, you’ll be guided through choosing your favorite scent, picking the perfect vessel, and then carefully pouring your mix, which will set overnight before being ready for pickup. A bonus? These candle-making classes are always BYOB, so bring your favorite booze-free bevvy. $48; 3641 W. 32nd Ave.
Twice a week, the Denver Astronomical Society hosts public nights at Chamberlin Observatory in the University neighborhood. After the evening’s lecturer schools you on the skies, you’ll get a chance to peek through the 28-foot-long telescope yourself to catch a glimpse of the moon, planets, and neighboring galaxies. Even if you find yourself at the observatory on a cloudy night, you’ll still get a tour of the building, which is usually only reserved for established astronomers. Beware, tickets usually sell out months in advance, so keep a close eye on the schedule for availability. $4; 2930 E. Warren Ave.
Despite the church being infamous for its devotion to weed, the daily Beyond Laser Light Experience is strictly cannabis-free and (surprisingly) family friendly. Instead of lighting up a joint, you’ll be treated to a guided meditation and laser lights which illuminate the church’s psychedelic interior. Plus, you won’t have to worry about securing a ticket: The show is held every single day of the year at 20 minutes past the hour, every hour the “church” is open. If you select the pricier VIP ticket option ($35), you’ll be gifted a swag bag and enjoy priority seating. $10; 400 S. Logan St.
Ready to branch out from your usual beats? Sofar Sounds brings Denverites unique musical acts in secret venues around the city. Events usually occur a few times per week in neighborhoods throughout the metro region, so there’s always an opportunity to catch a gig. And while alcohol is sometimes available for sale at certain events, most of Sofar’s events are BYOB, so you and your friends can share in your favorite homemade mocktail. Tickets start at $24; locations vary