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Landlocked Denver can only be toured so many ways. Unlike New Orleans, Chicago, or London, there is no river on which to enjoy a spectacularly lazy boat tour. There is, however, something just as unique: Tours by motorcycle sidecar. Denver-based City on the Side began the new, vaguely vintage and outrageously touristy service last summer—and it’s the first sidecar tours to be offered in North America.
City on the Side owner Scott Kirkwood, who has been a Denver resident for 12 years, says that designing the tours even helped him learn more about the city. “I didn’t know Denver very well until I started doing this. Creating the city route was probably the most difficult route to plan.”
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The motorcycle tours, which all run out of antique-looking Russian Ural models, can be 90-minutes, four-, or eight-hours long. The hour-and-a-half-long “Essential Denver City Tour” is the most metropolitan option—you’ll see everything from Coors Field to the Molly Brown House—and costs $139 for one or two people, with one person in the sidecar and the other person riding tandem on the bike.
For those looking to explore outside city limits, City on the Side’s four- and eight-hour tours travel varied routes through the mountains, past attractions like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and mountain towns like Nederland, Lyons, and even Black Hawk (these longer tours run $349 and up). “Sidecarists” (aka riders) are free to make special requests for their must-see Mile High pitstops. Plus, on the longer tours graced with good weather, your guide will happily make a pitstop for a scenic picnic lunch with items from Tony’s Market.
If the thought of seeing the city by sidecar has you shivering in your seat, don’t fret—there’s a plug for the heated blanket inside every sidecar. (Incidentally, this is also perfect for recharging your phone after what we can only assume will be repeated and obsessive use of social media during your experience.) The exposure, says Kirkwood, is actually part of the appeal. “You’re in the open air, there’s nothing confining you. You feel it, you smell it,” says Kirkwood. “If you’re on a tour bus you’re herded on and you’re herded off, you stop at locations for a determined time that they chose.”
With City on the Side, you’ll get to know Colorado in a new, fresh way—with the wind in your hair. Just don’t forget your leather jacket.