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As far as we’re concerned, May 7—the day when we get our first sunset at 8 p.m. or later—should be an official city holiday because it marks the start of Denver’s most glorious time of year: Afterwork Activities Season. If you’re lucky enough to clock out at 5 p.m., from now until August 12, you’ll have at least three solid hours of sunlight after work to tackle all those diversions relegated to warm weather weekends the rest of the year. Need some inspiration? Here’s how the 5280 staff makes the most of the sunny season.
Happy Hour and Houseplants
If I manage to avoid self-sabotaging my evening with the devil’s nap—aka falling asleep at 5 p.m.—my natural instinct is to spend any extra hours of daylight eating and imbibing my way around Denver. En route to the food, some window shopping at the likes of RiNo’s Modern Nomad is inevitable. One accidental spending spree and a few new houseplants later, there’s still time to catch the tail end of Dio Mio’s happy hour for dreamy Cacio e Pepe pasta and dangerously cheap red wine. Then, the go-to night cap: a cone from High Point Creamery’s outpost at Denver Central Market (try the brown sugar cinnamon ice cream) and a walk to scour for new murals. –Madi Skahill, engagement editor
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We just moved into a new house that I may or may not have purchased because it’s right around the corner from a golf course. Even better, the course, Indian Tree Golf Club in Arvada, has a little par 3 layout. It’s inexpensive ($12 for adults) and unthreatening (short and easy), and I’m hoping my burgeoning golfer wife will join me for afterwork nines. It’s a great incentive to get out of the house while we continue to work from home, but I’m secretly hoping to get her hooked enough that, when our first kid comes this summer, “family time” can sometimes involve “tee times.” –Spencer Campbell, features editor
Mt. Sanitas Summits
Most people head straight up Mt. Sanitas, but I prefer the “long-cut,” the westside route to the summit via Lion’s Lair Trail, because you can go long stretches where you won’t encounter another soul. Then I take the East Ridge Trail down the front of the mountain. It’s thrilling because there are quite a few physically demanding sections where it takes all of your focus not to misstep as you weave up, over, and around huge boulders. It’s slow-going, but when you need a breather, you can take in the views, which are stunning, especially when the landscape starts greening up in spring. –Sarah Banks, associate photo editor
Travels with Macy
I have an overly excited, 17-month-old Golden Retriever, which means my post-work routine usually puts me on a sidewalk or on a trail in my town. I’ve lived in Parker—off and on—for nearly three decades, and I’ve never explored my community’s walkways as much as I have in this past year, a pastime I especially enjoy as the days grow longer. My dog, Macy, and I have clomped through pine forests thick with petrified wood; we’ve dodged a rangale of deer resting in the brush; and we’ve stopped to photograph plenty of sunsets as we’ve trekked for miles around the Prairie Voice trails. The quiet hours spent in the cool evening invigorate me and fill me with hope for the next day—and the next trail for Macy and me. –Robert Sanchez, senior staff writer
I’ve always loved checking out new patios after work, but the pandemic has made the pastime essential. Thankfully, our beloved local restaurants, bars, and breweries have taken outdoor dining to new heights over the past year. Case in point: Luki Brewery in Arvada added 10 propane-fueled, fire pit tables last summer to keep patrons warm. Other sweet patios I’ve recently enjoyed for sunning and sipping include Avanti Food & Beverage food hall in Boulder (don’t miss the pizza from New Yorkese and killer views of the Flatirons from the rooftop); King of Wings in Wheat Ridge (enjoy a great beer selection and delicious slow-cooked wings); and Middleman Bar on East Colfax (pair the tequila-infused Day Man with the My F$%king Burger from the walk-up Misfit Snackbar inside). –Patricia Kaowthumrong, food editor
Cycle Washington Park
I’ve been a fairly serious road cyclist for years, but sometimes I just want to get back to that freedom of riding a bike as a kid. I don’t necessarily get that putting in base miles or climbing Lookout Mountain. I do get it when I pull out my single-speed after a couple of beers and ride the three blocks from my house to Washington Park. The sun might be low or it might be dusky as I pedal the 2.2-mile road around the park nice and leisurely, but either way, I appreciate the air in my hair because I don’t wear a helmet. (Nor do I wear any lycra or cleats.) I people watch. I look for dogs and lovers and people getting hammered playing Spike Ball. I ride hands-free. I stop and take a photo if something catches my eye. It’s easy and fun, and it’s part of why I love living in the city. –Geoff Van Dyke, editorial director
Facing the Music
I’ve never been a person who jumps in the car at 5 p.m. to get my recreational rocks off after a long day of work. Battling rush hour just doesn’t seem worth the road rage. Instead, I’m partial to taking in blown-open views of the Front Range a little closer to home. So, after a long day of writing or editing or unending meetings, I’ll pour a frosty beverage into a to-go cup, grab a camping chair or a blanket, and make for the highest point in the little-known City of Kunming Park. This quirky pocket park honors one of Denver’s sister cities, Kunming, China, and on many summer evenings, the flagstone gathering area along Grant Street becomes a de facto stage for local musicians, who pluck on guitars or play the bongos or strum the ukulele. The impromptu concerts provide a delightful soundtrack for the evening, but the real show is the sunset. –Lindsey B. King, deputy editor
With young kids, even three hours of post-workday sunlight isn’t always enough to get out of the house, snag seats on a crowded restaurant patio, and finish dinner before someone melts down. That’s why I bring the fancy alfresco dining experience to our suburban backyard. Step one: Mix up three parts of Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Sauvignon Blanc to one part sparkling water and plunk in a few berries from the garden. Step two: Set the outdoor table with a colorful tablecloth, real plates, cloth napkins, and silverware—no paper or plastic products allowed—and fill a vase with freshly cut flowers. Step three: Transfer the curries and naan I ordered from Arvada’s Yak and Yeti into pretty serving dishes. Step four: Eat, laugh, and linger over bowls of Funky Donkey from our stash of Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato, knowing bed is just a short walk away. –Jessica LaRusso, managing editor
Off and Running
During the pandemic, running has helped me stay sane. I live in the West Washington Park neighborhood, which puts me close to a slew of Denver’s more than 200 parks. So, to keep my runs fresh (and to provide a sense of exploration that has been sorely missing from my work-from-home lifestyle), I try to hit a new park each time, especially when I have the advantage of added daylight. While the major ones like Cheesman Park, Washington Park, and City Park are good for people watching, I often prefer smaller green spaces like Alamo Placita Park. Not only do they offer more solitude for me to decompress during my mid-run breaks, they also give me a greater appreciation for the Mile High City’s dedication to fitting so many of these spaces into our urban tapestry. –Shane Monaghan, digital associate editor