Editor’s Choice

Top Artist

Danielle SeeWalker

Painter. Activist. Storyteller. These identities all describe Danielle SeeWalker. She is also Húnkpapȟa Lakȟóta, a citizen of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—and it’s those ancestral roots that inform her creative passions. The Denver artist, who has a full-time job and is a commissioner for the Denver American Indian Commission, creates portraits and scenes meant to take back a narrative that’s been commandeered by non-Native people for centuries. “It’s always an outsider looking in, telling our stories for us,” she says.

Danielle SeeWalker. Photo courtesy of Jaylyn Gough

With her vibrant interpretations of what it means to be Native American in contemporary American society, SeeWalker is reframing that one-sided perspective. “There’s this whole idea of what Indian art is, what Native art is, what Western art is,” she says. “A lot of people have this preconceived idea of what it should look like—like cowboys and Indians on a canvas. But I’m defining what Native American art is today. It’s something that people are not used to seeing. It’s not comfortable to look at.”

Currently, SeeWalker is working with gold leaf, oil, aerosol, and oil stick, sometimes painting public walls (including one outside Denver Central Market) in the metro area and other times working on rawhide and canvas, as she did for the Braided Women series, which will appear in a solo show at History Colorado that opens in February. “Each of the women in these portraits has a story to tell,” she says. “For instance, there’s one of these two women and their braids are sort of floating up into the air. It’s telling the stories of boarding schools and how our hair was forcibly cut…. It’s bringing these stories to the forefront for other people to learn and hear about.”

“You Can’t Have Our Braids” (2021) is part of a series that tells the story of culture loss via, among other atrocities, the forcible cutting of hair during the Native American boarding school era. Photo courtesy of Danielle SeeWalker (“You Cant Have Our Braids” by Danielle SeeWalker)

Top Place to Catch a Show (That’s Not Red Rocks)

Levitt Pavilion Denver

With its grassy slopes, community vibe, and robust lineup of more than a dozen ticketed shows and approximately 40 free concerts every summer, Levitt Pavilion at Ruby Hill Park has been a music lover’s happy place since it opened in 2017. And this past year, the outdoor amphitheater installed a sleek new setup from Meyer Sound that took the audio quality from good to incredible. Whether you bring the whole family or decide to make it a date night—“There’s this one couple who brings a coffee table and tablecloths and flameless candles,” director of marketing and development Jessi Whitten says—RSVP online for the free performances (like 2022’s the New Respects show) to get intel like weather delays and to help the venue book enough food trucks. Then snag one of Whitten’s favorite spots to drop her blanket.

The New Respects’ Zandy Mowry. Photo courtesy of Robert Castro

1. Near the front, a large maple nicknamed the Tree of Life offers shade from the late afternoon sun.

2. The VIP section is strategically placed stage right—against the sound board—for the crispest audio quality and dedicated access to the dance floor, and for the free concert series, your $35 upgraded ticket (prepurchased online) includes one drink, a special bar line, and early entry.

3. Perching at the top of the hill toward the back of the venue gives you a gorgeous view of Denver’s skyline and your kids plenty of space to rock and (literally) roll: “My favorite thing is to look out over the whole venue and see the kids rolling down the hill behind the sound booth,” Whitten says.

Top Place to Watch the Game

McGregor Square

When I decided to take my family ice skating at McGregor Square this past December, I knew the open-air locale was a warm-weather draw for Rockies fans. Tucked beside Coors Field at the base of the newish Rally Hotel, the 17,000-square-foot plaza is flanked by a string of eateries and anchored by a stadium-size LED outdoor TV screen, providing fans with the buzzy atmosphere of a ballgame, no tickets required. What I didn’t realize was that the game-day ambience was alive and well in the winter, too. That is, until I watched my son stumbling around the rink because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the Fiesta Bowl unfolding above the ice. He was mesmerized—along with nearly everyone else who was cheering on their teams from their outdoor tables while enjoying bites and sips from Milepost Zero’s half-dozen food stalls and 35-tap self-serve beer wall.

Eventually, my son dragged himself off the ice, his eyes shining. “Mom!” he squealed. “We can go ice skating and watch football at the same time!” I didn’t tell him that Tom’s Watch Bar, also in McGregor Square, has about 155 TVs inside or that in the summer he could play giant Jenga in the courtyard while watching the sports matchup du jour. We’ll be back for that action when the bats are swinging. —JD

Top Patio

Acreage by Stem Ciders

Perched on a parcel of Lafayette land that overlooks the Flatirons, Acreage doesn’t have a patio, in the traditional restaurant sense: It’s more like a vast, multizone backyard with options for groups of all ages, appetites, and time constraints. Follow the prompts to find your ideal al fresco spot to sip a craft cider and/or enjoy tasty farm-to-fork bites.

Photo by Allen Meyer/Courtesy of Stem Ciders

If you want a full-service meal…

After Dark: On cool evenings, seats by the fire pits are coveted: They’re first-come, first-serve, so grab what you can, then get extra cozy by asking your server for the Pommeau, a sweet dessert wine made with unfermented apple juice and apple brandy that tastes like fortified cider, paired with an order of cider doughnuts.

Daytime: Make a reservation on the deck or in the cider garden to indulge in flights, shareables—such as the charcuterie board and soft pretzels with beer cheese—and entrées like seared salmon, Colorado lamb burger, and braised short ribs atop a sun-warmed picnic table.

If you’re just looking to grab a drink…

No kids: Grab a cider (we favor Stem’s classic, not-too-sweet Real Dry variety) from the main building’s service window, then settle into a stand-alone hammock on the west side of Acreage, where you can watch the setting sun do its thing over the foothills.

Bringing kids (over 10 years): Post up at a cornhole or ladder toss setup on the lawn. On weekend nights, everyone can celebrate victory at a nearby pallet table over bites from the Diggity Street Eats food truck while the grown-ups sample Stem’s newest botanical series release, Neural Nectar. The lemongrass cherry limeade cider, featuring lion’s mane mushrooms from Fort Lupton’s MyCOLove Farms, was made in collaboration with MyCOLove co-founder and former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer.

Bringing kids (under 10 years): Let your little ones take turns on the playground’s swings and slide while you channel your own childhood with a Tangerine Whip cider from Acreage’s new outdoor bar.

Top Author

Stephen Graham Jones

A University of Colorado Boulder English professor by day and prolific horror novelist by night, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Graham Jones has ascended the horror fiction throne by remaking the final-girl trope (the morally virtuous female character who defeats the killer) with more nuanced, less angelic heroines. He’s currently wrapping up his first trilogy, the Indian Lake series, which reads like a cheeky tribute to every horror flick ever made. Following the February release of the second installment, Don’t Fear the Reaper, we asked Jones: What goes on inside your mind?

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
Photo courtesy of Saga Press

5280: So, how do you sleep at night?
Stephen Graham Jones: I’m not afraid I’m going to do the things my characters do. When I can’t sleep, the reason is all this violent stuff in my head. Thoughts like: If I’m at a playground and see a mountain lion, how am I going to fight it? In my head, I’m a hero. But I think the real way it ends is the mountain lion opens me up and hollows me out. My mind goes to gory places.

What are you afraid of?
We all have different thresholds for what counts as scary. I don’t think mine is set particularly high. I’m terrified of the dark. I get scared of everything. If I wasn’t, I don’t think I would write horror.

Do your stories have a universal message?
I want people to believe in hope. The stories I tell are these long, dark, terrible, bloody, violent tunnels. But there’s a speck of light at the end. If you just keep moving through the darkness, that speck will grow bigger and bigger until you can walk into it. I want them to understand that in their own lives.

The Smoking in Jerez combines rye, PX sherry, rosemary, lemon, and applewood chips and is smoked tableside in a Spanish porrón (a glass vessel generally used for wine). The rosemary and lemon garnishes are torched to help bring out the boozy flavors. Photo by Sarah Banks

Top Cocktail Menu

The Welton Room Lounge

When Five Points’ swanky Welton Room expanded in November 2022, it not only added a new space next door, now called the Welton Room Lounge, but it also diverged from the original drinks-only concept to include seasonal modern small plates such as Colorado skirt steak, hamachi crudo, and duck croquettes. (The original room, where you can get snacky fare, has been rebranded as the Monkey Bar at Welton Room.) The inventive cocktail menus in both spaces showcase molecular mixology—i.e., bartending that combines ingredients to create a reaction, kind of like a delicious chemistry experiment—and occasional activations such as smoking applewood chips, torching cinnamon or rosemary, using liquid nitrogen, and even employing a cotton candy machine. These showy techniques and methods were gleaned from the co-owners’ time working in Los Angeles under Michelin-starred chef José Andrés. “We learned to play around,” co-owner Jorge Ortega says. “From the visual to the olfactory to the tableside pace, we want to spur all of your senses when it comes to your cocktail experience.”

Top Place to See Art

Marjorie Park, the Museum of Outdoor Arts

In early 2023, the Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA) began a new era when it relocated to a three-acre green space in Greenwood Village. The move sparked the museum to shift its programming from gallery- and exhibit-based to immersive, experiential, and (mostly) outdoors. Below, a quick rundown of what you can see during this summer’s guided tours ($10)—or wandering around on your own ($5).

Photo courtesy of Museum of Outdoor Arts

To See… Sculptures
Check Out… Alice in Wonderland
Which Is… A bronze series by Harry Marinsky depicting beloved scenes and characters from Lewis Carroll’s classic story, in seven installations around the park

To See… Paintings
Check Out… Fiddler’s Green Murals
Which Is… A growing chain of vibrant wildlife murals by Colorado artists, curated by the museum and prompted by muralist Adden J. Davis, along the back of the amphitheater

To See… Plants
Check Out… Panoramic Living Mural
Which Is… The largest vertical garden in North America, replenished annually with more than 34,000 plants in different patterns on the amphitheater’s interior sound wall

To See… Curated Chaos
Check Out… Cabinet of Curiosities and Impossibilities
Which Is… An expanded version of maximalist installation artist Lonnie Hanzon’s longtime, immersive MOA exhibit featuring historical trinkets, whimsical art, and antiques that nod to fairy tales and nursery rhymes, plus specialized lighting, sound, video, and augmented reality elements; projected to reopen in a new 400-square-foot building within Marjorie Park this summer

To See… Cinematic Art
Check Out… Cricket Cinema
Which Is… A pop-up theater on a tiny trailer platform that plays film shorts and animations based around a theme (this summer’s is Colorado Outdoors) during park events and concerts

Top Kid-Focused Entertainment

Casa Bonita

Unless you’ve been holed up under a rock…on Mars…wearing noise-canceling headphones…you know that everyone’s favorite West Colfax Mexican-restaurant-slash-tropical-cliff-diving-show has reopened after a three-year hiatus with an extensive top-to-bottom revamp. The intrepid new leadership trio comprises South Park creators and Colorado natives Trey Parker and Matt Stone plus high-profile Denver chef and restaurateur Dana Rodriguez, who is practically a regular on the James Beard Foundation Awards shortlist. The official opening date for the public was still hush-hush at press time, but the new menu—which offers a lineup of approachable yet elevated Mexican specialties, all made from scratch—was released in late May. (Yes, yes, there will still be sopaipillas.) But the real story about why Parker and Stone decided to revive the pink palace hasn’t been told—until now.

Read more here on 5280’s behind-the-scenes story of a cultural icon returned to life by two of the planet’s most beloved comedy masterminds.

Exterior of Casa Bonita. Photo by David Williams

Readers’ Choice


Hard Candy Dancers


Mario Acevedo


Lady Jane

2021 W. 32nd Ave. | 720-328-9288


Holidaily Brewing Company

multiple locations

Cocktail Menu

Talnua Distillery

5405 W. 56th Ave. | 303-431-4949


The Family Jones

3245 Osage St.| 303-481-8185


Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Happy Hour


multiple locations

Kid-Focused Entertainment

Butterfly Pavilion

6252 W. 104th Ave. | 303-469-5441


Los Chingones

multiple locations

Place to Catch a Show (That’s Not Red Rocks)

Mission Ballroom

4242 Wynkoop St. | 720-577-6884

Place to See Art

Denver Art Museum

100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway | 720-865-5000

Place to Watch the Game

Stoney’s Bar & Grill

multiple locations

Theater Company

Curious Theatre Company

1080 Acoma St. | 303-623-0524