Denver :: One mile closer to the sun
"One mile closer to the sun."
That single phase, tossed from a local to me the first day of my arrival, sums up the liberation I felt in the mile high city.
I think you might enjoy it too.
Denver, Colorado has been a mecca of sorts to waves of pioneers since its foundation in 1858. Gay Midwestern - and now many Californian - "escapees" have been migrating to this urban hub for decades- Denver has even been described as the San Francisco of the Midwest. As gay culture that once thrived in many urban centers in the greater US has gentrified and shifted to internet societies (and mainstream assimilation), Denver’s gayborhood is still thriving. It’s also offering-up something many American cities haven’t seen in a long time- happy gays. Perhaps this has something to do with the city’s proximity to the sun, the backdrop of the mountains, or the western mentality; regardless, it’s a welcome change.
Denver has plenty of gay bars. I also hosts a once-common-but-now-rarest-of-the-rare feature: two lesbian bars... filled with lesbians!
One singular sensation...
If you visit Denver, you need to stay downtown in the Capitol Hill district. Once there, in this writer’s opinion, there’s only one place to rest your head: The Capitol Hill Mansion B&B. Nothing is more gratifying than staying in an owner-occupied B&B; even more refreshing is to spend time in one that’s also gay-owned and run by family.
Transplants from coastal Texas, owner Carl and his daughter Bailey offer the Texan concept of hospitality to every guest. The opulence of the mansion - built in 1893 - is mesmerizing; what’s even more spectacular is the sheer size of the guestrooms. While many B&Bs are cramped (to say the least), this was anything but. The gourmet breakfasts on the patio will set the mood for a Zen style vacation. In fact, they’re in such high demand that soon Carl and Bailey will be offering Bailey Claire’s Saturday & Sunday brunch. By reservation only, this will truly be a special place to spend a weekend morning sipping a mimosa under the big blue sky.
The lists of places to go and things to see and do in Denver is extensive; hopefully later this year we’ll be able to bring EDGE readers a more detailed look at ’what to do in Denver.’ For now, we’ve got a spotlight on the most important stuff: hotties, fab food, and great coffee.
A lot of great destinations are easily walkable from the Capital Hill Mansion B&B. The Bump & Grind (439 E 17th St) may not look like much from the street, but brunch here is a gay institution and can’t be missed. Hamburger Mary’s (17th and Washington) also has a lot to offer- from dining to drag and dancing. Just across the street is the always hopping JR’s.
The newest addition to the 20-some-odd Denver gay bars is HER bar (629 Colfax Avenue); it’s filled with friendly staff and patrons. Go for the lesbians and stay for the pool. (Don’t fear boys- Him @ Her takes place the first Friday of the month, and Wednesdays are always boys night at Her.)
For those seeking a great (gay) cup of coffee, Dazbog is well worth the visit. They’ve got about a dozen shops in various locations, including Capital Hill and near Cheesman Park- the gayest volleyball pad in Denver. (FYI: being hopped-up on espresso watching shirtless men play on six grass courts was the perfect way to end a wonderful trip.)
Denver culture via Capitol Hill is far different than you’d imagine- especially for us East Coasters. Tattoos combined with cowboy boots coupled with the smiles of ski bunnies, well, it’s pretty unique and super cool. Something like Seattle with sun, plus a dash of big Texas and ex-hippie snow monsters tossed in the mix to keep it funky.
Denver truly is a diamond of a city in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains... with its feet buried in the grasses of the Great Plains.
For more information on Denver, and to plan a vacation, go to www.VisitDenver.com