Rocky Mountain Weekender: Ritz and Rox
It unspools in front of me like a good movie.
From my seat on a northbound D-train, I see layer upon layer of my home city of Denver’s history, some of it old, some of it new, and some of it a work in progress – like the hulking wreck of the Gates building, its redevelopment left high and dry by the Great Recession.
As the graffiti and crumbling masonry fade from view, the gleaming spires of downtown begin to dominate the horizon until they overwhelm it. The signs of the massive changes Denver’s undergone in my two decades here are never more apparent than the train’s swoop past the Colorado Convention Center, big blue bear and all, and other new landmarks mixed with the old all over the city’s central core, not to mention the light rail itself.
Then I’m getting off at my stop at 18th and California, checking in at the gleaming Ritz-Carlton, Denver, itself only two years young. I find myself lost in the view from my swank room on the 10th floor, watching the traffic flow through streets teetering between old and new in every direction. The prime catalyst of all the change and my destination come first pitch, Coors Field, is visible to my left. To my right is the 2002 U.S. Courthouse Annex. In between is a vivid and diverse patchwork of architecture from the last dozen decades.
After my spell is broken, I decide to make my way to a place on the historic end of the spectrum, the Corner Bar at the Oxford Hotel. The century-old building provides the perfect perch for an early dinner – a cheeseburger and fries sets me back just $2.95 during happy hour. My buddy Mike soon takes a load off on the adjacent barstool and soon enough it’s game time. Time to head to Coors Field.
I’ve been to Fenway and I’ve been to Wrigley, but there is something special to Coors Field, a true cathedral of the game. The action ebbs and flows as the innings get checked off one by one. A brilliant orange and purple sunset is soon upon us.
After the final out, I bid Mike goodnight and retreat to the Ritz, but I’m not quite ready to call it a night, not until I pay a visit to a few of the hotel’s less seemly neighbors. First stop: Old Curtis Street Bar, a venerated watering hole and Mexican grill with a nostalgic vibe and a stage taken by an eclectic lineup of musicians.
Last stop: Carioca Café, a.k.a. Bar Bar, where the cacophony of a punk band echoes through the dark and empty streets. Inside the old dive is packed with a diverse but none too ornery crowd of twenty- and thirty-somethings enjoying cheap drinks, warm weather, and the last fiery burst of midnight oil. I finish my PBR, tip my Rockies cap to the band, and set my sights on the embrace of my king bed at the Ritz.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ritz-Carlton, Denver (1881 Curtis St.) is offering a “Root for the Rockies” package that starts at $339 for two and includes lodging, a pair of prime Rockies seats and ballcaps to match, valet parking, and a $50 credit at the hotel’s resident eatery, Elway’s. For additional information, call (303) 312-3800 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.
Home of the Corner Bar, the Oxford Hotel (1600 17th St.) is also offering a “LoDo Baseball & Beyond” package starting at $160 a night. Tickets are not included, but a room, valet parking, and a party favor are. For more information, visit www.theoxfordhotel.com/special-offers.html or call (303) 628-5421.
Colorado Rockies: www.rockies.mlb.com or (800) 388-7625
Old Curtis Street Bar: 2100 Curtis St., (303) 292-2083
Carioca Bar (a.k.a. Bar Bar) – if you dare: 2060 Champa St., (303) 296-1250