Denver Survival Kit

There’s no other city like Denver. It has a perfectly balanced calm sense of bustle, and zero phoniness. We visited the Mile High City last weekend to celebrate my sister’s law school graduation. Amidst our celebration of her massive achievement, I wrote some tips for first-time Denver travelers.

1) Learn how to combat altitude sickness. You can’t hide from this. It will find you. Electrolyte water, Ibuprofen, and saline nasal spray are your BFF’s.

2) Visit the 1up video game bar. For $10, you can have hours of fun jerking joysticks from nostalgic treasures like Tron, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, Punch Out, Space Invaders, and Jr. Pac-Man. All games cost 25 cents per play (or 50 cents for double player) and pinball machines cost 50 cents per play. Yes, they have Skee ball. If a tube-topped college freshman yaks on the patio as you enter, pay no heed. Frogger awaits.

3) Catch a Rockies game at Coors Field. For $12 a ticket, you can sit in the “rock pile” by the outfield. Chomp on a rainbow sno-cone, cheer at the word “mountains” during God Bless America, shout “Tulo!” whenever possible, reminisce about Moneyball when Giambi takes the plate, and respect the power of the rally cap.

4) Walk a two-mile lap around the vibrant, historic Washington Park. You’ll want to do something to offset all of that great Colorado beer you’ve been drinking, and you can gawk at the geese. Plus it has a croquet field. A croquet field, I tell you.

5) If you don’t have a skiing anecdote, invent one. This will come up, so the more creative you can be, the better. Ostriches and harmonicas aren’t off limits. You’ll be asked 122 times if you ski, so have fun with it.

6) If you don’t have a Red Rocks anecdote, invent one. This will come up, so the more creative you can be, the better. New Kids on the Block and Engelbert Humperdinck aren’t off limits. You’ll be asked 53 times if you’ve been to Red Rocks, so have fun with it.

7) King Soopers is a grocery store. Just so you know. Oh, and Saturday Night Live airs in Denver on Saturdays at 10:30 p.m.

8) Watch Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. It may teach you a tiny bit about Denver, but it’s a legitimate excuse to stare at Andy Garcia. For his acting skills.

9) Pop over to The Village Cork for some Warm Brie & Roasted Garlic and a glass of wine heaven. Grab a table in the corner and soak in the Steely Dan. And Michael McDonald. And Hall & Oates. How did they steal your father’s playlist?

10) Savor the vistas of the Rocky Mountain peaks against the Denver horizon. Store them in your brain to recall when you need a pure mountain moment. They come in handy.