Downtown Denver Public Library

Denver-public-library-books-graphic The Denver Public Library Downtown Branch is located on the Southeast edge of the main downtown Denver area next to the Denver Art Museum and Civic Center Park with both the Colorado State Capitol Building, and the Denver City and County Buildings near by. Branch libraries are located through out the city.

The library building itself is something of an interesting architectural piece. On one hand, the building is composed of perfectly normal building shapes and colors, just like you would draw in a picture, and that is its genius. Of course, real buildings typically don’t look like the ones drawn on paper, but this one does. It is pastel colored with each segment of the building forming a perfectly drawn shape, cylinders, rectangles, and squares.

Inside, the Denver Public Library book collection sprawls across four floors. The library Children’s section is on the first floor, as is the Reference Section, and the popular fiction and multimedia section. The top three floors contain the bulk of the library’s books and are categories in the traditional Dewey Decimal System manner.

The library has numerous computer workstations with public Internet access. This can make finding a free one can be difficult despite time limits placed on consecutive usage, as many people camp out for as long as they are allowed online. For that reason, it is advisable to search the library’s card catalog online prior to visiting if you are looking for something specific. Otherwise, a handful of computers scattered throughout the library are marked as being either Card Catalog Only, or No Internet Access. These stations are generally not occupied.

Residents of Denver can use the online catalog to not only search for materials, but also to place books, DVDs, and CDs on hold. The great thing about the system is that in addition to reserving the materials, the user may also choose where to pick up the materials, meaning that there is no need to drive all over town to a specific library to get the book you want. Simply place a hold on the book and select your nearest Denver Library Branch to pick it up.

Denver Public Library Hours

The main downtown branch of the library is open every day, although only for a half a day on Sundays.

However, all local branch library locations are closed on Sunday. Additionally, falling tax revenues have caused Denver and the library system to endure major budget cuts. Unfortunately one money saving method being used is closing branches for additional days. The 2010 Library Schedule of hours has most branches closed on Sundays and two other days each week, so check the Denver Library Hours prior to venturing out.

Denver Pavilions in Downtown Denver

Denver-Pavilions-downtown-denver Shopping Downtown at the Pavilions

On the eastern end of the 16th Street Mall is the Denver Pavilions, an outdoor mall within the mall. The Pavilions has numerous shopping opportunities including a two-story Barnes & Noble, Gap, Banana Republic, Nike Town, Bath & Body Works, and a Victoria’s Secret store. The Pavilions also houses smaller local stores and boutiques ranging from nail salons to tobacco shops.

Downtown Denver Pavilions Restaurants

Pavilions restaurants offers a variety of dining eateries ranging from restaurant chains to local favorites. Maggiano’s Little Italy is a popular family style Italian restaurant. That means that you should order the half-order unless you plan to share, because the portion are huge. On weekend evenings, the wait can be long, so grab a reservation earlier in the week, or show up before 6:00 P.M. to avoid a long wait in the bar.

There is also the Hard Rock Cafe Denver,  Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and local lunch favorite, Corner Bakery Cafe which serves sandwiches, hot Panini’s, soups, and bakery creations.

Denver Pavilions Nightlife in Downtown Denver

When it’s time to have some fun in Downtown Denver, the Pavilions has plenty of options for daytime fun as well as hot spots for those looking for fun nightlife. Jazz @ Jack’s offers, as you might guess, live Jazz music and drinks. Jack’s has live music 7 days a week, including Sundays. The house band, Dotsero, has been playing together for 18 years! The core members of the group are all University of Colorado (CU) alumni.

So, whether you flew in on Sunday for a business meeting, or are tourists in Denver with the family, or are locals out for the Denver’s nightlife downtown, you can always drop by Jack’s for some music.

If you are looking for something a little louder and flashier, consider Coyote Ugly Saloon, as franchised offshoot of the real Coyote Ugly bar in New York City made popular by the Coyote Ugly movie starring Piper Perabo and Maria Bello.

Look for the free weekly newspaper, Westword Magazine, in sidewalk displays and in the entryways of many shops and restaurants around the city. Many of Denver’s nightclubs, bars, and other hot spots run ads in the back of the paper. The ads in Westword often list bands that are playing all over town, including in the Pavilions, as well as any drink specials or special theme nights or parties. Ladies nights, in particular, can be very generous in downtown Denver.

Downtown Bowling at Lucky Strikes

If that weren’t enough, there is also bowling. That’s right, I said bowling.

Lucky Strike Lanes takes the stogy, smoke-filled, bowling alleys of suburbia and turns the idea on its head with a hip way to hang out with friends, enjoy music, and have a couple of cocktails. As one patron put it, how much more fun can you have than getting drunk and throwing stuff. (Perhaps this is why darts is so popular?) Flashy lighting, and cocktail waitresses round out the ambiance as this nightclub slash bowling alley combination in Downtown Denver.

Denver Pavilions Movie Theater

If you are looking for entertainment downtown that doesn’t involve food or drinks, the 14 screen multiplex at United Artists Theaters on the third floor of the Pavilions shows hit movies and fan favorites. The movie theater offers validated parking in the Pavilions parking garage for customers who buy a movie ticket. Take your parking ticket from the garage into the theatre with you to have it validated. Just look for the validation machine on the wall to the right of the doors (as you face the entrance/exit). Validation is only good for three hours. That time starts when you drive into the parking garage, not when your movie starts.

Denver Pavilions Location on 16th Street Mall

The Denver Pavilions is on the eastern end of the 16th Street Mall. If you are staying in a Denver hotel on the west end of town, or are finishing up seeing some of Denver’s tourist attractions, like the Denver Aquarium, don’t worry about getting a cab or driving your car. The free 16th Street shuttle will take you across downtown along the mall for free.

Parking downtown is at on street parking meters, or in the Pavilions parking garage.

Denver Pavilions Parking Garage Downtown

denver-pavilions-parking-garage-graphic Denver Pavilions parking, like all parking in Downtown Denver takes place either on the street at a parking meter, or in a parking garage. Denver parking meters, as always, run $1 per hour, with a two-hour maximum until 10:00 P.M. Monday through Saturday. Meters are free all day on Sunday and holidays.

The Pavilions parking garage is accesses off of Welton Street. You need to be headed northbound on Glenarm to get in easily, so get on 15th Street (one-way westbound) from Tremont Pl., Court Pl., or Colfax and turn right (north) onto Welton St.

Elevators from the Pavilion’s garage go directly up into the Pavilions Mall. However, there are two different elevators, so make sure you pay attention to which one you come out of.

From the ground level, you can hop on the 16th Street Mall Free Shuttle and be anywhere in downtown Denver in minutes.

Parking Garage Rates Pavilions

Pavilions parking rates are $4.00 per hour for the first three hours, and $14.00 for anything over 3 hours during the day. However, after 5:00 P.M. weekdays, and all day on weekend, its a flat rate of $7.00, so if you’ll be less than 2 hours, try and find a parking meter. Meters on the nearby cross streets are typically full during the day and when there are events downtown. However, you may have better luck parking on 15th Street.

Patrons of the United Artists Movie Theater in the Denver Pavilions can park for free in the parking garage with validation. Take your parking ticket with you to the movie theater. In the lobby validate your parking ticket with the automated validation machine on the wall next to the door across from the concession stand. Keep in mind, that validation is for three hours only and the clock starts when you enter the parking garage, not when your movie starts. That means that dinner and a movie isn’t going to work unless you really finesse it and see a short flick.

During the Christmas holiday shopping season, the Pavilions parking garage usually has special rates to help lure shoppers to the downtown mall. For the holidays in 2009 through Christmas, parking rate specials are just $2.00 on weekends and evenings after 5 p.m. if you have your ticket validated with a Pavilions merchant, restaurant, nightclub, bar, or the movie theatre.

Many merchants do not require a purchase for validation, so don’t forget to ask, even if you are just window shopping.

Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is located in the heart of Downtown Denver next to the downtown branch of the Denver Public Library and just a block from the Denver City and County Building, the Colorado State Capital, and Civic Center Park. The museum is occasionally referred to in print as DAM, though never in spoken conversation. It houses several permanent art collections as well as touring or temporary exhibits.

Denver’s art museum has a large collection of Western art, as well as African art, Pacific or Oceanic art, and a respectable modern art collection as well. While the museum cannot compare to the large museums in New York or California, it does have much to offer those interested in art. For those looking for "brand name" or "bit hit" paintings from well known artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt, there are a few, but not huge collections, and virtually none that you would recognize from the poster shop in the local mall.

The museum’s contemporary art collection is both worthy and fun. It is bit more accessible than other modern art collections around the country and provides plenty of eye candy as well as the requisite number of "is that really art" pieces.

Denver Art Museum Hours and Prices

The art museum is closed on Mondays, which confuses plenty of visitors.

It is open during the rest of the week at 10:00 am except for Sundays when it opens at noon. The art museum closes at 5:00 pm everyday except Friday when the southern Hamilton Building is open until 10:00 pm. (the North Building still closes at 5:00 pm.)

Denver Art Museum admission costs $10 for Colorado Residents and $13 for everyone else.

Kids under 5 are free and children from 6 to 18 are $3 for residents, $5 for everyone else.

Parking is available in the parking garage next to the museum just to the East. However, getting into the garage is not intuitive. The entrance to the parking garage is on the southern side off of the street a block south of the road that actually goes to the museum and under the bridge that separates them. The rate is comparable to the parking meters if you stay longer than an hour, but remember that Denver parking meters are free on Sundays.

Denver Art Museum Restaurant

There is good news and bad news when it comes to eating at the DAM.

The good news is that Palettes is a wonderful fine dining restaurant inside and has plenty of great food including a Portobello Mushroom Sandwich that eats like a steak sandwich. It’s part of the Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, and in the summer at noontime, you might need a reservation, or you’ll end up waiting a half hour or so.

The bad news is that there is no cafe style eatery with sandwiches or a quick bite to eat on the go. That means there is no place for the kids to get a sandwich or juice box and sit for a rest.

Back outside an across the plaza is a Mad Greens eatery. They have sandwiches, but as the name implies, this isn’t a cheap quick bite place with a ham and cheese waiting for your kiddos. They have soups, salads and paninis as their main offerings. Think Panera Bread if it were focused on the salads with the sandwiches as the secondary offering instead of vice versa and you have a pretty good idea.

There are a couple of coffee stands inside the museum. They serve Nolo Coffee which is very good, so your latte fix is ready and waiting.

 

Denver Art Museum Buildings

The Denver Art Museum is comprised to two buildings linked together via a second story bridge over the street below. The original building was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and resembles a stone castle. The new building is the gray triangles one. The much cooler multicolored building you may notice is the central branch of the Denver Public Library.

The newer building is an angular set of gray triangles that sounds much better in its description than it actually looks like. Designed by Daniel Libeskind the and known as the Hamilton Building, the southern museum building screams, "Look at me! I am fresh and original and designed by a world renowned architect!" As with anything that begs for attention, not all of what it receives is good. The building would undoubtedly be widely regarded as folly if not for having a famous architect’s name attached to it, which may be why the museum reminds everyone who designed it at every chance.

What Was Described denver-art-museum-hamilton-building-conception

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What It Really Looks Like denver-art-museum-building-picture

Ironically, the design and the resulting interior actually suggests that the building was designed by an inexperienced amateur. The supposedly light refracting gray panels that cover the museum’s exterior do nothing of the sort. The museum could have saved a lot of money by just using plain gray panels. Inside, the angular walls required the installation of raised floor panels, painted to match the walls, in order to keep visitors from banging their heads on walls that start five feet away at floor level but protrude into even a shorter visitor’s headspace thanks to their extreme angle. For a building that is supposed to have you looking at the works of art instead of watching your head, it seems an amateurish choice.

Even more bizarre is that the museum is forced to continuously improvise new ways to display their artworks since simply hanging a frame on a 45 degree angle wall provides neither a suitable way to hang heavy artworks, nor a usable way to view them.