Denver Restaurant Week 2017

The 2017 Denver Restaurant Week is almost here!

For years, many restaurants around Denver offered a special menu during Restaurant Week that both showed off each restaurant’s specialties, plus offered a great deal. Originally, over a decade ago, the deal was $52.80 for a couple, usually including a drink. The price was a symbol of Denver itself, and it’s 5280 feet (one mile) elevation.

But, times change, and inflation marches on, and restaurant’s had a harder and harder time coming up with the kind of menus they wanted for that price. So, cool symbolism has been abandoned. Instead, restaurants are now slated to offer meals on a price schedule reminiscent of the old 59, 79, 99 cent menus at Taco Bell. (If you remember those days, you might be a 40-something ūüôā

denver restaurant week 2017 menus

The 2017 Denver Restaurant Week menus will come in three varieties, $25, $35, or $45. Some restaurants may offer all three menus, while others may stick to the top of the range. These will be per person prices, instead of the old couples pricing.

The dates for 2017 Denver Restaurant Week have been announced as February 24 through March 5th.

The first menu postings are scheduled for January 25th, so just one more week until you can start drooling over your favorite menus. Although a look at individual restaurants may give you a sneak peak. For example, I found a Coohills Restaurant Week 2017 menu. Looks like they have targeted the $35 price point, with several optional “supplements” if you are looking to go all out.

Super savvy diners who already know which restaurants they want to hit may want to start making reservations now. Many Denver area restaurants take reservations online via OpenTable, so start there.

Several restaurants have traditionally pulled out all the stops for Denver Restaurant Week in the past. I’m looking forward to checking out menus from Guard and Grace, Mizuna, Tag (fingers crossed for meatloaf and duck fat fries) among others.

What restaurants are you looking forward to checking out?

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens is a typical botanic gardens located in the center of Denver. The Botanic Gardens is located just a few miles from downtown Denver, near Cheesman Park, on Josephine Street. Admission costs $12.50 for adults and $9 for kids. Kids 2 and under are free. The Botanic Gardens, of course, has acres of flowers, plants, and trees.

denver botanic gardens flowers

One of the most interesting thing about the Botanic Gardens in Denver is its Tropical Conservatory. One of Denver’s first wealthy families was the Boettchers. You have seen their name on things if you have been sightseeing in Denver at all. In fact, today’s Governor’s residence is in, you guessed it, Boettcher Mansion. The Boettchers made their money in cement, supplying the building materials during Denver’s boom. So, when the time came to build something to house tropical plants, the Boettchers donated it, and cast the whole thing out of cement.

denver botanic gardens tropical conservatory

Inside, the tropical forest has live, towering jungle trees, flowers, coffee trees, and more. There are also some ducks. Stairs in the center take you up three stories to the top of the jungle canopy. It’s worth the price of admission on it’s own.

Next door, a newer addition has a warm, moist area for a collection of orchids and other plants.

orchids at denver botanic gardens

Outside, wide open trails and a friendly attitude make it a great place for a stroll, with or without kids. Around the edges are “hidden” paths off of the main paved trails. There is also a science pyramid, a bonazi garden, lilly pad ponds, beautiful fountains and more. The Botanic Gardens had a very successful show of Chihuly¬†glass art in 2014. When the show left, the Gardens bought a beautiful, permanent, glass work to display. You’ll find it near the Gardens southeast corner.

permanent chihuly glass sculpture at denver botanic gardens

As an added treat, there is a Botanic Gardens Cafe near the entrance. The pastries and quiches here are very good, and definitely worth a stop. The cafe in the middle of the gardens near the Japanese ponds is more hit or miss, but if you need a burger, or slice of pizza, it’s your place.

botanic gardens lilly ponds

Across the street on top of the parking ¬†structure, is a Children’s Garden. It has fun paths, including a simulated hike up to 10,000 feet, and hearty plants. The main draw for most kids is the, go ahead and play in it, simulated stream in the center of the Children’s Garden.

Around Christmas time, the Denver Botanic Gardens does an extensive Christmas light show using the trees and plants in the Gardens. It can get cold at night in Colorado during December, so check the weather and bundle up.

Usually, the Botanic Gardens is not crowded and a great, relaxing experience. However, the Botanic Gardens offers free days that get very crowded, and they have big plant sales a few times each year which bring out the crowds as well. If you want the gardens to yourself, you’ll want to avoid those days.

The Denver Botanic Gardens hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m from Mother’s Day until Labor Day and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the winter months. They are open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

If you want a less sculpted, more outdoorsy experience, there is another branch of the Botanic Gardens south of Denver at Chatfield Reservoir.

Money Museum Denver Federal Reserve Bank

The Denver Federal Reserve building is in downtown Denver on 16th Street between Curtis St. and Arapahoe St.. The free 16th Street mall shuttle bus passes directly in front of the Federal Reserve, a large gray stone building with a wrought iron fence surrounding it. Until a few years ago, the only way members of the public could see inside the Federal Reserve in Denver was as part of an official tour group. Now, the downtown Denver Fed bank offers a Denver tourist attraction called the Money Museum.

federal-reserve-bank-denverUnlike tours of the Denver Mint, or the main Federal Reserve building, no reservations are required for the Money Museum in the Denver Federal Reserve Bank. (Tours of the actual Federal Reserve building require reservations made at least two weeks in advance.) The Money Museum hours are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for banking holidays.

Admission to the Money Museum is free. People older than 18 do have to provide a photo ID for admission.

Highlights of the Money Museum include a display of $30 million in cash, displays of historical U.S. currency, various interactive exhibits and a station where you can design your own money.  Visitors to the Money Museum also receive a bag of actual U.S. dollar bills that has been shredded by the bank because it is no longer fit for circulation.

With its location right downtown, the Denver Money Museum makes a great stop not only for travelers sightseeing in Denver, but also for people attending events at the Denver Convention Center, or just for people who work downtown on their lunch hour. There is no public parking for the Money Museum, so you’ll need to grab a parking meter or park in a parking lot or parking garage downtown.

If you think you might be hearing strange sounds from the sidewalk grates outside the Money Museum entrance, you aren’t crazy. An art installation beneath the sidewalk pumps up sounds to the street of things like waves on a beach, or the sound of a subway train. Different vents have different sounds. Take a second to stand over each one to hear all the sounds.

If you are trying to look up information about the Federal Reserve’s Denver Money Museum online, you might be confused by your search results. That’s because the Federal Reserve building in Denver, is actually a Federal Reserve Branch Bank. The word “Branch” is the key. The actual Federal Reserve Bank for the region is in Kansas City. While you’ll see a D mint mark on coins, you won’t see Denver or a D on any dollar bills, only Kansas City.

Although, it also has to do with money, the Denver Mint is a different organization and not directly connected with the Federal Reserve. You can find information about touring the Denver Mint at the the United States Mint website. Note that tours of the Denver Mint do require tickets which can be purchased in advanced. Standby tickets can be picked up starting at 7:30 a.m. at the mint.  Tours there are free as well, but you generally cannot just show up and walk in because the tours sell out in advance.

Be sure to hop on the free 16th Street Shuttle bus and have lunch or dinner at one of the many great restaurants in the downtown Denver.

2011 Denver Zoo Lights

Don’t forget the Denver Zoo has its annual Zoo Lights event in December. The zoo lights up a large portion of its park with Christmas lights of all kinds and an array of animal light sculptures. If you are looking for places to take kids to see Christmas lights in Denver, Zoo Lights should be at the top of your list. You can find more information about Denver Zoo Lights 2011 on the Undefeated Daddy blog along with other useful dad parenting tips.

More Christmas events and attractions coming soon!