Places and Events of Interest
Between sessions at the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting, there is plenty to do and see while visiting the Denver area. As the capital city of the U.S. state of Colorado, Denver is home to a population of more than 600,000 people, making it the 19th largest city in the U.S.
It is also a city of many cultures and has long been a diverse gathering place celebrating with a number of ethnic events and festivals throughout the year. From the nation's largest Cinco de Mayo Festival recognizing Mexican culture, to the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival honoring Asian traditions, to the Denver March Powwow, the nation's largest and most diversified Native American gathering, Denver has a occasion for everyone to experience diversity.
The first historical settlement, which later became the city of Denver, was during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1858 established by a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas. Although it was abandoned for gold discovery in a nearby town, today Denver's mix of technology, agriculture, telecommunications, tourism, energy, space, defense, and federal sectors make it the central location bridging the East and West Coasts, as well as the Midwest. Make the most of your time surrounding the duration of the conference by exploring the grandeur of the Rocky Mountain region and enjoying the cultural, gastronomic and other features the Denver area has to offer. Below are just a few of the many things to experience in the region, along with a handy map to explore locations.
Getting Around Denver
Transportation from airport to hotel - Airport Rail “train to the plane”
Getting from the Denver International Airport is a breeze with the new A Line connecting the airport directly to Denver’s Union Station. Opening on April 22, 2016, the A Line costs just $10.50, bringing riders to Denver’s transportation center in under 40 minutes. From Union Station, AAG meeting attendees can catch the free MallRide shuttle down 16th Street to the meeting hotels or a variety of free MetroRide busses to the surrounding area. The A Line runs as frequently as every 15 minutes. More information about the A Line schedule can be found on the Regional Transportation District website.
The Free MallRide bus departs from Denver’s Union Station and continues down 16th street, a pedestrian mall with the exception of the MallRide shuttle. The MallRide is the fastest way to the AAG Meeting hotels from Union Station with a drop off point next to the Sheraton Denver Downtown. The 16th Street Mall features a variety of dining options from fast casual to upscale as well as shopping and breweries.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Thinking of Colorado conjures up images of the Rocky Mountains in our geographic imaginations. What better way to meet these expectations than with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Situated approximately 70 miles outside of downtown Denver, visitors will require a personal vehicle to get to and around the park as shuttle service does not open until May. Rocky Mountain National Park is known for a variety of hiking trails, campgrounds, and picnic sites. Visitors often encounter wildlife from elk and bighorn sheep to over 250 species of birds. In April, the park will still have snow cover which can affect what areas are open. Be sure to check the park schedule before visiting to understand the current operating hours.
Garden of the Gods
Outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado lies the Garden of the Gods at 6,000 feet above sea-level. Close to Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods features hiking, rock climbing, and impressive views of exposed geologic history. The red rock features were created 300 million years ago in a natural upheaval along a fault line. A variety of physical geographic features can be seen in this landscape: alluvial fans, ancient seas, and eroded mountain ranges to name a few. Admission to the park and visitor center is free, though attendees will need a car to drive the 70 miles south to the site.
Golden Triangle Creative District
Named one of the best places to travel in 2018 by the New York Times, Denver’s Golden Triangle sits on 12 acres in downtown Denver, just a ten minute walk from the #aagDENVER Meeting hotels. With over 500 businesses and institutions, this neighborhood is bustling with activity in arts and culture. A portion of the design of this neighborhood, which includes the state Capitol and the U.S. Mint, dates back to the “City Beautiful” movement during the early 20th Century. Today, a variety of museums and restaurants are tucked in between art galleries and festivals. If you are planning to come to Denver ahead of the AAG Meeting, take advantage of Free First Saturdays at the Denver Art Museum to see their collections of Native American, Western American, and Spanish Colonial art as well as rotating contemporary exhibits. The History Colorado Center also offers something for everyone with regards to Colorado’s history including the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Nearby, the Center for Colorado Women’s History at Byers-Evans House served as a Victorian Era home to many influential women and now houses a collection of stories of women from Colorado and worldwide.
As one of the elusive “four sport cities” Denver boasts several sporting events located within walking distance to AAG Annual Meeting hotels. Though the Denver Broncos NFL season will not yet have started, sports fans can visit Coors Field or the Pepsi Center to enjoy baseball, basketball, men’s hockey, and indoor lacrosse.
Spring marks the start of baseball season, so what better time to catch a game than one evening during #aagDENVER? The Colorado Rockies make their home at Coors Field in downtown Denver since the field’s construction in 1995. The Rockies are a fairly new team in baseball, officially joining the National League during the two team expansion in 1993. Coors Field is easily accessible to meeting hotels through a 25 minute walk or by catching the free MallRide shuttle down 16th Street towards Union Station. Catch a game the weekend before the meeting when the Rockies play the Padres or take a midweek break when they face off against the Rangers.
Professional basketball has a long history in Denver, dating back to the 1949-1950 inaugural season of the NBA. While the original Denver Nuggets folded immediately after the first NBA season, a new team, the Denver Rockets (first named the Denver Larks) played as part of the American Basketball Association (ABA) between 1967 and 1976. Following the NBA/ABA merger, the team from Denver returned to the Nuggets name as part of the NBA. Find a game at the Pepsi Center, located one mile from AAG meeting hotels, on April 5, 7, or 11.
Sharing the Pepsi Center with the Denver Nuggets is the Colorado Avalanche Men’s Ice Hockey team. The Avalanche arrived in Denver for the 1995-96 season after playing as the Quebec Nordiques since 1972. Despite the fact that Denver has many professional sports teams, the Avalanche were the first major professional sports team to bring a championship title to the city in 1996. The Avalanche will be in town April 4 when they face off against defending Stanley Cup Champions, the St. Louis Blues.
Did you know that the National Lacrosse League has been expanding their geography in recent years? One of the expansion teams is found in Denver! The Colorado Mammoth play what’s been called the fastest sport on two feet at the Pepsi Center. Indoor Lacrosse is similar to ice hockey, but on turf. Check out the game on April 4 for a unique action-packed sporting experience!
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Musical performances have been taking place at Red Rocks Amphitheater for over 100 years, the first occurring in 1909. The outdoor theater was predominantly built during the late 1930s with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is currently owned and operated by the City of Denver. Be sure to check out the calendar of events to see what performances will be happening during your visit for #aagDENVER. While there is no public transportation to the amphitheater, it is 15 miles away and offers a drop off area for those arriving by rideshare.
City Park with Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Explore the largest urban park in Denver by taking a visit to City Park. Located two miles from the AAG Meeting hotels, City Park is 330 acres containing walking paths as well as two ponds where visitors can rent small paddle boats. The park was conceived in the 1880s as a more permanent population was settling in to the Denver area, transforming from a mining camp to an urban center. Today the park also includes the Denver Zoo as well as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (photo at right). The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, started in 1900, is known for its collection of “Folsom points” proving that humans lived in North America more than 10,000 years ago as well as the Snowmastodon Project which has helped scientists understand climate change in the American West. The Denver Zoo was the first institution in the U.S. to utilize Carl Hagenbeck’s revolutionary design principles with regards to housing animals in habitats mimicking nature instead of cages. Opening in 1918, the Bear Mountain exhibit is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Denver Botanic Gardens
A couple miles southeast of the #aagDENVER meeting hotels lies the 24 acre Denver Botanic Gardens in Cheesman Park. Their Gardens of the West exhibit is a way for visitors to view and learn more about the plants native to Colorado’s climate. Being located in Denver, their Internationally Inspired Gardens feature plants from around the world located in similar steppe climates. Tickets to the gardens are $12.50 for adults or $9 for children and students.
Denver Branch of the U.S. Mint
The Denver Mint is the oldest continuously operating U.S. Mint facility. While the U.S. government established the Denver Mint on April 21, 1862 for the purpose of producing gold coinage, the Denver facility began production in its current building on West Colfax Avenue in 1904. Though the Denver Mint was initially intended to product gold coins, coin production did not begin until February 1906 when both gold and silver coins were produced. Today the Denver Mint continues to manufacture coins for circulation in U.S. currency as well as stores silver bullion and produces commemorative and uncirculated collectors coins. Free tours of the Denver Mint are held six times a day (8:00 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:30 PM) Monday through Thursday. Tour tickets are available at the Mint on a first come, first served basis for same day tickets only (no advance tickets available). Located near the Colorado State Capitol, the Denver Mint is a less than ten minute walk from the AAG Meeting hotels.
Within the United States, the craft beer industry has had the highest economic impact in the state of Colorado, grossing $764 per person over the age of 21. While Colorado no longer holds the title for the most breweries per capita (Vermont currently sits in the number one spot), it goes without saying that the growth in craft beer has had an immense impact on the state. Denver, where the annual Great American Beer Festival is held every fall, is an excellent location to get acquainted with the Colorado brewing tradition. Local favorites like Wynkoop, Great Divide, and the Denver Beer Company are located downtown, but visitors to the city can find more than forty breweries in the greater Denver area. The Denver beer trails highlight breweries within several neighborhoods throughout the city.
Coors Brewing Company
The single largest brewing facility in the world is found outside of Denver, Colorado at the Coors Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado. Started in 1873 by Adolph Coors, Sr. who emigrated to the United States from Prussia by way of Baltimore, Maryland, Coors is today a part of MillerCoors, a subsidiary of Molson Coors, the world’s third largest brewer. The brewery itself annually brews up to 22 million barrels and packages up to 16 million barrels. A $10 tour of the facility is available for visitors Thursday - Monday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (noon start time on Sundays). Golden Colorado is approximately 15 miles west of downtown Denver and is accessible by public bus or private vehicle. See the Coors Brewery Tour website for more detailed information.
Colorado State Capitol
Denver is both Colorado’s most populous city with over 700,000 people as well as the state capital city. The Colorado State Capitol building is located on Colfax Ave, between Lincoln and Grant Streets, and only a 15 minute walk from the AAG Annual Meeting hotels. Built between 1886 and 1901, the Colorado Capitol uses a variety of building materials quarried from the state and was modeled after the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Free public tours of the Capitol are available every hour between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM during weekdays.
U.S. Air Force Academy
In 1954, seven years after the U.S. Air Force was established as a separate branch of the U.S. military, the U.S. Air Force Academy was founded. Colorado Springs, Colorado was the eventual site chosen to house the undergraduate academy to train officers for the U.S. Air Force. Today, approximately 4,000 cadets are enrolled throughout the institutions 31 majors, including a major in Geospatial Science. The on campus interfaith chapel made of glass, aluminium, and steel is a major tourist attraction in the local area and was named to CNN’s list of most epic churches in America in 2014. The Academy and Barry Goldwater Visitor Center is open to the public daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and visitors are invited to use the hiking trails available on campus.
Geographic Information Sciences
Did you know that Esri has a regional office not far from Denver in Broomfield, Colorado? Located about 18 miles from the AAG Annual Meeting hotels, the Esri office in Denver is one of 11 regional offices for the company. Esri, the maker of digital mapping software ArcGIS, has been a sponsor of the AAG Annual Meeting throughout the past two decades. Stay tuned to learn more about workshops being offered at the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting by Esri.