If you are in town for the MLB All-Star Game and you’re feeling nervous in your hotel room, why not venture out for a taste of the city?
Denver’s art and entertainment options have mushroomed in recent years as thousands of new residents and millions of dollars have poured into the central business district. Free live entertainment won’t be hard to find along 16th Street Mall and around Union Station during the MLB All-Star Game, but the big tours will mostly stay away.
Luckily, shared scooters and bikes have helped put together neighborhoods once disconnected, and now that we’re past the pandemic, programmers are even more motivated to lure customers in with cheap tickets and specials.
Here are some ideas for home entertainment within walking distance of Coors Field in the lower downtown and Ballpark neighborhood, or slightly further southeast on the 16th Street Mall Ride shuttle (the latter of which is free). Check out our other MLB All-Star Game Week guides, including food, baseball-themed events and more, at theknow.denverpost.com.
Denver’s music scene at one point had more venues than Austin, Texas or Nashville, according to former Governor John Hickenlooper, who remains one of Colorado’s music’s biggest supporters. Outside of well-known venues like the Red Rocks Amphitheater, downtown Denver offers live music nightly in a variety of genres (some free).
Dazzle Denver, a nationally respected spot for touring jazz artists located right next to the 16th Street Mall, sells live music and dinners almost every night of the week (minus Tuesday, July 13, game night) and afternoon brunches / shows to kick off (1512 Curtis St., dazzledenver.com). Denver Dive Institute Herbs also has live music on July 9 and 10 with sets from 90s cover band Stereo Clone (herbsbar.com)
Summit music room has booked Gasolina: A Night of Reggaeton, Salsa and Cumbia, for July 10 (1902 Blake St.), while its neighboring sister room, The Marquis Theater, had artist dubstep He $ h the same evening (2009 Larimer St., lndenver.com).
Sculpture park, a sprawling green on the west side of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, recently focused on diverse live music. Upcoming: A two-night Goose run, featuring Kitchen Dwellers, July 9-10, and a July 11 concert by EDM icon Steve Aoki (1736 Speer Blvd., summeratsculpturepark.com). The Black Hawk in Oskar Blues Often welcomes folk, roots, funk and international singer-songwriters to its welcoming stage. Its adjacent MLB calendar features Oli McCraken on July 8, Brothers of Brass on July 10, and the Copper Children on July 14 (1624 Market St., theblackbuzzard.com)
Looking for more? The neighboring corridors of Capitol Hill, River North Art District, East Colfax Avenue and South Broadway offer dozens of other venues until the end of MLB All-Star Game week (denver.org).
Downtown Denver’s most well-known stand-up club, Comedy Works, remains closed for the time being. But showcases and improvisation evenings are slowly starting to return. Rise Comedy filled their schedule with a mix of stand-up and improv, July 8-11, delivering long-running shows such as “Hit and Run Comedy” back to back with themed improvisations from Laugh Track, Criminy, The Duel, Nick / Josh & Friends, and Flock Back to the Future (1260 22nd St., risecomedy.com).
The Clock Tower Cabaret, an institution of drag, burlesque and comedy under the historic D&F Clocktower, will host Shirley Delta Blow’s “Drag Queen Time Machine” for two shows on July 9, the “burlesque bandstand” review “That 50s Show” on July 10 (also two shows), and the Applause for Paws fundraiser on July 11 (1601 Araphaoe St., clocktowercabaret.com).
Wide right hosts The Rockpile stand-up showcase on July 9-10 (2100 Curtis St., widerightdenver.com), while the beloved, artistic Cafe Mercure offers a live stand-up every Friday (2199 California St., mercurecafe.com). Most feature comics from local and smaller tours, but if you’re up for the scooter ride, Denver Comedy Show in the RiNo Art District is headlining nationally Louis Katz for four shows, July 9-10 (3559 Larimer St., denvercomedylounge.com)
GALLERIES / PUBLIC ART
With dozens of adjacent galleries downtown in various art districts, it’s hard to determine which ones to visit. But like the locations selected above, it’s easy to see those near Coors Field that are worth stopping by.
LoDo Robischon Gallery is known for bringing exciting contemporary artists to town, although it currently appears to be between spring and summer installations (1740 Wazee St., robischongallery.com). David B. Smith Gallery is nearby, with eclectic but carefully selected contemporary artists overlapping in their exhibits. K Contemporary is also an engaging pop-in with a mix of contemporary and pop art often brimming with playfulness and color (1412 Wazee St., artcontemporain.com)
The surprising, eclectic Dikeou collection is only open by appointment, but there is a lot to see and definitely worth reserving a spot (1615 California St., dikeoucollection.org). There is also the appointment only David Cook Galleries, but it’s more about sales than public appreciation (1637 Wazee St., davidcookgalleries.com).
Like our art districts, most of Denver’s renowned museums are located just outside of downtown, in this case in the Civic Center Cultural District (right next to the Golden Triangle Art District). But even if you don’t feel like going to the Denver Art Museum, the magnificent American Museum of Western Art is open in front of the Brown Palace Hotel (1727 Tremont Place, anschutzcollection.org)
Denver’s public art collection, which stretches all the way to Denver International Airport, has a few big spots you should see. “I see what you mean,” aka The Big Blue Bear, look into the Colorado Convention Center along 14th Street and take some awesome selfies you can’t take anywhere else. “The Yearling” is a life-size horse standing on a giant red chair outside the Denver Public Library. “The dancers,” a pair of 60ft tall fiberglass sculptures facing the mountains, are also impossible to miss once you approach them at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The excellent Denver Public Art Walking Tours can also direct visitors to the city’s concentrated public art centers, including free, family-friendly guides to pieces dotted around the Denver Public Library, Civic Center Park, 16th Street Mall, Colorado Convention Center, LoDo and Denver Performing Arts Complex. (denverpublicart.org)
If you are willing to get away from these places, there are many, many (and many) other things to do and see. Visit theknow.denverpost.com/calendar for details.