If you are in Denver during a warm summer evening, be sure to traverse 16th Ave. This downtown “pedestrian mall” will be filled with happy diners sitting outside restaurants, tourists banging out tunes on the colorful pianos and photographing painted pigs that sometimes fill the brick streets, and groups of friends laughing from bar to bar. 16th street is capped by the capitol building on the south end and LoDo to the north. To be honest, both of these areas are more exciting than 16th street itself. Free “pedestrian mall” shuttles will help you get from one end of the walkway to the other.

These shuttles will come in handy if you are walking down 16th street on a cold winter day, because you will probably be much less enchanted with the place. There is more than one place to buy tacky “Colorado” souvenirs and the majority of the restaurants are chains, from nice chains (Earls, Yard House) to not so nice ones (Chile’s and, of course, McDonalds). There are also at least three Starbucks along 16th Street, whereas the rest of Denver seems to embrace the “chains are for bikes, not coffee houses” philosophy.

Boulder, sitting 45 minutes northwest of Denver, does a much better job on it’s pedestrian-only Pearl Street. There are cute clothing stores, specialty shops, in the beautiful Boulderado Hotel, tons of restaurants (chains and otherwise) and a plethora of bars, ranging from gritty pool halls to DJ’d dance floors, to upscale wine rooms. Pearl Street is the most interesting at 2am, after all the bars close and groups of twenty and thirtysomethings try to find their friends and cars with varying degrees of success.