Autumn is Denver's golden season. The days are often sparkling and sunny but cool, with a hint of the coming winter in the crisp night air. In Commons Park, the cottonwoods are coloring up, and the mast of the nearby Millennium Bridge points its shadow toward downtown. And in coffee shops and brewpubs, the conversation turns, of course, to football.
Still, there's more to this season than following the fortunes of the state's gridiron heroes - such as some of the year's best weather for hiking. Hit the parks on a Sunday, when Bronco fans are glued to their tubes, and you'll have the trails practically all to yourself. Autumn is also prime time for major museum exhibits and the performing arts.
In such a big football town, it's fitting to make your first stop a pilgrimage to the Broncos' home turf, where you can see the team's Super Bowl trophies on the 75-minute Invesco Field at Mile High Tour (10-2 Thu-Sat, no Sat tours on home-game weekends; $7, $5 ages 3-12; 1701 Bryant St.; www.coloradosports.org or 720/258-3888). Then move on to more memorabilia in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum (10-3 Tue-Sat; free; inside Invesco Field; 720/258-3888).
Try a bison burger. For down-home comfort food - blue-plate specials like pot roast, meat loaf, beer-can chicken, or even a bison burger - you'll like Ted's Montana Grill ($$; 1404 Larimer St.; 303/893-0654).
Ranch kitsch and art. Pick up something for the inner cowpoke at Cry Baby Ranch (1422 Larimer; 303/623-3979), from Western-themed furnishings to cowboy boots, clothing, and jewelry. At William Matthews Gallery (closed Sun; 1617 Wazee St.; 303/534-1300), you'll see watercolor scenes of ranch life, cowboys, and fly-fishing.
Order the beef. The city's top steakhouse, the Palm Restaurant ($$$$; 1672 Lawrence St.; 303/825-7256) has walls emblazoned with caricatures of famous patrons.
Dance cowboy-style. Try the Texas two-step on a giant dance floor at the Grizzly Rose (closed Mon; $5 on weekends; 5450 N. Valley Hwy.; 303/295-1330).