Discovering Denver

It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning and traffic around Denver, Colorado, was light; one of the main reasons we chose a Sunday to explore downtown Denver.  We didn’t have any real set schedule in mind, just a desire to meander around the city.

Cathedral BasilicaEven though we’ve called Colorado home for nearly twenty years, doesn’t mean we’ve spent much time in Denver.  As a matter of fact, we’ve spent very little time in this lovely city.

Having lived a two-hour drive south of Denver, traffic conditions and a firm schedule always kept us from slowly exploring this city.  It was always hurry up, tend to business, and get back on the road before rush hour traffic or before the weather turns for the worse making traffic that much more challenging.  Yep, always in a hurry.

The beauty of staying camped in one location for a while is we get to slow things down.  If the skies are threatening to let loose, we can stay put in our cozy little RV and move the plans to the next day.  Fortunately, Colorado offers up plenty of gorgeous sunshine and thus opportunity to explore.  With our home parked only a twenty minute drive from downtown Denver, we have no excuse not to explore this city in a leisurely manner.REI flagship store

After reviewing my trusty little book – Moon Colorado (Moon Handbooks)I chose REI to be the first stop of the day. The REI Denver Flagship store can be easily seen from Interstate 25 and is located across from Confluence Park where Cherry Creek meets the South Platte River.  The 90,000 square foot building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.REI flagship store Denver

REI flaship store

REI flagship store

The building was once home to the Denver Tramway Powerhouse.  The Denver Tramway Company built electric streetcar lines in Denver.  The Denver Tramway Powerhouse was built-in 1901 to house boilers and engines used to generate electricity for the rail system.outdoor recreation in Colorado

As the automobile gained popularity, electric rail lines were removed from the streets of Denver and the Denver Tramway Powerhouse was closed in 1950.  The building was then used as a warehouse and later as a museum.  In 1998 REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) purchased the building and after an extensive renovation the store opened to the public in 2000.REI Denver The REI Denver Flagship Store includes bike trails, a 45 foot tall indoor climbing wall, outdoor climbing features, and outdoor trails that wind through native plants and water features.  On the main floor there’s a huge Starbucks with indoor and outdoor seating and the third floor offers a cute jungle gym to entertain kids.  And let’s not forget about all the great products an outdoor enthusiast could ask for.REII would not normally classify a store on a sightseeing list, but this REI is an exception.  Al and I found ourselves meandering around the REI store; inside and outside, for a couple of hours.REI


views to admire!

While I was admiring the architecture, Al was admiring the views.

Yep, I’d say this REI has something for everyone and is a must see stop for anyone visiting Denver, Colorado.

And on another note ….. It’s obvious Coloradans love their outdoor activities.  The Rocky Mountains offer a beautiful backdrop to the city of Denver and are a short drive away offering endless recreational possibilities.  Colorado also offers plenty of festivals, 5K’s, professional sporting events, concerts, and abundant breweries to entertain just about anyone’s interest.

But above all are the folks that love living in Colorado and appreciate all that it has to offer.  That said, these folks discovered a unique way to commute to work.  Instead of bike to work day, they’ve come up with Tube to work day. (be sure and click on the blue link for more photos and a video)  How funny is this?  Hope those suits were machine washable!REI
TETON Sports Trailrunner 2.0 Hydration Backpack w/ Bladder (16.5″x 10.5″x .7″, Black)



42 thoughts on “Discovering Denver

  1. I know what you mean about avoiding rush hour traffic. We live about two hours away from San Francisco. We’ll visit The City for day trips but want to be out of there before rush hour. It would be great to be a bit closer and explore it for a week at a time to get to see the little gems of the area.
    Here in Sacramento we have two local REI stores but they pale in comparison to the Denver store. I’ll definitely put this one on our to see list once we start our FT journey.

    • I would highly recommend staying closer to SF to explore leisurely. It’s been fun discovering Denver even though high country explorations were the original plan for the summer. Just another plus of the RV lifestyle; being able to change plans and directions on a whim. 🙂

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit Denver but, when I’ve been in Colorado, it’s been a mad dash to the Rockies. Looks like I’ve missed quite a bit. We’ve an REI store here in town but, I must admit, it hardly compares to the flagshiop. I’d love to walk around that place — and I’m not a shopper. 🙂

    • Denver is a city worth seeing and is so pretty during the summer. There’s bits and pieces that remind me of Chicago but Denver is so much more smaller and super easy to get around. I would highly recommend a day or two exploring next time you’re in the area 🙂

  3. You bet I will be in Denver someday, Ingrid. I have never been to any place in Colorado except the airport. That REI is something and is really huge. I can imagine myself lost trying out stuff while Steve sitting outside waiting for me to be done.

    • When the time comes to visit, be sure and check with me for recommendations on places to stay. You’ll need at least 2 weeks to take it all in and the Light Rail and bike trails are awesome. Trust me, you and Steve would really enjoy 🙂

    • Yes, that’s the climbing wall and it simulates real climbing. So not for the novice however they do offer climbing lessons. I was enthralled with the architecture and loved how they renovated the building. One of these days, we may actually purchased something there 😉

  4. Love REI..that store in Denver looks especially terrific! Eric and I really enjoy mixing up city adventures with nature adventures, too. Thanks for the tip on the RV park in Golden — staying nearby and taking public transportation into the city is definitely the way to go!

    • We’re discovering we too like the diversity of nature and city excursions. Should you visit Denver, be sure and check with me, I can recommend several different campground options. 🙂

  5. I live in Denver and still love wondering around REI. Such a beautiful building and a very peaceful area. Thanks for the history lesson! I didnt know that past life of the building!

    • After my visit, I felt compelled to do a little research on the building and when REI took possession. We’ll definitely be returning for more shopping and meandering. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

    • I can certainly understand why. I’m hoping to go back this weekend with my daughter as I don’t think she’s familiar with it. Fun place to shop and hang out 🙂

  6. Denver has been changed a lot since we visited there several years ago. I look forward to re-visit it in the near future. 🙂 Amazing store.

    • Definitely worth a visit. I’m really impressed with all the parks and trails throughout the city. Hopefully we’ll take advantage before moving on 🙂

    • There’s so many things to see and do in Denver and within an hours drive outside of Denver that I don’t think I could narrow down a priority list of ‘must see’ things. Guess it just takes multiple visits!

    • I’m sure you and your BF could have plenty of fun at the REI. Hmm, perhaps rock climbing is in your future. Let me know and I’ll be sure and video tape that adventure for you…. only thinking of you and good blog material 😉

  7. With all the scenery around the Denver area I probably wouldn’t take the time to visit the REI store, but from your photos, that would be a mistake. What a wonderful old building!

    • Not only is the building very cool but the exterior surroundings are awesome. It’s definitely worth a stop and the supply of hiking shoes/boots is huge.

  8. Biking trails in a REI store….wow! Hope they had some nice July sales going on. Tickled you get to explore such a beautiful city…how fortunate to be so close. I’ll remember the Sunday trick.

    • Biking trails OUTSIDE the store to sample some of the merchandise. Saturdays and Sundays are good days to explore the city and Sundays you don’t have to feed the meter. Fun city to explore 🙂

  9. We love REI and will definitely be checking it out when we get to Denver later this year. I know what you mean about living so close and not taking the time to explore a city. I feel the same way about Denver and we lived right there.

    • Don’t forget to check into the Light rail for public transportation. I’m sure that’s all new since you lived here. Denver is definitely a fun, clean city to explore and the art scene has really expanded 🙂

  10. An REI Flagship Store AND a Starbucks!!! What more could a girl want! I can’t believe we were in the area a year ago June and I didn’t know this. Darn! Of course, we were actually staying in Estes Park and only drove into Denver to get our daughter from airport. But I most certainly could have gone there when we took her back. There is just way too much to see and do in each and every city and town in the huge country. I have to become a better researcher. I am only good at researching hiking trails. Next summer for sure this is on the top of the list! So glad you shared:)

    • If you want to spend more time exploring Denver, consider staying at the Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden. The Light Rail makes it super convenient to head into the city and not worry about driving and parking. Lots of hiking and exploring in a really pretty city 🙂

        • Be sure and check out Cherry Creek State Park as well. The Light Rail runs nearby that location also. A week in one spot and a week in another – perfect scenario 🙂

  11. We have been through Colorado quite a few times..usually hitting some National Parks and ending up in Colorado Springs…never made it to Denver per say…Like you and Al, we stay clear of big cities. Looks like a place with lots of history and that is my second love..Thanks for letting us ride along!!

    • I’m getting my city mojo back. It’s taken me the past month to get into city dwelling after spending so much time in the hinterland. Al and I used to go into Chicago all the time when we were dating. So our day excursions into Denver has put us into the ‘dating mode’ …. not a bad thing after thirty some years, eh!

  12. beautiful city – the NEA – National education Association – held their annual convention in July. i saw some Facebook posts from some friends who attended – they reported they had a good time, sorry I missed it. I can tell from your post and pictures there is a lot to do. The REI flagship store would be a great place to visit. Our local REI might be 20,000 SF max – but it has the charm of a Target, that location would be a place to visit and buy! Have a great weekend and a great week to come,

    • This REI store has a lot of unique charm and I loved exploring it just as much as I used to love going to the Marshall Fields on State Street. Hopefully you’ll get to go on the next NEA Convention if it’s held back in Denver.

  13. Wonderful blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your travels with the rest of us. I hope to be full-timing in a year or two.

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