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The Best of Denver: What to See and How to Get There During Entomology 2017

16th Street Mall

The 16th Street Mall in Denver is home to a lineup of shops, bars, and restaurants that can offer Entomology 2017 attendees a variety of activities for their free time. (Photo credit: Visit Denver)

By Alix Whitener, BCE-Intern

Editor’s Note: As Entomology 2017 arrives, today we conclude our five-part “Students at #EntSoc17” series on Entomology Today, in which members of ESA’s Student Affairs Committee share what fellow student members need to know to be prepared to ignite, inspire, and innovate at Entomology 2017. 

Alix Whitener, BCE-Intern

Alix Whitener, BCE-Intern

Amid the whirlwind of activity planned for Entomology 2017, be sure to set aside time to discover what our vibrant, mountainous convention location has to offer. This guide is meant to give you just a taste of what you can expect in Denver and ignite some excitement! And, perhaps, to inspire you to explore LODO (Lower Downtown) and the surrounding area while you attend this year’s conference.

Perhaps you prefer to start your day on a walk or a bike ride before spending the day in the Convention Center attending symposia, lunch and learns, and mixers. Or, maybe you’re looking for a museum or tour to experience the area. Whether you’re interested in finding a local eatery to network over a bite, sampling locally brewed beer with a few colleagues, or catching up with a collaborator over some coffee, LODO has something for you.

One of Denver’s attractions, the Blue Bear—titled “I see what you mean,” by artist Lawrence Argent—is located just outside the Convention Center, poised with a gaze into the center itself. Use the Twitter hashtag associated with the bear, #CCCBlueBear, combined with #EntSoc17, and your tweet or Instagram post will be displayed on monitors throughout the Convention Center.

Looking for Some Caffeine Near the Convention Center?

There are 16 Starbucks locations within a mile of the Convention Center, some less than a five-minute walk away. But, if the local coffee scene in LODO is more your vibe, numerous cafés are open early enough to get back in time for morning symposia or Sunrise Sessions.

  • Open 24 hours: Leela European Café,  820 16th Street. Known for being homey and quiet, Leela’s European Café is an excellent option for a peaceful meeting location.
  • Open at 6 a.m.: ink! Coffee, 618 16th Street. A hip local chain with indoor and sidewalk seating, ‘ink!’ is a Denver favorite.
  • Open at 6:30 a.m.:
    • Backstage Coffee, 1000 14 Street. An artsy coffee shop with a theater vibe.
    • Novo Coffee, 1600 Glenarm Place. Novo is known for having a quiet atmosphere.

Quiet Meeting Locale Alternatives

The search for a place to meet up with colleagues and collaborators usually winds down to a small table in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the convention center, or, perhaps more frequently, in a loud bar or pub. Sometimes these places serve their purpose, but finding a quiet environment where your voices can actually be heard is often challenging. Here are some quieter locations nearby:

  • Novo Coffee and Leela European Café (listed above).
  • The Corner Office Restaurant and Martini Bar (0.3 mi, 7 min walk), 1401 Curtis Street. The Corner Office, winner of OpenTable’s 2016 Diner’s Choice, is a sleek restaurant with a unique menu featuring modern twists on comfort classics. Their martini bar is sure to please, combined with great small plates if you are meeting over a quick bite to eat.
  • The Greedy Hamster (0.4 mi, 10 min walk), 323 14th Street. The Greedy Hamster is an intimate, locally owned eatery offering small plates, a great happy hour (4-7 p.m.), unique cultivated cocktails, and eclectic wines in a quiet atmosphere.

What About Cheap Eats That are Still Local?

  • Sam’s No. 3 (0.4 mi), 1500 Curtis Street. Sam’s No. 3 Diner, voted “Best of Denver” and “Top Breakfast Places'” by Westword, is a great place to enjoy a quick comfort food meal for breakfast (open at 5:30 a.m.!), lunch or dinner. As featured on ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,’ Sam’s portions are large, the prices are low, and the menu is expansive.
  • Shondiz food cart (0.5 mi, 11 min walk), 480 16th Street. Shondiz is a family-owned and operated mobile food cart in LODO, offering a lunch and dinner menu including healthy Mediterranean cuisine, vegetarian options, and breakfast burritos. If the weather is nice, Shondiz is a great option for grabbing some food to go and sitting on various benches of the 16th Street mall median.
  • Mici Handcrafted Italian (0.3 mi 7 min walk), 1531 Stout Street. Mici’s is a local Italian bistro offering pasta dishes, pizza, salads, calzones, and more. With lunch specials such as two slices of pizza with a salad, soup or panini for $8, it is an affordable dining option without sacrificing a local Denver experience.

Breweries in Denver

Colorado is known for its many small-batch breweries. Some have outdoor seating, some are in reconfigured industrial buildings with their own rich history, and a few have quieter atmospheres that make them a great place to meet up with colleagues and get a taste of Denver. They all have two things in common: innovative beers and excellent food!

  • Wynkoop Brewery (1.1 mi, 25 min walk or 15 min MallRide), 1634 18th Street. Wynkoop, located in the J.S. Brown Mercantile Building near the Union Station, is where the Student Reception will be hosted this year (students and recent graduates alike are invited). Brewery tours will be offered during the reception, or you can ask about a tour if you check out the venue at another time. This brewery is the oldest brewpub in Denver, and it perhaps has the most unique brew in the area: rocky mountain oyster stout. (I tried it; give it a go!) What once started out as an April Fool’s joke is now a favorite among the 30-plus beers brewed at Wynkoop.
  • Tivoli Brewing Company (0.9 mi, 18 min walk), 900 Auraria Parkway. Tivoli began in 1859 when it was selling beer to miners and settlers, and it now offers 52 beers on tap. As the oldest brewery in Colorado, Tivoli is highly invested in the beer of the future and collaborates with Metropolitan State University of Denver’s brewing program. Tivoli also offers a biergarten with a great view of the Denver skyline, a great place for relaxation after a full day at the convention center.
  • Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery (1.0 mi, 20 min walk), 1139 20th Street. This is the kind of brewery that one would come to after climbing a “14er” in the Colorado Rockies, and the artwork featured on the walls of the taproom might inspire you to add a mountain or two to your bucket list. With beers like “Belay the Inevitable” and “Island in the Sky,” the brewers at Jagged Mountain Brewery are as clever and innovative as they are adventurous.
  • Great Divide Brewing Company (1.0 mi, 22-min walk or 14 min transit), 2201 Arapahoe Street. During Entomology 2017, GDBC’s seasonal Hibernation Ale will be available, along with its barrel-aged version. Its new Chai Yeti stout will also be on tap, making its debut. Tours of the brewery are offered daily, and you can enjoy some fall Denver sunshine on their patio while enjoying a beer from any one of their 16 taps.

One thing these breweries have in common, in addition to their great beer and awesome food, is their passion for the local Denver community and ethos for the environment.

mountain goat

A male mountain goat catches the first rays of sun on Squaw Mountain near the Fire Lookout outside Denver, Colorado, on June 22, 2017. (Photo credit: A.B. Whitener)

Get Some Fresh Air

  • South Platte River Trail. The 18-mile waterfront trail, Colorado Front Range Trail, can be most directly accessed via Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek meets the Platte River, just 1.2 miles from the Convention Center. Rent a bike (see below), go for a run, or meander along the paved trail, which is a favorite of locals for commuting and getting outside even while downtown. Up the river from the confluence, you’ll see the Centennial Gardens, the Downtown Aquarium, and Elitch Gardens Theme Park. Downriver, you’ll see Commons Park and the 19th Street Bridge, which you can cross for access to the City of Cuernavaca Park.
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo. Located less than four miles from the Convention Center, both the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo are a 30-minute public transit ride or 20 minutes away by car. The museum offers an insect and arachnid collection, as well as an extensive Space Sciences Laboratory, zoology collections, and exhibits on anthropology, health sciences, and more. Founded in 1896, the 80-acre Denver Zoo is home to a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, and invertebrates and a vast, diverse plant collection.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens. During Entomology 2017, the work of Patty Lee Becker, a local Denver artist, will be on display at the York Street location, a 10-minute Uber or Lyft ride or a 30-minute trip via public transit. Within the York Street campus, visitors can walk a woodland path with specially planted flora chosen for the ability to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Dining options at the gardens include a café and a bistro, where local ingredients and produce harvested from Le Potager garden and the Gardens’ farm share at Chatfield farms are featured whenever seasonally possible.
mammoth dmns

A mammoth welcomes you to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. (Photo credit: A.B. Whitener)

But How Do I Travel Within LODO?

Denver and LODO in general are easily navigable with grid-like streets and the centrally located 16th Street Mall. Much of where you want to go and what you want to see is walkable. For everything else, there are great local transit options, from bikes to buses, to Uber and Lyft, to the Light Rail for accessing the Denver International Airport.

  • The Free MallRide Service. MallRide, which runs along 16th Street between Union Station and the Civic Center (near the Convention Center), or the free MetroRide, an express bus service with limited stops that can be helpful during rush hour, are great options for getting around Denver.
  • Uber, Lyft, and Denver’s LightRail Service. Both Uber and Lyft service the Denver area and are great options for quick transportation to and from the Denver airport. An Uber or Lyft ride to or from the airport will cost you approximately $25 and 35-40 minutes during standard traffic. Alternatively, for the cost of $9 each way, travelers can access the rail service between Denver Union Station (one mile from the convention center) and the Denver International Airport, a 37-minute ride with six stops along the way. Sometimes Uber offers promotions that save you 25 percent on a ride up to $10. Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, with their easy-to-use mobile apps, are great because you can easily split fares and rides or request the appropriately sized vehicle to suit your party number and their luggage, and drivers are often courteous. Near the Convention Center, short trips are likely to cost under $10 and can be a convenient way to explore an area if you’re opposed to hoofing or cycling it.

Feeling a Bit More Adventurous?

Check out a bicycle through one of Denver B-Cycle‘s many kiosks. A $9 24-hour pass will get you access to unlimited 30-minute rides for the duration of the pass, or a $35 24-hour rental will get you unlimited 24-hour access to one of its cruiser bikes. Access the website or mobile app to see the location of kiosks relative to your destination, how many bikes or docking stations are available, and to purchase passes. There are two kiosks on 14th Street, right outside the Colorado Convention Center!

Alix Whitener, BCE-Intern, is a Ph.D. candidate at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington, and chair of the ESA Student Affairs Committee. From Alix: “Our committee has worked tirelessly to bring you an unforgettable and invaluable student experience in Denver. I participated in the Planning Team Meeting that took place this June in Denver, where I explored the LODO area on morning runs and planning committee tours. I even managed to use Uber to get to the trailhead of Squaw and Chief Mountain, where I and another fellow entomologist saw a mountain goat! I look forward to networking with potential employers and collaborators at Entomology 2017, but I am equally enthusiastic about the many great student activities planned by your dedicated SAC this year.” Email:

Blog post edited by Student Affairs Committee members Casey Parker and Adesanya Adekunle

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