Denver Skyline

25+ Reasons to Attend the 2016 APA Convention

City Park in Denver
Denver’s City Park and Capitol with Rocky Mountains.

Daniel Bruns, PsyD

This year, the APA Convention will be held in Denver, Colorado for the first time. I have lived in Denver / Northern Colorado almost all of my life, so I would like to share a few things with you. Denver is a great place to vacation, so if you are planning your vacation this year, think about Colorado. If you are aren’t familiar with Denver, here are some things to see:

  • First of all, to get around Downtown Denver you need to know about the THE MALL. The 16th Street Mallis a 1.25 mile long walking Mall in the center of Denver that has a FREE shuttle bus going by every 5 minutes. Take a walk or hop on the shuttle. The Mall has 50+ restaurants (ranging from sushi to saloon), and any number of shops. The convention center and most hotels are 0 to 3 blocks from the Mall.
  • Literally across the street from the convention center is the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Catch a show! (Beautiful — The Carole King Musical ends 7/31/2016. Shows after that not listed yet).
  • Four blocks north of the Mall is Coors field. The Colorado Rockiesare in town the whole week of APA, watch a baseball game (there is also one Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer game scheduled during APA).
  • Just four blocks south of the Mall, the Denver Art Museum has architecture so astoundingyou have to see it to believe it.
  • If you are in Colorado, you ought to see the mountains! Rocky Mountain National Parkis a 90 minute drive from Denver. The view from Trail Ridge Road is spectacular! (Road goes to 12,000 feet elevation. See info below to prevent altitude sickness)
    My personal Flickr album of Rocky Mountain National Park:
  • Students: Want to get away? Outside of Ricky Mountain National Park is a YMCA camp. A 4-bedroom mountain cabin with a kitchen (sleeps 10) can go for as little as $250 a night – not fancy, but a dirt cheap vacation in a resort town. Actually, pick any ski resort. Condos in August go for bargain prices. Seriously. You deserve a getaway.
  • Want to go to the top of one of the highest peaks in the continental United States? There is a road to the top of Mount Evansthat goes over 14,000 feet high, and is populated by mountain goats (versus the big horn sheep of Rocky Mountain National Park). Does driving on a winding mountain road with 1000-foot drop-offs give you acrophobia? Take the train to the top ofPikes Peak (also 14,000+ feet). NOTE: If you are not used to high altitudes, some cautions: There is only half as much oxygen at 14K so you will feel very deconditioned! Take it easy until you acclimate or you can get a headache (altitude sickness). Also, this is an arctic weather area (it can snow in August at 14K feet): The air is cool, but the sun is hot (less air = more UV light), and you can get sunburned while you feel cool. Bring a jacket, wear sunscreen, don’t push yourself, and you should be fine.  The views are astounding.
  • Watch the federal government manufacture money at the US Mintin Denver, about 2 blocks off of the Mall.
  • This is the basketball & hockey off-season for the Pepsi Center Arena (a 10-15 minute walk from the mall), but they will have concerts (eg, Demi Lavato) around the time of the APA Convention.
  • The Denver Aquarium is about a 15-minute walk from the Mall.
  • Denver is the only major city with a downtown amusement park & water park, Elitch Gardens, about a 15-minute walk from the Mall or short taxi ride.
  • The Denver Zoo/Denver Museum of Nature and Sciencecomplex is a great place to take the family, and about a 15-minute drive/taxi ride from downtown. Spend a day with your family seeing dinosaur exhibits, IMAX, planetarium shows, the zoo, and more.
  • Denver is the only major city to have a 25-square mile nature preserve inside the metro area. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a former military base that is being converted back to original prairie, complete with a herd of bison, deer, and other wildlife and 10 miles of walking paths, all within a 15-20 minute drive from downtown. FYI – THESE ARE WILD BISON! Bison are peaceful creatures until you invade their space and annoy them. Then they are 2000 pound animals that run 35 mph, and are 3X more dangerous than a bear. You will be perfectly safe in your car.
  • For a restful time, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens, about a 15 minute drive away. Have a mindful moment in the tea garden there.
  • Want to go for a run, walk, or ride? The 28-mile long Platte River Trail follows the Platte River through Denver. The Cherry Creek Trail passes right by the Convention Center. Also the City of Denver has 87 bike rental kiosks, where you can rent a bike for as little as $9 a day. Ride a bike one-way, drop it off at another kiosk, and shop.
  • Just south of Golden is the 10,000-seat Red Rocks Amphitheater.Carved into the side of a mountain, it is arguably the greatest natural amphitheater in the US. Two concerts will be held there during APA.
  • Feeling lucky? Visit the Casinosin the mountain town of Blackhawk, about 45 minutes away.
  • Cinema lover?There is a movie theater on the Mall with about 16 screens.
  • Into clubbing? For a fun evening out visit the LoDo District just north of the west end of the Mall.
  • Fine dining more your thing? Good restaurants are all over in Denver, but you can find several in Larimer Square at the intersection of Larimer Street and the Mall.
  • A word of caution. Colorado is infamous for its liberal marijuana laws. Buying marijuana in Colorado is legal and similar to buying alcohol in most states. However, if you take MJ across state lines though you can get arrested for drug trafficking! What you smoke in Colorado should stay in Colorado.
  • Take a tour of the huge Coors Breweryin Golden and sample the products (about a 25-minute drive). From there, another 25-minute drive on a winding mountain road takes you to the top of Lookout Mountain, with a spectacular view of Denver from Buffalo Bill’s Grave. You could also see the New Belgium Brewery, but tours there are sometimes booked up to 2-3 months in advance (80-minutedrive). Have a designated driver!
  • No time? Limited budget? Take the free Mall shuttle and have dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery near west end of Mall. Good food. Inexpensive. Fun.
  • Best breakfast? My favorite on the Mall are the two Corner Caférestaurants. Terrific omelets. If you are in a hurry, get a coffee and a cinnamon cream cake to go. Excellent food. Inexpensive.
  • If you have a thing for archeology or history and an extra day or two, Mesa Verde National Park is pretty amazing. A thousand years ago the Anasazi built a mysterious civilization in Colorado with towns that were carved into the sides of cliffs. Then the whole civilization disappeared from some unknown apocalypse. It’s probably a 5-6 hour drive from Denver, but what a place to visit:
  • MOST IMPORTANT!!!! Reserve Saturday night for the Society for Health Psychology (D38) Party!  Great conversation. Free food and drink. 

I think it will be a great time. You won’t be bored.