Food & Drink

Denver Happy Hour Alternatives for Letting Loose After Work

Courtesy of Stir

It’s Tuesday. Your week is dragging already and you need a dri-- wait! Before you Slack your coworker and make plans to meet up at your go-to bar for happy hour, consider this: you’ve got other options. There’s a whole world of Mile High fun out there and those precious few “happy” post-work, pre-bed hours are the perfect opportunity to try something new. And get this, your early evening ventures don’t actually need to revolve around booze. Sure, craft beers (and cocktails, and ciders) are delicious, but a full night’s sleep and hangover-free work days feel pretty damn good. So next time happy hour is calling your name, invite your work friend out for an adventure of another kind. 

Take a cooking class

There is literally no such thing as having too many cooking skills. So whether you’re a cooking novice or you consider yourself a David Chang-in-training, chances are you’ll come away from a cooking class with some valuable knowledge. Not to mention, you’ll also get to eat a full meal while you learn. Cook Street and Stir both offer weeknight classes with themes such as “Cook like an Italian grandma” with prices starting at $75/person.

Courtesy of Mercury Cafe

Learn to swing dance at the Mercury Cafe

Yes, the Mercury Cafe is a bar. But it’s also a community hub and go-to for offbeat events where grabbing a drink isn’t the main attraction. Exhibit A: swing dance nights. They’ve been hosting these for years and they remain a staple for a reason, because Lindy Hop-ping around is pretty damn fun. Mercury offers classes for different skill levels, including a beginner Lindy Hop class from 6-7pm on Thursdays for $10 per class. Once you’ve mastered those moves, level up at one of their other dance nights, like West Coast Swing Wednesdays. 

Roxy/George L. Blosser

Catch live music, open mics, and more at the Broadway Roxy

Denver’s got a lot of live music venues, but this new addition to the scene offers something a little different: the ability to spontaneously attend some weeknight entertainment. No need to wait ’til 9pm or later for a show that costs you $40-plus at the door; the Broadway Roxy’s calendar includes plenty of options for early birds, often with no cover at all. Along with live music and open jam sessions, you might also stumble upon a comedy open mic or even their monthly circus variety show by Arts Caravan -- because who doesn’t want to spend their Thursday evening watching a fire eater?

Check out the latest exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Spending your evening looking at art may not sound as wild as drinking gin & tonics, but stay with us here. MCA is not your typical museum. First of all, it’s pretty compact, as in it’s the perfect size to fully explore in a single, easy-going evening. Then there’s the art itself. As its name says, this museum features contemporary art only -- think pieces created with a tattoo machine and ink or huge installations made from unexpected objects, to name a couple of recent examples. Bonus: The exhibits change every season so you can make this a regular stop in your after-work rotation without the risk of boredom. You can even benefit from happy hour pricing, because admission is just $5 after 5pm Tuesday through Friday.

Courtesy of Smash*It

Smash some stuff at a break room

Sometimes no amount of mini golf or dancing or roller skating or even actual happy hours can relieve your stress. But what can is smashing some stuff. Enter Smash*It Breakroom, a place where you can destroy everything in sight with absolutely zero consequences. Rooms filled with everything from watermelons to TVs await you to go off on them like that printer in Office Space. Pricing starts at $45/person but goes down if you can get a group together -- and really, show us something that says bonding better than smashing things with hammers and crowbars together.

Go to a roller skating party

Roll Denver’s bimonthly skating parties at the EXDO Event Center in RiNo are the ideal throwback experience. Complete with high-energy music and a light show, this is skate-dancing like you haven’t seen since middle school. Roller skates are available for rent and admission is just $5 if you show up between 7-9pm, which you will so that you can take advantage of the free skating lessons from 7-8pm. Parties are typically held on the third Thursday and Friday of the month, so this is the perfect way to roll (see what we did there?) into the weekend.

Courtesy of the Four Seasons

Get pampered at the Four Seasons Spa

Let’s all say it together now: treat yo’ self. Sometimes, a little self care is necessary, so go ahead and splurge a little. The Four Seasons may seem outside of your price range, but they offer a weekday special that makes luxury relaxation totally attainable. Monday to Thursday from 7-9pm, you can schedule your choice of two, 25-minute spa services for $119. So just say yes to combos like a stress-relieving back massage followed by a body scrub, or a hair treatment & scalp massage paired with an extra-moisturizing treatment for your hands and feet. You body will thank you, your mind will be at ease, and you’ll still be able to afford a beer if you really want one when Friday rolls around. 

Play a round of steampunk-themed putt-putt

If the run-down mini golf course from your childhood got a trippy makeover, the result would be Urban Putt. It opened in September in the former Old Spaghetti Factory space on 18th Street and while there is a full bar and food menu, you don’t have to eat (or drink) in order to enjoy the real draw: the vibrantly-colored, 18-hole course featuring odes to Denver, like a mini Bluecifier statue. The course is first-come, first-served and it can get busy on weekends but who cares? Because you’re coming for that after-work hole-in-one rush, right? Right. Play through for just $6 for one course or $11 for both courses when you visit Monday through Thursday from 4pm-close.

Molly Martin is a freelance writer in Denver who will definitely go smash some small appliances with you. Follow her Mile High adventures on Twitter and Instagram.