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Bacon no more at Cherry Creek Mall’s new play area!

Being a nice Jewish mother, I have always felt a sense of guilt when it came to letting my children play on the beloved bacon and eggs at the Cherry Creek Mall. While it was certainly not Kosher, it was a right of passage for every Denver child and I, too, joined in the fun many times.

Well, to my surprise and many other mall-goers, the most delightful breakfast time of all is gone! Forget about guilty pleasures, now your kids can play with the Looney Tunes gang. Enter Bugs, Sylvester and the whole crazy bunch!

Teaching Children a Fresh Perspective With Fresh Flowers & Fresh Produce at Farmer’s Markets

“Look, Mommy – a radish!” I beam with pride as my toddler excitedly points to the stack of
pink-hued veggies on the table and correctly shouts the name.

It’s Saturday morning and we’re wandering between tents at the Cherry Creek Farmers’ Market.

For years I’ve enjoyed frequenting the various markets around town. I’d saunter through, comparing quality, chatting with the product owners, and maybe taking a few moments to sit at one of the café tables drinking in the live music and fragrances of the nearby baked goods being created right on site. It was spent enjoying a little time alone or catching up with a friend.

These days, the markets have become a learning exercise.

“How many plums do you see?” “What color are the onions?”

We spend this sunny Colorado morning counting beets, listing colors and differentiating between tomatoes and apples. It has become an opportunity to i

Cherry Creek Shopping Center Clears the Table for a New Kids Play Area

Breakfast is no longer on the menu at Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

The giant eggs, waffles, fruit and bacon that made up the mall’s roly- poly kid zone are gone, soon to be replaced by a menagerie of familiar, larger-than-life characters.

The popular play area in the southeast corner of the mall’s lower level never had an official name, but youngsters and their parents gave the toddler-friendly playground their own names, like “The Breakfast” or “The Bacon Place.”

A cozy pit outside of Macy’s, “The Breakfast” moved into the mall in 1998. But now, without the happy noise of kids jumping on ottoman-size chunks of banana and sliding on bacon slices, the area is oddly quiet.

Suddenly the mall feels, well, all grown up.

But the businesslike calm is only temporary: “The Breakfast’s” replacement, officially called The Rocky Mountain Play Park, is slated to open Thursday.

“The former play park had been there for many years, and we’d been able to renovate it a couple times, but it was starting to age,” says Cherry Creek mall general manager Nick LeMasters. “We felt it was an opportunity to do something different and fun and exciting.”

He added that there’s been no decision about where the breakfast-food play equipment will end up, but it may be installed in another one of the malls operated by The Taubman Co., which owns Cherry Creek mall.

Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, the new play area will feature Warner Bros. “Looney Tunes” characters. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and the gang will populate the indoor park, inviting little ones to expend some energy by clambering over them.

“It’ll be lot of climbing, a lot of sliding, a lot of crawling,” LeMasters says, “but in an environment that’s going to be quite a departure from the breakfast food.”

Beyond that, LeMasters is tight- lipped about the details of the new play area.

“It tells a story in a way (that) only Warner Bros. could help bring to life,” LeMasters says. “We think that the kids will be thrilled with what they see.”

Visitors to the shopping center this weekend will find the old breakfast play area to be little more than an undecorated open space. Even the carpet and benches are gone. “It’s a complete redo from top to bottom,” LeMasters says.

Like the breakfast foods, the new equipment is from Englewood’s Playtime Creations, which specializes in soft, foam- based pieces.

But that description serves as little consolation to the parents and tykes who grew to love “The Breakfast.”

Brooke Austin lets out a woeful “aw … sad,” when she hears the old mall play area is gone for good. The Denver-area mom has been taking her 2-year-old son, Freedom, to the Cherry Creek mall to play since he could walk. “He loved it!”

She adds that another mall closer to their home is never as fun for her son. “The Breakfast” helped make Cherry Creek one of his favorite destinations. “It was a nice little break for mommies that have to go shopping,” Austin says.

Twila Warner has four kids who she says were big fans of “The Breakfast.”

“I think the thing that they liked about it was they could play whatever they wanted,” she says. “It was great for all sorts of pretend games. … The playscape was really varied.

“If what they put in is varied in the same way,” Warner adds, “we’ll probably go more often. … I’ll have to wait and see.”

The grand opening of The Rocky Mountain Play Park at Cherry Creek Shopping Center begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Representatives from Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, the shopping center and Warner Bros. will gather for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The park opens to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Stay tuned for Julie’s review on this play area with oodles of pictures on Tuesday!

-Kathleen St. John

A Warm Weather Guide to Fun in Denver

Warmer weather is here! As the sun lingers in the sky longer before settling behind the mountains, how should we fill the time? What activities are sure to be a hit?

Well, with the help of our readers (yes, that’s you!) Mile High Mamas has compiled a list of fun warm weather activities in the Denver area.  All of these places and activities in one handy list!?  Awesome!

Need an idea for an inside activity? It’s here!
Need a new outside activity to try? It’s here!

See something that isn’t on the list? Let us know, and we’ll add it! Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often! It’s your Warm Weather Guide to Fun in Denver!

So, get out there! Try something new! Explore your own backyard and beyond.

Indoor Activities:

Get in out of the sun (or rain) and have an indoor adventure!

  • American Paintball Coliseum – The coliseum is comprised of indoor and outdoor paintball fields. The indoor fields are split into two arenas, one with giant inflatable obstacles, the other with heaps of corrugated plastic tubing. The paint is water-soluble, and remnants of matches make floors sticky.
  • The Apex Center Treehouse Play Area – The kids love crawling through the tubes and sliding down the slides. This indoor play area is free and provides hours of fun, rain or shine!
  • Baby Boogie at the D-Note – Baby Boogie at the D-Note in Olde Town Arvada runs every Sunday from 3-6 pm. They clear their stage and put up kids’ instruments. The kids rule the restaurant and mom and dad can relax while the kiddos boogie.
  • Boondocks Fun Center – Boondocks Fun Center in Northglenn is an 8-acre indoor-outdoor fun facility. Indoors you’ll find a futuristic laser-tag arena, a dual-seat Max Flight Simulator and a broad sweep of arcade games that run from Dance Dance Revolution (hilarious to watch) to a Panzer tank simulator. From tiny tots to older teens, there’s a game appropriate for every player.

Weekly Event Round-up: Free Scuba Diving, Boulder County Fair & More!

Saturday-Sunday. Colorado is firmly landlocked, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go scuba diving: Give scuba a try when the traveling “Be A Diver!” program visits the Downtown Aquarium. Featuring a heated, 15,000-gallon mobile pool, “Be A Diver!” lets anyone go for a quick dive with the help of a certified scuba instructor. Best of all, the “Be A Diver!” dive is free of charge. It’s all part of the aquarium’s special Shark Weekend — don’t worry, there won’t be any sharks in the scuba pool. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Downtown Aquarium, 700 Water St.; 303-561-4450. Admission to the aquarium is $15.99 for adults ages 12-64, $14.99 for seniors age 65 and older, $9.99 for kids ages 3 to 11. Visit aquariumrestaurants.com for more information.

Saturday. Kick off the Boulder County Fair at the Boulder County Fair Parade. The fair doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, but they’re starting early: Fill up for the morning at a pre-parade chuckwagon breakfast in downtown Longmont, then grab a seat before the parade steps off at 10 a.m. The full Boulder County Fair will be up and running on Tuesday with rides, rodeo, livestock shows and much more. The fair runs through August 7th. 6:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Downtown Longmont. Admission is free. Visit bouldercountyfair.org for more information, including a complete schedule of fair activities.

Saturday. Do the Highland thing at Cherokee Ranch and Castle’s “Céilidh at the Castle.” Pronounced “kay-lee,” a Gaelic céilidh is simply a community gathering, often with music and dancing — in this case, local Scottish band Canned Haggis provides the soundtrack. The evening starts with a Scottish-themed dinner and Scotch tasting, plus a performance of Highland dancing. After that, the floor’s open for anyone to shake a leg to the Haggis clan. 5 p.m. Saturday. Cherokee Ranch and Castle, 6113 N. Daniels Park Road, Sedalia; 303-688-5555. Tickets are $55 for adults, $20 for children age 12 and younger. Call to reserve tickets. Learn more at cherokeeranch.org.

Saturday through Sept. 30. Outdoor ice skating rinks spring up everywhere in the winter, but where’s the love for skating in summer? FlatIron Crossing has your answer at SummerSkate, starting Saturday. The temporary roller skating rink takes the place of their winter ice setup for the last weeks of summer. Skates are available for rental, including wee adjustable ones for little tykes. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. FlatIron Crossing, Interlocken Loop and FlatIron Crossing Drive, Broomfield; 720-887-9900. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for kids ages 4 to 12, $3 for seniors. Skate rental is $3. For more information, visit bceproductions.com/summer-skate.

Through August 8. There’s only two weeks left to catch “All Shook Up,” the Arvada Center’s summer musical extravaganza. The show tells a familiar story: A handsome rebel rolls into a repressed Midwestern town and teaches the townsfolk to rock. “All Shook Up”’s twist is that all the musical numbers are classic Elvis Presley tunes. Plus, the audience is welcome to sing along and rock out in their seats. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m. Wednesdays. The Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.; 720-898-7200. Tickets are $47-$57, depending on day and time. To buy advance tickets and learn more, visit arvadacenter.org.

-Kathleen St. John

Top 10 things to do in Colorado before you die

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that you only had time to experience 10 adventures in this state. What would those journeys – so special to this purple-mountained mecca – be? Following are our suggestions.

CLIMB A FOURTEENER

At 14,060 feet, Mount Bierstadt (above) is one of the easiest to ascend, with a wide trail that winds its way through swamps, high-mountain meadows and boulder fields. The journey begins at Guanella Pass, just south of Georgetown. If you worry about having never climbed that high before, put your fears aside. There are so many people – from young whippersnappers to truly elderly – hiking on weekends, it looks like a trip to the mall, but they’ll offer assistance if you need it. Long’s Peak by moonlight just might be the ultimate adventure. If that’s not for you, climb one of the state’s thirteeners, which are just as majestic but don’t get the same attention. You’re likely to see one of the state’s Rocky Mountain goats staring down at you from a rocky crag, an eagle flying high above, or ubiquitous marmots on the ascent. If your health or other situations won’t allow you to climb, then take the Cog Railway to the summit of Pikes Peak. Or drive to the top of Mount Evans. No matter how you get there, you really will be “on top” of the world, and there’s no feeling like it.

ATTEND A CONCERT AT RED ROCKS

Pack a picnic dinner, get there early and hope it’s a full-moon night. While your immediate goal is to sway the night away to good music, the side shows all add up to an experience like no other: the moon over the stage, lights of Denver in the background, sitting on rock-hewn seats, the smell of concert-goers’ drug of choice. Or go to a sunrise Easter service, no matter your faith.

EXPLORE MESA VERDE

Sometimes we tend to downplay what’s in our own backyard, but as with other ancient ruins around the world, the cliff dwellings at this national park near Cortez should be visited over and over again. Look and marvel on your own or take a ranger-guided tour for more insight into the people who once inhabited the more than 600 dwellings. Only a small percentage of the archaeological sites have been unearthed, but there are enough open to the public to leave you with a sense of awe. Alternatively, take a full-day tour of the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, where a Ute tribal member will guide you through the park’s cliff dwellings and explain Ute history and the many examples of wall paintings and petroglyphs. Tours begin at Tribal Park headquarters 20 miles south of Cortez. Special tours, including those on horseback, are available throughout the year. While there, stop at the Pottery Factory, where tribal members continue to paint traditional patterns and more modern ones on functional, museum-quality pots.

SINK INTO STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS

Let’s be honest. One of the attractions of this place – besides

Outsource the craft but not the creativity with My Art Workshop (with discount offer!)

If you revel in being a scout leader on craft day, this post isn’t for you. If you find joy in helping Vacation Bible Schoolers turn crepe paper and rocks into Father’s Day presents, click away now. If your house is known by the neighborhood kids as the place to go when they have the urge to paint/decoupage/bead/weave, go read Martha Stewart instead.

But if you’re anything like Amber and me, if you break into hives when you even THINK about planning a craft day for your kids, let alone shop for supplies, if you can’t abide the thought of a trashed kitchen and cleaning up alone after your kids have run out of enthusiasm for the activity and of being left with beads underfoot and bills that end up glued together, then stick around. Have I got an idea for you.

My Art Workshop is a place in Littleton (near Bowles & Wadsworth) where you bring your kids in, choose among a dozen craft activities for each of them (and you), don a smock that makes you look oh-so-legit, get assistance gathering your supplies and receive instruction about your chosen medium. Then you imagine and create and….walk away your masterpieces.

What activities are available? I’ll let the tree do the

Keep your cool with these plunges (and share your favorites)

As soaring temperatures continue to bake the United States, we can only thank our lucky stars that even though we’re at the center of the high desert, there are plenty of places to plunge in and take some of the sizzle off. There are the old standbys of Elitch Gardens and Hyland Hills Water World, but here are some other spots to splash that you may not have tried out.

SPRAY PARKS AND POOLS

No matter how high the mercury goes, or how near to drought conditions we seem to get, spray parks and pools stand at the ready to cool down all comers.

Eldorado Springs Resort, Eldorado Springs: Once considered the “Coney Island of the West,” the Eldorado Springs Resort still is a fine spot to relax and recreate. At the pool, you’ll paddle around in cool, clear water from the same artesian source that fills Eldorado Natural Spring Water bottles.

Pirate’s Cove, Englewood: Float in the lazy river, take a ride down one of three huge slides, or, if you’re really brave, just stand around in the leisure pool until the “dump bucket” feature unleashes a 750-gallon torrent from above.

Spray Park, at Loveland Sports Park east of Loveland: Cool off in the “OZmill,” a kinetic sculpture powered by wind and water, at the heart of the park. You’ll know it when you see it, because it looks like a tornado.

City Park Pool and Slides, Fort Collins: Two water slides are up – way up – and running at the City Park pool. Take a ride down the 30-foot drop slide, or the open curly slide. Then stand around in the spray shooting from the showerlike structures planted around the pool.

The Splash at Fossil Trace, Golden: Plenty of places to keep cool, including two water slides, a “dump bucket” and a set of slides and gentle spray fountains for little kids.

OPEN WATER

Huge winter snow filled up the reservoirs,

Games2U brings out big fun

I don’t think I stopped smiling for two hours.

Maybe it was watching our guests of all ages being launched into summersaults and contortions, encased in a giant, clear blow up hamster ball? It could have been witnessing a long line of kids being mowed over by what one of my sons compared to The Death Star. Then there was the sight of grown men dancing their hearts out to You Can’t Touch This. Or maybe the strawberry-scented fog filling the video game van did the trick?

At eight months pregnant, most women wouldn’t find throwing a party to be such a rewarding experience. Normally, we measure everything we do on a carefully considered scale: What is the likelihood my ankles will resemble sand bags in a few hours? I think I found the key, though.

Have someone else, like a crazy-talented and well-equiped professional, take over.

Games2U has recently invaded Denver in a massive way. I was lucky to get to host a Games2U party at a park near our home this past weekend. Our guests ranged from infants to old enough to be President and everyone had a blast.

My first impression of the Games2U van and trailer was wonder. It rolled

Fifty Free Summer Activities, Concerts, Daytrips and Festivals in Denver!

Grab your calendars and start planning now because Visit Denver recently released a fantastic rundown on Denver happenings. During the summer months in the Mile High City, there are plenty of free things to see and do, from fun festivals and outdoor movies to scenic drives and quaint mountain towns.

FREE FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Downtown Denver Arts Festival
May 28-30
www.downtowndenverartsfestival.com
Throughout Memorial Day Weekend at the Denver Pavilions mix and mingle with 150,000 art lovers at this free fest, featuring more than 125 of Colorado’s best artists.

First Friday Art Walks
June 4, July 2, August 6, September 3
www.artdistrictonsantafe.com
Discover Denver’s thriving creative community during a First Friday celebration, held every first Friday of the month, during which galleries in Denver’s art districts stay open late for a festive, street party-like event.

Denver Chalk Art Festival
June 5-6
www.larimerarts.org
Larimer Square’s Italian street-painting festival is a two-day pavement painting in Downtown Denver. More than 200 artists come down to turn the streets of the Mile High City’s oldest street into a virtual museum of chalk art.

Capitol Hill People’s Fair
June 5-6
www.peoplesfair.com
The largest of Denver’s summer festivals, this fun and funky event in Civic Center Park features live music, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, and a food bazaar with Colorado cuisine.

Cherry Blossom Festival
June 26-27
www.tsdbt.org/cherryblossom
A celebration of Japanese-American culture, food, music and dance, Downtown Denver’s Cherry Blossom Festival offers a taste of the Far East in the Mile High City.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival
July 3-5
www.cherryarts.org
Over Fourth of July Weekend, 350,000 visitors enjoy the visual, culinary and performing arts and interactive activities for the whole family. Meet and talk with international visual artists, sample fine cuisine, and enjoy live musical performances and artist demonstrations.

Civic Center SOUNDS: Independence Eve Celebration
July 3
www.coloradosymphony.org
Kick off the U.S.A.’s birthday weekend with a bang in Civic Center with the area’s biggest and best fireworks display, accompanied by patriotic favorites performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Mile High Movies
http://www.downtowndenver.com/Life/WhattoDo/SkylinePark/MileHighMoviesinSkylinePark/tabid/266/Default.aspx
Stretch out beneath the stars and enjoy free, family friendly movies at Skyline Park in the heart of Downtown Denver. This year’s schedule includes “Field of Dreams” (July 3), “Madagascar” (July 31), and “The Wizard of Oz” (August 21). All movies begin at dusk behind the historic Daniels & Fisher Clocktower on 16th and Arapahoe.

Farmers’ Markets