From the 404 to the 303, one local native left for higher ground and now reports back that there’s so much more to doing gay Denver than the recent legalization of marijuana.

By Berlin Sylvestre

As a homegrown Georgian and Atlanta ex-pat living in Colorado, I know that Midtown has its charms. Our queens slay hard enough to get on Drag Race. We’ve got the most raucous patio seshes. We eat dinner alongside A-list celebs, and we enjoy an amazing diversity of gay life.

But for some, it gets better.

Denver is filled with the fittest, chillest, most liberal-minded queer people, and when they hear a Southern accent, they home in like a heat-seeking missile for an ear-tickling that only a sexy Southerner can provide.

Apart from our Southern charm, the natives here take great interest when we talk about our cultural differences. For one, they find the idea of a concentrated area for gays to party charming and convenient.

In Denver, the clubs are spread across Downtown in ways that Uber drivers pay their bills on. Imagine if Burkhart’s and Oscar’s were three miles apart, and Joe’s and Einstein’s were on different interstate off-ramps. That’s how it is to party with the gays in Denver. Make sure you have a DD or Uber/Lyft account on lock.

As to the clubs themselves, I’ll make it easy by way of the Atlanta clubs we all know and love.

Tracks is like Jungle on Halloween, only every weekend. You’ll find a crowd and a fresh face on the entire establishment nearly every time you walk in. They spend jillions on changing the theme every week. Boyztown is basically BJ Roosters, but with way more grinding. There are more than a dozen other bars, too, but let’s talk about the Denver experience itself.

Yes, you can step into a shop and buy herb. The edibles even come in crazy candies, drinks, gummies, suckers, you name it. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Weed Factory.

The scenery isn’t nearly as green, but it is beautiful. A giant, open skyline doesn’t include as many trees as Georgia, but with the hug of mountains, there’s a gorgeous view just about anywhere you go.

Even with all the draws of the city and its laid-back culture, make time to see the mountains up close. They look nearby, but you’ll drive about an hour to get there. Once you do, you won’t know when to put the camera down. Find kayaking on Clear Creek, windsurfing at Aurora Reservoir, hiking by Maxwell Falls, and biking Bear Creek, just to offer a taste. Aspen Gay Ski Week is a favorite; get there to see hotties who just stepped off a Gucci ad and into a hot tub.

Expect to be invited to a brewery, or make those plans to do so on your own. This place has more per capita than anywhere. Denver Beer, Strange Craft Beer Company and Great Divide Brewing are among the favorites. Locals might also ask if you want to ride along to catch a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Denver’s public transportation is killer – whether by bus, rail or light-rail. Plus, they drive really slow here compared to the ATL, so taking those options or letting someone else like Uber drive will relieve some of your “Go, dammit!” stress.

Plane tickets are cheap, and so is Airbnb. Gay-popular accommodations include the Hotel Monaco, as well as the quirky-kitschy Curtis Hotel. If you do partake in the plant the state is suddenly most famous for, you might even spring for a stay in a “Bud & Breakfast.”

Denver is a hot travel destination right now. Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus just made a splash there during the national Gay And Lesbian Association of Choruses festival. So make plans to bring your Southern self out West to see if you can wrangle a few bucks of your own.