In honor of Presidents Day on Feb. 18, why not spend a morning or afternoon touring the gold-domed Colorado Capitol and its environs? Here’s an easy itinerary.
Beginnings: Start your day with a cup of Joe at the cozy Amethyst Coffee, at 1111 N. Broadway, Suite 101, or Pablo’s Coffee, 1300 Pennsylvania St., Suite 102.
THEN, ON TO THE CAPITOL
Hours: The building is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; it is not open on weekends and most federal holidays.
Entrance: Enter on the first floor on the north side of the Capitol (Colfax and Sherman). If you cannot do steps, enter
on the south side (14th and Sherman). Entrance is free, and there are magnetometers in security at both doors. Once you are past those, you will be directed to the tour area.
Public tours: They begin at 10 a.m. and run on the hour; the last tour leaves at 3 p.m. Each tour lasts one hour. Book larger groups ahead of time online. If you have a small group and don’t book ahead, arrive 20 minutes before your hoped-for tour time and you are likely to get onto that tour.
Private tours: Self-guided tours are also an option, but you cannot visit the dome alone.
STOPS ALONG PUBLIC TOURS
Start by spending 15 minutes on the first floor, which houses the executive branch (you’ll stop at the governor’s reception area); the guide will also touch on the building’s history and the legislative process. The next stop is the second floor, where the House and Senate chambers are located. (The legislature is in session until early May.) On the third floor are the public galleries, from which you can watch the legislature at work. Up to the third floor is accessible by elevator; everything above the third floor requires climbing steps: 38 to Mr. Brown’s Attic Museum (which touches on both the capitol and Colorado history) on the fourth floor, and 61 more steps to the Dome Observation Area, which offers 360-degree views over the city.
In the neighborhood: Stretch the day out by visiting a few nearby sights. A half block away, at 2 E. 14th Ave., the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, home to the Colorado Supreme Court, has no guided tours but has an interactive learning center, where you can try on judges’ robes and try mock cases. If you want a few minutes of silence after all that legislative hustle-bustle, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, at 1530 Logan St., is a must-stop. Finally, rest your weary feet by having tea at The Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th St.; Henry Cordes Brown, who donated the land that the capitol is built on, also built the famed hotel.