Apr. 23: Denver Mart Drive In, Denver CO

It’s Day 113 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took another 2 1/2 hours of mostly US 285 mountain driving, from Buena Vista through the actual South Park (a region, not a town) up to Denver, home of the Denver Mart Drive In.

The Denver Mart Drive-In is one of the very latest, opened in May 2015. That first season, it was open seven days a week, but this year it’ll only show movies Fridays through Sundays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

This is another example of a mixed-use situation that works well for a drive-in. As its web site points out, “The Denver Mart is an event facility by day and a Drive-In by night. Gates open at 7 pm. NO early admittance.” The building, which used to be called the Denver Merchandise Mart, opened in 1965. It hosts a lot of selling “shows,” such as the Rocky Mountain Gift and Apparel Show earlier this year. I’m sure glad that someone there noticed its acres of parking lot and had the imagination to add a profitable drive-in.

The snack bar offers the standard fare – chicken fingers, hot dogs, nachos, pickles and popcorn. Beginning in 2016, they started selling beer and wine inside a Plaza building next to the lot, although it has to be consumed there and not in the drive-in.

Although this was a Sunday night, the Denver Mart is still a month away from opening for the season. That just gave me more time to spend at home (see below).

Miles Today / Total:  129 / 12436 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 52

Nearby Restaurant: The closest good non-chain restaurant to the Denver Mart is just a block away. The Red Rooster Cafe serves up a fine assortment of dishes for breakfast and lunch. Blueberry pancakes are one of my favorite food groups any time of day, the burgers and Mexican food come in huge proportions, and the prices are great.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I live in Denver, so I stayed home. These are going to be the only two nights this year that I get to sleep in my own bed, and I’m not passing up that chance. But the Comfort Inn Central is almost adjacent to the Denver Mart, so that would have been my second choice.

Only in Denver: One of the oldest continuously operating businesses in Colorado is the Buckhorn Exchange, a restaurant and bar across from a former railroad yard. Hundreds of taxidermied animal heads line the walls, and dozens of exotic meats fill the menu. The place opened in 1893 and holds the first state license for “Beer, Wine and Spirituous Liquor”. Best of all, it’s adjacent to a light-rail stop, so it’s easy to get back to wherever you’re staying after sampling several of the Exchange’s exotic drinks.

Next stop: 88 Drive In Theatre, Commerce City CO.