This town, at the bottom of winding Bear Creek Canyon, is perhaps most famous for the nearby natural outdoor concert venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre. If you’ve already planned to see a show — and even if you haven’t — stop in picturesque Morrison. Its tiny main street strip is filled with restaurants, quaint shops and antique haunts.
Just outside Morrison rests the high-end, critic-approved, wild-game establishment known as The Fort. A replica of Bent’s Old Fort, the adobe is a celebration of the West; decor and Southwestern foods are the standard, as are quality wines and decadent desserts.
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Dining and Shopping
For a town with such a quaint main drag, Morrison touts a pleasurably disproportionate number of patios for dining and imbibing—but mostly for the latter. Soak in the Colorado sun at the Morrison Inn, which has been serving unreasonably large margaritas (they come in 16-ounce, 32-ounce, and 60-ounce options) since 1987. This Mexican restaurant offers house-made hot sauces, which you can sample with chips at your table, and then purchase at their adjacent gift store, which also sells Juan’s margarita mix and a small collection of Colorado garb and apparel. If sipping a mojito next to a waterfall sounds appealing (as it should), head to Beso de Arte, a Latin-inspired joint with a killer patio. The second-story patio at Tony Rigatoni’s Italian Kitchen is a great place to pregame a Red Rocks show, and offers a lovely view of Bear Creek Avenue. (Check out Red Rocks’ fall schedule here.) The fireplace that slices through the community table in the center of the deck will help keep you warm on fall’s cooler days. When you need a pick-me-up from all the booze, seek out a cup of the good stuff from Morrison Joe, which is tucked between Cafe Prague and Tony Rigatoni’s.
Morrison’s quarter-mile strip, Bear Creek Avenue, hosts a number of quaint and unique boutiques. Start by parking at the east end of Bear Creek Avenue and heading into the Morrison Country Store. The 32-year-old stalwart might just be the ultimate place to shop for seasonal decor; throughout the fall, you’ll find its rooms chock-full of unique halloween decorations, velvet-covered gourds, turkey-emblazoned dinner accessories and—yes—pumpkin everything. Once you’ve stocked up, meander west down Bear Creek Avenue (don’t forget to feed your meter). A few doors down, you’ll find Sundance Sensations and its subsequent liquidation store (the latter is hidden between Rock ‘n’ Roses Boutique and Cafe Prague). The main store has a wonderful little collection of fashionable hats, scarves, and hippy-esque apparel from India, Nepal, and Thailand. When the seasons change, all of its unsold clothing goes to its liquidation store, where you can currently nab the ultimate music festival outfit (think: harem pants and a feminine crop top) for less than $50.
Parks and Recreation
Near town, a bike path skirts Bear Creek and leads to an extensive trail system and reservoir. Dinosaur Ridge is a must-see for geology or archaeology buffs; exposed dinosaur prints are perfectly entombed in sandstone all over this self-guided tour. A visitor center in Morrison may help you start the journey, and more bones are on display at the Morrison Natural History Museum. The town’s cultural history is kept alive through artifacts and exhibits at the Morrison Heritage Museum behind town hall.
During the warm-weather months, the town’s Bandimere Speedway hosts a variety of track events on its 1/4-mile drag strip, including National Hot Rod Association races.
Morrison is also a stop on the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, a 40-mile scenic byway established in the early 1920s to help locals experience the beautiful mountain landscapes near the Denver metro area.
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