Author: Bastone, Kelly
Date published: April 1, 2012
Why go now: If there's sun? Seventy-four miles of hiking trails await. Snow? A butterflydotted tropical conservatory in bloom. Either way, there's a solid spring teaser. Alter ego: A surprising cache of authentic ethnic restaurants and art galleries hides among this suburb's subdivisions and megaplexes. Who's here: Commuters settling into new condos, recent immigrants, and artists showing their work at galleries cropping up along 72nd and 73rd Avenues. The deal with wheels: Only the arts district is strollable; you'll want a car to reach the trails and top food spots. Play outdoors: Beyond the sprawl, Westminster is rich with open space - about 14 percent of its area is grasslands and lakes. Play inside: The historic Rodeo Market [3315 W. jyà. Ave.; south westyartsgroup.comj now displays art by local potters and painters.
1. Get lost in a rain forest
The Butterfly Pavilion's 1,600 jewel-hued residents flutter freely among blooming hibiscus and other sun-loving flowers between bouts of aerial acrobatics. On the first Saturday of every month, photography workshops ($15) offer early-bird entry so shutterbugs can shoot butterflies in the morning light before the general public arrives. $8.50; 6252 W. io4th Ave.· butterflies.org
2. Shop like you're in Italy
Stacks of olive oils, cookies, and pastas fill the shelves at Valente's, an Italian grocery, deli, and bakery rich with treats to savor now - and later. The deli doles out sandwiches and cannoli, plus made-fresh sausages, tomato sauce, and familyrecipe meatballs that command a cultlike following. Stop by the espresso bar for your cappuccino and biscotti fix. Closed Sun; 7250 Mea.de St.; 303/423-0590.
3. Get out of your sandwich rut
Don't know your golabki from your gu/osz? Cracovia, an authentic Polish American restaurant tucked into an unassuming strip mall, makes learning delicious. Try the housemade pierogi or the kielbasa that arrives on a sizzling iron platter. $; 8121 W. 94th Ave.; 303/4S4-9388.
4. Eat the hole thing
At Carol Lee Donut Shop, production begins at 4 a.m. and doors close at 2 p.m. (or sooner, if the goods run out). The simplest fritters are this shop's true standouts: Go for a basic glazed or chocolate doughnut, and you'll swear off supermarket versions forever. 7200 Meade St.; 303/428-2090.
5. Peek at eaglets
You can gaze for miles across the azu re water of Standley Lake Regional Park. But this month, bring binocs and look for nesting raptors as well. Park in the lot at iooth Avenue and Simms Street and follow the easy trail south to the Nature Center. A pair of bald eagles can be seen tending their young until they leave the nest in late May. $7/vehicle; www.c'i. westminster.co.us