Parker, CO

Parker Colorado
Image Courtesy of Steven Beam VIA FLICKR

The quaint town of Parker, located in northern Colorado, may be small, but offers much. It is only 14.6 square miles in size, containing a population of roughly 45,297. If you think that’s small, consider this: the town was incorporated in 1981, with a population of 285. That’s a lot of growth in just 30ish years! In fact, it is currently the 19th most populous municipality in all of Colorado.

The schools are wonderful – they were ranked 9th overall in the entire state. If public schools aren’t your thing, choose from two private preschool-8th grade schools and one private high school. There are even a couple of colleges! In 2013, Parker was named 12th on CNN Money’s list of best places to live. What is there to do and see in this town just 30 minutes outside of Denver? A lot!

Things To Do

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Parker’s 250 acres of parkland, as well as over 900 acres of open wild space. Some are dog friendly, so even your furry friends can get out and play outside!  Parker offers what they call “Flat 14ers,” which are easy to navigate walking trails that are just as long as Colorado’s over 50 14,000 foot peaks. In this way, children and those who aren’t ready to tackle a true 14er can still walk a trail just as long! The Flat 14ers include the Tallman Gulch Trail, Auburn Hills Park, and the Sulphur Gulch Trail. Give the Cherry Creek Trail a try, an eight-mile-long trail complete with 10-foot wide concrete bike and pedestrian path alongside a dirt equestrian trail. Plans are in the works to extend this trail even further.

Parker’s Recreation Center offers residents many fun programs and hosts a number of community events. The center includes the Parker Fieldhouse, a 100,000 square foot sports and fitness complex so that residents can stay in shape, even throughout those tough Colorado winters. Take some laps in the H2O’Brien Pool while the kids play in the water park, hit up the Fieldhouse for an inline skating rink, climbing wall, batting cages, elevated track, and fitness loft. They also provide personal trainers to give you that extra push. Let the kids get their energy out on the indoor playground as well. Don’t forget to join one of the many adult or youth sports teams!

Check out a show at the PACE Center for the Performing Arts, which features a 500-seat theater, complete with outdoor amphitheater, or take the kids to check out The Wildlife Experience. This exciting museum offers interactive exhibits to give the kids the hands-on experience they’ve been looking for. Adults and kids alike will really enjoy the movies, such as 3D Sharks and other wildlife-centric shows. If you have younger kids, don’t worry! They’ll enjoy time in the Discovery Zone. Kids under 5 can use the Cubs Corner for their own sort of fun. You could spend hours in this place!

If you need to get the kids off of the couch during those bitter winter months or a rainy summer’s day, head to Monkey Bizness. It’s an indoor playground on steroids – just bring them, have them kick off their shoes, and get to climbing and playing on their fun and exciting indoor play structures. They even do birthday parties!

The more grownup crowd will enjoy a visit to Elk Mountain Brewing, offering their own microbrews for the tasting. New to Parker is the Jay Moore Studio, an art studio that recently opened. Whatever you’re looking for, Parker has something perfect to offer.

The Rueter-Hess Reservoir is another place that will offer much to do in the future, with talk of hiking and biking trails, fishing, and even non-motorized boating. No motors will be allowed due too the fact this is a drinking water storage reservoir. Plans are underway that allow people to enjoy this area while still preserving the integrity of the drinking water.

What To Eat

The selection of restaurants in Parker will not disappoint. Try Portofino Pizza & Pasta, known for their delicious garlic knots and authentic Italian cuisine. The garlic cream sauce on penne is a local favorite, as well as the pizza. They actually make the mozzarella they use in their dishes right there, how can you beat that? The staff is extremely helpful, and can make a recommendation if you simply cannot decide.

For the best ribs in Parker, try Hickory House Ribs. They smoke all of their meats right there on-site, and offer a delectable favorite – Danish baby back ribs. This dish was featured on Oprah’s Favorite Foods! They only serve certified Angus beef for all of their burgers, steaks, and smoked briskets. This place will not disappoint!

For something a little different, give Junz a try. This restaurant blends Japanese and French cuisine in a spectacular way. Try the Niku Maki, a thinly sliced ribeye wrapped around asparagus and served with a house salad and sautéed veggies. Order the sushi – some people visit the restaurant just for this – and for dessert, try the Kahlua crème brulee, a customer favorite.

Are you in the mood for Thai? Look no further than Dancing Noodle Thai Cuisine. The ingredients are fresh and natural, and their food is MSG-free. There are many gluten-free offerings on the menu for those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Whether you are enjoying Pad Thai, Pad See Yew, ginger chicken, or massaman curry, you’ll eat every last bite. You can tailor the spiciness to your liking as well.

If you’re craving Mexican cuisine, head to Casa Mariachi. Enjoy chips with salsa, bean dip, or queso before your meal arrives. The enchiladas, tacos, and tostadas are delicious, and the margaritas are known as the best in Parker.

For an authentic Indian experience, there is India’s Kitchen. There is ample room for you to sit and enjoy your meal, and many wine and beer selections to complement your meal. Try their chicken curry, Tikka Masala, or the Bhindi and mushroom curry. They will not disappoint!

Parker is a small town with a big presence. Whether you’re there for the food or for the outdoor experience, it will not let you down.