Best Western Denver Southwest
Located in Lakewood, just 20 minutes from Denver, the Best Western Denver Southwest is ideal for families and definitely not run of the mill. The comfortable — and affordable — lodging is conveniently placed along Hwy. 285, so you truly can use it as a jumping-off point for all your Centennial State adventures.
Did we mention this is a self-proclaimed dino hotel? The owners decided to remodel the building to give it the ambiance of an old-school explorer’s club since the area around the property is a paleontological goldmine. Consider bringing your “Indiana-Jones” hat to truly fit in. The simple rooms come with plush bedding, spacious bathrooms and huge flatscreen televisions. While there, splash around in the aquamarine courtyard pool or venture to the lobby to sit on a quilted, leather sofa by the fireplace for snug vibes under a sculptural dinosaur skull.
What makes it special?
It’s all the cool dinosaur-themed decor, of course. First, snap a photo with the life-sized T-Rex painting or the Stegosaurus statue out front. Then, walk along the hallways to see murals and enjoy the faux skeletons scattered around the property. Oh, and if you brought the kiddos, they could do a dig in the playful Jurassic pit.
The most “Colorado” thing about this place
Since the hotel is dinosaur themed, you must visit Dinosaur Ridge, just 14 minutes west. It is a National Natural Landmark and is ranked a top U.S. dino tracksite. Spot 300 footprints in the rocks and see the location of the world’s first Stegosaurus discovery. Before you make your way back to your home away from home, check out the colorful prehistoric-creature statues in the parking lot.
Quirkiest thing to expect
You must dine at the on-site Paleo Joe’s during your stay. A giant Tylosaurus swims across the ceiling, and the only petrified-wood bar in Colorado serves up creative cocktails. Taste-test a burrito with tender pulled pork, black beans, fresh cilantro and cheddar jack cheese in a warm tortilla doused in green chili.
Our favorite traveler review
“This was a perfect place to stay for our family. Quiet area, amazing pool. Nice, clean rooms. Love the dinosaur decor. Would highly recommend this hotel to anyone staying in the area. Also, very friendly and professional staff.” — Shaun&Mandy, Tripadvisor
Things to do nearby
Less than a mile north of the property lies Bear Creek Greenbelt, a verdant park with trails and an 1860s stone home. History lives on at the Lakewood Heritage Center, where 10 historic structures and 30,000 artifacts will delight the whole fam. Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a short drive away and hosts all kinds of concerts, or you can walk the trails to see towering boulder formations. And the Belmar area is chock full of shops and restaurants — get a sugar high at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory while you’re there.
Photos courtesy of Hayden Pigott