Mini Vacation: Denver and Star Wars Costume Exhibit

When I met my girlfriend about a year and a half ago, a new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens was getting ready to hit theatres. Throughout my life I have been a fan of the saga and had seen all six of the previously released Star Wars flicks several times. You can imagine that I was surprised when I heard that she had not seen any of the films in the series, and I was happy to hear that she would be willing to watch all six films with me to catch up on all of the hype surrounding the release of a new Star Wars.

As we watched the movies together she found an affinity for the series, and it was something that we looked forward to doing together. I’m glad to say that I aided in creating a new star wars fan.

It has been about a year since we completed watching all six movies, and recently I got a surprise from her. She had gotten tickets to the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit that is being showcased at the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado, along with a stay at The Crawford Hotel, conveniently located in Union Station at the heart of Downtown Denver. The Crawford offers a package deal including a stay in their hotel, tickets to the exhibit, and complimentary transportation to and from the Art Museum. It’s a great mini vacation, and a fantastic way to spend time with anyone who enjoys Star Wars! The trip would be our celebration of Valentine’s Day, just a couple of days early.

Check out the Exhibit website here!

Check out The Crawford Hotel here!

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The Trip

Getting into Denver International Airport (DEN) is very simple from almost anywhere in the US. DEN services most major airlines and acts as a hub or focus city for Frontier, Southwest, and United airlines. The airport is located pretty far away from the city center, but a recently opened rail line takes passengers right into the heart of the city. ($9 fare each way, schedule on RTD-Denver.com) The drop off point for the train is Union Station where you can catch other light rail lines to different parts of the city and suburbs. The Amtrak train and Greyhound busses also run through Union Station along with a large network of Denver city busses.

Union station is truly a central point for all kinds of travel. Recent renovations have made the great hall area of the station a great place to wait for your train and just hang out in general. There are several bars, restaurants, coffee houses, and shops right in the terminal. The Crawford hotel where we stayed is also a housed within the station. The location was perfect and very convenient for our plans.

The Hotel

The Crawford, along with it’s superb location is a wonderful place to stay. From the second we checked in we were greeted with impeccable service. Any request that we made was dealt with immediately. After we checked in and settled into the room we started looking at the list of the many included amenities the hotel offers. Like many hotels, The Crawford charges a daily resort fee that includes access to the health club and free internet, but the Crawford offers many other things for the daily fee. Among the items included were two free bottles of water daily, free coffee in room and at Pigtrain Coffee, a free scoop of ice cream at Milkbox Ice Creamery, and a free beer at Terminal bar from 5:30-6:30. All of these places are conveniently located in the great hall of Union Station, which acts as an expansive lobby for the hotel. Also included are several discounts at the restaurants and shops within Union Station, access to the exclusive Cooper Lounge, and complimentary transportation around town in the Crawford Hotel Tesla.

Our hotel room was very nice and clean. The relatively small room felt very spacious with the bed running the long way towards the windows to save space. A TV stand just beyond the bed in the middle of the room separated the bed area from a sitting room, which had a small desk with a chair and a nice lounge chair in the corner near one of the windows. Running along the wall opposite the bed was a closet with a mini fridge, coffee maker, a safe, and a pair of robes. The bathroom was well-appointed with a nice shower, white marble floors, fluffy towels and plenty of counter space around the sink.

The Crawford has integrated an in room iPad system that allows guests to order room service, set wake up calls, control room temperature, play music and much more. This is a nice modern touch. Overall the room was very comfortable and had everything we needed for our stay.

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The Exhibition

Our room was booked as a package with tickets to the Star Wars exhibit and our tickets to the event were ready for us when we arrived. We requested a Tesla ride to get us down to the museum. Union station is in the center of downtown and the Art museum is further south, situated near the city’s capital building and civic center. The ride from the hotel took about 8 minutes and we were right at the front door of the museum. We were able to bypass the line with our VIP tickets that we got from the hotel and headed right into the Star Wars exhibit.

On display are several of the original costumes, storyboards, models, props, and prototypes from the entire Star Wars saga. Many of the items were used in the actual movies. A self-guided audio tour tells the story of the design and thought process behind many of the items. As the viewer walks through the exhibit there are several displays highlighting the different heroes, villains, droids, and some of the miscellaneous characters.

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The audio tour had a lot of information about all of the items on display, and even included clips and interviews from many of the people who actually worked on set in many of the Star Wars movies. The costumes ranged from simple tunics to very elaborately embroidered robes and headdresses. One of the most interesting things to me was seeing the costumes go from a concept, to a drawing to the costume shop and into the shooting of a film. It was cool to see the evolution of some of the ideas.

The costumes from most of the main characters throughout the movies were featured throughout the exhibit. I was surprised by how many costumes were made for Queen Amidala, she had by far more costumes than any of the other characters, and hers were by far the most elaborate.

Although they were not costumes per se, my favorite parts of the exhibit were the droids, some of my favorite characters in the movies. I thought the interactions between machines and humans were some of the most entertaining parts of the movies. C3PO, R2D2, and BB-8 were all featured in the exhibit. The Light Sabers on display were probably my second favorite items. Each one custom-made for each character.

The whole exhibit flowed nicely from display to display. All of the displays were well set up, and some had tv screens showcasing clips from the movies, or short videos interviewing cast and crew about the costumes and about shooting the movies. Getting through the exhibit took about an hour and a half for us, but there is no time limit, you can take as long as you want to get through as long as you’re done before the museum closes.

The Star Wars costume exhibit is definitely worth seeing for anyone who enjoys the movies. I know that I was impressed by what I saw. The exhibit runs in Denver through April 2nd and is headed to Cincinnati in May. There are also several exhibitions showcasing star wars memorabilia traveling around the world.

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Check out this website for info: http://www.starwars.com/events/museum-exhibits

The Denver art museum is a large modern building with a unique design, and encompasses several different exhibits. We opted not to visit any of the other displays throughout, but I’m sure you could make a day of your trip at the museum. They have a lot of interesting exhibits. When we exited the building we made a call to our Tesla driver who gave us his card and were picked up at the museum within ten minutes and were headed back to the hotel.

Upon arriving back in our room we were greeted with a nice surprise from the hotel. Sitting across from our bed on the vanity counter was an ice bucket with two mini bottles of sparking wine, a couple of champagne flutes and a nice note from the hotel. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated. We had mentioned to the front desk that we would be celebrating Valentines Day early, and the wine was a gift from them for our celebration. Bravo Crawford!

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Night Out

After sipping sparking wine and relaxing for a little while in the room it was time to head out for the evening. Denver has so many great food and drink options within the city. It is a great place to spend a night out. This evening we decided to stay within Union Station. Along with a few casual bars and dining options there are also a couple of upscale restaurants, Mercantile; and Stoic and Genuine, housed right inside of the station. We opted to eat at Stoic and Genuine, specializing in seafood.

I would definitely consider Stoic and Genuine a high-end restaurant, but the atmosphere is casual, and jeans with a button down shirt seemed to fit in fine. (as it does at most restaurants in Colorado)

Before heading to dinner we headed to Terminal Bar to get our complimentary beer for the evening, I couldn’t pass that up. There were a few local beers offered as part of the selection. After getting our beers we grabbed a couple of the many seats located in the great hall to sip our beers and relax. The hall was filled with drinkers and travelers, and is a nice place to hang out and unwind. In the middle of the hall are shuffleboard tables available for public use, and an eclectic mix of music plays over the PA at a nice volume, making conversation easy.

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After finishing our drinks we headed across the hall to Stoic and Genuine. We had reserved a table for 6:30 and were seated immediately. We ordered a bottle of Italian white wine and started looking at the menu. Almost all of the menu items consist of some sort of seafood. There are also some meat and vegetarian options available. The restaurant offers a large selection from their raw bar as well as several cooked items. Being a seafood lover I was excited by what I saw on the menu.

What we Ordered:

Starters-

  • Georges Bank Scallop- The scallops served on top of radicchio with grapefruit, sage and apple cider gastrique. The dish was beautifully presented and tasted even better. The shellfish were cooked to perfection, lightly crispy on the outsides, sweet and succulent on the insides. I’m not a huge grapefruit fan, but it did not overpower anything and the pieces were easily brushed aside.
  • Fresh Uni- When I ordered the uni I honestly didn’t know exactly what it was. I thought it was some type of raw fish. Turns out it is sea urchin. When it was brought to the table the first words out of my girlfriend’s mouth were “I’m not eating that” It was definitely an alien looking dish. I had never eaten sea urchin, so I was excited to try it. The texture and taste of it were like nothing I had never tried before. Salty, tart, creamy and almost gritty are some of the adjectives that come to mind. I’m happy that I tried sea urchin, but I’m not sure I’ll be ordering it again anytime soon.

Main Courses-

  • Stone bass with Kimchi Brussels Sprouts and Crab Cheese Wontons-The fish in this dish was lovely. It was cooked nice and crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. The wontons were excellent, and I am a Brussels sprout. Everything in this dish was amazing and it all worked together.
  • Surf in Turf with Potatoes and Mushrooms-This dish took some imagination from the chef. When I read the description on the menu I had trouble picturing what it would look like, and I was convinced that it would be steak topped with tuna, which would be more like Turf in Surf. When the dish appeared I was wondering where the fish part was. It looked like several slices of rare steak. Turns out that the NY strip was pounded thin, then pieces of tuna were bonded to the meat with edible glue, the steak then was seared on the outside; the outcome was indeed Surf in Turf as advertised. Along with big points for creativity, the dish was great. It was the first time that I had seen two wholly different meats bonded and cooked together like that. The steak was seared to perfection while the tuna stayed rare on the inside. The flavors worked well together, how can you go wrong with steak and tuna? I loved the mushrooms and potatoes that came with it and really enjoyed the dish.

Sides-

  • Kimchi Brussells Sprouts- These were the same that came with the bass in one of our main courses, and it was impossible to have too many. They were crunch and spicy and all around amazing.
  • Pan Cornbread- It’s always a good idea to have bread at any meal. You really can’t go wrong with cornbread. it was in the shape of breadsticks  and came out with grillmarks.

Throughout the entire dinner experience our awesome waitress assisted us. She was very attentive and helpful with everything. There were no requests she couldn’t handle and the pace of the meal was perfect. She was there every time we needed her, never rushed anything, and made us very comfortable throughout. I cannot say enough good things about our meal at Stoic and Genuine. Imaginative and tasty food accompanied by great service made it an amazing experience. I am looking forward to the next time I can go back.

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At the end of the meal we opted to skip dessert and head back to the great hall for an after dinner drink. Located on the mezzanine level in the great hall of Union Station, The Cooper Lounge serves old world and sophisticated cocktails. Each drink that came out was a work of art, served on an individual tray in stylish glassware. Along with the drinks come great views of the great hall and downtown Denver. It’s a nice quiet place to have a drink and enjoy the evening. The Cooper recommends reservations for most nights, this Sunday evening appeared to be pretty slow and we were able to walk in without issue. We enjoyed a couple of Crystal Mule cocktails at the bar before heading back downstairs in search of dessert.

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By the time we got to Milkbox Creamery around 10pm we found out it had closed earlier in the evening at 8pm. The website had mentioned an 11pm closing time, but the sign on the door clearly said 8. Oh well. We headed over to Mercantile and grabbed a couple of their homemade candies to satisfy our sweet teeth before calling it a night.

After a great night’s sleep and before checking out we decided to order breakfast from Snooze, the breakfast joint located in Union Station. Snooze is a chain with locations in several states, and is extremely popular for it’s breakfast. The restaurant has a wide range of unique and delicious breakfast options and cocktails. The Crawford offers preferred seating at the restaurant for hotel guests, as the waitlist can get very long. The other option is to have it delivered to the room, which is what we did. The iPad in the room is set up to order Snooze direct, but we had some problems getting the order through so we ended up calling in to the restaurant.

What We Ordered:

  • A flight of pancakes- Plain, Blueberry Danish, and Chocolate Chip to share. Snooze is known for their pancakes. They have a bunch of different options to choose from. They are all huge and quite tasty.
  • Breakfast Pot Pie- I didn’t quite understand this dish. Basically it was a really dry piece of fluffy bread topped with an egg then smothered in country gravy. Not my favorite, there was not much to it.
  • Breakfast Sandwich- With eggs, sausage, hash browns, cheddar cheese, and hollandaise sauce on a brioche bun. It was huge and delicious. A great way to start the day.

After breakfast it was time to pack up it was time to check out of The Crawford. It was only about 24 hours worth of a vacation, but it was a great time. The Star Wars costume is a must for anyone who enjoys Star Wars, and you cannot go wrong when staying in downtown Denver when visiting the museum or for any other occasion. It’s a fun city to spend time in.

Many thanks to The Crawford Hotel for making our stay memorable! The staff at the hotel went above and beyond for us. The amenities offered as part of the hotel stay are also a big plus for anyone who is staying there, especially the free Tesla rides around town. With a great location close to everything downtown Denver The Crawford is my hotel of choice when staying in Denver.

QT

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