National Geographic Traveller (UK)
A guide to Aurora
Discover a new side to Colorado in the multicultural hub of Aurora when you eat, drink and shop your way through its diverse offering. Words: Asonta Benetti
Aurora takes the best of Colorado and wraps it all up in a friendly and accessible city adjacent to Denver — diverse dining, innovative brewing, beautiful nature with exciting adventures for active travellers and a passion for the arts. Colorado’s thirdbiggest city weaves together a unique experience in the Centennial State, with a growing and global population that’s ready to welcome visitors.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
STANLEY MARKET PLACE
Colorado’s largest indoor marketplace puts Aurora’s local businesses on show. With more than 50 independently owned Colorado businesses to choose from, seek out a selection of treasures from around the world. After working up an appetite browsing boutiques and handmade accessories, drop in on the food and drink merchants.
They showcase some of Aurora’s favourite international flavours — and freshly poured pints. stanleymarketplace.com
The Aurora Reservoir is a go-to for lovers of peaceful natural areas and of recreational activties. There are a slew of water activities on offer, including a jogging and biking trail, bountiful fishing spots and a small swim beach. Rent a non-motorised boat from the reservoir dock, sail and enjoy the views of the famed Rocky Mountains.
AURORA CULTURAL ARTS DISTRICT AND GLOBAL FEST
Aurora’s artistic community is a key component of its diversity. The Aurora Cultural Arts District is the area of the city that best fosters its creative community — featuring frequent concerts, plays and exhibitions at the Aurora Fox Theatre
and The People’s Building. In addition to a host of year-round events held in the district and city wide, the annual celebration, Global Fest, showcases the city’s many diaspora communities. auroraculture.org
WHERE TO EAT
Although Aurora is home to approximately 400,000 residents, the dining options available rival those of any large city. With more than 250 restaurants listed in the Aurora Eats dining guide, the only problem is knowing where to start. auroraeats.org
For the very best in Moroccan cuisine, head to Cafe Paprika. The menu is full of Mediterranean classics and is renowned for its authenticity. There are a dozen steaming tajine entrées to choose from alone, but don’t miss sharing a few of the small savoury starter plates or break off a flaky bite of baklava to finish your meal. cafepaprika.tripod.com
Travellers seeking out high-end dining can stop in for sturgeon caviar or grouper bouillabaisse at award-winning restaurant Annette. Chef-owner Caroline Glover was recently named one of the best new chefs in the US. annettescratchtotable.com
CUBA BAKERY & CAFE
This place plates up some the best of the Caribbean island’s hearty dishes. In the bakery section you can try empanadas, guava pastries and stuffed fried yucca balls. Or, for a classic Cuban entrées, pair a portion of lechon (roast pork) or ropa vieja (shredded beef and vegetables) with a slew of traditional sides, like tostones (crisp, flattened plantains) or congrí (black beans and rice). cubabakeryandcafe.com
From left: Aurora, Co; shopping at Aurora’s markets; an Asian fusion dish served up in Aurora
SAN FRANCISCO The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan (1989)
Mother-daughter relationships unfurl over a weekly mahjong game in San Francisco. This novel is essentially a series of short stories about four Chinese mothers and their US-born daughters. As the mothers play, they recount their former lives in China, with the San Francisco Bay Area reflecting the tug between old and new. Tan draws on personal experience as a first-generation immigrant to California, and her prose sweeps across the city, from Chinatown to Ashbury Heights.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S Thompson (1971)
This exhilarating novel tears open the wild heart of Sin City. Based on Thompson’s gonzo trips to Vegas for Rolling Stone, this fictionalised account follows journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer as they cover a motorcycle race for a magazine. They’re sidetracked by drugs, destruction and debauchery; the pair hallucinate, destroy their car and run up hefty, unpaid room service tabs. The free-wheeling Nevada city is the ideal setting for a story set at the end of the hippie era.
WASHINGTON, DC Heartburn, by
Nora Ephron (1983)
Hilarious and heartbreaking, this roman à clef of the breakdown of Nora Ephron’s marriage to Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein unfolds against the backdrop of the US capital. Narrator Rachel Samstat is a food writer who’s moved to Washington, DC to support her journalist husband. She’s pregnant with their second child when she finds he’s having an affair with the wife of a British ambassador. It’s wryly written and sprinkled with recipes (pot roast, key lime pie) that offer comfort to Rachel during the turmoil.
NEW YORK Jazz, by Toni Morrison (1992)
This book is a celebration of the resilience of human beings. A sanctuary for African-American migrants from the south,
Harlem was buzzing in the
1920s, undergoing a cultural and political revival. With this as a backdrop, Nobel Prize-winning Morrison examines the struggles (and eventual redemption) of married couple Joe and Violet Trace after Joe has an affair and kills his young lover. Like jazz music, the book isn’t linear and Morrison’s writing is full of improvisation.
The Outsiders, by S E Hinton (1967)
It’s tough being a teenager in Oklahoma’s gangland, with constant conflict between the wealthy westside Socs (‘socials’) and Greasers from the workingclass east. Written by a 15-year-old Hinton, this coming-of-age novel is narrated by Ponyboy Curtis, a young Greaser grappling with life on the wrong side of town. Fans of the novel can visit The Outsiders House Museum, which opened in 2019 to preserve the house used in the 1983 film adaption by Francis Ford Coppola. theoutsidershouse.com
A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams (1947)
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in a two-bedroom apartment in the French Quarter in the late 1940s. Flirtatious Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley, spelling conflict for the troubled couple. New Orleans, with its ‘raffish charm’, imposes on the characters: from clattering trains to yowling cats. Used to a quiet life, Blanche is at odds with the city, her struggle highlighting the discordance between the rural
Old South and the industrial new.
Sabrina & Corina: Stories, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (2019)
These 11 short stories focus on working-class Latina women of Indigenous ancestry, including a schoolgirl and a sex worker.
It’s set among the skyscrapers and mountains of FajardoAnstine’s hometown, Denver, where the novel’s marginalised characters struggle with male violence, difficult families and the gentrification of their ancestral homelands. Exploring femininity, belonging and what it means to live on the edges, the tales get to the root of the Indigenous experience in Colorado.
Birds of Paradise, by Diana Abu-Jaber (2011)
Follow troubled teen runaway Felice Muir across the sun-soaked streets of Miami. At 13, Felice leaves home and spends five years struggling on the seedy streets of Miami Beach in search of drugs, food and shelter. Abu-Jaber paints atmospheric descriptions of the coastal city, which is just south of her home in Fort Lauderdale. As Hurricane Katrina twists violently towards Florida and Felice turns 18, the young girl is forced to confront the crack forming between her cataclysmic past and unwritten future.