Denver, CO

Pinball pub, tea factory my first post-COVID-19 visits in Denver

David Heitz

(Senad Palic: Unsplash)

Holy cow, man, it’s the coolest place I have been to in Denver yet. Bart Simpson would love it.

It’s The 1UP.

It’s a bar that’s also an arcade. As in old-school video games, not the reality stuff kids are into nowadays.

(Photo: Submitted)

Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Jr., and the world’s largest Pac-Man game, seen above.

Frogger, Centipede, Donkey Kong. All the classic video games are there.

And pinball games. Just about every old-school pinball game you can think of. Two Denver storefronts full of them.

And that’s just at the Colfax location. The 1UP also has family-friendly locations where food is served in LODO (near the ballpark) and Greenwood.

Mama mia, they’re straightening the Tower of Pisa!

I used to play a pinball machine called “Attack from Mars” when I lived in Los Angeles.

I would dance all night at Probe Nightclub in Hollywood and end up at an after-hours place called 7702 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

They had an “Attack from Mars!” pinball game I used to play for hours on end. My “Attack from Mars” addiction was a hilarious piece of history.

In “Attack from Mars,” you are a United States soldier saving the world from a Martian attack.

I blew up a flying saucer when I played at the 1UP, which is a big deal. I received several free balls and two free games.

(Photo: Submitted)

I definitely still have that pinball wizard spark.

I had several saved balls. When you get a saved ball, the commander says, “Return to battle, soldier!”

It made me laugh when I played “Attack from Mars” at the 1UP. I was really getting into it, stabilizing with the left foot, pivoting on one toe on the right foot for hard-to-make shots.

A true pinball junkie understands. You must stabilize.

Sadly, I did not hear the game say, “Mama Mia! They’re straightening the Tower of Pisa!” That’s what a French General proclaims when the Martians decide to play architect and tilt the tower upright.

Even though I don’t drink alcohol, I can’t wait to go back to the 1UP when COVID restrictions lift. I think I’d like to try the location by the ballpark or the Greenwood site next time. Food is served at both locations.

Bars should offer more than just booze

The crowd was completely low-key the day I visited the Colfax location pre-COVID.

The owner told me the place used to be an adult bookstore. “The Drunken Monkey” was a bar next door.

But the bar just wasn’t making money. The owner decided to do a reset and The 1UP on Colfax in Denver was born.

Hailing from a college town in Pennsylvania, the man behind The 1UP believes people who go to a bar ought to be going there for something to do besides just drink.

I completely agree.

All locations have vast collections of vintage pinball machines and video games. You can check for games by location at The 1UP websites online for LODO, Colfax and Greenwood.

Tea factory also on post-COVID-19 visit list

There’s another place I can’t wait to check out post-COVID. It’s the Celestial Seasonings tea factory.

The factory is in the beautiful Denver suburb of Boulder. It’s the global headquarters for the teamaker.

According to the Celestial Seasonings website, their first teas were made in 1969 with wildflower herbs picked in the mountains.

(Alison Marras: Unsplash)

Celestial Seasonings tea is delightful. Red Zinger lifts you up; Sleepytime brings you down. The two teas are Celestial Seasonings’ flagships, but they have several varieties, including peppermint.

The aroma and all the different flavors can be soothing to the soul. For years I have sworn by Celestial Seasonings.

I had the opportunity to meet someone who works at the Celestial Seasonings factory. To my surprise, she told me the factory offers free tours (but not during COVID).

I think it would be cool to tour a tea factory. You could become intoxicated on the aroma alone.

I plan to visit as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. I’ll write about it when I do.


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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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