The television screen will be filled tonight with images of Times Square and all kinds of merriment. Miley Cyrus will be prancing around on stage with her tongue and other body parts hanging out. What an appropriate entrance she would make astride the New Year’s ball. Legendary Melissa Ethridge will be singing John Lennon’s Imagine and showing the true grit that made her not only a music phenom but also a successful cancer survivor.

As exciting as that all sounds, I’d rather be 2000 miles away nestled into the foothills of picturesque Colorado. Today is the birthday of one of the state’s legends, John Denver, who so aptly captured the majestic quality of our state when he wrote Rocky Mountain High. I’m not referring (no pun intended) to our state’s lenient marijuana laws. As a Libertarian, I supported that controversial bill even though I do not personally imbibe. Instead, I’ll be spending it my favorite way- welcoming the new year with a great meal with great friends.

When I first moved to Colorado twenty years, finding a great restaurant outside of Denver city limits was as difficult as panning for gold. I had moved from the Santa Barbara area where great food seemed to be as plentiful as sand grains on the beach. To compound the problem, I had moved to Parker, then an equestrian town 20 miles southeast of Denver. Since that time, our community has gone from horses to houses and become a suburban bedroom community. This evolution includes the addition of tasty dining choices depending on one’s palate and budget- Junz, Indochine, Vines, Trappers, Café Monet and Tequila Joe’s.

Many South Denverites have a fear of driving “all the way” out to Parker, especially on a night that will have the road plastered with drinking drivers, so I’ll share some excellent dining options in the more centrally located Denver Tech Center-

Ecclectic – Cool River, Great Northern, The Tavern, The Wooden Table, White Chocolate Grill, YaYas, Zink

Italian– Chianti, Maggianos, Pizza Republica and Venice

Steak– Brooks, Del Frisco, Mortons, Shannahan’s

Seafood and Sushi– Bonefish Grill, Hapas, Jing, , McCormicks, Pappadeaux, Rice Bistro & Sushi, Sonodas

Grab your Passport!- La Fogata (Mexican), Saharas (Middle Eastern), Yani’s (Greek)

These are just a few of the delicious local options to whet your appetite to bring in the new year in a tasteful way. And when you hear tomorrow that Dick Clark’s ghost was seen by revelers or co-hosts Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Anderson Cooper share unsavory words about Miley, you can rest assured that you brought in the new year tastefully.

And don’t forget The Original Pancake House for tomorrow’s breakfast. Happy New Year!

Karen Loucks Rinedollar is the Executive Director of Denver Speakers Bureau and Founder of the children’s charity Project Linus. She has appeared as a guest on Oprah and uses her public platform to share the messages of personality accountability and positivity to audiences large and small. To book Karen for an upcoming event, you may contact her at