One thing that should be on everybody’s bucket list is a visit to the Mile High City — Denver, Colorado. Denver is an eclectic city in the middle of Colorado where both urban dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts meet to create art, support local businesses, drink craft beer, and escape to the mountains.
There is no shortage of things for everyone to enjoy during a visit to Denver. In between visits to the Denver Zoo and Union Station, stop by one of the city’s many parks to enjoy some green space. Enjoy brunch with your friends at Denver Biscuit Co., or grab a beer passport to take along with you on the Brewery Trail. Take a bike ride around the city or to the mountains nearby. Catch a show at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.
If you have a little extra time during your visit to the Mile High City, make a day trip to the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park. No matter what you like to do, you’ll find it in Denver.
Ready to learn more? Here are 43 things to do in Denver that you’re going to want to check out!
MUSEUMS AND MAIN ATTRACTIONS
RED ROCKS PARK
Music enthusiasts flock to Red Rocks Park year-round to see their favorite bands play at Red Rocks Amphitheater, just outside Denver in Morrison, Colorado. This natural amphitheater in the mountains not only has some of the best acoustics in the world, but also the best views and the best vibes.
When there’s not a show going on, you’ll find events going on during the day, such as yoga on the rocks, movies, exercise classes, and more! If you’d rather do your own thing, anyone is welcome to visit the park and amphitheater during the day, and there are tons of cool hiking trails in the park to complete.
Local tip: One of the best parts about this park is that parking is always free, even during shows.
DENVER ART MUSEUM
Denver Art Museum (DAM) is located in the Civic Center of Denver. It is one of the largest art museums between the west coast and Chicago. The museum is known for its collection of American Indian art and the Petrie Institute of Western American Art.
DAM offers a wide variety of events, classes and camps. As a member of the art museum, you can take advantage of deals and discounts, as well as supporting the art community of Denver.
While you are in the neighborhood, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Clyfford Still Museum right next door, a museum completely curated by young children that can be enjoyed by people of all ages!
DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers a variety of programs, exhibits and activities to help visitors learn about the natural resources and history of Colorado, earth and the universe. Something new is always happening here.
Guests can count on a variety of changing special exhibitions, as well as multimedia experiences at the IMAX theater and the planetarium. Be transported to other worlds right in Denver!
DMNS also offers a variety of classes, camps and events, including many virtual offerings and the mobile Curiosity Cruiser that makes visits around town. Resources abound at DMNS, for science projects, educator professional development and a variety of science labs.
DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a public botanical garden located in the Cheesman Park neighborhood in Denver. This is a 23-acre paradise includes a conservatory, a variety of themed gardens, and a sunken amphitheater, where you can find a variety of concerts in the summer.
There are three separate areas of the park. The main formal garden is the York Street location in east central Denver. Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield features a natural meadow, a wetland area, a historic farm and homestead. Mt. Goliath on the road to Mt. Evans is an alpine wildflower garden along hiking trails.
Denver Botanic Gardens host a variety of special events, educational programs and plant sales throughout the year.
The Denver Zoo is an 80-acre zoological park located in the City Park of Denver. The zoo started with the donation of an orphaned American black bear, and has evolved and inspired the most unique zoos in the country.
With the construction of Bear Mountain, Denver Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to utilize naturalistic zoo landscapes, rather than cages with bars. The concept was expanded with tents and a variety of other animal learning experiences.
Your support of the Denver Zoo also benefits animal research and protection around the world. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Denver!
WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
Located on the former Lowry Air Force Base, Wings Over the Rockies preserves the history of the Air Force base, which was in operation from 1938-1994. Exhibits include aircraft and spacecraft.
At the Air and Space Museum, you can explore real aircraft, including planes, helicopters, fighter aircraft, as well as spacecraft. Hanging Aircraft includes other varieties, such as gliders and homemade aircraft.
Also known as the Colorado Historical Society, History Colorado offers 11 beautiful, inspiring museums and historical sites throughout the state.
In Denver, the History Colorado Center illustrates stories of Colorado and the American west. The stories constantly evolve and change exploring a variety of topics in changing exhibitions and displays. Learn about the past and imagine the future here at History Colorado, exploring topics such as culture, construction, food and government, just to name a few.
NATIONAL BALLPARK MUSEUM
Founded by Bruce “B” Hellerstein, and formerly called B’s Ballpark Museum, the National Ballpark Museum has been recognized by Smithsonian Books as one of the top 20 finest baseball collections in the world.
The museum prides itself on owning treasures from the original 14 classic ballparks, as well as a unique collection of baseball history and memorabilia. It is the only museum totally dedicated to ballparks. Baseball fans will not want to miss a visit to the National Ballpark Museum while visiting Denver.
The centerpiece of the Downtown Aquarium is a 50,000 gallon tank which allows floor to ceiling viewing from all angles, and features fascinating aquatic ecosystems from all over the world.
This dining and entertainment complex showcases over 500 species of sea animals in a variety of exhibits, an interactive stingray reef touch tank, restaurants and amusement fun for all ages. You can even meet a mermaid while visiting the aquarium!
COLORADO STATE CAPITOL
Denver is the capital of Colorado, and a visit to the Colorado State Capitol is a great way to learn more about the state.
Take a free guided tour Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., or take a guided trip to the dome only at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tours are first come, first served, and are limited to 20 people.
See the dome observation area, learn more about the architecture of the building, and see why the Colorado State Capitol is the only LEED Gold Certified capitol building in the U.S. The building is stunning, and definitely worth a visit.
AMAZING PARKS, SQUARES & NEIGHBORHOODS
Denver’s Union Station is not just the central hub of transportation in Denver, but it’s also a historical landmark and fun place to visit!
This 100-year-old building, located right in downtown Denver, is full of local shops, award-winning restaurants, and unique bars. Stop by the Terminal Bar for local Colorado craft beer and spirits, or The Cooper Lounge to have a cocktail overlooking the iconic Great Hall.
For an even better and cozier view, spend the night above the mezzanine in the Crawford Hotel.
Washington Park is a huge green space located right in downtown Denver with plenty to do! When I go in the morning, I love to park by Wash Perk and stop by for a coffee and a puppy whip before walking over to the park.
If you’re looking to get in some activity, there is a paved loop around the park where you can go for a walk, jog, bike ride, go rollerblading, or whatever else your heart desires. There are also big open fields in the middle where you can relax with a book, practice some yoga, or throw around a frisbee with some friends.
No matter what you’re looking to do outdoors, you’ll find some space to do it as Washington Park!
Larimer Square is a small (but mighty!) pedestrian block in downtown Denver with a homey feel and creative soul. It contains local shops, art galleries, and restaurants inside of historic buildings on a painted street.
I love to go around the holidays, because it gets decorated so nicely and is the perfect place to shop for handmade gifts. There are plenty of events going on all the time in Larimer Square as well, so be sure to check the calendar and stop by next time you’re in town!
Confluence Park is one of Denver’s most urban parks, conjoining Cherry Creek with the South River Platte in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood (Lower Downtown).
It is an excellent place to bring your dog, go for a bike ride or jog, or just to take a break from the hustle and bustle to admire the views of downtown Denver and the flowing river.
RIVER NORTH ART DISTRICT
The River North Arts District, locally known as RiNo, is possibly Denver’s hippest and most artsy areas. You’ll find murals scattered throughout, which you can take a self-guided tour to admire on your own or join a walking art tour.
Aside from art, this area also has a lot of trendy bars and restaurants. Stop by Denver Central Market or The Source for more cafeteria-style eating and drinking, or head to Upper Larimer Street for delicious cocktails and fun nightclubs with your crew.
City Park is the most popular park in Denver for families. Aside from all of its greenspace, this 320-acre park has plenty more to keep everyone in the family entertained for an entire day!
Stop by the Denver Zoo to view some exotic animals up close, or head over to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to learn all about our world and beyond. Catch a show at the IMAX, or let the kids practice their tricks at the Denver SkatePark. No matter what you’re looking to do, City Park has it all!
Sloan Lake is one of my favorite places to go in Denver when I just need to take either myself, my dog, or a friend on a short walk.
There is a 2.5-mile paved path around the lake with great views of both the city and the mountains. There is no elevation gain, so it’s the perfect place to go for a stroll and clear your head for an hour or meet up with a friend for some activity during lunch.
SANTA FE ART DISTRICT
If you only have time to visit one arts district during your time in Denver, it must be the Santa Fe Arts District. The Santa Fe Arts District is a nationally-renowned designated Creative District in Denver containing over 30 art galleries, studios, and specialty art shops.
Whether you’re looking to pick up some art supplies, shop for unique local art, or take a class to learn something new, the Santa Fe Arts District is the place to go!
Cheeseman Park is another popular urban park in Denver, but it is much more tranquil than the other city parks.
There is plenty of private green space where you can read a book or practice some yoga, and shady jogging trails where you can get in some exercise. Stop by the pavilion to check out some local events, admire flowers at the Denver Botanical Gardens, or enjoy a free concert in the summer at the amphitheater.
No matter what you’re looking to do, Cheesman Park has it all!
RIDES AND DRIVES
MOUNT EVANS SCENIC BYWAY
If you’re looking for a scenic drive with the best views of the Rocky Mountain front range, look no further than Mount Evans Scenic Byway. This highway is the highest drivable pass in all of North America. It starts in Idaho Springs (about an hour from Denver,) at roughly 7,000 feet, and takes you 28 miles to the summit of Mount Evans, which sits at 14,264 feet.
Throughout the duration of your drive, you will see the most stunning mountain views you’ve ever seen, as well as the Continental Divide and, if you’re lucky, a lot of mountain goats. If you’re up for a challenge, you could even hike Mount Evans instead of driving it, to check that 14er off of your bucket list!
Note that the byway is only open during the summer months when the road can be plowed, which is generally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but is weather dependent.
Local tip: Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you attempt this drive! You will use about half of a tank or more. Also be sure to stay in first or second gear throughout the duration of the drive to avoid overheating brakes.
THE BEST CITY BIKE RIDES
CHERRY CREEK TRAIL
If you love shopping as well as biking, check out the Cherry Creek Trail. This 40-mile paved trail begins at Confluence Park in downtown Denver and passes through the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Cherry Creek State Park and the Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Go for a bike ride to enjoy nature, and stop to shop at some of your favorite stores along the way!
CLEAR CREEK TRAIL
Clear Creek Trail is my personal favorite bike trail in Denver, as it’s more secluded and has the best views.
This 20-mile trail starts in Denver metro, passes through a creek, features some great lookout points, and ends in Golden at the legendary Coors Brewing Company. So after you get your exercise in, you can be rewarded with a tour and a nice cold bottle of beer!
PLATTE RIVER TRAIL
I would recommend biking the Platte River Trail if you’re looking for something more urban. This 28-mile long paved bike trail runs through the city of Denver along the Platte River, and features plenty of restaurants, parks, memorials, and more to enjoy along the way.
BEST HIKES NEAR DENVER
If your lungs aren’t quite used to the Colorado elevation, you’ll want to stick with some shorter and less steep hikes in the beginning. I find that most of the trails in the nearby areas of Golden and Evergreen are great hikes for visitors on their first few days, as they offer mountain views but aren’t necessarily in the mountains, so they’re generally easier to accomplish.
You’ll find plenty of great trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Alderfer/Three Sisters Park is perfect for chasing views while easing yourself in. If you don’t feel like hiking at all, check out one of my favorite sunset spots in Colorado at Lookout Mountain in Golden.
If you’re looking for some great hiking trails in the mountains nearby, drive 30 minutes to the front range to find some excellent hikes in Boulder!
Head to Chautauqua Park and venture into the Flatirons to go hiking, biking, rock climbing, or just enjoy the scenery.
If you’re looking for a shorter hike with great views, check out the First and Second Flatirons Loop, Royal Arch Trail, or Mount Sanitas. If you’re looking for snow capped mountain views and a challenge, check out Bear Peak!
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
If you go to Colorado, but didn’t go to Rocky Mountain National Park, did you even go to Colorado? One of the most iconic national parks in the world, Rocky Mountain National Park, is located only about 2 hours north of Denver, so it makes for a perfect day or weekend escape into the mountains.
There are so many stunning hiking trails in the park, but my favorite area to recommend to visitors is the Bear Lake Corridor. The drive in is beautiful, and the hikes can be as easy or difficult as you want them to be.
You’ll arrive at Bear Lake within a few minutes and can continue on to Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Sky Pond, etc. Just hike as far as you can and then turn around to go back the way you came. Be sure to stop by Estes Park afterwards for some saltwater taffy and a well-deserved summit beer!
FOR SPORTS ENTHUSIASTS
The Colorado Rockies, named after the majestic mountains nearby, are a professional American baseball team based in Denver. The Rockies are a Major League Baseball team that has been competing since 1993, as part of the National League West division.
They play their home games at Coors Field, where you can visit in the summer time for a fun afternoon and plenty of Coors Light!
Coors Field is the home playing field of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team. Coors Field is located in the lower downtown area of Denver, two blocks from Union Station. At 5200 feet above sea level, Coors Field is by far the highest park in the MLB. It also has a reputation as a homerun-friendly park.
Tours of Coors Field are available year round, although hours vary during the on- and off-season, and whether or not it’s a game day. Advanced ticket purchases are recommended. A tour of Coors Field covers about one mile, and is accessible to all guests, including those with disabilities. You won’t want to miss this tour of one of America’s premier MLB ballparks!
The Denver Broncos is a professional American football team based in Denver. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) West division.
The Broncos play home games at Empower Field at Mile High. Since 1975, the Denver Broncos have become one of the most successful NFL teams.
The Denver Nuggets are an American professional basketball team based in Denver. The Nuggets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Northwest Division.
The Nuggets play their home games at Ball Arena in downtown Denver.
The Colorado Avalanche is a professional ice hockey team based in Denver. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Central Division in the Western Conference. They play their home games at Ball Arena in downtown Denver.
Make sure to make time to catch a game!
FOOD & DRINK
DENVER BISCUIT CO
My favorite type of food to eat in Colorado is breakfast! And the most iconic place to eat it is at Denver Biscuit Co.
Stop by early to beat the crowds and enjoy the best biscuit sandwich you’ll ever have. Make sure you have plenty of room in your tummy, because they’re massive and you’ll want to eat it all!
If your family is tough to please, or you can’t decide what you want to eat, head to Avanti!
This cafeteria-style eatery has different rotating vendors, so everyone will be able to find something they enjoy.
Happy Camper has a few locations around the U.S. now, but it started out in Denver and it was probably the place I frequented the most when I lived there! Not only do they have delicious food, but it’s also such a cool spot to hang out with friends.
They have both indoor and outdoor spaces with couches and fire pits, so you can sit back and relax around a fire no matter the season!
If you love Mexican food, you have to head to Casa Bonita! This delicious restaurant was purchased by the creators of South Park, who really made the place take off.
While it temporarily closed for renovations in early 2022, it should be back and better than ever by the end of the year!
Located right outside of Denver in Golden Colorado, you can tour the brewery of one of the biggest beer companies in the world, for free!
Tours of the Coors Brewery are always free, and they often have sampling days, so make sure to keep an eye out for that. Stop by for a cold glass of mountain water after a full day outdoors!
STRANAHAN’S WHISKEY DISTILLERY TOURS AND CLASSES
If you love drinking whiskey, or want to learn more about it, visit Stranahan’s Whiskey Distillery during your visit to Denver!
Take a tour of the distillery to learn more about how Colorado’s single malt American whiskey is made, and enjoy tastings throughout. If you’re just looking to drink the whiskey, head over to the cocktail lounge!
THE BEER SPA
Beer Spas seemed like a weird trend to me… until I tried one. Beer is actually very nourishing for the skin. The nutrients help keep your skin bouncy and prevent it from wrinkling, while the warm water relaxes your muscles and helps you relax. And the best part is — you can drink as much beer as you want while you soak! From a separate tap, of course.
Still don’t believe in the benefits of taking a beer bath? Head over to The Beer Spa in Denver to see it for yourself!
VISIT A DISPENSARY
Colorado is very well-known for being the first state to legalize marijuana recreationally. One of the most common questions I get asked from people looking to visit is, “How do dispensaries work?” You just go to the dispensary and buy it! You show your ID to someone at the door who verifies that you’re over 21, and they’ll let you in a room with counters and budtenders behind them.
Under the counters, you’ll find any sort of marijuana you’re looking for. Flowers, fun edibles, pre-rolled joints, wax… you name it! You are more than welcome to get as high as you like in the Mile High City.
If you want to join a real high society, visit the Marijuana Mansion while you’re in Denver! This is quite possibly the most eclectic and unique place I’ve ever been.
Enjoy an immersive, one-of-a-kind experience by touring the haunted mansion and taking some photos in the dopest adult playground you’ll ever stumble upon.
OPHELIA’S ELECTRIC SOAPBOX
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a restaurant, bar, and live music venue located in a Victorian brownstone building that was once a brothel, sex shop, and peep show.
Stop by to enjoy some live music in this one-of-a-kind concert hall for a Saturday night experience you’ll never forget!
DOWNTOWN BREWERY TRAIL WALK
Fun fact: I actually hated beer before I moved to Colorado, but then I fell in love with it. If you are a lover of craft beer (or want to be), grab a Denver Beer Trail passport and visit 20 of the best breweries around Denver. Most of them offer free tastings or tours, and all of them offer delicious Colorado local beer.
Some notable breweries on the list include: Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver Chophouse and Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing, Blue Moon, and more!
VISIT A WINE BAR
If you love wine, you’re not alone! One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Denver was go to happy hour at different wine bars with my friends. The two that we would always go back to were Postino’s and Deep Roots.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- ALL THINGS COLORADO: 38 Phenomenal Things To Do In Colorado
- GLENWOOD SPRINGS: 9+ Things To Do In Glenwood Springs
- COLORADO SPRINGS: 31 Delightful Things To Do In Colorado Springs
- BRECKENRIDGE: 20+ Epic Things To Do In Breckenridge This Summer
- VAIL: 33 Things To Do In Vail That You Should Not Miss
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