From museums to outdoor events up to the mountain tops, Musement takes a look at 10 of the best things to do in Denver.
When one thinks of Denver, mountain vistas, skiing, and below freezing temperatures are the first things to come to mind. However, The Mile-High City, as it’s widely known, offers its visitors much more than that. One of the best cities to visit during the autumn, Denver’s urban culture, unique museums, and outdoor attractions fully embrace guests and provides good vibes year-round.
Located one mile above sea level, hence its nickname, the city of Denver won’t let you down. From shopping downtown to enjoying some of the beautiful fall foliage, the choices are endless. So, without further ado, here are ten of the best things to do when visiting Denver.
1. Stroll through one of the Art Districts
The art scene in Denver is thriving. Eight neighborhoods comprise the city’s art districts, with River North (RiNo) Art District and the Art District on Santa Fe among them. With vibrant street art, these districts have become a hotspot for art lovers. Murals decorate the district’s walls, and events like First Friday’s have become a hit. Galleries, artist studios, shops and bars open their doors to the public and let visitors enjoy artworks from the locals. On Santa Fe Drive, the city’s largest art walk district, streets are even shutdown in August, a must do when you’re visiting!
2. Discover the Denver Zoo
“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Check out some of nature’s finest friends in City Park. Spread across 80 acres and home to over 4,000 animals, the Denver Zoo is the perfect place for the family. Its central location makes it extremely accessible to visit. Different exhibits offer learning experiences so you can gain a deeper insight and knowledge about these animals that come from all over the world. See hyenas and African dogs roam at Predator Ridge, or head to Primate Panorama and watch monkeys swing from tree branches. Averaging 2.2 million visitors a year, a trip to the zoo is something you won’t want to miss.
3. Take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
It would be a shame if you came to visit Denver without making a trip up to the Rockies. Only an hour drive from the city, Rocky Mountain National Park should be on everybody’s to-do list. It is one of the highest national parks in the world. Diverse wildlife inhabits the park grounds, from black bears to elk, lizards, and foxes. Climb up 12,000 feet on Trail Ridge Road and have your cameras ready, there will be an abundance of opportunities for your Instagram feed. Gaze into the sky on a clear summer night and be amazed by the number of stars you can see!
4. Explore the 16th Street Mall
Red and grey granite stone pave the walkway of this mile-long pedestrian promenade. Starting in the LoDo (lower downtown) district and passing through the infamous Larimer Square, the 16th Street Mall has become one of Denver’s top attractions. A variety of shops, bookstores, restaurants, and bars line the street. Grab a bite to eat, or just take a walk down the mall, appreciating the Mile-High city. Discover the many independent bookstores the city has to offer, especially the Tattered Cover, a paradise for bookworms.
5. Catch a ballgame
Home to seven professional sports teams, the city of Denver loves its sports. With the basketball, baseball, hockey, and football stadiums all downtown within a mile radius, there’s no reason not to attend a ballgame. Prepare to bundle up if you’re looking to catch a football game at Mile High Stadium, as temperatures can drop rapidly. For those who attend a Colorado Rockies game, you will be treated to beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains over the city skyline.
6. Visit the Denver Art Museum
Did we mention that art and Denver go hand in hand? It only makes sense then that a visit to the Denver Art Museum (DAM) is on your agenda. Not only are the two buildings exquisite in their own right, but what’s on the inside is just as impressive. Renowned for its collection of American Indian art, the museum houses over 70,000 diverse works, including Van Gogh and Homer. Founded in 1893, the museum has a variety of interactive exhibitions that the young ones will surely be entertained by. Kids under 18 get free entrance to the museum.
7. Grab a fresh beer at a brewery
“When the mountains turn blue, it’s as cold as the Rockies!” We’ve all heard this phrase on a Coors commercial before, so why not find out for yourself? The Coors Brewery, located about 15 miles from the city center, invites you to learn about the brewing and malting process on a self-guided tour. After you explore the world’s largest brewing site and learn about the beer’s history, you get to sample some of the brew! For those not looking to leave the city center, no need to worry, Denver has plenty of other breweries to choose from, over 90 to be exact. Cheers!
8. Attend a concert at Red Rocks Park and Ampitheatre
Yoga with a view? Outdoor concerts? This is the spot for that. Located ten miles from the city, the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre has it all. Music, panoramic views, a 300-foot sandstone formation, and miles of hiking trails are just some features to check out. Hosting numerous concerts and events, the amphitheater provides amazing acoustics from its geological features. An environment that is worth seeing for yourself. Outdoor enthusiasts will have plenty of photo ops as they explore the park’s stunning natural scenery.
9. Adventure through the botanical gardens
Situated on 24 acres, the Denver Botanic Gardens is the perfect place for a romantic date. With over 33,000 plants from all over the world, the gardens will take you on an adventure through their greenery. Get lost with your loved one on a stroll through the Romantic Gardens. The sweet aroma from the lilies, lavender, and roses in the Ornamental Gardens will trigger your serotonin and have you feeling on cloud nine. Stop by the Internationally Inspired Gardens where you can admire plants from South Africa, Japan and more.
10. Hit the slopes
We couldn’t talk about visiting Denver and not talk about hitting the slopes. Whether you have never been before or are a professional (in your eyes), skiing in the Rockies is not only one of the best things to do in Denver, but in the US. With a wide number of ski resorts in the area, anywhere from an hour to a few hours’ drive, you will have no problem finding a mountain that is right for you. Skiing season lasts almost half the year, February being the best month, so there is plenty of time to shred the gnar. Definitely a bucket list item to cross off, a no brainer!