Things to Do in Denver

Denver, Colorado, known as the Mile High City due to its elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, offers a vibrant mix of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and unique attractions. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Denver has something to offer for everyone. Here’s a detailed guide to the best things to do in Denver.

Outdoor Adventures

Denver’s unique position at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains provides a plethora of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking to catch a live concert in a breathtaking setting, explore extensive urban trails, or venture into rugged mountain terrain, Denver serves as a perfect starting point. Here’s a closer look at some of the top outdoor activities the city has to offer.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a world-famous concert venue located just 10 miles west of Denver, Colorado. It is not only renowned for its excellent natural acoustics but also for its unique geological formations, which create an iconic visual backdrop for live performances. The amphitheater is situated within Red Rocks Park, a 738-acre park owned by the City of Denver, which offers hiking trails, geological wonders, and astounding views.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre has a seating capacity of over 9,000 and has been the site of some of the most iconic concerts in history, featuring artists such as The Beatles, U2, and Sting. The venue is owned and operated by the City of Denver and offers a wide range of events and activities throughout the year, including live concerts, yoga sessions, and hiking trails.

The amphitheater’s natural red rock formations, including Creation Rock and Ship Rock, provide an epic acoustic experience and allow visitors to soak in gorgeous panoramic views of Denver. The surrounding park area, with its hiking trails and scenic overlooks, provides additional recreational opportunities for visitors.

Fitness enthusiasts can participate in yoga sessions or join the local tradition of running the amphitheater’s steps. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame, located on the premises, showcases the state’s rich musical history and features exhibits on notable musicians and bands from Colorado.

To make the most of your visit to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it’s recommended to check the venue’s schedule in advance and perhaps catch a concert under the stars. Arriving early to explore the hiking trails or visiting the Colorado Music Hall of Fame are also great ways to experience the venue’s unique atmosphere and natural beauty.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a must-visit destination for music lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, offering a one-of-a-kind concert experience that combines natural beauty, excellent acoustics, and a rich cultural history.

City Parks and Trails

Denver has an extensive network of parks and trails, with over 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways and 850 miles of paved off-road trails. These green spaces offer ample opportunities for recreation, including biking, hiking, jogging, and horseback riding. Some of the most frequented parks in Denver include Washington Park, City Park, and Cheesman Park, each offering unique landscapes and recreational facilities.

Washington Park, located in the heart of Denver, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with a giant grassy field, two ponds for fishing and paddle boats, and a 2.6-mile, bike-free outer loop for jogging. The park is also a popular spot for volleyball enthusiasts, hobbyists, and recreational leaguers playing various sports.

City Park, located near Uptown and the Denver Zoo, is another popular destination, offering nearly every evening in the summer with recreational activities such as kickball, soccer, softball, and flag football. The park also has two ponds for fishing and hosts festivals such as City Park Jazz, a Sunday concert series held from June to August.

Cheesman Park, located at Franklin St. and 8th St., is a popular spot for families, with a large playground and incredible vistas stretching from the Cheesman Memorial Pavilion to the Front Range. The park is also home to the Pavilion, built in 1910, and offers a peaceful atmosphere for picnics, walks, or frisbee.

The Cherry Creek Trail and South Platte River Trail are favorites among cyclists and runners for their lengthy, scenic routes that meander through the heart of Denver. These trails offer a unique opportunity to explore the city’s natural beauty while engaging in physical activity.

Denver’s parks and trails not only serve as a green escape from urban life but also play a vital role in community health and social interaction. They host various events and activities throughout the year, from outdoor concerts to fitness classes, providing ample opportunities for residents and visitors to connect with nature and each other.

In addition to traditional parks, Denver also offers unique and spectacular city parks, such as Confluence Park, which is part of the greater Riverfront Park trail system. The park offers biking along Cherry Creek, one of the best around, and is a popular spot for water sports and live music.

Overall, Denver’s parks and trails offer a wide range of recreational opportunities, from leisurely walks to high-intensity workouts, and provide a vital community space for social interaction and connection with nature.

Rocky Mountain Adventures

The Rocky Mountains are just a short drive from Denver, making the city an ideal basecamp for mountain adventures. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or planning a longer camping excursion, the Rockies offer a diverse range of landscapes and activities.

Hiking and mountain biking are popular in areas like the Front Range, where trails of varying difficulty offer something for everyone, from casual walkers to experienced adventurers. The Front Range is a section of the Rocky Mountains that extends from the northern border of Colorado to the southern border of New Mexico. It includes several national parks, forests, and monuments, as well as a variety of trails that cater to all levels of hikers and bikers.

Winter months transform the region into a skiing and snowboarding destination, with world-class resorts like Breckenridge and Vail within reach. Colorado is known for its world-class ski resorts, with Breckenridge and Vail being two of the most popular ones. Breckenridge offers over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain, while Vail boasts over 5,200 acres. Both resorts offer a variety of runs for all skill levels, as well as other winter activities such as snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

For those interested in overnight stays, the Rockies are dotted with numerous campgrounds offering facilities for tents and RVs. The area is also rich in wildlife, providing opportunities for wildlife photography and bird-watching. Camping in the Rockies is a popular activity, with many campgrounds offering amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and restrooms. Some campgrounds also offer RV hookups and other amenities.

Denver Adventures is a local company that offers guided outdoor adventures, including ziplining, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and whitewater kayaking. They offer combo tours that allow you to pick and choose from multiple experiences and offer discounts when you book two adventures. Rocky Mountain Adventures is another local company that offers whitewater rafting trips on three different rivers across Northern Colorado. They also offer gear, kayak, and SUP rentals.

The Rocky Mountain Adventure Pass is a year-round pass that offers access to beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses in a variety of activities, including whitewater kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, backcountry splitboarding, ice climbing, and summit hikes. The pass includes all equipment and is good for one full year from the purchase date.

In conclusion, the Rocky Mountains offer a diverse range of landscapes and activities, making them an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or planning a longer camping excursion, the Rockies offer something for everyone, from casual walkers to experienced adventurers.

Cultural Hotspots

Denver’s arts and culture scene is thriving, offering a wide range of experiences for art, history, and performing arts enthusiasts. The Denver Art Museum is home to an extensive collection of Native American art and rotating exhibitions, showcasing a diverse range of artworks. The History Colorado Center provides an immersive and interactive way to explore the state’s rich history. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is a hub for performing arts, hosting Broadway shows, concerts by the Colorado Symphony, and various dance performances.In addition to these, there are several other museums and art galleries in Denver that cater to different interests. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver features a constantly refreshed series of exhibits devoted to innovation and creativity, while the Clyfford Still Museum showcases the largest collection of Clyfford Still’s work in the world. The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is located in the former studio of Vance Kirkland, one of Colorado’s most distinguished painters.

Denver’s street art scene is also vibrant, with installations and murals covering buildings and other unexpected canvases throughout various neighborhoods. The River North Arts District (RiNo) hosts the Crush Walls art festival each September, showcasing the work of local and international artists.

The city’s commitment to arts and culture is evident in its public art, with a voter-approved mandate setting aside one percent of any capital improvement project over $1 million for the creation of public artwork. This has resulted in exquisite and often enormous open-air pieces all over Denver, such as “I See What You Mean” at the Colorado Convention Center and “The Dancers” at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Denver’s arts and culture scene offers a diverse range of experiences, from world-class museums and galleries to unique art districts and creative neighborhoods, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to explore.

Unique Attractions

Denver offers a variety of unique attractions that cater to different interests, from the spiritual benefits of cannabis to comic books and transportation history.

The International Church of Cannabis is a one-of-a-kind attraction that combines vibrant, psychedelic art installations with a spiritual focus on the benefits of cannabis. This unique church is dedicated to the spiritual exploration of cannabis and its potential for personal growth and transformation.

For comic book enthusiasts, the Mile High Comics Megastore is a must-visit destination. This store is home to one of the largest collections of comic books in the United States, with over 100,000 comic books and 10,000 graphic novels in stock. The store also features a wide range of collectibles, toys, and other pop culture merchandise.

The Forney Museum of Transportation is another unique attraction that showcases the history of transportation in Denver. The museum features a collection of over 600 artifacts, including vintage cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and aircraft. The museum also hosts special events and exhibits throughout the year, including car shows and educational programs.

Meow Wolf Denver Convergence Station is a unique art installation that combines immersive storytelling with interactive exhibits. The installation features a variety of multimedia experiences, including a psychedelic dance party and a living, breathing multisensory art experience. Visitors can explore the installation at their own pace, discovering hidden secrets and surprises along the way.

In addition to these unique attractions, Denver is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene, with world-class museums, unique art districts, and creative neighborhoods. The city’s street art scene is also vibrant, with installations and murals covering buildings and other unexpected canvases throughout various neighborhoods. Denver’s commitment to arts and culture is evident in its public art, with a voter-approved mandate setting aside one percent of any capital improvement project over $1 million for the creation of public artwork. This has resulted in exquisite and often enormous open-air pieces all over Denver, such as “I See What You Mean” at the Colorado Convention Center and “The Dancers” at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Denver’s unique attractions offer a diverse range of experiences, from world-class museums and galleries to unique art districts and creative neighborhoods, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to explore.

Family-Friendly Activities

Denver offers a wide range of family-friendly activities that cater to younger visitors. The Denver Zoo, located in City Park, is home to over 4,000 animals and features engaging exhibits for all ages. It is a popular destination for families, offering a chance to see native Colorado species and exotic creatures from around the world. The zoo also offers a variety of interactive experiences, such as the Swim with the Fish and Dive with the Sharks programs, which allow visitors to swim alongside various marine life.

The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is another great option for families with young children. This museum features interactive “playscapes” that allow children to learn through play, with exhibits designed to spark creativity and imagination. The museum offers a variety of hands-on activities, such as a makeshift grocery store where children can shop and play the part of the cashier, as well as science laboratories and a mini ski mountain that’s open year-round.

The Downtown Aquarium is a must-visit destination for families interested in marine life. This aquatic wonderland is home to a vast array of sea creatures, including sharks, stingrays, and a variety of colorful tropical fish. The aquarium also features a mermaid show, which is a family-friendly, interactive performance choreographed to music and performed in the Under the Sea Exhibit. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the aquarium’s restaurant, which offers a unique dining experience with views of sharks and schools of tropical fish.

In addition to these attractions, Denver also offers a variety of free family-friendly activities, such as the Denver Skatepark, Denver U.S. Mint, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, Hammond’s Candies, and Tattered Cover Book Store. These attractions offer a range of experiences, from skateboarding and candy-making to book-browsing and hiking, making them great options for families looking to explore the city on a budget.

Denver is a great destination for families, with a variety of activities and attractions that cater to younger visitors. From the Denver Zoo and Children’s Museum of Denver to the Downtown Aquarium and free family-friendly activities, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Culinary Delights

Denver is rapidly becoming a culinary hotspot, with a wide range of dining options that cater to all tastes and preferences. The city’s craft beer scene is thriving, with a variety of breweries and taprooms offering unique and innovative brews. The Denver Beer Trail is a must-try experience for beer enthusiasts, featuring a curated selection of the city’s finest craft breweries. The trail includes a variety of stops, from large-scale breweries to small-batch operations, offering a range of styles from IPAs to stouts and everything in between.

In addition to its beer scene, Denver is home to a variety of innovative restaurants that offer unique and delicious dishes. From gourmet burgers to fine dining experiences, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Some must-try local dining options include Mercantile Dining & Provision, a European-style market and restaurant that offers a variety of artisanal products and dishes; Stoic & Genuine, a seafood-focused restaurant that features a raw bar and a variety of fresh seafood dishes; and The Nickel, a farm-to-table restaurant that offers a variety of seasonal dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients.

For those looking for a more casual dining experience, Denver also offers a wide range of food trucks and street food options. The city’s food truck scene is thriving, with a variety of options that cater to all tastes and preferences. From tacos and burritos to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and vegan options, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Denver’s nightlife scene is diverse and vibrant, with a range of options for visitors and locals alike. The city is home to a thriving music scene, with numerous venues offering live performances by local and national artists. The Bluebird Theater, for example, is a popular spot for indie and alternative music, while the Mission Ballroom hosts larger acts in a state-of-the-art setting. Comedy clubs are also popular in Denver, with Comedy Works and Rise Comedy offering stand-up performances and improv shows.

For those looking for a more laid-back evening, Denver’s bars and distilleries offer a range of options. The city is known for its craft beer scene, with a number of breweries offering tours and tastings. The Coors Brewery in nearby Golden is a popular destination for beer lovers, while local breweries like Great Divide and Denver Beer Co. offer a more intimate experience. The city is also home to a number of distilleries, including Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey and Leopold Bros.

Dance clubs are also popular in Denver, with a range of options from chic lounges to pulsating dance floors. La Rumba in Capitol Hill is a popular spot for salsa dancing, while Temple Nightclub in the Baker neighborhood offers a more electronic vibe. The Church Nightclub, located in a former church, is another unique spot for dancing and live music.

For those looking for something a bit different, Denver offers a range of immersive experiences. Immersive Gamebox, for example, offers interactive gaming experiences that blend technology and teamwork, while Puttshack offers late-night mini golf for those looking to unleash their competitive side.

Denver’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone, from live music and dancing to craft beer and immersive experiences. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back evening or a night on the town, the city has plenty of options to choose from.

Seasonal Events and Festivals

Denver is a city that hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from its Western heritage to contemporary culture. During Denver Arts Week, the city’s arts and culture scene comes alive with free museum nights and art shows, showcasing the city’s vibrant and diverse cultural offerings. The Great American Beer Festival is one of the largest beer festivals in the U.S., showcasing hundreds of breweries and offering visitors the opportunity to sample a wide range of craft beers.

The city is also home to a number of festivals and events that cater to specific interests and communities. The Denver Greek Festival, for example, celebrates the city’s Greek heritage with food, music, and dance. The Colorado Chocolate Festival offers visitors the chance to indulge in sweet treats and learn about the art of chocolate-making. The Winter Wonderland & Midnight Brunch New Year’s Eve at EDGE Bar is a popular event that offers a unique and festive way to ring in the new year.

In addition to these events, Denver also hosts a number of seasonal festivals and fairs. In the fall, festivals like the Denver Mardi Gras, Loveland Sweetheart Festival, and Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrate the city’s vibrant and diverse cultural scene. In the winter, festivals like the 12 Days of Aspen, Georgetown Christmas Market, and Parade of Lights in Denver offer visitors the chance to enjoy the city’s holiday traditions and festivities.

For those interested in the arts, Denver offers a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. The Denver Arts Festival, for example, showcases the work of local and regional artists and offers visitors the chance to purchase unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. The Bravo! Vail Music Festival and Durango Blues Train offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy live music and performances in beautiful outdoor settings.

Denver’s events and festivals offer something for everyone, from foodies and beer lovers to art enthusiasts and music fans. Whether you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, a chance to indulge in sweet treats, or a festive way to ring in the new year, Denver has something for you.

Bottom Line

Denver offers a dynamic mix of activities that can cater to any interest. From its scenic natural surroundings and rich historical sites to its burgeoning arts scene and lively nightlife, Denver ensures that every visitor leaves with memorable experiences. Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, or just a relaxing time, Denver is the place to be.