The Mile High City of Denver, Colorado is a great place to live, visit, and play. There are so many things to do in Denver that you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed with all of the amazing options. Everyone loves Denver – both the people who live here and its visitors alike.
This capital city has everything – world-class museums, professional sports teams, a great food and beverage scene, lovely outdoor spaces, lots of exciting events, and, on top of all that, it’s adjacent to the Rocky Mountains, one of the best playgrounds for activities of all kinds in the nation.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Denver, Colorado then you’ll love this list that we put together for you. There’s something for everyone in the city that’s a mile above sea level. Read on and start planning your trip.
There’s no better way to experience a city like Denver than through its bars. This tour visits three of the most popular establishments in lower downtown, where you’ll sample three incredible concoctions and learn all about the Mile High city’s salacious and spirited past. You’ll visit modern-day speakeasies, historic bars, and local joints that host some of Denver's best happy hours. Discover the fascinating backgrounds of Prohibition-era cocktails and enjoy the ambience of lower downtown’s best drinking establishments.
Denver is home to a rich community of creative people. The River North Art District, also known as RiNo, is located in the heart of Downtown Denver and serves as a hub for creativity and art. This guided tour will introduce you to some of the amazing street art in the neighborhood and give you an insider's look into this eclectic district. Get ready to explore the colorful, artistic side of Denver on this 1.5-hour walking tour!
Experience Denver's restaurant scene on an epic food tour with visits to five of the city's best eateries. Discover top-rated downtown restaurants and indulge in a tasting menu made up of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Enjoy freshly baked empanadas from a family-owned shop, indulgent Neapolitan pizza, savory pulled pork sandwiches and more.
- Best Nature Activity: Denver Botanic Gardens
- Best Museum for Grown-Ups: Denver Art Museum
- Best Museum for Families: Denver Children’s Museum at Marsico Campus
- Best Small Museum: National Ballpark Museum
- Best Sensory Experience: Meow Wolf
- Best Nature Park: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
- Best Urban Park: Cheesman Park
- Best Historical Attraction: Molly Brown House Museum
- Best Road Trip: Mount Evans Scenic Byway
- Best Nightlife: LoDo Neighborhood
So now, without further ado, here’s our comprehensive list of Denver things to do. Get planning and get going!
Outdoor Activities in Denver
1. Denver Botanic Gardens
No matter who you ask, they’ll tell you that one of the best attractions in town is Denver Botanic Gardens, so if you’re wondering what to do in Denver, it’s a great place to start. Situated at one end of popular Cheesman Park, this non-profit garden was founded in 1951.
This 23-acre oasis may be small in size, but it’s large in stature. There are dozens of well-curated and cultivated gardens here, including a traditional Japanese garden, gardens full of plants native to the West, a cactus and succulent house, a huge tropical conservatory encased in glass, water gardens, ornamental gardens, and so much more.
There’s a separate, 3-acre children’s garden across the street – it’s on top of the parking garage, actually – and it has many places to play and so many things for your little ones to do. The Gardens offers many classes and events so check the calendar on the website to see what you might want to do or see.
If you like the main location on York Street, then you might also want to check out the gardens’ satellite location in nearby Littleton. It’s a 700-acre native plant refuge and working farm and has some great trails and wildlife viewing to offer. Get your garden general admission ticket now.
2. Washington Park
Washington Park refers to not just a park but also to the quiet city neighborhood that surrounds the park. This park is most heavily used by residents of that neighborhood, but it’s one of the best places to visit in Denver for families (or frankly anyone) who wants to stop by.
It’s quite a bit south of downtown Denver so you’ll be away from the hustle and bustle of the city while still inside the city limits. It’s 161 acres in size and has lovely landscaped flower gardens, sports fields, a recreation center with a pool, and trails for running and biking. Smith Lake is popular with kayakers and paddleboarders.
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3. City Park
City Park is just over twice the size of Washington Park at 330 acres. It’s located on the eastern side of the city and is home to the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a giant all-ages playground, two lakes, and a large boathouse.
It was built in 1880 and is one of the oldest public spaces in the city. Back then, it was on the far outskirts of town, and trolley companies shuttled visitors to and from it. Today, you’ll find parking along park roads, but it can sometimes be rather challenging.
Still, City Park is a park worth visiting while you’re in town, and if you’re looking for things to do in downtown Denver, it will give you a good feel for Denver parks overall. You can explore Denver’s top attractions and save money at the same time if you buy a Denver CityPASS.
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4. Cheesman Park
Cheesman Park is another popular park in Denver. It’s only 80 acres in size, which makes it much smaller than City Park or Washington Park, but it always seems to be really happening, no matter what time of day nor day of the week it is.
People love to hang out in this park, bring dogs to this park, exercise in this park, and even perform odd spectacles and acrobatics in this park. You’ll be amazed by some of the stuff you see at Cheesman.
Furthermore, Cheeseman Park may very be haunted; this park was once Prospect Hill Cemetery starting in 1858, and it’s common knowledge that they didn’t remove all of the bodies and that in many cases, the people who the city hired to move the bodies starting in 1893 didn’t do it in a respectful way.
Surprisingly, though, there are not as many reports of ghosts in Cheeseman as one might expect. Maybe the spirits like seeing modern people having fun.
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5. Confluence Park
Confluence Park is a small park in the middle of the city. It’s where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet, and as a result, there are some cool rapids here that the neighboring R.E.I. store uses to let patrons try out kayaks.
This park is also historical; it commemorates the first search for gold in the area by William Greeneberry Russell and his party in 1858.
Although they didn’t find gold at this confluence, they did at Little Dry Creek nearby. The Colorado Gold Rush soon followed, and the group’s encampment here became the beginning of Denver.
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6. Cherry Creek Trail
If you want to run, walk, or bike during your visit to Denver then you’ll love the Cherry Creek Trail. This 24.6-mile trail starts at Confluence Park and will take you all the way to Cherry Creek Reservoir if you follow it all the way.
The entire way, you’ll walk along Cherry Creek and you’ll also pass things like Four Mile Historic Park, Cherry Creek Mall, and Denver Country Club. On this trail, you’ll be in the city the entire time, but you’ll be in nature, too – this combination is so Denver and is exactly why this easy trail is so popular with locals and visitors alike.
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Things to Do in Denver With Kids
7. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is one of Denver’s top museums and it’s one that the whole family will enjoy. It’s gigantic and there’s something for everyone here. There’s a Discovery Center for the little ones at your party; it’s almost big enough to be considered its own children’s museum.
For all ages, check out exhibits on natural history, space, mummies and Egypt, health and the human body, dinosaurs, and more. The planetarium and IMAX theater have excellent shows each hour. This museum has been serving Denver since 1900, and it’s extremely popular still – over two million people visit it each year. Don’t miss it!
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8. Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is the largest art museum between Chicago and the west coast; it has over 70,000 works from all over the world and from all time periods in its collection.
Visiting it is one of the top things to do in Denver. You can get lost in the exhibits here for many hours and even if you don’t think you’re into art, you’ll find something in this museum to love.
With collections of African Art, Asian Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Textile and Fashion, Western American Art, and so much more, there’s something for everyone at the DAM. Further, if you love architecture, the museum building is a work of art itself; it was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti in 1971.
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9. Forney Museum of Transportation
If you are interested in wheeled transportation machines of all kinds, then you’re going to love the Forney Museum of Transportation. It was established by Colorado entrepreneur J.D. Forney of Fort Collins in 1961.
Since then, the museum has amassed a collection of about 500 exhibits that it displays in 70,000 square feet of space. You’ll love the old cars, bikes, motorcycles, wagons, trucks, and locomotives – all in excellent condition.
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10. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
You might not think that an afternoon of looking at furniture that you can’t sit on nor purchase sounds like a good time, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you have a very good time doing exactly that at this museum.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art houses one of the best collections of decorative art in the nation in a vast number of design styles. You’ll leave with a much greater appreciation and understanding of interior design after spending a few hours here.
Although Kirkland’s International Decorative Arts Collection is its biggest draw, this museum also has over 7,000 works of art by over 700 Colorado artists on display, and over 1,200 paintings by Vance Kirkland, the museum’s namesake. It’s like three museums in one, and they’re all worth checking out.
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11. Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
The big air force base in Denver today is Buckley AFB in the eastern suburb of Aurora but the city’s first air force base was Lowry AFB from 1938 until 1994.
Today, the base is closed but one great thing on the property is the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. This museum uses two former hangars of the base to preserve the long history of this former base and airfield.
Over twenty restored military aircraft are on display along with over a dozen historical civilian aircraft; you can view these planes and helicopters along with a number of other educational exhibits. The whole family will enjoy learning about Colorado’s aviation history at this exciting museum.
12. Clyfford Still Museum
Clyfford Still isn’t necessarily a household name, but he was a prolific abstract expressionist artist who lived from 1904 to 1980.
When he died, he stipulated in his will that he wanted to donate his life’s work to a U.S. city on the condition that they would be willing to establish a permanent museum to display it.
Denver was one of twenty applicants, and after Still’s widow met with then-Mayor John Hickenlooper, it was this city that was chosen. The museum opened in 2011; the Clyfford Still collection includes 3.125 works that rotate in and out of the display. If abstract art interests you, don’t miss this single-artist museum.
Hungry? Book the Downtown Denver Food Tour!
13. Denver Firefighters Museum
The Denver Firefighters Museum is another museum that’s fun for the whole family. If you’re visiting Denver with kids, they’ll enjoy exploring this 11,000-square-foot facility that’s located in Denver’s second fire station built in 1909.
Learn about the history of firefighting in Denver, firefighting equipment, and fire safety through artifacts and signage; the museum maintains a collection of over 30,000 items including fire apparatus, tools, gear, trucks, hoses, and more. Your little ones will love the children’s gallery – it’s full of hands-on activities to enjoy with Mom and Dad.
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14. American Museum of Western Art
The American Museum of Western Art is a branch of the Denver Art Museum but it’s housed in a separate building. The art found here was once the private collection of oil, real estate, and telecommunications mogul Philip Anschutz; his daughter, Sarah Hunt, is the director.
This museum houses over 600 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by over 180 artists, all of which celebrate the art of the American West from the early 1800s to today.
If you came to Denver with the intention of immersing yourself in the glory of the iconic American West, this is the perfect place to do it.
15. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
While there are several museums in Denver that focus on art throughout history, if contemporary art is your jam in particular, then you’ll love the MCA.
This museum was founded in 1996 by philanthropist Sue Cannon and a group of volunteers; it moved into its 27,000-square-foot current home in 2007.
One especially unique thing about this museum is that it has no permanent exhibits. Instead, all art pieces rotate in and out every two to three months. Because of this, you’re sure to have a different and special experience every time you go.
16. Children’s Museum Denver at Marsico Campus
For those traveling with little ones, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is not to be missed. This is one of the best children’s museums in the country and both you and your kids will love it.
It’s in a nearly 47,000-square-foot building on nine acres, and every inch of the place is jam-packed with fun, hands-on things to do.
There are massive indoor and outdoor climbing structures, and imaginative play spaces with themes like firefighting, veterinary care, cooking, camping, woodlands, and water, plus a bubble room, a few science rooms, and an art studio.
There’s so much to see and do here that it would be easy to spend an entire day at the children’s museum, so plan accordingly.
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17. Meow Wolf Denver – Convergence Station
Not all that long ago, an artist’s collective in Santa Fe decided to create a very different type of immersive art museum inside an old bowling alley, in part as a lighthearted response to the immense seriousness of the art scene in that southwestern city.
Now, a little more than a decade later, it’s become New Mexico’s number one attraction, and the group has expanded into locations in Las Vegas and Denver with more on the way. Each of the three locations is different from the others, and you’ll love them all.
Denver’s Meow Wolf has a space travel theme, but that explanation is far too simple for what you’ll find when you enter. Convergence Station is Meow Wolf’s largest offering yet, and plans to get lost and overwhelmed inside.
You’ll find room after room of surreal, transformational, unforgettable, and psychedelic art that inspires more questions than answers.
This attraction is fun for all ages; you can touch and climb on almost everything, and Meow Wolf is something that you’ll never, ever forget, and that you will think of frequently for the rest of your life on this planet. This is one of the Denver activities that should not be missed.
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Things to Do in Denver This Weekend
18. History Colorado Center
Colorado has a very exciting and colorful history, and there’s no better place to learn about the events and people of this state’s past than the History Colorado Center downtown.
Exhibits on Mesa Verde, the Dust Bowl, the mountains, tourism, mining, and much more help visitors learn much about how Colorado became the place it is today.
Most interesting, perhaps, is the 7,000-square-foot Living West exhibit which explores the dynamics between the human residents of Colorado and the natural environment.
You’ll learn a great deal about The Centennial State at History Colorado, and will leave with a greater understanding of this great state, even if you’ve lived in Colorado all your life.
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19. Molly Brown House Museum
The name Molly Brown might ring a bell for you as she was a survivor of the Titanic; she was portrayed by Kathy Bates in James Cameron’s 1997 film. However, Margaret Brown did much more than just survive a sinking ship.
She was an outspoken woman in a time period during which women were expected to be meek, and she used her voice and social standing to help women, children, animals, and other causes through hands-on volunteering, activism, and philanthropy. She’s a member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, with good reason.
You can visit and tour her home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and learn more about her life and times. The home was built in 1889 and was purchased by Brown and her husband in 1894. After a period of neglect, Historic Denver, Inc. bought it in the 1970s and renovated it to its former glory.
Today, it is decorated as it would have been in Molly Brown’s lifetime, and it’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. There are guided tours of the home and museum, or you can explore on your own if you prefer.
You can also explore more of the Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Molly Brown House and learn more about its history – its spooky history in particular – on this Twilight Ghost Tour from Viator.
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20. Center for Colorado Women’s History/Byers-Evans House
Speaking of women in history, if you want to learn more about the women of early Colorado, you might schedule a tour of the Byers-Evans House.
This Italianate-style home was built in 1880 and was home to two different notable Denver families during its first 100 years. Today it is home to Colorado History’s Center for Colorado Women’s History.
The Center itself focuses on tours, exhibits, lectures, and research to learn more about important women and women in general in the early days of Colorado; you’ll learn about the house and some of these women on your tour.
21. Four Mile Historic Park
Do you want to see the oldest house in Denver? You can, and you can even go inside it at Four Mile Historic Park. Four Mile House was built in 1859 on the banks of Cherry Creek. Over the years it served as a home, an inn, a stage stop, and a tavern; today it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Four Mile Historic Park also often hosts events and educational programs that you might enjoy. Check its website to see what’s happening while you’re in town.
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Denver Attractions to Visit
22. Denver Union Station
Denver Union Station is the railway hub for Denver and both local trains and Amtrak stop there and riders can transfer to buses to destinations both near and far without even leaving the property. The original Union Station was built in 1881 but burned down in 1894; the current building was completed in 1914.
This building is a beautiful, traditional, and historic train station, and both the interior and exterior are lovely to view. A 2012 renovation greatly updated the interior without sacrificing any of the original charm.
There are plenty of great restaurants both in and nearby the station and it’s a great place to take a date if you’re looking for things to do in Denver at night. Or, you can further explore this area on this Denver: Downtown Cocktail Tour from GetYourGuide.com that departs from right out front.
23. Larimer Square
Denver made some mistakes as it grew, and one of the biggest mistakes it made was that it failed to protect many of the older buildings downtown from development. Much of downtown Denver is filled with high-rises and skyscrapers built during the boom of the 1970s and 1980s.
However, one area that has been protected and restored in Denver’s downtown area is Larimer Square. This is the oldest commercial block in the city, and it has been meticulously restored to look much like it did during its heyday in the late 1800s.
It was the city’s first historic district when it was designated as one in 1965. There are other historic districts in Denver, but most are residential; this is really the only remaining commercial block in town that shows what Denver was like before 1900.
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24. Colorado State Capitol & Civic Center Park
The Colorado State Capitol Building was built in the 1890s and opened in 1894. It was constructed from Colorado white granite and the gold leaf on the dome was added in 1908. Designer Elijah E. Meyers designed it with the U.S. Capitol Building’s neoclassical style in mind and it’s easy to see the resemblance.
Despite the building’s age, it was able to earn a LEED Gold certification and is the only capitol building in the country with one; it’s also the only capitol building in the nation to be cooled by geothermal power. It may be old, but the modern improvements are notable, too.
Free guided tours of the Colorado State Capitol Building are available four times a day on weekdays if you want to learn more about this building and the Colorado government. The Capitol Building is beautiful inside and out, and it’s worth taking a closer look.
Among the tours to enjoy in the capitol is the Guided Walking Ghost Tour at Capitol Hill Are you looking for a side trip? Join the Small Group Tour of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods from Denver.
25. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
There are 193 cathedrals in the United States, and even if you’re not Catholic or religious at all, they are often worth checking out when visiting a new place simply due to their immense beauty.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver is a spectacular example of Gothic Revival architecture both inside and out, making it one of the best things to see in Denver. It opened in 1912, is 221′ high at the top of the spires, holds 895 worshippers, and is open to the public daily, year-round.
Fun Things to Do in Denver
26. Coors Field
Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the Colorado Rockies, Coors Field is one of the nicest major league ballparks in the nation.
It opened in 1995 and has a capacity of 50,144 people for baseball games. Everything is well maintained and there’s a wonderful variety of food concessions, and during day games, if you’re facing the right way, you can see the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
At 5,200′ of elevation, Coors Field is, by far, the highest-elevation stadium in major league baseball – since the air is thin, balls fly farther in Denver, which can result in some very exciting ball games.
Tickets are generally easy to get for Rockies games, so take in a game during your visit if you can. The stadium also offers tours that are very worthwhile – they even let you walk out on the field.
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27. Empower Field at Mile High
This giant football stadium has had many names and sponsors over the years; locals just call it Mile High. This is actually the second stadium called Mile High in this same general area. It was built over two years starting in 1999 and opened in 2001.
Its predecessor stood where the parking lot now stands; that one was constructed way back in 1948. It was originally home to the Denver Bears baseball team, but later was and today is best known as the home of the Denver Broncos.
Empower Field at Mile High has a capacity of a bit over 76,000 for football and 100,000 for concerts, and local football fans pack in tight for every home game of the season – tickets are often in high demand and are hard to get.
Give it a try, though, it’s a favorite stadium of many NFL fans, even of those who don’t love the Broncos.
28. National Ballpark Museum
Few people know that the National Ballpark Museum is in Denver, and that’s unfortunate because it’s a great little museum that focuses not just on America’s Pastime, but on the historic stadiums that made watching baseball in its early days possible.
Inside, you’ll find a large collection of items related to Denver’s baseball history and artifacts from the fourteen classic ballparks built between 1909 and 1923.
Until recently, this museum was called B’s Ballpark Museum after its owner, founder, and curator Bruce “B” Hellerstein. It’s his private collection you’re looking at, after all, and Smithsonian Books named it one of the twenty best private baseball collections in the world.
This museum is just a few steps away from Coors Field so if you’re catching a game or visiting the stadium, be sure to stop on by.
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Best Places to Visit in Denver
29. 16th Street Mall
If you’re looking to walk around downtown Denver but don’t know where to go, 16th Street Mall is a great place to start. This 1.25-mile pedestrian mall runs from Union Station to Wewatta Street and is home to over 300 stores, fifty restaurants, and a shopping mall.
For those who have difficulty walking, or for everyone on very hot or rainy days, there’s a free shuttle bus service called MallRide that travels along the mall and that stops at every intersection. Overall, the 16th Street Mall is a great place to wander and get a real feel for the flavor of Denver.
30. LoDo Neighborhood
People who are looking for nightlife in Denver may find themselves directed and then drawn to the LoDo neighborhood. LoDo stands for Lower Downtown and it is one of the oldest parts of the city. Today, it’s known for being an active place at any time of day, but the restaurants and bars really come to life at night.
It’s not far from Coors Field so there are often a lot of baseball fans in every establishment before and after games, but you can find some action at any time of year, including some excellent breweries serving up some of the best craft beer in the country.
It’s very walkable and it’s a great place to spend a fun evening out. You can explore and enjoy a Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip for a side trip.
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31. United States Mint at Denver
The Denver Mint produced its first coins on February 1, 1906, and it has been going strong ever since – today, it’s the single largest producer of coins in the world.
You can take a free, 45-minute tour of this important building but be sure to reserve in advance; tickets are first-come, first-served. The gift shop is full of unique money-related items that you can’t find anywhere else.
32. Colorado Convention Center
If you’re in town for business or an event, you may find yourself at the Colorado Convention Center. This massive complex opened in 1990 and is host to a wide variety of events including the Great American Beer Festival, the Colorado State Spelling Bee, the Denver Auto Show, the Denver Boat Show, Denver Comic Con, the Colorado Ski & Snow Sports Expo, and more.
It is 2,200,000 square feet in size which makes it the twelfth largest convention center in the nation. There are some great local, public art displays inside, and it’s easily accessible via public transportation.
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33. Denver Performing Arts Complex
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the country – it sits on four blocks and covers twelve acres. There are ten performance spaces within it which can seat over 10,000 people in total.
The complex hosts’ Broadway musicals, symphonies, comedians, and pop stars, along with local companies such as the Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, and the Colorado Symphony, as well as two residential companies: Denver Center Broadway and Denver Center Theatre Company.
There is always something going on at Denver Performing Arts Complex and it’s a great place to see any kind of performance. Check the website to see what’s happening tonight and maybe you can catch a show during your Denver visit.
34. The International Church of Cannabis
Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use, so if you indulge, you should celebrate that fact while you’re in town.
In Denver, there’s a dispensary on every corner so you can pick some up to blaze, but if you want to take the party to another level, be sure to stop by the International Church of Cannabis.
This new-wave church opened on April 20, 2017, in an abandoned Lutheran church that has stood on Logan street since the early 1900s. The group that founded this church are registered “Elevationists” and believe deeply in the spiritual powers of cannabis.
They have renovated the interior with bright colors, murals, comfortable seating, and more, and they offer public, hourly, music, light, and meditation show for guests to enjoy. You can buy a ticket for the BEYOND Light Show & Meditation on Viator.
Unfortunately, though, you can’t smoke during them – using cannabis is prohibited in the church during public hours. Sorry! Hint: Puff before you arrive instead!
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35. RiNo Art District
RiNo is a neighborhood on the north side of town; RiNo is short for River North. This area has recently been greatly revitalized and today it is home to trendy restaurants, unique art galleries, and cool music venues.
There are several food hall-style eating establishments to try, numerous breweries to relax with a pint, and countless little, independent boutiques to explore.
All of these things are lovely, but the real draw is the giant murals throughout the neighborhood by commissioned artists. They change frequently, so be sure to check out RiNo every time you are in or pass through Denver for more colorful, creative beauty.
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36. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Elitch Gardens is a Denver institution. This theme park first opened in 1890 on the outskirts of Denver. Back then, it was just a garden and zoo to start (it was the first zoo west of the Mississippi, in fact), but it has grown immensely since those days of old.
Today, Elitch Gardens is in a different location, now in downtown Denver – it moved there in 1994. Now there’s no more zoo or true gardens, but this amusement park instead is home to six roller coasters, two water rides, a twenty-acre water park, and forty total attractions on sixty-five total acres.
It’s the place to be in the summertime; people come from all over the state to ride the rides at “Elitches,” and you should, too! You can grab tickets that will admit you to both the theme and water park on GetYourGuide.com – Denver: Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park Ticket.
37. Lakeside Amusement Park
Elitch Gardens isn’t Denver’s only amusement park, though. There’s also Lakeside Amusement Park. These two parks have been in competition since almost their very beginnings.
Elitch Gardens first opened in 1890, but Lakeside wasn’t far behind in 1908. It’s one of the oldest continuously operating amusement parks in the country and it’s still in its original location.
Denver locals feel very strongly about whether they prefer Lakeside or Elitch Gardens; the two parks are very different. While Elitch Gardens is always modernizing and expanding, Lakeside does just the opposite.
Most of its twenty-five attractions haven’t changed at all in decades, and its two roller coasters were built in 1940 and 1955. Going to Lakeside is like stepping into the past.
Even if you weren’t alive in the 1950s or earlier, you’ll feel a sense of nostalgia here for that time period that you likely haven’t felt before. It’s a very magical place – if you like sentimental, retro experiences, then you’ll love Lakeside Amusement Park.
38. 1Up Arcade Bar
Speaking of nostalgia, do you like old video games? If so, then you need to head on over to one of the 1Up Arcade Bar’s two Denver locations (there’s a third in nearby Greenwood Village, too).
These bars are packed to the gills with vintage video games and pinball machines from the last several decades. You can spend hours playing them while you enjoy local beers served by friendly staff.
Both Denver locations are in areas known for the nightlife – one is on Colfax Avenue near many popular music venues and the other in LoDo near the ballpark – so you can dip in and out for a few rounds of PacMan between your other escapades.
Don’t worry about bringing quarters – there are plenty of machines that will make changes for you.
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Things to Do Around Denver
39. Denver Mountain Parks
There are so many great things to see within just a short drive of Denver that we thought we’d include them on this list. Even if you plan on focusing your visit on the city itself, Denver’s Mountain Parks System is not to be missed for great views of the Rocky Mountains.
Although these parks and wilderness areas are outside of the city limits, their 14,000 acres are owned and managed by the city thanks to a 1914 decision by Congress that allows it.
Some are developed and have picnic areas and trails, others are designated “open space” that are simply protected areas that you can visit, and still, others are wilderness areas off-limits to human impact.
There are dozens of these spaces, but some notable ones worth checking out include Bear Creek Canyon, Lookout Mountain Park, O’Fallon Park, and Corwina Park.
Also, Mount Falcon Park, along with Red Rocks Park and Genessee Park have their own entries on this list below, as well as Echo Lake Park and Summit Lake Park which are along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
40. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
It’s not a complete visit to Denver without a visit to Red Rocks. This park is spectacular and other-worldly. It’s located about twenty minutes from downtown Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, but it looks different from anywhere else in the Rockies.
Here, you’ll find towering red rock formations created by uplift; as two subterranean plates collided millions of years ago, this layer of striking iron-rich sandstone was forced to the earth’s surface.
The result is an interesting and striking landscape that looks like something you’d expect to see on Mars. Many trails allow visitors to explore the formations on foot. People around the world know about Red Rocks because of the amphitheater in the park. This 9,525-seat music venue is on the bucket list of not only every band but every music fan, too.
It has won the title of best small venue in the nation in pretty much every contest that measures such things and with good reason – not only is it spectacularly beautiful, but the sound is great, too.
The first concert at the amphitheater was in 1911, but the present-day amphitheater opened in 1941 after its development by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
It still hosts dozens of concerts each spring, summer, and fall; everyone who is anyone has performed at Red Rocks at some point in their career including The Beatles, U2, Dolly Parton, Pearl Jam, John Denver, The Grateful Dead, and countless others.
If you can catch a show at Red Rocks, do so – even if you’re not wild about the performer – it’s something you’ll remember forever. However, if you visit the park on a day that no concert is scheduled, you can walk into the venue itself to check it out, and if you’re very fit, you can run up and down the stairs – many people in Denver make Red Rocks park of their workout routine.
Don’t have a car? Visit Red Rocks Park and some other nice stops in the foothills with this Foothills Explorer Tour From Denver and Red Rocks and Foothills Half-Day Guided Tour.
See Related: Best Things to do in Colorado
41. Genesee Park
Genesee Park is another Denver Mountain Park that’s only about twenty minutes from downtown. It can be accessed by taking I-70 west until you’re in the mountains.
This park includes 2,413 acres and two mountains, Genesee Mountain and Bald Mountain. It’s also home to Denver’s bison herd, a managed herd that has been maintained by the city since the first bison were acquired from Yellowstone National Park in 1914.
You can view the bison from the highway or from several scenic overlooks, and there are a number of trails to explore as well.
42. Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway begins about forty minutes from Denver and then takes well over an hour to complete round-trip from there, but it’s absolutely worth it.
If you want to get up into the Rocky Mountains, see some wildlife, view some wildflowers, and be awed by incredible vistas, this is the place to do it. This scenic byway will take you to 14,140′ of elevation when you reach the parking lot at the top and it is the highest paved road in North America.
You’ll pass and should stop at Denver Mountain Parks Echo Lake Park and Summit Lake Park on the way up, as well as Denver Botanic Gardens’ Mount Goliath Natural Area. You’re likely to see mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife, too.
The road is curvy and has few guardrails so be prepared for that, but you can take your time driving so there’s little to fear. However, much of this road is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day due to late and early snow, so you’ll have to time it right if you plan on making it to the top.
If you don’t have a car while you’re in town, you can visit Mount Evans and Red Rocks on this Mount Evans & Red Rocks Park Small Group Tour from Viator.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
43. Cherry Creek State Park & Chatfield State Park
There are two Colorado State Parks in the Denver suburbs and both are lovely places for camping, picnicking, boating, swimming, and spending a lazy or active afternoon.
Both Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora and Chatfield State Park in Littleton offer beautiful views of the mountains and reservoirs with swim beaches and trails for hikers of all levels.
These two parks are home to abundant wildlife, too. Both of them are excellent places to get away from the city while not going very far at all.
See Related: New Mexico vs Colorado: Which Is Better?
44. Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was a colorful and memorable man in the history of the American West. At the end of his long and exciting life, he was laid to rest in the foothills of Denver, and today you can visit his grave.
This site is owned and maintained by the City of Denver, and you can learn more about him and his famous and internationally acclaimed Wild West Show at the adjacent museum.
See Related: Best National Parks in The USA to Visit
45. Georgetown Loop Railroad
A little further into the Rockies on I-70, you’ll come to the mountain town of Georgetown. Its historical district will give you a good idea of what this silver mining town and others like it were like over a hundred years ago; it was first established as a mining camp in 1859 and was incorporated as a town in 1885. You’ll enjoy wandering along Sixth Street and exploring its shops.
The best thing to do in Georgetown, though, is to take a ride on the historic, narrow-gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad which will take you along four-and-a-half miles of track to nearby Silver Plume and back.
See Related: Best Hiking Trails in the United States
Travel Tips Before Your Visit to the Denver Area
Denver is a great place to visit at any time of year, so don’t hesitate to book your trip now! Chances are that you’ll love it so much on your first visit that you’ll want to try it in different seasons in the future.
The best place to fly into Denver is Denver International Airport. It’s on the outskirts of the city, but you can take the A line on the Denver Rapid Transit train from inside the airport right to downtown. For thorough exploration, though, you may want to rent a car.
Denver has an okay public transportation system, but a car will give you better access to all the things you want to see and do. Driving in Denver is easy, and you’ll find plenty of parking everywhere.
Should you buy travel insurance for a trip to Denver? Absolutely. Travel insurance is always a wise idea. You can always rest and travel easier when you know that you’re covered for any issues, problems, or emergencies that you may encounter along the way.
TravelInsurance.com is a great option for travel insurance at any time, but if you’d like to view a variety of companies and policies before you buy, check out TravelInsurance.com.
Where to stay in Denver
On the ride, you’ll get a feel for what railroad travel was like long ago, and you’ll learn a lot about the history of the area from the conductor’s narration, too. This is an absolute must for train enthusiasts.
You’ll find lots of great hotels in Denver at every price point. If you want to stay downtown, you might try The Warwick, the historic Brown Palace, or the high-end Four Seasons.
On the other hand, if you want to stay out by the airport in a resort-like atmosphere, then you’ll love the Gaylord Rockies Resort.
Vacation rentals in Denver
Short-term rentals are technically prohibited in Denver, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find some on VRBO. There are lots of good neighborhoods in Denver, but two of the best residential neighborhoods in the city are Capitol Hill near downtown and West Highland across the South Platte.
Both of these areas are full of historic properties. In Capitol Hill, this Premier Cap Hill Home is a beautiful and affordable example of what you might find. In West Highland, this 1908 Bungalow would be an excellent choice – homes that look like this one are common all around town.
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