If you’re looking for a fantastic place to visit that offers everything from beautiful nature and scenery, adrenaline-inducing mountain sports, and all the amenities of a major city, then you can’t go wrong with Denver, Colorado!
Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s impressive art scene, enjoying its many outdoor activities, or simply sampling its delicious cuisine, Denver has something to offer everyone.
With its convenient location near the Rocky Mountains, Denver is the perfect place to enjoy some of the best views in the country. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today starting with our list of the 17 best things to do in Denver!
1. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
No trip to the Mile High City is complete without visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, which is about a 90 minute car ride from downtown Denver.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the United States. With over 300 miles of trails, my personal favorite being the Emerald Lake Trail, there is something for everyone. Whether you want to trek to the top of a mountain or stroll through a meadow, you can find the perfect hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Before embarking on your journey, it is important to be prepared. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. It is also a good idea to pack a lunch and snacks to keep your energy up. Once you have everything you need, it’s time to hit the trails.
There are a variety of hikes available in Rocky Mountain National Park, ranging from easy to difficult. No matter what your level of experience, you can find a hike that suits your needs. So what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking gear and head to Rocky Mountain National Park for an unforgettable day of hiking.
2. Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a great place to spend a day, whether you’re interested in the history of the area or the natural world. The museum has something for everyone, with exhibits on dinosaurs, space, wildlife, and Native American cultures.
You can also explore the planetarium or take a tour of the IMAX theater. The museum is located in City Park, so you can also enjoy the park’s gardens and playgrounds.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, there are several restaurants nearby. Or you can pack a lunch and picnic in the park. Whether you’re a resident of Denver or just visiting, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is sure to be a memorable experience.
3. Walk or bike around Washington Park
Washington park is one of the most iconic parks in Denver. With its lush green space, beautiful flowers, and scenic views, it’s no wonder that this is a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of ways to enjoy a visit to Washington Park. Here are just a few of the many activities that you can enjoy:
One great way to enjoy the park is to take a stroll through the gardens. The park is home to a variety of different gardens, each with their own unique appeal. From the tranquil Rose Garden to the vibrant Butterfly Pavilion, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a more active way to enjoy the park, there are plenty of options for that as well. The park has miles of trails perfect for biking, hiking, roller-blading, or just taking a leisurely walk. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even rent a paddle board or kayak and explore the lake!
No matter how you choose to spend your time at Washington Park, you can’t go wrong!
4. Take a tour of the Colorado State Capitol Building
The Colorado State Capitol Building is located in Denver and is the home of the state government of Colorado. The building is open to the public for tours Monday through Friday, and visitors can explore the stunning architecture and learn about the history of Colorado.
The Capitol Building was constructed in 1886, and the interior features a number of beautiful murals depicting scenes from Colorado history. The building also houses the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as the state legislature. Tours of the Capitol Building are a great way to learn about Colorado’s government and its rich history.
5. Visit the Denver zoo
The Denver Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals representing over 800 species. Located just minutes from downtown Denver, the zoo is a great place to spend a day exploring the wonders of the animal kingdom.
Visitors can see lions, tigers, and bears, as well as giraffes, rhinos, and elephants. The zoo also has an insectarium, aviary, and aquarium, providing ample opportunity to learn about a wide variety of creatures. In addition to its animal exhibits, the Denver Zoo also offers a number of educational programs and events throughout the year.
Whether you’re looking to learn about wildlife or just want to enjoy a day out with the family, the Denver Zoo is sure to be an enjoyable experience.
6. See a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a world-renowned concert venue located just outside of Denver, Colorado.
The venue is nestled between two red sandstone cliffs, providing a natural amphitheatre for performances. The acoustics at Red Rocks are incredible, and the setting is truly unique. If you love the surrounding scenery, a quick day trip to Colorado Springs may be worth it too as there are several hikes there that have similar red sandstone cliffs.
The venue is also home to a variety of sculptures and murals, making it a popular destination for art lovers as well. A day at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an unforgettable experience.
While taking in the views alone can be a great experience, catching a concert at the Red Rocks is truly one of the best things to do in Denver!
7. Looking for a thrill? Go whitewater rafting in Clear Creek
Clear Creek Whitewater Park is one of the most popular whitewater parks in the country. Located just outside of Denver, the park features a number of challenging rapids that are perfect for both experienced rafters and beginners alike.
In addition to its world-class whitewater, Clear Creek Whitewater Park also offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.
Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure or a relaxing day on the water, Clear Creek Whitewater Park is sure to offer something for everyone.
If you love rafting, be sure to check out Bozeman and rafting in the Gallatin River as well!
8. Cool down with some Little Man Ice Cream
Little Man Ice Cream is a must-visit when in Denver. Located in the LoHi neighborhood, this is the perfect place to end your day after a long hike or a day exploring the city.
The line may be long, but it moves quickly, and it’s definitely worth the wait. The ice cream is made with all organic ingredients and there are plenty of flavors to choose from.
Salted Oreo is a local favorite, but you can’t go wrong with Strawberry or Space Junkie either! The ice cream is rich and creamy, and the portions are generous. In addition to ice cream, the atmosphere is fun and relaxed, and you can enjoy your treat while sitting on the patio and listening to old-timey tunes. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a leisurely dessert, Little Man Ice Cream is the perfect spot.
9. Wander Around Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens are a must-see for any nature lover. With more than 34,000 different plants on display, the gardens offer a wide variety of beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs.
The gardens also feature several ponds and streams, making it a perfect place to relax on a warm day. In addition to its beautiful plants, the Denver Botanic Gardens also offer a variety of educational programs.
Visitors can take part in classes on gardening, horticulture and botany, or take a self-guided tour of the grounds. Whether you’re looking to learn more about plant life or just enjoy a peaceful day in nature, the Denver Botanic Gardens is sure to please.
10. Catch a Colorado Rockies or Denver Broncos Game
Depending on what time of the year you are visiting Denver, you might be able to catch a Colorado Rockies baseball game or a Denver Broncos football game.
If you’re a fan of America’s favorite pastime, catching a Colorado Rockies game is a must-do while in the state. The team plays its home games at Coors Field, located in the Lower Downtown neighborhood of Denver. Built in 1995, the stadium is considered one of the best places to watch a baseball game, thanks to its stunning mountain views and wide variety of food and drink options.
If you’re looking for a more high-energy experience, catching a Denver Broncos game is also a great option. The Broncos are one of the most successful teams in the NFL, and their fans are widely considered to be some of the most loyal and passionate in the league.
Whether you’re cheering on the Rockies or the Broncos, spending an afternoon or evening at one of Colorado’s premier sporting venues is sure to be an enjoyable experience.
11. stroll through the Larimer Square Historic District
Nestled in the heart of downtown Denver, the Larimer Square Historic District is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
When you walk by Larimer Square, you won’t be able to miss it as the location is marked by several Colorado State flags draped above the street.
Featuring a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, the square is a great place to spend an afternoon. Make sure to bring your wallet, however, as you won’t exactly find any discount stores or cheap restaurants here!
12. the Denver Mint Tour
Located in downtown Denver, the Mint offers a tour that takes visitors through the history of coin production in the United States.
The tour begins in the lobby, where visitors can see some of the Mint’s most famous coins on display. From there, it goes into the main production area, where visitors can watch as coins are being made. The tour then ends in the gift shop, where visitors can purchase souvenirs. The Denver Mint is open Monday through Friday, and tours must be booked in advance.
13. Spend an afternoon brewery hopping and enjoying the street art in RiNo
RiNo is one of Denver’s hippest neighborhoods, and its home to some of the city’s best breweries. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon enjoying good beer and art, RiNo is the perfect place to start your journey.
The River North Art District is filled with street art, and many of the buildings have colorful murals on their exterior walls.
As you wander through the neighborhood, you’ll also come across several breweries, each with its own unique style and atmosphere. Most of the breweries offer tours, so you can learn about the brewing process while enjoying a few samples.
If you get hungry, there are plenty of great restaurants in RiNo that will be happy to satisfy your appetite. So whether you’re a beer lover or an art enthusiast, spending an afternoon in RiNo is sure to be a fun and memorable experience.
14. Visit Meow Wolf
This one might not be for everyone, and I’ll not that it has locations outside of Denver as well, but if you’re looking for a unique, off-the-beaten path experience then look no further than Meow Wolf.
Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Meow Wolf features large-scale installations and interactive environments that will ignite your imagination. Whether you’re exploring the House of Eternal Return or dancing in the Electric Garden, you’ll be amazed at the creativity and uniqueness of each exhibit. And with new exhibits always in the works, there’s always something new to see at Meow Wolf. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to add Meow Wolf Denver to your must-visit list.
15) Go to the Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest and most popular art museums in the United States. Located in downtown Denver, the museum houses a collection of over 70,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to modern.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and tours. Visitors can explore the galleries on their own or take part in one of the many guided tours offered by the museum. Regardless of how you choose to experience it, a visit to the Denver Art Museum is sure to be a memorable one.
16) Check out Union Station
Union Station in Denver is a beautiful historic landmark that has been meticulously restored. It originally opened in 1881 and served as the city’s main train station.
Today, it houses a hotel, restaurants, shops, and businesses. It is also home to the Denver Amtrak station. The building is an excellent example of Beaux-Arts architecture and is hard to miss if you’re in downtown Denver. Whether you stop there for lunch, or are just passing by, it’s worth at least a little bit of time to admire this prominent Denver landmark.
17) Drive Through Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is one of Colorado’s most popular scenic drives, and just 90 minutes away from downtown Denver. The byway climbs to over 14,000 feet in elevation up the side of Mount Evans, the tallest mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Along the way, visitors are treated to stunning views of alpine meadows, mountain lakes, and wildlife. The byway is open from late May to early October, weather permitting. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy some of the stunning nature near Denver, but aren’t looking to hike yourself, driving up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is one of the best ways to get that experience.
Recap of Best things to Do in Denver:
- Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Washington Park
- Colorado State Capital Building
- Denver Zoo
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Whitewater Rafting in Clear Creek
- Little Man Ice Cream
- Botanic Gardens
- Larimer Square
- Denver Mint Tour
- Rino Brewery Hopping
- Denver Art Museum
- Union Station
- Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Where to next?
Looking for beautiful beaches and a relaxing vacation? Look no further than San Diego!
Staying out West and can’t get enough of the Rockies? Check out Bozeman!
Don’t miss the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque!