There was a time when the Mile High City was better known as a stop-off on the way to Aspen or Vail than a place to visit on its own, but an influx of innovative chefs, artists and other creative types have added an element of cool to Denver’s Western swagger. What hasn’t changed is the city’s love affair with the outdoors. No matter the weather, there are so many fun things to do in Denver, Co., including hiking, tubing and cycling during the warmer months to cross-country skiing, dog sledding and ice fishing in winter.
Hit the road on one of these amazing routes to get a real feel for all America has to offer.
Here are 10 the best things to do in Denver, Co.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, about a half-hour outside Denver, in Morrison, is among the nation’s most breathtaking concert venues, and a visit is definitely one of the best things to do in Denver, Co. It seats an audience of about 9,500 beset by 400-foot-tall sandstone formations. Red Rocks isn’t all about music, however. The venue has great hiking as well, making it a good option for Denver day trips. Trails wind around the park’s namesake garnet-colored monoliths and through scenic meadows and valleys. The park is more than 6,400 feet above sea level, and it links the Great Plains with the Rocky Mountains.
The Source is a food-centric urban market filled with restaurants, bars and a brewery, as well as retail establishments that range from a cheese shop to an art gallery. This mix makes it a good option for inclusion in a variety of Denver day trips.
Art, indoor exhibits and fun seasonal displays make the Denver Botanic Gardens one of the best things to do in Denver, Co., any time of year. Stop by the help desk for free garden advice from Master Gardeners. The 24-acre attraction houses rare and endangered plants from around the world as well as those native to Colorado, among other flora. If you visit in the summer, be sure to see the Monet Pool, which is filled with hundreds of aquatic plants. And, if you visit around the holidays, don’t miss Blossoms of Light, a special event where lights give the garden an unforgettably festive glow.
Watch coins being made, learn how they’re designed and get a penny for your thoughts at the Denver Mint, easily one of the best things to do in Denver, Co. Tours are free, and tickets are available starting at 7 a.m. Monday through Thursday, except for federal holidays. You can get them at the gift shop entrance on Cherokee Street, between West Colfax and West 14th avenues. Tickets are for same day tours only, they’re distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and they’re limited to five per person. There are six tours per day. They run every 90 minutes starting at 8 a.m.
Open May through October, the outdoor Cherry Creek Fresh Market is Denver’s largest, and a great option to anchor a variety of Denver day trips. Grab breakfast or lunch and shop for fresh produce, flowers and handcrafted cheeses, jams and baked goods.
Gear up at the massive flagship store of outdoor outfitter REI. On Saturdays, a specially built, 47-foot-tall climbing wall is open to the public. The store regularly offers classes, too, touching on everything from camping basics to climbing first aid, meaning you can bolster your outdoor prowess while enjoying one of the best things to do in Denver, Co.
Some of a city’s best attractions tend to be those you can’t find elsewhere, like the Tattered Cover, a Denver institution and one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores. Roam the stacks or stop by for live events. More than 400 authors, illustrators and other well-known folks typically appear in a given year.
The River North Art District – RiNo – overflows with the work of painters, ceramicists, video artists, photographers and other artists, as well as museums and restaurants. No tour of the best things to do in Denver, Co., is complete without a visit. If you’re in town early in the month, plan on checking out First Fridays when more than four dozen studios and galleries are open until 9 p.m.
One of the best things to do in Denver, Co. is explore “secret” bars and speakeasies. One of the best is Williams & Graham, which is hidden behind the shelves of a bookstore of the same name. You can also check out Retrograde, secretly located through a freezer door at Frozen Matter, an ice cream shop.
Reflecting the peaks and rock crystals of the Rocky Mountains with more than 1 million glass tiles, the Denver Art Museum’s North Building, is as much a work of art as the 70,000 works inside. The museum’s collection includes American, Asian, European, Native American, African, Spanish Colonial and modern art.
Have a great spot to visit in Denver? Let your fellow AAA members in on the secret by sharing your experiences in the comments section!