The capital city of Colorado, Denver is located in the foothills of the incredible Rocky Mountains. Appropriately nicknamed “The Mile High City” (since it sits exactly a mile above sea level), Denver is one of the highest cities in the United States.
The list of things to do in Denver, Colorado is endless. Its proximity to nature provides opportunities for skiing, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and more. Of course, the fact that Denver is also a thriving metropolitan city also means that it offers plenty of cultural activities as well, including live theatre performances, museums, and plenty of shopping opportunities.
I have family in Denver and have visited more times than I can count. Despite these frequent visits, I still find new and exciting things to explore in Denver on every trip.
Let’s dive into all of the great things that Denver has to offer.
1. Explore Red Rocks Park And Amphitheater
Red Rocks Park is home to over 700 acres of beautiful hiking trails and one of the most unique outdoor concert venues in the country, the Red Rock Amphitheater.
Locals and visitors flock to Red Rocks Park to hike the rust-colored sandstone trails. The hiking trails weave their way throughout the park showcasing the unique terrain of this area. The hiking trails are well marked but are made of natural terrain, so they are often unlevel.
During your time at Red Rocks Park, don’t miss the opportunity to see the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheater. The theater, which is geologically formed by the rock outcroppings, is known to have incredible acoustics. Headlining artists that have performed here include The Beatles, John Denver, and Tom Petty!
The amphitheater offers a wheelchair-accessible area and seats for guests with limited mobility. Just be sure to purchase this option when buying tickets.
Pro Tip: If you are fortunate to visit Denver, Colorado, in the summer, then you might be able to catch a concert at the amphitheater. Just be sure to check the schedule and purchase your ticket in advance.
2. Drive The Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Many people think of Denver as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. If seeing the Rockies is high on your list of things to do in Denver, then you head to the beautiful Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a two-lane road that is often referred to as the “road into the sky.” As you drive the scenic road, you can admire the incredible scenery and stop at the gorgeous Echo Lake Park.
Once you reach the top of Mount Evans, you will have climbed nearly 9,000 feet and will be standing at an elevation of over 14,000 feet above sea level. Obviously, this is a great vantage point for some incredible views of the Rocky Mountains.
Pro Tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy some time at Echo Lake Park. It is a great place to hike and fish!
3. Check Out Larimer Square
Like many cities in the 1800s, Denver’s beginnings can be traced back to the American gold rush. The original settlers to the Mile High City were drawn here after the discovery of gold in 1858, and they set up their camp in Denver’s Larimer Square.
Of course, Larimer Square is no longer a pioneer camp. Today, this area is one of Denver’s historic neighborhoods that is filled with boutique shops and high-end restaurants. This is also a great area to experience Denver’s nightlife!
Pro Tip: Larimer Square is home to one of my favorite speakeasies in the United States, The Green Russell. Trust me, it is well worth a visit!
4. Dine At Union Station
Denver’s Union Station served as an important stop for supply shipments headed west. After undergoing a major refurbishment in 2014, Union Station is now one of Denver’s hot spots.
While visiting Union Station, you can dine in one of the fabulous restaurants located inside, grab a cocktail from the Terminal Bar, or just hang out in the gorgeous lobby. No matter which you choose, don’t miss the opportunity to see this piece of Colorado history and check out the LoDo neighborhood.
5. Shop At The 16th Street Mall
If you are a fan of shopping (or just people-watching), then you have to check out the 16th Street Mall during your time in Denver, Colorado. This mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare is completely closed off to vehicle traffic, making it fun and easy to navigate on foot. Lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, the 16th Street Mall really has something for everyone.
This is definitely one of the fun attractions in Denver.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to walk then you can take the MallRide shuttle bus. This bus passes by every few minutes and stops at all of the street corners.
6. Take A Stroll At The Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a gorgeous 24-acre facility that is home to 50 gardens! Located in Denver’s Cheesman Park, the botanic gardens boasts numerous internationally inspired gardens including a Japanese garden, a rock alpine garden, and a South African garden. In addition to these, there are also gardens featuring plants native to Colorado.
We love that the majority of their gardens and facilities are wheelchair accessible and that there are seating areas throughout the facility.
The Denver Botanic Gardens also hosts several events throughout the year. Be sure to visit their website for a calendar of events and for current entry fees.
7. Admire The Art At The Denver Art Museum
Art lovers will definitely want to include the Denver Art Museum on their list of things to do in Denver.
The Denver Art Museum is home to over 70,000 pieces of art from famed artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Monet, Renoir, and more. Their collection showcases art from around the world with numerous pieces that are centuries old.
Be sure to visit their website to see the current exhibitions, operating hours, and ticket prices.
8. Taste Whiskey At Stranahan’s Distillery
One of my favorite things to do in Denver is to take a guided tour of Stranahan’s Whiskey Distillery. Your tour guide will teach you all about the process of making their small batch whiskey. This is a great way to learn what all goes into distilling a batch of great whiskey.
Of course, you also have the opportunity to taste the whiskey and enjoy it in your favorite whiskey cocktail! If you are so inclined, you can even book one of their guided tasting where you get to try more of their unique whiskeys.
Visit the Stranahan’s Distillery website for prices and operating hours.
9. Explore The Molly Brown House Museum
Step back in time when you visit the Victorian-era Molly Brown House Museum during your time in Denver, Colorado. Located in Denver’s Capitol Hill District, the Molly Brown House was once the home of the Titanic survivor and actress, Margaret “Molly” Brown.
The house, which is now a museum, allows visitors to see the life of the actress and is a special piece of Denver’s history. The interior of the well-preserved home reflects life in the 1800s and is filled with memorabilia from Molly.
Due to the historic nature of the 4-story home, only the first floor and basement level are accessible to those with mobility devices.
Visit the Molly Brown House Museum’s website for more information.
10. Enjoy Washington Park
Washington Park is one of the most popular city parks in Denver thanks to the ample outdoor activities that you can enjoy here. This 165-acre park is popular with those looking for ample hike and bike trails, miles of jogging paths, great greenspaces and gardens, and fabulous water features.
If you prefer to do sporting events, Washington Park has you covered there as well. You can play tennis on one of the park’s eight tennis courts, rent a boat and get out on the water, or check out the fitness classes and pool at the park’s Recreation Center.
11. Catch A Game At Coors Field
When making your list of things to do in Denver, then be sure to include a visit to Coors Field, home of the MLB’s Colorado Rockies.
Located near the heart of downtown Denver, is the perfect place to watch a baseball game while noshing on some delicious ballpark food and enjoying some Colorado brews. If you choose the highest seats at the ballpark, then you will be watching baseball while sitting over 5,000 above sea level. Not many people can say they did that!
See the complete lineup of games and events here.
12. Visit The Denver Zoo
The Denver Zoo houses over 4,000 animals at their fabulous 80-acre facility. The zoo’s 600 species of animals include elephants, rhinos, llamas, amphibians, giraffes, and more!
The highlight of the Denver Zoo is the Toyota Elephant Passage. This habitat allows Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs, and other species to roam freely between five different habitats that are spread over 10 acres.
The zoo also hosts numerous events throughout the year, so be sure to visit their website to learn more!
13. Have Fun At The Denver Museum Of Nature And Science
Another popular museum in Denver is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Immerse yourself in all things science when you visit this interactive museum. Take time to check out the Dead Sea Scrolls, black holes, and the Russian folk carvings before watching a movie in the IMAX 3D Theater.
No matter what you choose to do here, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is definitely one of the fun things to do in the Colorado state capitol!
Please visit their website for more information.
14. Enjoy The Outdoors At City Park
One of the largest, and most popular city parks in Denver is City Park. In addition to visiting the zoo and Museum of Nature and Science during your time in City Park, you can also rent swan-shaped paddle boats and get out on the small lakes in the park.
If you find yourself visiting Denver, CO during the warmer months, then be sure to check out City Park Jazz, an annual jazz festival held here.
City Park is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities during your time in Denver.
15. Tour The Colorado State Capitol
If you are looking for free things to do in Denver, then look no further than the Colorado State Capitol. The iconic capitol building offers free tours on weekdays and is a great opportunity to learn more about some of the history of Colorado and Denver.
Be sure to visit their website for more information!
16. Check Out The Denver Aquarium
The Denver Aquarium is home to more than 500 species of marine and animal life, making it a great addition to your list of Denver attractions. The exhibits at the aquarium range from aquatic life in the rainforest, to species that you will find right here in North America.
In addition to the exhibits, the downtown aquarium also has a well-reviewed restaurant that features a 50,000-gallon floor-to-ceiling aquarium. Talk about dinner with a view!
Visit the aquarium’s website for operating hours and ticket prices.
17. Explore The River Arts North District
The River Arts North District, also called RiNo, is a revitalized neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. The RiNo neighborhood is home to numerous murals, great nightlife, and loads of uber-hip places to explore. Here you will find craft breweries, boutique shops, and the Denver Central Market.
One of my favorite places to visit, the Denver Central Market is home to vendors serving up everything from ice cream to fish. This is the place to visit in Denver if you want to check out several local food places all conveniently housed under one roof.
Pro Tip: Come hungry when you visit Central Market and do a self-created food tour by trying several different products from the 11 food vendors located here. When you’re finished eating, be sure to head to the alley behind Central Market for some awesome street art.