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Nicknamed the “Mile High City”, Colorado’s state capital of Denver is the biggest city in the USA’s Rocky Mountains.
A fantastic gateway for mountain lovers and fans of the great outdoors, in Denver you’ll also find a wealth of cultural attractions, thriving night spots, excellent shopping streets, and urban activities in one of the USA’s fastest-growing cities.
Denver is already a big city … and it’s getting bigger! New establishments open up all the time and the sprawl just keeps on sprawling!
It can be tricky trying to plan your trip and deciding how to spend your time so you’ve both covered the highlights and got under the skin to see some of local Denver.
Take the headache out of your planning with this cool list of the best things to do in Denver. We’ve scoured the very best things to see and do so that you don’t miss a thing. Expertly compiled with a range of interests in mind, there’s no need to leave Denver feeling shortchanged!
So, without further ado, here are the ultimate best things to do in Denver:
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PS Have you checked out our other awesome guides to American cities?
Plus, it’s well worth checking out our top 55 things do do in the USA!
Who doesn’t like to have fun when exploring somewhere new? Feed your soul, have carefree moments and make many cool memories with these recommendations of the most fun things to enjoy in Denver, Colorado.
Soar through the skies like an eagle (or, at least, like a human on a zip line!) and marvel at the splendid vistas of the awesome Rockies while getting your heart well and truly pumping. Feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you whizz through the skies some 200 feet above the ground and inhale fresh air for an even bigger buzz.
More than 6,000 feet of zip lines are spread through the soaring mountains, and you can hit speeds that exceed 50mph!
Lush meadows and verdant pine forests are spread out like a patchwork blanket beneath you and craggy peaks rise in the distance.
All safety equipment is provided and you’ll have a full briefing before beginning your exciting adventure up high.
All you need to enjoy this cool activity is a smartphone, a pair of comfy shoes, a thirst for exploration, and a sense of adventure.
You can discover Denver’s historic heart at your own pace while hitting up well-known sights and cracking cool challenges on a scavenger hunt. Competitive travellers will love the fact that it can also be done as a race, with people trying to be the quickest to complete the course.
As well as taking you past popular sights, like the Capitol, City Hall, and 16th Street Mall, the challenge also takes you to places that are a bit more off the beaten track and hidden local gems.
Denver has a plethora of museums to suit different tastes and interests. The American Museum of Western Art houses a fascinating collection of valuable works, curated to display the history, heritage, and culture of the American Midwest.
The Children’s Museum of Denver, with its educational and hands-on exhibits, is a top place for families to have a few hours of fun. Forney Transportation Museum is also often a hit with old and young alike and Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is another top place for transport buffs.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science inspires curious minds of all ages and you can visit the Molly Brown House Museum to see the former home of a Titanic survivor.
If you’re planning a romantic stay in Denver, these are some ideas to keep the spark alight and fan the embers of your passion until you have a rip-roaring red-hot flame of desire!
Exploring new places and making many happy memories with your love is exciting, but what if you could capture those memories effortlessly with your own private photographer for a day?
This experience lets you choose exactly what you want to see and do, at your own pace, while a pro comes with you to capture candid moments. There’s sure to be plenty of tender looks caught for all time to smile about in future weeks and years.
Your photographer will also be able to give you hints and tips about the local area, not to mention pointing out the best spots for some incredible holiday snaps. Best of all, they are personable and friendly yet discreet, so you don’t need to feel like you’re travelling with a third wheel.
Arty couples are sure to love checking out Denver’s River North Arts District (RiNo), an incredible part of the city where creativity knows no bounds. The public art here is stunning, replenished every year by local artists.
You’ll also have the chance to explore the lower downtown warehouse district, AKA LoDo. The area has seen much investment and regeneration over recent years and has subsequently risen to become a popular hangout place for locals. You’ll see the former Skid Row as well as Coors Field Baseball Park.
Lunch is included on the trip and you and your sweet can share beers in a local drinking den.
Denver Botanic Gardens are pretty enough to melt even the steeliest of hearts and inspire the inner romantic in all.
Beautiful all throughout the year, regardless of the season, there are several peaceful trails where you can stroll hand in hand with your lover and enjoy the floral scenes. Pools, water features, and statues enhance the natural appeal.
The botanic gardens work tirelessly to protect and conserve diverse species of flora, and you’ll see rare and unusual plants and flowers as you explore.
While there are two terrific restaurants onsite, an al fresco meal of your exact choosing can make your outing that little bit extra special. Pack a blanket to sit on, some of your favourite nibbles, and a nice bottle of wine for a perfect meal in nature.
Exploring with kids can often be fraught with tensions and conflicts of interests. Include some of these awesome child-friendly ideas in Denver and watch the whole family have a fantastic time.
Add purpose to your Denver explorations and take part in a cool and challenging scavenger hunt. You only need your smartphone to enjoy the course, and the route will lead you through some of the city’s best places.
Denver transforms into a large game board, with the option to set your own pace and take it easy (ideal for families with smaller kids), or try to be the fastest to complete the hunt (great for families with competitive teens!).
You’ll learn more about the local area and its past while hitting up sights like Clear Creek History Park, the Golden History Center, and The Armory. Your adventure will lead past interesting street art and through up-and-coming areas, while also presenting a series of clues, challenges, and games that you need to master to be able to move forward.
Few kids can resist the appeal of animals, and Denver Zoo can be as enchanting for adults as it is for younger members of the brood.
The large zoo is home to animals from all four corners of the world, and there are regular special programs, such as talks, feeding time, and demonstrations, to help you to learn more about the fascinating animal kingdom. You can even arrange to be a zookeeper for a couple of hours!
Spread between different eye-catching zones and habitats, it’s clear that animal well-being, education, and conservation are top priorities here.
Journey to Africa at Predator Ridge, where you’ll find lions, hyenas, and wild dogs, marvel at Siberian Tigers at The Edge, see grizzlies and Asiatic black bears at Bear Mountain, and be entranced by monkeys and apes, big and small, at Primate Panorama.
Northern Shores is home to all kinds of aquatic creatures, including polar bears, seals, and sea lions, and the stretching Toyota Elephant Passage is exciting, with elephants, rhinos, leopards, gibbons, and more.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is another great place for animal-loving families, and it has the added accolade of being one of the best zoos in all of North America!
Denver has a couple of awesome water parks that are great for letting off steam and cooling off in the sun.
The huge Water World is one of the country’s biggest family-orientated water parks. Close to the downtown core, you’ll find almost 50 incredible water-based attractions. With pools, slides, chutes, chill-out areas, and more, you’re sure to have heaps of fun!
Bay Aquatic Park is ideal for younger kids (up to the age of around 13). The tamer water rides are perfect for little ones, with slides, play areas, pools, picnic areas, and other great areas to enjoy.
No matter how hard you save, holidays can be expensive. Keep costs down in Denver by incorporating some of these free things into your itinerary.
Impressive both inside and out, you can marvel at the elegant Capitol building before stepping inside for a free tour (available on weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm). Learn more about local governance and admire the beautiful interiors.
Made from gleaming white granite, pretty rose onyx, and magnificent marble, the impressive monument was designed to resemble the grand Capitol building in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C. Pay close attention to the beautiful stained glass and you’ll notice that the scenes depict local life and historic events from Colorado’s history.
Not only free but a fun activity for couples and groups of friends, the self- guided Denver Beer Trail lets you dive deeper into the city’s cool beer scene. You can print off the route online or pick up a map at a local information centre.
You’ll learn more about Denver’s long brewing and drinking history, and the walk will take you to a number of the city’s finest breweries and watering holes.
Many breweries offer free tours. Step into Great Divide Brewery, for example, to discover more about Denver’s craft beer scene, see how beer is made, and take a peek inside the tap room. You can also pay to sample a range of tasty beers. Stop into one of the many drinking establishments on the Beer Trail and find your own favourite brew.
A large expanse of striking rock formations in all shades of red, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is one of Denver’s best free attractions.
Be awed by Mother Nature as you crane your neck to stare up at soaring rock formations that reach up to 300 feet tall. Withstanding the ravages of time, the dramatic landscapes are millions of years old. There are definitely lots of chances for some awesome photos.
Follow the walking trails through the park to be further dazzled, and call into the visitor centre to learn more about the area’s unusual geology.
Concerts are often held at the Amphitheatre (though you will need to pay to attend these), and you can join a cheap yoga session right on the majestic rocks.
Night owls rejoice! Denver is a cool place after dark, with heaps to enjoy. From top-class dining and bars of almost every type to pulsating nightclubs and more unusual nocturnal experiences, there’s definitely no need to hit the hay before you’re ready.
Denver isn’t lacking when it comes to the comedy scene, and you’ll find plenty of places to have a good belly laugh.
Comedy Works features local comics as well as well-known faces on the comedy circuit for a night filled with merriment and glee. If improvised comedy tickles your fancy, check out Impulse Theater or Bovine Metropolis Theater, where no two shows are ever quite the same and audience participation feeds the performers.
The Bug Theater is another top place where you’re all but guaranteed to laugh your socks off. The monthly Text-a-Saurus and The Grawlix events are wildly popular and hilarious. Voodoo Comedy Playhouse keeps the waves of mirth flowing, with late-night shows from local acts.
Several operators run spooky ghost walks around Denver, offering spine-tingling tales and a glimpse into the city’s paranormal and supernatural side. You’ll learn all about famous local ghosts and darker events from Denver’s history, and visit places that are both on and off the typical tourist trail.
Do note that some tours are seasonal, while others operate all throughout the year.
From murders and mob activity to hangings, shootouts, and tragic disasters, no spooky stone is left unturned.
Capitol Hill, the Croke-Patterson Mansion, cemeteries, Denver Botanic Gardens, underground tunnels, haunted pubs, and the Red Rocks are just a few places your tour may lead you. Get ready to be creeped out!
Denver has no shortage of terrific restaurants and Mexican food with a local flair is especially widely available. Gastronomic delights from Southeast Asia, such as Vietnamese and Thai, are also popular, and you’ll find Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese, and other tasty fares from Asia too.
Craving Italian, Spanish, Greek, Moroccan, for example? No worries—you’ll find somewhere to satisfy your appetite!
Denver can boast of producing the most beer by volume than any other US state. That’s a lot of beer! And, there are plenty of places to enjoy a crisp, cool local beer. From live music joints and laid-back pubs to hip bars and novelty drinking holes, Denver has the lot. LoDo, RiNo, and Capital Hill are great places to start your night of bar hopping.
When it comes to nightclubs, Denver promises to please. Don your glad rags and hit up the coolest spots in town for heaps of dancing, raucousness, and revelry.
Explore like a local and tick off the top tourist destinations with this expert list of the best things to do in Denver. And, after a big day or night out, plan where to stay with our insider guide to where to stay in Denver or our guide to the 17 best hotels in Denver.
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.