THINGS TO DO IN DENVER

Denver, Colorado's capital and largest city, provides mile-high fun and 300 days of sunshine for its residents and visitors throughout the year. What it offers includes outdoor activities, such as visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and the Denver Zoo, as well as indoor activities, such as visits to the United States Mint and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Several of these attractions are conveniently situated in downtown Denver while others are worth the drive or the taking of public transportation necessary to reach them. Regardless of what interests you have, the preponderance of things to do in Denver and near Denver will keep you entertained.

1. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the features that Denver is most known for is its sitting less than a 30 minute drive from the Rocky Mountains' Front Range. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain National Park, a 265,000-acre area that is dedicated to preserving much of this beautiful place, is 90 minutes from downtown Denver. It was designated as a national park in 1915, and millions of visitors take in its beauty on an annual basis.

The Continental Divide runs through the middle of it, resulting in a more forested half, which is closer to Denver, and a drier and glaciated half on the other side. Its highest point is Longs Peak, which reaches 14,259 into the sky. Many visiting the park enjoy driving on Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet. The easiest way to visit the park would be taking a guided tour from Denver Downtown.


2. Go on the Denver Foothills Tour to see Red Rocks Amphitheatre

One of the best things to do near Denver Colorado is going on the Denver Foothills Tour, of which a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a highlight. Also enjoyed on this trip is a breathtaking view from Lookout Mountain, which is also where the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is located. Next will be a stop at peaceful Evergreen Lake.

Regardless, the time spent at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, arguably the most beautiful amphitheatre in the world, is what many remember most from this journey. Those who fill its 9,525 seats get to enjoy live music and other live performances while being able to also gaze up at the large rock formation that stretches from behind the stage to high above the seating area to the left of the spectators.


3. Visit Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Visitors looking for things to do around Denver in addition to in the city itself are encouraged to take a drive on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. This 28-mile road, which can be reached via a 40-minute drive, is a great way for you to fully experience the Rocky Mountains. In fact, it is the country's highest paved road, gaining more than 7,000 feet in elevation and reaching 14,130 feet at its highest point.

As you are making your way into the mountains, you will come across several lookout points, where you can stretch out your journey and take in increasingly impressive views of the Rockies. Many experienced Mount Evans Scenic Byway drivers recommend that newcomers take the guided tour and pay special attention to Echo Lake Park, which will be reached at roughly the midway point.


4. Discover Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods

A couple more things to do near Denver that you should consider are visiting Pikes Peak and the Gardens of the Gods, both of which are near Colorado Springs, to the south of Denver. Although separate areas, the Garden of the Gods provides a tremendous opportunity to take in a gorgeous view of Pikes Pike.

Within the Garden of the Gods is an impressive group of picturesque red rock formations and a nice collection of hiking trails. In fact, it has such a reputation that TripAdvisor named it the nation's best park, ahead of runner-up Central Park in New York.

Meanwhile, Pikes Peak has an elevation of 14,115 feet and is the highest point in the United States from it to the east. One memorable and comfortable way to climb it is taking a guided tour via the Pikes Peak Highway.


5. Denver Botanic Gardens

If you are looking for things to do in Denver Colorado that are picturesque, a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens is recommended. It provides a peaceful respite from all of the activities that the city center offers. This oasis of greenery offers 23 acres of theme gardens as well as the UMB Bank Amphitheater, which has a capacity of up to 1,300.

Simply put, this is a place where it is easy to fall in love with its beauty. You can spend hours here browsing its 50 gardens, which range from a traditional Japanese garden to an area that displays plants native to South Africa. Art aficionados will also enjoy the many art exhibits on display here at various times throughout the year. Also note that guided tours enhance many visitors' experiences.

6. Denver Zoo

Another of the nature-focused Denver Colorado attractions is the Denver Zoo. In fact, a Visit Denver survey found that it was the top paid attraction in the city. It is also viewed by many as one of the best zoos in the country. More than 2 million people visit it in a normal year and enjoy seeing and learning more about the 4,000 animals that call this place home.

One of its most memorable attractions is Bear Mountain, which is an area that mimics bears' natural habits as closely as possible using rock outcroppings taken from elsewhere in Colorado. Also popular is Predator Ridge, where animals such as hyenas and lions roam. Meanwhile, Primate Panorama is a great place to check out monkeys swinging from tree branches. Some visitors will also want to time their trips to certain parts of the zoo with feeding times there.

7. Downtown Aquarium

Those who love aquatic animals should ensure that a visit to Downtown Aquarium is on their list of Denver Colorado things to do. It is home to a million gallons of water and thousands of animals, including impressive creatures such as sharks and even Sumatran tigers, which are endangered and which, contrary to the reputation that feline animals have, enjoy swimming. You can also get into the water yourself through its Swim with the Fish and Dive with the Sharks programs.

One of the focuses of this aquarium is on the path that water takes along the Colorado River towards the Pacific Ocean; note that this river normally does not reach ocean water as it usually dries up just prior to reaching the Gulf of California. Another focus is on Indonesia's Kampar River, which empties into the Strait of Malacca, which is connected with the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

8. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is another of the top things to do in Denver for people who enjoy educating themselves as it is a great resource for those who want to learn more about the natural history of the Centennial State, the world and the universe. One of the best ways to do the latter is to take a visit to its 125-seat Gates Planetarium. Also in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a 440-seat Phipps IMAX Theater.

Its exhibits include dinosaur bones dating hundreds of millions of years and Egyptian mummies that are thousands of years old. It also has a wildlife exhibit that provides information on animals that are based throughout the world. Overall, it touches upon anthropology, geology, health sciences, space sciences, paleontology and zoology.

9. Children's Museum of Denver

One of the best Denver attractions to bring kids to is this one. It provides an enjoyable, hands-on approach to learning that has young ones talking about the experience for time to come with its impressive variety of exhibits and fun plays capes. Some of the activities that children can take part in include challenging their minds on computer games, learning about science in laboratories and being a cashier in a play grocery store.

Also, many children enjoy hearing about faraway lands and various types of adventures during its StoryTime, which is generally held during the middle of the day. This time can be a great one for both children and adults to relax. Spanish-language StoryTime sessions are sometimes scheduled as well.

Note that neither adults nor children can be unaccompanied while visiting the Children's Museum of Denver; all children need to have at least one corresponding adult with them and vice versa.

10. United States Mint

One of the things to see in Denver Colorado is the United States Mint, which opened in 1897 and was initially home to coinage production in 1906. More coins are produced here than anywhere in the world; its current rate is 50 million coins a day. In fact, any of the coins that are currently in your pockets with a "D" on them on the right side under "In God We Trust" were manufactured here.

It is generally open every day except for federal holidays, and free tours are offered every day that it is open. During this time, visitors will learn more about the nuances of the printing process, from what goes into the designing of these coins all the way up to their physical creation. Many are particularly enthralled by getting to see up close how the coin-making machines work.

11. Denver Public Library

The Denver Public Library system has more than 2 million items in circulation and is another great place to relax and take a break amidst the more energetic activities that are listed on your itinerary of Denver activities. It is a roomy building that has also received complements about how organized it is. This structure is the result of a $92 million bond that was passed in the 1990s that resulted in its opening in 1995.

Although it is most known for its books, cartophiles may find that hours have quickly passed while they were engrossed in its impressive map collection, many of which help tell the store of the area's frontier history. The library also offers free Wi-Fi access for those who simply want a relaxing place to get online while some simply enjoy walking around it while appreciating the building's architecture.

12. Forney Transportation Museum

This is a great place to add to your list of the best things to do in Denver Colorado if you enjoy learning more about various forms of transportation and taking a look at famous vehicles. Its initial one on display was a 1921 KisselKar, one of the vehicles that was manufactured by Kissel Motor Car Company, which was in operation from 1907-31. Another famous KisselKar here is a 1923 edition that was owned by Amelia Earhart, which has been nicknamed the "Gold Bug."

In the years since its famous initial vehicle found its home here, it has been joined by all types of transportation vehicles, including steam locomotives, carriages, bicycles, buggies and sleighs. Note that its collection of steam locomotives includes the Union Pacific "Big Boy" Steam Locomotive #4005, which is one of just 25 that were manufactured.

13. Denver Center of the Performing Arts

One of the best activities to do in Denver for those who enjoy live theatre is checking out a production put on by the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. This company, which was founded in 1972, has a 12-acre site at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which is home to numerous venues that range in size from 2,880 seats to 185 seats. There, it usually puts on and hosts productions throughout the year, including world premieres and Broadway touring productions.

One of its most impressive venues is Boettcher Concert Hall, which was built in 1978 and has a capacity of 2,679 with 80% of its seats situated within 65 feet of the stage. This facility is the home of the Colorado Symphony. Meanwhile, its original structure was the Auditorium Theatre, which was renovated in 1979 and 2005, the latter one resulting in the creation of the 2,225-seat Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

14. Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still was one of the original abstract expressionists, and the Clyfford Still Museum provides a perfect opportunity to check out much of his work. This building was the result of Patricia Still, his wife at the time of his death, announcing in 2004 that she would provide Denver with 800 of his paintings and 1,600 various works that he had done on paper. It opened seven years later.

Still's work was initially on display as part of a solo show in 1943 in San Francisco, which was followed by another show in that city four years later. He later had his work displayed in Philadelphia and New York. Here in Denver, his creations are shown in nine galleries. Interactive features and peaceful outdoor terraces are also accessible at the Clyfford Still Museum. A hands-on art creation studio is here as well.

15. Elitch Gardens

Are you looking for a theme park experience as you complete your list of places to go in Denver? Consider adding Elitch Gardens to it. This amusement park has existed in one form or another since 1890 with its current location opening in 1995. It was originally much more than just an amusement park as it also served as home to one of the first zoos in the Western U.S. and Denver's initial symphony orchestra, botanical garden and motion picture theater.

Today, Elitch Gardens is dedicated to roller coasters and other types of rides in addition to the water rides that are available at its Island Kingdom Family Water Park. Its most recent addition is the Meow Wolf's Kaleidoscope, a self-described "mind-bending journey unlike any other." Riders are taken through a number of immersive art landscapes. However, many of its rides are more what amusement park enthusiasts would expect, such as the Mind Eraser, the Tower of Doom and Shipwreck Falls.

16. Molly Brown House Museum

Those who enjoy the movie, "Titanic," know who Molly Brown was. She was an activist, socialist and philanthropist who survived the Titanic's sinking in 1912. At the age of 18, she moved to Leadville, Colo., a town of 3,000 today that had a population of 13,000 then, and later married J.J. Brown there. After they accumulated significant wealth, they bought a mansion in Denver. That is the Molly Brown House Museum today.

Once you enter the home, you will be enveloped by the feeling of what it was like for her when she lived there. Contributing to that will be the exhibits displayed there that help tell the story of her life. The building also shows what general life was like in Colorado during the time that she was there. Interestingly, she had also allowed Colorado's governor to use it as his official residence in 1902 while his original residence was being remodeled.

17. Denver Firefighters Museum

Denver's brave firefighters from throughout their department's history, which started in 1866, are celebrated here. Many have reported that it is an interesting experience to learn about their stories and how this fire department has adapted and evolved in the century and a half since its founding. This facility also provides educational experiences, informing visitors on how to best engage in fire safety and prevention.

The building in which the Denver Firefighters Museum is located was Fire Station No. 1, which was built in 1909 and earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, a year before the museum that took its space opened. Inside its walls are tens of thousands of photographs, artifacts and manuscripts that help show how these firefighters were trained, communicated, lived, protected themselves and fought fires. Its children's gallery also helps make visiting here one of Denver's top activities.

18. Coors Field

Catching a baseball game is one of the most fun things to do in Denver, and Coors Field is one of the best places to visit in Denver. The Colorado Rockies have been playing home games at this mile-high facility since 1995, the team's third season. It provides seating for 46,897, and home games are scheduled on a regular basis from April to September. If the team qualifies for the playoffs, postseason games will take place here in October as well.

Those who enjoy offensive baseball, such as home runs, are especially encouraged to get out to a game here. Coors Field has long held a reputation as a hitter-friendly park partially because the ball tends to fly further in the lighter air that exists at Denver's high altitude. In fact, that is why the fences are further from home plate here than is normally the case in baseball stadiums and why the baseballs are stored in humidors prior to games.

19. Empower Field at Mile High

If you are looking for stuff to do in Denver and your visit is occurring in the fall, consider taking in a Denver Broncos National Football League game. In fact, for many, few would top this activity when compiling a list of things to do in Denver this weekend if the team is at home then. The Broncos are one of the league's best supported franchises as every game played here since it opened in 2001 has been sold out.

However, NFL contests are not the only events held here. It has hosted rivalry college football games between the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, Major League Lacrosse matches played by the Denver Outlaws, Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer contests, a number of high-profile international soccer matches, an international rugby league match between England and New Zealand and concerts performed by the Eagles, Metallica, U2, Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones.

20. Colorado Convention Center

There is a decent probability that the reason that you are in Denver is because of an event taking place at the Colorado Convention Center. It hosts about 400 of them in a normal year in its 800,000 square feet of space, which encompasses a 5,000-capacity ballroom, the 5,000-seat Bellco Theatre, its Exhibit Hall and five meeting rooms. The Exhibit Hall, which is where 100,000 square feet of this facility's space is located, is where conventions, trade shows and product launches tend to take place.

Its first event was the 1990 National Basketball Association Draft for the Denver Nuggets. Today, some of its most commonly held events are the Great American Beer Festival, Denver Comic Con, World Science Fiction Convention, Denver Boat Show, Denver Auto Show and Colorado Garden and Home Show. Meanwhile, the Bellco Theatre has hosted acts such as Melissa Etheridge, Rob Thomas, Il Divo, Dolly Parton, Demi Lovato and Bruce Springsteen.

21. Larimer Square

Many view Larimer Square as a must see in Denver. This includes U.S. News & World Report, which ranks it #1 on its list of the Best Things To Do in Denver.

This destination has played a significant role in the history of Denver as this is the community's initial commercial block, having been created for that purpose in 1858 and then serving as its primary business area for decades. Although that focus lessened significantly throughout much of the 1900s, it started being restored in the 1960s.

Today, it serves as a popular contemporary shopping area. In fact, those coming to Denver to do shopping will likely already have Larimer Square on their itineraries as it offers a tremendous variety of wares on sale. However, that is not all that it provides visitors as its various restaurants and nightlife energy attracts visitors for those reasons as well.

22. Union Station

If you are using public transportation that is not an airplane to get to Denver, your first introduction to the city will most likely be Union Station, which is best known as a stop on Amtrak's California Zephyr line between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. However, if that is not the case, it is well worth an addition to your list of places to visit in Denver Colorado. Not only is it a historic attraction, but it also provides numerous shopping and dining options.

The history of this site dates to 1881 although the original structure burned down in 1894 before it was rebuilt in 1914; another renovation was completed in 2014. That latest renovation included the opening of the luxurious Crawford Hotel, which is one of the places to see in Denver in its own right as the building that it is located in dates to the station's founding. It also offers tours of Union Station.

23. 16th Street Mall

If fun things to do in Denver Colorado for you include shopping, another place to consider is the 16th Street Mall. This pedestrian thoroughfare is 1-1/4 miles long and encompasses nearly all of the portion of 16th Street that goes through downtown Denver. Its origins date to 1982, when it was a fraction of the length that it is today, before it was extended in 2001 and 2002.

Not only is it home to hundreds of stores, dozens of restaurants and a number of entertaining street performers, but the Denver Pavilions open-air shopping mall is here as well. If you want to include more relaxing Denver Colorado activities in your time in the Mile High City, note that taking in a film at the mall's movie theatre is an option.

If you do not want to walk its entire length, take advantage of the Free MallRide bus service.

24. City Park

City Park is one of the Denver places to visit for those who enjoy natural beauty. Included amongst its 330 acres are lakes, fields, playgrounds, water fountains, picnicking areas, tennis courts, a boathouse, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This park, which was developed in the 1880s, has provided visitors with a pastoral feel throughout its history. Its wide open spaces provide a sense of calmness as well as a welcoming environment for cyclists, runners and bird watchers.

It is situated about a mile east of downtown Denver and is about a mile long itself. This is also one of the best Denver tourist attractions as it relates to parking as plenty is available here. Additionally, golfers should consider heading to the City Park Golf Course, which is located immediately to the north of City Park.

25. Washington Park

Another of the outdoor activities in Denver to consider is Washington Park. This lush area of green and blue beauty - gardens and lakes - consists of 165 acres and provides miles of running and bicycling paths, including one that follows the park's perimeter. It is also home to tennis courts, soccer fields, boats, a swimming pool and a lawn bowling green. In fact, its reputation is so high amongst locals that many compare its beauty and quality to New York's Central Park. Adding to its incredible setting are the 19th-century homes that surround it; the Washington Park neighborhood that it is a part of is one of Denver\'s oldest.

This place was initially developed in 1899 and is situated 3 miles southeast of downtown Denver – the areas are connected via several bike trails – and is about a mile long.

26. Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

A must do in Denver for aviation enthusiasts is the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum; this attraction has often been named one of the world's best aviation museums. It was founded in 1994 and is located on the former Lowry Air Force Base, 6 miles east of downtown Denver. Its focuses are on educating, entertaining and inspiring its visitors.

Dozens of aircraft are on display here while its flight simulator experiences provide visitors with realistic depictions of what it would feel like to fly planes such as these. Although aviation enthusiasts will get the most out of this place, reveling in all of the history on display, those who are not normally as interested in aviation will likely find themselves entertained as well.

27. Colorado State Capitol

A Denver sightseeing trip would not be complete without a visit to the Colorado State Capitol. This impressive structure was built from 1886-1901 and is reminiscent of the United States Capitol. It plays a significant role in Colorado politics, serving as the home to the state's governor's and lieutenant governor's offices and the Colorado General Assembly.

Additionally, as a result of its architectural impressiveness, it attracts many visitors who are solely interested in that aspect of this structure. Inside, its entrance hall provides 180 feet of space between its floor and the top of the building's dome. Free tours are offered to visitors who want to explore its interior while all but its dome may also be accessed through a self-guide through the building. Additionally, many visitors like to take pictures of the "One Mile Above Sea Level" engraving that is located outside its west entrance.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is most popular destinations from Denver, CO?
    Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, Red Rocks, and Garden of the Gods
  • What is the best way to visit most popular destinations from Denver?
    The easiest way is to take a tour with professional guide, so you don’t have to worry about transportation, etc.
  • Where tours depart from to most popular destinations in Colorado?
    Group Tours depart from Union Station at 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
  • How far is Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver?
    The entrance to the park is 65mi and 1h 30min from Denver
  • When is Mount Evans open?
    The Mount Evans Road is typically open the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
  • What is higher Mount Evans or Pikes Peak?
    Mount Evans is 14,264 feet and Pikes Peak is 14,115 feet