There is a plethora of action and adventure to be had within this gateway to the Western USA.
In Denver, foodies can choose from some of the finest ethnic and authentic Western restaurants, as well as wineries and breweries that pull styles and tastes from local flavors and worldwide inspiration. Shoppers can hunt the top brands or homespun merchandise; sports fans can root on professional teams; and music and arts lovers will have their hands full hitting all of Denver’s venues and museums. Here are 10 unforgettable ways to explore the city.
Experience the Walkable City Center
Ditch the car and enjoy downtown Denver’s delights using public transportation and walking among its convenient attractions. A train from Denver International Airport (DEN) takes you right to Denver Union Station, a century-old landmark packed with local shops, restaurants and bars. The 16th Street Mall offers a free shuttle called MallRide that takes you to cool shops like western gear purveyor Rockmount Ranch Wear and Denver Pavilions, which houses a movie theater and restaurants.
Strolling the 16th Street Mall at sunset
Sip and Savor around the City
Denver spends a surprising 300 days a year in the sunshine, providing the perfect recipe for patio dining at top-notch eateries in the city center and surrounding neighborhoods. Larimer Square boasts several renowned restaurants with outdoor seating like Rioja, known for its James Beard-award-winning Mediterranean fare. Avanti F&B consists of seven different restaurant concepts housed in modified shipping containers that share a cozy and attractive common space, including dining areas, two bars and a rooftop with city views.
Outdoor seating at Little Man Ice Cream, a wildly popular spot in the LoHi (Lower Highland) neighborhood
Listen to Music in Awe-inspiring Settings
Concerts are unforgettable when held in stunning venues like the iconic Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. Here, ancient rocks and jaw-dropping sunsets have framed live sets by legends such as The Beatles and U2. Located about a half-hour southwest of center city, the park also features hiking trails for daytime exploration. Former brothel-turned-bar Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox doubles as a live music venue, offering eclectic American fare. The historic Bluebird Theater still wows fans with clear sightlines and sensational shows.
Revelers at a concert at the incredible Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Explore Eclectic Neighborhoods
Unique neighborhoods make for a city of many flavors and colors. Explore the RiNo (River North) Art District’s street art (around every corner), craft breweries, trendy bars, gourmet food halls and unique eateries. The Highlands has Victorian-era homes, parks, independently owned shops and food with a view: Former mortuary Linger boasts global small plates and a rooftop lounge.
An inventive mural in the RiNo Art District
Get Inspired by Art
You can’t paint an accurate picture of Denver without its impressive arts scene. The Denver Art Museum – among the largest in the Western USA – boasts heralded Old West and American Indian collections. The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art presents three collections (international, regional and paintings by Denver icon Vance Kirkland) in “salon style” with fine and decorative art in the same galleries. History is told through artful interactive exhibits at the History Colorado Center.
The eye-catching modern architecture of the Denver Art Museum
Sample Craft Beer and Spirits
For craft beer lovers, this city is a match made in heaven: a walkable city boasting the Denver Beer Trail with more than 150 craft breweries in the greater metropolitan area. Sample specialty microbrews while playing yard games on the dog-friendly patio at Ratio Beerworks or drink up the do-it-yourself vibe at the Denver Beer Co., which started in a garage as a homebrew operation. Or, book a tour and enjoy flavorful samples at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
Patrons enjoying a gorgeous day on the patio of the Denver Beer Co.
Watch Professional Sports
Denver is a big city with a major sports footprint; plan your visit to coincide with a matchup or make plans to tour state-of-the-art venues in the walkable city center. The city’s most well-known teams are the National Football League’s Denver Broncos, Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, the National Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets, the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids. But don’t miss out on the gritty competition of the more up-and-coming teams: Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and Colorado Raptors of Major League Rugby.
Sunset over Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team
Shop Day and Night
A variety of malls and brand-name stores and a plethora of local shops make Denver a premier shopping destination. Cherry Creek Shopping Center boasts more than 160 shops, with major retailers, stores exclusive to the region and specialty shops. Cherry Creek North is a more walkable indoor-outdoor neighborhood that combines boutiques and stores with events, destination dining, art galleries and more. Denver Premium Outlets is the city’s premier outlet shopping destination, located just 20 minutes from the city center.
Entrance to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Get Close to Nature in the City
In Denver, you can get back to nature without leaving the city limits. The Denver Zoo houses more than 4,000 animals and offers up-close-and-personal experiences with the likes of tigers and sea lions. In the Cheesman Park neighborhood, you’ll encounter Denver Botanic Gardens and its 50 gardens and interactive Science Pyramid. Dig deeper into nature at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which has renowned exhibits on black holes and dinosaurs and an IMAX theater.
Viewing sculpture art and colorful flora at Denver Botanic Gardens
Day Trip to the Rocky Mountains
Any trip to Denver must include an excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park. A mere 90-minute drive northwest of the city will take you to an entirely differently world where you can bike, climb, fish, hike and camp in the wilderness surrounded by majestic snow-covered peaks and an incredible assemblage of wildlife. You might spot elk, black bears, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain lions and coyotes during your visit to this national treasure.
Epic vistas in Rocky Mountain National Park
The best entry point is Denver International Airport (DEN), and the Denver Airport Rail carries visitors into Denver Union Station, the city’s hub.