15 Top Things to Do in Denver, Colorado

With so much to do in Denver, it's hard to choose where to start in this well-known Colorado city. Some of the top must-see tourist attractions include the indoor grace of the Denver Art Museum and watching a concert or hiking while soaking up the outdoor beauty of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. There is something for everyone—including kids—in the usually-sunny Mile High City, and the city is home to one of the country's most popular skate parks. Downtown Denver is very pedestrian-friendly: Within a mile radius, tourists can enjoy art and history museums, a theme and water park, and numerous restaurants. 

01 of 15

See Concerts and Hike at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Creation rock Red Rocks State Park
Schmez/Getty Images
Address
18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465, USA
Phone
+1 720-865-2494
4.9

More than 250 million years in the making and located at 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre features natural acoustics which create unique outdoor concerts. Red Rocks—just 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of Denver in Morrison—also has various hiking and biking trails with spectacular views.

Stop at the Trading Post shop onsite for some souvenirs, and head to the Ship Rock Grille in the Red Rocks Visitor Center to enjoy amazing vistas while you dine.

02 of 15

Eat and Shop at Union Station

Union Station

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy

Address
Denver, CO 80202, USA

The iconic 1881 building—referred to locally as Denver’s living room—reopened in 2014 with a full slate of restaurants and shops, in addition to serving as a transit hub downtown. Stay overnight at the Crawford Hotel located above Union Station and explore town on one of their electric bikes, or just enjoy a drink at the Terminal Bar while people watching.

During the summer, the fountains outside the station provide a respite from the heat for children of all ages, and visitors can catch free cooking demonstrations on Saturdays at the Farmer's Market outside of Union Station.

03 of 15

Get Close to Animals at the Denver Zoo

Feeding giraffe at Denver Zoo
Aron Snyder
Address
2300 Steele St, Denver, CO 80205, USA
Phone
+1 720-337-1400

The Denver Zoo opened its doors in 1896 with the donation of an orphaned black bear named Billy Bryan. Covering 80 acres in the historic City Park neighborhood, the popular attraction receives more than 2 million visitors each year. The zoo houses almost 3,700 animals from across the world, including a range from African lions to Asian elephants and Malayan Tapirs.

Various programs educate visitors about the zoo's creatures, including Up-Close Animal Encounters, which provide guided tours and an intimate look at animals and zookeepers.

04 of 15

Explore Denver Art Museum

Entrance to the Denver Art Museum

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy 

Address
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204, USA
Phone
+1 720-865-5000

The Denver Art Museum is known for its African, Asian, Latin American, American Indian, and Western American art, among other collections such as design, photography, and architecture. The museum also has exhibitions such as "The Light Show," which explores light in the natural and spiritual world through a reflective narrative. "Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection" features approximately 60 paintings of Britain’s cultural history, dating from the 1400s through the late 1800s.

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05 of 15

Get Inspired at Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanical Garden

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy

Address
1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206, USA
Phone
+1 720-865-3500
4.8

Colorado's dry climate challenges gardeners across the state, but the Denver Botanic Gardens always provide inspiration. The gardens contain 24 acres, including numerous arid gardens that require little water. International gardens include plants from South Africa, the Tropics, Japan, China, and other parts of the world. Popular flowers such as roses, daylilies, and irises live in the ornamental gardens. There are also shady and water gardens to enjoy, and a children's garden with six ecosystems is sure to delight the little ones.

Various guided tours are available.

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Have Fun at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Nina Snyder
Address
2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205, USA
Phone
+1 303-370-6000

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, founded in 1900 by local naturalist Edwin Carter, offers educational fun for all ages. The collection is home to more than 1 million objects from around the world, like natural history and anthropological materials, archival resources, and more.

The family will also love the Phipps IMAX Theater for checking out movies, and the Gates Planetarium has fun shows like "One World, One Sky," featuring Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo exploring the night sky with a friend from China.

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Stroll Around 16th Street Mall

People walking down the 16th street mall, a pedestrian street in Denver

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy

Address
1001 16th St Mall, Denver, CO 80265, USA
Phone
+1 303-534-6161

Take a stroll through Denver's 16th Street Mall, a mile-long outdoor shopping and dining center in the Mile High City. Dozens of restaurants and boutiques join chain stores such as the Banana Republic and Sephora for a one-stop attraction. Lucky Strike bowling alley, Regal UA Denver Pavilions 4DX & RPX movie theater, and Coyote Ugly bar also provide nighttime entertainment. Stop by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some Colorado-made treats.

08 of 15

Visit the State Capitol Building

Colorado State Capitol

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy

Address
200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203-1776, USA
Phone
+1 303-866-2604
4.3

Designed in the 19th century by architect Elijah E. Myers, the Colorado State Capitol Building echoes the classical lines of the nation's capitol. The inside features Colorado Rose Onyx (a rare rose marble) and beautiful stained glass windows. The Denver building is exactly one mile high at 5,280 feet (1,609 meters), lending the city its nickname of the "Mile High City."

The capitol houses the Colorado General Assembly and the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Treasurer. Check out the building on your own, or reserve a free weekday tour which takes less than an hour.

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09 of 15

Take the Kids to Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

Elitch GardensTheme Water Park
Visit Denver
Address
2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204, USA
Phone
+1 303-595-4386

Elitch Gardens, located downtown, truly has something for everyone in the family, from thrilling rollercoasters like the Mind Eraser—entailing dives and double spins going faster than 50 miles per hour—to fun ferris wheels and balloon races. The water park has big slides and mellower rides for little ones.

You'll also find several spots for shopping, dining, and games, plus summer movies and concerts.

10 of 15

Smell the Flowers at Washington Park

Smith Lake Pavilion Reflections in Washington Park Denver Colorado
Milehightraveler/Getty Images
Address
Washington Park, Denver, CO, USA
4.8

Washington Park, one of Denver's finest parks, covers 155 acres and features one of the most popular running and biking trails in Denver, drawing fitness enthusiasts and dog walkers from across the city. Two scenic lakes and the city's largest flower garden add to "Wash Park's" bucolic charm.

While you're there, check out the nearby charming South Pearl Street and its restaurants—ranging from sushi to Cajun to pizza—plus shops, galleries, and wine and cocktail bars.

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Hike up High at Echo Lake

If you are looking for a nice mountain hike, try Echo Lake, just 33 miles (or 53 kilometers) west of Denver. The lake—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—is located at the base of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in the U.S., which reaches 14,260 feet (4,346 meters) above sea level. Visitors will have great views of snowy peaks, along with opportunities for fishing and having a picnic or barbecue.

The 1926 Echo Lake Lodge houses a restaurant with buffalo chili and beloved pie, and a gift shop which sells handmade Native American jewelry, glassware, collectibles, and other items.

12 of 15

Go on a Craft Beer Tour

Craft beer is big in Colorado, and the curious (age 21 and up) will enjoy a guided 2-3 hour walking tour dedicated to the alcoholic beverage. The tour takes place in the Historical Lower Downtown (LoDo) District and includes more than 10 beer samples, and fun city history and trivia. Attendees will learn about the brewing process, stop by a popular brewpub that turned into a nationwide franchise, relax in the city's top craft beer bar, and visit a brewery founded by the governor.

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13 of 15

Venture to Boulder

If you have a few days (or more) to spare, it's just about 40 minutes by car to reach Boulder, a lively small city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains that is home to the University of Colorado, the state's biggest university. Boulder is a fun and scenic getaway: Explore the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall downtown, where you'll find restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries, and street musicians.

You can eat global cuisine at the gorgeous Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, a popular attraction constructed in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and sent a great distance to their sister city of Boulder, where the pieces were reassembled.

14 of 15

Get Your Thrills at a Skate Park

Denver is proud to have one of the most popular skate parks in the country, the Denver Skatepark in LoDo, which is open daily and has free admission. The large area has 60,000 square feet of concrete with bowls for boarders, bikers, and bladers of all skill levels.

You will need to bring your own gear as there are no rentals onsite; helmets are required.

15 of 15

See a Game at Coors Field Baseball Stadium

Exterior of Coors Field with a statue

Jennifer Broome / TripSavvy 

Address
2001 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205-2060, USA
Phone
+1 303-292-0200

Coors Field baseball stadium opened in 1995 in the lower downtown/Ballpark Neighborhood. Serving as home base for the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team, the stadium seats over 50,000 fans. Those in the first-base and right-field areas will catch great views of the Rocky Mountains.

Stop at the Wazee Market behind section 137 on the main concourse if hunger strikes; enjoy pizza and other ballpark traditional foods in a courtyard area.

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Must-See Tourist Attractions in Denver, Colorado