The Denver Botanic Gardens' 24 acres feature a whopping 50 gardens for visitors to explore. This expansive facility in downtown Denver's Cheesman Park treats travelers to a variety of different environments, from a traditional Japanese garden (complete with bonsai trees) to the South African Plaza blooming with exotic plants like asparagus fern and torch lilies. Meanwhile, art aficionados will also appreciate the gardens thanks to the numerous sculptures that grace the grounds; the facility also plays host to touring exhibits that have included works by such artists as Stephen Talasnik and Dale Chihuly.
Just a few hours’ drive from Denver lies the historic settlement of Georgetown. Besides its heritage buildings and districts steeped in silver mining history, Georgetown (established in 1859) is a chilled out mountain town to explore for a day. But here it isn’t just about pavement pounding and ducking into a few cute cafes and eateries along the way. It’s also about the train.
Football fans won't want to pass up the chance to spend some time on the Denver Broncos' home turf. The stadium can hold more than 76,000 NFL junkies across different levels and it boasts something you don't normally associate with football games: several public art displays. Surprisingly, the stadium was built in 1948 as a minor league baseball stadium, but it became home to Denver's football team shortly after, nurturing "Broncomania" since the team was formed in 1960.
Running continuously since 1882, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is genuinely one of the most scenic railroads in the whole of the USA. Riding the railroad is one of the more touristy things to do in Colorado, but we literally don’t care: it’s amazing. Hop on one of the coaches straight outta the 1880s (the interiors are immense; get ready to blow up your Instagram) and be whisked into a past of frontiersmen and cowboys.
Why go? Absorb the Beaux Arts aura of the majestic, barrel-vaulted Great Hall while sipping local craft beers in the retro-toned Terminal Bar or cocktails on the mezzanine of the glamorous Cooper Lounge. Score a seat at Stoic & Genuine’s chef’s counter to indulge in sharp twists on seafood classics or treat yourself to a feast at Mercantile Dining & Provision, where farmhouse substance meets cosmopolitan style.
Boulder – Boulder is Denver’s neighbor city, well-known for its liberal-minded and affluent population. The town itself is smaller and pretty quiet compared to Denver but is much closer to the Rocky Mountains. Some of the best attractions near Denver are located around Boulder including the Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon, and Isabelle Lake. Visit Boulder for a chance to get outdoors and play around a bit.
For an amazing finale to your time in Colorado it’s a 25 minute drive or taxi ride to the wonder that is Casa Bonita. This mad Mexican-themed restaurant-slash-entertainment palace pairs up nicely with the visit to the weed dispensary because, well, it just does. Trust us. Alongside their all you can eat deal, there’s otherworldly treats on offer. Fried ice cream anyone? Stuff your face and watch the cliff divers.
To learn more about the art, history and retail space of the station, as well as the luxury hotel, consider taking a tour. The Crawford Hotel offers tours of Union Station for $20 and the proceeds benefit the hotel's Dollars For Dreams nonprofit partners. The tour culminates at the Terminal Bar for a complimentary drink, so visitors can get the full Union Station experience.
A trip to Colorado without hiking is like sacrilege. There’s tons of places you could be getting into the great outdoors here, none quite as spectacular as the Rocky Mountains themselves. Nature trails run for miles and miles past alpine lakes and snow-capped mountains in this rugged natural wonderland. Hiking here is one of the best outdoorsy things you could do in Colorado. Don’t worry: there’s different hikes to suit different abilities. Lily Lake Loop, for example, is super easy and is great for all the views without much of the puff involved.
With galleries showcasing more than 70,000 works by famed artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Winslow Homer, the Denver Art Museum houses one of the most impressive collections of art between Chicago and the West Coast. Spread across two buildings, the museum's holdings range from pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary displays with such mediums as painting and sculpture represented. One of the highlights of a visit to the Denver Art Museum is its extensive assembly of western American art, which includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper related to the West going back two centuries.
The 16th Street Mall is to Denver what Rodeo Drive is to Los Angeles. This mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare, which stretches across the southern end of the LoDo district and bypasses Larimer Square, is lined with a variety of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, making it a popular place to visit at nearly all hours of the day (although some travelers note that the area can feel a bit dicey at night, despite a heavy police presence). Even if you're not looking to give your credit card a workout, recent visitors recommend taking a stroll along the 16th Street Mall, as it leads to some excellent people-watching.
Modeled after a Kenyan nature preserve, the Denver Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, including tigers, black rhinos, kangaroos and orangutans. Sprawling across 80 acres of City Park, this impressive facility boasts a number of ways to view our furry, feathered and reptilian friends. Head to Predator Ridge, the recreated African savanna, to see hyenas, lions and African dogs roam, watch monkeys swing from tree branches at Primate Panorama or catch a glimpse of colorful critters like Panamanian golden frogs and green tree pythons at the Tropical Discovery center. You can also overload on cute during a visit to the nursery and take on a ride on the zoo's train and carousel.
Artistic visionaries and the spirit of rogue ingenuity define this route that starts in Denver, winds through the plains of southeastern Wyoming, and finishes in Alliance, Nebraska. It takes you off the beaten path to discover quirky art installations, historic monuments, local flavors, and natural wonders. This route of 11 inspiring spots is certain to spark the autonomous flame for all who take it on.
Begin your Colorado trip in Denver – that’s the best base, we’d say – by learning about the history in the capital of Colorado itself. The sights here date back to the Old West era and a good place to start is Union Station: it’s not just a transit hub, it’s a vibrant landmark in itself with loads going on. Feels (looks) like Europe. From here walk 10 minutes to the oldest part of the city, Larimer Square.
Why go? In 1983, a little-known Irish band happened to film a performance at what you might call nature’s own music hall—and the rest, as U2 fans know, is rock history. Of course, it also serves as one of the world’s most breathtaking gyms, where runners get super-sweaty attempting to tackle the seemingly endless staircases and hikers hit the trails through the surrounding 868-acre park.
Do you like food? Good, because Denver has a real vibrant culinary landscape going on and you should definitely make it your quest (we’re using that word) to discover what the cuisine here is on offer. There’s a lot of history layered in between the different dishes on offer, making it a good way to find out about who made the city what it is. Think Mexican and indigenous influences. Try shishito peppera la plancha combined with sheep’s cheese, Rocky Mountain oysters (yes, that’s a thing), Olathe Sweet Corn, to name just a few.
Located south of central Denver, Washington Park is consistently praised by Denverites and visitors alike for its ample facilities and enjoyable atmosphere. Occupying 165 acres, this immense park boasts miles jogging paths, swaths of gardens and, most notably, two massive lakes. Washington Park is a popular weekend hangout spot thanks to the variety of things to do here. You can spend your time simply relaxing on the grass, or you can take advantage of the park's eight tennis courts, boat rentals and Recreation Center, which houses a pool and offers scheduled fitness classes and swim lessons.