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.
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Denver's Union Station is a two for one: it's a working public transit station and a highly praised dining and shopping center. The station was a huge success when it first opened to the public in 1881, providing railroad service until the center of the building caught fire in 1894. The architecture from the 1917 redevelopment remains and today, it's home to an Amtrak hub and a bus concourse. Located in the hip Lower Downtown neighborhood (aka LoDo), with multiple dining options and boutiques, and The Crawford Hotel, Union Station is a newfound entertainment center.
Visiting the Molly Brown House is an architectural gem in itself; it was built in 1887 and definitely takes you back in time. But it’s not just one of the best things to do in Colorado for its admittedly pretty facades. This was the house of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. How’d she get that name, you ask? Simply by surviving the sinking of the Titanic, that’s how. She happened to be traveling alone in a 1st class cabin at the time (a pioneering solo traveler). Pretty amazing – and you can earn all about her here. Perfect for any fan of Titanic.
Why go? Whether you choose one of the easygoing loops on Lookout Mountain or rugged climbs in Eldorado Canyon State Park and around the striking sandstone formations known as the Flatirons, you'll be treated to stellar natural vistas. While you wander amid ponderosa pines and Indian paintbrush, keep your eyes peeled for mule deer and monarchs (never mind rattlesnakes and black bears).
Denver may have a good food scene, but so does the city of Boulder. One of the best places to see this in action is at the Boulder Farmers Market. Dating back to 1972, it’s open on Saturdays and Wednesdays and serves up a load of fresh produce to marvel at, kooky crafts to pick up, and some excellent live music – we mean, who doesn’t love a good market?
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It’s not every day you get to go see how actual money gets made, so why not head on over to Denver Mint? And thankfully the only cash involved is the stuff you’ll see being made: you have to part with anything because it’s free. It ain’t just about money though – it’s history. Dating back to 1792, Denver Mint is the sole manufacturer of all those dimes and dollars in your pocket. That’s a huge claim to fame and makes it easily one of the most interesting, and most unusual, things to do in Colorado. If you’re a history fan, or if you’re looking for stuff to do in Denver when it’s raining, this is a must.
No, we’re not suggesting you hop on a train and leave town, Denver’s Union Station is a popular tourist attraction in itself. The station building first opened in 1881 and has since undergone major renovations to become the beautiful structure it is today. Along with a historic terminal building, the station also features a grand hotel and several restaurants and retailers.
Why go? Cucci has a knack for designing restaurants that owe some of their success to a quirky backstory. Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is an eye-poppingly risqué tribute to its building’s history, while what was once a mid-century garage now informs the vintage cool of Root Down. Take it all in over a meal that showcases the Edible Beats restaurant group’s focus on earth- and lifestyle-conscious food and drinks. Oh – and if you want to be entertained by more than just delicious edibles, it's worth sneaking a peek at Ophelia’s events calendar, where you'll find everything from singer/songwriter evenings and pizza disco parties to comedy showcases and open mics.
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Denverites don't hesitate to praise their beloved Washington Park, comparing it to Boston Common or New York City's Central Park. You can get to Washington Park from the downtown area by hopping on the E light rail line. You are welcome to visit Washington Park at any time of day or night, and there's no entry fee; however, different facilities within the park adhere to their own hours of operation and may charge admission. For more information, visit the Washington Park website.
With its excellent views of the Rocky Mountains, miles of hiking trails and cinnamon-hued sandstone cliffs, Red Rocks Park is a big draw for outdoors enthusiasts. Occupying 700-some acres, this impressive park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the fascinating geographic transition between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. If you only have a short amount of time here, stretch your legs along the Trading Post Trail; this nearly 1 ½-mile-long path weaves through the rust-colored buttes, making for some spectacular scenery. Before you head out, travelers recommend stopping by the visitor center, which features information on the parks history and trails.