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.
That’s right: the Georgetown Loop Railroad takes you out of the city on a narrow gauge railway, along and across Clear Creek, for some prime mountain views on a history-laden steam train, complete with vintage carriages to match. Any sort of person wanting to soak up the past of this area will enjoy this one, but if you’re a train fan… this day trip in Colorado is going to make your head explode. In a good way.
Did you know that you can actually walk along dinosaur tracks? Well, you can and you can do it in this very state. It’s honestly so cool and one of the more… off the beaten track things to do in Colorado. There are over 1,300 tracks making up the Picketwire Canyon Trackway and come from a line-up of famous dinosaurs like apatosaurus and allosaurus.
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park is arguably the most accessible park in the Western USA, being only a few hours away from Denver. It is also one of the most impressive national parks in the entire nation and receives a boatload of visitors. Spend a day exploring this park, either renting a car to drive the superlative Trail Ridge Road (summer only) or via one of the many trails.
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.
Why go? Botanical treasure hunting sound like your new thing? Well, here you can peruse thousands of plant species from across the globe, from cacti to rainforest orchids. It’s also a cultural and educational center, regularly hosting art exhibits, plant shows, gardening classes and more. As you explore, be sure to take a breather in view of glass wizard Dale Chihuly’s Colorado, which graces the pond in the Ellipse Garden.
At Seed & Smith, Denver’s premier cannabis facility, you will be able to view the production process from seed to end product. Every stage of cannabis production is seen through glass windows, which mimics the company’s philosophy of transparency. See the grow room, extraction lab and packaging center, and learn everything there is to know about the health benefits of the cannabis plant.
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.
Past visitors raved about the Denver Art Museum, praising its diverse and varied collections and the museum's ability to appeal to kids through interactive activities. Reviewers also recommend perusing the museum's gift shop for some unique and interesting finds. If you don't make it here on your own, you'll find that the museum is a popular stop on many of the best Denver tours.
If a Jeep or other 4×4 just won’t cut it for you, and you’re actually more of an outdoors person who likes to be in it rather than just drive through it, how about climbing? Garden of the Gods also has some absolutely awesome climbing routes (Montezuma’s Tower is ah-mazing) and makes for one of the best adventurous things to do in Colorado. We mean, how could you not get better views of this stunning location without climbing up high? It’s not just for veteran climbers: people with different experience levels can get on board with this one.
The International Church of Cannabis is one thing, but the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is another level entirely. Conceived in the mid-19th century and finished by 1911 and costing a cool half a million dollars, this impressive cathedral is a pretty impressive place to visit. It’s the kind of thing you might expect, well, not in the USA, but here it is in all its Catholic glory.
Colorado definitely isn’t some hidden island out there in the ocean. But it is a vast American state which will constantly throw up surprises and you’ll always be finding off the beaten track things to do in Colorado. From its nature to its urban centres, this state could keep you occupied for a long time. And whether you’re looking for stuff to do with your family, a few romantic things to do with your partner, or if you just wanted to find a few kooky, weird things to do in Colorado, our guide has you covered with some pretty interesting activities. Make sure you set aside plenty of time, though!
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