Why go? Possibly nerve-wracking and definitely slow-going yet breathtaking in every sense of the word, Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes you past alpine lakes and meadows, through bristlecone-pine stands and the habitats of elk and bighorn sheep; along the way, you can hike, fish, picnic and even snowshoe. The summit itself is accessible only in summer—and even then the weather can turn nasty without warning.
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.
Since you’ve been hiking, you’ll be sweaty. Take a shower then head out again for a bit of glamour at Peaks Lounge at the Hyatt Regency. This isn’t just a fancy dinner and drinks situation because you’ll mainly be here for the views. They are litrerally amazing. Come for sunset and watch the city light up as you sip cocktails. Not the cheapest thing to do in Denver, but definitely worth that skyline vista.
From Denver Mint hop on the number 5 bus (or get a taxi) and you’ll arrive at Seed & Smith in a matter of 20 minutes or so. Here’s where you can learn all about the world of recently legalised marijuana. It’s a squeaky clean dispensary and much more than just a bunch of stoners selling weed. If you’ve partaken, never fear: there’s a McDonald’s a stone’s throw from here.
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Seed & Smith is a good place to start learning about it the industry in America, but in the state of Colorado particularly. They even have a “sniff station” here to get your nostrils full of 420-friendly scents. Taking a weed tour is definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Colorado and one for anybody who’s interested in just how the heck it all works.
The Royal Gorge is a pretty epic spot. Hosting the tallest suspension bridge in the world, the soaring walls of this cut in the Earth tower 1,000 feet above the raging Arkansas River. If you’re up for the challenge, how about some white river rafting to best soak up the dramatic natural scenery? Even though it’s one of the most adventurous things you can do in Colorado if you’re a first-timer, don’t worry: it can be done! It’s the sort of experience that’ll either make you think, “wow, I really need to do this again!” … or “that was terrifying, let’s never do that again.” Who knows? But you won’t know unless you try!
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.
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.
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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.
Start your day the right way at Denver Diner. This is a classic, classic place that’s open 24 hours a day and offers up a huge speciality breakfast (one is called “Stoner’s Delight” FYI). Suitably stuffed, roll yourself for 6 minutes to Denver Mint. Opening at 8am, this place is literally the only place that still produces American coinage. Pretty cool to see it all happening. Tip: it’s closed Fridays and the weekend.
Even if you hate the sound of excess change rattling around your pockets, you'll find a tour of the Denver branch of the United States Mint to be an interesting way to spend an hour or so. Having opened in 1863, its purpose was to transform the Gold Rush's findings into coinage. Today, the U.S. Mint in Denver can produce up to 50 million coins a day.
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