Have you heard of The Shining? If you’re a fan of the film, of Stephen King, or of spooky sh*t in general, we definitely recommend going to the place where it all began: the Stanley Hotel. It’s here where King got the inspiration for the book, after apparently experiencing some weird stuff going on at night in room 217. For one of the best things to do in Colorado at night, book a room here, stay the night, and see what the heck’s going on.
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.
The Source epitomizes the soul of the surrounding RiNo district. Recently wrought by industrial blight, entrepreneurs have ingeniously repurposed abandoned buildings and scrap materials to ressurect the neighborhood as the city's new artistic hub. Not only a one-stop shop for all things gourmet, the Source is also a captivating architectural space.
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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Dating back to well to almost 1,000 years ago, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park represents some of the best-preserved of their kind. In fact, they’re the best preserved in all of North America. Who built them? The Puebloans did, indigenous people of this region of the Americas who constructed the stunning cliff-based buildings back in the 1190s AD. These have been given names like Balcony House, and Cliff Palace, which has 150 rooms. For one of the most interesting things to do in Colorado, ranger-led tours can (and should – trust us) be arranged before your visit.
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.
One aspect of the Coors Brewery tour that visitors especially liked was its kid-friendliness. Youngsters will find the exhibits interesting, and while you're downing a cold brewski, your kids can quench their thirst with some free soft drinks. Just note that you are not allowed to bring any type of backpack, bag or purse with you as you explore the facility.
I’m sure you’re already aware of some of the things to do in Denver. As you can imagine, Denver’s proximity to nature and mountains means it offers plenty of opportunities to ski, climb, hike and enjoy many other outdoor pursuits. But for those who prefer to exert less energy while on holiday there is also a fantastic array of art galleries, museums and interesting architecture to enjoy too.
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.
One of the most unmissable things to do in Colorado is to hit up the Rocky Mountains for a spot of hiking. It’s a no-brainer. An hour and a half drive outside of Denver, join one of the many, many trails. We’d recommend Twin Sisters Peak (which is even more reachable if you’re staying in Boulder). It’s quite challenging though and will take pretty much all day.
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.
Why go? Peep iconic modernist furnishings (see: Irving Harper’s marshmallow sofa and Pierre Paulin’s ribbon chair) and exquisite Art Nouveau and Art Deco housewares. Located in the studio of its late namesake, Vance Kirkland, the collection is displayed salon-style—which means that you’re surrounded on all sides by irreplaceable objet d'art as you wander through the galleries. (For better or worse, children under 13 are not admitted.)
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.
It’s not just any old amusement park – but it is old. Lakeside Amusement Park was opened back in 1908 on the shores of Lake Rhoda and is still a family-run affair to this day. Take a picnic along and visit the park for one of the most fun things to do in Colorado with kids. Complete with views of the mountains from the tops of the rides, you can try out bumper cars or hit the roller coaster. If you’re travelling with young children, no sweat – there’s even rides for smaller children here too. Then again, visiting this slice of history is a pretty cool experience, no matter what age you are.
If hiking, ziplining, rock climbing and white water rafting constitute way too outdoors-y stuff for you to be getting up to in Colorado, that’s ok. There’s plenty of ways to see the true scale of the scenery of this state without even getting out of your car. The Loveland Pass is one of those ways. Passing through the Rocky Mountains at 11,990 feet above sea level, the views from here are going to be pretty spectacular. Some say it’s the highest mountain road that’s open even when there are snowy conditions. It can be pretty hairy if you drive it during snow season (you will need snow chains!) and even in spring and summer there’s still a risk of altitude sickness. If you want adventurous stuff to do in Colorado, note this one down!
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.
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.
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