In 1858, a group of American Indians and settlers struck gold at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Their discovery soon spread back to the East Coast, prompting people to pick up and move west. The site of the original pioneer camp (known back then as Auraria) soon grew into the charming area now known as Larimer Square. Although the city has since expanded, this historic neighborhood remains the heart and soul of the Mile High City, and according to some, it's the place to start your Denver experience. It's also a featured stop on many of the best Denver tours. Recent visitors attest that Larimer Square is always buzzing with life, thanks to the area's numerous restaurants, shops and nightlife venues.
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.
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Colorado is home to over 80 wineries spread out across the state, including the highest altitude vineyards in the US! Visits to the wine country are normally a two or three-day affair and a pleasant experience. But, if you don’t have the time to head out of town on your Denver itinerary, then you’ll be pleased to know that many of the wineries have cellar doors right in the city!
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.
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.
If you opted for a shorter hike (like the flat but still beautiful Lily Lake Trail), then you’ll have time for some afternoon fun. Let off some steam on the way back into Denver at Lakeside Amusement Park. It isn’t any amusement park though: it’s over a century old. Ride the rides, get some lunch at one of the easy eateries here, and then head back into the city.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by all the gardens have to offer, consider tagging along on a guided tour. Docent-led tours (which cost $14 for non-members) focus both on the flora and the art found throughout the facility. Recent visitors said the gardens are enjoyable no matter the season, describing them as "stunning" and "mesmerizing." They also highly recommend perusing the gift shop.
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.
If you can swing it, try to catch a home game. Ticket prices vary by game and availability, and you'll want to purchase your seats well in advance to ensure availability. If you can't make it to a game, you can tag along on a guided tour of the stadium. Led by employees from the on-site Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum (one of the stops on the tour), these 75- to 90-minute walkabouts take participants to the visiting teams' locker rooms, through the Broncos' entrance tunnel, as well as into the network television production compound and the TV and radio broadcast facilities. Recent visitors described the tour experience as incredible.
Yes, it sounds like something from Parks and Recreation, but disappointingly it actually isn’t. That said it’s only disappointing if you thought you were getting a tour of the office from Leslie. What the Pawnee National Grassland is, well, it’s a chance to hike in some pretty breathtaking, majestic scenery – but it’s not the sort of scenery you’d associate with Colorado.