Denver perfectly combines epic sports, tasty eats, high-class art and the great outdoors (with a couple dozen dispensaries and breweries thrown in) into one amazing city. To make the most of your time in the Mile High City, peruse our list of the very best things to do in Denver right now. From unique museums and craft-booze crawls, to top-notch restaurants and outdoor adventures, Denver offers a little something for everyone (with no shortage of awesome things to do). And don't just think Colorado ski resorts are the only reason to fly into Denver: This erstwhile mining settlement is also one of the country's best bachelor party destinations and a bona fide cultural hub. So make a reservation at one of the best hotels in Denver and start planning your trip!
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.
Speaking of couples, here’s an awesome thing for couples to do in Colorado: a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Yeah, yeah, we know, you have to get up super early to actually experience this, but honestly, it’s worth it. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see 100 miles in all directions as you watch the Rocky Mountains gradually light up as the sun rises. You’ll even be able to spot wildlife like deer and coyotes from the basket as you float on by. Awesome.
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.
Why go? You can either shop for vintage wares, weed or both: These days, SoBo is also called the Green Mile, reflecting the influx of marijuana dispensaries. The quirky shopping experience only gets funkier as you head north into the Baker District, where boutiques like Decade, a source for up-and-coming designer labels, skew as hip as the nearby eateries.
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.
Begin your Colorado trip in Denver – that’s the best base, we’d say – by learning about the history in the capital of Colorado itself. The sights here date back to the Old West era and a good place to start is Union Station: it’s not just a transit hub, it’s a vibrant landmark in itself with loads going on. Feels (looks) like Europe. From here walk 10 minutes to the oldest part of the city, Larimer Square.
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.
Combining influences from Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Japan, Korea, California and beyond, Michael Diaz de Leon has been serving seven-course tasting menus four nights a week at @brutodenver. But that’s only half the story. There’s also BOH — which stands for “back of house” — that serves tacos and mezcal from a counter in the alley behind Free Market. Link in bio to read more.
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.
Why not start your trip to Colorado by understanding the history of its capital, Denver? This city is pretty famous for its Old West feel and is full of old architecture and known for tales of gunfighters, crime families and conmen. Go and admire the frontier town atmosphere, take in views of Union Station and other landmark buildings, see what’s going on.
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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.