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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those who have driven to Mount Evans recommend taking it slow and admiring the scenery, especially around Echo Lake Park. Located about halfway between Idaho Springs and the top of Mount Evans, Echo Lake boasts excellent fishing conditions, as well as picnic facilities and hiking trails. You can also stop by the Denver Botanic Gardens' Mount Goliath location, just beyond Echo Lake. But the views aren't the only reason to take your time along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Recent visitors cautioned others to drive carefully and slowly since there are steep drop-offs; they also recommend dressing in layers as the temperatures fluctuate depending on the elevation.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.