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!
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Why go? Cucci has a knack for designing restaurants that owe some of their success to a quirky backstory. Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is an eye-poppingly risqué tribute to its building’s history, while what was once a mid-century garage now informs the vintage cool of Root Down. Take it all in over a meal that showcases the Edible Beats restaurant group’s focus on earth- and lifestyle-conscious food and drinks. Oh – and if you want to be entertained by more than just delicious edibles, it's worth sneaking a peek at Ophelia’s events calendar, where you'll find everything from singer/songwriter evenings and pizza disco parties to comedy showcases and open mics.
Casa Bonita is possibly the most famous, most outrageous place to eat dinner in Denver, and is one of the very best things to do in Colorado at night. If you’ve never heard of it, get ready to really, really want to go: it’s a replica of a Mexican village in a strip mall. This crazy restaurant seats 1,000 people at a time, makes like you’re in a fiesta the whole time, features puppets, shoot-outs, and crazy characters, making it a pretty, um, special place to dine. There’s cliff diving and a haunted cave, but you probably remember South Park‘s Cartman telling you that.
The Mile High City has been drawing outdoor enthusiasts for years, thanks to the ample powder and abundance of ski trails in winter. When it comes to staying active, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling are just some of the other ways to spend your time in Denver. When temperatures warm in Colorado’s capital, you can enjoy a scenic aerial trip through the mountains on the longest zipline track in the state. Indeed, adventures in Denver are certainly easy to come by. When you’re finding things to do in Denver, however, don’t forget that the City of Plains is also rife with art and culture, including along the Golden Triangle Museum District.
Visiting the Molly Brown House is an architectural gem in itself; it was built in 1887 and definitely takes you back in time. But it’s not just one of the best things to do in Colorado for its admittedly pretty facades. This was the house of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. How’d she get that name, you ask? Simply by surviving the sinking of the Titanic, that’s how. She happened to be traveling alone in a 1st class cabin at the time (a pioneering solo traveler). Pretty amazing – and you can earn all about her here. Perfect for any fan of Titanic.
For an amazing finale to your time in Colorado it’s a 25 minute drive or taxi ride to the wonder that is Casa Bonita. This mad Mexican-themed restaurant-slash-entertainment palace pairs up nicely with the visit to the weed dispensary because, well, it just does. Trust us. Alongside their all you can eat deal, there’s otherworldly treats on offer. Fried ice cream anyone? Stuff your face and watch the cliff divers.
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.
If you came to Denver to experience the Rocky Mountains, you'll want to reserve a day to take a drive up to Mount Evans. In this instance, it isn't the destination that travelers rave about – it's the journey. To get to Mount Evans, you'll have to hop on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, a two-lane road known as the "road into the sky" because of the nearly 9,000 feet of elevation change. At the Mount Evans peak, drivers will be 14,264 feet above sea level. Along the way, you'll find a number of lookout points from which you can admire the view of the Rockies.