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.
The Denver Botanic Gardens' 24 acres feature a whopping 50 gardens for visitors to explore. This expansive facility in downtown Denver's Cheesman Park treats travelers to a variety of different environments, from a traditional Japanese garden (complete with bonsai trees) to the South African Plaza blooming with exotic plants like asparagus fern and torch lilies. Meanwhile, art aficionados will also appreciate the gardens thanks to the numerous sculptures that grace the grounds; the facility also plays host to touring exhibits that have included works by such artists as Stephen Talasnik and Dale Chihuly.
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.
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.
It might not be the cheapest thing to do in Colorado, but heading up to the Peaks Lounge at the top of the Hyatt Regency is definitely one of the best things to do in Denver at night. The view from up here on the 27th floor of the Hyatt building offers up an immense vista of the city skyline. Have cocktails as the sunsets and watch the buildings of Denver begin to glitter in an urban light show that you really should capture to show off just where you are and what you’re doing. To top it all off, Peaks Lounge has great service (as it should) and an awesome ambience. Definitely one of the best things to do in Colorado for couples, actually.
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.
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.
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!
From Denver Mint hop on the number 5 bus (or get a taxi) and you’ll arrive at Seed & Smith in a matter of 20 minutes or so. Here’s where you can learn all about the world of recently legalised marijuana. It’s a squeaky clean dispensary and much more than just a bunch of stoners selling weed. If you’ve partaken, never fear: there’s a McDonald’s a stone’s throw from here.
Artistic visionaries and the spirit of rogue ingenuity define this route that starts in Denver, winds through the plains of southeastern Wyoming, and finishes in Alliance, Nebraska. It takes you off the beaten path to discover quirky art installations, historic monuments, local flavors, and natural wonders. This route of 11 inspiring spots is certain to spark the autonomous flame for all who take it on.
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!
Looking for what to do in Denver? When you wake up in Denver, adventure awaits. Explore the city's greatest spots. Get local Denver tips on attractions, activities, scenic sightseeing, biking and tours, golf and other destinations. Whether you're a local, here for the weekend or more than a week, discover the best things to do in Denver during your trip. Plus, find the perfect Denver hotel.