Why go? Absorb the Beaux Arts aura of the majestic, barrel-vaulted Great Hall while sipping local craft beers in the retro-toned Terminal Bar or cocktails on the mezzanine of the glamorous Cooper Lounge. Score a seat at Stoic & Genuine’s chef’s counter to indulge in sharp twists on seafood classics or treat yourself to a feast at Mercantile Dining & Provision, where farmhouse substance meets cosmopolitan style.
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.
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.
With galleries showcasing more than 70,000 works by famed artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Winslow Homer, the Denver Art Museum houses one of the most impressive collections of art between Chicago and the West Coast. Spread across two buildings, the museum's holdings range from pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary displays with such mediums as painting and sculpture represented. One of the highlights of a visit to the Denver Art Museum is its extensive assembly of western American art, which includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper related to the West going back two centuries.
The International Church of Cannabis is one thing, but the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is another level entirely. Conceived in the mid-19th century and finished by 1911 and costing a cool half a million dollars, this impressive cathedral is a pretty impressive place to visit. It’s the kind of thing you might expect, well, not in the USA, but here it is in all its Catholic glory.
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.
Boulder – Boulder is Denver’s neighbor city, well-known for its liberal-minded and affluent population. The town itself is smaller and pretty quiet compared to Denver but is much closer to the Rocky Mountains. Some of the best attractions near Denver are located around Boulder including the Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon, and Isabelle Lake. Visit Boulder for a chance to get outdoors and play around a bit.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know that you can actually walk along dinosaur tracks? Well, you can and you can do it in this very state. It’s honestly so cool and one of the more… off the beaten track things to do in Colorado. There are over 1,300 tracks making up the Picketwire Canyon Trackway and come from a line-up of famous dinosaurs like apatosaurus and allosaurus.
Why go? Peep iconic modernist furnishings (see: Irving Harper’s marshmallow sofa and Pierre Paulin’s ribbon chair) and exquisite Art Nouveau and Art Deco housewares. Located in the studio of its late namesake, Vance Kirkland, the collection is displayed salon-style—which means that you’re surrounded on all sides by irreplaceable objet d'art as you wander through the galleries. (For better or worse, children under 13 are not admitted.)
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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.
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!
Football fans won't want to pass up the chance to spend some time on the Denver Broncos' home turf. The stadium can hold more than 76,000 NFL junkies across different levels and it boasts something you don't normally associate with football games: several public art displays. Surprisingly, the stadium was built in 1948 as a minor league baseball stadium, but it became home to Denver's football team shortly after, nurturing "Broncomania" since the team was formed in 1960.
With its excellent views of the Rocky Mountains, miles of hiking trails and cinnamon-hued sandstone cliffs, Red Rocks Park is a big draw for outdoors enthusiasts. Occupying 700-some acres, this impressive park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the fascinating geographic transition between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. If you only have a short amount of time here, stretch your legs along the Trading Post Trail; this nearly 1 ½-mile-long path weaves through the rust-colored buttes, making for some spectacular scenery. Before you head out, travelers recommend stopping by the visitor center, which features information on the parks history and trails.