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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you’re away with kids, the top priority (basically) is to keep ’em entertained and at Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you can do just that. We mean, what pre-teen adolescent doesn’t love space? Or dinosaurs? Because there’s plenty of all that stuff going on here. The planetarium is pretty cool actually. It even makes for one of the best things to do in Colorado when it rains because there’s nothing worse than getting totally rained off indoors with bored, restless kids practically scuttling up the walls of your hotel.
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.
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.
Start your day the right way at Denver Diner. This is a classic, classic place that’s open 24 hours a day and offers up a huge speciality breakfast (one is called “Stoner’s Delight” FYI). Suitably stuffed, roll yourself for 6 minutes to Denver Mint. Opening at 8am, this place is literally the only place that still produces American coinage. Pretty cool to see it all happening. Tip: it’s closed Fridays and the weekend.
If a Jeep or other 4×4 just won’t cut it for you, and you’re actually more of an outdoors person who likes to be in it rather than just drive through it, how about climbing? Garden of the Gods also has some absolutely awesome climbing routes (Montezuma’s Tower is ah-mazing) and makes for one of the best adventurous things to do in Colorado. We mean, how could you not get better views of this stunning location without climbing up high? It’s not just for veteran climbers: people with different experience levels can get on board with this one.
Past visitors raved about the Denver Art Museum, praising its diverse and varied collections and the museum's ability to appeal to kids through interactive activities. Reviewers also recommend perusing the museum's gift shop for some unique and interesting finds. If you don't make it here on your own, you'll find that the museum is a popular stop on many of the best Denver tours.