Must See Denver Attractions
You can't have bragging rights from a Denver vacation until you see these sights. Warning: it may take more than one visit! Here are two dozen of Denver's Mile High Must-Sees, arranged by location.
And be sure to check out our Neighborhood Guides to discover Denver's must-see neighborhoods.
The Brookings Institution ranks Denver as the fourth most walkable downtown in the nation. You can save on shoe-leather by riding the free shuttle bus on the 16th Street Mall – it makes everything downtown easy to reach.
Colorado State Capitol www.state.co.us
Stand exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile high!) on the west steps, then climb to the rotunda for a panorama of snowcapped peaks. It is against state law to block the view of the 200 named mountains visible from the dome. Free tours on weekdays. The Capitol Dome will be undergoing major structural renovations for 2-3 years and not offering tours during that time-frame. Help restore the Capitol dome! Learn more about the project or text the word DOME to 50555 to donate $10 to the project. More Info
Denver Art Museum www.denverartmuseum.org
There are two buildings – one a fortress-like structure from Italian architect Gio Ponti, the other, a structure that resembles a titanium crystal with peaks and shards designed by Daniel Libeskind. Inside, find the world's greatest collection of Native American art and 68,000 other art objects, including works from European masters, Old West classics and phenomenal traveling exhibits, including Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico (Feb. 10-April 28, 2013). More Info
The Clyfford Still Museum www.clyffordstillmuseum.org
Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum, which opened at the end of 2011, was founded to promote the late artist's work and legacy. Still's estate - 2,400 artworks - has been sealed off from the public since 1980. More Info
U.S. Mint www.usmint.gov/mint_tours/index.cfm?action=StartReservation
Learn how to make money! The Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one stamped with a little "D" for Denver. Free tours show every step in the process of turning a dull, blank, metal slug into shiny pocket change. Reservations recommended.
History Colorado Center www.historycoloradocenter.org
The History Colorado Center, one of Denver’s newest cultural attractions, is designed to ignite imaginations of all ages about Colorado history through high-tech and hands-on exhibits, programs for children and adults, and special events. More Info
The Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center www.denverconvention.com
The Colorado Convention Center is home to “I See What You Mean,” AKA the giant blue bear that peers into the Center’s interior. Created by Colorado-based artist Lawrence Argent, the curious blue bear stands 40 feet tall – you can walk under it and get a great photo. More Info
16th Street Mall - Pedestrian Mall
Lined with 200 trees and 50,000 flowers, this festive, mile-long pedestrian promenade has 28 outdoor cafes and offers Denver's best people-watching. I.M. Pei designed the gray and pink granite pathway to resemble the pattern of a diamondback rattlesnake. Hop on the bus – they're free and stop on every corner. After dark, horse-drawn carriages clatter up and down the Mall. More Info
Larimer Square www.larimersquare.com
This trendy block of Victorian buildings is home to chic shopping, dance clubs, a comedy club, outdoor cafes and a dozen of Denver's best restaurants. For 40 years in downtown Denver, it's hip to be at the "Square." More Info
LoDo Historic District www.lodo.org
Denver's happening historic district is filled with turn-of-the-century warehouses, now home to 90 brewpubs, sports bars, restaurants and rooftop cafes. Stop by Rockmount Ranchwear for a snap button Western shirt at the store where they were invented; browse from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Bookstore; listen to jazz at El Chapultepec, one of Esquire Magazine's 50 best bars; or sip a handcrafted beer at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver's first brewpub opened by former Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor), John Hickenlooper. More Info
Confluence Park www.greenwayfoundation.org
Denver was founded here as a gold mining camp in 1858. Today, the river park is the heart of Denver's 850-mile bike trail network, and is surrounded by attractions. Gear up for the mountains at the REI Flagship store; ride the Platte River Trolley to the Downtown Aquarium to see stingrays and sharks and The Children's Museum of Denver, with dozens of interactive "playscapes" for younger kids; eat and drink in the nearby neighborhoods of Riverfront, LoHi and Highlands; or scream your head off on the Mind Eraser at Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park – Denver's downtown theme park.
Denver's largest park has several lakes, spectacular mountain views, flower gardens and a hiking/jogging trail that is exactly one mile high.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science www.dmns.org
The fourth largest museum in the U.S. is a maze filled with treasures of the earth – dinosaurs, dioramas, space exhibits, science experiments, a digital planetarium, IMAX theatre and touring shows. More Info
Denver Zoo www.denverzoo.org
Lions and tigers and bears – and so much more, on lovely grounds make this the fourth most popular zoo in America. Go underwater with polar bears at Northern Shores, or eyeball-to-eyeball with a gorilla in Primate Panorama. Predator Ridge recreates the plains of Africa with a pride of lions, while Tropical Discovery is rainforest teeming with crocodiles and gila monsters. The zoo's biggest new addition is Toyota Elephant Passage, a phenomenal 10-acre home for the Zoo's elephants, gibbons, rhinos and more, all in the heart of a re-created Asian village. More Info
This tree-shaded neighborhood is just two miles from downtown and easily accessible by bike on the Cherry Creek Bike Path.
Cherry Creek Shopping District
More than 500 department stores, boutiques, galleries, spas, and one-of-a-kind shops grace this browsing paradise – the largest concentration of stores between St. Louis and San Francisco. Cherry Creek Shopping Center is an ultra upscale mall with Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Tiffany's, while across 1st Ave., Cherry Creek North offers tree-line streets with cafes, spas and galleries amidst fountains and public art.
Denver Botanic Gardens www.denverbotanicgardens.org
This 23-acre oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens (some 33,000 plants), as well as one of the nation's top 10 conservatories. Relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the new Mordecai Children's Garden. Don't miss Catalyst: Colorado Sculpture, a phenomenal open-air art exhibit on view through Jan. 12, 2014. More Info
Colorado's first capital celebrates its Old West history and mountain location with a trendy downtown filled with galleries and recreation shops. Sip a beer at an outdoor café, while kayakers float by on fast rushing Clear Creek.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitors Center www.redrocksonline.com
Carved from towering red rock monuments, this 9,000-seat arena is one of the world's most renowned concert venues and has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. Listening to a concert here is on the "bucket list" of every true music fan. When there's no concert, the Visitor Center has a museum and Performers' Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks. More Info
Coors Brewery Tour http://www.millercoors.com/who-we-are/locations.aspx
"Taste the Rockies!" The world's largest brewing site still uses the same Rocky Mountain spring water that Adolph Coors discovered in 1873. Free, self-guided tours show every step in the brewing process, and end with free samples for those over 21. More Info
Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave www.buffalobill.org
Welcome to the Wild West! Buffalo Bill Cody's exciting story as Pony Express rider, army scout, buffalo hunter and showman comes to life at this fun museum, high atop Lookout Mountain. Enjoy views of the snowcapped Rockies in one direction, the Great Plains in the other. For those with strong nerves, drive to the museum on the hairpin Lariat Loop Drive ... then continue to I-70, exit 250, to see a live herd of buffalo. More Info
Colorado Railroad Museum www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org
Surrounded by towering Western buttes, the Colorado Railroad Museum combines a spectacular location with more than 100 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, cabooses and cars. Exhibits include a working Roundhouse, model railroads, photographs and artifacts, much of it housed in a replica of an 1880s-style depot. Train rides every Saturday on the Galloping Goose take guests on a third of mile loop of track, while "Steam ups" and special events including "A Day Out With Thomas" occur throughout the year. More Info
Within An Hour From Denver
Central City & Black Hawk www.cityofblackhawk.org
These two old gold mining towns (once known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth") have come alive with casino gambling. Two dozen casinos rock 24-7 with 10,000 slot machines, poker, black jack, roulette and craps. The surrounding hills are covered with abandoned gold mines, Victorian buildings and Old West history. Located 34 miles west of Denver. More Info
Nestled in a steep mountain valley, the "Silver Queen" is one of Colorado's most elegant mining towns with 200 Victorian buildings. Ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad over a 100-foot high trestle to neighboring Silver Plume, tour historic homes and shop on the quaint Main Street that has been used in films by Clint Eastwood and John Denver. Located 42 miles west of Denver on I-70. More Info
Echo Lake and Mount Evans www.mountevans.com
The highest paved road in North America climbs 9,000 feet from Denver, passing through five life zones en route to the 14,264-foot high summit. This is one of Colorado's 54 fourteeners (peaks that climb to 14,000 feet and above), and one of only two in the nation that you can drive up. Stop at Echo Lake along the way for hiking trails, fishing, picnic tables and an unusual eight-sided log cabin restaurant. At timberline, the Denver Botanic Gardens maintains a trail that winds through wildflowers. Due to snow, the Mount Evans Highway is generally open to the top only between Memorial Day and Labor Day. More Info
Home to the University of Colorado, Boulder has been described as the "the city nestled between the mountains and reality." A recent study pegged it as the "happiest" city in America. You'll find out why when you stroll past the shops, cafes and street performers on the Pearl Street Mall, or take a hike on the city's 200 miles of trails. Nearby attractions include the National Center for Atmospheric Research with a museum on weather and global warming, and towering Eldorado Canyon State Park, one of the most famous technical climbing centers in America. Boulder is 27 miles from Denver on Hwy. 36. More Info
If You Have A Full Day
Rocky Mountain National Park www.nps.gov/romo
Colorado's No. 1 attraction is 71 miles from Denver and offers an unforgettable trip into the heart of the Rocky Mountains. More than 350 miles of trails meander to valleys of wildflowers, thundering waterfalls, high alpine lakes and craggy, snowcapped peaks. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous highway in the world with panoramic views in all directions. See elk, moose and big horn sheep, while hawks and eagles circle overhead. At the entrance to the park, the historic resort village of Estes Park offers shopping and dining. More Info