As Denver continues to safely welcome visitors, The Mile High City is preparing for an exciting fall season. Though, like many things this year, autumn in Denver will look and feel a little different than in the past, there will still be plenty to see and do – from vibrant arts and culture events to blockbuster exhibitions and abundant urban and mountain outdoor recreation. The city’s mild fall climate, world-class attractions and unique events, as well as its attention to community health and wellbeing, make for the ideal combination of safety and fun this season.
Many attractions have taken significant safety precautions, and nearly every event is offering a mix of in-person and virtual options to be as safe and accessible as possible for attendees. Below are several attractions, events and activities people can enjoy this fall in Denver. For more ideas, go to the VISIT DENVER Website.
Full details about Denver’s mandates, recommendations and resources can be found on the City & County of Denver’s website, with even more information on VISIT DENVER’s Clean & Safe Resource Guide. Guests are encouraged to check directly with any businesses, venues, events or activities for specific, up-to-date details before visiting, as information changes regularly.
Attractions & New Exhibitions
Denver is the cultural hub of the Rocky Mountain region. Many of the city’s award-winning cultural facilities have gradually reopened, and their innovative spirit and creativity is shining through once again with new, safe ways to experience indoor and outdoor spaces and new exhibitions.
Field Trip: Denver – As a result of Denver’s successful reopening and its position as a top outdoor city with plenty of urban and mountain adventure, it is an excellent resource for parents, teachers and students who may be hungry for hands-on, outside-the-“classroom” educational experiences. Like everything else this year, field trips may look a little different – but Denver is home to some perfect opportunities to apply what students are learning to real-life. From hands-on history at museums like History Colorado Center and Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to in-person art classes at Denver Art Museum or Denver’s street art scene, to recess reimagined – in the mountains and city parks – there are plenty of options to keep this school year interactive and fun.
Denver Botanic Gardens – As one of the top botanical gardens in the country, Denver Botanic Gardens is an ideal destination for calm, distanced fun. The spectacular 24-acre site offers an unforgettable experience for the whole family, as well as a living laboratory for education and plant conservation programs. For up-to-date safety guidelines, visit the Gardens’ website.
Glow at the Gardens, October 19-25, 2020
This beloved annual event – reimagined for 2020 – is an eerie evening of luminous displays and live performers. This year’s event will be a one-way path through a spooky, illuminated landscape full of performing artists, jack-o-lanterns and more.
Dia de los Muertos, October 28 – November 2, 2020
The Gardens’ annual celebration of the holiday includes both onsite and virtual offerings. The on-site altar showcase will offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the rich history and long-standing traditions of this beautiful celebration. The virtual Day of the Dead celebration will offer at-home fun for the whole family, including coloring pages, sugar skull workshops and a virtual mercado.
From the Vault: Wonders and Oddities from the Gardens’ Collections, September 26 – November 8, 2020
This new display will present some of the most beautiful, interesting and unique objects in the Gardens’ collections – most exhibited for the very first time.
Denver Zoo – As an almost entirely outdoor venue, the Denver Zoo was one of the city’s first attractions to reopen. The more-than 80-acre space is home to 4,000 animals; and this fall is the last chance to see the Zoo’s outdoor exhibition - Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks. For a full list of Denver Zoo’s safe reopening practices in video or PDF format, visit the Zoo’s website.
Boo at the Zoo: Storybook Safari, October 1-31
Denver Zoo will present a safe and socially distanced Halloween celebration throughout the entire month of October. Throughout the Zoo’s 84-acre campus, classic animal stories and fairy tales will come to life with costumed characters, mythical creatures, unforgettable animal experiences and festive food and drink.
Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks, through November 1, 2020
Featuring more than 15 nature-inspired creations by artist Sean Kenney, this award-winning exhibit invites guests to connect to nature and the world’s rarest species through life-size and larger-than-life plant and animal sculptures, placed throughout the Zoo and made entirely of LEGO® bricks. The sculptures – which highlight a number of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species – took nearly one million LEGO® bricks to create.
History Colorado Center – The History Colorado Center is an experiential museum that makes history fun and interactive. Guests can explore permanent exhibitions alongside traveling and seasonal displays. A full list of new protocols can be found on the History Colorado website.
Hecho in Colorado, through Jan 10, 2021
Hecho en Colorado honors the artistic achievements of a community whose impact continues to shape Colorado culture. See historically significant paintings, sculptures, textiles and writings from Colorado's Chicano/Mexican American community, including prominent figures like Carlota Espinoza, Carlos Fresquez and David Ocelotl García, as well as selections from up-and-coming artists.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science – Denver Museum of Nature & Science kicked off 2020 by announcing one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of all time – displayed in a new exhibit, After the Asteroid: Earth’s Comeback Story. In addition to this new discovery and their regular collection, this fall the museum will feature The Art of the Brick and Dogs! A Science Tail. For new policies, hours and more, visit the museum’s website.
The Art of the Brick, through January 24, 2021
Renowned contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya has taken LEGO® bricks from beloved toys to artistic marvels. Sawaya’s original artworks and his reimagined versions of famous masterpieces from art and culture, such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and the Venus de Milo, have impressed visitors worldwide.
Dogs! A Science Tail, through January 3, 2021
This exhibition highlights the extraordinary ways dogs see, hear, and smell their surroundings and explores why humans and dogs are best friends. Experiences range from listening to hidden sounds that dogs can hear but humans can’t, excavating replicas of fossils to determine if they belong to wolves or dogs, walking a dog through an interactive neighborhood to understand how pets strengthen the community, and testing your pop-culture knowledge during a game of “Jeopawdy!” based on the show Jeopardy.
Denver Art Museum – Denver Art Museum is currently showcasing many of its regular gallery collections; and it will also host blockbuster traveling exhibition, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, this fall. For a detailed list of the new protocols, including timed entry tickets, visit the museum’s website.
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, October 25, 2020 – January 17, 2021
This traveling exhibition will explore the Mexican modernism movement through more than 150 paintings and photographs by internationally celebrated artists Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Gunther Gerzso, María Izquierdo, Carlos Mérida and others. Take a closer look at the role art, artists, and their supporters played in the emergence of national identity and creative spirit after the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920.
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum – Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is Colorado’s Official Air & Space Museum. Housed at the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Wings is dedicated to educating and inspiring all people about aviation and space endeavors of the past, present and future. Visitors will find more than 50 aircraft on display, thrilling flight simulator experiences and an enrichment program dedicated to the expansion of aerospace education in Colorado. For information on safety practices and timed tickets, visit the museum’s website.
WWII and You, opened September 19
To commemorate the 75th Anniversary, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum launched WWII and You. Demonstrating the lasting effects “the war to end all wars” still has today the new exhibit includes historically-significant artifacts and takes a fascinating look into how the technological developments of World War II are still affecting lives 75 years later.
Lest We Forget: WWII, opened September 19
Wings’ second exhibit is the remarkable sculpture by World War II aviator Major Fredric Arnold, USAAC (Ret.). It honors, preserves and promotes the heritage of the American combat pilots for future generations. In the sculpture, three bronze figures represent the more than 88,000 airmen who died in WWII combat and capture the valor and spirit of loyalty, sacrifice and fellowship that motivated these young men to come to the defense of their country and preserve its freedom.
Harvest Week, September 23-October 4, 2020
An annual celebration of Colorado’s exceptional agricultural products, produce, wine, beer, distilleries and more, Harvest Week will bring together some of the Front Range’s most beloved chefs and restaurants – all with the guiding mission to give back to the local culinary community. To help make Harvest Week safe and accessible for all guests, this year’s format will return to the event’s original framework with participating restaurants offering special on-premise Harvest Week menu items and cocktails using Colorado ingredients.
Denver Beer Week, October 9-17, 2020
Denver’s largest celebration of all things beer returns in 2020 with more than 160 beer-centric events around the city. Still taking place in the nine days leading up to and including Great American Beer Festival, breweries, taphouses and various venues will feature tap takeovers, rare beer tappings, firkin nights, beer and food pairings and more.
Great American Beer Festival (GABF), October 1-18, 2020
This year’s 39th Annual GABF will include a two-day online experience on October 16-17, in addition to exclusive on-site deals at more than 1,000 breweries from all 50 states from October 1-18. Access to both the virtual and in-person events is included with the brand-new GABF Festival Passport.
Denver Arts Week(end), November 6-8
This year’s Denver Arts Week will become Denver Arts Week(end) this year, but it will still celebrate all things art in The Mile High City. There will be in-person, virtual and hybrid events at galleries, museums and art districts throughout the city, spanning all genres – from visual to performing arts, film and literature, music and more. There will also be discounts and deals available on local art.
43rd Annual Denver Film Festival, October 22 – November 8
This year’s Denver Film Festival will bring official selections, exclusive filmmaker conversations, bonus content, special guests and more to an entirely virtual platform, making the event more accessible than ever. There are various passes available – from an All-Access Pass to four or 10 ticket packs. Film screenings and additional event details will be announced in the coming months.
Denver’s culinary scene has been booming and gaining national recognition over the past several years; and, this year, five Denver chefs, makers and restaurateurs were named Nominees for the prestigious James Beard Awards. Denver is determined to keep the culinary momentum going. While plenty of restaurants are still offering to-go and delivery options, many of them are open for dine-in service, and taking full advantage of Denver’s 300 days of annual sunshine with creative new patio options.
Larimer Square – Denver’s most historic block is also one of its most popular shopping and dining districts. In order to comply with the most updated guidelines from health officials, the city has closed down the street for the full block to allow extended patio dining at some of Denver’s top restaurants. Now, diners can enjoy award-winning meals from places like TAG, Rioja and Bistro Vendome under the stars and the twinkling lights of Larimer Square.
The Source Hotel & Marketplace – Denver’s first market hall is taking the experience outdoors this fall. What was the parking lot is now an outdoor dining and lounge area with geodesic domes, patio chairs, umbrellas and cocktails and food from one of the artisan marketplace’s six restaurants, cafés and bars- perfect for enjoying Denver’s 300 days of annual sunshine.
Denver Central Market – This gourmet food hall showcases 11 of Denver’s top chefs and culinary artisans. Located in RiNo (River North) Art District, the marketplace has extended its outdoor dining options to the adjacent parking lot – with tents and picnic tables for people to enjoy the myriad of offerings it boasts, from salads and hand crafted cocktails to an oyster bar and chocolatier. The parking lot is surrounded by striking murals created during the neighborhood’s annual international street art festival, CRUSH WALLS, and some of the local artists have even adorned the tables with their work.
Glenarm Place – The closed-off streets at Glenarm Place, branded as the Glenarm Patio, became the first communal outdoor dining area in Denver. Glenarm Patio, located between 15th & 16th Streets in upper downtown now serves as additional, socially-distanced patio seating for both locally-owned and national restaurant tenants at Denver Pavilions.
Free Outdoor Parks, Activities and Recreation
Street Art - As a result of CRUSH WALLS – an annual, international street art festival held in Denver – and various other public art initiatives around the city, Denver has developed a concentrated and thriving street and public art scene, leading AFAR magazine to name it the “Street Art Capital of the Country.” Visitors can take self-guided walks and tours to check out murals and works of public art in the city’s diverse neighborhoods, from RiNo Art District to the Art District on Santa Fe and more. For a full list of neighborhoods, go to the VISIT DENVER website.
Parks & Rec – The Mile High City boasts more than 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways, which include 2,500 urban natural acres, more than 300 acres of designated rivers & trails and an additional 14,000 acres of spectacular mountain parks. Whether visitors create a picnic feast or select their favorite recreation activity, there is no shortage of outdoor, distanced space to enjoy for free or very low cost.
Base Camp: Denver – Denver also serves as the gateway to the nearby Rocky Mountains; and it is a perfect base camp for a day trip to experience the outdoors – especially during one of Colorado’s most scenic seasons, autumn. Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park is open to visitors on a reservation basis and features 400 square miles of scenic beauty, including the legendary aspen trees that swath the park’s landscape in golden leaves each fall. The wilderness area includes 359 miles of hiking trails, 150 lakes, 60 mountains taller than 12,000 feet, and the opportunity to see elk, bighorn sheep, and moose.