1. Watch the Imperial Shrine Parade.
Downtown Denver, July 4.
Hundreds of tiny cars, horse patrols, brass bands, clowns, miniature vehicles of every description and thousands of those oh-so-stylish red fez hats will fill downtown Denver for the gathering of the Imperial Shrine – the world’s largest Shriners parade in 2011. www.shrinershq.org
2. See fireworks accompanied by the patriotic sounds of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Civic Center Park, July 3.
This traditional free concert attracts 20,000 people for blankets on the lawn, picnic dinners and the 1812 Overture, followed by Denver’s wildest fireworks display, turning the City & County Building in a shimmering display of color and light. www.civiccenterconservancy.org
SEE VIDEO FROM LAST YEAR’S CIVIC CENTER PARK FIREWORKS DISPLAY
3. Meet an artist at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.
Cherry Creek Shopping District, July 2-4
Regarded as one of the top juried arts festival in the nation, this three-day celebration attracts more than 300,000 people for food, music and dozens of artist booths, showcasing painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography and jewelry. Free admission. www.cherryarts.org
4. Ride roller coasters and see fireworks at Denver’s downtown amusement park.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, July 4
This family favorite attraction will feature live music and entertainment on the 4th, not to mention a fireworks display lighting up Denver’s nighttime skyline. www.elitchgardens.com
5. Pan for gold at the Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration.
Four Mile Park, July 4
This former stagecoach stop celebrates an old fashioned, Old West Fourth with Civil War cannon firings, horse-drawn carriage rides, gold panning, and home-made treats like kettle corn and ice cream. www.fourmilepark.org
6. Cheer on a Colorado team.
Coors Field, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park & INVESCO Field at Mile High, July 1-3
The Colorado Rockies (July 1-3), Colorado Rapids (July 3) and Colorado Outlaws (July 3) all have games over the weekend – followed by fireworks. www.coloradorockies.com, www.coloradorapids.com, www.denveroutlaws.com
7. Rock out under the stars at Red Rocks.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park, July 2-4
The legendary open-air concert venue boasts a star-studded lineup all weekend, including Glitch Mob (July 2), Umphrey’s McGee (July 3) and a triple bill of Blues Traveler, Matisyahu and Toad the Wet Sprocket (July 4). www.redrocksonline.com
8. Celebrate independence – and old school automobiles.
Olde Town Arvada, July 4
Dust off your hot rod and ride to the Olde Town Arvada Spirit of America 4th of July Festival for a classic car show, fireworks, and a Kids’ Park with an obstacle course, face painting and much more. FREE admission. www.arvadafestivals.com
9. Watch fireworks while riding a historic locomotive through the Rocky Mountains.
Historic Colorado Georgetown Loop Railroad, July 4
Enjoy cowboy BBQ and the Georgetown fireworks show from high up above Clear Creek Canyon. This train has sold out the last three years, so reserve early. www.georgetownlooprr.com
10. Experience an authentic rodeo.
Greeley Stampede, June 24 – July 4
Take a daytrip out to Greeley (49 miles northeast of Denver) for the “world’s largest 4th of July rodeo and western celebration,” featuring pro rodeos, concerts, parades, fireworks, a western art show, a classic carnival, and plenty of family fun. www.greeleystampede.org
More Fun 4th of July Weekend Activities in Denver
· Denver Art Museum – Free day on Saturday, July 2. www.denverartmuseum.org
· Real Pirates at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science – A must-see exhibition featuring pirate treasures recovered from the bottom of the ocean. www.denver.org/pirates
· Native Roots, Modern Form at the Denver Botanic Gardens – Pioneering Native American artist Allan Houser’s bronze sculptures on display in the Gardens’ lush setting. www.botanicgardens.org
· City Park Jazz – Free concert on Sunday, July 3 in City Park, featuring the swinging sounds of the Denver Municipal Band. www.cityparkjazz.org
Denver Hotel Deals: Make a Weekend of It
Great hotel packages at some of Denver’s best hotels are available at www.visitdenver.com/hotels/specials/summer-hotel-packages.