Denver, Colorado is a walkable, outdoor city with 300 days of sunshine, brilliant blue skies and breathtaking mountain scenery. Founded in 1858 as a gold mining camp, Denver is located at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, 5,280 feet (1,609 meters) above sea level – exactly one mile high. Denver offers urban adventures for all ages, spring, summer, fall or winter. Explore The Mile High City without ever needing a car. Getting into the city center is easy with direct rail service from Denver International Airport to Denver Union Station. The 37-minute trip costs $9 each way.
Day One: Sightseeing & Shopping in Downtown Denver
- 16th Street Mall: Built in 1982, the 16th Street Mall is a mile-long pedestrian promenade that runs through the center of downtown and is lined with outdoor cafes and retail shops. Free shuttle buses cruise the Mall and stop at every intersection so it’s easy to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. (The official Denver Tourist Information Center is located off 16th Street at 1575 California St.) http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/denver-attractions/16th-street-mall/
- I See What You Mean "The Big Blue Bear": Created by Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent, this delightful 40-foot (12-meter) sculpture, peers curiously into the Colorado Convention Center. Take a photo or two of this Only-In-Denver icon – he looks good from all angles. http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/denver-arts-culture/denver-blue-bear-artist/
- Shopping at the Denver Pavilions: This outdoor entertainment and shopping destination is located on the 16th Street Mall in the heart of downtown Denver. Featuring 40 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues including a movie theater and a bowling alley. www.denverpavilions.com
- Larimer Square: Complete with glittering lights strung over the city’s most historic block, Larimer Square is charming and elegant with a nightlife that defines hip urban renewal. Victorian buildings house specialty boutiques, lounges and unique chef-driven restaurants. www.larimersquare.com
- Denver Union Station: Denver Union Station has been transformed into a transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment hub, all centered around the boutique Crawford Hotel and new direct rail service from the airport. The station is a gathering place for locals and visitors - eat a breakfast burrito at Snooze, sip a beer at the Terminal Bar, sample the locally sourced cuisine at one of the unique restaurants, or shop a bit.
- Rockmount Ranch Wear: A true Western icon, Rockmount’s original owner, Papa Jack Weil, invented the first western shirts with snaps. The Rockmount building is a historic landmark built in 1909, and today the grandson of Papa Jack still owns the store and sells the authentic shirts to music legends and movie stars. www.rockmount.com
- Tattered Cover Book Store: An independent community bookstore with lots of nooks and crannies offering the intimacy of a smaller bookstore, and with an ample supply of sofas and chairs, readers are sure to feel at home. www.tatteredcover.com
- MCA Denver - Museum of Contemporary Art Denver: MCA Denver is an innovative forum for contemporary art that inspires and challenges all audiences, creating understanding and dialog about art of our time. As Denver’s first institution devoted entirely to contemporary art, MCA Denver is housed in an environmentally sustainable facility designed by David Adjaye. www.mcadenver.org
Spend the afternoon exploring museums in the Golden Triangle Museum District, then relax with some of Denver’s best craft beers.
- Colorado State Capitol: Modeled after the U.S. Capitol, this magnificent landmark is topped by a gold dome. The 13th step on the west side is exactly one mile (1.6 km) above sea level. Free tours are offered Monday through Friday from 10am-3pm. http://leg.colorado.gov/node/1024591/
- Denver Art Museum: See the famous collection of Native American art and explore the bold art inside and out of the Frederic C. Hamilton building, designed by world famous architect, Daniel Libeskind. The museum is free for kids under 18 and free general admission is offered on the first Saturday of every month. www.denverartmuseum.org
- Clyfford Still Museum: The museum showcases the work of Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century and among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum was founded to promote the late artist's work and legacy. Still's estate - 2,400 artworks - had been sealed off from the public since 1980. www.clyffordstillmuseum.org
- Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art: This museum celebrated its grand reopening at its new location in the Golden Triangle Creative District in March, 2018. The museum houses three major collections: paintings by namesake artist Vance Kirkland, fine and decorative art by other Colorado and regional artists and international decorative art. www.kirklandmuseum.org
- History Colorado Center: The Center includes exhibits and programs that tell the stories of Colorado and engage visitors in the past, present and future of our state. Enjoy interactive exhibits like a virtual ride in a real Model T; test your skills on a ski-jump simulator; and set off dynamite in a 1880s hard-rock mine. www.historycolorado.org
- Denver Beer Trail: See why Denver is one of America’s best beer cities at any of craft breweries on the Denver Beer Trail, most in the walkable downtown area. www.VISITDENVER.com/DenverBeerTrail
Insider tip: Mile High Culture Pass: The best way to explore some of the city’s most fascinating attractions for the bargain” price of $32.50 for three-day access. Purchase at the Tourist Information Center or online at www.milehighculturepass.com
Day Two: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, shopping in Cherry Creek and more!
Start the day with a trip west of downtown Denver to see the famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre with some fun stops along the way:
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre: Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a naturally formed, world-famous outdoor music venue just 20 minutes west of Denver and is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world. The Visitor Center features interactive educational displays, a short film documentary on the geologic and musical history, a Performers’ Hall of Fame and delicious food at Ship Rock Grille. Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, natural acoustics and ambience, as well as its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails and the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. www.redrocksonline.com
- Coors Brewery Tour: Come see and taste traditional brewing in the Rocky Mountains! The legendary Coors Brewery in Golden can brew up to 22 million barrels and package up to 16 million barrels annually, making it the biggest single-site brewery in the world. A tour highlighting the malting, brewing and packaging processes, ending with a sampling of Coors fine products and shopping in the gift shop! http://www.millercoors.com/golden-brewery-tour.aspx
- City of Golden: Located at the base of the foothills, Golden was the territorial capital until 1867 and remains one of the most historical towns in the state. An arch spanning the street proudly proclaims that Golden is “Where the West Lives!” http://www.denver.org/about-denver/denver-neighborhoods/golden/
- Taste the Old West: The Fort Restaurant is housed in a replica of an 1830s adobe fur-trade fort and features exotic game and frontier favorites. Open for dinner only. www.thefort.com
- Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave: Enjoy the ongoing and permanent exhibits and displays at the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave. The exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill's life and Wild West shows, American Indian artifacts, antique firearms and other Old West artifacts. The historical complex on Lookout Mountain includes the museum, Buffalo Bill's grave, the Pahaska Tepee gift shop, and a children's activity area. www.buffalobill.org
Spend the afternoon shopping and exploring other nearby attractions:
- Cherry Creek Shopping Center: Cherry Creek Shopping Center offers more than 160 stores and restaurants including, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Stuart Weitzman, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and favorites like Levi’s, Apple, H&M and Forever 21. The “Passport to Shopping” offering discounts at more than 60 stores and restaurants is available by texting “Passport” to 303-502-2002 or visit http://bit.ly/ccpassport. www.shopcherrycreek.com
- Cherry Creek North Shopping District: Just across the 1st Avenue from the shopping center, visit this charming 16 block outdoor shopping and dining neighborhood that is home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants, spas and more. Cherry Creek North is a must-see for the savvy shopper, art lover, or foodie begging for a thrill! www.cherrycreeknorth.com
- City Park: Denver's City Park is home to the Denver Zoo; the Denver Museum of Nature & Science; tennis courts; horseshoes; baseball, football and soccer fields; two lakes; historical monuments and statuary; picnic sites and two playgrounds. http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/sports-recreation/denver-parks/
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science: Explore the Space exhibit, Exhibition Health, gems & minerals exhibit and the Dinosaur exhibition or see what’s playing at the IMAX and planetarium. www.dmns.org
- Denver Zoo: One of the best in the country, the Denver Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals including rare amur leopards, okapi, black rhinoceros, vampire bats, orangutan, Komodo dragons and more! The Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit is the largest bull elephant habitat in the world. www.denverzoo.org
- Denver Botanic Gardens: This oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens, 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 Mordecai Children's Garden. www.botanicgardens.org
Discover some of Denver’s Unique Neighborhoods for the evening: http://www.denver.org/about-denver/denver-neighborhoods/
- RiNo (River North) – RiNo is “where art is made” – a hotspot for creative types, with several uniquely renovated spaces that provide room for culinary and industrial creativity.
- South Broadway – South Broadway is lined with an eclectic mixture of neighborhood taverns, avant-garde clothing stores, art galleries, antique stores, used bookstores, ethnic restaurants, music clubs and more.
- LoHi (Lower Highlands) - Just west of downtown, this neighborhood is characterized by a mix of old and ultra-modern architecture, some of the city's most innovative restaurants and bars, and incredible views of the Highland Bridge and downtown Denver.
Insider tip: Explore on wheels: Try exploring The Mile High City using B-cycle, the city’s bike share program http://www.DenverBcycle.com or try a Pedi-cab www.milehighpedicabs.com or E-tuk http://etukusa.com/
Day Three: Experience the Rocky Mountains
Take a day trip to the Rocky Mountains or a nearby town: http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Located 1 ½ hours northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 400 square miles (1,036 sq. km) of scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles (3.2 km) above sea level. The park has two information centers, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. Estes Park is a resort town on the edge of the park with restaurants and shops. http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/rocky-mountain-national-park/
- Mount Evans: Mount Evans has the highest paved auto road in North America, snaking its way to the 14,260-foot (4,346 m) summit. The road ($10 for a three-day pass) is open only from the Friday before Memorial Day through the first Monday in October, and frequently has snow on it, even in August. The view from the top takes in the entire Front Range. The summit is 60 miles (97 km) from downtown Denver. http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/mount-evans/
- Georgetown: Located just 45 minutes west of Denver, Georgetown is a delightful Victorian village set in a spectacular mountain valley with 200 restored buildings from the 1870s. The main street has shops and restaurants and many of the old homes have been turned into antique stores. The Georgetown Loop Mining & Railroad Park operates in the summer months with narrow gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot (27 m) high trestle with optional tour of a silver mine. http://www.denver.org/listings/Georgetown-Loop-Mining-Railroad-Park/3757/
- Colorado Springs - Pikes Peak Country is located 1 hour south of Denver and features more than 40 attractions centered around 14,000-foot (4,267 m) high Pikes Peak and the city of Colorado Springs. Things to see include the Air Force Academy, one of three United States military colleges; the famous Broadmoor Resort with its lake and three golf courses; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods which has gigantic 500-foot (152 m) high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak. http://www.denver.org/listings/Colorado-Springs-Convention-Visitors-Bureau/3984/
- Fort Collins: Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins offers fabulous recreational opportunities, diverse cultural attractions, a vibrant nightlife scene, and plenty of family friendly activities. Just over an hour drive north on I-25, the town is home to Colorado State University. Explore the city’s 50 parks and walking and bike trails, or go for a whitewater adventure on the Cache la Poudre, a river runner’s paradise from May through September. And of course, no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to the world famous New Belgium Brewery, a must-see for craft beer aficionados. http://www.denver.org/listings/Visit-Fort-Collins/3791/