There’s so much going on in Denver this summer, where do you begin? See world-class art exhibitions, experience cultural festivals, catch live music at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre and get a taste of Denver’s thriving food scene.
Here are some top ways to have an unforgettable time. Check out special hotel deals for great weekend getaways.
1~Arts & Culture
Take your pick of blockbuster museum exhibitions. At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, experience true genius at Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius (thru 8/25), the most comprehensive exhibition about Da Vinci ever presented; and learn how and why we sense, including the biological processes of other senses beyond the traditional five in the interactive experience, Our Senses: Creating Your Reality (thru 8/4). Denver’s art scene is thriving. See the paintings of Denver-born artist Jordan Casteel in her first major exhibition, Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze (thru 8/18), as she captures everyday street life in New York City; celebrate the visual, culinary and performing arts at the three-day Cherry Creek Arts Festival (7/5-7/7; free); and explore Denver’s vibrant creative community at First Friday Art Walks.
2~Music & Nightlife
We’ve got music! Take a seat under the stars with more than 130 concerts to choose from this summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and other concert venues; celebrate jazz in a historic neighborhood during the Five Points Jazz Festival (5/18; free); be there for Denver Day of Rock (5/25; free) as bands perform on five stages throughout downtown; see living legends like The Rolling Stones (5/26); feel the beat as the Westword Music Showcase (6/29) rocks the Golden Triangle Creative District; get a taste of Motown queen Diana Ross (7/22); don't miss Denver’s premier indie festival, Underground Music Showcase (7/26-7/28); and see megastar Billy Joel (8/8) as he rounds out the summer.
Ready for some family fun? Head to Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park for some thrills; see world-class art exhibitions at Denver Art Museum (kids under 18 get in free); feed giraffes at Denver Zoo and check out a the latest zoo babies; let your children create and explore at the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus; check out other kid-friendly activities; go on an urban adventure; or take an exciting day trip.
4~Festivals & Special Events
Denver has festivals galore. Experience one of the largest cultural festivals in the state with everything from a parade to a green chile cookoff at the Cinco de Mayo Festival (5/4-5/5; free); get your costume ready for Denver Pop Culture Con (5/31-6/2); see Larimer Square take on vivid pastel hues as artists spend hours on their hands and knees creating chalk-drawn masterpieces at the Denver Chalk Art Festival (6/1-6/2; free); join one of the top 10 pride events in the country at Denver PrideFest (6/15-6/16; free); get a glimpse of the best new TV pilots at SeriesFest Season 5 (6/21-6/26); celebrate Japanese culture at the Cherry Blossom Festival (6/22-6/23; free) see a stunning fireworks show at the annual Independence Eve Fireworks (7/3; free); celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing at Apollopalooza (7/13-7/20); cheer on the competitors and take in the cultural activities at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (7/27-7/28; free); and watch extraordinary street performers take over Wynkoop Plaza at Denver Union Station during the annual Buskerfest (8/1-8/4; free).
The holiday weekends—Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day—are packed with exciting events like Denver Day of Rock (5/25; free), Independence Eve Fireworks (7/3; free), Denver Food + Wine Festival (9/3-9/8), cultural festivals and urban adventures for all ages.
Denver will host several world-class sporting events this summer. Be there for the excitement of Monster Jam (4/27); cheer on the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field; get your heart pumping for a good cause by running the Colfax Marathon (5/18-5/19); see Mexico's national soccer team compete at CONCACAF Gold Cup (6/19); be there as Colorado rides with pride at the Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo (7/12-7/14); and experience the excitement of professional bicycle racing combined at the revamped Colorado Classic (8/22-8/25; free) that features only women racers.
Denver is a year-round outdoor city. Explore exotic wildlife, including Denver Zoo’s Amur tiger exhibit. Or get your thrills at theme and amusements parks, take a stroll in city parks, take a bike ride on the city's vast network of paved trails (you can rent a bike through Denver B-cycle), shoot the rapids with Confluence Kayaks or go for a hike at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre.
8~Food & Drink
Join legendary pitmasters as they serve up world-class barbecue at The Denver BBQ Festival (6/14-6/16; free on Saturday and Sunday) on Father's Day weekend; Slow Food Nations (7/19-7/21; free) is returning with a unique street festival that offers a world of good, clean and fair food for all; enjoy offerings from more 50 area restaurants, 275 marketplace artisans and vendors at A Taste of Colorado (8/31-9/2; free); celebrate the city's famous craft-beer scene during the nine-day Denver Beer Week (9/27-10/05), which culminates in the largest collection of beer ever served at the Great American Beer Festival® (10/3-10/5). Find a new favorite eatery by checking out our Must-Try Restaurants, Romantic Restaurants and Outdoor and Patio Dining pages. Get a taste of Denver’s famous craft beer scene by following the Denver Beer Trail, a self-guided sampling of top breweries. If you’re in the mood for wine, check out Denver’s urban wineries or relax and have a cocktail at various sophisticated, sleek and chic lounges.
Denver is featuring a new ensemble of shows and events like "Wicked" (5/8-6/9) and "Fiddler on the Roof" (6/11-6/16). And hear one of the most beautiful voices in the world as Andrea Bocelli performs with the Colorado Symphony (6/21).
10~Free Things, Hidden Gems & More
Denver's summer is packed with free things to do. Interested in pop culture? Have a rock 'n' roll experience or go see your favorite jam band. Want to get some fresh air? In the mood for shopping? See the city’s shopping options and get lost in the world of boutiques. And beyond the big-ticket attractions is a wide array of hidden gems that make for fascinating excursions.