Best Things to Do in the Denver Area: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Saad Backup
Best Things to Do in the Denver Area
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Are you planning to visit the Denver Area this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in the Denver Area. These scenic sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Welcome to Denver, the Mile-High City that’s not just a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, but a destination worth exploring in its own right. With a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, Denver combines outdoor adventure with urban sophistication. Here, you’ll find a city that’s as rich in history as it is in culture, offering a plethora of experiences from high-end dining to rugged mountain hiking. Among the many things to do in the Denver area, you can enjoy art galleries, attend live music events, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local scene.

Denver is a city where the sun shines over 300 days a year. This makes it one of the sunniest places in the U.S. Denver is also a place where the air is crisp, the people are friendly, and the beer flows like water. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a nature lover, or a foodie, Denver has something for you.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best things to do in the Denver Area, ensuring your trip is nothing short of amazing. From hidden gems to iconic landmarks, we’ve got you covered. So, once you fly into Denver, buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable Mile-High adventure! Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in the Denver Area.

The best things to do in the Denver Area right now
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Best Places to Visit in the Denver Area

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in the Denver Area? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this dynamic vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Denver Area places to visit.

Are you looking to hike in the majestic mountains and cycle along scenic trails? Or would you prefer exploring a vibrant arts and culture scene, with museums, galleries, and diverse culinary experiences awaiting your discovery? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in the Denver Area can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in the Denver Area that you should know about.

1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Looking for the best things to do in the Greater Denver area? This sight is nestled close to some of the nicest mountain towns in the state. Red Rocks Amphitheatre isn’t just another music venue; it’s a rite of passage for concert-goers and musicians alike. Situated 15 miles west of Denver, this iconic location offers a concert experience that’s truly out of this world. Picture this: you’re surrounded by towering red rock formations, the sky above you is a blanket of stars, and your favorite band is playing live. It doesn’t get better than this!

What makes this venue one of the coolest activities in the Denver Area is its natural acoustics, which make every note sound crystal clear. Whether you’re into rock, country, or electronic music, the sound quality here is unparalleled. And it’s not just about the music. The venue itself is a geological wonder, formed from the shifting of the Earth’s crust over millions of years.

During the day, it doubles as a public park where you can hike, have a picnic, or simply soak in the awe-inspiring views. A visit to the amphitheater is one of the best things to do in the Denver Area, offering a multi-sensory experience that goes beyond a typical concert. From the moment you step into this natural arena, you’ll understand why it’s a bucket-list destination for music lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Creating Memories at the Iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre and experience the best things to do in the Denver Area
Creating Memories at the Iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre and experiencing the best things to do in the Denver Area

2. Denver Botanic Gardens

Where to go in the Denver Area to witness a sanctuary of serenity and beauty right in the middle of the bustling city? The Denver Botanic Gardens is the place to be. This lush oasis is a must-visit if you’re looking to escape the urban jungle for a while. With over 24 acres of themed gardens, you’ll find everything from tropical rainforests to arid deserts, all meticulously designed and maintained.

The gardens are a feast for the senses. As you wander through the Japanese Garden, the scent of cherry blossoms fills the air. In the Tropical Conservatory, you’ll be greeted by the vibrant colors of exotic flowers and the soothing sounds of water features. It’s a place where nature and artistry come together in perfect harmony.

For those interested in horticulture, the gardens offer a variety of educational programs and workshops. You can even participate in seasonal events like the Spring Plant Sale or the Blossoms of Light winter display. It’s not just a garden; it’s an ever-changing canvas that showcases the beauty and diversity of the plant kingdom.

The Science Pyramid is an architectural marvel that offers interactive exhibits on the importance of plants to life on Earth. Truly, the Denver Botanic Gardens is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the natural world in all its splendor.

Discover a world of vibrant blooms and serene landscapes at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Nature’s masterpiece awaits your footsteps

3. LoDo Historic District

Step into the LoDo Historic District, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a blend of the past and the present. This is one of those unique places in the Denver Area where 19th-century architecture stands shoulder to shoulder with modern skyscrapers, creating a fascinating urban landscape.

As you stroll down the cobblestone streets, you’ll pass by historic landmarks like Union Station, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece that now serves as a bustling transit hub and social space. The district is also home to Coors Field, where you can catch a Rockies game and soak up the electric atmosphere.

Foodies will be thrilled with the culinary scene in LoDo. From farm-to-table eateries to high-end steakhouses, there’s something to satisfy every palate. And if you’re a fan of craft beer, you’re in luck! The district boasts some of the city’s best microbreweries, offering a taste of Colorado’s booming craft beer culture. You’ll find some of Denver’s top restaurants here.

Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, which features rotating exhibitions from local and international artists. And for a night out, the district offers an array of bars, clubs, and live music venues that keep the energy high until the early hours. This district is indeed one of the coolest things to do in the Denver Area that you shouldn’t miss.

Cobblestone street in LoDo Historic District with historic buildings on a sunny day
Cobblestone street in LoDo Historic District with historic buildings on a sunny day

4. Cherry Creek Shopping District

The Cherry Creek Shopping District is a haven for fashionistas and shopaholics alike. This is where you’ll find some of the best places in the Denver Area to indulge in retail therapy. From high-end designer boutiques to quirky local shops, Cherry Creek has it all.

The district is anchored by the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, a sprawling mall that houses over 160 stores. This includes luxury brands like Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton. Don’t just stick to the mall; venture out to the Cherry Creek North area, where charming streets are lined with independent boutiques, art galleries, and cafes.

Cherry Creek is a treasure trove of gourmet dining options. Savor exquisite sushi at Matsuhisa or enjoy a sumptuous steak dinner at Elway’s. And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, don’t miss the delectable pastries at D Bar Denver.

Denver Area attractions aren’t just about the great outdoors; Cherry Creek proves that the city has a sophisticated side too. After a day of shopping and dining, why not unwind with a spa treatment or catch a live performance at the Cherry Creek Theatre? It’s the perfect way to cap off a fabulous day in Denver’s most stylish district.

 sophisticated shopping area featuring a mix of shops and a relaxed atmosphere
sophisticated shopping area featuring a mix of shops and a relaxed atmosphere

5. Denver Zoo

If you’re wondering about the best things to do in the Denver Area that’s both educational and fun, look no further than the Denver Zoo. Located in City Park, this expansive zoo is home to over 3,000 animals from around the world. This makes it an essential destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

The zoo is divided into several themed areas, each designed to replicate the natural habitats of its residents. From the Predator Ridge, where African lions roam, to the Toyota Elephant Passage, where you can get up close and personal with Asian elephants, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring encounters.

Are you an aquatic life lover? If so, the zoo’s Tropical Discovery is a real treat for you. Walk through a glass tunnel surrounded by exotic fish, crocodiles, and even a komodo dragon. It’s like stepping into another world, right in the middle of Denver!

If you have an appreciation for avian companions, make sure you don’t overlook the Bird World exhibit. Here, you can interact with a variety of birds, from colorful parrots to majestic eagles. It’s one of the coolest activities in the Denver Area, especially for kids.

After a day of animal adventures, grab a bite at one of the zoo’s many eateries, or perhaps enjoy a picnic in the scenic surroundings. The Denver Zoo offers a wild and wonderful day out that’s hard to beat.

Majestic tiger resting in the sun, a sight to behold at Denver Zoo
Majestic tiger resting in the sun, a sight to behold at Denver Zoo

6. Union Station

When it comes to the unique things to do in the Denver Area, a visit to Union Station stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and its vibrant present. This iconic landmark, dating back to 1881, serves as a bustling transportation hub—there’s much more to explore here than just train tracks and platforms.

Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a grand hall that doubles as a social space, complete with plush seating, free Wi-Fi, and even a shuffleboard table. It’s a place where locals and tourists alike can relax, work, or catch up over a cup of artisanal coffee from local favorite, Pigtrain Coffee Co.

For the foodies among us, Union Station is a culinary haven. From the farm-to-table goodness at Mercantile Dining & Provision to the handcrafted cocktails at Terminal Bar, your taste buds are in for a treat. It’s one of the best places to go in the Denver Area if you’re keen on sampling local flavors.

The Crawford Hotel is housed within the station. With rooms designed to evoke different eras of train travel, it’s a unique lodging experience that transports you back in time while offering all the modern amenities.

Union Station isn’t just a stop on your Denver itinerary; it’s a destination in itself, offering a slice of the city’s culture, history, and gastronomy all under one magnificent roof.

A majestic view of Union Station's exterior, showcasing its intricate architecture and bustling surroundings
A majestic view of Union Station’s exterior, showcasing its intricate architecture and bustling surroundings

7. Larimer Square

Don’t miss Larimer Square, where the past and the present collide in the most delightful way. As the city’s oldest commercial block, this area is a must-see in the Denver Area. Picture cobblestone streets lined with historic 19th-century buildings, now home to some of Denver’s most chic boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.

If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll be captivated by the Victorian-era facades that have been meticulously preserved. They serve as a backdrop to a bustling scene of modern life, from street performers to seasonal festivals like the Larimer Square Summer Film Series.

For the gastronomically inclined, this square is a paradise. Award-winning restaurants like Rioja and TAG offer a culinary journey that’s as diverse as Denver itself. Whether you’re craving farm-to-table American or exotic Asian fusion, Larimer Square has it all. It’s one of the best places in the Denver Area to indulge your taste buds.

And don’t forget the shopping! From high-end fashion to unique local crafts, the boutiques here offer something for everyone. As the sun sets, the square transforms into one of Denver’s liveliest nightlife spots, with bars and lounges that cater to every taste.

In short, Larimer Square isn’t just a place to visit; it’s a place to experience. From its rich history to its vibrant present, it encapsulates the essence of Denver in a way few other places can.

Discover the Charm of Larimer Square - Where History Meets Modern Flair
Discover the Charm of Larimer Square – Where History Meets Modern Flair

8. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a treasure trove for the intellectually curious. Whether you’re a science buff or simply looking for Denver Area things to do, this museum has you covered. From the mysteries of the universe in the Gates Planetarium to the wonders of the natural world in the Expedition Health exhibit, there’s something for everyone.

The museum’s Prehistoric Journey exhibit is a particular highlight. Walk through time, from the age of the dinosaurs to the dawn of humanity, and marvel at the lifelike recreations of ancient creatures and environments. It’s a fascinating look at the Earth’s history that both kids and adults will appreciate.

Interested in anthropology? The museum offers a deep dive into various cultures around the world. Explore ancient Egyptian tombs, learn about Native American heritage, or immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of South America. It’s one of the Denver Area attractions that truly offers a global perspective.

If you’re a night owl, don’t miss the museum’s “After Dark” events. These adult-only evenings feature special exhibits, cocktails, and live music. This makes it one of the cool destinations in the Denver Area for a unique night out.

In essence, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science offers a captivating blend of education and entertainment, making it a must-visit for anyone in the Mile-High City.

Discover the wonders of the past and the marvels of nature at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Discover the wonders of the past and the marvels of nature at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

9. 16th Street Mall

Ah, the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare that’s a hub of activity and one of the best places to go in the Denver Area. Designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, this iconic street is lined with hundreds of trees, twinkling lights, and a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It’s a microcosm of Denver’s vibrant culture, all conveniently located in one place.

For the foodies among us, the mall offers an eclectic mix of dining options. From gourmet burgers to international cuisines, your taste buds will thank you. And let’s not overlook the food trucks that add a dash of local flavor to the mix.

Shopping enthusiasts will find a range of options, from high-end boutiques to quirky local stores. Whether you’re in the market for a new wardrobe or unique souvenirs, you’ll find it here.

Street performers, from musicians to magicians, add a layer of entertainment that keeps the atmosphere lively and engaging. It’s one of those Denver Area places to visit where you can easily spend an entire day and still feel like you’ve only scratched the surface.

In a nutshell, the 16th Street Mall is a dynamic, ever-changing space that captures the essence of Denver in a way few other places can.

Urban exploration at its finest on Denver's famous 16th Street Mall
Urban exploration at its finest on Denver’s famous 16th Street Mall

10. City Park

City Park is the epitome of what makes Denver so special: a blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. This expansive green space is one of the coolest activities in the Denver Area, offering a little something for everyone. The park is home to two lakes, historical monuments, and a variety of recreational facilities. This makes it one of the best places in the Denver Area.

City Park is a dream come true for those who love the outdoors. You can jog along scenic paths, paddleboat on Ferril Lake, or simply lounge on the grass while enjoying the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a perfect spot for picnics, and with multiple playgrounds, it’s also a hit with families.

More than just about leisure, the City Park is a cultural hub too. The park hosts a range of events throughout the year, from jazz concerts to food festivals, adding a layer of excitement to your visit. And if you’re a fan of golf, the City Park Golf Course is a must-try, offering 18 holes with a view.

As such, City Park is a microcosm of Denver’s diverse offerings, seamlessly blending natural beauty with urban amenities. A stroll in the park is one of those coolest things to do in the Denver Area that you simply can’t afford to miss.

Discover a world of serenity just beyond the city streets – welcome to the enchanting city park
Discover a world of serenity just beyond the city streets – welcome to the enchanting city park

11. The Art District on Santa Fe

If you’re an art enthusiast looking for unique places in the Denver Area, the Art District on Santa Fe is your go-to spot. This vibrant neighborhood is a treasure trove of art galleries, studios, and cultural institutions. As you stroll down Santa Fe Drive, you’ll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and artistic expressions that encapsulate the city’s creative spirit.

The district is home to more than 30 art galleries and studios, each offering a unique perspective on contemporary and traditional art forms. From abstract paintings to intricate sculptures, there’s something for every art lover here. And don’t miss the First Friday Art Walks, a monthly event where galleries open their doors to the public, often accompanied by live music and food trucks. It’s one of the coolest activities in the Denver Area, hands down.

The district also hosts various cultural events, theater performances, and art classes, making it a hub for creative minds. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or simply an admirer of the arts, this district offers a rich tapestry of experiences that you won’t want to miss.

Denver Area attractions are many, but the Art District on Santa Fe stands out for its commitment to celebrating creativity in all its forms. So, if you’re wondering where to go in the Denver Area for a dose of artistic inspiration, you’ve found your answer.

Artisan at work in The Art District on Santa Fe, painting a canvas that captures the spirit of the district
Artisan at work in The Art District on Santa Fe, painting a canvas that captures the spirit of the district

12. The Downtown Aquarium

If you’re pondering what to do in the Denver Area that’s both educational and fun, look no further than the Downtown Aquarium. This aquatic wonderland offers an immersive experience that’s perfect for families, couples, and solo explorers alike. With over 500 species of marine life, the aquarium provides a glimpse into the mysterious world beneath the waves.

As you meander through the themed exhibits, you’ll encounter everything from vibrant coral reefs to menacing sharks. The “Shipwreck” exhibit is a particular highlight, allowing you to walk through a transparent tunnel surrounded by the ocean’s most fascinating creatures. It’s a surreal experience that makes you feel as if you’ve plunged into the depths of the sea.

The aquarium also features a sumptuous restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that look into a mesmerizing 50,000-gallon tank. Dining here turns into one of the coolest activities in the Denver Area, as you enjoy your meal with sharks and rays swimming by.

Interactive animal encounters are also offered in the aquarium. You can feed stingrays, touch starfish, and even go diving with sharks if you’re certified. It’s a must-see in the Denver Area for anyone keen on marine biology or simply looking for an unforgettable experience.

A captivating snapshot of the massive cylindrical tank inside The Downtown Aquarium, filled with a diverse array of fish species
A captivating snapshot of the massive cylindrical tank inside The Downtown Aquarium filled with a diverse array of fish species

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in the Denver Area

Looking for more content on the top things to do in the Denver Area? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Denver Area:

Is the Denver Area expensive to visit?

Denver offers a range of experiences that can fit various budgets. While some attractions and dining options can be on the pricier side, there are plenty of affordable or even free activities to enjoy. It’s all about how you plan your trip!

What’s the best time to visit the Denver Area?

Spring and fall are often considered the best times to visit Denver. The weather is mild, and you’ll avoid the summer tourist rush. However, if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, the colder months offer a whole different set of adventures.

How many days do I need in the Denver Area?

To truly soak in what this vibrant city has to offer, a 4-5 day trip is ideal. This gives you enough time to explore various Denver Area attractions and even take a day trip to nearby natural wonders.

Exploring Hidden Gems in the Denver Area - Uncover Quaint Towns and Scenic Trails
Exploring Hidden Gems in the Denver Area – Uncover Quaint Towns and Scenic Trails

Is the Denver Area family-friendly?

Absolutely, the Denver Area is incredibly family-friendly. With its mix of outdoor adventures, interactive museums, and family-oriented attractions, there’s something for all ages to enjoy. From exploring the Denver Zoo to experiencing hands-on science exhibits at the Children’s Museum, families can create lasting memories in this vibrant and welcoming destination

Is 3 days in Denver enough?

The answer to whether 3 days in Denver is enough largely depends on what you want to see and do. Denver offers a mix of urban and natural attractions, and while you won’t be able to see everything in just three days, you can certainly cover a lot of ground and have a fulfilling experience. Here’s a general idea of what you could do:

Day 1: Downtown Denver

  • Morning: Start with a visit to the Denver Art Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Afternoon: Walk along the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian street filled with shops, restaurants, and street performers.
  • Evening: Dine in Larimer Square, known for its historic architecture and vibrant food scene.

Nature and Parks (Day 2)

  • Morning: Head to the Denver Botanic Gardens to enjoy some natural beauty.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Denver Zoo or take a short drive to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre for some hiking and stunning views.
  • Evening: Relax in one of Denver’s many craft breweries, which the city is famous for.

Day 3: Day Trip

  • Option 1: Take a day trip to Boulder (about 30 miles away) to explore the Flatirons and enjoy the college-town vibe.
  • Option 2: If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, you could head to one of the nearby mountain resorts, although this would be more feasible with a full day at your disposal.
  • Option 3: Visit the historic town of Golden, which is only about 20 minutes from Denver, to explore the Coors Brewery and enjoy some riverfront activities.

Is there anything fun to do in the Denver Area?

Absolutely! Denver is a hub of excitement, offering a mix of urban and outdoor adventures. From exploring vibrant neighborhoods like LoDo to hiking in the nearby Rocky Mountains, the city is teeming with fun activities. It’s a destination that truly has something for everyone.

Is the Denver Area worth visiting?

Without a doubt, Denver is worth the visit! The city offers a perfect blend of modern urban charm and breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a foodie, or an outdoor adventurer, Denver has a diverse range of experiences that make it an essential destination. Here are some compelling reasons why the Denver area is worth a visit:

  • Outdoor Activities: Denver serves as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, offering a plethora of outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. Nearby attractions like Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre provide unique natural settings for concerts and workouts.
  • Cultural Attractions: The city is home to several world-class museums. This includes the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The performing arts scene is also vibrant, with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts hosting a variety of shows and events.
  • Craft Beer Scene: Denver is often referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” boasting more than 100 breweries. The city’s craft beer culture is one of the most dynamic in the country.
  • Sports: If you’re a sports fan, Denver has plenty to offer. The city is home to several professional sports teams. This includes the Denver Broncos (NFL), the Colorado Rockies (MLB), and the Denver Nuggets (NBA).
  • Historical Sites: The city has a rich history, reflected in its well-preserved 19th-century buildings and neighborhoods like Larimer Square. The nearby town of Golden offers a glimpse into the Old West and is home to the Coors Brewery.
  • Food and Dining: Denver’s food scene is diverse and ever-evolving. It offers a wide range of options from food trucks to fine dining. The city is especially known for its farm-to-table restaurants.

Final Thoughts on Visiting the Denver Area

And there you have it—your ultimate guide to the Mile-High City! From bustling urban centers to tranquil natural spots, Denver is a city of contrasts that never fails to captivate its visitors. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a culture vulture, or someone who simply loves to explore new places, Denver has something for you. It’s a city where every corner holds a new adventure, a new story, and a new experience. Unique things to do in the Denver Area are not in short supply, and each visit promises something different. So why wait? Pack your bags and set off on your Denver adventure today!

The best things to do in the Denver Area for all types of travelers
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