Denver, Colorado, is a city filled with stunning landscapes, rich history, and a vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an art lover, or a history buff, there’s something in Denver for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 places to visit in Denver, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience in the Mile High City.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Denver
Denver, Colorado, is a city filled with stunning landscapes, rich history, and a vibrant cultural scene, making it an ideal destination for those seeking an unforgettable experience.
Below are the top 10 places to visit in Denver.
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Denver Art Museum
- 16th Street Mall
- Denver Botanic Gardens
- Larimer Square
- Denver Zoo
- Colorado State Capitol
- Mount Evans
- Coors Field
Let’s get into the details of each of these places now.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park, often referred to as the crown jewel of Colorado, is an enchanting wilderness sanctuary located just a short drive from Denver. This natural wonderland covers an expansive 415 square miles, and it’s a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Exploring the Wilderness
As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, their majestic peaks piercing the sky. The landscape is a tapestry of diverse ecosystems, ranging from dense forests to alpine tundra. Hiking is one of the most popular activities here, with over 350 miles of trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re a novice hiker or a seasoned mountaineer, there’s a trail for you.
The park offers an array of hiking experiences, from leisurely strolls through lush meadows to challenging ascents to the summits of 14,000-foot peaks. Notable trails include the Bear Lake Trail, which leads to the serene Bear Lake, and the Sky Pond Trail, which takes you through emerald green forests and past cascading waterfalls. And during the winter months, don’t miss the opportunity to go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in this pristine wilderness.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and even the elusive mountain lion. Birdwatchers will be thrilled to spot species like the Steller’s jay and the golden eagle. The park’s varied elevations provide different habitats for these animals, making each encounter unique.
Within the park, you’ll find a collection of pristine, high-altitude lakes, like Dream Lake and Emerald Lake, reflecting the surrounding peaks. These are perfect spots for a picnic or simply to take in the breathtaking scenery. Many of these lakes are accessible via short, well-maintained trails, making them suitable for families and those looking for a more relaxed outdoor experience.
2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Nestled amidst the majestic rock formations of the Colorado foothills, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a venue like no other in the world. It’s not just a place for concerts; it’s an iconic landmark that showcases the beauty of nature and the magic of live music.
- Natural Acoustics and Views: One of the standout features of Red Rocks is its unparalleled natural acoustics. The amphitheater is designed to capture sound and deliver it to the audience with remarkable clarity. The unique sandstone formations create a near-perfect acoustic environment that has drawn legendary musicians to its stage for decades. Even if you’re not attending a concert, standing in the middle of the amphitheater and speaking will give you an appreciation of its acoustic wonder.
- Concerts Under the Stars: During the summer months, Red Rocks Amphitheatre comes alive with a wide array of concerts and events. From rock and pop to classical music and yoga sessions, there’s something for everyone. Watching your favorite artists perform with the dramatic Colorado sunset in the background is an experience you won’t soon forget.
- Daytime Visits: If you’re not in town for a concert, visiting Red Rocks during the day is equally rewarding. Take a leisurely walk through the amphitheater and enjoy the serene surroundings. You can also explore the nearby Trading Post, which offers a museum, a gift shop, and historical insights into the area.
Don’t forget to hike the Trading Post Trail, a one-mile loop that weaves through the unique red rocks, giving you a close-up look at the geology of the area. Whether you’re here for a show or just to soak in the stunning views, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a place of natural and cultural significance that should not be missed during your visit to Denver.
3. Denver Art Museum
Nestled in the heart of Denver, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) is a cultural gem that beckons art aficionados from around the world. This institution is not just a repository of artistic treasures but a work of art in itself, boasting a unique and striking architectural design. Let’s delve into the details of what makes DAM a must-visit.
The Art Collection
The Denver Art Museum’s art collection is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s renowned for its vast and diverse holdings, making it a captivating destination for art enthusiasts. Notable among its collections is its extensive array of Native American art, one of the most comprehensive in the world. Visitors can explore intricate pottery, stunning textiles, and beautiful beadwork that tell the stories of indigenous cultures.
Western American art is another highlight, showcasing the history and culture of the American West. This collection includes iconic works of art, such as depictions of cowboys, Native Americans, and pioneers. It’s a journey through the region’s history and its artistic interpretations.
The museum doesn’t stop there; it houses artworks from across the globe, offering a comprehensive view of art history. From European masterpieces to Asian treasures, DAM’s international collection is a testament to the beauty and diversity of human creativity.
While the art within DAM is captivating, the building itself is an architectural marvel. The Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a work of art in its own right. The building’s avant-garde design features sharp angles and titanium panels that catch the sunlight, creating a dazzling interplay of shadows and reflections.
Libeskind’s design is not just aesthetic but also functional. The unique architecture enhances the visitor experience, with galleries bathed in natural light and interconnected spaces that create a sense of exploration. As you move through the museum, you’ll be treated to unexpected views and a sense of wonder inspired by the building itself.
4. 16th Street Mall
Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare that serves as the city’s beating heart. Stretching for 1.25 miles through downtown Denver, this bustling promenade offers a delightful mix of shopping, dining, entertainment, and vibrant street life. Here’s a closer look at what makes the 16th Street Mall a must-visit destination.
Shopping enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise on the 16th Street Mall. The mall is lined with an array of shops and boutiques that cater to a wide range of interests. From fashion and jewelry to sports gear and unique Colorado souvenirs, there’s something for everyone. You can spend hours exploring the eclectic storefronts and indulging in retail therapy.
The mall is also a food lover’s dream. Its diverse collection of restaurants, cafes, and eateries offers a wide spectrum of culinary experiences. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining, casual bites, or international flavors, you’ll find it here. Enjoy al fresco dining on the outdoor patios and savor delicious meals while taking in the lively ambiance.
Street Performances and Festivities
As you stroll down the 16th Street Mall, you’ll likely encounter talented street performers who add a touch of magic to your visit. From musicians and magicians to living statues, these entertainers contribute to the mall’s vibrant atmosphere. Be sure to check the calendar for special events and festivals, which often take place here, offering a chance to immerse yourself in local culture and celebrations.
The 16th Street Mall is more than just a shopping destination; it’s a microcosm of Denver’s energy and diversity. Whether you’re exploring during the day or evening, you’ll be captivated by the lively spirit of this bustling pedestrian promenade.
5. Denver Botanic Gardens
Amidst the urban landscape of Denver, the Denver Botanic Gardens stands as a serene oasis, offering respite to nature enthusiasts, garden lovers, and those seeking a peaceful retreat. This botanical haven is a harmonious blend of plant diversity, themed gardens, and a striking tropical conservatory.
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a botanical tapestry, composed of a series of themed gardens that cater to various interests. The Shady Gardens, for instance, offer a tranquil escape with towering trees and a cool, lush ambiance. Stroll through the Water Smart Garden, where you’ll discover innovative and sustainable gardening practices.
The Mordecai Children’s Garden is a delightful place for the little ones, featuring interactive exhibits, a treehouse, and a stream for wading. The Rock Alpine Garden showcases high-altitude flora, giving visitors a glimpse of the rugged beauty of Colorado’s mountain landscapes.
The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory
One of the highlights of the Denver Botanic Gardens is the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. This remarkable glass structure houses an extensive collection of tropical and subtropical plants. As you enter, you’ll be transported to a different world, where orchids, palms, and exotic foliage flourish. The conservatory is divided into different climate zones, mimicking the conditions of diverse tropical regions.
Special Events and Exhibitions
Throughout the year, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts a variety of special events and exhibitions. From seasonal flower displays to art installations, there’s always something new to discover. Be sure to check the garden’s calendar for concerts, plant sales, and educational programs that enhance your visit.
The Denver Botanic Gardens is not just a place to admire plants; it’s a place to connect with nature and find tranquility in the heart of the city. Whether you’re an avid gardener or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this botanical paradise will leave you refreshed and inspired.
6. Larimer Square
Larimer Square is a historic gem nestled in the heart of downtown Denver, encapsulating the city’s rich past and vibrant present. This charming block, one of the city’s oldest, is a delightful mix of history, boutiques, restaurants, and a bustling nightlife scene.
A Glimpse into Denver’s Past
Stepping onto Larimer Square is like taking a stroll back in time. The square’s historic buildings, many of which date back to the mid-19th century, have been meticulously preserved. The architecture reflects Denver’s early days, with brick facades, ornate ironwork, and Victorian-era details.
These well-preserved buildings are home to an array of boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops. As you explore the square’s nooks and crannies, you’ll discover unique finds, from fashion boutiques to antique stores, offering an opportunity to take home a piece of Denver’s history.
Larimer Square is not just a feast for the eyes but also for the taste buds. The square boasts an enticing array of restaurants, cafes, and bars. From fine dining establishments that cater to food connoisseurs to casual eateries perfect for a laid-back meal, there’s a culinary experience for every palate.
Whether you’re craving a juicy steak, international cuisine, or Colorado’s famous green chile, you’ll find it here. Enjoy a delightful meal on a patio overlooking the historic square while taking in the lively atmosphere.
When the sun sets, Larimer Square transforms into a vibrant nightlife destination. The bars and clubs come alive with music, dancing, and laughter. It’s a hub for those seeking an exciting evening out, making it a fantastic place for a nightcap or an unforgettable night on the town.
The square often hosts live entertainment and events, ensuring that every visit brings something new and exciting. Larimer Square is more than a historic site; it’s a thriving hub of culture and entertainment in Denver.
7. Denver Zoo
For families and animal lovers, the Denver Zoo is a cherished destination that offers an immersive and educational experience. It’s a place where you can embark on a global wildlife adventure without leaving the heart of the city.
A World of Wildlife
The Denver Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals representing nearly 450 species from around the world. From the plains of Africa to the forests of Asia, you can explore diverse ecosystems and learn about the fascinating creatures that inhabit them.
Themed exhibits bring you face to face with remarkable animals, from majestic big cats to playful primates and colorful birds. Don’t miss the Predator Ridge, where you can observe lions and hyenas, or the Toyota Elephant Passage, home to majestic Asian elephants.
The zoo is not just about animal observation; it’s a place of learning and conservation. Throughout the park, you’ll find informative exhibits and interactive displays that educate visitors about the animals, their habitats, and the importance of wildlife preservation.
For young explorers, the zoo offers hands-on activities and play areas, making it an engaging and educational experience for kids of all ages. With zookeepers on hand to share their knowledge, you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for the animal kingdom.
Special Events and Behind-the-Scenes Experiences
The Denver Zoo frequently hosts special events, from Boo at the Zoo during Halloween to Zoo Lights during the holiday season. These events offer a unique way to experience the zoo in a different light.
For a truly memorable visit, consider booking one of the behind-the-scenes experiences. These tours allow you to get up close and personal with the animals and the dedicated individuals who care for them.
Whether you’re a family with children, a couple looking for a unique date, or simply a wildlife enthusiast, the Denver Zoo promises a day filled with wonder, education, and the joy of connecting with the animal kingdom.
8. Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol, a stately building situated in the heart of Denver, is not just a government seat; it’s a place where history, politics, and architecture converge. A visit to the Capitol offers a journey through the state’s past and an opportunity to appreciate its stunning architecture.
A tour of the Colorado State Capitol is an educational experience that delves into the state’s history and government. As you explore the building, you’ll discover intricate details and art that convey the story of Colorado’s development, from the pioneer days to the present.
The Capitol houses a wealth of historical artifacts and artwork, including murals, sculptures, and stained glass windows. One of the most renowned features is the stunning dome, adorned with a golden eagle and covered in real gold leaf.
The “Mile High” Marker
While visiting, don’t forget to climb the grand steps leading up to the Capitol’s entrance. Here, you’ll find a step that is precisely one mile above sea level. This iconic marker is one of Denver’s most recognizable landmarks and offers an excellent photo opportunity.
To make the most of your visit, consider taking a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the building, sharing fascinating insights into the history, architecture, and government of Colorado. Tours often include visits to the House and Senate chambers, where you can gain a deeper understanding of the state’s legislative processes.
The Colorado State Capitol is not just a place for politics; it’s a living museum where you can appreciate the state’s heritage and the artistry of its architecture.
9. Mount Evans
If you’re a fan of breathtaking scenery and high-altitude adventures, a trip to Mount Evans should be on your Denver itinerary. This remarkable destination offers one of the most awe-inspiring scenic drives in North America and the chance to reach heights that touch the sky.
The Highest Paved Road in North America
Mount Evans boasts the highest paved road in North America, winding its way through an alpine wonderland of pine forests and rugged landscapes. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to ever-changing panoramas of the Colorado Rockies.
The drive itself is an experience, with hairpin turns and steep inclines that add excitement to the journey. Each curve reveals a new perspective, showcasing the dramatic natural beauty of Colorado.
At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views that extend for miles. The entire Front Range stretches out before you, and on a clear day, you can see the Denver skyline in the distance. The feeling of being on top of the world is an experience like no other.
Be prepared for dramatic temperature changes as you ascend. Even in the summer, it can get quite cold at the summit, so dress in layers to ensure your comfort.
For those seeking a more active adventure, there are hiking trails that stem from the summit. These trails lead to high-altitude lakes, tundra environments, and even the opportunity to witness the unique mountain goats that call this region home.
The Mount Evans experience is an unforgettable journey into the natural beauty of Colorado’s high country. It’s a must-do day trip from Denver, offering a chance to connect with the state’s pristine wilderness and experience the thrill of high-altitude exploration.
10. Coors Field
Coors Field, located in the heart of downtown Denver, is a Mecca for baseball enthusiasts. It’s not just a stadium; it’s an icon of Denver’s sports culture, offering exciting games, a lively atmosphere, and stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.
The Home of the Colorado Rockies
Coors Field is the home stadium of the Colorado Rockies, Denver’s Major League Baseball team. A visit to the field provides the opportunity to watch America’s favorite pastime in action, whether it’s a thrilling game or a weekend series.
The stadium’s intimate design brings fans close to the action, creating an engaging and energetic atmosphere. Enjoy the crack of the bat, the cheers of the crowd, and the excitement of each pitch.
What sets Coors Field apart is its backdrop—the magnificent Rocky Mountains. The stadium is designed to maximize the views of the nearby peaks, giving visitors the sensation of being surrounded by Colorado’s natural beauty. As you watch the game, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the mountains against the backdrop of the bright blue Colorado sky.
Coors Field is renowned for its culinary offerings. It goes beyond typical ballpark fare, with a variety of gourmet dining options that rival any top-notch restaurant. Savor local favorites, craft beer, and creative dishes while you cheer on the Rockies.
Before the game or during the seventh-inning stretch, explore the stadium and discover the unique art installations and tributes to baseball legends.
A visit to Coors Field is not just about sports; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the energy and culture of Denver while experiencing the excitement of a baseball game against the breathtaking Rocky Mountain backdrop.
Here are some common questions to help you plan your visit to Denver’s most exciting attractions.
1. What is the best time to visit Denver?
The best time to visit Denver is during the late spring to early fall when the weather is most pleasant for outdoor activities. During this period, you can enjoy mild temperatures, clear skies, and vibrant landscapes, making it ideal for exploring the city’s attractions and the beautiful outdoor destinations nearby.
2. Are these attractions suitable for families with children?
Yes, the attractions mentioned in this article are highly suitable for families with children. Denver offers a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions, and the ones discussed here cater to all age groups. From the Denver Zoo with its exotic animals to Larimer Square for shopping and dining, there’s something for everyone, making it a great family destination.
3. How can I get to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver?
Getting to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver is relatively easy. The park is approximately 70 miles northwest of Denver, and you can reach it by car. Simply take I-70 West to exit 243 (US Hwy 34), and follow the signs to the park’s entrance. The scenic drive is part of the experience, offering picturesque views of the Colorado landscape along the way.
4. Can I visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre when there’s no concert?
Absolutely! The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is open to visitors during the day, and you’re encouraged to explore this iconic venue even when there isn’t a concert or event. Whether you want to marvel at the stunning red sandstone formations, enjoy the natural acoustics, or take a peaceful walk through the park, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a must-visit spot at any time.
5. Is there an entrance fee to the Denver Botanic Gardens?
Yes, there is an entrance fee to the Denver Botanic Gardens. While there is a fee to access the gardens, it’s well worth the investment to experience the beauty of the themed gardens, the serene conservatory, and any special events or exhibitions taking place. Your entrance fee helps support the maintenance and growth of this botanical treasure in the heart of Denver.
Denver, Colorado, is a city with an abundance of attractions that cater to diverse interests. Whether you’re captivated by the beauty of nature, intrigued by history, or seeking cultural experiences, Denver has it all. These top 10 places are just the beginning of what the Mile High City has to offer. Plan your visit, and you’re sure to create lasting memories.