Things to do in Denver, CO

Get Your Bearings in Denver

By Christine Loomis
Denver Expert

See & Do

Things to See

Outdoor activities, cultural pursuits and sporting events all are among Denver’s best attractions—reflecting a city where much of life takes place outdoors, yet arts are also front and center. Red Rocks Amphitheater, combining both, should not be missed. Ditto Denver Art Museum, where exhibits are enhanced by the museum's unusual architecture and design. Miles of bike paths and a forward-thinking rental program make it easy for residents and visitors to ditch the car and bike to attractions, many clustered around the downtown area including History Colorado Center, Elitch Gardens and Coors Field.

Take It or Leave It:

Denver Art Museum offers stellar family and children's programs. Ask about the loaner backpacks.

Hot Tips:

Many museums and other venues have free days; check the SCFD (Scientific & Cultural Facilities District) online calendar.

Where to Stay

Denver hotels range from historic to contemporary, boutique to grand, moderate to luxury. For convenience it's hard to beat downtown, where guests can walk to restaurants and attractions. Downtown hotels include Hotel Teatro and Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center, housed in the renovated historic Colorado Bank Building, and The Crawford Hotel, a boutique gem tucked into the meticulously renovated Union Station. It's not only about luxury, though. Denver has value-oriented hotels, too. The JW Marriott in Cherry Creek may be the best hotel for combining a city stay with shopping, while airport hotels give business travelers great convenience.


If you stay at a hotel near Denver International Airport, you'll need a car to get around.

Hot Tips:

Check online websites and call the front desk of hotels you like as deals often differ depending on the source.

What to Eat

Denver is one of the country's fastest growing cities, and nowhere is that more evident than in the city's restaurant scene. Chefs are moving to Denver for the quality of life it offers and bringing their creative dining concepts with them. Coohills, Stoic & Genuine and Mercantile Dining & Provision are contemporary and sophisticated in downtown locations. The Market on Larimer Square is perfect for a casual meal or coffee and dessert, and one of Colorado's popular Mexican food carts established a sit-down restaurant, Comida, in the up-and-coming RiNo area just north of downtown.  


Reservations are almost always needed for popular restaurants, even on week nights.

Hot Tips:

Some restaurants validate for parking at nearby lots and garages; ask.

Be Sure to Sample:

The Nickel offers a charcuterie list, similar to sushi lists, of meats, cheeses and more. Just check off what you want.

Places to Party

Denver's nightlife shines as bright as the stars on a summer evening in the Rockies. The pulsing dance floors of the South of Colfax Nightlife District draw a young crowd, as do many clubs in LoDo. But not all who stay up late are in their twenties! Denver offers nice late-evening options, such as wine bars and music and dining venues, with a more sophisticated vibe. If boot-scootin' boogie is more your style, the Grizzly Rose has dance lessons and dance floors, to say nothing of a mechanical bull, just off I-25.


Late at night in LoDo the young crowd spills onto the streets, many having over imbibed. If this isn't your scene, choose a different part of town.

Take It or Leave It:

El Chapultepec, near Coors Field, is one of Denver's oldest jazz clubs and still going strong. It's funky but worth checking out.

Hot Tips:

The clubs that are part of the SoCo Nightlife District may have deals for entry at multiple venues.

Where to Shop

Denver's neighborhoods offer a wealth of options for shopping. Downtown's Larimer Square is one city block packed with interesting shops and with restaurants where you can take a break between purchases. First Friday Art Walks through the Santa Fe arts district will likely yield great finds and maybe new friends. In Cherry Creek, shoppers can opt for the traditional mall or Cherry Creek North, where pleasant streets are lined with individual shops and businesses as well as some boutiques with familiar (national chain) names. LoDo, including Union Station, still has Colorado-only stores and galleries with a nicely local aesthetic.

Take It or Leave It:

Check out the online events listing for Cherry Creek North, which lists dates for trunk shows and other fun events.

Best Local Souvenir:

One-of-a-kind artwork from galleries in the Santa Fe arts district or LoDo.



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Things to do in Denver

Denver is known for...

Five of Denver's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Outdoor Recreation:

Denver's location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is the key to a wealth of outdoors activities. Hiking Colorado's 14,000 ft. peaks is a challenging way to reach the clouds and plenty of mountain biking is less than an hour from downtown Denver. Rock climbing, both indoors and out, is a favorite pastime as well. Come winter the legendary ski scene kicks in and with it more slopes than you can shake a snowboard at. And let's not forget the city itself where a commitment to open space, city parks and recently upgraded bike paths mean you can run or bike to many of the best parts of Denver, all in the scenic backdrop of Mount Evans and other Front Range Peaks. 

2. Pro Sports:

Denver regularly rates as one of the very best sports towns in America and for good reason. NFL football's Denver Broncos call the Mile High City home, where local icon John Elway resonates in the memory of all sports fans. There may be no more beautiful baseball park than Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, where sunset views over the Front Range go perfect with a hot dog and a cold beer. Hockey fans get a triple dose of ice action, with the pro franchise Colorado Avalanche but also the elite college programs of Denver University and Colorado College. There's also Major League Soccer and the Colorado Rapids and even a pro lacrosse team, the Mammoth. And all this doesn't include the fact many world class runners, triathletes and cyclists call the Denver metro area home!

3. Unique Airport:

Spacious, modern and efficient, Denver's airport has become an industry standard for quality. Visually, the airport is decorated with mountain art and Colorado aviation history, all housed in a multi-level building with ceilings as spacious as the Rocky Mountain sky. The exterior roof is made to mimic the Front Range skyline. Humming away in the background is the nation's most modern and efficient luggage transport system, which means travelers rarely have to wait for bags. Security is also cutting edge and speedy, a good thing to know for those who are prone to procrastination. Say hi to our towering, wild, blue bronco statue as you leave the airport and head for downtown Denver!

4. Being the "Mile-High City":

It's true, Denver is located just over 5,280 feet above sea level. But unlike the nearby mountains, Denver's unique location at the foot of the Rockies means a majority of storms have run their course before coming to town. The result: over 300 days of sunshine per year and a temperate climate with a few seasonal cold snaps. The thinner air is a boon for athletes whose aim is to make their bodies more efficient. It is worth noting that there aren't any mountains in Denver proper, so streets, neighborhoods and navigation are well laid out over a flat grid. If you are a first time visitor, make sure to find a good place in town (City Park comes to mind) to catch a blazing, orange Rocky Mountain sunset -- there's nothing like it!

5. A Young Population:

Denver's positive vibe and energy comes from the people who call it home. Many transplants come to Denver for the outdoors opportunities, the trendy but laid-back style and the mindset that there is more to life than just work. With a highly educated and well-traveled population, Denver is equally as ambitious with work as it is play. Several major tech companies call the Mile High City home and both the travel and outdoors recreation industries are major anchors in the city. The vibrant nightlife adds to the fun. Denver is a city of possibilities and for those who want to merge the best of both worlds and best of all, we don't have a dress code.