Things to do in Denver, CO

Get Your Bearings in Denver

By Diana Rowe
Denver Expert

See & Do

Things to See

Denver attractions offer something for everyone, from couples to singles to families. Within a 1-mile radius, visit three major sports stadiums with seven professional teams, the nation’s 2nd largest performing arts center, a variety of art and history museums including the History Colorado Center and the Denver Art Museum, a river offering whitewater rafting, Elitch Gardens (theme and water park) and the Downtown Aquarium.

Take It or Leave It:

Don't miss the Denver Zoo's newest exhibit, the Toyota Elephant Passage, a look at the animals of Asia.

Where to Stay

Denver’s hotels are as plentiful as the city’s 300 days of sunshine and mild temperatures. A total of 8,400 Denver hotel rooms are found in its lively downtown, where you can walk to dozens of restaurants, cultural and entertainment attractions, and unique shopping options. Take the free shuttle on the pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall.  Overnight at the historic Oxford Hotel, the Westin Tabor, Four Seasons Denver, or the newest hotel, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Denver. 


A collection of hotels are located near the Denver International Airport, but you'll need a car to get around.

Hot Tips:

VISIT DENVER, the marketing arm of the city, often features hotel deals.

What to Eat

Start with more than 300 downtown Denver restaurants, ranging from regional cuisine featuring local beef, such as steakhouses and barbeque, to Asian, Italian and Latin-influenced dining. Denver’s most popular dining spots are scattered throughout the city in the neighborhoods of Larimer Square, LoDo, Cherry Creek and Highlands, amongst others. Dining experiences range from an elegant afternoon tea at the Brown Palace to international cuisine at Kevin Taylor Restaurant to laidback Italian dining at the chain Maggiano’s Little Italy to burgers at Cherry Cricket to the wildly popular, locally-sourced ingredients on the menu at the Root Down and Linger Denver restaurants in the Highlands neighborhood.      


Denverites love dining out, so restaurant reservations are recommended even on weekdays.

Be Sure to Sample:

Buckhorn Exchange, prime rib at The Ship's Tavern, and the disco brunch at the Corner Office inside the Curtis Hotel.

Places to Party

Whatever your idea of nightlife, Denver has their groove on. Chic lounges and exclusive clubs in Larimer Square and LoDo are made for networking, and you can let your hair down on the pulsating dance floors of the South Colfax Nightclub District. Denver has an impressive live music scene with a constant flow of international and local acts, including the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Take It or Leave It:

Denver's nightlife gets started late, usually after 10:00 pm, but early birds can get a lively sample by hitting happy hour at a wine bar or restaurant.

Hot Tips:

Denver is the King of Beers, so you'll find a surprisingly hopping nightlife at brewpubs throughout the city.

Where to Shop

You’ll only need a pair of comfortable walking shoes to enjoy a day of shopping in Denver. In Downtown, the 16th Street Mall is a mile-long shopping experience lined with unique shops, boutiques, brand name stores and souvenir stores. Venture to Cherry Creek Shopping Center for a high-end designer experience. The “West” lives just 20 minutes from downtown in the city of Golden, where you can enjoy a unique “Old West” shopping experience with western-themed clothing and gifts.

Best Local Souvenir:

Signature Diamond-snap Western shirt at Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Denver Neighborhoods

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.