Colorado is full of fantastic cities to visit. From Colorado Springs to Grand Junction, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained across the state. However, Denver definitely takes the cake. As the capital of Colorado, Denver has the best attractions and activities for every type of vacation. If you are looking for things to do in Denver, keep reading, because this travel guide shares the best museums and activities from downtown Denver to the Rocky Mountains.
Top Things to Do in Denver
If you are flying into Denver, book an airport transfer to downtown Denver to take the hassle out of arrivals. The best way to get around Colorado to see places like Rocky Mountain National Park is to rent a car. You can compare car rental prices here.
Denver attractions are plentiful, so we’ve compiled a complete guide to help you select the best things to do in Denver. Denver’s huge personality makes it stand shoulders. (literally) above Colorado’s other cities. Located exactly 5280 feet above sea level, the Mile High City lives up to the hype. You can stroll past swanky boutique stores in Downtown Denver, book a tasting session at one of the city’s craft breweries, or explore some of the Denver museums. Plus, if you want to escape to nature at some point, the Rocky Mountains are just an hour and a half’s drive away.
1. Colorado State Capitol
The State Capitol is the center of Colorado’s political history and power. Located at the top of Capitol Hill, the Colorado State Capitol is also beautiful to look at. The architecture is designed to mimic the State Capitol in Washington DC, and the building is cut from eye-catching white granite.
As a fancy finish, a gold dome was added to the building in 1908 to commemorate the gold rush. Interestingly, the State Capitol steps are also engraved with Denver’s elevation – (One Mile Above Sea Level) creating the nickname ‘mile-high city’ as the thirteenth step is a mile above sea level.
Visitors can picnic outside and admire the building’s exterior or you can head inside for a guided tour. Check the website for details.
2. 16th Street Mall – Denver’s Vibrant Heartbeat
Located in the heart of downtown Denver, the 16th Street Mall is a 1.2-mile-long pedestrian promenade lined with a myriad of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, the mall’s distinctive granite pathway, reminiscent of a diamondback rattlesnake pattern, beckons visitors to stroll and enjoy the city’s energy.
One of the standout features of the 16th Street Mall is the free shuttle bus, which traverses the length of the mall, making it easy for visitors to hop on and off to do some shopping and dining. See details here.
As the sun sets, the mall comes alive with street performers showcasing Denver’s vibrant arts scene, from musicians and magicians to painters and poets.
With its close proximity to Denver’s key attractions like the Denver Art Museum, Coors Field, and the historic LoDo (Lower Downtown) district, the 16th Street Mall serves as a perfect starting or ending point for any Denver adventure. Whether you’re looking to indulge in some retail therapy, savor local cuisine, or simply soak in the city’s atmosphere, the 16th Street Mall is a must-visit when in Denver, Colorado.
3. Walk around Larimer Square
From 16th Street Mall, Larimer Square is easy to get to. The square district has loads of history and is a great place to take a walking tour or snap some cool photos. In recent years, the district has been revamped with independent indie shops, bars, and restaurants.
Whether you want to go shopping and dining or purchase some Denver souvenirs, Larimer Square has a fantastic atmosphere. If you enjoy city walks, this district is the perfect place to spend an hour or two. Or book this food tour of downtown Denver that lets you sample food from 5 of the city’s best restaurants.
Larimar Square is linked to Downtown Denver by Larimer Street, which is lined with bars and restaurants. We suggest walking back to downtown via Larimer Street.
4. Craft Beer and Street Art Tours
Denver is often referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer.” With over 150 breweries in the metropolitan area, the city boasts one of the largest concentrations of craft breweries in the United States. A craft beer tour will not only allow you to sample a diverse array of brews but also provide insights into the brewing process, the evolution of Denver’s beer scene, and the passion and creativity behind each pint.
Combining a beer tour with a street art tour is a great way to immerse in Denver culture. As you stroll from one venue to another, you can savor the flavors of Denver’s craft beers while soaking in the visuals of its urban masterpieces. This pairing captures the essence of the city’s innovative and creative spirit.
The city’s street art, particularly in neighborhoods like RiNo (River North Art District), are adorned with striking murals and graffiti that transform urban walls into canvases. This Tour combines the two perfectly.
5. Spend time along the South Platte River
If you are looking for some outdoor activities in Denver, spend a day on the river. Whether you like swimming or kayaking, the South Platte River makes a great activity destination in Denver.
The section of the South Platte River Trail follows the river and is surrounded by lush greenery and riverside wildlife. If fishing sounds good, Overland Pond Park is a popular fishing spot that you can reach on the trail. The path crosses over a little footbridge and reaches a serene pond where you can relax and cast away.
Further up the river, Denver Outdoor Adventure Company rents kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. You can always rent the water equipment from them if you don’t have any. This way, you can explore the river from the water rather than walk the trail.
6. Take an Ebiking Tour
Cycling around the river is a popular outdoor activity, and one of our favorite ways to get around the city is to take a cycling tour. But instead of working too hard, book this E-bike tour to see the city’s highlights. Enjoy the natural beauty of Denver with a pedal-assisted bike through Denver’s major attractions and hidden gems. This is a great tour for the whole family and you can even book special kids rides.
7. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheater is more than just an iconic outdoor concert venue—it’s a fusion of nature and culture that leaves visitors in awe. Famous for its remarkable natural acoustics set against a backdrop of red rock formations, Red Rocks has hosted legendary concerts. But music is just the beginning.
During the summer, the venue transforms for “Film on the Rocks”, an event that combines live music with the screening of a popular movie and the amphitheater grounds occasionally become a massive outdoor yoga studio, drawing enthusiasts for “Yoga on the Rocks”. For updated performances and events visit their website.
Beyond the stage, the 738-acre Red Rocks Park has hiking and biking trails, and for those interested in the history of this storied place, the Red Rocks Visitor Center is home to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, a Performers’ Hall of Fame gallery, and a captivating film that delves into the geological and musical history of Red Rocks.
Located just 20 minutes from the city, it is a must-see when visiting Denver.
8. Watch a show at the Denver Performing Arts Complex
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is a sight to behold and is spread over twelve acres with ten different performance spaces. The building has an overarching glass-domed roof, creating a dramatic atmosphere and giving evening visitors a stunning view of the night sky.
Love a good show? We do too. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the best place to watch a performance in Denver, be it opera or Broadway. The complex is split into different venues, including Ellie Caulkins Opera House, The Buell Theatre, and Boettcher Concert Hall.
You can purchase last-minute tickets to performances as well but we’d recommend that you book in advance if you really want to attend a performance. Check out what’s coming up at their website
9. Watch a baseball game at Coors Field
One of the most fun things to do in Denver for sports fans is to watch a baseball game at Coors Field. Coors Field is the home ground of the major league baseball team, The Colorado Rockies.
Most games last for just over three hours – giving you plenty of chance to grab a beer, relax, and enjoy the experience. Be prepared for passionate fans and a fiercely competitive atmosphere.
Admission tickets sell out fast in advance, so book ahead to avoid disappointment. You are after all watching America’s favorite pastime. If you miss out on watching a game, you should at least take a stadium tour. The grounds are impressive to walk around, and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the action.
10. Explore the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum
No visit to the Mile High City would be complete without visiting Mile High Stadium. The Sports Hall of Fame Museum is in Mile High Stadium which is also the home ground of the Denver Broncos.
Those on a budget will also be pleased to know that the museum is free to enter – so there is no breaking your budget to experience the Hall of Fame. The museum pays respects to all the greatest sportsmen and women in Colorado’s history, with permanent and temporary exhibits to take in. From baseball star Bob Gebhard to swimmer Erin Popovich, you’ll realize just how many US sporting elites Colorado has had over the years.
11. Empower Field at Mile High Tour
A visit to the Sports Hall Museum is best combined with a tour of the Mile High Stadium. You can book the tour online in advance, although there may be some last-minute spots available on the day.
Football fans will love attending a Broncos game at Empower Field at Mile High. Even if you aren’t an NFL fan, you will have a thrill watching American Football at this stunning stadium. The huge stadium has views of the Rocky Mountains and passionate fans, so book some tickets in advance and join the fun!
12. See what’s on at the Pepsi Center
The Pepsi Center is an esteemed sporting and music event venue in Denver. You might be watching the National Lacrosse League final one night and a rock concert the next. The center offers a diverse and exciting entertainment schedule.
Check what events coincide with your Denver trip ahead of time, as most admission tickets sell out quickly after being released. Still, it is worth checking for last-minute availabilities if you’ve accidentally left it late.
The Pepsi Center is relatively central and easy to access from downtown and Central Denver. It is also situated right next to Elitch Gardens, which is a good attraction combination. If you want to make your trip to Denver even more memorable, we suggest definitely incorporating a Pepsi Center event into your itinerary.
Other entertainment venues in Denver include the Denver Center for Performing Arts, The Bluebird Theatre which is a live music venue in Denver, and the Colorado Convention Center for events.
13. Spend a day at Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park
Who doesn’t love a good amusement park? Elitch Gardens is the only downtown theme park in the United States and is a great day out.
The best amusement park in Colorado and has been running for over 130 years. The park features a joined rollercoaster park and waterpark – perfect in summer when you want to cool off after queueing for the big rides.
In the adjoining waterpark, you’ll find water slides galore. Whether you want a freefall thrill slide or a family-friendly lazy river, there are lots of ride choices.
14. Visit the Molly Brown House Museum
Margaret ‘Molly’ Brown is a fantastic figure in history. Molly famously survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and was a tireless activist in the aftermath of the disaster. Molly helped row the lifeboat to safety through the night and, on her arrival in the US, raising money to help support struggling survivors.
See her story through displays of artifacts, photos, and documents. There are also several exclusive interviews that you can read. An inspiring and emotional experience, the Molly Brown House Museum is one of the most memorable things to do in Denver. A fascinating humanitarian with a huge story, Molly is one of Denver’s most interesting historical figures.
15. Unwind in City Park
Denver City Park is 330 acres in size and deserves at least half a day in your itinerary. You’ll find public tennis courts, running tracks, duck ponds, and a boat house. If you want the chance to cherish some inner-city green space, City Park is a great place to start. It is the perfect place to sunbathe with a book, get some exercise in, and just relax in nature.
The best part about City Park is that it is located just east of Downtown Denver. The proximity to the Downtown area means that you can easily squeeze in a visit, and it fits in well with visiting other popular attractions. Denver Zoo is also located in City Park and is easy to access on foot or by public transport.
16. Wander through Denver Botanic Gardens
Fancy an experience in nature but a bit closer to Denver’s center? Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the best things to do in Denver to get up close to nature. At twenty-four acres in size, you’ll need at least half a day to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens.
There is a mix of outdoor and indoor spaces, with a conservatory, natural meadow, and specialized areas like a traditional Japanese garden. The Botanic Gardens also runs seasonal events like the Lavender Festival and music concerts in summer. It is worth checking the Botanic Gardens event schedule to see if any special displays coincide with your visit to Denver.
17. Visit the Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum is a must-visit for any art lover. The museum was established in 1893 and boasts a huge collection. You might see art exhibits from the ancient Americas or the latest, most trending contemporary art. Denver’s Art Museum knows when to move with the times and when to preserve historical pieces.
The Art Museum can be visited while you are at the Colorado State Capitol as both are located in the Civic Center. However, allow at least two hours to visit the museum as it is spread across multiple buildings and floors.
18. Colorado History at the History Colorado Center
History Colorado, previously known as the Colorado Historical Society, was established in 1879. It is a museum dedicated to the history and heritage of the state of Colorado. It’s an initiative of History Colorado, which is the state’s historical society and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that tell the story of Colorado’s history, from its ancient Native American inhabitants to its more recent past. The exhibits are designed to be engaging and interactive, using a combination of artifacts, multimedia displays, and hands-on activities. Topics covered include the state’s mining history, its role in the Old West, the impact of railroads, and more.
Located in downtown Denver, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists. Its central location also means it’s close to other cultural attractions in the city.
19. Relax at the Denver Public Library
Speaking of educational things to do in Denver, the Denver Public Library is a great rainy-day activity. The library is located in Downtown Denver, so it is easily accessed on foot from most other attractions.
The library has over two million items in its collection, including an impressively expansive section on Western History and Genealogy. You can browse the shelves and curl up with a book on the comfy seating..You can check the official website to see if the event schedule has anything that sparks your interest.
As a top tip, the Denver Public Library has a library card that gives you free access to lots of Denver’s museums. If you are staying in Denver for a while, you may wish to sign up for a library card so that you can borrow books and access free attractions. Museums included are: The Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Firefighters Museum, Wings Over the Rockies and more.
20. Visit the Wings and Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum
Budding astronauts or space enthusiasts, listen up. The museum is built on the old Lowry Air Force Base, which served the USA until 1994. The old base serves a new purpose, educating visitors on US space history, aircraft, and the astronaut lifestyle.
Visitors can view real aircraft up close, enter the virtual reality lounge for a simulator experience, and take in fantastic permanent and temporary exhibitions. The museum has a good balance of kinetic, auditory, and visual learning opportunities – which keeps every visitor engaged, no matter their learning preference.
21. Clyfford Still Museum – A Deep Dive into Abstract Expressionism in Denver
The Clyfford Still Museum is another interesting museum to visit in Denver showcasing the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most significant artists Clyfford Still. Clyfford Still was a pioneering figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement known for his large-scale, powerful paintings that are characterized by vast fields of color and jagged forms. The museum is a unique institution as it houses an astounding 95% of Still’s lifetime output, making it an unparalleled resource for understanding the breadth and evolution of his work.
Opened in 2011, the museum’s architecture, designed by Brad Cloepfil, complements the art within. The museum is located in the heart of Denver’s Cultural District.
22. Explore Washington Park
One of the best things to do in Denver is to relax in one of the city’s parks, and Washington Park is the best of the best.
Visitors can enjoy an impressive range of recreational facilities. From tennis courts to lakes and rollerblading, the park has a lot of outdoor activities to keep you entertained for free. The park is over 165 acres in size so you can easily spend an afternoon here.
23. Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature Science explores everything related to nature and science, including health sciences and outer space. For a thought-provoking and educational day out, the museum is one of the best things to do in Denver with kids.
The Denver Museum of Nature Science has a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibitions – you could find yourself viewing a wildlife exhibit one minute and then looking at Egyptian mummies the next. Highlights include the Egyptian Mummies, Expedition Health, and Prehistoric Life exhibitions. Watching a film at the Imax or visiting the Planetarium is also a highlight of any museum trip and a great way to visualize the information you’ve learned.
24. Visit the Denver Firefighters Museum
If you want one of the most unusual educational things to do in Denver, This museum is one for your itinerary. Denver Firefighters Museum is passionate about documenting and celebrating Denver’s firefighting history and promoting fire safety. You’ll find photographs, artifacts, and important historical documents on display across the museum. The museum is also situated in the old Denver firehouse, which was built in 1909.
24. Visit Stanley Marketplace
Stanley Marketplace actually started up as a beer hall venture. However, years later, it has become much, much more. You’ll find over fifty vendors under the covered market – selling everything from food and drink to handicraft products. The market even runs events like movie nights and yoga sessions.
Gone are the dreams of a beer hall; Stanley Marketplace is a thriving community spot. To embrace Denver and its community, Stanley Marketplace is a great place to start. If you love a good market, visiting Stanley Marketplace is one of the best things to do in Denver. It was voted Denver Metro’s Best Food Hall.
25. Play a round of Virtual Golf
Indoor Golf Bars have taken over Denver and South Broadway is Denver’s first indoor golf course and the indoor golf scene continues to grow in Denver. Sure, you could venture out to Predator Ridge, one of the city’s other standard golf courses – but where is the fun in that? South Broadway is a fun, novel way to enjoy some golf while on holiday in Denver.
The club uses Trackman simulator technology to emulate a real game. Plus, you can play virtually on courses worldwide, including St Andrews. While you play, you can grab a cocktail or beer from the bar.
26. Meow Wolf Convergence Station
Following the success of their installation in Santa Fe, Meow Wolf expanded to other locations including the “Convergence Station” in Denver.
“Convergence Station” is similar in spirit to Meow Wolf’s earlier works but is unique in its design, story, and interactivity. Without giving too much away, visitors to “Convergence Station” can expect a multisensory experience as they explore various rooms and environments, each with its own narrative and artistic style. The experience is designed to be immersive, allowing visitors to touch, move, and interact with many of the exhibits.
If you’re planning a visit or just curious, it’s worth noting that Meow Wolf installations tend to evolve and change over time, with new rooms, stories, and interactive elements being added or modified. This keeps the experience fresh for repeat visitors and ensures that there’s always something new to discover.
27. Families Will Love the Children’s Museum
The Denver Children’s Museum is designed to educate and inspire little minds with the catchphrase ‘kid-powered learning’. No adults are allowed in the Children’s Museum unless accompanied by a child (and vice versa). The atmosphere is designed to be wholly kid-friendly and prioritizes peer social times and engaging educational opportunities.
You’ll find an art studio, adventure forest, fire station, and many more exhibits inside. The children’s museum offers small world, discovery, outdoor, and creative exhibits to meet all the visiting children’s educational needs.
28. Take a day trip to the Rocky Mountains
A trip to Colorado would not be complete without a day trip to the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies are just an hour and a half drive from Denver, and you’ll have views of the distant mountain range from most areas of the city.
Aside from filling your lungs with delicious Rockies air, there are loads of things to do in the mountains. The Rockies are known for their hiking trails and lookout points. If you love a challenge, Lookout Mountain is a great peak to scale and is lesser-known, so a quieter hike. You are rewarded with expansive views over the National Park at the summit, and, hopefully, you should have the summit to yourself.
This day tour from Denver takes you from the streets of Mile High City to Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll enjoy a day in historic towns, alpine passes and searching for wildlife.
29. Rocky Mountain National Park
Truth be told, the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park are probably all of them. That’s because no matter what part of Rocky Mountain National Park you travel, you’re treated to 360 degrees worth of stunning views. If you’ve got a particular affinity for certain nature hike features like waterfalls or wildlife spotting then perhaps you’ll appreciate some hikes more than others.
However, if you love all that the great outdoors can offer then Rocky Mountain National Park trails delivers in spades. Whether it’s the famed Twin Sisters near Estes Park or friendly Bear Lake, you can take it as easy as you want or head up into the tundra region for a real adventure.
Hiking enthusiasts should allocate at least two days to experience the National Park’s hiking trails. While there are lots of hiking trails in Colorado, the Rockies really take the win for outdoor activities and scenic hiking.
30. Tour the Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The highest paved road in North America is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, also known as the Mount Evans Highway. This road climbs Mount Evans in the Rocky Mountains and reaches an elevation of 14,130 feet (4,307 meters) above sea level at its summit.
The route starts at Idaho Springs and covers twenty-eight miles to reach Mount Evan in the Rockies. You’ll pass alpine meadows and lakes such as Echo Lake Park. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like marmots and mountain goats, as you’ll be cutting through some of Colorado’s most well-populated animal territories.
You can purchase a scenic byway tour or drive the route yourself. If you can, we’d recommend renting a car so that you can choose your own stops. Red Rocks Park, Walter Pesman Alpine Garden, and Buffalo Bill’s Grave are the best stops. But, honestly, you’ll be pulling over regularly to stop, appreciate, and photograph views.
It’s worth noting that due to its elevation and mountain location, the road can be subject to severe weather conditions and is generally only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
How to get to Denver?
The best way to get to Denver is to fly, as Denver International Airport is conveniently located in the city’s outer suburbs.
While Denver International Airport runs flights worldwide, it also has domestic services. You can reach Denver from most major US cities, including Los Angeles, Austin, and even Honolulu. Flying is the most convenient way to get to Denver if you are traveling from abroad, out of state, or even just from the other side of Colorado.
Of course, you may wish to road trip your way to Denver. In this case, we’d recommend stopping off in smaller cities like Canon City and towns like Grand Lake. You could even book an overnight cabin stay before hitting the city life.
Getting around Denver
Getting around Denver is easy. As a tourist, all of the fun things to do in Denver are in the city center or Downtown, so you can get away with walking everywhere if you want to.
Otherwise, you can catch the light rail or bus between suburbs. If you want to splash out, there are always many taxis on standby, plus a few horses and carriages for a really memorable transportation experience.
Denver Union Station is the transport hub in Downtown. So, if you want to catch transport into the center, Union Station is where you should set your destination.
The best time to visit Denver
Generally, the best time to visit Denver is in spring or fall. April, May, September, and October are shoulder seasons, with fewer tourists and decent weather.
Colorado is famous for its winter activities, but, unfortunately, everyone knows it. Winter in Denver is busy and more expensive, as everyone rushes to enjoy what Denver offers. For a quiet break, plan a visit in spring or fall.
Where to stay in Denver
These are just a few suggestions. Make sure to check out our full guide on Where to Stay in Denver – Best Neighborhoods and Areas for a full breakdown of all the top areas to base yourself.
We hope you have an incredible stay in Denver, aka the mile-high city. Voted as one of the most liveable cities in the United States, Denver is packed with things to do and see. The Colorado capital will keep you entertained for days. Be it shopping and dining downtown, or enjoying one of the many Denver attractions, you’ll be sure to have an amazing time exploring all the city has to offer.