Denver is a city full of beautiful mountain scenery and great cultural offerings. Art museums, parks, hiking, and biking dominating the offerings. After that, it seems like there’s microbreweries on just about every corner.

Here’s our favorites things to do in Denver:

1. Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum

 

The Denver Art Museum was founded in 1893 and is one of the West’s largest art museums. The Museum is anchored by the North Building, which stands 7 stories tall, has 24 sides, and is clad in grey glass tiles specially designed by Dow Corning. The newer, angular, Frederic C. Hamilton is an architectural wonder designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and opened in 2006. It consists of 20 sloping planes covered in titanium shingles. Nearly 70,000+ works of art from around the globe are represented in the museum’s collection. Works range from pre-Columbian pottery to a noteworthy collection of American Indian art to Renaissance art, and artists represented include Georgia O’Keefe and Frederic Remington. In 2014, the DAM acquired 22 landscape paintings by European masters such as Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Eugène Boudin and Edouard Manet – read more here (Photo by Ray Tsang)

2. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is both an expansive wilderness and one of the best concerts venues in the country. Located 15 miles southwest of Denver in a unique zone where the Great Plains transition into the Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks is notable for its large sandstone outcroppings and beautiful mountain vistas. Dinosaur tracks can be seen in the area that date back 160 millions years. The Amphitheatre is part of the Park and is touted as being the only naturally-formed, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world. The first concert took place here in 1911, and benches were installed in 1941. The amphitheatre holds 9,450 people. The Beatles played a concert at Red Rocks in 1964, and many remember seeing the U2 concert that was filmed there in 1983. The Park spans 868 and is full of hiking trails which lead past rocks with names such as the Seat of Pluto, the Cave of the Seven Ladders, Creation Rock, Ship Rock, and Stage Rock. Geologists estimate the Red Rocks were formed 290-296 million years ago. The park is believed to have been a favorite camping area for the Ute tribe of Native Americans – read more here (Photo by jimmy thomas)

3. Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens feature North America’s largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates around the world – over 15,000 species of plants packed into the 24 rolling, scenic acres in the heart of Denver. Popular attractions at the Denver Botanic Gardens include a rock alpine garden, a tropical conservatory, a Japanese garden, and many sculptures. In the summer there are concerts in the sunken amphitheater. In 2014, the Botanic Gardens unveiled a new Science Pyramid, which give visitors a way to learn about climate, geography and the ecosystems through high-tech, interactive exhibits. The pyramid is constructed of “smart glass” turn lightens or darkens in response to the amount of sunlight shining on it, and interior lighting that changes color in response to the outside temperature – read more here (Photo by Dave & Margie Hill)

4. Coors Field

Coors Field

Coors Field is a retro ballpark built of brick and steel located in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood, and it is the home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies. Seats at Coors Field offers great views of the Rocky Mountains in the distance, and the seats in the 20th row of the upper deck are purple to designate the one-mile elevation point. Interestingly, when the stadium was completed in 1995, it was the first baseball-only National League Park built since Dodger Stadium was built in 1962. Seventeen years later, when Marlins Park opened in 2012, Coors Field became the third oldest stadium in the National League – read more here (Photo by Designsbykari)

5. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver Museum of Nature & Science was founded in 1900 and has grown from being housed in a log cabin to its current home, a huge, 500,000-square-foot building that holds more than one million artifacts in its various collections. Art, science and history are the focus at the museum – from prehistoric creatures to the vastness of outer space. Popular exhibits include the Phipps IMAX Theater, the Gates Planetarium, Prehistoric Journey, North American Indian Cultures, and Space Odyssey. The Discovery Zone is a hands-on educational center geared toward children. When at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, look for the 8 tiny elves painted in the dioramas. Also, there are 2 mechanical butterflies that move their wings every few seconds in the Edge of the wild exhibit – read more here (Photo by John W. Schulze)

6. Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Wilderness

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Wilderness is less than an hour west of Denver and is one of America’s most scenic drives. The drive starts at 8,700 feet and climbs to 14,240 feet at the summit, passing through 3 life zones along the way, including small regions of arctic tundra. Expect hairpin turns with scenic vistas around every corner, with many pull-offs and places to stop and hike along the way. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Wilderness features wildlife such as bighorn sheep and mountain goats, 2,000 year old Bristlecone pines, and numerous valleys dotted with alpine lakes. Approximately 120 miles of trails traverse the wilderness. There is a visitor center at the start of the byway just off I-70 in Idaho Springs. The Byway is usually accessible from Memorial Day to Labor Day – read more here (Photo by Shogun_X)

7. Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo has over 3,500 animals representing 650 species on 80 acres of land in City Park. The zoo was one of the first to replace caged exhibits with natural barriers, and the zoo does a good job of allowing visitors to get close to the animals without being intrusive. Popular exhibits include Toyota Elephant Passage, Primate Panorama, Predator Ridge, Asian Tropics, and Bear Mountain. The zoo was founded in 1896 when an orphaned American black bear cub was given to the mayor of Denver. Native waterfowl were soon added, followed by prairie dogs, antelope, and Chinese peacocks. Red squirrels were added next, but they decimated the bird population and had to be relocated. A Bear Mountain exhibit that opened in 1918 was the first to eliminate cages in favor of moats and rock wall barriers. All in all the zoo is well-designed, clean, very large, and not overly pricey – read more here (Photo by Drew Avery)

8. Great Divide Brewing Company

Great Divide Brewing

Denver is a great city for microbreweries, so visitors need to tour at least on brewery. Great Divide Brewing Company brewed their first batch of beer back in 1994, and 3 months later they won their first medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Since then, founder Brian Dunn has grown his brewery from a single employee (him) to over 40 employees making over 25 different beers. Tours of the Great Divide Brewing Company are free and conveniently end at the Tap Room, where there are 16 seasonal and year-round beers on tap. They don’t serve food, but there are food trucks at the brewery nearly 7 days a week – read more here (Photo by Bernt Rostad)

9. Cherry Creek Bike Path

Cherry Creek Bike Path

Cherry Creek Bike Path follows its namesake creek from Confluence Park in downtown Denver through Cherry Creek State Park and then farther south for miles. It’s an excellent way to see Denver. With a few interruptions along the way, it ends up going 40 miles to Franktown. The trail is great for biking, but it’s also great for walking or jogging. Riders can also pack food and stop for lunch in one of the parks. Highlights along the way include the Cherry Creek Shopping District, Four Mile House and Historic Park, Cherry Creek State Recreation Area, and Castlewood Canyon State Park. Markers alongside the trail describing the Native Americans who once lived here, as well historic explaining dealing with wildlife and birds. Bikes can be rented from www.cherrycreekbikerack.com or from one of Denver’s B-cycles bike-sharing locations – read more here (Photo by Jessica Reeder)

10. Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still was an American painter and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism. The significance of his works gained immediate notoriety when New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art presented and exhibition his work in 1979 – it was the largest exhibition of a living artist ever presented by the institution. Sadly, Clyfford Still died one year later. In his will, he specified that his entire estate would be given to an American city willing to establish “permanent quarters” dedicated to his work. Denver won, and the Museum opened in 2011. Amazingly, the museum holds nearly 94% of his works. Still’s contemporaries included such notables as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. The building is a beautiful concrete structure filled with natural light located next to the Denver Museum of Art in Denver’s burgeoning Cultural Arts District – read more here (Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil)

11. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Kirkland Museum

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver is comprised of artist Vance Kirkland’s former studio and works, plus an impressive selection of decorative art from around the world. His studio is in an Arts and Craft style building that was built in 1911 and has been named to the listings of the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios. What later evolved into the Denver Art Museum had its beginnings in the building. Vance Kirkland lived from 1904 to 1981, and the  The Kirkland Retrospective includes over 1,000 of his paintings that range in style form Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism. His art collection at the museum displays over 3,500 examples of international decorative art from the years 1875 to about 1990. Every major design period from Arts & Crafts to Postmodern is represented, including Art Noveau and Art Deco. Modern furniture, paintings, glass and pottery, and small electronics are all part of the collection. There is also a sculpture garden outside – read more here (Photo by Dan Lurie)

12. Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the hub for theatrical performances for the entire Rocky Mountain region. The complex includes 10 spaces with a total seating capacity of 10,000, and it is home to the Tony-winning Denver Center Theatre Company, which performs classical and world premiere theatre, and Denver Center Attractions, which presents Broadway musicals and cabaret. The Boettcher Concert Hall was built in 1978 and is the first in-the-round concert hall in the United States. To find the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, look for the 60-foot fiberglass dancers displayed in front of the beautiful downtown building. Check their web site for a schedule of performances – read more here (Photo by Quan Ha)

13. Washington Park

Washington Park Denver

Washington Park is often considered to be the Central Park of Denver, and is the perfect place for both locals and visitors to enjoy the over 300 days of sunshine that Denver enjoys every year. “Wash Park” occupies 155 acres just south of downtown and is anchored by two lakes – Smith Lake in the north part of the park and Grasmere Lake in the southern part, and paddle-boats can be rented from the historic Washington Park Boathouse. Running, walking, and biking trail criss-cross the park, and there’s great playgrounds for kids and lots of greenspace for relaxing and playing sports. Two beautiful flower gardens occupy the park, one of which is a replica of George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon. The Washington Park neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver and features stunning early twentieth century brick houses. There’s great restaurants and shopping within walking distance along South Gaylord Street and Alameda Avenue – read more here (Photo by Jeffrey Beall)

14. Mayan Theater

Mayan Theatre

Denver’s Mayan Theater was built in 1930 and is one of only three remaining in the United States that was built in the Mayan Revival style. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, competition from newer suburban movieplexes cut into attendance, and The Mayan was eventually closed and abandoned. It was slated for demolition in the mid-1980’s before being saved at the last moment. It was soon designated as a National Landmark, and the beautiful theatre was restored to its former glory at a cost of nearly $2 million. Today, the Mayan features three-screens are shows a combination of independent and foreign films along with critically-acclaimed mainstream movies. Upstairs, it has a full bar and cafe – read more here (Photo by Laurel Barickman)

15. Denver Microbrew Tour

Denver Microbrew Tour

The Denver Microbrew Tour offers visitors a guided 1.5 mile stroll through the historic LODO and Ballpark neighborhood districts of downtown Denver while sampling beer from some of the town’s many micro-breweries. Downtown Denver alone boasts over 20 micro-breweries, and there’s no better way to sample the beer than heading straight to the source. The tours make about 4 stops, with a sampling of beer at each microbreweries or tap room. The guides keep things fun with beer trivia and also explain the history of beer and breweries in Denver. At the end of the tour, guests get a coupon for a free pint of beer from their favorite stop on the tour – read more here (Photo by Lindsey G)

 

16. Molly Brown House Museum

Molly Brown House Museum

The Molly Brown House Museum is the former home of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” – she was a Titanic survivor, and she was portrayed in the movie as the older lady reminiscing. She lived from 1867 to 1932, and she was actually much more than just a Titanic survivor – she was also a Denver philanthropist, a socialite, and an activist. In addition to the Titanic movie, both a Broadway musical and film adaptation – both titled The Unsinkable Molly Brown – were made and based on her life. Her beautiful Victorian home was built in 1889 and designed by architect William Lang. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is opulently furnished. Tours are available and offer a vivid glimpse into both Denver history and Molly Brown’s fascinating life – read more here (Photo by Ken Lund)

17. Little Man Ice Cream

Little Man Ice Cream

Little Man Ice Cream – you’ll know you’re there when you see the giant milk jug looming below the neon “linger” sign – and when you see the crowd of people enjoying ice cream. The milk jug is twenty-eight foot tall and 14,000 lbs., but it doesn’t hold milk – it is the ice cream stand. Owner Paul Tamburello built the structure after being inspired by vintage Coney Island hot dog-shaped stands, and it has become a fixture in the LoHi neighborhood. Little Man makes small-batch ice cream, vegan ice cream and sorbet using locally sourced ingredients. What really stands out here are the inventive flavors – they often change and range from Bhakti Chai to Milk Stout Chip and Salted Caramel PB Cup – read more here (Photo by vxla)

18. Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret

Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret

Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret is a dark, swanky, and sensual cabaret lounge located in downtown Denver on the 16th Street Mall. The entertainment ranges from comedy acts to magic shows, circus sideshow acts, vaudeville, burlesque, musical revues, or a variety of live bands. Every Thursday is the Naughty Pierre€™s Burlesque & Comedy Extravaganza, and every Friday late night is the Midnite Martini€™s Sexy Circus Sideshow – read more here (Photo by Max Slowik)

19. Celestial Seasonings Tour and Tea Shop

Celestial Seasonings Tour

Celestial Seasonings is the largest herb tea manufacturer in the country. Guided tours includes visit to the production area, the herb garden, the tea bag factory and infamous, super-refreshing Peppermint Room. At the end of the tour guests enter the Tea Shop, where they can sample any of 47 tea blends. The company produces 75 flavors of tea total. Tours of Celestial Seasonings are free, and visitors get an awesome free hairnet. The tea production line is only in action during the week – read more here (Photo by Eli Duke)

20. Tattered Cover Bookstore

Tattered Cover Bookstore

Tattered Cover Bookstore is a Denver landmark and one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. The bookstore was started by Stephen Cogil Casari in 1971 in a small, 950 foot storefront in Cherry Creek. Joyce Meskis bought the bookstore from him in 1974, and she expanded to other parts of the city over ensuing years. Now over 40 years old, it has survived and expanded many times. The main location is an historic building with extra-high ceilings. An inventory of over a half million books books make it easy for anyone to find something that interests them. Comfortable chairs encourage lingering. There’s a cafe for coffee and lunch in the LoDo and Highlands Ranch stores – read more here (Photo by Vaquero Cooper)

Featured photo by Sheila Sund. All photos CC-BY-2.0.

See our list of the 49 best things to do in Denver here.

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