Things to Do in Denver: Ultimate Vacation Guide

Denver, Colorado, is a city with something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts can go on hiking and biking trails or take a trip to the Rocky Mountains. 

Art lovers can visit the city’s world-renowned museums or catch a show at the theater district. Families can enjoy the botanical gardens or Six Flags Elitch Gardens Theme Park. 

No matter your interests, the Mile High City has something to offer. In this blog post, we will provide the best things you can do in Denver – from outdoor adventures to arts and culture.

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the most popular things in Denver is visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. You can go hiking, biking, or camping in this beautiful area. It does require a bit of a drive to get there, but it’s 100% worth it. You can even stop in Boulder or Estes park on your way.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a must-visit if you love hiking and being outdoors. This park is known for its incredible views of the city and its hiking trails. It’s a natural oasis in the middle of the city that is a music venue at night, but you can spend time exploring during the day.

Take a Scenic Drive

One of the best things about the Colorado State Capital is that it’s near some incredible scenery. So many options are available if you’re looking to take a scenic drive. Denver’s most popular scenic drives are The Peak to Peak Highway, The Lariat Loop, and The Trail Ridge Road.

Stroll Through Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens are a must-see for any nature lover. With over 45 acres of land to explore, you can easily spend a whole day here. There are also plenty of events and programs held throughout the year, so check their website before you visit. Remember to pack your camera because there are plenty of great photo opportunities.

Go White Water Rafting

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, white water rafting is definitely for you. Many companies offer tours in and around Denver, and you can easily find one that fits your schedule and budget. In addition, most white water rafting tours take you through the Colorado River, so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Just be prepared to get soaked.

Test Your Balance Paddle boarding

You can always go paddle boarding if white water rafting is not your thing. Paddle boarding is a great way to get out on the water and enjoy the scenery. Many companies offer paddle boarding tours in Denver or paddle board rentals, so you can easily find one that fits your needs.

Visit a State Park

Denver is the perfect place to start if you want to explore some of Colorado’s state parks. With over 40 parks and acres of land to explore, you’ll never run out of things to do. There’s something for everyone, from hiking and biking trails to fishing and camping. But, of course, Castlewood Canyon State Park, Staunton State Park, and Eldorado Canyon State Park are some of the most popular state parks.

Go Kayaking

There are many places to go kayaking in Denver, so you can easily find a spot perfect for your skill level. Whether you want to paddle down a river or lake or even through some rapids, plenty of options are available. Cherry Creek Reservoir, Sloan’s Lake, and Bear Creek Lake are some of Denver’s best spots for kayaking. In addition, you can rent single or tandem kayaks at most sports equipment outfitters, and they can help you load the kayaks onto your car.

Catch Some Fish

If you’re looking to do some fishing, Denver is the perfect place. Many lakes and rivers are nearby, so you can easily find a spot to fish. Just be sure to get a fishing license before you go. Cherry Creek Reservoir, Chatfield Reservoir, and Bear Creek Lake Park are some of Denver’s best spots for fishing. You can also go fly fishing in many of the rivers located in the Rocky Mountains.

Do Yoga in the Park

Yoga is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a relaxing activity. Denver has many parks that offer yoga classes. Just be sure to bring your mat and some water to stay hydrated.

Hike to a Waterfall

One of the best things about Denver is its near incredible hiking trails. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, check out the Seven Falls trail. This trail is moderate to difficult, but the views are worth it. The trailhead is located outside Denver in Colorado Springs.

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

For a unique experience in Denver, take a hot air balloon ride over Denver. You’ll get unparalleled views of the cityscape, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Plus, it’s a great photo op.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

If you’re looking for an adventure, check out the Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs. This railway takes you to the top of Pikes Peak, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. It’s a great way to see incredible views and learn about the area’s history.

Pikes Peak Highway

Pikes Peak Highway is one of the most popular attractions in Colorado. Located just west of the city of Colorado Springs, it offers visitors stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and an up-close look at one of Colorado’s famed “fourteeners.” The highway winds its way almost to the top of Pikes Peak, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. A trip on Pikes Peak Highway is an unforgettable experience. 

Drive Some ATVs

One of the best things about living in Colorado is that you can easily access incredible off-roading trails. If you’re looking for an adventure, consider driving some ATVs. Some popular trails include Slaughterhouse Gulch and Rampart Range. 

Many companies offer tours and rentals, so you can find one that fits your needs. Just be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water because it can get pretty hot out there!

Arts and Culture

In addition to its outdoor attractions, Denver is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene. Here are some things you can do:

Learn Something New at the History Colorado Center

The History Colorado Center is a great place to learn about the history of Denver and the state of Colorado. The museum features interactive exhibits, so you can get involved in the learning process.

Explore the Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums in the United States, and it’s definitely worth a visit. With over 70,000 pieces of art on display, you can easily spend a whole day here. And if you’re a fan of American Indian art, the Denver Art Museum has one of the best collections in the country.

Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is a great place to see some modern and contemporary art. There is always something new and exciting happening at the museum, so it’s worth a visit. The museum is known for its Indigenous Arts of North America collection. In addition, the museum has a great collection of Latin American Art.

Spend Some Time at Denver Union Station

Union Station is a historic train station transformed into a modern shopping and dining destination. There are shops, restaurants, and a hotel and event space. Denver Union Station is a great place to spend an afternoon, whether shopping, dining, or exploring.

Enjoy a Show at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

If you’re looking for things to do at night, the Denver Performing Arts Complex is the place to be. This complex is home to the Colorado Symphony, Opera Colorado, and the Denver Center Theater Company. There are also a variety of restaurants and bars in the area, so you can make a night of it!

Stroll through Larimer Square

Larimer Square is one of the most popular places to visit in Denver. This historic district is home to various shops, restaurants, and bars, the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening exploring.

Visit the State Capitol Building

The State Capitol Building is one of Denver’s most popular tourist attractions. You can take a free tour of the building and learn about the history of Colorado.

Explore the Neighborhoods

Denver is home to many different neighborhoods, each with its unique character. Some of the most popular neighborhoods to visit are LoDo, RiNo, and Highlands.

See a Show at the Buell Theater

The Buell Theater is one of Denver’s most popular places to see a show. This theater is home to various shows, including Broadway productions, musicals, and plays.

Catch a Movie at the Sie FilmCenter

The Sie FilmCenter is the perfect place to catch an independent or foreign film. They show a wide variety of movies, and they also have special events and screenings. So if you’re looking for something different than mainstream cinema, the Sie FilmCenter is the place for you.

Check out the Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum is a great place to learn about the history of art. This museum is home to various exhibitions, and you can also tour the Clyfford Still House. He was an American painter considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century.

Visit the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is a great place to learn about the history of aviation. This museum features a variety of exhibits, as well as a simulator that you can try out.

Take a Dance Class

Denver is home to many different dance studios, so be sure to take a class while you’re in town. You can find everything from salsa to hip-hop classes, so you can find something to suit your taste.

Catch a Show at the Comedy Works

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Denver, catch a show at the Comedy Works. This comedy club has been around for over 30 years and is the perfect place to laugh the night away. They’ve had some great talent there, including Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, and Bill Burr.

Immerse Yourself at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience that you won’t want to miss. There’s plenty to explore, with over 90,000 square feet of exhibit space. And if you’re looking for something unique, check out the House of Eternal Return.

Cheer on the Home Team at Coors Field

Coors Field is the home of the Colorado Rockies, and it’s a great place to catch a game. There’s always a great atmosphere at the stadium, and you can enjoy some delicious food. 

Denver is home to various professional sports teams, the Avalanche (NHL), Broncos (NFL), Rockies (MLB), and Nuggets (NBA). So be sure to catch a game while you’re in town. You can find everything from football to basketball to hockey. 

Look at Street Art in RiNo

RiNo is home to various street art and a great place to explore. You can find everything from murals to graffiti, and it’s a great way to experience the arts in Denver. RiNo is short for the River North Art District, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Denver.

See the Molly Brown House

The Molly Brown House is a must-see for any history buff. Molly Brown was a survivor of the Titanic and was also known as the “unsinkable Molly Brown.” This house is now a museum, and you can learn about her life and experience on the Titanic.

Visit the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is a must-see for art lovers visiting Denver. With over 30,000 works from over 1,500 artists, it’s one of the largest collections of its kind in the United States. From paintings and sculptures to furniture and textiles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this world-class museum. Guided tours are available, or you can explore the museum at your own pace. The Kirkland Museum is also home to a café and gift shop, so you can make a day of it.

Brush Up on Your Sports Knowledge at the National Ballpark Museum

The National Ballpark Museum is a must-see for any sports fan. This museum is dedicated to the history of baseball, and it’s a great place to learn about the game. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, and it’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

Visit the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a beautiful church located in downtown Denver. This church is known for its stunning architecture, and it’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for cool things to do in Denver. They hold mass every day, so be sure to check the schedule before you visit.

Hit Up a Local Brewery

Denver is known for its craft beer scene. Whether you’re a beer lover or not, visiting a brewery is a great way to learn about the brewing process and taste some delicious beer. Denver’s top breweries are Great Divide Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Odell Brewing Company.

Go on a Wine Tasting Tour

If you’re a fan of wine, you’ll definitely want to go on a wine-tasting tour while in Denver. Many companies offer tours, including Mile High Wine Tours, so you can easily find one that fits your schedule and budget. You can also visit a winery or two on your own. 

Visit a Food Truck Park

If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, visit one of Denver’s food truck parks. These parks are home to various food trucks, so you can find something to suit your taste. One of the most popular food truck parks is Improper City, located in the RiNo district.

Take a Culinary Tour

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to take a culinary tour of Denver. You’ll get to try some of the best food in the city and learn about the history and culture of Denver’s culinary scene.

Shop at a Farmer’s Market

Denver has many farmer’s markets open year-round, so you can always find fresh, local produce. Some of the most popular markets are the Cherry Creek Farmers Market and the Union Station Farmers Market.

Take a Cooking Class

Take a cooking class if you’re interested in learning how to cook some of Denver’s signature dishes. Many companies offer classes, so you can easily find one that fits your schedule and budget.

Grab a Bite at Denver Central Market

Denver Central Market is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat. This food hall is home to various local vendors, so you can find something to suit your taste. In addition, the vendors rotate frequently, so you can always try something new.

Join a Whiskey Tour

If you’re a fan of whiskey, you’ll definitely want to join a whiskey tour while in Denver. You’ll learn about the history of whiskey and taste some of the best whiskeys from around the world. Check out Stranahan’s for more information.

Cheese Tasting at the Maven

You’ll want to visit the Maven if you’re a cheese fan. This shop is home to various kinds of cheese from around the world, and you can also participate in a cheese tasting.

Indulge in a Tasting Menu in Denver

If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, indulge in a tasting menu in Denver. You’ll get to try various dishes, and the chefs will create a custom menu based on your preferences. The most exquisite restaurants that offer a tasting menu are Rioja, Mizuna, and The Populist.

Try Some Local Game Meat

If you’re adventurous, you may want to try eating local game meat while in Denver. You can find everything from elk to bison, and it’s a great way to experience the culinary scene in Denver.

Get Some Ice Cream at Little Man Ice Cream Company

To taste some of Denver’s most iconic ice cream, you must head to Little Man. This place is always packed with people waiting in line for their chance to try one of their delicious and unique flavors. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Play Some Games at An Arcade Bar

An arcade bar is an excellent option if you’re looking for things to do at night. You can find everything from classic arcade games to modern console games. If you’re a competitive person, there are also tournaments you can sign up for. Finally, if you want to relax and have fun with friends, an arcade bar is the perfect place. Some of Denver’s well-known arcade bars are The Walnut Room, Joyland, and 16-Bit Bar.

Find a Speakeasy

Find a speakeasy if you’re looking for a more upscale nightlife experience. Denver has many hidden bars that are perfect for a night out. Just be sure to dress to impress and have your ID ready. A great way to find a speakeasy is to ask a local for recommendations or search on social media.

Have a Drink at a Rooftop Bar

If you want to enjoy the views of Denver, have a drink at one of the many rooftop bars. You can find everything from craft cocktails to local beer. Some of the most popular rooftop bars are Skylark Lounge, Avanti F&B, and The Ramble Hotel.

Hit the Dance Floor at a Club

If you want to let loose and have fun, hit the dance floor at a club. Denver has many clubs that cater to various music genres, so you can find one that suits your taste. Temple, Club Vinyl, and The Church are some of the best nightclubs.

Do Karaoke

Karaoke is the way to go if you’re looking for a fun and memorable night out. Denver has many karaoke bars perfect for a night of singing and dancing. Just be sure to bring your friends to have a great time.

See Marine Life at Denver Aquarium

The Denver Aquarium is an excellent option if you’re looking for things to do with the family. With over 500 species of animals, you can easily spend a whole day here. Check out the sharks, rays, turtles, and piranhas in the Tropical Diver exhibit. You can also take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about how the aquarium cares for its animals.

Animal Watch at the Denver Zoo

Checking out the animals at the Denver Zoo is an excellent option if you’re looking for things to do with the kids. You can see everything from lions and tigers to monkeys and gorillas. You can also ride on the Zoo Train or visit the Petting Zoo. They have over 350 species of animals, so you’re sure to find something to interest everyone in the family.

The Children’s Museum of Denver

The Children’s Museum of Denver is another great option for things to do with kids. This museum is full of interactive exhibits designed to teach children about science, art, and history. They also have several programs and events that are perfect for families.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a great place to learn about the natural world. You can easily spend a whole day here with thousands of things to look at. They also have a planetarium and IMAX theater, so you can learn about the stars and planets.

Visit an Adventure Park

An adventure park is an excellent option if you’re looking for things to do with the family. Denver has many different parks to choose from, so you can find one perfect for your family. In addition, you can find everything from amusement parks to water parks, so you’re sure to find something to suit your taste.

Soak Up the Sun at one of Denver’s Many Parks

If you’re looking for things to do outdoors, Denver has many parks to choose from. You can find everything from hiking and biking trails to playgrounds and picnic areas. 

So soak up the sun at one of Denver’s many parks, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Washington Park, and City Park, are some popular parks.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Park is a beautiful natural attraction located in Denver, Colorado. This park comprises towering red rock formations, making it the perfect place for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying the great outdoors. The unique geology of Red Rocks Park has long inspired local artists and musicians, resulting in numerous performance venues that host some of the biggest names in music today. 

Go Shopping at 16th Street Mall

Shopping is a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Denver. The 16th Street Mall is full of shops and restaurants, so you can easily spend a whole day here. You can find everything from clothes to souvenirs, so bring your wallet.

Spend the Day at Elitch Gardens

Spending the day at Elitch Gardens is a great option if you’re looking for things to do with the family. With over 50 rides and attractions, you can easily spend a whole day here. You can also find several restaurants and shops to make a day of it.

Denver is a city with something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, arts, and culture, or just a place to relax and enjoy good food and drink, you’ll find it all here. So what are you waiting for?

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.