When the snow starts falling in Denver, do you get excited or are you ready to hibernate? Well, don’t let the wintry weather stop you from getting outside – there are so many awesome things to do in Denver in the winter!
It’s literally snowing as I write this post, and I can’t be more excited to dive into allllll the Denver winter activities. Snuggle season is here, and as a Denver local of over 12 years, I’m ready to share the best of this winter wonderland with you.
About This Guide to Things to Do in Denver in the Winter
Inside this local guide about things to do in Denver during winter, you’ll find:
- The best things to do in Denver in winter
- Location and cost of each activity
- Any special considerations for Denver activities during the pandemic
12 Things to Do in Denver in the Winter
Whether you’re celebrating the snow or desperately in need of a holiday spirit booster, you can find Denver winter activities to fit your winter mood.
1. Blossoms of Light
If the dark days of winter have gotten you down, the Denver Botanic Garden’s Blossoms of Light will bring back the glow! Every holiday season, the entire garden glitters with gorgeous light displays. Walking through the brilliant bulbs (of both the electrical and natural variety) is sure to bring you joy.
- Cost: $18-21 ($16-19 for members)
- Covid Considerations: Tickets are timed entry and must be purchased online. No tickets will be available on site.
2. Ice Castles
Treat yourself to an extra cool winter experience with a visit to the truly spectacular Ice Castles in Dillon. Ice artists handcraft the immersive ice castles, which feature thrones, tunnels, fountains, and sculptures lit up with LED lights. You can even take a ride down an ice slide!
- Cost: $18-$23
- Covid Considerations: Reduced capacity & one-way flow in certain areas.
Skiing is truly the signature activity of winter in Colorado. With so many ski resorts near Denver, you have a ton of options for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. And if you’re avy-certified, the backcountry gives you tons of places to hit the slopes and find your own line.
- Cost: Varies
- Covid Considerations: Many resorts are requiring online reservations and limiting single-day lift tickets. Check with individual resorts before heading out.
4. Ice Skating
Gliding around an ice rink is a quintessential winter experience. As one of the best things to do in Denver in the winter, you’ll find many places to lace up your skates in the Denver area.
Evergreen Lake becomes a huge outdoor ice rink in the winter with several pond hockey rinks and a public skating area, all in a beautiful natural setting. Several state parks, including Cherry Creek and Golden Gate Canyon, also feature natural ponds that you can skate on once they safely freeze over.
- Cost: Varies
- Covid Considerations: TBD
5. Winter Hiking
Don’t limit yourself to hiking only when the weather is warm! Hiking is also the perfect way to adventure on a sunny winter day. In fact, some of the best winter hikes in Colorado are just outside the city.
The Red Rocks Trail is a great winter hike that takes you through the amphitheater itself, with snow accentuating the red sandstone views. Mount Galbraith in Golden is a moderate hike with lovely views that gets lots of sun.
And Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is short and popular, so the snow on the trail usually is pretty packed down. Still, it’s a good idea to bring microspikes any time you hike in the winter, just in case.
- Cost: Free (or park admission fee)
- Covid Considerations: Some trailhead amenities might be closed.
Embrace the snow and try a snowshoe adventure!
Some excellent snowshoeing options include Brainard Lake, which has a designated snowshoe trail, St. Mary’s Glacier, and the Second Creek trail up to Broome Hut (near Berthoud Pass) where you can have lunch and warm up in the day-use area before heading back down.
If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can rent from most local gear stores including Feral, Wilderness Exchange, Estes Park Mountain Shop, and REI.
- Cost: Free (or rental fee of about $20 if you don’t have your own snowshoes)
- Covid Considerations: Bring a mask in case you pass others on the trails.
7. Hot Springs
When there’s a chill in the air, warm up with a soak in one of the many hot springs in Colorado.
Hands-down one of the most relaxing things to do in Denver in winter is to go for a soak. The closest developed hot springs to Denver are the Indian Hot Springs located in Idaho Springs.
With outdoor jacuzzis, a mineral water swimming pool, and even geothermal caves to relax in, you will almost forget that it’s cold outside.
- Cost: $18-$40
- Covid Considerations: One-hour time slots with limited capacity.
8. Sledding & Tubing
If you love the snow and want to feel like a kid again, why not go sledding or snow tubing? Frisco Adventure Park, about an hour and a half from Denver, has an awesome tubing hill with multiple lanes and a free sledding hill as well.
Many ski resorts, including Copper and Winter Park, also have hills designated for snow tubing. And Ruby Hill Park in Denver and Tantra Park in Boulder offer more local options.
- Cost: Varies
- Covid Considerations: Frisco Adventure Park has delayed the opening of the season.
9. Denver Christkindl Market
Get in the festive spirit and get some holiday shopping done at the Denver Christkindl Market. This open air market features hand-crafted products from local and international makers and artisans.
Indulge in Bavarian beers, Glühwein, and German food as you browse the vendor huts and enjoy live music. Each year, the market opens for the season in November on the Friday before Thanksgiving and continues until December 23rd.
- Cost: Free
- Covid Considerations: In 2020, the Christkindl Market will move to a new location in Civic Center park which provides more space for social distancing. The market will also have a maximum capacity, and when it is reached, people will need to wait in line to enter.
10. Denver Winter Brew Fest
Raise a glass to craft beer at the Denver Winter Brew Fest, scheduled for January 23, 2021.
For the price of admission, you’ll get a souvenir sampling glass that you can fill with unlimited pours of beer, cider, and more beverages.
The festival has a daytime and an evening session, and food trucks will be standing by so you can purchase snacks to soak up all the beer you’ll be drinking.
- Cost: $35-60 (depending on session & when ticket is purchased)
- Covid Considerations: TBD
11. Zoo Lights
The Denver Zoo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of turning its 80 acres into a sparkling winter wonderland with Zoo Lights.
Wander around the zoo grounds to see both real animals up close, as well as illuminated animal sculptures. Hot cocoa and adult beverages are available for purchase to bring some extra cheer to your evening.
- Cost: $25
- Covid Considerations: Tickets are only available online, and there is a 5-ticket limit.
12. Holiday Lights Mini Golf
Have some festive fun and practice your putting with a round of Holiday Lights Mini Golf. During November and December, Adventure Golf in Westminster decorates all three of its mini golf courses with over 100,000 twinkling lights.
Play your way through multicolored tunnels, an erupting volcano, and lots more impressive illumination.
- Cost: $10 for 18 holes
- Covid Considerations: Only credit credit cards accepted, no cash. 4 people maximum allowed per hole.
Quick Tips for Exploring Denver in the Winter
Before you get into the winter activities in Denver, keep these quick tips in mind:
- There is currently a mask mandate in Denver. You’ll need a mask for most activities.
- Even though marijuana is legal in the Mile High City, it’s illegal to smoke in public.
- Traffic can be quite brutal near the city and en-route to the mountains (especially I-70). Plan accordingly!
More Denver Travel Resources
Play in Denver like a local with these additional resource: