I have lived all over the world (11 different cities in 4 different countries) but I still keep coming home to Denver, Colorado. Why? It’s got the perfect blend of things to do in and around the city. As a local of over a decade, I know a thing or two about what there is to do in the Mile High City. This locally-curated list of things to do in Denver, Colorado features bucket-list activities for every taste.
The Best Things to Do in Denver
Denver is a young, progressive, mid-sized city with lots of activities geared towards every taste. One important thing to keep in mind about Denver is it’s affinity for the outdoors. People are active and love to be outdoors. Overall, Denver is a friendly, safe, mid-sized city that offers all kinds of entertainment.
In this guide of the best things to do in Denver you’ll find:
- Things to do for foodies in Denver
- Best outdoor activities in and around Denver
- The best breweries in Denver
- Awesome festivals and events in Denver
- Quick tips for visiting Denver
1. Photograph the Amazing Street Art in the RiNo Neighborhood
The home of trendy bars, coffee shops, and small businesses, the RiNo Neighborhood is on the cutting edge of Denver’s hipster scene. One of the best things to do in Denver is wander the streets of the RiNo in search of Denver’s best street art murals. Street art is a time-honored tradition in Denver, and there are plenty of IG-worthy painted walls to discover here. The walls get repainted year after year, so the scene is always changing.
Local Tip: The CRUSH Walls Street Art Festival is a must-see event every year in the RiNo Neighborhood. The first week of September marks the beginning of a street art paint-a-thon throughout the city. Watch local artists and see the streets of Denver transform.
2. Catch a Show at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Unlike any other concert venue on earth, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is situated in a gorgeous natural setting of red rocks. The naturally occurring amphitheater has been in use since the Native Americans inhabited the land, where it was used as a meeting place to settle disputes for regional conflicts. Today it’s the most beautiful concert venue on earth and attracts world-famous artists of all different genres to come and perform.
Local Tip: Can’t catch a show? Don’t worry, in the summertime, there are movie showings in the evenings and the venue is free to visit during the day.
3. Attend the Big Wonderful
A semi-traveling boutique show featuring local artisans, the Big Wonderful is a classic summer festival showcasing Colorado’s coolest creators. Happening throughout summer, visitors can go and check out an array of local vendors, from beekeepers to jewelry makers. Tickets are free.
4. Bring on the Brunch
What better way to start the day than with a delicious brunch? Like any city, Denver has a hotbed of brunch spots, but unlike every other city, there is one specialty everyone should try, the coveted breakfast burrito. Spicy and delicious, this Denver breakfast staple is smothered in Colorado’s famed green chili. Fixing vary depending on your taste, but you’ve got to get it smothered in the green stuff. A few of the best brunch spots in Denver include:
- Devil’s Food Kitchen
- Snooze Eatery (get the pancakes!)
- Denver Biscuit Company
5. Shop Small
One of the best things to do in Denver is shop the small, boutique shops. Colorado, in general, is very pro-small business and many people come to Denver to make their small businesses come to life. Check out these amazing neighborhoods for boutique shopping:
- Tennyson Street in the Highlands
- Cherry Creek North in Cherry Creek
- Old South Pearl in Platt Park
6. Snag a Drink at a Rooftop Bar
Home to the original rooftop bar scene, Denver set the stage for incredible watering holes with a view. The LoDo and Ballpark neighborhoods, in particular, have all the best rooftop action. Stop by around sunset for epic cityscape views as you watch the sunset over the mountains.
7. Take a Stroll Through Washington Park
Located just outside of downtown Denver is a quiet park with beautiful mountain views. Washington Park, or Wash Park, as its locally known, is the premier spot to sit out and enjoy Colorado’s famous sunshine. Join a pick-up volleyball game, go fishing in one of the two lakes, or run the 2.5-mile running route through the park.
8. Attend the Denver Art Walk
The first Friday of every month marks the Santa Fe Art District’s celebration of local Colorado Artists. Starting at 6:30 PM and running until around 10 pm Santa Fe Street between 13th and North Alameda throws gallery parties, open houses, and stuffs itself with street vendors.
9. Rent a Bike and Cruise the Cherry Creek Trail
One of the easiest ways to get around downtown Denver is to utilize the Cherry Creek bike path. You can rent city bikes, scooters, or even walk the trail to get from place to place. Take note that the trail is prone to flooding in the rain, so stick above the water.
10. Enjoy a Local Brew
Denver is home to over 90 breweries in the metro area alone. Beer lovers should opt to take a brewery tour of the city’s finest beer houses. A few staple breweries include Wynkoop and The Great Divide Brewery. Those who love funky flavors should check out Crooked Stave and Cerveceria Colorado. Denver’s best breweries are located all over the city, so be sure to enjoy responsibly.
11. Grab an Ice Cream Cone
Thanks to the mild weather, Denver’s best ice cream shops are open year-round for your sugar fix. Homemade ice cream is another Denver foodie’s dream. Here are a few drool-worthy spots to grab a cone:
- Littleman in the Highlands Neighborhood
- Bonnie Brae in Washington Park
- Licks in Capitol Hill
- Nuggs in Park Hill
12. Take a Selfie with the Big Blue Bear
The Big Blue Bear located just outside the Denver Convention Center entrance is one of Denver’s best sculptures. You can catch the Big Blue Bear peering curiously into the convention center at 14th Street and Stout Street.
13. Have a Smorgasbord at Civic Center Eats
Every year during lunch hour (11 am to 2 pm) between April 30th to October 10th on Tuesdays through Thursdays, you can catch all of Denver’s best food trucks in one spot. Civic Center Eats, located in Civic Center Park at the base of the capitol building, is the perfect place to pig out on the best “street food” in Denver.
14. See the Sculptures at the Denver Botanical Gardens
One of the best things to do in Denver is to take a visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens. There’s always something beautiful to see, whether it’s the spring flowers, an evening summer concert, the changing colors, or the Blossoms of Light holiday festival.
15. Play a Round of (Affordable) Golf
Denver owns several public golf courses. It’s only around $15 for a round of golf, making it an ideal choice for budget-friendly things to do in Denver. If you’ve got a car, you can head outside of town to one of two Top Golf establishments. Play games at this interactive driving range and bar with your buddies.
16. Attend the Biggest Beer Festival in the Americas
Every October, beer aficionados from all over the world flock to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. It’s the biggest of its kind in the Americas and certainly a Denver Bucket List item. There are several different sessions you can attend, or you can enjoy the happenings surrounding the festival each year. Bars and breweries host special events.
17. Go for a Hike
You don’t need to go far to enjoy some of Denver’s best hiking trails. There are even a few trails that are easily accessible via public transportation. Strap on your hiking boots and catch a glimpse of beautiful mountain scenery. Many of the hikes around Denver feature beautiful city views too. So step into nature and experience the beauty of the Mile High City.
18. Hang Out at the Confluence
Back in the day, Denver was founded at the confluence between Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Today, there’s a cool kayaking course and relaxing park. The Confluence is a sweet place to post up and have a picnic. Stop by the flagship REI outdoor gear store as well as the famous Wilderness Exchange and shop for your next big outdoor adventure.
19. Visit a Recreational Marijuana Shop
If you’re over 21, you can indulge in Denver’s bustling marijuana scene. Head into a pot shop and pick up the best weed in the country for your enjoyment. Remember, smoking or consuming marijuana in Denver is illegal and always make sure your hotel is pot-friendly before lighting up.
20. Hike a Colorado 14er
Okay, so admittedly this isn’t technically in Denver, but just one hour away are two of Colorado’s easiest 14,000-foot mountains – Greys and Torreys Peak. Start early (I’m talking 5-am-at-the-trailhead early) to stay safe and beat dangerous afternoon thunderstorms. For more, check out my complete guide to hiking a Colorado 14er.
21. Sit in the Rockpile at a Rockies Game
For $5 you can snag seats at the rowdiest section of the Rockies Stadium. Catching a Rockies game at the Rock Pile is a rite of passage for any Denverite. Alternatively, you can buy a standing room ticket for the Rooftop at Coors Field bar and enjoy America’s pastime in a whole new and exciting way.
22. Take a Segway Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to get in touch with your inner nerd, you can with Denver Segway Tours. These 1.5 to 2-hour long tours hit all of the highlights in Downtown Denver while you zoom your away around on this space-like vehicle.
23. Eat Your Way Through the Highlands
The Highlands neighborhood is home to some of the tastiest eats in Denver. Many chefs come from around the US and abroad to make a stand in Denver’s hottest foodie neighborhood. Be sure to check out these inspiring restaurants.
- Linger. Worldwide inspired tapas.
- Uncle. A ramen shop.
- Old Major. Delicious meats.
24. Catch an Indy Flick at the Mayan
If you like old theaters with plenty of character, you’ve got to see a flick at the Mayan theater off of Broadway. Often featuring indy flicks and cult classics, the Mayan is a must-see spot in Denver.
25. Go Indoor Rock Climbing
There are over 10 rock climbing gyms in Denver. Even if you never plan on climbing outdoors, you can still check out this latest fitness craze by snagging a day pass. Every climbing gym offers free belay lessons, safety checks, and allows you to rent gear. A few of the best indoor climbing gyms in Denver include:
- EarthTreks Englewood. The largest indoor climbing gym in the country
- Movement in the Baker neighborhood
- Ubergrippen in North Denver
26. Take a Tour of the US Mint
Want to see how your coins are made? Head to the US mint. Denver is often touted as the capital of the west, and there is a lot of federal government buildings here, including one of two US mints. Tours must be booked in advance.
27. Wander Historic Union Station
Denver’s Historic Union Station is one of the prettiest buildings in Denver. Trains still leave from this historic station, but the entire neighborhood underwent a re-development. Now home to fine dining options, quick bites, and beautiful city scenery, the Union Station area is an awesome blend of modern architecture and time-honored scenery.
28. Eat at Denver’s Oldest Restaurants
Ever wanted to grab a burger and beer where Jack Kurack used to write? Or maybe you want to indulge in a mouth-watering steak at Denver’s oldest restaurant. Here are a few spots that have been around since the city’s origins
- My Brother’s Bar in the Confluence
- The Buckhorn Exchange
29. Float the Clear Creek
During the summer, you can head outside of Denver to the town of Golden and go for a river float. Rent a tube for the day and cool off in Clear Creek. The Clear Creek White Water Park is where it’s at. An all-natural water park with plenty of fun, sometimes rowdy, rapids to float. This Denver activity is also suitable for children. Keep in mind the best months to float are June (sometimes rough) through August.
30. Go for a Scenic Drive
Denver is the home base for an array of the most scenic drives in Colorado. Luckily, there is an array of scenic drives right near Denver. The closest is the drive-up Mount Evans, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Get mile-high views from the top of a Colorado 14er – Mount Evans. This activity is about a 40-minute drive from downtown proper, but well worth the time.
31. Visit a Speak Easy
One of the more unique things to do in Denver is head to an underground drinking establishment. These sneaky bars, called speakeasies are located throughout the city. Some enter through a bookstore and others through a library. Most don’t allow cell phone use while inside. So, unplug, order up an artisanal cocktail and relax.
32. See Incredible Chalk Art
One of the best things to do in Denver during the fall is to attend the Chalk Festival. Over June 5th and 6th, chalk artists come from all over to decorate the streets. Snap illusionary photos or admire the amazing scenes artists create with your favorite childhood craft.
Local Tip: Not here for the festival? No worries, Larimer Square is still a slick spot to visit at night. This area is known for its fine dining, but even just strolling the string-lit street is a magical experience.
How Many Days Should I Stay in Denver?
If you plan on visiting Denver, you’ll want at least two full days to make the most of your time. Thanks to its compact nature, you can see quite a bit of the Mile High City on a weekend getaway. You’ll see most of what you want to see and have a chance to get into the mountains with 4 days in Denver.
Where are the Best Places to Stay in Denver, CO?
Denver hosts an array of accommodations from hostels to five-star luxury accommodation. Before you decided where to stay in Denver, consider what neighborhood you’d like to be in. LoDo is known for its bar scene while the Highlands has awesome food. Capitol Hill has cheaper accommodation and more of an urban feel. Downtown proper is pretty dead at night and doesn’t have much going on.
Tips for Visiting Denver, Colorado
When you first arrive in Denver, you’ll likely be coming from Denver International Airport, which is well outside of the city (an hour by train to downtown). You’ll want to make sure you budget enough time to get to and from the airport. There are a few important things to know before you visit Denver, such as the nuances of marijuana laws, weather, and more.
Overall, Denver is an awesome place to visit with plenty of things to do. Check out the vibrant streets of Denver, Colorado and more this year.