Denver is nicknamed “The Mile High City'' and no, that's not because it was one of the first cities in the United States to legalize cannabis …
Instead, the city is exactly one mile above sea level, making it one of the highest cities in the US!
But don’t worry, you’re not going to be walking around out of breath and with altitude sickness.
Instead, you're going to have an awesome time!
We loved Denver (as you will soon see) and couldn’t wait to share our experiences.
The city is packed FULL of charm, history and culture, and with so much to explore it can be tricky to decide what to do while you are visiting Denver...
But don't worry, that's where we come in.
Below is a rundown of the absolute best things to do in Denver this year.
Along with some added useful tips & tricks to help you enjoy your stay.
Let’s get started…
Denver is home to one of the busiest airports in the US, Denver International Airport, with 24 airlines operating at the airport. If this is your chosen method of transport, it is likely you'll be able to fly directly into the city.
You'll know when you're flying into Denver as you'll witness impressive views of the Rocky Mountains out of the plane window.
Denver International Airport is around a 40 minute drive outside of Denver city but it's incredibly easy to rent a car or call a cab or from the airport and into the city center.
Make sure to check for available flights and deals on Skyscanner.
Whether you hire a car or bring your own, Denver is easily accessible by car from other cities within Colorado and the rest of the USA.
If you don't fly in and pick up a vehicle at Denver International Airport, there are an abundance of retailers in the city for you to choose from.
You can also take a look at Rentalcars for some fantastic deals!
Many epic US road trips include Denver as a stop off so it's a well traveled and highly popular route for tourists.
For that reason, I would actually recommend you get yourself a camper/RV to better enjoy your time in and around Denver.
For more info, check out our guide on the best campervan & RV rentals in Denver.
Even if you're only looking to do a road trip of Colorado, this city is the perfect starting point!
Arriving into Denver by rail is an extremely popular method as the public transport between cities in Colorado is highly regarded.
The California Zephyr line, which starts in San Francisco and is run by Amtrak, runs daily and directly into downtown Denver.
Make sure to check out Amtraks timetables here!
If you're mainly using Denver as a base to explore and visit other nearby towns and cities, public transport is going to be the best option for you!
Denver has great public transport links and the Regional Transportation District includes rail, bus, and light rail.
The light rail service has 12 lines across the city of Denver which includes some external locations you might want to visit including the nearby city of Boulder. The majority of tickets are extremely affordable at $3 for a single adult and run every few minutes.
The bus is another great option, as the service runs all year round and is super easy to use. The bus routes can be found online and are all over the city.
This makes them a great option for seeing as much of Denver as possible on a budget.
Renting a car or driving is always a great option for getting around. Having a car will allow you to visit some further away places and will allow you to travel at your own pace.
The car rental market is competitive with so many different companies offering their services; most rentals start at around $40 a day, depending on the car, and many have counters at Denver International Airport.
However, if you're only planning on exploring the city, renting a car shouldn't be necessary during your trip.
Denver is such a walkable city that if you didn't want to rent a car, you could easily book accommodation in the city and see Denver's highlights on foot. Walking will also allow you to explore parts of the city that are not easily accessible by other methods of transport.
Like a lot of big cities, Denver now has E-bikes and E-scooters which are easily accessible. Just download the Lime or Lyft apps, scan the QR code of the bike you’re wishing to ride and away you go!
These are great fun and also a lot more environmentally friendly, just don't forget your helmet!
You can easily walk for your main method of transport and then use ride hailing apps such as Uber to reach the places that are a bit further out.
Just be careful when visiting places such as the national park as you may struggle to get a signal to book your ride back.
There are so many options for accommodation in Denver, whether you're only visiting the city or if you're using Denver as a base to explore more of Colorado.
Here are just a few popular options for where to stay in Denver.
This is one of the best budget options you'll find in the city as it offers spacious rooms, continental breakfast, and fantastic facilities. If you stay at Radisson Hotel Denver Central, you'll benefit from an on-site restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, and a shared lounge where guests can relax.
This hotel is just a 25-minute drive from the airport and although it's not in the city center, you'll get fantastic views of Denver and its mountain backdrop. This hotel has an on-site restaurant, a fitness center, a business center, and laundry services.
If you're looking for a luxury hotel then make sure you check out Clayton Members Club & Hotel! This 5* property has a lot to offer with an outdoor swimming pool, a sun terrace, a restaurant, and a bar. There's also a shared lounge area, fitness center, and a business center.
We've also got some top tips on how to get cheap hotel rooms if you're interested in bagging a bargain...
Denver has a massive foodie scene and one of the best ways to experience it would be to take a food tour with Delicious Denver.
And as it turns out, this tour was 100% the best thing we did in Denver.
Not only were we able to try some amazing foods but we also learnt SO MUCH about the culture within Denver from a local who led the tour.
Our tour had five stops in total, all in local restaurants and with a range of different cuisines.
My favourite food was probably the empanadas, they were crazy delicious, and I also got to enjoy a pretty delicious margarita (you can upgrade to a drinks package on your tour!)
Our guide also gave us so many more tips on additional places to eat and see around Denver.
He actually asked everyone their favorite cuisines and then tailored his recommendations to each and every person, which was such a great touch.
If you're able, I would schedule your food tour as the first thing you do in Denver, as it will set you up for the rest of your stay here.
Then you'll know exactly where's best to eat each day!
Wherever we go, we always try to do a food tour as it's the best way to experience the local cuisine. Some other foodie destinations that I highly recommend include Los Angeles, and Winnipeg in Canada.
Are you looking for something to do in Denver for the whole family?
Or maybe (like us) you just love rides!
Well look no further than the Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park!
This epic day out will be a highlight of the trip for anyone involved. Elitch Gardens has been open for over 130 years now and is loved by locals and tourists alike.
We spent an awesome day here enjoying the rides and then relaxing at the water park.
Home to over 50 rides, spring and summer is renowned for being the best time to visit this park in order to experience the high thrill rides and cool off at the water park.
However, if you're lucky enough to visit around Halloween, this is meant to be one of the best things to do in Denver in the fall, because of Fright Fest!
The park is then open later into the night and includes a trick or treat trail and some extra scary attractions!
This theme park is conveniently located in downtown Denver meaning it's extremely easy to get to via public transport or on foot if you’re close by.
If you're looking for fun things to do in Denver then don't miss out on this place!
Rocky Mountains National Park is one of Denver’s most popular attractions and is what draws in most of their tourism. This national park has over 300 miles of hiking trails throughout its mountains and alpine forests, all with some incredible wildlife and landscapes.
The best way to explore the Rocky Mountains National Park would be to book a full day tour before you go!
Make your trip as stress free as possible by booking this guided tour. They will pick you up from the Denver Union Station in an air-conditioned minivan and from there you can spend the rest of the day just soaking in the views.
This tour includes the epic Flatiron formations, the Rocky Mountain foothills, a picnic with a view, Estes Park and the Stanley Hotel, the location in which the horror movie The Shining was filmed, all before dropping you back off in Denver.
Don't forget your water and your hiking shoes if you're taking this tour!
While Denver is a very walkable city to explore, taking a bicycle tour of downtown Denver can be a great way to see the city's highlights while having a bit of fun along the way.
Turn up at Randy's Recycled Cycles and start your guided tour around the city, breathing in that fresh mountain air and filling your exercise rings for the day at the same time!
You've also got this bicycle tour that is run by Mile High Bike Tours, and you'll get to see the striking skyline and beautiful architecture as you ride along soaking in that Colorado sun.
16th Street Mall is a mile long walking street located in downtown Denver and is full of the city's best shops, cafes and restaurants.
If you enjoy sitting down with a coffee and watching the world run around you, 16th Street Mall has 42 coffee alfrescos that you definitely shouldn't miss.
This street is also home to what was once the highest building west of the Mississippi, D&F Tower which is a part-replica of the famous Campanile of St. Mark's located in Venice.
While 16th Street Mall is bustling at most times of day, after dark is when this street comes alive!
If this is your thing, make sure to come by in the evening to witness the fairy lights, horse drawn carriages and lively breweries!
City Park holds weekly free concerts and many different events and festivals throughout the year so be sure to check their events schedule before your visit.
For the perfect photo opportunity, head towards the museum for those stunning panoramic views of Denver’s skyline contrasted with the greenery from the City Park.
If you're visiting or traveling as a couple, one of the cutest things to do in Denver is to rent a pedal boat in City Park and spend an afternoon together on the lake. Why not pair it with a walk around the grounds and a picnic on the grass to finish the day?!
Lower Downtown Denver, nicknamed LoDo, is Denver's oldest neighborhood.
Back in 1858, a small amount of gold was found at what is now Confluence Park. This small amount of gold is what really started to make the city of Denver what we see it as today.
Being the oldest neighborhood, LoDo has a unique mix of original and modern architecture so it’s definitely not one to be missed!
Currently, LoDo is home to nearly 100 restaurants, shops, bars and clubs, and as you can imagine, is subsequently a very busy district.
Adjacent to LoDo, Larimer Square is often described as the heart and soul of downtown Denver and for good reason.
This square was saved from demolition in the 1960's and is now known as a historic district; famous for its iconic building style, now full of hip shops and eateries!
One of Colorado’s better kept secrets, Castle Rock is located on I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs.
Castle Rock gets its name from the stunning rock formations overlooking the town that, you guessed it... Looks like a castle!
If you're looking for the perfect day trip from Denver, Castle Rock is one of the best things you can do, although if you have a little more time, it's definitely worth a camping trip.
Castle Rocks has so many activities on offer to get your adrenaline pumping, however the zip line tour is definitely the most popular! This tour covers 10 different zip lines all soaring over the Colorado landscapes with special views of Rocky Mountain!
You might be thinking, “how is a train station an activity to do in Denver?” but please be assured, this isn't just any old train station!
While Denver Union Station is the transport hub for the city, it is so much more!
If you're lucky enough to be in the area for a Saturday between May and October, you'll come across Union Station Farmers Market, where you can taste and buy some of the city’s finest local produce!
Be sure to try some of the honeycomb and honey whilst you're there as their newest project includes a beekeeping program and they actually manage four bee hives on the station roof!
Not to worry if you don't happen to be there for the market day, as the shops and restaurants around Denver Union Station are open all year round and are of the finest quality!
If you need another peaceful area to escape the crowds of the city, head straight to Washington Park, or Wash’ Park, as the locals call it!
This neighborhood is popular with both the elderly and young families and is one of the best places to admire the array of beautiful homes around the area.
The park is home to many trails so if you're looking to hike, jog or cycle outside of the city, Wash Park will be a highlight for you.
With two huge lakes inside the park, there are many water activities you can partake in. This includes fishing, paddle boarding, wading, and paddle boating!
If you're wondering what to do in Denver then why not spend some time here?
If you're looking for a peaceful walk during your stay in Denver, the Denver Botanic Gardens are a beautiful place to go, no matter the time of year.
These 23 acre gardens include an array of themed gardens and you could easily spend a whole day exploring.
If you're visiting Denver with family, the botanical gardens offer the very popular Mordecai Children's Garden which has interactive learning spots for children including digging in the mud, watering plants, and identifying different creepy crawlies.
Another highlight would be the Science Pyramid where you can learn all about the conservation that the botanical garden does to protect the local wildlife.
Be sure to check out the social calendar at the Botanic Gardens as they regularly host evening events, special exhibits and shows which are very popular with the locals.
Save on your Botanic Gardens tickets by purchasing a Denver CityPass!
This beautiful building is the home of the Colorado General Assembly and is a popular tourist attraction!
Between Monday and Friday the Colorado State Capitol runs free guided tours around the building which includes a trip up the 99 steps to the dome observation area.
While you can check out the grounds themselves and the exterior of the building without a tour, you definitely need one to go up to the dome and see some of the beautiful stained glass windows up close.
You'll also get to learn about this incredible building first hand.
No need to book a tour in advance, it's first come first serve!
Just 30 miles west of Denver, lies Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
First, head to the visitors center to learn all about the park, its local wildlife and the activities on offer! However, before you get all outdoorsy with your activities, take a drive to Panorama Point, a breathtaking lookout point to view miles into the distance of Colorado.
There are so many ways you can spend your day at Golden Gate Canyon State Park including, hiking, biking, horse riding, fishing, rock climbing, and even skiing and sledding in winter!
Just be sure no matter what activities you pick, keep an eye out for the wildlife and you might even be lucky enough to spot a moose!
Whether you're a fan of Top Gun or Star Wars, Rockies Air & Space Museum will help you get your nerd-fix!
The Lowry area used to house the Lowry Air Force Base and this was initially the home for the Air Force Academy. Since it was decommissioned in 1994, this area is now where the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located.
This museum is home to nearly 50 different aircrafts including a Star Wars X-Wing fighter! A lot of the exhibitions are interactive and open for children to explore making this museum both fun and educational for the whole family.
This activity costs $16.95 per person but you can save money by getting the Denver CityPass.
In the 1960’s, a large amount of the older buildings in Denver were being destroyed to make way for new buildings.
But the Molly Brown House was saved by a group of citizens that wanted to preserve the house of Titanic survivor Magaret Tobin Brown.
Since then the house has been turned into a museum, displaying the life of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” highlighting her activism, philanthropy, and charity work as well as her time spent on the famous Titanic.
Due to the size of the museum, they are limiting how many guests can enter at one time so be sure to check their website for opening times and booking options!
Located just over an hour away, one of the best day trips from Denver would have to be Roxborough State Park!
This state park offers unbeatable views, red rock formations, hiking for all levels and that peace and tranquility you might have been missing in the city.
A daily park ticket costs around $10 to enter unless you purchase a state park ticket which we would definitely recommend if you're trying to visit multiple times during your Colorado trip.
If you didn't want to take a picnic with you for your day trip out of Denver, be sure to finish your day with a meal at On The Rocks Bar and Grill for dinner with a view of the red rocks in the state park.
If you love your street art, there is no better place to sample it than Denver.
The local artists have been brightening up the city for decades now, making Denver known for its urban art areas.
You can find all different types of street art dotted around the city, however they're more prolific in certain areas.
For instance, River north, or RiNo Art District is one of the best areas to go art spotting and is where you will see a lot of the best street art Instagram backdrops! This area alone has over 80 different painted walls so it will definitely not disappoint!
Other options include Colfax Avenue, a popular spot for music and art lovers alike, or LoHi, a infamous hipster area, known for its street art.
To see some of the best art pieces at the time of your visit, book your street art tour with Denver Graffiti Tour!
This charming little town on the way to Boulder from Denver, is not to be missed! Once a bustling gold rush town, Golden now has way more activities than just gold-panning.
With so much to do during your day trip, we would definitely recommend renting a car or traveling to Golden.
A must-see whilst in Golden would be the Coors Brewery. This is the world’s largest single site brewery so be sure to book yourself in for a brewery tour to taste the goods!
If beer isn't your thing then don't worry there is plenty more on offer in this town. Spend your day doing some popular outdoor activities such as climbing, hiking or walking down Clear Creek Trail.
If you haven't got your history fix while in Denver, the Golden History Museum has buildings and artifacts from the 1800’s and can give you a feel for what the locals lived like all those years ago.
During your trip to Golden, you must visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre!
This open air theater has been open to the public since 1941 and is one of the world’s most famous live music venues thanks to it being built into the red rock formations.
The top level of the amphitheater is actually 6450 feet above sea level and has impressive views of the Denver skyline.
Be sure to check all upcoming events being held at the amphitheater as watching live music at Red Rocks really is a unique experience. However, there are other types of smaller events, including yoga, which happen more often and are still worth the trip!
If you're looking for things to do in Denver with kids, the Georgetown Loop Railroad is a great option.
The railroad itself is only 45 miles west of Denver, and the train is a fun way to experience the best of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
This Denver tour in particular, starts in the Rocky Mountains, visits the alpine forests, includes lunch at Echo Lake Lodge, and finishes with the Georgetown Loop Railroad. We’d highly recommend booking a tour as there is no better way of seeing this particular highlight if you have a limited amount of time.
Although it's the perfect activity for families, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Georgetown Loop Railroad to anyone who is visiting Denver!
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America and is around 60 miles outside of downtown Denver. This drive really is one of the best things you can do in Denver and Colorado as the mountainous scenery is breathtaking and the ability to drive through 5 climate zones is unlike your usual day road trip.
This byway is only open all the way to the summit between Memorial day and Labor day due to the weather.
During your trip and as you climb to the summit you'll come across Echo Lake. This is an ideal location to stop off all year round but we definitely recommend it in summer as the Echo Lake lodge will be open and this is a perfect lunch stop!
After your lunch stop you can begin your incline up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway; don't forget to stop off at the Walter Pesman Alpine Garden to view the oldest living thing on earth, the Bristlecone Pine.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, there is a short walk to the actual summit where the air is even thinner and the sun is that bit stronger. Nonetheless, the panoramic views of Colorado from the top are next level and definitely worth the trip.
If you're an animal lover you are going to love Denver Zoo!
A perfect thing to do in Denver for the whole family, Denver Zoo has over 3000 amazing animals and even has some you can get up close and personal with. Having explored the whole site, we found the elephant experience is definitely a must-do on your zoo trip!
Be sure to check the zoo’s social calendar and experiences list to make sure you don't miss any of the awesome things going on at the zoo, especially during the school holidays!
Denver Zoo is located inside City Park so you could easily tie it in with a trip to the park or the Nature and Science museum.
The zoo is one of the activities included in the Denver CityPass so don't forget to pick one up!
Boulder is such a trendy town and being so close to Denver, it would be rude not to experience a day trip there.
If you only have a day, we would recommend renting a bike to try and see as many of Boulders landmarks as possible, including the Flat Irons. This is a very popular sightseeing spot in Colorado and provides one of the many hiking and biking trails in the area.
Cycling not your thing? Why not see Boulder from a completely different point of view and book a hot-air balloon ride to witness some truly epic views of Colorado.
If you're looking for something to do in Denver at night, Boulder has an iconic theater that regularly has evening entertainment and a range of upmarket cocktail bars and speakeasies.
If you're looking for another great day trip from the city of Denver, then Fort Collins should 100% be on your radar!
Just like Denver, it’s packed full of genuine charm, and the city is a massive foodies/ drinks scene.
We were lucky enough to have a full 3 days to explore the best things that Fort Collins has to offer.
But even just a day trip is worth it!
You can explore the main town area itself, jumping in and out of cool bars, restaurants, and cafes.
Or instead head just outside the city to the Horsetooth Reservoir, where you can hire a speedboat for a few hours!
This was an incredible experience, and one that I would definitely recommend!
Denver is an amazing city to visit all year around, however it will really depend on what you want from your trip.
The winter months get an average low of 17 degrees Fahrenheit which is not your ideal temperature for exploring the hiking and bike trails. Summer is peak season so while the weather is beautiful, the activity and accommodation prices do spike and you'll find a lot of the landmarks overcrowded.
For these reasons, the best time to visit Denver to get the most out of your visit, is Spring and Autumn, as the weather is less extreme, the crowds are a lot more manageable and prices are more affordable.
If you're tight for time, you can easily spend a day or two in Denver and see most of the highlights.
However, either three or four days is probably the ideal amount of time to spend in Denver; it makes a really nice weekend trip!
Yes, there are several different types of tours around Denver, including bike tours and brewery tours. We will link some of the best ones below:
While it depends on your travel style, it's likely that you will spend around $170 a day during your time in Denver, according to recent travel trends.
To lower your daily budget, walk as much as you can. As we’ve highlighted above, Denver is a very walkable city and renting a car or being over-reliant on public transport might set you back a bit.
Yes, Denver is a very safe city and the locals are renowned for being very friendly!
That being said, you should act in caution in any large city and always be aware of your surroundings.
Denver experiences such a wide range of weather, so it's important to be ready for anything.
Random showers are not uncommon so be sure to pack a waterproof jacket with you and light clothing is always a great option for layering.
You may hear a lot of visitors complain about feeling unwell during their trip to Denver, this city is a mile above sea level so it's not out of the ordinary to struggle with the altitude.
To combat this, carry water with you at all times, avoid intoxicants and buy some altitude sickness pills. Thankfully for most people, the altitude sickness goes away after a few hours.
If you're planning on visiting a lot of Denver’s attractions, which you definitely should, you would benefit from purchasing a Denver CityPass.
The CityPass allows you to save up to 42% on the city’s most popular attractions over a 7 day period.
Denver really is a unique city, full of culture and things to do.
I'm sure we missed out on some attractions during our trip as it's impossible to see everything. Please feel free to leave some more recommendations in the comments as we would love to hear them!
Just be sure not to miss out on a day-tour of the Rocky Mountains during your visit...
If you would like to spend longer in Colorado after your trip to Denver, there are several places you can visit.
You have the option to drive north of Denver to cities such as Boulder or Fort Collins; both of which are great options and have an abundance of activities to do. Alternatively, you can head south to Colorado Springs and enjoy all it has to offer, including the famous Garden of the Gods.
Here are some other guides that you may find helpful if you're planning a trip to America: