The capital of Colorado is the most visited city in the state. The bustling metropolis of Denver sits in the mountains and offers visitors a variety of activities from hiking, touring museums, and so much more.
17 of the Best Things to Do in Denver in 2023
With so many fun things to do in Denver, deciding what to add to your itinerary can be challenging. So we’ve narrowed down the 17 best things to do in Denver to help you create your perfect getaway.
1. Visit the Denver Zoo
The Denver Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals and sits within 80-acres of City Park. Even though it’s in the city of Denver, they modeled the zoo after a nature preserve in Kenya.
Some animals you’ll see and learn about here include black rhinos, orangutans, tigers, sea lions, and bald eagles. As you walk through the zoo, you’ll see a variety of habitats that make you feel like you’re traveling around the world.
For example, the African savanna is where lions, African dogs, and hyenas stay. There’s also an area dedicated to various reptiles and amphibians worth seeing. You can spend as much or as little time here, but it is a large zoo, so plan accordingly.
Regardless of how long you plan on staying at the Denver Zoo, you need to check out their nursery. It’s adorable and filled with baby animals.
Try to plan your trip around feeding times for the animals if you can. It’s a unique thing to see, and many zookeepers will answer questions and educate you on the species you’re watching.
Read Next: The Best Zoos in the United States
2. See Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
One of the most beautiful outdoor concert venues in the country is outside Denver. Red Rocks is incredibly famous and is a spot you’ll need to add to your list of things to do while in the Mile High City.
The venue is technically in Morrison, Colorado, but it’s only 16 miles from Denver, making it an easy place to visit. Red Rocks is nestled among over 300 million-year-old red sandstone formations, hence the name.
The venue can seat just over 9,500 people, and hundreds of artists have performed here. Artists like Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews Band, and more have graced the stage.
If you can, you should try to catch a show at Red Rocks while you’re in Denver.
You can check their website for the concert schedule. Even if you can’t make time for a show or don’t care who’s performing, driving out to the venue is still a wonderful experience that you should aim to do on your trip.
3. Tour the Denver Art Museum
A great activity within walking distance of capitol hill and downtown Denver is to tour the Denver Art Museum. You’ll find the museum in the Civic Center, where it’s easy to spot with its modern and angular exterior.
When you walk through the front doors, you’ll notice you have several stories of artwork to explore. The artwork throughout the museum is modern and contemporary, featuring artists from around the world.
There are more than 70,000 pieces of artwork inside, so you may want to plan to spend a few hours here if you’re going to see it all. You’re more than welcome to take a self-guided tour of the museum, but a guided tour is the best way to really learn about the artwork you’re looking at.
Besides admiring the art, you can take classes here if you want! They also have a great restaurant perfect for lunch when you need a break from walking around.
4. Relax at the Denver Beer Spa
It’s no secret that Denver is famous for its craft beer scene, so when the Denver Beer Spa opened its doors in 2021, it quickly became a must-try activity in the city.
This unique spa offers services like zero gravity massage chairs, private baths filled with hops and barley, and an infrared sauna. While all that already sounds amazing, the fun doesn’t stop there.
When you book services at the Denver Beer Spa, you’ll receive a tap card where you can serve yourself delicious craft beer or wine to bring with you to your private rooms. It’s the perfect way to spend some time when you need to relax.
The Beer Spa isn’t far from downtown, so it’s easy to get to from almost everywhere in the city.
The spa is locally owned, and the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. Reservations are required, but you can easily make them online. Once you’re finished with your services, you can sit in their lounge and sip your beer or wine.
5. Visit Various Craft Breweries
For craft beer lovers, Denver won’t let you down. There are around 150 breweries within the city; most of them are near or downtown. It’s hard only to visit one craft brewery during your stay, so spending some time trying out a few is a great way to spend your time in the city.
You can follow the Denver Beer Trail, organize your own brewery crawl, or search online for brewery tours. Many of the breweries are within walking distance of one another, making it easy to hop from one to another safely.
As you plan your brewery tour, here are a few of the most popular ones to visit:
- Wynkoop Brewery
- Our Mutual Friend
- Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery
- Denver Beer Company
- Cerebral Brewing
- Banded Oak Brewing Company
6. Hit the Hiking Trails
Colorado has some of the most beautiful nature in the western United States. If you have the time while you’re in Denver, you can go for a hike to enjoy the fresh air and beauty of the area. There are miles of hiking trails within 30 minutes to an hour of the city for you to choose from.
If you’re thinking about going hiking during your time in Denver, you may want to rent a car. This way, you’re not spending a fortune on rideshare services to get you to and from the trailhead.
The best thing about the trails around Denver is that there’s something for almost every skill level. Remember to pack plenty of water for your hike, check the weather, dress accordingly, and have a fantastic time.
Here are some of the most popular trails within 30 minutes of the city:
- Trading Post Trail
- Saddleback Mountain Trail
- Maxwell Falls Lower Trail
- South Valley Park Trail
- Dad Clark Trail
- Waterton Canyon Trail
7. Walk Around Larimer Square
Larimer Square is a historic neighborhood in Denver. In 1858, American Indians began settling in the area, and what’s now Larimer Square used to be the site of the original pioneer camp.
As the city’s first historical neighborhood, if you ask most people, they’ll tell you that this area is the heart and soul of Denver.
The neighborhood features plenty of things to do, from eating at the fantastic restaurants, shopping for new clothes or sounders, or hitting the bars and other nightlife venues.
Even if you want to take a stroll through the sidewalks, this is an area of Denver you won’t want to miss on your getaway. Besides all the restaurants, shops, and nightlife, Larimer Square often hosts events you may want to check out.
You can look on their website for upcoming events and things happening in the area. People love this area because it’s pedestrian-friendly and has a great vibe.
8. Drive the Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The Rocky Mountains are one of the things that makes Denver so appealing to visitors. If you want to experience the mountains during your stay, driving the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a great way to do so.
The entire drive takes you through the mountains to your final destination, Mount Evans. You’ll need a car and probably want to dedicate an entire day to this activity to experience it truly.
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a two-lane road with roughly 9,000 feet of elevation change throughout the journey. Many people refer to the road as the “road into the sky” for this reason.
Once you reach the peak of Mount Evans, you’ll be sitting over 14,000 feet above sea level.
There are several excellent lookout points where you can see the Rocky Mountains and admire all their beauty. This isn’t an activity you want to rush through. Taking your time on the drive and at the lookouts will make this much more memorable for you.
9. Catch a Game at Coors Field
Denver is home to one of the most famous domestic beers, Coors. It’s such a namesake in the city that they named their baseball field Coors Field. Seeing a game here is exciting if you’re a baseball fan and even if you’re not.
The MLB team, the Colorado Rockies, call this field home. The baseball stadium sits on 76-acres and can hold over 50,000 people. The stadium is an experience, and if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to check out their interactive area.
They can test out their batting skills and pitch with virtual games. You need to head to the Rooftop for the adults before you leave.
Here you can test several of the best craft beers in Denver with a fantastic view of the field and Denver skyline. And even if you don’t want to see a game while here, touring the stadium is another excellent activity.
10. Tour the Denver Branch of the United States Mint
If you have an hour to kill, it’s raining outside, or you are fascinated with change, you can take a tour of the United States Mint in Denver. The U.S Mint opened in 1863 in an effort to transform the Gold Rush’s findings into money.
The facility produces up to 50 million coins per day! As you walk around the building, you’ll learn more about the history of the building, the coins it makes, and even see how they make the coins. The best part about this tour is that admission is free.
11. Go Whiskey Tasting at Stranahan’s Distillery
Everyone knows Denver is famous for craft beer but did you know they have a great distillery worth touring? The Stranahan’s Distillery was the first in the city of its kind and only opened its doors in 2004. This company was critical in Colorado’s distillery boom.
Not only does Stranahan’s Distillery make delicious and unique whiskey, but the fact it’s the city’s first makes taking a tour of the facility a must-do while you’re in town.
You can stop by their tasting room to enjoy a drink and samples of their creations if you prefer not to take an hour-long tour. If you’re up for the tour, you’ll meet with a guide who walks you through the building during the hour.
They’ll share their process to make their whiskey, and you’ll end up in the taproom. Here, you’ll be able to have generous tastings of their products. Be sure to have a safe ride home if you choose this activity!
12. Visit Union Station
Union Station isn’t just a functional train station in Denver. It’s a highly-rated shopping center with plenty of dining options. Denver’s Union Station originally opened in 1881, making it a historical place of significance to the city’s history.
This entertainment center is perfect when you want something easy to do in the city. You can walk around window shopping and then grab a bite to eat at one of the several excellent restaurants inside.
Union Station is so popular with tourists that they even offer a station tour! If you want to take the tour, you’ll learn more about the building’s history via a knowledgeable tour guide. For those over 21, the tour includes a complimentary drink at Terminal Bar!
13. Tour the History Colorado Center
For those who want to learn more about Denver and the state of Colorado’s history, the History Colorado Center is where you can do so. This museum is significant to the state because every floor of the museum highlights essential areas of the state’s history.
Every exhibit is carefully curated to ensure accuracy and that it can impact those who visit. The museum highlights several positive parts of Colorado’s history. But they don’t shy away from sharing the darker side so people can learn the truth.
For example, they don’t hide the fact that Colorado used to be a KKK hotspot.
The museum curators did an exceptional job at placing Native American, Latino, and African American stories at the forefront of many exhibits. Some of the exhibits you can see include an original ballot box from the 1890s and Colorado’s history during WWII.
14. Check Out the Santa Fe Art District
Denver has plenty of excellent neighborhoods to walk around and visit, but one you can’t miss is the Santa Fe Art District. As the name may suggest, the community has several art galleries, unique museums, and street art that you can admire and take photos with.
Throughout the neighborhood, you’ll find hipster hangouts. There are bars, coffee shops, and restaurants that have a relaxing and artistic atmosphere.
If you’re in Denver on the first Friday of the month, the art district hosts an event where you can go from one art gallery to another to see new artwork and performances.
15. See the Molly Brown House
The Molly Brown House is something you can’t miss for the history buffs. Nestled in Capitol Hill, this Victorian home is beautiful to look at and is a small museum.
It used to be the home of Margaret “Molly” Brown, who survived the Titanic sinking. The house showcases parts of Denver’s history and information about Molly Brown, who many consider one of Denver’s most fascinating residents.
A guided tour is the best way to visit since the guide will discuss her survival, role in women’s suffrage, and her history with the Colorado mining industry.
16. Take a Tour of the Colorado State Capitol
Touring the Colorado State Capitol building is another fun and free thing to do while in the city. You can easily spot the building by the gold dome on top when you’re walking downtown. Their free tours happen Monday through Friday.
17. Visit the Denver Aquarium
You’ll find a great aquarium in downtown Denver. This aquarium is home to over 500 different marine species that are worth seeing while you’re in town. Some of the marine animals you can view here are otters, amphibians from the rainforests, octopuses, and more.
The Denver Aquarium has a 4-D theater where you can see different fish on screen that feel like they’re swimming directly toward you. Besides walking through the various exhibits, the aquarium has a beautiful restaurant and lounge.
You can dine on excellent food while being surrounded by a 150,000-gallon aquarium. It’s a great spot if you have something to celebrate while you’re in town or if you’re looking for a unique dining experience.
Things to Consider
Whenever you’re traveling somewhere new, you’ll want to do a little research to better prepare. You’ll want to consider a few things before traveling to Denver, but the main one is to remember that the city sits 5,280 feet above sea level.
While this may not seem too big of a deal, it can take some adjusting if you’re not used to a higher elevation.
This is especially important if you plan to hike during your trip or spend a lot of time outdoors. Another tip to help you adjust is to avoid alcohol for your first 24 hours in the city.
Other things you’ll want to think about before visiting Denver are:
- You’ll need to rent a car if you’re going to travel outside of the city limits
- The vehicle will most likely need 4WD
- The weather can change drastically, so you’ll need to plan accordingly
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s so much to learn about the Mile High City. Here are the most frequently asked questions about Denver to help you better plan your trip and learn more about the city.
What is Denver most famous for?
Denver isn’t famous for just one thing. If you ask most people, they’ll tell you that Denver is most famous for Union Station, craft beer, and the beautiful parks throughout the city.
Are three days in Denver enough?
For your first time in Denver, three days should be perfect. This allows you to see a variety of things without overwhelming yourself. If you’re planning many more day trips, you may need longer to enjoy the city thoroughly.
When’s the best month to visit Denver?
If you’re planning a trip to Denver, the best times to visit are between April and May and also September and October. There tend to be fewer tourists in the city, and the temperatures are moderate and comfortable.
Do you need a car in Denver?
It depends. If you’re planning to stay within the city limits, you don’t necessarily need a car to get around. You can use ride-sharing platforms, walk, and use public transportation. If you want to take day trips on the outskirts of town or drive the Mount Evans scenic byway, you’ll need a car.
Is Denver expensive?
Denver ranks within the top 4% of most expensive cities to live in globally. This doesn’t mean you can’t plan out a budget-friendly visit. The food scene is diverse and affordable, so most of the expenses will be determined by your choice of accommodations and the means and frequency of transportation around the city.
So, What Are the Best Things To Do in Denver
The city of Denver is a beautiful place with a lot of history. You can spend your days strolling through the town, enjoying the fresh air in one of the many parks, or touring historical sites.
So, whether you’re spending three days or three weeks in Denver, the city will amaze you with its many attractions and fun activities.