Denver, Colorado, the most populated city in Colorado state, with 715,522 people claiming it as home on the 2022 census. Denver usually has hot summers, with very cold and snowy winters, and is partly cloudy almost year round. However, it’s a great spot to visit, with lots to do, see, and eat!
Things to See
Music, Arts, and Culture
Denver Art Museum is perfect for people wanting to look at the best art that Denver has to offer. Tickets are fairly reasonably priced, and the ticket information is available online—adults are $19, seniors are $16, students are $16, teachers are $16, active military and veterans are $16, and youth and members are both free. Membership has several tiers and levels, so you can pick what’s right for you and your family.
The Denver Art Museum has an event calendar online, so you can easily see what’s going on at the time of your visit from exhibits to shows. They’re open 10am to 5pm, perfect for solo travelers, couples, and families alike.
This is a great place to go if you want to watch a show or engage in local art. The Arvada Center hosts multiple shows, all available on their calendar events. Tickets range in cost, but you can always check them out online and decide if the tickets are worth it to you. You can also go to some of their classes if you have any interest.
The Children’s Museum of Denver, located at Marsico Campus, is great for kids and families to visit. They’re open seven days a week, from 9am-4pm. Admission for kids under 1 is free, age 1 is $16, ages 2-59 is $18, and people 60+ are $16. Members are free, and membership starts at $140. You can take a look at all the membership options online.
Exhibits in this museum include splash and entertainment, kinetics, bubbles, and energy. You can also visit their Fire Station No.1, ready vet go, and their book nook. The whole museum is dedicated to educating and entertaining children.
The Center for Colorado Women’s History focuses on scholarship, research, lectures, tours, and exhibits that expand the understanding and collective memory of the history of women in Colorado. Tickets for ages 19-59 are $10, children (18 and younger) are free, and seniors (60+) are $8. They are open Monday through Saturday, 10am-4pm, and have their tour times listed online so you can decide the best time for you. There are also events, so you can take a look at those and see if they interest you!
Elitch Gardens has a theme park and a water park, with day tickets being $49.99/each, their “fun four pack” being $250/day which includes four Day Admission tickets to the theme and water park, four Meal Deal vouchers, and one free One Day Parking Pass.
Attractions at Elitch Gardens include the theme park, which incorporates thrill rides, family rides, kids’ rides, and water rides. Of course, there’s also the water park, which also features thrill slides, family slides, and cabanas. You can also rent a tube (single for $7, double for $11).
If you’re a music head, there’s no better place to be than an amphitheater like Red Rocks. You can look at upcoming events and shows online, so if you’re looking for a particular thing, you can plan in advance. Tickets are also available for purchase online, depending on the event. Red Rocks includes some food and drink options, area attractions, and tours.
There are tons of free activities in Denver, making a full itinerary more financially friendly for solo travelers, couples, and families alike. You can visit the Golden Triangle Creative District, which has more than thirty art galleries and artists’ studios showcasing beautiful wares. While you’re there, you can also look into Walker Fine Art, which is a mall-esque place to look at fine art.
You can also take a Colorado State Capitol tour, Monday through Friday, touring a building modeled after the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. You might want to visit the Tattered Cover Book Store, which is one of the top independent booksellers across the United States. There are also free, 45-minute long tours through the Denver U.S. Mint, which shows you where your currency is conceived! You can also, of course, visit the Denver Central Library for a quick read or look at the impressive art gallery, located on the 7th floor. There’s also free festivals year-round, just look on the Denver official website for an event calendar.
Things to Do
There are lots of things to do in Denver, including all of the beautiful natural parks.
Rocky Mountain National Park covers 265,807 acres of land, with a gorgeous range of mountain environments. There’s over 300 miles of publicly-available hiking trails, which allows you a privileged position to view wildlife. Standard entrance passes for the Rocky Mountains are $15-$35. You can also opt for an annual entrance pass for $70/year. You can also opt for a commercial tour, if you have enough people, with a range of prices.
You can do a variety of activities at the Rocky Mountains - hiking, scenic drives, wildlife watching and photography, picnicking, or engaging in a ranger-led program. You can look at the schedule for ranger-led tours online, so you can get an idea of when you’d want to visit. You can also, of course, camp at the Rocky Mountains, alongside fishing, horseback riding, or even wilderness camping, if you’re feeling a bit more risky and adventurous.
This is the burial site of a popular superstar—in fact, America’s first superstar—and offers a gorgeous observation deck from which you can view wildlife. Hours of operation vary by season, so be sure to check them before visiting. Fees are accessible and minimal—adults (ages 18-64) are $5, seniors (65+) are $4, children (6-17) are $1, and children under 5 enter free. You can look at their events and programs calendar online, should you want to visit in time for a particular event.
Genesee Park, located at 26771 Genesee Ln, is a gorgeous park, the first mountain park and its largest in Denver, with 2,413 acres within its limits. It’s said to mean Shining Valley. It’s west of Denver on I-70, at Exit 254. One of Denver’s two buffalo herds can often be seen here, which were originally descendants of the last wild herd of bison in North America, stemming from Yellowstone National Park. There are about two dozen adult bison located here.
Echo Lake Park is 47 miles from Denver, with an elevation of 10,600 feet. It’s one of the prettiest subalpine lakes in Colorado, with 24 acres formed by a glacial moraine and surrounded by forests of Engelmann spruce, fir and lumber Pine, and Mount Evans hovering in the distance. There are tables, grills, and a stunning 1937 stone picnic shelter available. The lake itself is stocked and perfect for fishing, and there’s an easy, three-quarter-mile hiking trail circling the lake.
Washington Park is one of Denver’s favorite green spaces. It’s a long, rectangular-shaped park, with two lakes, paddle boat rentals, bike rentals, shady trees, and a two-mile jogging path. If you look in the distance, you can take in those mountain views. There’s also a huge area for volleyball tournaments. The south garden on the shore of Lake Windermere is a replica of none other than Martha Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon, with the same gorgeous bursts of color held in a smaller area.
Things to Eat
The Buckhorn Exchange is an excellent steakhouse in Denver, CO, with hours Monday-Thursday 5pm-9pm, Friday-Saturday 4pm-9:30pm, and Sundays 4pm-9pm. Reservations are recommended, and can easily be booked online. Their menus include appetizers like smoked buffalo sausage, fried artichoke hearts, and fried alligator tail; dinners like elk, ribs, and of course steak; and finally, desserts, which include double chocolate rocky road brownies, hot dutch apple pie, and even cheesecake.
The Izakaya Den is a sake house with tapas in Denver, with fresh fish caught daily. You can make a reservation online, and they can accommodate large parties if you’re traveling as a group. Menu items include sushi, sashimi, rolls, the catch of the day, and sake, beer, wine, and cocktails. Their Kitchen Menu includes soups, salads, tempuras, appetizers, signature dishes, sushi & sashimi platters, and noodles. Dine-in hours are Tuesday-Thursday, 5pm-9:30pm, Friday-Saturday are 4:30pm-10pm, and Sundays 4:30pm-9pm.
Fruition Restaurant, open Monday through Sunday at 5pm, with carryout from 5:30pm Monday through Sunday. You can view their dinner menus online, which include starters like grilled wellfleet oysters, their small plates including veal sweetbreads scallopini, and mains like roasted half chicken and pan-roasted scallops. You can also look at their bar and wine menus. You can make reservations online for ease and convenience.
Not Fine, but Great Dining
If you’re looking to step away from the fine dining experience and are looking for great food without a stuffy dress code, you can look over this “not fine, but great dining.”
Table 6 fits squarely in the not fine, but great dining category, with a solid 4.6 stars on Google Reviews. It’s open Monday-Saturday, 5pm-9pm. You can make reservations online. Their menu includes things like Chicago-style tots, shrimp ceviche verde, BBQ grilled pork T-bone, duck confit, and palisade peach cobbler.
Senor Bear, a spot for Latin-inspired food and drink, is open Monday-Thursday, 3pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 3pm-11pm, and Sundays 10am-10pm. Their happy hour is 3pm-5pm daily. Menus include happy hour, dinner, their Bear Basket, drinks and spirits, dessert, and brunch, so a perfect spot for any kind of diner. You can, of course, make reservations online. They claim an impressive 4.5 stars on Google Reviews.
Odyssey, with an impressive 4.6 stars on Google Reviews, is open seven days a week, from 4pm-10pm each day. Their menus are available online, and include things like antipasto, penne bolognese, gnocchi di patate, lobster ravioli and shrimp with rose sauce, linguini and clams, and chicken or veal saltimbocca. As usual, you can make reservations online.
Sometimes, you don’t want fine dining or not fine but great dining—you want somewhere unique to eat! Luckily, we’ve collected a few popular, great spots that are unique.
Open Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday 11am-12am, Saturday 10am-12am, and Sunday 10am-10pm, Culinary Dropout is a great spot for happy hour, brunch, lunch, and even dinner. Dinner menu items include meat and cheese spreads, snacks like grilled asparagus and spicy watermelon and avocado, and rainbow trout. There’s a variety of options on their menu for every eater, including kids!
Happy Camper, which has a location in Denver, is specifically a 21+ establishment. They are primarily a pizza place, with pizzas that can also cater to vegetarians. There’s also “not pizza”, which includes “happytizers” like goat stix, jalapeno homies, and burrata; salads and soups; and calzones and sandwiches.
Death and Co is a cocktail lounge and bar, which also serves food like popcorn, chips & drip, wedge salad, mushroom fritters, and roasted chicken. It’s a small, unique spot, based out of New York, perfect for those wanting an interesting night out.
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a local eatery with shows and events available for you to visit, along with brunch, dinner, and happy hour.
Places to Stay
Catbird Hotel has amenities aplenty if you decide to stay here, with a rooftop terrace that boasts a stage, firepits, and lounge seating; a rooftop bar and restaurant; 3,300 square feet of dedicated event space; and a dedicated event planning team, along with what they call The Playroom, which has things like bikes and scooters, cameras, games, outdoor gear, sports equipment, music equipment, and even kitchen equipment available for rent.
There are a variety of rooms available, like the Catbird Studio, Ada studio, Mid Studio, Junior Studio, Executive Studio, Ada Flat, Junior Suite, and more. They are also equipped for long-term stays and residences, so if you’re looking for a half-year move to Denver, consider staying at the Catbird Hotel.
A boutique hotel, the Thompson is located in the heart of LoDo—the historic, Lower Downtown neighborhood—and near the RiNo District. It’s an easy walk to the Union Station, Larimer Square, and the bars and restaurants of Dairy Block. There are a variety of rooms and suites available, so you are truly welcome to take your pick and find what works best for you. General hotel amenities include being pet-friendly, an on-site restaurant, fitness center, digital check-in, laundry services, meeting facilities for busy executives, free internet access, room service, a digital key, in-room Chromecast, and concierge services available upon request!
The Curtis Hotel is highly rated and perfect for people looking for that niche, unique experience staying somewhere. There are a variety of amenities, including the 336 contemporary, unique rooms and suites, concierge services, five and dime gift shop, downtown parking available, complimentary wireless internet, 24/7 fitness center, 24/7 business center, a restaurant and martini bar, on-site Starbucks, 15 meeting rooms, catering services, and they’re pet-friendly. Their rooms come in three options—standard, hyper themed, or they have suites available.
If you’re looking more for a resort and escape style stay, the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center is perfect for you. Connected to the Arapahoe Springs Water Park, Gaylord makes it easy for solo travelers, couples, and families to enjoy staying here, with access to a lazy river, waterslides, and cabanas. Featured amenities include restaurant access, a fitness center, spa, indoor pool, outdoor pool, meeting spaces, free wifi, activities for kids, bicycle rentals, game room, convenience store, gift shop, dry cleaning service, wake up calls, and daily housekeeping, along with service requests. They are also pet-friendly and have both self-park and valet parking available. Rooms can include mountain vistas and suite experiences, so you can decide if you want a peek at the mountains while staying in your room.
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