Denver, Colorado is a wonderful place.
Despite living in Colorado, the capital city was a bit of a mystery to me. I grew up taking weekend trips to Denver (about a 4-hour drive from my hometown), but I didn’t really get to know the area until I went to college. Then, it all changed. Especially when I lived right-smack in the middle of downtown.
For my first year of official adulthood, I lived right off campus. Specifically, next to a light rail, train station, and Mile High Stadium. And then for the next three years, I lived in the Lakewood suburb, luckily getting to know many places and experiences that contribute to Denver’s greatness.
Now, my husband and I live about three hours away and make trips to Denver fairly often. My brother’s family lives there, as well as most of our friends and the best airport in the state. When we visit, though, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much is available for us to do. It’s nice to have a plan of attack, and a list of ideas ready to go.
Places to Explore in Denver, CO
Union Station is a grand summary of Denver: it’s fun, fast-paced, and full of quirks. Though the train/light rail/bus station operates outside, the main event takes place indoors with a slew of restaurants, an open-concept bar, and a hotel. It’s busy, with lots of eye-catching details. Be sure to explore the nearby food and drink options, and stop for ice cream.
Maybe you’ve heard: Denver is packed to the brim with breweries. Seriously; there are so many to choose from. I highly suggest perusing Groupon for deals in Denver—my husband and I discovered several flights of beers for two for under $15, which is a heck of a deal.
Some of my favorite breweries are the Tivoli, Crooked Stave, Cerebral, and Barrels & Bottles.
And if you’re not so into beer, fear not. Other options, like cideries, wineries, and distilleries, also exist. There are lots of craft drink creators in Denver, and it just takes a little bit of searching to find one that’s perfect for you.
Tattered Cover Bookstore
As far as Denver institutions go, the Tattered Cover is longstanding. This bookstore, which is one of the largest independently owned in the country, has a few locations and is a special reminder of the power of reading. It’s easy to get lost in the aisles, to cozy up in the seats, and to chat with the friendliest staff imaginable.
Also, keep in mind: there are always events and book signings if containing half a million books (combined between the different Denver locations) isn’t enough to bring you in.
Though a bit of a drive, Red Rocks Amphitheater is an amazing place to visit. The red-stone concert venue has a reputation for putting on incredible shows (rain or shine) with gorgeous views and intense acoustics.
Also, you can drive there yourself and explore the area, even if there aren’t any shows. Yoga classes, church, and movies are constant public activities throughout the warmer months. At the very least, it can be fun to jog up and down the steps on your own time or check out any surrounding hikes and hints of Red Rocks history.
In addition to more subtle local gems, Denver also has several large attractions that top all the Google searches and Trip Adviser lists. These include:
- Denver Botanic Garden. Lots of fun and beauty, all year round!
- A professional sports game. You can go watch the Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche, or Rapids. All are super fun experiences.
- Museums. There are many museums to choose between, from art to history.
- Denver Zoo. The zoo is perfect for families, date days, and small children. They also do Zoo lights around the holidays, which is a fun Christmas-y outing.
- The Aquarium. Similar to the zoo, the Denver Aquarium has lots of creatures and is ideal for families.
Thanks to ease of access and a ton of variety, I’ve eaten and drunk my way through much of Denver. Here’s a short list of some places to check out.
- Pete’s University Cafe (breakfast diner)
- Amethyst Coffee
- Casa Bonita (for the experience, not necessarily for the food)
- The Art Hotel rooftop bar
- D Bar
- La Loma
- Kaos Pizza
Thanks to its epic diversity and accessibility to wonderful attractions, the Mile High City is great for exploration and fun, around every corner.