You can’t leave Colorado without taking some time to explore Denver. Colorado’s capital city is chock full of history, world-class museums, top-notch breweries, epic sports venues, a vibrant art scene, and so much more!
Nicknamed the “Mile High City,” Denver reaches an elevation equivalent to one mile, or 5,280 feet, above sea level. If you’re not used to the higher elevation, you may feel more winded than usual. Keep this in mind if you plan to exercise during your trip!
Whether you want to hit the trails at Red Rocks Park or stroll along the promenade at the 16th Street Mall, Denver has something for you. If history’s your jam, you’ll love visiting the Colorado State Capitol or the ancient artifacts at the Denver Art Museum.
Sports enthusiasts will want to check out Coors Field and Empower Field at Mile High to see the local teams in action. And animal lovers will have a great time seeing the mammals, reptiles, and birds that reside in the Denver Zoo.
As you leave the Denver airport, don’t forget to look for Blucifer, the 32-foot tall blue mustang statue. Its glowing red eyes just add to its sinister appearance, making it almost unsurprising that the fiberglass horse actually killed its sculptor, Luis Jiménez, when a piece fell on him.
Aside from this piece of dark history, we promise that there are plenty of fun things to do in Denver. So many that it might be difficult to craft the perfect itinerary, which is why we’ve come up with the 15 coolest Denver bucket list activities to help you get started.
And, of course, remember to wave hello (and goodbye) to Blucifer!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).
15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Denver, Colorado
1. Shop, Dine, and Stay at the Historic Union Station
It’s worth stopping by Union Station just to marvel at the stunning interior. Look up and take in the 65-foot ceilings, elegant chandeliers, and ornate decorations. It’s hard to believe a train station could be so glamorous!
Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also an important historic landmark. The station was originally built in 1881, rebuilt in 1914, and renovated in 2014 with the original architecture intact.
Today, locals call it “Denver’s Living Room,” as you can also shop and eat at this historic landmark – or even stay the night. The station is home to The Crawford Hotel, a boutique hotel with 112 unique rooms and suites.
Situated in the trendy Lower Downtown, or “LoDo,” neighborhood, Union Station is one of the best Denver attractions. It’s a great jumping-off point to explore the rest of the city, since it’s a train station, after all!
2. Immerse Yourself in Another Universe at Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience that takes you on a journey through surreal, sci-fi-inspired rooms and portals. With over 70 unique art exhibits spread across four floors, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world!
While you’ll find Meow Wolf in several cities in the US, each location is unique. Denver’s installation is called “Convergence Station,” based on the story it tells about converged worlds. Building this exhibition was no small feat – it took three years to finish and features art from 300 artists, over 100 of which are from Colorado.
After you’ve returned from your voyage, stop by the Galleri Gallery to shop for local art. There’s always new artwork for sale, which varies from traditional paintings to more experimental pieces.
Visiting Meow Wolf is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Denver – there’s really nothing else like it!
3. Check Out Some Plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens
If you love plants, add the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street to your Denver bucket list. Explore 24 acres of plants from all over the world, from the faraway tropics to greenery you’d find in your backyard. You’ll see everything from gnarled bristlecone pines to spiny green cacti to vibrantly purple lilacs.
When you work up your appetite from walking all day, grab one of the signature deep-dish quiches from Offshoots Café or a fresh seasonal meal from Hive Garden Bistro. They even incorporate fresh herbs and produce from the Le Potager garden into some of their meals!
Love art? The gardens have an art gallery too! See the latest exhibitions at the Freyer – Newman Center, which may focus on a design element (like color) or art by famous creatives like Ansel Adams.
Check out the calendar if you’d like to take a tour or attend an event. Glow at the Gardens takes place every year around Halloween, and features intricately carved lit-up pumpkins. Or take in the twinkling Blossoms of Light installation that dazzles attendees from November to January.
4. Cheer for the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field
Partake in America’s favorite pastime at Coors Field! There’s no better way to spend a warm afternoon in Denver than cheering on the Colorado Rockies while sipping on a cold beer from The SandLot Brewery, grabbing a frose from the Silver Bullet Bar, or chowing down on some crispy fries at The Rooftop.
Did you know that the first game took place in 1995? Or that a ball goes further at higher altitudes and that the thinner air also influences pitching? If you want to learn more about Coors Field, there’s good news: you can take a tour to find out what really goes on behind the scenes at this spectacular ballpark! Choose between a private tour or a group tour, both lasting around 70 to 80 minutes.
5. Discover the Latest Research at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science covers a lot of ground in just one institution. Exhibits include Egyptian mummies, a genetics lab, gems and minerals, the prehistoric world, an odyssey through space, and so much more. And because some displays rotate, there’s almost always something you haven’t seen before!
Discover interactive exhibits and immersive experiences throughout the museum. Kids will love the Discovery Zone, where they can build whatever their imagination dreams up or play in the clouds.
Take a journey through space at the Gates Planetarium. You’ll soar through the universe to learn about black holes, the Milky Way galaxy, and more about our very own solar system. If space isn’t your thing, you can watch another show at the Giant Screen Theater.
You might even get lucky and be in town during one of their free days or nights, which happen about a dozen times each year.
6. Appreciate art From all Around the World at the Denver Art Museum
Whether you’re an artist yourself or simply appreciate art, you’ll enjoy the pieces on display at the Denver Art Museum! Peruse paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and more, in an array of both ancient artifacts and contemporary works.
Browse through art from all around the world, like Europe and Asia, as well as local Western art inspired by the Rocky Mountains. The museum is well-known for its world-famous Indigenous Arts of North America exhibit, as well as its extensive Latin American Art and Art of the Ancient Americas collections.
Order locally sourced food at The Ponti, and enjoy their seasonal creations on their large outdoor terrace (although you can also dine indoors if you prefer). Want something more casual? Café Gio has you covered!
Here’s a huge plus for parents: the museum is completely free for anyone under the age of 18! This makes it one of the best Denver activities for families with kids.
7. Experience the BEYOND Light Experience at the International Church of Cannabis
The International Church of Cannabis is certainly one of the most unique things to see in Denver! The church itself is stunning and worth a visit to see the brightly colored designs and neon murals that cover the interior. Look up to spot the vivid rainbow painted by Okuda San Miguel, or admire the facade painted by Kenny Scharf.
Members of the church are called “Elevationists” and believe that using cannabis helps people along their own life journey and search for meaning. Whether you partake in cannabis use or not, you can still buy tickets for BEYOND, a guided meditation and psychedelic laser light experience.
The church doesn’t allow cannabis consumption during BEYOND, which begins 20 minutes after the hour every day of the week, Fridays to Mondays from 12 pm to 8 pm, and Tuesdays to Thursdays from 4 pm to 8 pm. Come 20 minutes early (on the hour) to tour the church before the show!
8. See Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my!) at the Denver Zoo
The Denver Zoo is one of the top things to do in Denver if you love animals. In the warmer months, don’t miss Stingray Cove, an interactive experience where you can feed stingrays as they zip through the water. Take a ride on the wild side (literally) on the Denver Zoo Railroad, or immerse yourself in the action at the 4-D Experience.
The worldly exhibits scattered throughout the zoo allow you to take a tour around the world right in the middle of Denver! Head deep into the jungle at Tropical Discovery, where you’ll find bats flitting about in a cave, Daphne the Siamese crocodile, and sloths (slowly) climbing the 22-foot sloth tree.
Teleport to Asia’s wilderness by visiting the Toyota Elephant Passage, one of the biggest elephant habitats in North America. Catch glimpses of Asian elephants, rhinos, and tapirs meandering across the 10 acres of habitat – perhaps wallowing in the mud or swimming in the many pools!
Love big predators? The Denver Zoo has plenty! Dash over to the African Savanna at Benson Predator Ridge, where you’ll find lions and hyenas roaming about. Or head to The Edge to see the zoo’s two Siberian tigers keeping watch over their kingdom! See Tundra the Grizzly Bear in the Harmony Hill Bear Habitat as she naps at The Den or sunbathes in the meadow.
9. Admire the Beautiful Architecture of the Colorado State Capitol
It’s worth stopping by the Colorado State Capitol, both because it’s an important political building and because it’s simply stunning. The white granite walls shimmer in the sun, and the brilliant golden dome enchants passersby.
The capitol was built in the late 1800s, with gold leaf added to the dome in the early 1900s to commemorate the Colorado Gold Rush. You may notice the building’s resemblance to the United States Capitol – this was done on purpose!
The interior is just as (if not more) magnificent than the exterior. Colorado Rose Onyx decorates the inside of the building, a rare rose marble with swirling pinkish hues. In fact, the building supposedly used up all the Colorado Rose Onyx in the world – oops!
White Yule Marble (Colorado’s state rock) makes up the floors, the walls are sprinkled with stained glass, intricate brass chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, and impressive columns skyrocket upwards.
As impressive as the building is, there’s more to see than just the marvelous architecture. Check out the “Women’s Gold” quilt, which has images of amazing women from Colorado. Stop by the third-floor rotunda to see portraits of US presidents. Head to the exterior steps to view the “One Mile Above Sea Level” marker.
If you want to learn more, you’re in luck: the capitol offers free tours to the public. Tours are first come, first serve and last about an hour. You’ll get to visit the observation deck for panoramic views of the Rockies, something which is only allowed on tours and is a must on your Denver bucket list!
10. Explore the Shops, Restaurants, and Attractions Along the 16th Street Mall
As you stroll through 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver, don’t forget to look down. The red, white, and gray granite tiles that make up the pathways aren’t an accident: the pattern purposely mimics the scales of a diamondback rattlesnake!
Sit down and enjoy the sunshine at one of the 42 outdoor cafes, or grab a bite at Appaloosa Grill, which has live music every night. Don’t miss the D&F Tower, a smaller replica of the Campanile of St. Mark’s in Venice. Walk south to Denver Pavilions to watch a movie or shop ‘til you drop. Or head north to cross over to Commons Park and the LoHi neighborhood.
Stay at the mall until the sun goes down, and you’ll be treated to thousands of twinkling lights in trees that line the walkway. Tired of walking? Hop in a pedicab or horse-drawn carriage! During the day, you can also take a free shuttle bus, called the MallRide, along the mall.
11. Hang out in Larimer Square for fun Both day & Night
Larimer Square, dubbed the “beating heart and creative soul of Downtown Denver,” is just around the corner from the 16th Street Mall. Not only does Larimer Square have tons of restaurants, shops, and fun activities, but it’s also steeped in history. The square was home to an abundance of firsts: Denver’s first block, commercial district, residence, and city hall.
Larimer Square is small but mighty. The area boasts over a dozen restaurants and close to 10 stores. There’s plenty to do after dark, too. Head to Comedy Works to laugh with (or at) stand-up comedians, Disco Pig for a night of dancing, Corridor 44 for a bit of bubbly (it’s Denver’s only champagne bar!), Cru Food & Wine Bar to sip on some vino, or Băo Brewhouse for tea-centered cocktails and Chinese food!
Colorado State flags crisscross above the walkway, accompanied by string lights at night. The cozy ambiance invites you to stay awhile, listening to live music as you walk or simply enjoying the crisp evening air.
12. Tour Empower Field at Mile High (one for the Football Fans!)
This one’s for the sports fans! Empower Field at Mile High is the home of the Broncos, Colorado’s football team. Attend a game and create “mile-high thunder” by stomping your feet alongside thousands of other fans. Scream “Incomplete!” until you’re hoarse (pun intended), which is the word fans use to cheer on the Broncos.
Tour the stadium for a behind-the-scenes look, and to check out the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum. You’ll also stop at the locker room, end zone, and executive suite over the course of 70 to 90 minutes. Expect to walk about a half mile.
The venue also hosts concerts, with performances from big artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Check the schedule for other events, like the Supercross Championship, and see if there’s something that catches your eye while you’re visiting!
13. Catch a Concert or Work out at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Although Red Rocks Amphitheater is about 30 minutes from Denver, it’s one of the most unique concert venues in the US (and possibly the world) and definitely worth the trip! Where else can you listen to live music surrounded by jagged red rocks that seem to poke the sky?
Visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame to see memorabilia, photos, videos, and more that celebrate Colorado musicians. Check out famous performers that have “made their mark” on the amphitheater in the Red Rocks Hall of Fame.
The amphitheater is also a popular place to squeeze in some exercise. Several short trails intersect throughout Red Rocks Park, which encompasses the venue and the surrounding area.
Walk the short Geologic Overlook Trail for stunning views, or the 1.4-mile Trading Post Trail for incredible rock formations. Bring your hiking boots, as the trails get a little rocky! Jog up and down the hundreds of steps at the amphitheater for a more intense workout. Or, attend a Yoga on the Rocks class on select Saturdays during the summer months.
14. Drive the Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Marvel at the Picturesque Views
14ers (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet high) are a pretty big deal in Colorado, and Mount Evans is one of them. But you don’t have to slog up the mountain to get a taste of life above 14,000 feet. Instead, you can simply drive up to the summit of Mount Evans on the highest paved road in North America! Don’t forget to make a reservation before you go.
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway offers plenty of mountain views and, if you’re lucky, glimpses of mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots. The 28-mile road starts in Idaho Springs (about 40 minutes from Downtown Denver) and gains over 7,000 feet in elevation.
This is a unique chance to get above the treeline without breaking a sweat (although there is a short walk to the very top). Take in views of the Continental Drive, alpine wildflowers, and Rocky Mountain Bristlecone pines along the way. Because this is a mountain road, it closes in the winter when there’s too much snow. It usually opens sometime in June and shuts down in the fall.
If you’re not renting a car or just don’t want to drive up the twisty mountain road, you can sign up for a tour from Denver instead. This way, you can relax and focus on soaking up the epic views!
15. Drink and Bathe (yep, you Read That Right) in Beer
Craft beer is one of Colorado’s specialties, with some of the best breweries located right in Denver – about 150 of them!
While you can’t really go wrong visiting any Denver brewery, some stand out above the rest. Cerveceria Colorado serves Mexican-inspired brews, like a churro stout and horchata blonde ale. Try one of the creative concoctions at Cerebral Brewing, like their peppermint mocha coffee stout or the passionfruit raspberry sour (although their beers constantly rotate, so they might be gone when you visit). Head to Odell Brewing Co. for some classic beers that taste just as good as you’d imagine!
When you’re done drinking beer, you might as well…bathe in it? Yep, you can literally sit in a bath full of beer at The Beer Spa! This truly unique establishment gives guests a chance to experience “Beer Therapy.”
Over the course of 90 minutes, guests can relax in the infrared sauna, enjoy a rain shower, and soak in the tub. The beer bath is probably the most unique part of the experience, during which you take a dip in a cedar hydrotherapy tub immersed in an unfermented bubbly blend of hops, barley, and herbs.
Stop in the Taproom before and after your visit to the Beer Spa, which gives you a chance to try beers from a local Colorado brewery. You can also sample various types of cider, wine, kombucha, herbal tea, and other non-alcoholic beverages.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Denver, Colorado! Which activities will you add to your Denver bucket list?
Planning a trip to Colorado? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!