Denver has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with people “discovering” the city that seems to have it all — big city amenities and easy access to the mountains. In fact, in the last decade alone (2010 to 2020) the city’s population grew about 20 percent, according to data from the Colorado census. The growth makes perfect sense when you consider all the city has to offer — from a tater tot fueled drag brunch to yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Ready to see what all the fuss is about? Here are 24 of the best things to do in Denver, Colorado.
Drop by for Drag Brunch (and Bottomless Mimosas) at Hamburger Mary’s
The uber-campy Hamburger Mary’s Denver serves up Tater Ta-Ta’s (aka tater tots) alongside an unbeatable drag performance. Swing by on Saturday for the Divas Brunch, a sell-out show with bottomless mimosas and good eats.
See a Show or Do a Down Dog at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre nestled amongst red rock formations at the foot of the Rocky Mountains has long been a destination for big acts like The Beatles, Widespread Panic, and Halsey. But even if you don’t make it for a show, you can enjoy the mix of nature and entertainment at the park’s Yoga on the Rocks and Film on the Rocks events.
Make Your Way Through Meow Wolf — A Surreal Art Experience
If you want to enter another world (without leaving the heart of Denver), head to Meow Wolf, an art experience with interactive exhibits, mind-bending art, and psychedelic experiences you can literally feel. The four-story exhibition includes over 70 installations, portals, and rooms dreamed up by 300 creatives.
Visit the Denver Art Museum
Housed in a wildly angular, eye-catching building, the Denver Art Museum houses more than 70,000 diverse works with a revolving door of exhibitions that have included the work of Claude Monet, Norman Rockwell, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera.
Sip on Tea at the Iconic Brown Palace Hotel
At The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, a Denver mainstay since 1892, you can step back in time (and to another continent) by joining their daily afternoon tea. Choose your tea of choice, then sit back and nosh on handmade pastries and tea sandwiches while the sounds of the grand piano float through the stained-glass-ceilinged atrium.
Catch a Game at the Mile High Stadium
Whether you like football or not, it’s hard to deny the novelty of watching a game at 5,280 feet (1 mile) above sea level. And if you’re really not into the game, you can cruise around the Empower Field at Mile High until you find a vantage point where you can see the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Denver skyline to the east. Not bad for a football stadium.
Take on the Thrill of Elitch Gardens
If you find yourself in Denver during the summer months, make a trip to the Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, known locally as “Elitch’s.” Take on the Tower of Doom’s 200-foot drop or drop by Twister II, a world-class wooden roller coaster, before rewarding yourself with a funnel cake.
Get Lost in the Bookshelves at Tattered Cover
Barnes & Noble has its place, but there’s something special about perusing the aisles at an independent bookstore. And while the Tattered Cover has become one of the largest independent booksellers in the U.S. since it’s humble start in 1971, it’s a Denver institution and shouldn’t be missed.
See a Show at a Theater Company Housed Inside an Old Church
The Curious Theatre Company, which is based out of an old church, has been pushing the theatrical envelope for decades. It remains the home of thought-provoking plays, many of which are written by local playwrights.
Spend the Weekend Bowling and Brunching
If you need to let off some work-week steam, head to Punch Bowl Social to throw some balls and eat some “monkey bread” (cinnamon-sugar dusted sweet rolls). If bowling isn’t your game, try your hand at shuffleboard, life-size Jenga, pool, or revisit your childhood with some old-school arcade games.
Travel to Another World at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Check out the big screen (the big, big screen) at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which is home to both an IMAX and a planetarium. If none of the shows catch your eye, walk through the museum’s Space Odyssey exhibition or brush up on your dino knowledge at the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.
Have a Beer (or Three) at Denver Beer Co.
With an outdoor, dog-friendly patio just begging for visitors and a good location in Denver’s LoHi (Lower Highlands) neighborhood, Denver Beer Co. is the place to be when the sun is out and the weather is warm.
Find a Little Bit of Everything at Number Thirty Eight
If you’re with a group and not sure where to go, head to Number Thirty Eight, a sprawling food hall with 24 taprooms (serving beer, cider, wine, and hard alcohol), live music, games, and a giant outdoor patio.
Visit Nocturne for a High-end Supper Club Experience With Live Jazz
For a fancy night out, drop by Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, Denver’s must-visit spot for modern jazz, classic cocktails, and a three-course menu.
Soak Up Some Humidity at Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver isn’t known for its humidity (the state is generally dry), but inside the Denver Botanic Gardens’ conservatory, you can soak up the humidity while checking out thousands of tropical plant species. The garden also has a collection of native, aquatic, and alpine plants, and on certain days, you can see it all while grooving to live music or checking out a visiting art installation.
Check Out the Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive
The first Friday of every month, Santa Fe Drive comes alive for the First Friday Art Walk. You can pop in and out of galleries and shops, pick up some grub from a food cart, and enjoy some five-star people watching.
Get a Pedicure With a Cocktail in Hand
Not much can beat a day of pampering, especially when you have a cocktail in hand. Ella Bliss does it all — from manicures and pedicures to blowouts and facials — and they add in a social component to seal the deal: a signature cocktail menu with a selection of wines and draft beers.
Visit the Dramatic Rock Formations at Roxborough State Park
Garden of the Gods in the neighboring city of Colorado Springs gets all the attention, but just 20 miles south of Denver is a park with red sandstone formations that are just as dramatic. Roxborough State Park is a 3,339-acre park with natural scenery that will make your jaw drop.
Rent a City Bike and Cruise Along the River
The South Platte River passes right near downtown Denver and is paralleled by a paved bike path. Hop aboard one of the local scooter or bike share providers (Lyft and Lime) and enjoy the view as you make your way to Breckenridge Brewery for a well-deserved beer.
Go Vintage and Thrift Store Shopping on Broadway
Broadway is lined with the city’s best vintage and thrift shops — especially between 1st Avenue and Bayaud Avenue. All you have to do is park (or get off the bus) and make your way up and down Broadway, popping in and out of the street’s cool stores, coffee shops, and bars. If you need a little pick-me-up, swing by Voodoo Doughnut.
Order a Giant Cinnamon Roll at the Denver Biscuit Company
It may be called Denver Biscuit Company, but it’s all about the biscuit cinnamon roll (which is giant and amazing). If you’re not into sweets, The Winona, a biscuit sandwich stuffed with fried chicken and doused with house-made cheddar pimento cheese, is hard to beat.
Visit the House of “Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Molly Brown, a philanthropist, activist, and socialite who survived the sinking of the Titanic, lived in Denver. And now, her home near downtown Denver has been converted into a museum. Inside the Molly Brown House Museum you’ll follow along with the ups and downs of Molly’s life, including her fateful journey on the Titanic.
Eat Your Way Through Union Station
What was once a train station in the heart of Denver is now filled with some of the city’s best restaurants and bars (in addition to still being a train hub). You can literally spend an entire day hopping from eatery to eatery — breakfast at Snooze, lunch at ACME, drinks at Terminal, ice cream at Milkbox Ice Creamery — with some shopping and people watching thrown in.
Catch a Rockies Game at Coors Field
It’s hard to beat beer, brats, and baseball on a bluebird Colorado day. And the views from Coors Field, which is located right in downtown Denver, will keep even the most skeptical baseball onlookers happy.