The best things to do in Denver
Your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Denver, from essential sights to cool museums to excellent restaurants
To make the most of your time in this city combining Rocky Mountain majesty and urban dynamism, you have to know all the best things to do in Denver. It’s called the Mile High City for many reasons—including the fact that the buzz surrounding it keeps getting stronger. After all, Colorado ski resorts aren’t the only reason to fly into Denver: This erstwhile mining settlement is also one of the country’s best bachelor party destinations and a bona fide cultural hub. From renowned music venues and unique museums to craft-booze crawls, top-notch restaurants, and outdoor adventures, there’s no shortage of awesome things to do in Denver. So make a reservation at one of the best hotels in Denver and start planning your trip! Consider getting a energy drink in Denver for your needs to shop with some passion.
Denver Art Museum
What is it? Along with the architecture of internationally renowned visionaries Giò Ponti and Daniel Libeskind, the DAM is perhaps best known for its holdings in Native and Western American art.
Why go? Though the DAM might lean heavily on its Rocky Mountain roots, rest assured its collections cover the spectrum. Seek out, for instance, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge and Sandy Skoglund’s startling large-scale installation Fox Games, depicting a fantastical dining room
What is it? Sports fans and curious tourists alike will find plenty to do at the 76-acre field with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
Why go? Catching a baseball game isn’t the only thing you can do on the Rockies’ home turf. Look for the row of purple seats marking the elevation that gives the Mile High City its name, then wash down some Rocky Mountain oysters (quickly, if you’ve never tried this infamous delicacy) with beer from the onsite brewery, Coors subsidiary Blue Moon at the SandLot. All the excitement piqued your interest? Nab some tickets for a Coors Field tour, where you’ll spend 70-80 minutes exploring everything that goes on behind-the-scenes.
Denver Botanic Gardens
What is it? With dozens of horticulturally distinct collections set indoors and out on 20-plus acres, the Denver Botanic Gardens proves an oasis in what is, after all, the high desert.
Why go? Does botanical treasure hunting sound like your new thing? Well, here you can peruse thousands of plant species from across the globe, from cacti to rainforest orchids. It’s also a cultural and educational center, regularly hosting art exhibits, plant shows, gardening classes and more. As you explore, be sure to take a breather in view of glass wizard Dale Chihuly’s Colorado, which graces the pond in the Ellipse Garden.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
What is it? The Kirkland is a mesmerizing shrine to the decorative arts of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Why go? Peep iconic modernist furnishings (see: Irving Harper’s marshmallow sofa and Pierre Paulin’s ribbon chair) and exquisite Art Nouveau and Art Deco housewares. Located in the studio of its late namesake, Vance Kirkland, the collection is displayed salon-style—which means that you’re surrounded on all sides by irreplaceable objects as you wander through the galleries. (For better or worse, children under 13 are not admitted.)
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
What is it? The ever-so-dramatic sweep of its rugged sandstone formations has made Red Rocks a beloved venue for concerts of all stripes since its inauguration in 1941.
Why go? In 1983, a little-known Irish band happened to film performance at what you might call nature’s own music hall—and the rest, as U2 fans know, is rock history. Of course, it also serves as one of the world’s most breathtaking gyms, where runners get super-sweaty attempting to tackle the seemingly endless staircases and hikers hit the trails through the surrounding 868-acre park.
Molly Brown House Museum
What is it? Saved from demolition in 1970, visitors to this Victorian manor will find the docents’ stories about the Titanic survivor’s years as an actress and a civil-rights activist no less compelling than the opulent period decor.
Why go? Her famous unsinkability aside, Margaret Brown led a remarkable life for a woman of her time. The Molly Brown House Museum is only accessible by guided tour apart from special events: Gothic-horror story hours, holiday teas, garden parties, and other corny-but-entertaining programs pop up throughout the year.
What is it? This epicurean food hall became an instant landmark when it opened in 2013 with a dream team of vendors.
Why go? The food and drink—ranging from suds from cult brewery Crooked Stave to tacos at chef-driven Comida—are top-notch. To cite highlights would be misleading; that said, a drink at effortlessly cool cocktail bar RiNo Yacht Club, an order of scallop tartare with harissa and ginger yogurt at Acorn and a take-home loaf of crackling pain Naturel from Babettes are among the absolute musts
What is it? Founded in 1996, the MCA moved into it’s permanent and larger home (27,000 square feet) in 2007. With works displayed across five galleries, a shop, library and rooftop cafe, space is as pretty as a picture (although we can’t guarantee that all the pictures will be pretty).
Why go? Comical, creepy, racy, relentless… Whatever else they may be, exhibitions at the museum of contemporary art are always provocative. In fact, according to MCA Denver themselves, their exhibits seek to create ‘understanding and dialog about the art of our time’.
What is it? The Platt Park stretch of South Broadway has long been known as Antique Row for its wealth of dealers in everything from folk art to furniture.
Why go? You can either shop for vintage wares, weed or both: These days, SoBo is also called the Green Mile, reflecting the influx of marijuana dispensaries. The quirky shopping experience only gets funkier as you head north into the Baker District, where boutiques like Decade, a source for up-and-coming designer labels, and mod homewares gallery Hazel & Dewey skew as hip as the nearby eateries.
What is it? The third of four national mints, which offers a surprisingly enthralling guided tour.
Why go? Non-numismatists might be caught off guard by how interesting the artifacts and modern-day mechanics of coin manufacturing really are. It’s enough to give you a new appreciation for the humble penny—and if not, the grandeur of the Gothic-Renaissance building itself deserves a gander. (And pick up some souvenirs too, obvs).