Quick Travel Guide  •  Denver, Colorado, USA, North America

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

Last Updated On: November 16, 2021


Denver is said to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the US with over 3 million people, and after our last visit, I am not surprised. The city sits on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and is surrounded by beautiful scenery and parks. With a vibrant nightlife, a great selection of divine restaurants, and hipster cafes, there is always something to do.

Situated at an altitude of 5,280 ft above sea level, Denver is also known as the mile-high city, so be gentle with yourself once you arrive since it might take some time to get used to the elevation depending on where you are traveling from.

To be completely honest, Denver has never really been on my bucket list. We have traveled through a few times when we were living in our little VW Bus and while there are a million things I love about Colorado, from the endless hikes and the countless lakes to the wild elk in Estes Park, Denver left me unimpressed. However, our latest trip to Denver changed everything.

Our main motivation to come back was to go to a show at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater (an absolute must if you haven’t been). We came during the comfortable October temperatures paired with the turning of the leaves, all of which definitely added to our experience. So if you can time your next visit with autumn then I can only recommend it.

Unlike our previous visits to Denver, this time around we actually did some research. Knowing where to eat, where to stay, and what to do is such a game-changer and turned our last trip into one we will cherish forever.

With this quick Denver guide, we want to make sure your experience is one of a kind. So we did all the research for you, to help you plan the perfect itinerary. Here you will find the best things to do in Denver, including some of the cities best hotels as well as a few of our favorite restaurants.

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A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
Denver Union Station

Where To Stay In Denver

Now more than ever are people seeking out boutique accommodations, places that offer more than just a place to stay but an experience. There is just something so satisfying and inspiring about the love to detail found in every corner of these unique properties. I personally think that beautifully designed spaces and attentive customer service will enhance any stay and is worth every penny.

Both hotels listed below offer not only impeccable customer service but stunning design features and are within walking distance to many sights. No matter if you are looking for a short staycation or flying in for a relaxing weekend escape, these hotels will provide you with a luxurious experience that will elevate your trip.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

1. The Ramble Hotel

RiNo District, Denver

The Ramble Hotel boasts a total of 50 rooms in Denver’s River North Art District also known as the RiNo District. The hotel attracts a younger crowd due to its hip and sophisticated design and is perfect for those looking for a unique stay.

The airy lobby with its 17th-century French salon flair is a popular hang-out spot for locals and tourists alike. The big chandeliers hanging from the ceiling really set the mood in the evening when the New York-original Death & Co, the in-house restaurant and bar, opens its doors for dinner.

Wake up in the morning, grab a coffee from DC/AM, and relax in one of the many cozy velvet couches before heading out to explore the neighborhood. For breakfast, we highly recommend trying their Avocado Tartine & the Buckwheat Pancakes.

The Ramble Hotel sure knows how to set the tone for a one-of-a-kind lodging experience in the heart of Denver.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

2. Halcyon

Cherry Creek, Denver

HALCYON is located in the heart of Denver’s Chery Creek Neighborhood. This 154-room luxury hotel provides its guest with everything one could possibly ask for. All rooms are designed with comfort in mind, a feeling of a home away from home. Sit back and relax on the spacious rooftop, boasting a rooftop bar, a hot tub, and a refreshing pool. The distance views to the Rocky Mountains and a glimpse of the city’s skyline are just a few additional perks that make this hotel so desirable. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner head down to the lobby and get a table at the Local Jones, an inviting neighborhood restaurant that attracts locals and hotel guests alike.

If you don’t know how to get around Denver, no worries, HALCYON provides complimentary shuttle service within 5 miles. For the more adventurous take advantage of their complimentary mopeds. There truly is no better way to experience all that Denver has to offer than on a cute little Vespa.

To end your night get a drink or two at one of Denver’s most furtive speakeasies, B&GC. The bar only takes reservations by text message and is hidden in a dark alleyway behind a nondescriptive door, only recognized by its golden doorbell.

More Recommended Boutique Hotels In Denver


Boutique Hotel

A design-forward boutique hotel for the adventurous traveler in the Lower Highlands. The hotel which actually is a western homestead runs via a contactless check-in and boasts a truly unique interior inspired by Victorian industrialism. The rooms are chic and encourage rest and relaxation the minute you open the door. This might be the only hotel I wouldn't mind sleeping in a bunk bed when traveling with a group of friends or family. Make sure to ask about their wine program. Also, their onsite restaurant Wildflower is an absolute must.


Luxury Hotel

The hotel is centrally located and is only steps away from the famous Union Station. Its modern alpine aesthetic is reminiscent of luxury hotels found in Europe and features floor-to-ceiling windows in each room.  Choose between two in-house restaurants, Citizen Rail, focusing on wood fire prepared meals, and Tavernetta, one of Denver's best Italian dining rooms. Enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks during Kimpton's daily social hour.


Hostel

This is not your ordinary hostel. This swanky retro accommodation provides its curious travelers with a 9,000 sq foot mansion. Have you ever slept in a train car-style bunk? This would be your chance. The owners believe in the beauty of storytelling and that staying in a hostel doesn't mean you have to sacrifice luxury or style. Located in Cap Hill, the hostel is within walking distance to many bars and restaurants as well as the music hub of Denver - Colfax Avenue.


Historic Boutique Hotel

The Crawford Hotel sits right above the stunning Union Station. The rooms boast soaring ceilings along with comfortable beds and the staff is beyond welcoming. With an optimal location, you can choose from a variety of restaurants, shopping, and nearby attractions.


Historic Hotel

One of Denver's most historic hotels is located in the ever-so-popular neighborhood of Lower Downtown. This true Denver classic has been open since 1891, surrounded by restaurants, bars and amazing nightlife.


Hotel

This 4-star hotel is a member of Marriott International's curated portfolio of Autograph Collection. Sit by the 75-foot pool or the rooftop bar and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains & Downton Denver. The Jacquards is located in the iconic Cherry Creek District and only a short stroll away from the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and other boutique stores.


13 of the best things to do in Denver

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: THE AVOCADO

1. Catch A Show Or Concert At Red Rocks Amphitheater:

This is one of America’s most iconic venues and on many bucket lists for good reason. The views from this open-air amphitheater are unlike anywhere else and only amplify the experience of the show you are about to witness.

Located 15 miles outside from Denver, it only takes about 20 minutes by car to reach this open-air venue surrounded by massive red rocks, hence the name. The venue is open to the public and free of charge any day of the week, whenever there aren’t any shows. So during the weekends and in the early morning or afternoon, you will see locals exercising, running up and down the stairs to get in shape.

For the latest show and concerts click here.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
Denver Union Station
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

2. Visit The Historic Union Station:

One of the most exciting areas of Denver is definitely its downtown, with a great selection of restaurants, bars, museums, and shops. The Union Station, a 100-year old historic Landmark, might be one of my favorite places. This vibrant gathering place in the heart of downtown Denver attracts people of all kinds and is definitely worth a visit, even if you don’t have to catch a train.

Situated in the station’s mezzanine, The Cooper Lounge is a great place to get a top view of the Station’s Great Hall and enjoy stunning views of downtown through the impressive 28 foot high cast-iron windows. This aesthetically pleasing cocktail bar is located right on the second floor of the Union Station, which is a sight in itself. Enjoy one of their high-end cocktails or pick your favorite wine from their extensive wine list.

For the full experience, I recommend checking into the 112-room Crawford Hotel, located right above the iconic Denver Union Station. Surrounded by innumerable restaurants, bars, and sights, you won’t get more central than that.

If you happen to be in Denver during the weekend, make sure to check out Denver Union Station Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM right in front of this historic building.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: JULIANNA BARNABY
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: JULIANNA BARNABY

3. Admire The Street Art In The RiNo District

The street art in Denver is second to none. RINo is one of Denver’s most artistic neighborhoods with traces of its industrial past. Instead of tearing the old buildings down, they are being remodeled and reused and often as new homes for hipster restaurants and hotels. Many businesses will therefore donate their walls to support the vibrant street art.

If you appreciate street art and are interested in tracking down some of the cities most thought-provoking murals and graffiti, then I would recommend grabbing a coffee from a local coffee shop and getting lost in various alleyways because you will find it everywhere. On sidewalks, walls, doors, mailboxes, literally everywhere.

For the best experience check into the one-of-a-kind Ramble Hotel. Located in the heart of the RiNo district, you step out of the hotel and you are right in the midst of this animated art district. Grab a coffee from their coffee bar at DC/AM in the morning and head to Stowaway Kitchen, an absolute must-visit breakfast spot in Denver.

If you want the full art experience make sure to check out this mural guide in Denver, but don’t be surprised if you go looking for something and find a new piece in its place, the art scene is everchanging. Or if you want to go all out on a guided tour with an actual local tour guide, we recommend this one.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

4. Go Shopping At The 16th Street Mall And Ride The Free Shuttle

The 16th street Mall is a one-mile-long promenade in the center of downtown Denver dotted with countless stores, boutique shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Most locals would say this is one of the most touristy districts of Denver, but then again probably for a good reason.

Catch the free shuttle that runs up and down 16th Street, between the Union Station and Civic Center Station. The shuttle stops at every block starting from 5.30 AM – 1 AM (the hours may change). This is a great way to people watch as well as explore two things in one day: the 16th Street Mall as well as the breathtaking Denver Union Station.

For more information about the shuttle and a list of all the restaurants along the strip click here.

Located only one street over on 17th Street is the one and only The Oxford Hotel Downtown Denver. Located in the heart of downtown Denver, this is another amazing hotel to rest your tired feet after an exciting day exploring all of what this vibrant neighborhood has to offer.

5. Get A Cafe Latte At Little Owl Coffee

This little gem brews the best coffee in the entire city. We scootered, which is by the way a great way to get around Denver, across the city just to get our morning lattes from Little Owl Coffee. The location is fairly small but the few outdoor and indoor spots are enough to enjoy your freshly brewed delight and since it is located downtown it is perfect for people watching.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: AVANTI
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

6. Mingle At Avanti Food & Beverage

Avanti Food & Beverage finally solves the problem of “where should I go eat today?” With seven different restaurant concepts, housed in modified shipping containers, there is food for every palate and a great place in the LoHi neighborhood to come to with a group of friends and enjoy a fun afternoon or evening out. Picture an elevated food court boasting an array of delicious eateries and featuring an awesome indoor and outdoor rooftop bar with distinct views of the skyline of Denver.

7. Dine In The Sky At El Five Denver

For a more elevated dining experience head to El Five, which sits on the fifth floor in LoHi district and is one of the few restaurants in Denver that provides ravishing views of the city’s skyline.

The menu is Spanish and the Mediterranean influenced and offers small tapas plates, perfect for sharing. Make sure to get a table at their open-air patio so you can take in the uninterrupted views of Denver’s skyline and the foothills of the Rockies in the distance. This place is pretty popular so we recommend making a reservation as soon as your travel plans are finalized.

My favorite part about our dining experience was the sunset followed by the most beautiful full moon rise.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

8. Grab A Drink At A Speakeasy

Denver is dotted with new-age hidden bars and while the prohibition is long gone, the speakeasy scene is very much alive.

Williams & Graham is an award-winning speakeasy, inspired by the prohibition era. Enjoy one of their handcrafted cocktails or a glass of wine after an exciting day out exploring Denver. The bar is housed in a corner “bookstore” with the easy-to-miss entrance is hidden behind a bookcase.

Take a step back in time by visiting the chic B&GC bar located in the Cherry Creek neighborhood, a speakeasy that knows how to provide its guests with a true experience. To find the entrance you will have to walk down a dark alley between Second and Third Ave. Once you spot a golden doorbell you know you have arrived. The staff will check you in right there before leading you down a few stairs and into the moody and dark backroom. The bartenders here are not only super knowledgeable, but they also have a true passion for creating unique concoctions that fit your taste. The best cocktail I can recommend is always the bartender’s recommendation based on the flavors you like.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: EVAN SEMÓN

9. Admire Larimer Square

Larimer Square is a beautifully decorated walking street and one of the oldest and most historic blocks in Denver. Dotted with trendy boutique shops, bars, and restaurants placed in old Victorian buildings, this street is a great gathering place all year-round and perfect for a stroll or a fun night out.

Larimer Square is within walking distance from downtown and LoDo; however, the most convenient way might be to catch the Free Mall Shuttle. Just remember to get off at the 16th Street Mall & Larimer Street.  To learn more about all that Larimer Square has to offer click here.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

10. Explore The Paint Mines Interpretive Park

If you have a car and are looking for a day trip out of the city, this other-worldly park sits on archaeological and geological ground, boasting uniquely shaped hoodoos and rock formations. Filled with history, the name came from the Native Americans who used to crush the colored sandstone to make paint. Admission is completely free; however, animals are not allowed.

There really is only one hike the Paint Mines Trail loop. No matter which side you enter you will eventually end up at the same place. The 3.4mile long hike is pretty easy and allows for easy exploring.

The drive from Denver to The Paint Mines Interpretive Park takes around 1.5h and is best combined with the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: INSIDER

11. Ride the California Zephyr Train

The Zephyr Train is an Amtrak train and runs between Chicago and San Francisco, driving through some of North America’s most beautiful sceneries including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas. The train offers stops in Denver, Glenwood Springs, Salt Lake City, Reno, and Sacramento. Enjoy the stunning scenery aboard the Zephyr Train, a loved yet the often-forgotten mode of transportation.

To get a glimpse of this stunning train ride without traveling too far away from Denver we recommend embarking on a day trip or weekend escape to Glenwood Springs, where you can soak in hot pools or raft the Colorado River. If you are looking for an amazing accommodation consider checking into the Garden of the Gods Club & Resort.

For more information about the train ride from Chicago to California click here.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

12. Embark On A Day Trip To Estes Park

Estes Park is a small town in northern Colorado and only a short 1.5h drive from Denver. This quaint mountain town is perfect for those looking for some adventure and wildlife encounters during their visit to Colorado. Known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park boasts a charming walkable downtown area with an adorable Riverwalk, delightful small shops, and a few coffee shops and restaurants. If you have time stop by Ink Well & Brew, they serve the best coffee in Estes hands down.

While Estes Park is a destination in itself, no visit would be complete without exploring the bordering Rocky Mountain National Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife including elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bears. With around 3,000 resident elk you are bound to spot them either grazing along the side of the street, in people’s backyards and definitely within the National Park.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is Colorado’s most popular park for good reason with countless awe-inspiring sights and hikes. If you are up for it then we recommend the 3.2-mile roundtrip hike to Emerald Lake. This is one of the most popular trails as it offers dramatic views of Longs and Hallett peaks as well as some of the park’s prettiest alpine lakes.

For an incredible fall road trip, we recommend looking into Colorado’s oldest scenic byway, The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. The 55 mile-long route is beautiful all year round. Wind in and out of national forest lands through some of Colorado’s most stunning mountain landscapes. The drive takes around 3 hours from Estes Park to I-70 and is most accessible from Boulder and Denver. This is also a great way to see the colorful aspen trees. Fall in general is a great time to visit the area because of the changing colors as well as the elk mating season.

A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
CREDIT: GET YOUR GUIDE

13. Visit The Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods, right on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, attracts more than 2 million visitors every year and is a registered National Natural Landmark. Once you visit you will truly understand the name as you explore its towering 300-foot sandstone rock formations, a true geological wonder. Plus the park is completely free to enter!

The best way to explore the Garden of the Gods is via car but there is also a free public shuttle that runs every 15 minutes where you can hop on and off to discover the different areas of the park.

We recommend stopping at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center before heading into the park to pick up a map, get some local insights, and witness some of the Garden’s most spectacular views right from the visitor center.

If you want to enhance your experience, there are also a variety of activities offered from meditation and guided nature walks to photography workshops. Click here to find out more about the upcoming programs.

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A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado
A Complete Guide for The Best Things To Do In Denver, Colorado

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