By: Savannah Miller
Must See Denver Attractions Downtown Denver The Brookings Institution ranks Denver as the fourth most walk able downtown in the nation. You can save on shoe-leather by riding the free shuttle bus on the 16th Street Mall â€“ it makes everything downtown easy to reach.
Colorado State Capitol www.state.co.us Stand exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile high!) on the west steps, than climb to the rotunda for a panorama of snowcapped peaks. It is against state law to block the view of the 200 named mountains visible from the dome. Free tours on weekdays. Help restore the Capitol dome! Our magnificent, gold-plated dome is undergoing a massive restoration. Learn more about the project or text the word DOME to 50555 to donate $10 to the project. More Info
Denver Art Museum www.denverartmuseum.org There are two buildings â€“ one a fortress-like structure from Italian architect Gio Ponti, the other, a structure that resembles a titanium crystal with peaks and shards designed by Daniel Libeskind. Inside, find the world's greatest collection of Native American art and 68,000 other art objects, including works from European masters, Old West classics and phenomenal traveling exhibits, including two major shows in 2012: Yves Saint Laurent: A Retrospective (March 25, 2012-July 8, 2012) and Becoming Van Gogh (Oct. 21, 2012-Jan. 20, 2013). More Info
The Clyfford Still Museum www.clyffordstillmuseum.org Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum, which opened at the end of 2011, was founded to promote the late artist's work and legacy. Still's estate - 2,400 artworks - has been sealed off from the public since 1980. More Info U.S. Mint www.usmint.gov/mint_tours/index.cfm?action=StartReservation Learn how to make money! The Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one stamped with a little "D" for Denver. Free tours show every step in the process of turning a dull, blank, metal slug into shiny pocket change.
16th Street Mall - Pedestrian Mall Lined with 200 trees and 50,000 flowers, this festive, mile-long pedestrian promenade has 28 outdoor cafes and offers Denver's best people-watching. I.M. Pei designed the gray and pink granite pathway to resemble the pattern of a diamondback rattlesnake. Hop on the bus â€“ they're free and stop on every corner. After dark, horse-drawn carriages clatter up and down the Mall. More Info
Larimer Square www.larimersquare.com This trendy block of Victorian buildings is home to chic shopping, dance clubs, a comedy club, outdoor cafes and a dozen of Denver's best restaurants. For 40 years in downtown Denver, it's hip to be at the "Square." More Info
LoDo Historic District www.lodo.org
Denver's happening historic district is filled with turn-of-the-century warehouses, now home to 90 brewpubs, sports bars, restaurants and rooftop cafes. Stop by Rockmount Ranchwear for a snap button Western shirt at the store where they were invented; browse from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Bookstore; listen to jazz at El Chapultepec, one of Esquire Magazine's 50 best bars; or sip a handcrafted beer at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver's first brewpub opened by former Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor), John Hickenlooper. More Info
Confluence Park www.greenwayfoundation.org Denver was founded here as a gold mining camp in 1858. Today, the river park is the heart of Denver's 850-mile bike trail network, and is surrounded by attractions. Gear up for the mountains at the REI Flagship store; ride the Platte River Trolley to the Downtown Aquarium to see stingrays and sharks; eat and drink in the nearby neighborhoods of Riverfront, LoHi and Highlands; or scream your head off on the Mind Eraser at Elitch Gardens – Denver's downtown theme park.
City Park Denver's largest park has several lakes, spectacular mountain views, flower gardens and a hiking/jogging trail that is exactly one mile high.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science www.dmns.org The fourth largest museum in the U.S. is a maze filled with treasures of the earth – dinosaurs, dioramas, space exhibits, science experiments, a digital planetarium, IMAX theatre and touring shows. More Info
Denver Zoo www.denverzoo.org Lions and tigers and bears – and so much more, on lovely grounds make this the fourth most popular zoo in America. Go underwater with polar bears at Northern Shores, or eyeball-toeyeball with a gorilla in Primate Panorama. Predator Ridge recreates the plains of Africa with a pride of lions, while Tropical Discovery is rainforest teeming with crocodiles and gila monsters. Coming soon: Asian Tropics, a new 10-acre home for the Zoo's elephants and rhinos. More Info
This tree-shaded neighborhood is just two miles from downtown and easily accessible by bike on the Cherry Creek Bike Path.
Cherry Creek Shopping District www.shopcherrycreek.com, www.cherrycreeknorth.com More than 500 department stores, boutiques, galleries, spas, and one-of-a-kind shops grace this browsing paradise â€“ the largest concentration of stores between St. Louis and San Francisco. Cherry Creek Shopping Center is an ultra upscale mall with Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Tiffany's, while across 1st Ave., Cherry Creek North offers tree-line streets with cafes, spas and galleries amidst fountains and public art.
Denver Botanic Gardens www.denverbotanicgardens.org This 23-acre oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens (some 33,000 plants), as well as one of the nation's top 10 conservatories. Relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the new Mordecai Children's Garden. Don't miss Native Roots/Modern Form: Plants, Peoples and the Art of Allan Houser, a phenomenal open-air art exhibit on view through Nov. 13, 2011. More Info
Golden Colorado's first capital celebrates its Old West history and mountain location with a trendy downtown filled with galleries and recreation shops. Sip a beer at an outdoor cafĂŠ, while kayakers float by on fast rushing Clear Creek.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitors Center www.redrocksonline.com Carved from towering red rock monuments, this 9,000-seat arena is one of the world's most renowned concert venues and has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. Listening to a concert here is on the "bucket list" of every true music fan. When there's no concert, the Visitor Center has a museum and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks. More Info
Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave www.buffalobill.org
Welcome to the Wild West! Buffalo Bill Cody's exciting story as Pony Express rider, army scout, buffalo hunter and showman comes to life at this fun museum, high atop Lookout Mountain. Enjoy views of the snowcapped Rockies in one direction, the Great Plains in the other. For those with strong nerves, drive to the museum on the hairpin Lariat Loop Drive ... then continue to I-70, exit 250, to see a live herd of buffalo. More Info
Colorado Railroad Museum www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org Surrounded by towering Western buttes, the Colorado Railroad Museum combines a spectacular location with more than 100 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, cabooses and cars. Exhibits include a working Roundhouse, model railroads, photographs and artifacts, much of it housed in a replica of an 1880s-style depot. Train rides every Saturday on the Galloping Goose take guests on a third of mile loop of track, while "Steam ups" and special events including "A Day Out With Thomas" occur throughout the year. More Info
Within An Hour from Denver Central City & Black Hawk www.cityofblackhawk.org These two old gold mining towns (once known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth") have come alive with casino gambling. Two dozen casinos rock 24-7 with 10,000 slot machines, poker, black jack, roulette and craps. The surrounding hills are covered with abandoned gold mines, Victorian buildings and Old West history. Located 34 miles west of Denver. More Info
Georgetown www.georgetown-colorado.org Nestled in a steep mountain valley, the "Silver Queen" is one of Colorado's most elegant mining towns with 200 Victorian buildings. Ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad over a 100-foot high trestle to neighboring Silver Plume, tour historic homes and shop on the quaint Main Street that has been used in films by Clint Eastwood and John Denver. Located 42 miles west of Denver on I-70. More Info
Echo Lake and Mount Evans www.mountevans.com The highest paved road in North America climbs 9,000 feet from Denver, passing through five life zones en route to the 14,264-foot high summit. This is one of Colorado's 54 fourteeners (peaks that
climb to 14,000 feet and above), and one of only two in the nation that you can drive up. Stop at Echo Lake along the way for hiking trails, fishing, picnic tables and an unusual eight-sided log cabin restaurant. At timberline, the Denver Botanic Gardens maintains a trail that winds through wildflowers. Due to snow, the Mount Evans Highway is generally open to the top only between Memorial Day and Labor Day. More Info
Boulder www.bouldercoloradousa.com Home to the University of Colorado, Boulder has been described as the "the city nestled between the mountains and reality." A recent study pegged it as the "happiest" city in America. You'll find out why when you stroll past the shops, cafes and street performers on the Pearl Street Mall, or take a hike on the city's 200 miles of trails. Nearby attractions include the National Center for Atmospheric Research with a museum on weather and global warming, and towering Eldorado Canyon State Park, one of the most famous technical climbing centers in America. Boulder is 27 miles from Denver on Hwy. 36. More Info
If You Have a Full Day Rocky Mountain National Park www.nps.gov/romo Colorado's No. 1 attraction is 71 miles from Denver and offers an unforgettable trip into the heart of the Rocky Mountains. More than 350 miles of trails meander to valleys of wildflowers, thundering waterfalls, high alpine lakes and craggy, snowcapped peaks. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous highway in the world with panoramic views in all directions. See elk, moose and big horn sheep, while hawks and eagles circle overhead. At the entrance to the park, the historic resort village of Estes Park offers shopping and dining. More Info Denver Itineraries & Day Trips Whether you have a few hours, a few days or a week in the Mile High City, here are some suggested itineraries and trips for visitors.
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Amusement & Theme Parks Thrill seekers will find plenty of pulse-pounding fun in Denver. Ride rollercoasters at Downtown's Elitch Gardens or the family oriented Lakeside Amusement Park. Beat the heat at the wet 'n' wild, 64-acre Water World. Explore More
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Denver Day Trips. Of all the great things Denver has to offer, the greatest may be its ability to serve as a base camp for incredible one-day excursions. Denver offers quick, easy access to the state’s biggest attraction, the Rocky Mountains, where a wealth of national and state parks, national forests and scenic areas fill your senses. Gold rush mountain towns and ski resorts are great places to spend a day shopping, exploring and taking in the amazing scenery. From Denver, your next great adventure is just around the bend or right over the next ridge. And remember, when you're out in the city, stop in at one of the city's conveniently located Visitor Information Centers for more day trip tips. For more great trip ideas, check out Denver itineraries. Central City and Black Hawk Once called the “Richest Square Mile on Earth”, Central City and Black Hawk are two historic mining towns from the 1870’s that have come alive. Located 34 miles (55km) west of Denver, the two towns offer more than 30 casinos with over 10,000 slot machines, blackjack tables and poker games. In 2009, the stakes in Black Hawk were raised – betting limits are now $100, craps and roulette tables have been added and casinos will be open around the clock. In other words, a fun mountain town just got a lot more fun. The two cities are also known for having some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in the West. Other attractions include the Teller House Hotel where President Grant once stayed and the Central City Opera House, which still features an outstanding summer season of opera. There are mine tours, mining museums and several places offering instruction in the fine art of gold panning in streams where a half billion dollars of the coveted, shiny metal was found. Georgetown Located just 42 miles (68 km) west of Denver, Georgetown is a delightful Victorian village set in a spectacular mountain valley with 200 restored buildings from the 1870’s. The main street has shops and restaurants and many of the old homes have been turned into antique stores. The Georgetown Loop Railroad operates in the summer months with narrow gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot (27 m) high trestle. Mount Evans Mount Evans has the highest paved auto road in North America snaking its way to the 14,260-foot (4,346 m) summit. The road ($10 for a three-day pass) is open only from the Friday before Memorial Day through the first Monday in October, and frequently has snow on it, even in August. (The road closes at Summit Lake after Labor Day, preventing you from reaching the top). The
view from the top takes in the entire Front Range. The summit is 60 miles (97 km) from downtown Denver. On your way up the mountain, be sure to stop at M. Walter Pesman Trail (maintained by Denver Botanic Gardens) for a wildflower hike; you won’t see anything like the rare flowers and 1,500-year-old bristlecone pine trees anywhere else in the world. The trail winds through subalpine and alpine areas where wildflowers and animals of the fragile tundra live. Volunteer guides from Denver Botanic Gardens give interpreted hikes that follow the trail throughout the summer (call 720-865-3539 for information). Get an in-depth look at Mount Evans Scenic Byway!
Pikes Peak Country Pikes Peak Country is located 60 miles (97 km) south of Denver and features more than 40 attractions centered around 14,000foot (4,267 m) high Pikes Peak. Things to see include the Air Force Academy, one of three United States military colleges; the famous Broadmoor Resort with its lake and three golf courses; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods which has gigantic 500-foot (152 m) high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak. Rocky Mountain National Park Located 71 miles (114 km) northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 400 square miles (1,036 sq km) of scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles above sea level. The park has two information centers, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. Estes Park is a resort town on the edge of the park with restaurants and shops. Get an in-depth look at Rocky Mountain National Park!
Information brought in from: Denver.org/what-to-do/Colorado-day-trips