With 300 days of sunshine, a walkable downtown, thriving arts and culture, and the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, Denver offers an affordable mix of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure.
Arts & Culture
With its vibrant art districts, world-class museums, and hidden gems, Denver is the place to be when it comes to all things artsy!
Denver Public Library
Designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves, the Denver Public Library is one of the largest libraries in the country. It features unique exterior and interior architecture and holds one of the largest collections of Western history manuscripts, art, maps, newspapers, magazines, and photographs in the world. After viewing the extensive collections, rejuvenate yourself with some caffeine and a book at the library coffee shop.
Denver Performing Arts Complex
The second largest performing arts complex in the U.S. is home to 10 state-of-the-art venues, including the spectacular Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which boasts crystal-clear acoustics and rich decor. The Performing Arts Complex hosts Tony Award-winning theater, Broadway musicals, symphony orchestras, ballet, and more. Before or after the show, drop in to the Limelight Supper Club & Lounge, serving dinner on performance days, as well as brunch prior to weekend matinées.
Denver Art Museum
The museum itself is an architectural marvel, thanks to the Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton Building’s jagged, shimmering surface and the original, fortress-like building, created by Gio Ponti. Inside, explore everything from American Indian and Western masterpieces to modern, multimedia works. This world-class museum (one of the largest between Chicago and the West Coast) also hosts exclusive, temporary exhibitions.
Clyfford Still Museum
Alongside Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still was a leading figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement, which many consider America’s greatest contribution to the art world. The new museum that bears his name is architecturally stunning, created with a highly textured concrete. The museum houses nearly 2,400 of Still’s paintings, drawings and prints – roughly 94 percent of his total output. Virtually all of this material has been sealed off from public view until now.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA)
MCA Denver proves that contemporary art can be thought-provoking and fun all at once. The sleek, David Adjaye-designed building is easily recognizable thanks to the whimsical pierced heart sculpture (Toxic Schizophrenia by Tim Noble and Sue Webster) that greets visitors at the entrance. The museum has five galleries, each with rotating exhibits, guaranteeing that every visit is a new experience. Don’t miss the rooftop deck with 360-degree views of the Denver skyline, a serene garden, and a café serving locally grown food.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Called the city’s “most interesting museum” by the Denver Post, the Kirkland is small, but packed from floor to ceiling with amazing 20th century art and design. Colorado artist Vance Kirkland’s vibrantly colorful, abstract expressionist paintings are complemented by a handpicked selection of modernist, “Mad Men”-era furnishings.
Denver Public Art
The mission of the Denver Arts & Venues Public Art Program is to enhance the quality of life in Denver through the rich context of the arts. The program brings artwork by local artists as well as internationally recognized artists to the city center and the neighborhoods around Denver. Check out a guide to the City of Denver’s public art collection (PDF, 12 pgs.).
Eat & Drink
When you visit The Mile High City, it’s likely that you’ll leave dishing about Denver’s glorious restaurants. The culinary scene is thriving, offering everything from farm-to-table bistros to classic steak houses. Denver is a hub for chef-owned, neighborhood restaurants known for using locally grown ingredients.
With hundreds of impressive restaurants to choose from, where does one begin? Visit Denver Dining Guide to help make the search a little easier.
For those in search of a good watering hole, Denver doesn’t fall short. Called the “Napa Valley of Beer,” Denver produces more beer than any other city in the nation. Explore Denver’s beer culture with a visit to one (or more!) of the twenty breweries featured on the Denver Beer Trail.
Beer is just the beginning. The Mile High City’s artisanal wine and spirits scene is also booming. Drop into Balistreri Vineyards, a family operation dedicated to completely natural, handcrafted wines. Discover Infinite Monkey Theorem, the trailblazing Denver winery that did the unthinkable—it canned its wines! On the more “spiritual” side of things, taste the best of Colorado whiskey at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, and enjoy Denver-distilled vodka, gin and more at Rising Sun Distillery and Mile High Spirits.
The Mile High City and the nearby Rocky Mountains are filled with outdoor recreation thrills for the whole family. Here are just a few of your options:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Located 71 miles northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 400 square miles 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.
Denver Bike Paths
With 850 miles of bike routes/trails and 300 days of sunshine, Denver is a two-wheel paradise. Explore the city using Denver B-cycle, the city’s pioneering bike sharing program. For a small membership fee, you can pick up a shiny red bike at one of more than 80 conveniently located stations throughout the city, go for a spin, and then drop it off when you’re done.
Scenic Jogging Paths
Always pack your exercise clothes and sneakers when coming to The Mile High City! Denver’s lovely jogging paths allow you to tour beautiful sites AND burn calories.
The Trails at Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park
Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park is known the world over for its summer concert series, but during the day, it makes for a gorgeous hiking and biking destination. The Trading Post Trail is 1.4 miles in length, and goes through spectacular rock formations, valleys, and a natural meadow.
Denver Botanic Gardens
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. Facilities include nature trails, a wildlife observation area, a historical farm, a 19th century one-room schoolhouse, working beehives, and picnic areas.
Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods offer an abundance of retail experiences, making Denver the shopping capital of the Rocky Mountain West. If you’re on the hunt for tomorrow’s trends, grab a latté and do a little window-shopping in the historic Larimer Square. As you reach the end of the square, you’ll encounter the 16th Street Mall, a sprawling 16-block, I.M. Pei-designed pedestrian mall that stands as Metro Denver’s No. 1 tourist attraction. 16th Street is packed with restaurants, cafes, public art – and of course, a cornucopia of shopping options.
Just a ten-minute drive from downtown, Cherry Creek North is a 16-block extravaganza featuring the region’s largest collection of independently owned shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and spas. Adjacent to Cherry Creek North is Cherry Creek Shopping Center with over 160 brand name stores.
In the market for something vintage? Head to the thriving Antique Row, where you can browse your way through the diverse offerings of antique shops, art galleries, and independently owned boutiques. Beyond antiques, the South Broadway Shopping District, or “SoBo” for short, is lined with an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Once called “the richest mile of retail west of the Mississippi,” shopping here takes you back to a time when customer service ruled the day. Tired yet? For a more laid-back but equally enticing retail excursion, check out Highlands Square in historic northwest Denver to find funky gifts, handmade goods, hip clothing, unique jewelry, and more.
If you’re a sports fan, The Mile High City is the place you want to be. Denver is home to no less than seven professional sports teams that thrill crowds year-round. Tour numerous sports attractions including Coors Field, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Pepsi Center, and the National Ballpark Museum.
Whether you have a few hours or a few days in The Mile High City, check out these suggested itineraries and trips for your visit.
From native Colorado species to exotic creatures from the other side of the globe, from delicate butterflies to lumbering elephants, The Mile High City is filled with amazing animals in state-of-the-art habitats. Attractions include the Denver Zoo, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Downtown Aquarium, Dinosaur Ridge, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.