Denver, the Mile High City and the Queen City of the West, is a beautiful city with plenty to offer visitors. There is something for everyone in Denver, whatever your age or interest. If you’re thinking of what to do on your vacation, here are ten activities to try in the city of Denver for a weekend getaway:
Best Activities to Do in Denver
1. Visit the Rocky Mountain National Park
If you want to experience the best of Denver’s natural beauty, a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park is a must. The park offers stunning scenery of the rocky mountains, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Hikers can explore the Bear Lake Loop and Coyote Valley, where they will likely see some of the park’s resident moose and deer, a great experience when traveling with kids.
There are also scenic routes that you can drive, such as the Trail Ridge Road, which takes you to the top of the Continental Divide. You might even see some of the park’s bighorn sheep or elk if you’re lucky. The Old Fall River Road is another popular option, and it’s especially beautiful in the autumn when the leaves change color.
2. Take a ride on the Denver Zoo train
The Denver Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and for a good reason. The zoo houses over 3,000 animals from all over the world, including tigers, lions, giraffes, and elephants. There is also a large variety of birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The zoo is divided into different sections, such as the African Plains and the Asian Tropics, so you can easily spend a few hours here.
One of the best ways to see the zoo is by riding the Denver Zoo train. The train takes you on a city park tour of the zoo, and you get to see the animals up close. The train is especially popular with kids, but adults will also enjoy it. If you have time, be sure also to check out the Denver Zoo’s aquarium, where you can see sharks, rays, and other fish.
3. Look at some street art
Denver is home to a vibrant street art scene, with murals and graffiti all over the city. The River North Art District (RiNo) is a great place to start your art tour when visiting Denver. This neighborhood is home to over 100 murals, many of which were created by local artists.
After taking in the cool street art in the River North Arts District, head to the Five Points neighborhood, where you’ll find even more murals and graffiti. This historic neighborhood has a lot of character, and the art only adds to its charm. Many Denver museum tours include stops at some of the city’s best street art.
4. Tour the Colorado State Capitol Building
Architecture buffs will enjoy a tour of the Colorado State Capitol Building. The building was constructed in 1894 and is modeled after the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The building near Civic Center Park is home to the Colorado State Legislature and the Governor’s Office. But the real highlight of the building, apart from the dome covered in 24-karat gold leaf, is the interior, which is made of Colorado Rose Onyx, a very rare stone that can no longer be found elsewhere.
Tours of the Capitol Building are free and take place every hour on weekdays. The tours last about 30 minutes, and you get to see the Senate and House chambers and the Governor’s Office. Make sure you arrive early, as the tours only take only 20 people per group and fill up quickly.
5. Experience Denver’s art museums
Many people don’t know that Denver is home to some of the best art museums in the country. The Denver Art Museum houses a collection of over 70,000 works of art, many of which are from the Americas. The museum is also home to several traveling exhibitions of fine and decorative art, so there is always something new to see.
There is also the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, which focuses on contemporary and modern art. The museum has a rotating collection of exhibitions, as well as a permanent collection of over 7,000 works of art. If you’re interested in art galleries, be sure to add these museums to your Denver itinerary.
But there are also historic places like the Molly Brown House Museum, which was once the home of one of Denver’s most famous residents, Margaret “Molly” Brown. You can also visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame to learn about the state’s rich musical history.
6. Explore downtown Denver
People who love the outdoors will find plenty to do in Denver’s downtown area. Nightlife is also plentiful in downtown Denver, with a wide variety of bars and clubs to choose from. If you’re looking for things to do during the day, consider taking a walk for self-guided tours down historic 16th Street.
The Denver Central Market also makes for a great afternoon activity when you visit Denver. The market is home to a variety of food vendors, as well as a bar and a coffee shop. If you like craft beer, be sure to check out the market’s taproom, which features a rotating selection of local and regional beers.
7. Stroll through the Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a must-see for any nature lover. The gardens span 24 acres and feature over 3000 taxa from all over the world. There are also gardens dedicated to specific plants, such as the Japanese Garden and the Rocky Garden. The gardens are a great place to relax, take a walk, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to check out the concert series, which features a different musical act each week. These concerts are held in the outdoor amphitheater and are a great way to enjoy the gardens in the evening.
8. Visit the Denver Union Station
If you’re looking for things to do in Denver that are a little off the beaten path, consider visiting Denver’s Union Station. This historic train station opened in 1881 but was renovated in 2014 to become a multi-use complex.
Today, the Union Station houses several restaurants, shops, and businesses. It’s also home to the Crawford Hotel, a luxury hotel with a rooftop bar that offers delicious food and stunning views of downtown Denver. Larimer Square, another historic district, is also located near Union Station.
9. Immerse yourself in sports
Aside from being home to the Colorado Rockies, Broncos and Nuggets, Denver is also a great place for sports fans. Several sports venues are located downtown, including Empower Field at Mile High, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and Pepsi Center (now Ball Arena). You can also find several sports bars in the city, where you can watch games and mingle with other fans.
10. Visit the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is one of Denver’s most popular attractions. The park is home to a variety of hiking trails, as well as the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This open-air venue is known for its incredible acoustics, and it hosts a variety of concerts and events throughout the year.
If you’re visiting Denver during the summer, check out the Red Rocks Concert Series, which features a different musical act every week. The park is also a popular spot for sunrise and sunset hikes, so be sure to visit it on your Denver weekend trip.
Best Time to Visit Denver
The best time to visit Denver depends on your interests. If you’re looking to spend time outdoors, the summer months are a great option. June through August offer the best weather for hiking, biking and camping. Consider Colorado Springs as a summer destination for your Denver itinerary, and include a stop at one of the city’s many festivals, which take place throughout the year.
Summer is the best time to visit the city if you want cheap flights and hotel rates. The Denver International Airport is busiest in the summer, so you may want to consider flying into a nearby airport if you’re visiting during this time. But if you want to stay in the luxurious Brown Palace Hotel, you’ll need to book your room well in advance, as it’s one of the city’s most popular hotels.
If you want to experience Denver’s nightlife scene, fall is a great time to visit. The city comes alive during the autumn months, with a variety of bars and clubs hosting Halloween parties and other events. You’ll also find great deals on hotels and flights during the fall shoulder season.
Some of Denver’s best attractions are located outside of the city, so you may want to consider renting a car if you’re visiting in the fall. With the skies clear and the leaves changing color, it’s the perfect time to take a drive through the mountains. Just be sure to pack your winter gear, as the weather can change quickly in higher elevations.
Winter is a great time to explore Denver if you’re interested in its ski resorts. The city is home to several world-class ski areas, including Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone. If you don’t ski, you can still enjoy the winter scenery by visiting one of Denver’s many parks.
Denver Food Journey
Of course, you’ll want to sample some of the city’s famous food and drink. Denver is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and breweries. The culinary scene here is diverse, so you’re sure to find something to your taste. The city is also known for its Rocky Mountain oysters, which are a delicacy of bulls, bison, pigs and sheep’s testicles.
Many of Denver’s restaurants are located in the LoDo district, so start your food journey there. If you want to learn more about the city’s food scene, consider taking a food tour. You can also look for a Denver beer trail map to find the best craft breweries in town to drink craft beer.
The local market scene is also worth exploring. The Union Station Farmers Market is one of the best in the city, and it’s open year-round. You’ll find a variety of local vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, and more.
If you fancy a fancier dining experience, Denver has you covered. The city is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, so consider making a reservation if you’re visiting during the week. No matter what type of food you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Denver.
Are 3 Days in Denver Enough?
Three days in Denver is enough time to explore the city’s highlights. Your Denver weekend itinerary should include a stop at the Denver Zoo and a visit to one of the city’s many museums. The best weekend ideas in Denver include taking a food tour and visiting a brewery or two. You’ll also want to spend some time outdoors, whether hiking in the majestic Rocky Mountains or strolling through one of Denver’s many parks.
A perfect weekend in Denver can last from sunrise to sunset. If you want to make the most of your time in the city, consider adding a day trip to your itinerary. Visit the RiNo Art District, look at amazing street art, shop at 16th Street Mall, and much more.
Should You Schedule Denver Weekend Trips Now?
If you’re looking to schedule a trip to Denver, now is the perfect time. The city is full of activities and attractions for all ages, so you’re sure to find something to your taste. And with a variety of transportation options, getting around Denver is easy.
Make sure to plan your trip in advance, as some of Denver’s popular attractions can be crowded. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find a hotel room in the city center—there are plenty of great hotels located just outside of downtown. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Denver weekend getaway today.