Denver, the vibrant capital city of Colorado, had its beginnings in an 1858 gold rush. Today, the city is a gold mine of activities and attractions.
Read on to learn about many of the places to see and things to do in Denver that make it a great place to visit.
Arts and Culture in Denver
Boasting a number of museums, performance venues and annual festivals, the list of things to do in Denver includes many artistic and cultural delights.
1. City Park Jazz
No summertime visit to Denver is complete without taking in at least one of the 10 free jazz concerts staged in City Park weekly from June through August.
The 2022 lineup featured the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra, the Badda Boom Brass Band and Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles.
Each year, jazz, blues and salsa comprise the majority of the music presented at City Park Jazz.
2. Tattered Cover Book Store
Another great option among the free things to do in Denver is a visit to one of the four locations of the Tattered Cover Book Store. The East Colfax Avenue store, housed in a repurposed theatre, is particularly worth a visit.
Tattered Cover, in business for five decades, is an outstanding independent bookstore in a market now dominated by chain bookstores.
When you visit, feel free to browse, to linger for whatever time you want, grab a cup of coffee, or spend time with your young ones in a special children’s area.
3. Golden Triangle Creative District
To really get a sense of the city, a visit to the Golden Triangle Creative District is among the best things to do in Denver.
Contained within Colfax Avenue, Speer Boulevard and Lincoln Street, the district includes the Denver Art Museum, the Clifford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum.
Beyond that, the shops and restaurants in the Golden Triangle Creative District give visitors a chance to browse everything from records to vintage clothes, and to sample fare including Cuban cuisine.
4. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Located a few miles west of the city, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, an outdoor concert venue, is a must among things to do in Denver.
Over the years, Red Rocks, one of the world’s premier performance venues, has hosted everyone from The Beatles to Little Big Town.
But even when no performance is scheduled, Red Rocks is worth a visit for a free look at its museum and Performers Hall of Fame, or to hike the trails winding through the rocky terrain that give the venue its name.
Places to Tour in Denver
If you’re looking for interesting things to do in Denver, tours are offered at a number of venues. Here is a sampling of what you can see in the city.
5. Colorado State Capitol
You might think you’ve stepped into a church when you embark on a guided tour of the Colorado State Capitol at 200 E. Colfax Ave., one of the most interesting things to do in Denver.
The building is adorned with stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the state’s history, and the cathedral-like feel is enhanced by its tall rotunda.
During the tour, you’ll notice the use of rare rose marble, mined in Beulah, Colorado, in the building. And you’ll want to be sure to check out the Capitol steps marking the building’s elevation at 5,280 feet above sea level, source of the city’s nickname of Mile High City.
6. U.S. Mint
Unfortunately, no samples are given out during the guided tour of the U.S. Mint, one of the many fun things to do in Denver. There is a lot of demand for the tours, so if you’re interested, you must go online to book a spot.
The 45-minute tours of the making of U.S. currency are scheduled for 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Tours aren’t available on federal holidays and may not be available on some other days throughout the year.
7. Hammond’s Candy Factory
For more than a century, Hammond’s Candy Factory on Washington Street has been turning out exquisite handmade candies. And if you’re looking for one of the most fun and interesting things to do in Denver, a tour of the factory will fit that bill.
Video screens along the tour route augment the experience of being in the factory, giving visitors an up-close look at how lollipops, candy canes and other Hammond’s candies are made.
The free tours run every half-hour on business days, and can be booked online or by phone at 303-333-5588, ext. 110.
Exploring Nature in Denver
If you like your travels to include a look at the natural world away from your daily life, there are lots of things to do in Denver to meet that desire.
8. Denver Zoo
With its 3,000 animals, the 84-acre Denver Zoo provides a wide-ranging view of the natural world. A visit to the Denver Zoo gives visitors a chance to see penguins, lions, turtles, flamingos, elephants, otters, and sea lions, among other wildlife.
Beyond providing visitors with a look at nature, Denver Zoo officials hope that a visit to the facility will inspire visitors to work to preserve the earth’s wildlife for future generations.
9. Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens provide an urban oasis at their York Street grounds. As one of the interesting things to do in Denver, the York Street facilities of the Denver Botanic Gardens cover 24 acres featuring plants from all over the world.
In addition to gardens showing plants that thrive in Denver’s arid climate, the Denver Botanic Gardens includes displays of ornamental plants and flowers, as well as displays inspired by garden culture in Japan, China, South Africa and tropical areas of the world.
10. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Colorado Boulevard noted for its wildlife dioramas depicting animals from around the world in their native habitat has also become known in recent years for its massively popular Discovery Zone, designed to introduce young children to the world around them.
But the museum is much more than just its exhibits, as staff and volunteers are actively involved in research, and strive to create opportunities for visitors to pursue an active interest in science.
Catching a Game in Denver
What would a visit to a major American city like Denver be without taking time to watch its local sports teams in action? Happily, the many things do to in Denver include the opportunity to see accomplished athletes in action.
11. Coors Field
Located at 20th and Blake streets, Coors Field has been the home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies since 1995, just two years after the team was formed.
If you want tickets to Rockies game while you’re in Denver, try to find seats along first base and right field, where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
Tickets are available online at Rockies.com or at the Coors Field Ticket Office.
12. Empower Field at Mile High
Empower Field at Mile High on Bryant Street in Denver is the home of the Denver Broncos of the National Football League.
If your visit to Empower Field at Mile High comes outside of football season or other scheduled events, you can still see the facility with a guided tour. The tour offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the facility operates and includes areas rarely seen by the public.
Tours can be booked online at ColoradoSports.org.
Shopping in Denver
One of the joys of visiting new places is finding out what delights might be found in shopping. And that is definitely among the things to do in Denver.
13. Larimer Square
If you want to find out what Denver is all about, you’ll definitely want to see Larimer Square, where the best of the city’s shopping, dining and entertainment can be found.
As just a couple of examples of shopping experiences in Larimer Square, you can find that one-of-a-kind piece of home decor at Garage Sale Vintage, or you can explore style options at Hailee Grace Boutique.
14. 16th Street Mall
In the heart of downtown Denver is the 16th Street Mall. Occupying a 1.25-mile stretch of 16th Street, the pedestrian mall provides access to more than 250 stores.
A part of the Denver shopping scene for 30 years, the 16th Street Mall boasts a pedestrian promenade, perfect for people watching, designed by noted architect I.M. Pei.
Youthful Things to Do in Denver
If you’re worried that things to do in Denver may not include enough to hold the interest of young visitors, you can stop worrying right now.
15. Children’s Museum of Denver
The Children’s Museum of Denver, located between Interstate 25 and the Platte River, is designed to bring unique experiences to children amid the natural excitement of childhood.
The Kinetics! exhibit, a playground for exploring physics, gives youngsters an age-appropriate introduction to theories of motion and gravity. Elsewhere in the museum, youngsters can learn about the science behind bubbles, get an introduction to the state’s natural wonders, and explore the world of emergency services.
16. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
For pure fun, nothing among the things to do in Denver beats a visit to Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park.
The theme park includes a number of roller coasters and other thrill rides, but there are also family-friendly options like a carousel and Ferris wheel, and boat and train rides for the littlest visitors.
In the water park, you’ll find an array of water slides, providing everything from dizzying spins aboard an inner tube to gentler rides, along with water sprays and a water dump bucket.
Wrapping up Things to Do in Denver
We hope this post has provided you with information on things to do in Denver to make a trip to the city a truly memorable experience. For more tips on exploring Denver and the nearby states, check out our post on The Rocky Mountain States.