Start your day on Larimer Square, in the heart of Denver's LoDo (short for “Lower Downtown”) district. Grab a muffin and latté from one of the coffee shops, sit out on the sidewalk for some people watching and then indulge your inner shopaholic with a spree at some of the hippest high-end boutiques in Denver.
Up for more shopping? Walk north a block and turn right onto the 16th Street Mall. Here you can take free shuttles up and down the 12-block shopping and dining area.
Next, make your way to the Denver Art Museum. The Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton Building has become an icon in the art world thanks to its sharp edges and gleaming metallic surfaces. Inside, you’ll encounter an unparalleled selection of Old West art, contemporary masterworks and more.
Nearby at the Colorado State Capitol, take a moment to pose for your obligatory Mile High City photo op: stand at exactly one mile high on the capitol’s steps (there are "Mile High Markers"). Then, take a free tour of this 24-karat-gold-domed building’s magnificent interior.
One of only two open-to-the-public mints in the country, the Denver U.S. Mint really knows how to make money — up to 50 million coins every day! The tour won’t cost you a dime, though, and will show you how dull metal is transformed into glittering pocket change.
You will need a bit of cash for your next stop: Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood. With more than 500 stores, spas and galleries, Cherry Creek is the largest shopping district between San Francisco and St. Louis, including Cherry Creek North's wide array of only-in-Denver specialty shops and Cherry Creek Shopping Center's upscale stores, like Neiman Marcus, Saks and Tiffany’s.
Denver is a serious sports town. From September to January, join the faithful at Sports Authority Field at Mile High as they cheer the Denver Broncos on to their next Super Bowl Championship. From October to June, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche share the Pepsi Center, so there’s a game nearly every evening. In the spring and summer, cheer on Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies at Coors Field or Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, just a short drive from downtown.
Perhaps the only thing that brings out more passion in Denver than the sports teams is local beer — and there are plenty of brewpubs to prove it. From LoDo’s multileveled Wynkoop Brewing Company to Breckenridge Brewery and Pub’s ballpark-area location to the tap room at the Great Divide Brewing Company, you’ll finish off your whirlwind day in Denver with handcrafted beers, great food and friendly vibes.
Photo: Downtown Denver, courtesy of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau/Stan Obert.