3 Days in Denver
Denver is a vibrant, active city with 300 days of sunshine and brilliant blue skies and breathtaking scenery.
Denver is a vibrant, active city with 300 days of sunshine and brilliant blue skies and breathtaking scenery.
It's located at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, 5,280 feet (1,609 meters) above sea level — exactly 1 mile high. Get ready to shop, take in the sights and see the best of Denver with our three-day itinerary.
Day 1: Performing Arts, Visual Arts, History & More
Morning in Downtown Denver
16th Street Mall
Built in 1982, the 16th Street Mall is a mile-long pedestrian promenade that runs through the center of downtown and is lined with outdoor cafes and retail shops. Free shuttle buses cruise the mile-long mall about 90 seconds apart and stop at every intersection so it's easy to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.
"I See What You Mean," better known as "The Big Blue Bear," on 14th and California streets, was created by Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent. This delightful 40-foot sculpture peers curiously into the building, injecting a sense of fun and playfulness into the Colorado Convention Center. Take a photo or two of this only-in-Denver icon — he looks good from all angles.
Shopping at the Denver Pavilions
An outdoor entertainment and shopping destination, this center is located on the 16th Street pedestrian mall between Welton and Tremont streets in the heart of downtown. The Denver Pavilions complex features 40 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, including a movie theater and bowling alley. This two-city-block, three-stories-high, open-air mall also offers convenient underground parking.
Denver Performing Arts Complex
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the cultural hub of The Mile High City, encompassing opera, theater, stage, dance and music. A variety of cultural enrichment awaits you — symphony and orchestral arrangements, jazz and musicals, performances by dance companies, theatrical extravaganzas, one-person shows, plays, stand-up comics and more. Plan ahead and purchase your tickets before the day of the show.
Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
A Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond luxury landmark located in the heart of downtown Denver. The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa is a charter member of National Trust Historic Hotels of America. The hotel opened its doors on August 12, 1892, and hasn't closed them for a single moment since. The Brown Palace remains one of the city's crown jewels today, with its stunning stained glass atrium lobby, extravagant suites and extraordinary dining venues. The hotel's original artesian spring well is located 720 feet beneath the lobby floor and still provides water to every faucet in the hotel. Historical tours available.
Denver Union Station
Denver Union Station has undergone a massive restoration and re-development that has made it an exciting place in the heart of downtown. The 1914 Beaux-Arts station is now a hub for transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment with 112 hotel rooms at The Crawford Hotel, four new Colorado chef-owned restaurants, two quick-service restaurants, local one-of-a-kind shops and a Colorado beer hall. Direct rail service connects Denver International Airport and this historic landmark.
Rockmount Ranch Wear
A true Western icon, Rockmount Ranch Wear introduced the first Western shirts with snaps and helped popularize Western wear as legitimate American fashion throughout the United States and abroad. The Rockmount building is a historic landmark built in 1909.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA)
The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is an innovative forum for contemporary art that inspires and challenges all audiences, creating understanding and dialog about art of our time. As Denver's first institution devoted entirely to contemporary art, MCA Denver is housed in an environmentally sustainable facility designed by David Adjaye.
Denver's urban shopping and dining district is also the city's oldest and most historic block. Complete with glittering lights strung over the entire block, Larimer Square is charming and elegant with a nightlife that defines hip urban renewal. Victorian-era buildings house specialty boutiques and unique chef-driven restaurants. Shop one-of-a-kind stores with distinctive fashion and exclusive offerings, and enjoy special events and a vibrant atmosphere year-round. Located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets.
Afternoon in Golden Triangle Creative District
Denver Art Museum
See the famous collection of Native American art and explore the bold art inside and out of the Frederic C. Hamilton building, designed by world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind. Denver Art Museum recently celebrated the reopening of the Martin Building (formerly known as the North Building). First opened in 1971, the building was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates. The building has been fully renovated with expanded gallery space, plus stunning views of the city skyline and Rocky Mountains. The museum is free for children under 18 and also offers free general admission for all on the first Saturday of every month. The museum is open every day.
Clyfford Still Museum
This museum showcases the work of Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century and among the first generation of abstract expressionist artists. The Clyfford Still Museum 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.
History Colorado Center
Denver's History Colorado Center includes exhibits and programs that tell the stories of Colorado and engage visitors in the past, present and future of our state. Enjoy interactive exhibits like a virtual ride in a real Model T; testing your skills on a ski jump simulator and setting off dynamite in an 1880s hard-rock mine.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
The Kirland museum houses three major collections: paintings by namesake artist Vance Kirkland, fine and decorative art by other Colorado and regional artists, and international decorative art.
Colorado State Capitol
Modeled after the U.S. Capitol, the magnificent Colorado State Capitol is topped by a dome containing more than 200 ounces of real gold. The 13th step on the west side is exactly 1 mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. The Colorado State Capitol building is open to the public Monday through Friday.
Evening in Downtown
McGregor Square & Denver Milk Market
Right next door to Coors Field is McGregor Square, the city's newest urban playground. You'll find the Milepost Zero food hall surrounding a 17,000-square-foot plaza that hosts year-round events like concerts, festivals and movie nights. The plaza has a stadium-sized LED screen. Catch a game at Tom’s Watch Bar, get a bite to eat at Carmine's or browse the books at Tattered Cover Book Store. Or head to Dairy Block, a walkable micro-district in LoDo that contains Denver Milk Market, a diverse mix of culinary concepts, and the Alley, a laid-back place to have a drink.
Day 2: Red Rocks, Shopping, Science Museums & More
Morning on the Front Range
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, just 15 miles west of Denver, is the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world. The visitor center features interactive educational displays, a short film documentary on the geologic and musical history, a Performer's Hall of Fame and delicious food at Ship Rock Grille. Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster as well as its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails in the surrounding park.
Denver Buffalo Herd
The city of Denver maintains a bison herd in a natural setting located 20 miles west of Denver at I-70 Exit 254. The Denver Buffalo Herd are direct descendants of the last wild bison herd in America.
Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
Enjoy the temporary and permanent exhibits and displays at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. Exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill's life and Wild West shows, American Indian artifacts, antique firearms, and other Old West artifacts. The historical complex on Lookout Mountain includes the museum, Buffalo Bill's grave, the Pahaska Tepee gift shop and a children's activity area.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center
This shopping hotspot has more than 160 stores, a quarter of which are exclusive to the area. You'll also find big names like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Kors, H&M and Forever 21. Plus, there are not-to-be-missed dining spots like Elway's and 801 Chophouse.
Cherry Creek North
Cherry Creek North is all about atmosphere and authenticity, making any shopping experience one to remember. From unique jewelry and art to couture fashion and accessories, Cherry Creek North has the highest concentration of high-end retail in the region. The 16-block district is also home to an impressive collection of well-established galleries, renowned restaurants, luxurious day spas and more. Cherry Creek North is a must-see for the savvy shopper, art lover or foodie begging for a thrill!
Meow Wolf Denver
Meow Wolf Denver's Convergence Station is an unforgettable and transformational experience for all ages. Discover immersive, mind-bending art across the four alien worlds of C Street, Eemia, Ossuary and Numina. Uncover the secrets within. Inside the bustling multiverse transit station known as Convergence Station lies HELLOFOOD, an oasis of combined culinary cultures serving QDOT for 2,500 years and counting! Here, visitors can recharge from their cosmic exploration, and find sustenance in tasty treats and bold brews from local vendors.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Explore exhibits like Space Odyssey, Exhibition Health, Gems & Minerals, Egyptian Mummies and Prehistoric Journey. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science also features an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
The Denver Zoo spans more than 75 acres and is home to more than 4,000 animals, including rare Amur leopards, okapi, black rhinoceros, elephants, vampire bats, orangutan, Komodo dragons and more! The Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit is the largest bull elephant habitat in the world. The zoo's Amur tiger habitat, The Edge, brings guests closer than ever to these magnificent felines.
Denver Botanic Gardens
An oasis in the middle of the city, Denver Botanic Gardens has 45 different gardens, some 33,000 plants and one of the nation's top 10 conservatories. Relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the Mordecai Children's Garden.
Evening Exploring Denver
Denver Beer Trail
The Mile High City is known as a craft beer destination, but with more than 100 brewpubs, breweries and taprooms in the metro area to choose from, where do you begin? Let the Denver Beer Trail, organized by neighborhood, be your guide. Explore the best Denver has to offer while sampling an amazingly diverse lineup from Latin American-inspired brews to traditional German offerings to gluten-free options.
The River North Art District (RiNo) is “where art is made," a hotspot for creative types, with several uniquely renovated spaces that provide room for creativity and street art murals around every corner. There is something for everyone at urban food halls like The Source or Denver Central Market. Music venues like Nocturne and Mission Ballroom hold live music acts almost nightly.
South Broadway, meanwhile, is lined with an eclectic mixture of neighborhood taverns, avant-garde clothing stores, art galleries, antique stores, used bookstores, ethnic restaurants, music clubs and more.
And LoHi (Lower Highland), just west of downtown, is characterized by a mix of old and ultra-modern architecture, some of the city’s most innovative restaurants and bars like Linger and Avanti F & B, and incredible views of the Highland Bridge and downtown Denver.
Day 3: Take a Day Trip to the Rocky Mountains or a Nearby Town
Option 1: 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, which crosses the Continental Divide at higher than 2 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.
Option 2: Golden
Located at the base of the foothills, Golden was the territorial capital until 1867 and remains one of the most historical towns in the state. An arch spanning the street proudly proclaims that Golden is "Where the West Lives!" Spend the day exploring Golden's fantastic museums such as the Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden History Museum, Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum or the American Mountaineering Museum. The legendary Coors Brewery can brew up to 22 million barrels and package up to 16 million barrels annually, making it the biggest single-site brewer in the world. For a fee, take a guided tour (requires a reservation) highlighting the malting, brewing and packaging processes and ending with a sampling of Coors products or opt for a sampling-only experience.
Option 3: Colorado Springs
Pikes Peak Country is located 60 miles (97 km) south of Denver and features more than 40 attractions centered around 14,000-foot Pikes Peak and the city of Colorado Springs. 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 nearby Seven Falls, a magnificent series of waterfalls; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods, which has gigantic, 500-foot-high red-sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak; and speaking of the mountain, you can hike, drive or take a truly unique trip to the summit via the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. For an adventurous guided experience, check out Adventures Out West, which offers Jeep tours, zipline fun, hot-air balloon rides and tours of Garden of the Gods on Segway vehicles.
Option 4: Idaho Springs, Mount Evans & Georgetown
Idaho Springs, only about 30 miles from Denver, packs in a full day of adventures. Take a trip back into Colorado's gold mining history at the Argo Mill and Tunnel. During the warmer months, Clear Creek Rafting Co. and Raft Masters offer rafting along beautiful Clear Creek. Or zoom above Clear Creek on a canopy zipline tour with Colorado Adventure Center. You'll reach heights of up to 65 feet and get stunning views of the canyon as you fly along nearly a mile of zipline. But what if you want to experience it all in one place? Lawson Adventure Park & Resort offers a do-it-all package where you can zipline, traverse granite cliffs (thanks to Colorado's only private via ferrata), roll down the mountain inside a giant ball and finish your adventures by rafting on Clear Creek. You can also spend a night in either cabins or yurts and do it again the following day or try disc golf, ATV tours, fly-fishing and more.
Mount Evans has the highest paved auto road in North America, snaking its way to the 14,260-foot summit. Please note: Online reservations are now required for timed slots. The road 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 summit is 60 miles from downtown Denver and the view from the top takes in the entire Front Range. 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.
Located just 42 miles west of Denver, Georgetown is a delightful Victorian village set in a spectacular mountain valley with 200 restored buildings from the 1870s. The main street has shops and restaurants and many of the old homes have been turned into antique stores. The Georgetown Loop Mining & Railroad Park operates during the summer months with narrow gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot-high (27 m) trestle with an optional tour of a silver mine.
Option 5: Fort Collins
Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins offers fabulous recreational opportunities, diverse cultural attractions, a vibrant nightlife scene and plenty of family-friendly activities. Just 65 miles north of Denver (about an hour's drive) on I-25, the town is home to Colorado State University. Explore the city's 50 parks, trek more than 280 miles of trails (including paved and unpaved walking and bike trails) or go for a whitewater adventure on the Cache la Poudre, a river runner's paradise, from May through September. Downtown Fort Collins features a wide array of cuisine and nightlife options, not to mention some great shopping. And of course, no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to the world-famous New Belgium Brewery, a must-see for craft beer aficionados.
Read Denver's Must-Try Restaurants.
Get additional information about Denver’s must-see locations and events, and order a Denver Visitor Guide.