Ways to Experience Asian Culture, History & Flavors in Colorado

More than 200,000 Asian American and Pacific Islanders live in the Centennial State, a population representing a vast diversity of heritages and experiences. Here’s how to immerse yourself in the culture, history and flavors of Korea, Japan, Vietnam and beyond, from slurping pho noodle soup in Denver to honoring World War II history in Granada.

Updated: April 16, 2024

Arts, Culture & History

Designed by award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Aspen Art Museum building in downtown Aspen is an eye-catching sight. Admire the mesmerizing, woven-lattice exterior before venturing inside to view contemporary exhibits by local and national artists.

Tour the Denver Art Museum’s Asian Art collection — which comprises 7,000 masterpieces representing 6,000 years of history — to see beautiful court robes and accessories from China’s Qing Dynasty and ornately carved wooden figurines of Hindu gods from the 1800s.

The 75-year-old Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple is the centerpiece of historic Sakura Square, a historic hub for Colorado’s Japanese community and where you can shop for groceries and gifts at Pacific Mercantile, a business owned by the Noguchi family since 1944.

Spend the afternoon viewing Colorado’s Asian Food Culture: Rice & Resilience at History Colorado in Denver. The interactive exhibit explores the importance and impact of Asian culinary traditions in the local community (running through April 23, 2023).  

Surrealist paintings by Zhang Xiaogang and whimsical depictions of landscapes by Japanese-American artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi are among the works on display at University of Colorado Boulder College of Arts and Sciences Art Museum

Venture to the Drala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes to marvel at the majestic Great Stupa at Dharmakaya. The outdoor, 108-foot Buddhist symbol was built in 1988 to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace — all things we can always use more of.

Learn about Colorado’s Sherpa community — natives of mountainous regions in Nepal, India and Tibet — at Sherpa House in Golden, a cultural center that also doubles as a restaurant serving Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine.

Between 1942 and 1945 during World War II, more than 10,000 Japanese-Americans were unjustly incarcerated at Amache or Granada Relocation Center near Granada in southeast Colorado. Uncover one of the darkest periods in American history at Amache, designated as the Amache National Historic Site in 2022, by touring the reconstructed barracks building, guard tower and recreation hall.

Eating & Drinking Tours 

Aurora’s South Havana Street has the largest concentration of Korean-owned businesses in the state. Start your journey at Seoul Korean BBQ and Hot Pot, where you can cook your own ingredients on tabletop grills or in vessels of bubbling broth, or The Pork.Let, where Korean-Japanese fare is the draw. Then pop into Snowl, a sweet shop known for serving ice cream in taiyaki cones (fish-shaped waffles), or Thank Sool Poncha, a K-Pop-centric pub, for a glass of soju.

In Denver’s River North (RiNo) neighborhood, make a reservation at Hop Alley, where chef Tommy Lee serves modern interpretations of wok-fired Cantonese and Sichuan classics. The name honors the city’s once-thriving Chinatown, which was destroyed in 1880. Or snag a table at nearby Sushi-Rama, where rolls arrive at your table via conveyor belt, before heading to Dochi for mochi doughnuts (a hybrid of the Japanese-rice-flour treat and the American pastry). Or head to Daughter Thai on Platte Street for exquisitely plated curries, stir fries and noodle dishes.

Denver’s Federal Boulevard is a bustling thoroughfare studded with Vietnamese-owned businesses. Must-top destinations include Vinh Xuong Bakery, where the banh mi sandwiches and fried sesame balls are some of the best in town; Truong An Gifts, a family-owned shop stocked with thousands of novelties and gifts; and New Saigon Restaurant, Pho Duy and Now Pho — all locally beloved spots where you can dig into Vietnamese rice bowls and noodle soups.

Take part in the peaceful tradition of drinking tea at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse on the Front Range, where you can sip a robust variety imported from across the world in a building constructed with stunning tiles crafted by hand in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.


Sample dishes from a bounty of Asian cuisines and watch colorful boats race across the water at July’s Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in Edgewater. Or watch critic-approved flicks at March’s Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival in Denver.

The Far East Center on Denver’s Federal Boulevard hosts a variety of reasons to gather throughout the year, including a night bazaar and Chinese New Year bash. 

Check the Golden Lotus Foundation’s schedule to take part in annual happenings in Colorado Springs such as themed family-style feasts featuring Chinese and Filipino cuisines.

June’s Cherry Blossom Festival in Denver’s Sakura Square honors Japanese heritage and culture via taiko-drumming shows and a marketplace of food and gift vendors.

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