The most difficult part of planning a trip to the Mile High City is trying to whittle down the list of things to do in Denver. Thrill seekers, foodies, beer aficionados, family travelers, and cultural mavens will all find plenty of ways to fill out their itineraries.
10 Fun Things to Do in Denver
To help, here are 10 fun ways to enjoy Denver like a local.
Get Tickets to a Colorado Rockies Game
Whether Denver’s Major League Baseball team is winning or losing, the stands at Coors Field are always packed. It could be because Denverites like nothing more than drinking a beer outside on a hot day. Or it might be because there’s actually decent, local food at the downtown stadium, including Biker Jim’s hot dogs and CHUBurgers from Oskar Blues Brewery; plus the Sandlot Brewery, the first brewery inside an MLB park. Or perhaps it’s because the sunset views from the southeast side of the stadium are worth the ticket price alone. Whatever the case, any Denver activities list during baseball season should include a home game.
Wander Around RiNo
If you want to see where Denver is headed, point your walking shoes to River North, known as RiNo to locals. Sitting just north of downtown, the neighborhood was once manufacturing central; then artists moved in and upped the cool factor. Nowadays it’s where everyone wants to live, play, and work. Follow the graffiti-lined streets and alleyways—RiNo is a certified art district— to see (and taste) the work of some of the city’s most talented creatives, from brewers and distillers to artists and furniture makers. If you’re looking for things to do in Denver, there’s always something happening in RiNo. Must-visits include RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Stowaway Coffee & Kitchen, Topo Designs, Bar Fausto, Black Shirt Brewing Co., and Hop Alley. https://rinoartdistrict.org/
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Little Man Ice Cream
Even a snowstorm can’t keep Denverites from their favorite sweet treat: The line leading to Little Man Ice Cream’s iconic, 28-foot-tall milk can weave around the block year-round. There are more than two dozen flavors—and an array of equally yummy vegan options—on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with salted Oreo in a handmade waffle cone. Since opening in 2008, Little Man has donated more than two million scoops of rice and beans (one for each scoop of ice cream sold) to communities in need in nine countries. So you can feel justified in ordering that second scoop.
Ride a B-Cycle Across Town
One of the most fun things to do in Denver is to experience the city is by bike. Denver B-cycle operates close to 100 stations around the city where you can check out two wheels for an hour or a day with the swipe of a credit card. The bike-sharing systems are all in convenient locations, like the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Washington Park. Hop on to explore the city’s 85 miles of paved bike trails. One of the most popular is the Cherry Creek Bike Path, which winds more than 40 miles from downtown’s Confluence Park—where Denver was founded—all the way to Franktown. You don’t need to take it quite that far, but following it from the park (where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet) to the Cherry Creek Shopping District is a quintessential Denver activity and makes for a pretty (and fairly flat) ride. https://www.denverbcycle.com/
Check Out a Cannabis Dispensary
In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. Whether they partake or not, stepping inside a cannabis dispensary is a unique experience for many visitors. There’s no requirement to make a purchase, and simply meeting budtenders (those would be the experts behind the counters) and seeing the dizzying area of marijuana-infused products, from edibles to pain-relieving creams, is a must for those wondering what to do in Denver. Dispensaries have popped up in most neighborhoods, so locating one is usually as easy as walking a few blocks. Remember: You must be 21 or older to enter a dispensary, and IDs are required.
Enjoy Denver Parks
Denverites are an outdoorsy bunch. Some wake up to run every morning at 6 a.m., while others limit their communing-with-nature time to barbecuing in the backyard with friends and a beer in hand. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, if you’re looking for things to do in Denver and the weather is even moderately nice, get outside and enjoy any of the city’s 272 public green spaces. Join a pickup volleyball game, stand-up paddleboard on a lake, read in the shade of a tree … the options are endless. Depending on where you’re staying in town, consider checking out Cheesman Park, Washington Park, City Park, Ruby Hill Park, or Berkeley Lake Park. http://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-parks-and-recreation.html
Take a Self-Guided Brewery Tour
Colorado likes to call itself the Napa Valley of Beer. More than 200 breweries exist across the state, and the Mile High City hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival, one of the biggest beer events in the world. Luckily, you don’t have to leave the city to get a taste: There are over 50 craft breweries within Denver city limits alone. Plan a self-guided tour based on neighborhood or your beer style preferences. Be sure to stop by Wynkoop Brewing Company, founded by governor John Hickenlooper; Great Divide Brewing Co., one of the city’s first craft breweries; and Denver Beer Company, which has one of the most popular patios in town.
Eat Your Way Through Food Halls
Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, or in a group, deciding where to eat is a daily headache. Avoid the stress by dining at a food hall, the modern version of a food court. Denver has plenty to choose from, and each offers an array of independently operated restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and more, so everyone can find exactly what they want. (Some have local boutiques as well.) There’s the Source, Denver Central Market, and Zeppelin Station in RiNo; Union Station downtown; Avanti Food & Beverage in LoHi; and just outside of the city limits, the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.
Go Antique Shopping on South Broadway
South Broadway is one of Denver’s most eclectic corridors. The neighborhood is a mix of funky bars, diverse restaurants, vintage clothing shops, cultural venues, and, south of Alameda Avenue, the best antique shopping in the city. The 18-block strip is known as Antique Row because there are dozens of antique stores, plus some fantastic galleries and the Denver Design District. You’re guaranteed to leave with something—even if it’s just inspiration for your next home project.
Attend a Concert
Colorado may be known for Red Rocks, but there’s plenty more for music fans to love about Denver. Talented local bands play all over town, and it’s common to see groups at one of the city’s smaller venues (Larimer Lounge, Marquis Theater) before they catch their big breaks. The calendars at local mid-sized spots (the Fillmore Auditorium, Ogden Theatre, Bluebird Theatre) showcase musicians from every genre. If you’re looking for one of the most fun things to do in Denver, though, seek out the hidden gems—intimate neighborhood music clubs like Dazzle, Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, El Chapultepec, and Swallow Hill Music.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Denver Travel Guide
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- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Denver
- 10 Stylish Boutique Hotels in Denver
- 10 Must-See Denver Attractions
- 10 Best Day Trips from Denver
- The Best Cheap Eats in Denver
- 10 Best Denver Restaurants
- 10 Best Denver Breweries and Distilleries
- What to Pack for Denver
- What to Wear in Denver
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– Original Reporting by Daliah Singer