Top 5 things to do while visiting Denver, the Mile High City

  Union Station, Denver's main transportation hub, illuminated in colour. Image credit:  Andy Smith / Creative Commons

Union Station, Denver's main transportation hub, illuminated in colour. Image credit: Andy Smith/Creative Commons

The Mile-High City is booming. Denver is home to great sports teams, stunning scenic vistas, and more than 100 craft breweries. If you’ve been thinking about exploring the Rocky Mmountains, there has never been a better time. 

In addition to football and beer, Denver also has wealth of historical attractions, educational opportunities, and there are plenty of other things to do. Experience the best Denver has to offer with this list of Denver's top attractions.

1. Experience the spectacular outdoors

  Wintertime at Cherry Creek State Park. Image credit:  Cathy McCray / Creative Commons

Wintertime at Cherry Creek State Park. Image credit: Cathy McCray/Creative Commons

With more than 300 sunny days per year and a variety of choice ski destinations, Denver truly does offer the best of both worlds. During the summer, warm weather adventurers can raft down the Colorado River, mountain bike along Buffalo Creek, or rock climb in Cherry Creek State Park. 

In the winter months, outdoors enthusiasts can ski or snowboard at Cherry Creek State Park, Echo Mountain, Eldora, or Winter Park. Just beware of altitude sickness. Rapid changes in elevation can result in headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Try to acclimate for at least 48 hours before doing any strenuous exercise.

2. Explore the Denver Zoo

  Giraffes at Denver Zoo. Image credit:  Owen Allen / Creative Commons

Giraffes at Denver Zoo. Image credit: Owen Allen/Creative Commons

Located close to the city centre, Denver Zoo sits on 75 acres of City Park. The zoo is home to over 4,000 animals and it’s modelled after a Kenyan nature preserve. The zoo was founded in 1896 and, according to the Denver Zoo website, was “the first American institution to benefit from Carl Hagenbeck’s revolutionary zoo concept, that people should see animals at eye level in natural habitats without bars or fences,” in 1918.

After entering the zoo, there is an exhibit for almost every kind of animal fanatic. Snake and reptile enthusiasts can get their fill at the Tropical Discovery centre. For those more interested in warm blooded animals, there are lions and hyenas at Predator Ridge and Primate Panorama has all the monkeys you can dream of.

3. Eat like royalty in LoDo

  The LoDo Clock Tower in Denver. Image credit:  Nan Palmero / Creative Commons

The LoDo Clock Tower in Denver. Image credit: Nan Palmero/Creative Commons

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why a culinary scene starts to explode, but it’s safe to say that it’s happening in Denver. The Lower Downtown area, also known as LoDo. is just one area experiencing a surge of new restaurants and watering holes. Visit Larimer Square for establishments like chef Jennifer Jasinski's Rioja and chef Troy Guard's TAG.

Union Station, a common stop on the way to Colorado’s ski slopes, also houses a few unique dining experiences. Stop by Mercantile Dining & Provisions for grilled swordfish or Acme Delicatessen for smoked egg salad. ChoLon, another neighborhood favorite, features a variety of dishes inspired by Asian cuisine. Try the pork belly rillettes or the grilled octopus.

4. Go on a shopping spree in Larimer Square

  Larimer Square is also a popular spot for restaurants and bars. Image credit:  brotherlywalks / Creative Commons

Larimer Square is also a popular spot for restaurants and bars. Image credit: brotherlywalks/Creative Commons

Remember Larimer Square? Located in LoDo, this popular dining district is also home to a variety of unique shops and independent retailers, including Cry Baby Ranch, Scarpaletto, and Blush. Shoppers can find handcrafted shoes and boots, home decor, local artwork, and handmade jewellery. 

Throughout the year, Larimer also hosts a variety of themed festivals. Visit in June to experience the Denver Chalk Art Festival. Stop by in July for the Peach Sidewalk Sale, an outdoor shop-and-stroll that celebrates the Colorado Peach Harvest. Last, but not least, the Yuletide Window Walk is held in December during the height of holiday shopping. In 2015, Larimer Square celebrated 50 years of preservation.

5. Browse the Denver Art Museum

  The Denver Art Museum's exterior. Image credit:  Michael Levine-Clark / Creative Commons

The Denver Art Museum's exterior. Image credit: Michael Levine-Clark/Creative Commons

With more than 700,000 pieces of art, the Denver Art Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the entire country. This massive educational facility houses 10 permanent collections in two different buildings. The original museum opened in 1971 in what is now known as the North Building. Designed by prominent Italian architect, Gio Ponti, the building’s exterior features more than a million reflective tiles that reflect the sunlight and complement the castle-like architecture. 

The second building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, features angular walls that are meant to evoke the Rocky Mountains. Once inside, visitors can experience everything from European and American paintings to collections of photography and textiles. Other exhibits include Asian, American Indian, Pre-Columbian, and Spanish Colonial artwork. 

As you can see, Denver has something for everyone. From amazing artwork, to delicious food, and even stunning wilderness. So, come and experience all that Denver and Colorado has to offer, you’ll be sure to leave feeling that Rocky Mountain high.

By Trevor Venegas