Discover Denver, The Mile High City
Denver, Colorado is an outdoor city with 300 days of sunshine, brilliant blue skies and breathtaking mountain scenery. Founded in 1858 as a gold mining camp, Denver is located at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, 5,280 feet (1,609 meters) above sea level – exactly one mile high. Denver offers urban adventures for all ages, spring, summer, fall or winter.
Top Reasons to Spend Three Days in Denver:
⦁ Craft Beer: Check out the Denver Beer Trail, which is your guide to 20 of the creative craft breweries in Denver, most located in the walkable city center. ⦁ http://www.visitdenver.com/DenverBeerTrail
⦁ Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre: See concerts under the stars at this amazing natural amphitheatre surrounded by ancient rock formations, and, by day, Red Rocks is a free park with hiking trails, a visitor center and the Performers’ Hall of Fame where you will learn The Beatles played this stage in 1964. ⦁ http://redrocksonline.com
⦁ Western History: Visit Rockmount Ranch Wear, the store where Papa Jack, the grandfather of the current owner, invented the snap button cowboy shirt, and where music legends and movie stars still shop today. ⦁ http://www.rockmount.com
⦁ Shop, shop, shop!: Explore the neighborhood of Cherry Creek, 10 minutes from downtown, where you will find Cherry Creek Shopping Center and the tree-lined streets of Cherry Creek North.
⦁ Arts and Culture: Visit the Denver Art Museum with its acclaimed American Indian and Western art collections, the History Colorado Center and its interactive exhibits including a virtual ski jump, or the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the dinosaur in the Prehistoric Journey exhibit. ⦁ http://www.dmns.org
⦁ Rocky Mountain Cuisine: From chef-owned restaurants serving farm-to-table fare in downtown’s historic Union Station or Larimer Square to bison, elk and steak at The Fort restaurant, housed in a replica of an 1830s adobe fur-trading fort.
⦁ Purchase the Mile High Culture Pass - The best way to explore some of the city’s top attractions for the bargain “Mile High” price of $52.80 for five attractions (a savings of $25) or three attractions for $25.
⦁ In 2016, rail service will launch between Denver International Airport and downtown Denver’s historic Union Station, now transformed into a hotspot with restaurants, pub, cocktail lounge and a boutique hotel.
⦁ Downtown Denver is very easy to navigate on foot or on a B-cycle from the city’s bike-sharing program. In addition, the free 16th Street Mall shuttle carries locals and visitors along the mile-long pedestrian promenade in the heart of the city center.
⦁ Rocky Mountain National Park, one of Colorado’s four national parks, is only 1 ½ hours’ drive from downtown Denver, and features horseback riding, hiking, mountain lakes and wildlife, as well as the highest paved road in North America.
Day One: Sightseeing & Shopping 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 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. (The official Denver Tourist Information Center is located at 16th and California Street.) ⦁ http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/denver-attractions/16th-street-mall/
⦁ I See What You Mean "The Big Blue Bear" by Lawrence Argent: 14th & California St. 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, located on the 16th Street Mall in the heart of downtown Denver. Featuring 40 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues including a movie theater and a bowling alley, this two city blocks, three stories high, open-air mall offers convenient underground parking. 16th Street between Welton & Tremont Streets. Open 10 am-8 pm, Monday-Saturday; Noon-6 pm, Sundays. ⦁ www.denverpavilions.com
⦁ Colorado State Capitol: Modeled after the U.S. Capitol, this magnificent landmark is topped by a dome containing more than 200 ounces of real gold. The 13th step on the west side is exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. 200 E. Colfax Avenue, Open 7:30 am-5 pm, Monday -Fridays ⦁
⦁ 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. Free general admission on the first Saturday of every month. 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, Open Tuesday-Thursday, 10 am-5 pm; Friday, 10 am-8 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. ⦁ www.denverartmuseum.org
⦁ Clyfford Still Museum: The 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 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. Free tours Wednesday's at 1pm. 1250 Bannock Street, Open Tuesday-Thursday, 10 am-5 pm; Friday, 10 am-8 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. ⦁ www.clyffordstillmuseum.org
⦁ History Colorado Center: The 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 a 1880s hard-rock mine. 1200 Broadway, Monday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Sunday, noon-5 pm ⦁ www.historycolorado.org
⦁ Union Station: Denver’s Union Station has undergone a massive restoration and re-development that has made it an exciting place in the heart of Lower Downtown (known as LoDo by the locals). The 1881 Beaux Arts station is now a hub for transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment with 112 hotel rooms, four new Colorado chef-owned restaurants, two quick service restaurants, local one-of-a-kind shops and a Colorado beer hall. (And, in 2016, there will rail service to and from the Denver International Airport.) ⦁ http://unionstationindenver.com
⦁ Rockmount Ranch Wear: A true Western icon, Rockmount’s original owner, Papa Jack, invented the first western shirts with snaps and helped popularize Western wear as legitimate American fashion throughout the US and abroad. The Rockmount building is a historic landmark built in 1909, and today the grandson of Papa Jack still owns the store and sells the authentic shirts to music legends and movie stars. 1626 Wazee Street, Open Monday-Friday, 8 am-6 pm; Saturday, 10 am-6 pm ⦁ www.rockmount.com
⦁ Tattered Cover Book Store: An independent community bookstore with lots of nooks and crannies offering the intimacy of a smaller bookshop, and with an ample supply of sofas and chairs, readers are sure to feel at home. 16th & Wynkoop Street, Open Monday-Friday, 6:30 am-9 pm; Saturday, 9 am-9 pm; Sunday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm ⦁ www.tatteredcover.com
⦁ MCA Denver - Museum of Contemporary Art Denver: MCA 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. 1485 Delgany, Tours daily at 11:30 am and 3:00 pm; Open Tuesday–Thursday, 12 pm–7 pm; Friday, 12 pm-8 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–7 pm ⦁ www.mcadenver.org
⦁ Larimer Square: Denver’s urban shopping and dining district is the city’s oldest and most historic block. Complete with glittering lights strung over the entire block, the area is charming and elegant with a nightlife that defines hip urban renewal. Victorian buildings house specialty boutiques and unique chef-driven restaurants. Shop one-of-a-kind stores with distinctive fashion and exclusive offerings. Don’t miss special events and a vibrant atmosphere year-round. Larimer Street between 14th and 15th Streets. ⦁ www.larimersquare.com
Day Two: Day Trip to Explore More
Start the day with a trip west of downtown Denver to see the famous Red Rocks:
⦁ Denver Buffalo Herd: Located 20 miles west of Denver at I-70 Exit 254, observe a herd of buffalo in a natural setting, maintained by the city of Denver. The buffalo are direct descendants of the last wild buffalo herd left in America. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/listings/Buffalo-Herd-Nature-Preserve/4549/
⦁ Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave: Enjoy the ongoing and permanent exhibits and displays at the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave. The exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill's life and Wild West shows, 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. Open Daily 9 am-5 pm; (4 pm November - April) ⦁ www.buffalobill.org
⦁ Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre: Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a naturally formed, world-famous outdoor venue just 15 miles west of Denver and is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world. The Visitor Center features interactive educational displays, a short film documentary on the geologic and musical history, a Performers’ Hall of Fame and delicious food at Ship Rock Grille. Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, natural acoustics and ambience, as well as its awe inspiring hiking and biking trails. Visitor Center open: May- September, 8 am-7 pm; October-April, 9 am-4 pm ⦁ www.redrocksonline.com
⦁ Coors Brewery Tour: Come see and taste traditional brewing in the Rocky Mountains! The legendary Coors Brewery in Golden 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. A tour highlighting the malting, brewing and packaging processes, ending with a sampling of Coors fine products and shopping in the gift shop! Open June 1-Early September: Monday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm; Sunday, noon-4pm; Early September-May 31: Thursday-Monday, 10 am-4 pm; Sunday, noon-4pm ⦁ http://www.millercoors.com/golden-brewery-tour.aspx
⦁ City of 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!” ⦁ http://www.denver.org/about-denver/denver-neighborhoods/golden/
Spend the afternoon shopping and exploring other nearby attractions:
⦁ Cherry Creek Shopping Center: Cherry Creek Shopping Center offers more than 160 stores and restaurants including, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Abercrombie & Fitch, Stuart Weitzman, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and favorites like Gap, Banana Republic, Express, H&M and Forever 21. Visit the guest services desk and ask for your “Passport to Shopping” offering discounts for more than 60 stores and restaurants. For a quick and easy way from downtown to Cherry Creek, take the 83L bus from Civic Center Station and get off at the Fillmore stop. 3000 E. 1st Avenue, Open Sunday, 10 am-6:00 pm; Monday-Saturday, 10 am- 9 pm; ⦁ www.shopcherrycreek.com
⦁ Cherry Creek North Shopping District: Visit this charming 16 block outdoor shopping and dining neighborhood that is home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants, spas and more. Located across from the Cherry Creek Shopping Center between 1st and 3rd Streets, Cherry Creek North is a must see for the savvy shopper, art lover, or foodie begging for a thrill! ⦁ www.cherrycreeknorth.com
⦁ City Park: Denver's premier regional park contains the Denver Zoo; the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and IMAX; tennis courts; horseshoes; baseball, football and soccer fields; two lakes; historical monuments and statuary; picnic sites and two playgrounds. 17th Ave. & Colorado Blvd. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/sports-recreation/denver-parks/
⦁ Denver Museum of Nature & Science: Explore the Space exhibit, Exhibition Health, gems & minerals exhibit and the Dinosaur exhibition. Also offering IMAX and a planetarium. 2001 Colorado Blvd., Open daily, 9 am-5 pm ⦁ www.dmns.org
⦁ Denver Zoo: It spans over 75 acres and is home to over 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. 2300 Steele St., Open daily, 9 am -5 pm ⦁ www.denverzoo.org
⦁ Denver Botanic Gardens: This oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens (some 33,000 plants), as well as 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. 1005 York Street, Open daily, 9 am-5 pm ⦁ www.botanicgardens.org
Day Three: Experience the Rocky Mountains
Take a day trip to the Rocky Mountains or a nearby town: ⦁ http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/
⦁ Rocky Mountain National Park: Located 71 miles (114 km) northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 400 square miles (1,036 sq. km) of scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two 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. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/rocky-mountain-national-park/
⦁ Mount Evans: Mount Evans has the highest paved auto road in North America, snaking its way to the 14,260-foot (4,346 m) summit. The road ($10 for a three-day pass) 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 view from the top takes in the entire Front Range. The summit is 60 miles (97 km) from downtown Denver. 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. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/day-trips-around-colorado/mount-evans/
⦁ Georgetown: Located just 42 miles (68 km) 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 in the summer months with narrow gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot (27 m) high trestle with optional tour of a silver mine. (Can be combined with Mt. Evans or the Golden area attractions) ⦁ http://www.denver.org/listings/Georgetown-Loop-Mining-Railroad-Park/3757/
⦁ 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 (4,267 m) high 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 Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods which has gigantic 500-foot (152 m) high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/listings/Colorado-Springs-Convention-Visitors-Bureau/3984/
⦁ 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 and 15 minutes’ drive) on I-25, the town is home to Colorado State University. Explore the city’s 50 parks, 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. ⦁ http://www.denver.org/listings/Visit-Fort-Collins/3791/