22 Actually Cool Things You Can Do in Denver This Summer

From paddleboarding to stunning local hikes, these activities are your summer must-dos.

There is no better time or place to be than Denver in the summer. The sun is shining in that big blue sky, and the possibilities of each hot, perfect day are limitless. Will you float along a river, beer in hand? Will you appreciate some art then stuff your face at the newest restaurant? It’s all within grasp. Summer in Denver means the revival of farmer’s markets, seasonal park activities, and the chance to eat and sip on sunny patios; it means tan lines and rocking tees and tanks at Red Rocks Shows, plus a whole lot of other fun stuff. There’s a lot to do, but let this list get your first few weekends off to a rip-roarin’ good start.

Old South Pearl Farmer's Market
Old South Pearl Farmer's Market

Stroll through a farmers market

Multiple locations
Farmers markets are back in full swing, friends—that means local, handcrafted goods, free samples, and as many dogs as you can possibly pet. Get your biggest reusable bag ready and head on down to Old South Pearl or City Park and have yourself a day full of fresh produce and tasty food truck bites. If you can, definitely make the trip up to the Boulder County Farmers Market at least once—it’s got a massive selection and some really honorable values when it comes to supporting farmers.

Spend the day paddleboarding

Multiple locations
We’ve reached prime time for parks opening, meaning tons of lakes are now readily available for you and your SUP board. Pack some lunch and post up on the beach with your tent and, after some serious board pumping, head out onto the water and paddle to your heart’s content. Bear Creek Lake Park’s Soda Lakes are always a favorite, and if you don’t have your own SUP yet, you can rent one for $25.

Stem Ciders
Stem Ciders

Sip at a local cidery

Multiple locations
We all know Denver’s reputation when it comes to craft beer, but it’s also sneakily got several really great cideries beckoning you to try them out. RiNo’s Stem Ciders is always a fun time, especially if some of the local fare is involved. Other cideries and cider mills boasting the sweet, tart, and naturally gluten-free adult beverage include Colorado Cider Company, Haykin Family Cider, and Waldschänke Ciders.

Take a drive to a great restaurant

Multiple locations
Denver is well known as a culinary destination and constantly has new restaurants popping up. But if you’re ever itching for a leisurely drive with some good eats at the end of it, consider going a few extra miles to some newer and rather impressive eateries. Silverthorne has a couple of additions to its food scene, including its first-ever food hall, Bluebird Market, as well as Eclectic Bar & Grill and Kúcu Tequila Bistro. And Niwot’s Farow has been making grand impressions, even so far as winning Boulder County's best new restaurant.

Adventure West River Tube and Ebike Rentals
Adventure West River Tube and Ebike Rentals

Tube down a river

Multiple locations
Is there any better feeling than floating along with your toes in the water, basking in the sun, and enjoying the scenery? We don’t think so, either. Tubing is a huge summer pastime for Denverites, from Golden’s Clear Creek to Littleton’s South Platte River. Places like Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse neighbor Adventure West River Tube Rentals are your hookup for quality tubes, but you can also grab a few friends and some tubes of your own and all float on. Definitely don’t forget the sunscreen for this one.

Catch a Rockies game

Ballpark
The season of pricey beer, foot-long hot dogs, and tightly fitting pants is once again upon us, folks. The Rockies are back in action at Coors Field and summer nights spent cheering, chewing, and watching the occasional fireworks show beckon. Get your tickets here.

Yoga Hive Colorado
Yoga Hive Colorado

Try aerial yoga

Louisville
You’ve tried regular yoga. You’ve tried hot yoga (you did read our winter list, right?). Now get ready for: yoga in the air. That’s right, you can get your Cirque du Soleil on, Mile-High style at Yoga Hive Colorado. The studio (which does offer your standard yoga classes as well) offers several aerial yoga classes, including an introductory class and one for all levels of aerial yoga. Soar through the air (carefully) and build up those core muscles.

The Beer Spa
The Beer Spa

Whittier
Beer? Check. The ultimate relaxation? Double check. Welcome to The Beer Spa, where you can soak away your worries, have them massaged out in zero gravity chairs, and sample a wide variety of Colorado’s craft brews all in one visit. Fully immerse yourself in your love of beer with hydrotherapy baths and an infrared sauna, then check out the monthly rotation of what’s on tap. View the full service menu and prepare for your solo spa day, date night, or private party—no matter the occasion, it’ll be a hopping good time.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens

Cheeseman Park
A sunny stroll through the Botanic Gardens’ summer blooms is perfect for a date, family outing, or solo trip. Take your time (and get a tan while you’re at it) and admire the beautiful flora that the minds behind the gardens take such great care of. And definitely take advantage of the many events and exhibits hosted here like the return of Music at the Gardens, starting this June.

Learn to (actually) dance

North Capitol Hill
Ever find yourself driving around Uptown and coming across a super majestic building in the heart of the city? It’s actually called the Denver Turnverein and it’s the best place in Denver to learn a new, formal style of dance. In fact, it's the oldest organization of its kind here, started by German immigrants fleeing Europe in the mid-1800s. Whether you fancy ballroom, tango, or swing dancing, this nonprofit has an abundance of classes available for all levels.

Four Mile Historic Park
Four Mile Historic Park

Glendale
Transport yourself to the ways of the Old American West with a visit to Four Mile Historic Park, where you’ll find a fully working farm, expansive (seasonal) garden, and historically accurate replicas representing life from the mid-1800s and beyond. It’s also where you’ll find Denver’s oldest standing structure, the Four Mile House Museum. Take a trip for yourself or bring the whole fam along to check out the various (and very cute) farm animals and learn a thing or two about Denver’s history and, dare we say, the good ol’ days.

Do some witchy sh*t

Various locations
Into crystals, tarot, or bone jewelry? Even if you’re not, checking out places like Ritualcravt, where “art and magic collide,” makes for a super interesting excursion. Shop books, candles, crystals, tarot decks, jewelry, plants, home decor—you name it. Ritualcravt even offers a ton of classes if you want to learn more about any kind of magic or craft. Also in the running is The Terrorium Shop, which specializes in house products and decor that often incorporate plants and animal bones. And, special shoutout to Horrid, an eclectic magazine and a shop of horrors similar to the other, aforementioned businesses.

Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum

Golden Triangle
Let us preface this listing by saying that any trip to the Denver Art Museum is worth your time. But if you’re itching to pick up a new hobby or trying to have some fun on a budget, consider DAM’s drop-in classes. Every month, the museum extends the invitation to adults to come in, view impressive works, and use the inspiration to draw or write and then share their creations. DAM also offers a number of other budget-friendly programs, including online and in-person talks and lectures.

Laugh your ass off

Various locations
Anytime is a good time for a laugh. Grab a few tickets to a comedy show, some friends (if you’ve got ‘em) and enjoy a couple cocktails while letting the professionals do their thing. Comedy Works has two locations in Denver, making it even more convenient to make a star-headliner show. But it’s also totally worthwhile to check out some of Denver’s other comedy clubs, like the Denver Comedy Lounge, the Improv Comedy Theater and Restaurant, or Denver Comedy Underground for local and national talent that kills.

Immersive Frida Kahlo
Immersive Frida Kahlo

Immerse yourself in art

Various locations
Absolute fan-favorite, interactive exhibit Meow Wolf is still alive and well at Convergence Station, and you’re encouraged to go if you haven’t yet (or revisit if you have). But now on the scene is the Immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit at Lighthouse Artspace. Wander through the light and color of two of the most mesmerizing exhibits to grace Denver and maybe learn a thing or two while you’re at it.

RiNo and the Santa Fe Arts District
Over the past few years, Denver’s streets have become a whole lot more colorful thanks to a slew of new works by street artists, especially in these two neighborhoods. All you need is some free time to wander to find eye-catching examples painted everywhere from alleys and underpasses to the outsides of prominent businesses. If you’re looking for a socially distant friendly outdoor activity, these two districts are like open-air museums for modern art, just waiting to be explored. 

Bear Creek Stables Inc.
Bear Creek Stables Inc.

Take in Denver’s beauty while on horseback

Various locations
Take a romantic horseback ride with your SO at sunset or book a pony ride or pony party (yes, that’s a thing) for the kids at Bear Creek Stables in Morrison, and enjoy the Front Range views. 12 Mile Stables, based out of Aurora, also offers guided trail rides through prairies, over streams, and offers a “Sunset and Dinner Ride” featuring hearty cowboy fare for after your trek. In a different light, The Right Step, Inc. offers horseback riding but in a therapeutic way for people with special needs, and is also a 501(c)3 organization.

The Fort Restaurant
The Fort Restaurant

Morrison
A true Western atmosphere and menu await at The Fort, where you can try everything from Bison Eggs and Rocky Mountain Oysters to elk, trout, and quail. Take your seasonal cocktail to the outdoor patio and warm yourself by a fire pit while stargazing, tour the adobe building and learn all about its long history.

Morrison
Yes, it is the best place to see music in the known galaxy. And let’s just go ahead and say Red Rocks’ summer season is the best season, because watching your favorite artists jam out on a warm evening with a cold tallboy in hand is peak Denver experience. Bonus: Before a concert or even if you feel like making the drive on a day you don’t have tickets, you can still walk around Red Rocks park for a gorgeous (free) sojourn, anytime.

MCA Denver
MCA Denver

Union Station
The Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum may be better known (and are definitely worth your time), but this small yet mighty option is a must. The exhibits change regularly and feature both local and national artists, and thanks to its small size, you only need an hour or two to explore the whole thing and enjoy a drink at the rooftop bar. Plus Colorado residents get in for just a penny on the first Saturday of every month.

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection

Central Business District
This Downtown icon Brown Palace is over 125 years old and a traditional afternoon tea here is still one of the classiest experiences you can have in Denver. It’s the perfect excuse to don your favorite Bridgerton-inspired outfit and sit in the atrium’s regal atmosphere, sipping tea. Options range from a $40 per person tea, scones, and finger sandwich-filled experience to the $250 option for four that includes a bottle of Moët.

Idaho Springs
A quick 30-minute drive from town, this small mountain town is the closest spot to enjoy a nice long soak in the waters from a natural hot spring. Reservations for all-day sessions or hour-long passes must be booked online in advance. If you score one, you’ll enter the jungle-like dome where a pool with an average temperature of 90 to 100 awaits. And when you’re done, you can make a pit stop at Tommyknocker Brewery for beer and a bite on their outdoor patio before heading back to town.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.
Molly Martin is a freelance writer in Denver, Colorado who is always on the lookout for fun things to do. Follow her Mile High adventures @mollydbu on Twitter and Instagram.
Colin St. John is a Denver-based writer, editor and joke maker. He's written for Rolling Stone, Deadspin, Esquire, and Pitchfork.