The 16 All-Time Greatest Things to Do in Denver
If there’s one thing Denver has plenty of year-round, it’s unique experiences.
Cannabis trailblazer, land of the 1800s gold and silver rushes, and playground wonderland for the athletic, artistic, and curious, Denver has it all. We like to say we have something for everyone here because, well, we do.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an outdoor enthusiast constantly chasing that adrenaline high or if you’re simply interested in sampling some of the best, most iconic food options a city has to offer—a visit to Denver means exciting new experiences you’ll never forget. The landmarks alone, for example, are both Instagram-worthy and memorable, from walking around the always-beautiful Union Station to discovering the magic of a Red Rocks concert. What’s more, Denver benefits from being a transplant city in part because nearly every cuisine is available to try here, and simultaneously touts signature dishes and restaurants that have become a crucial part of the city’s history. (Not to mention, Colorado is now a Michelin-recognized state.)
Whether it’s your very first visit to the Mile High City or if you need a fresh reminder of why this is the best city to live in, here’s our list of the top 16 all-time-greatest things to do, see, and eat in Denver.
Things to Do in Denver in Fall and Winter
It’s practical, historical, and beautiful. The iconic Denver landmark is still a fully operational train station and chic hotel, with an array of food and drink options scattered about the premises. Sipping cocktails on the mezzanine bar, The Cooper Lounge, is highly encouraged, as is enjoying a meal at one of the incredible restaurants on the ground floor. Frolicking about the fountains out front is optional, but taking a group selfie with the orange sign in the background is a must.
Denver’s beloved independent bookstore chain is everything to love in a bookstore: The familiar green carpet, the cozy, thoughtfully curated shelves, and the all-too-tantalizing trinket section where you’ll most certainly succumb to tote bags, stationary, and bookmarks. If you are to get a memento or a read for the plane trip home, it must be from here. Tattered Cover is a significant part of Denver’s community, and it could also use your help to keep it alive and well.
Back with a revamped look and overhauled menu, the iconic Casa Bonita reopened its doors in 2023 to all who loved its gritty singularity before and those experiencing its glory for the very first time. The shenanigans remain relatively the same—gorilla scares, diver shows, and oddities, curiosities, and intrigue around every corner—but with a renewed energy, a bright pink paint job, and some really, really good food (finally), thanks to Chef Dana Rodriguez.
It may be a newer attraction on the Denver scene, but given that Meow Wolf only has four exhibition locations, it’s kind of a big deal that you can experience the magic when you visit. The perk is that you can take as little or as long as you like, weaving through the interactive installations and sensory stimulation. Pop over to Raices Brewing Company after, or take a 10-minute scooter ride to Larimer Square or Sloan’s Lake.
Where to Eat and Drink in Denver
When talking about Denver institutions, this is what we mean. The oldest continuously operating bar in Denver, it’s been serving beers and spirits since 1873, and the burgers are some of the best in the city. It’s also a genuine experience eating them, since they arrive in a plastic carrier with every fixin’ you could need and you get to soak in the wood paneling and atmosphere of Denver history while you eat.
While probably more of a special occasion restaurant, The Fort is worth every penny, especially when impressing out-of-towners. From the white-tablecloth service to the live pan flute performers to the incredible, locally sourced dishes, a meal here is certainly one to remember. This is the place to experience game meats like elk and bison, sip huckleberry lemonade on the back patio overlooking fields of grazing horses and snippets of the Front Range, and of course, try Rocky Mountain Oysters (we won’t spoil the fun for you, just trust us).
One of the last great 24-hour spots in the city, this is another eatery that’s been around for a long time, and with good reason. Though only open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, Pete’s Kitchen is your post-Colfax concert or bar hop spot for crispy fries, a sizable burger, or pancake breakfast at midnight. No frills, only good food, good vibes, and good service.
Maybe you read the entry on The Fort and thought, “Yeah, that sounds neat, but I’m not looking for something super fancy.” Well, boy, do we have good news for you. How about a gear switch to red-checkered tablecloths and about as many mounted animal heads as you can imagine. Buckhorn Exchange is an illustrious Denver steakhouse that offers the atmosphere of a laid-back mountain lodge paired with impressive cuts of game meats, from buffalo to elk, lamb, and quail, and yes, you can get Rocky Mountain Oysters here, too.
New Yorkers, be warned: This isn’t intended to rival your world-famous pie. But sampling a Beau Jo's slice—with a generous drizzle of honey on top—is a worthy addition to your Denver must-try list. There’s one Denver metro location in Arvada—otherwise, you’ll be trekking along one of the city’s major corridors for a slice. But trying this pizza is kind of a rite of passage, so we don’t really care where you do it.
Things to Do Outdoors in Denver
One of the several iconic landmarks of the Denver metro area, Red Rocks is an essential sight to see. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of place, where you can walk about the venue in broad daylight, check out the museum of artists and acts who’ve played here in the past, and even enjoy a brief hike in the park beyond the amphitheatre. Or, you can go all in on experiencing a concert here (while the season lasts), complete with an icy cold tallboy and the beauty of the Denver skyline in the background.
Denver proudly boasts one of the best zoos in the nation and provides not just award-winning animal care, conservation efforts, and education, but also some of the best outdoor, family-friendly entertainment in the city. After all, who doesn’t love being awed by exotic animals mere minutes from their own backyard? And City Park itself is a perfect picnic park with tons of green space, playgrounds, lakeside trails, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which is equally worth a visit.
With two locations—York Street and Chatfield—a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens is easy no matter where your Airbnb is. However, a trip to the York Street location is highly recommended for its many trails (23 acres, in fact) of local and exotic flora, plus its indoor exhibits and so much more. And don’t worry if it feels too cold to go or if there were a few surprise flurries on the way over; the tropical paradise that is the conservatory will be a welcome reprieve from the winter chill.
Let us preface this by saying there are a lot of cool rooftops to check out in Denver. But if you can only go to one, it might as well be Linger. The rooftop itself is quite spacious and offers excellent city skyline views, and there’s a converted trailer bar, plenty of food, and oh yeah, it used to be a mortuary, so there’s that. Take a selfie in front of the giant O’Linger sign or adventure downstairs to discover all the Denver mortuary lore.
Arts and Culture Things to Do in Denver
Rich in history, culture, and creativity, the Sante Fe Arts District is a not-so-hidden gem among the hustle and bustle of the Mile High. There are a few dozen private galleries all within blocks of each other, in addition to the Museo de las Americas and several shops and restaurants. Even better is getting a glimpse of the area via First Fridays (the first Friday of each month, all year long), which includes a total shutdown of the street and a whole bunch of food and craft vendors.
One of the most liveliest parts of the city, RiNo is known for its giant, vibrant murals that cover the neighborhood. It’s also known for its many bars and breweries, all within walking distance from one another. Hang out during the day and get a potion from Honey Elixir Bar and some grub at Denver Central Market, or prepare for the revelry of a weekend night, which may mean throwing back tequila and then quite literally throwing your shot glass right after.
Denver has many notable and impressive museums, and DAM ranks high on the list. Open daily and featuring multiple rotating exhibits and collections, art and history lovers alike can spend at least a full day browsing the works here. Feeling famished after so much walking? The museum restaurant—The Ponti—has you covered for lunch.