Your Checklist for a Real Denver Summer

There’s a lot that happens in the Mile High once the temperature rises, but no matter how packed your schedule gets, there are some unwavering must-dos that will ensure you’re getting the most out of Colorado’s summer days. And yes, they’re basically all just excuses to spend more time outdoors. You don’t have to go in order, but it’s imperative you check each one of these activities off before fall, well, falls upon us.

Hit up an outdoor music venue

Red Rocks is the ultimate summer concert destination, but if you can’t snag tickets there, you’ve got plenty of options. Try the Mishawaka Amphitheatre, which is tucked in a canyon outside of Ft. Collins, or just head to City Park any Sunday evening for a free jazz show.

Watch a movie under the stars

We’ve even rounded up the whole summer outdoor movie schedule for you to make this one super simple to check off. No excuses.

Grab a tent and go camping

If you’re new to the outdoors, check out our handy list of camp hacks.

Sample the city’s food truck scene at Civic Center EATS

Take a long lunch and get a taste of everything from BBQ and pizza to Ethiopian fare every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11am-2pm.

Have a park day

Pack a picnic, grab your volleyball net, or set up a game of cornhole. Denver’s got over 20,000 acres of parkland and summer is the time to really take advantage of all that greenspace.  

Take the plunge into some Rocky Mountain runoff

Colorado may be landlocked, but there’s still plenty of water to play in. Check out the swim beach at Cherry Creek Reservoir, canoe or kayak at Golden’s Clear Creek Whitewater Park, or road trip to Steamboat for some tubing down the Yampa.

Order a hot dog at the Coney Island Boardwalk

Though it’s moved locations and changed ownership a few times over the years, this 35-foot hot dog-shaped food stand that’s been around since the 1960s can be found about an hour outside of Denver in Bailey.

Cool down with some locally made ice cream

Standing in line for ice cream at Little Man is totally worth the wait, but they’re not the only ice cream destination in town any more. You should also check out the retro vibes at Sweet Cooie’s, grab an ice cream flight at High Point Creamery, opt for ice cream tacos on Tuesdays at Nuggs, or indulge with a beer milkshake at Frozen Matter.

Cheer on the Rockies at Coors Field

Especially since they’re actually giving the city plenty to cheer about this year.

Stock up on fresh summer produce at a farmers market

Show up hungry because you’ll also find prepared food and usually some entertainment on hand too, making this way more than simply an outdoor grocery shopping trip. Farmers markets can be found all over town but Union Station’s on Saturdays and Boulder’s Saturday and Wednesday events are our picks.

Go brewery hopping

There are over 100 craft breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms in the Mile High. Take advantage of the clear skies and warm temperatures, pick a neighborhood, and start sampling brews stat.

Take a wild ride

You’re never too old for some classic thrills. Plunge 200 feet on the Tower of Doom at Elitch Gardens, cool off in the wave pool at Waterworld, or brave the old-school wooden coaster, The Cyclone, at Lakeside -- Colorado’s oldest still-operating amusement park.

Soak up the sun at a rooftop bar

Not sure where to go? We’ve got your back.

Head for the hills

Denver’s the literal gateway to the Rockies so even if camping, hiking, and tubing aren’t your thing (do you even exist in Denver?), just drive west and get some quality recharging time in the mountains before the cold temps return.

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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.