The Best Denver Suburbs to Explore on a Day Trip

These are the best suburbs to move to or or just for a quick weekend getaway.

Denver is loved for many reasons—its vast cultural and entertainment offerings, its proximity to the Rockies, and much more—but one feature that makes it even more special is the variety of suburbs that constitute the Mile High City. Just a few minutes might mean the difference between the vibrant, artsy neighborhood with bars, restaurants, and muraled walls and the calm and quiet of a lush, green park and the residential streets that surround it. Every suburb in Denver has something unique to offer, whether simply an atmosphere change or a slew of tempting food options, regular markets and events, or something else entirely. If you’re still exploring all the nooks and crannies that make Denver special, check out this list of the most exciting suburbs in the city.

Olde Town Arvada
Olde Town Arvada

Arvada

Distance from Denver: 15 minutes
Not far west out of the heart of Denver will land you in quaint Arvada. Expect lots of parks and green spaces, and the historic charm of what some may call the city’s most delightful aspect: Olde Town. Centered on Olde Town Square, this is the place to stroll in and out of independent shops and boutiques, pubs and eclectic bars, and through the seasonal Farmers Market. As you might expect, there are a ton of worthyeateries to check out, too (and definitely don’t skip dessert). Got a furry friend? The West Arvada Dog Park has plenty of space for zoomies.

Centennial

Distance from Denver: 20 minutes
Centennial stretches far and wide, from Southglenn to the southern part of Aurora, just southeast of the center of Denver. While primarily a residential area, Centennial is within close proximity to a number of fun attractions, from nearby Park Meadows Shopping Mall to Cherry Creek State Park to Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. It’s also a convenient stop on I-25, whether traveling within Denver city limits or down south to Colorado Springs and beyond.

Belmar
Belmar

Lakewood

Distance from Denver: 15 minutes
Lakewood is, among other things, huge. Spanning just west of the core of Denver right up to the base of the Front Range, it’s a huge area that’s primarily residential but with a few key draws. There’s the Belmar shopping district with its regular rotation of shops, plus the outdoor adventure of Bear Creek Lake Park. And in addition to the commercial streets of Kipling, Wadsworth, and Sheridan having everything you could need, there’s also the thrill (and potential risk) over at Lakeside.

Old Town Lafayette
Old Town Lafayette

Lafayette

Distance from Denver: 35 minutes
Lafayette has small-town appeal and then some to keep you busy on any given morning, afternoon, or night. A half-hour north of Denver puts you in the heart of this historically agriculture-driven city, specifically in Old Town where you’ll find the superbly roasted beans of East Simpson Coffee and Ghost Box Pizza, among a number of other great restaurants. Take your treats to go as you picnic in Waneka Lake Park, get a few rounds in at Indian Peaks Golf Course, or skip the takeout altogether and dine at one of Three Leaf Farm’s farm dinners for an unforgettable and enchanting evening.

Town of Parker, Colorado
Town of Parker, Colorado

Parker

Distance from Denver: 30 minutes
Head southeast of Denver and you’ll hit Parker, a town full of commuting residents and folks who love where they live. Why? For one, Mainstreet is charming and full of fantastic shops and restaurants, like date night and special occasion favorite Parker Garage. For another, there’s an abundance of local trails and parks to get your fresh air on as well as an engaging art scene—be sure to check out the Parker Arts, Culture & Events Center for what’s going on when you visit. And in the summer, take the kiddos (or go by yourself) to the H2O’Brien Pool with its epic water slides, water features, and lap pool.

City of Westminster Parks, Recreation & Libraries
City of Westminster Parks, Recreation & Libraries

Westminster

Distance from Denver: 25 minutes
A hop, skip, and jump slightly northwest of Denver, Westminster is another popular residence for commuters but with its own special appeal. It’s where you’ll find the stunning, fluttering colors of the Butterfly Pavilion, the kayaking and fishing potential of McKay Lake, and Westminster Castle, which at one time hoped to be the “Princeton of the West.” (Things didn’t work out that way, but it is a historic landmark and still really cool.) And when your stomach rumbles, plenty of top-rated options like Sakana Sushi and Ramen, Hideaway Steakhouse, and Big Mac & Little Lu’s Seafood Restaurant are well within reach. There’s even a Polish restaurant, Cracovia, if you’re fiending for some homemade pierogi or tender, spiced gulasz.

Visit Golden, CO
Visit Golden, CO

Golden

Distance from Denver: 25 minutes
West of Denver, Golden is best known as the home to Coors Brewery, the largest single-site brewery in the world. In addition to the revived brewery tours, there are a ton of reasons to visit Golden. For example, a drive up Lookout Mountain offers sweeping views of the Front Range and a visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is where the Old West comes to life. Back downtown, take a walk along Clear Creek which runs through Golden and, in the warmer months, is a popular tubing spot. If you work up an appetite, the town’s home to some stellar food options like Bob’s Atomic Burgers and D’Deli, where sandwiches come loaded with anything and everything, from house-made smoked and corned buffalo and elk to marshmallows and bananas. And we’d be remiss not to mention the forever fun, busy, and dog-friendly Golden Mill, where the beer is plentiful and the vibes are A+.

Aurora

Distance from Denver: 30 minutes
Denver’s eastern neighbor sometimes gets a bad rap but if you skip out on spending time here you’re missing something pretty major: Some of the best international cuisine aross the Front Range. Like let’s talk about the epic feasts awaiting you at Seoul Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, where you should definitely bring friends and opt for one of the combos. Or well-known local favorite, Cora Faye’s Soul Food Cafe, where heaven awaits in the form of crispy fried chicken, chop-licking BBQ rib tips, and a sweet slice of peach cobbler for dessert. Then there’s the ropa vieja at Cuba Bakery & Cafe, and Colorado’s first Burmese restaurant Urban Burma, and $1.50 tacos at Tacos Selene, and tajines at Cafe Paprika, and… you get the point. Now start eating.

Cliff House Lodge
Cliff House Lodge

Morrison

Distance from Denver: 20 minutes
Why is this small foothills community (only 20 minutes west of Denver) a must visit? Two words: Red Rocks, aka one of the best music venues in the world, which also happens to be a free public park maintained by the city of Denver. So it’s both an amazing place to see live music but when the schedule’s clear, you can also spend time hiking among the giant red sandstone formations and even stand on the stage where some of the world’s best musicians have played. Want to make a mini staycation out of your Morrison adventure? Check out Cliff House Lodge in the quaint downtown area where you can stay in a cottage with a private hot tub.

Farm House Restaurant at Breckenridge Brewery

Littleton

Distance from Denver: 20 minutes
Just 20 minutes south of downtown Denver is this suburb with historic small town vibes and lots of independently owned shops. Littleton has maintained many of its historic buildings, which you can see on a walking tour that will take you by sites like the Columbine Mill, the Coors Building, and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad depot. While you could spend the better part of the day exploring Main Street, Littleton’s also got a few hidden gems outside of its downtown area, including the Greenway Foundation trail that runs along the South Platte River, Hudson Gardens where you can enjoy the free walking trails around features like the rose garden, turtle pond, and honey bee apiary, and Breckenridge Brewery’s expansive outdoor beer garden.

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Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on food, fun, and life in the Mile High.

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.