20 Best Things To Do in Downtown Denver, CO

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The Mile High City, Denver, Colorado, seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern urban flair. Nestled beneath the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Downtown Denver offers a cornucopia of attractions that lure locals and tourists alike. Whether it's the artistic beauty displayed in its museums, the historical significance of its landmarks, or the fun-filled parks, there's something for everyone.

Our curated list will guide you through the very best that Downtown Denver has to offer. Each destination provides a unique experience that showcases the essence of this vibrant city. Dive in and discover your next adventure in the heart of Denver.

Denver 16th Street Mall - What To Know BEFORE You Go | Viator

1. 16th Street Mall

Strutting through the heart of Downtown Denver is the 16th Street Mall, a bustling mile-long pedestrian promenade, dotted with local shops, restaurants, and street performers. Renowned architect I.M. Pei designed this iconic street, which showcases a unique blend of urban sophistication and Colorado charm. In the evening, the mall comes alive with twinkling lights, making it a romantic destination. Special events and festivals are also frequently held here, providing visitors with a taste of Denver's diverse culture.

Every step along the 16th Street Mall promises an experience. The free MallRide shuttle simplifies navigation, while the trees lining the street give it a tranquil vibe amidst the urban hustle. Whether you’re shopping, dining, or simply people-watching, the 16th Street Mall is a must-visit. Moreover, its centralized location makes it a convenient starting point to explore nearby attractions. And for those who enjoy a blend of history and modernity, many of the buildings along the mall are historic, offering a glimpse into Denver's storied past.

Man and woman walking through a tall structure inside the Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Art galleries

2. Denver Art Museum

Art aficionados rejoice! The Denver Art Museum, one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, stands tall as an emblem of Denver's deep appreciation for art. Its extensive collection spans centuries and crosses continents, with pieces from renowned artists as well as indigenous artworks. Frequent special exhibitions mean there's always something new to explore. Plus, interactive displays and hands-on activities make it engaging for all age groups.

Not just an ordinary museum, its architectural design is a piece of art in itself. The museum's Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, captures the essence of the Rocky Mountains in its sharp, geometric form. Inside, you'll discover exhibits ranging from Native American art to contemporary displays, ensuring an immersive and enlightening experience. The museum also hosts art classes, workshops, and lectures, inviting guests to dive deeper into the world of art. And if you need a break, the on-site café offers a delightful selection of treats, with a view overlooking the vibrant cityscape.

Photo of Boettcher Concert Hall at Denver Performing Arts Complex

3. Denver Performing Arts Complex

Home to a plethora of theaters and performance spaces, the Denver Performing Arts Complex is an absolute treat for culture enthusiasts. With venues such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and the Boettcher Concert Hall, the complex hosts everything from Broadway shows to classical concerts. Moreover, its central location amidst Denver's urban heart means that there are plenty of dining and entertainment options nearby. Special behind-the-scenes experiences are occasionally available, offering insights into the world of stagecraft and the magic of theater.

A true embodiment of Denver’s artistic spirit, this 12-acre site is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the US. Not just for night owls, daytime visitors can enjoy public art displays, guided tours, and maybe even a sneak peek into rehearsals. The intricate architecture combined with world-class performances makes it a highlight of Downtown Denver. Year-round, the complex calendar is bustling with events, from dance festivals to comedy nights, ensuring diverse offerings for every taste. Its lush outdoor galleria also serves as a wonderful spot for relaxation amidst the artistic surroundings.


4. Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Denver is a haven for those who appreciate modern art in all its forms. Exhibits change regularly, ensuring that there’s always something new and exciting to witness. The artworks range from paintings and sculptures to digital mediums and installations. In addition to the ever-evolving exhibits, the MCA hosts various workshops and artist talks, providing deeper insights into the world of contemporary art. These interactive sessions often allow visitors to engage directly with artists, enriching their museum experience.

Situated in a cutting-edge eco-friendly building, the MCA also offers stunning rooftop views of Denver. Visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee or a drink at the rooftop café while soaking in the city's skyline. Engaging, challenging, and thought-provoking, the museum ensures an enriching journey through contemporary art. For budding artists and creatives, the museum offers an array of educational programs and courses, fostering a sense of community and collaboration. And if you’re looking for a unique gift or souvenir, the museum store showcases a curated selection of art books, designer products, and handmade crafts.

United States Mint At Denver

5. Denver Mint

The Denver Mint is more than just a producer of currency; it's a symbol of America's rich history. Since its establishment in the late 19th century, it has churned out billions of coins, making it one of the largest producers of coins in the world. In addition to its operational significance, the Denver Mint stands as an architectural gem, boasting classic revival styling which reflects the robustness and tradition of the institution. Over the years, the mint has also produced various commemorative coins, some of which are showcased during the tours, providing a visual journey through America's milestones.

A guided tour of the mint provides a deep dive into the coin-making process, from conception to the final product. Along the way, you'll discover fascinating tidbits about the history of US currency. The blend of historical significance and the allure of shiny coins makes the Denver Mint a delightful stop. Booking a tour in advance is highly recommended as spots fill up quickly. And while photography is restricted within the facility, the memories of witnessing raw metal transform into shiny coins remain vividly etched for visitors.

Denver Union Station | VISIT DENVER

6. Union Station

Union Station isn't just a transportation hub; it's a landmark that showcases Denver’s rich history and its modern evolution. Having stood for over a century, the station is a beautiful amalgamation of Beaux-Arts architectural style and contemporary elements. The station's vibrant facade, punctuated by its clock tower, has become an iconic image of Denver. And at Christmastime, Union Station transforms into a winter wonderland, with festive lights and decorations, making it a heartwarming spot for holiday festivities.

Inside, the station boasts an array of top-notch restaurants, boutiques, and the famed Crawford Hotel. The terminal's grand hall is a social space where travelers and locals gather, making it a lively spot to enjoy a meal, grab a drink, or simply bask in the ambiance. For history buffs, various plaques and displays scattered throughout offer snippets of the station's storied past. And as evening settles, the station's ambiance takes a mellow turn, with soft lighting and live music, creating a perfect setting for a romantic date or a relaxed evening with friends.


7. Colorado State Capitol Building

Denver's skyline wouldn't be complete without the shimmering gold dome of the Colorado State Capitol Building. This Neoclassical architectural masterpiece stands as a testament to Colorado's vibrant political history and its journey through time. The gold for the dome, interestingly, is said to be real, representing the Gold Rush days of Colorado. Inside, the building boasts beautiful stained glass windows that depict scenes and notable figures from the state's rich history.

Visitors are welcome to take guided tours, where they can learn about the history, art, and architecture of this iconic structure. For those seeking a unique experience, climbing to the observation deck offers panoramic views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and the city below. It's also noteworthy to mention that one of the steps leading to the building is exactly one mile high, rightfully giving Denver its nickname "The Mile-High City." During legislative sessions, it's possible to sit in the public galleries and witness the law-making process firsthand.


8. Confluence Park and Platte River

Nestled at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, Confluence Park is a green oasis amidst the city's concrete jungle. It's a popular spot for both relaxation and recreation, offering trails for biking and walking, and clear waters for kayaking. Additionally, the park is equipped with several picnic areas, making it a perfect destination for family outings. In the warmer months, open-air yoga sessions and community events are often held, making the park a hub of local activity.

The park's significance isn't limited to its natural beauty. It stands at the very site where Denver was founded in the 1850s. As you unwind by the river or engage in water sports, you're treading through a place deeply intertwined with Denver's origin story. Nearby interpretive signs provide snippets about the historic importance of the area. Moreover, the confluence itself, where the two rivers meet, is often regarded as a symbolic representation of Denver's growth and convergence of cultures.

Denver Civic Center - Wikipedia

9. Civic Center Park

A stone's throw away from the Colorado State Capitol Building lies Civic Center Park, the heart and soul of Denver's vibrant public life. Sculpted gardens, historical monuments, and architectural wonders make it more than just a park – it's a living museum. Interestingly, the park is bisected by Bannock Street, which historically was a Native American trail that later became a significant trade route.

Throughout the year, the park transforms into a bustling hub for events, food truck rallies, and concerts. The Greek Amphitheater, with its classic design, often hosts public performances. Whether you're on a leisurely stroll, picnicking, or attending an event, Civic Center Park embodies Denver's communal spirit.

COORS FIELD (10/13 - 10/15)

10. Coors Field

Baseball enthusiasts, rejoice! Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, offers an unforgettable experience for fans. With the magnificent Rockies serving as a backdrop, this stadium provides one of the most scenic baseball games you’ll ever witness. The stadium's "Purple Row" seating, exactly one mile above sea level, provides an elevated experience both literally and figuratively.

But even if you're not a baseball aficionado, a tour of Coors Field is worth your time. Dive deep into the behind-the-scenes workings of the stadium, visit the dugouts, and maybe even catch a glimpse of players during practice. With its blend of sports and panoramic views, Coors Field hits a home run.


11. Empower Field at Mile High

A testament to Denver's sporting legacy, Empower Field at Mile High pulsates with energy, especially during football season. As the home turf of the Denver Broncos, it witnesses some of the most electric NFL games. Beyond football, the stadium has also been a venue for international soccer matches, major concerts, and other large-scale events.

Guided tours offer fans a chance to explore the stadium's ins and outs, including the locker rooms and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum. Even if football isn't your forte, the sheer energy and the architectural marvel of the stadium make it a noteworthy stop.


12. Larimer Square

Larimer Square, Denver's oldest block, is a captivating blend of history and modernity. Victorian-era buildings house trendy boutiques, world-class restaurants, and lively nightclubs. As dusk settles, a canopy of lights illuminates the square, creating a magical ambiance. It's worth noting that Larimer Square was the first historic district in Denver, marking its importance in the city's preservation efforts.

A hotspot for both shopping and dining, Larimer Square also hosts several annual events, including the renowned Denver Chalk Art Festival. The blend of heritage architecture with contemporary vibes makes it a microcosm of Denver's spirit.


13. Denver Children's Museum

Perfect for families with young ones, the Denver Children’s Museum offers interactive, hands-on exhibits that both educate and entertain. From art studios to bubble labs, every corner of the museum sparks curiosity. Moreover, the museum frequently hosts special events and workshops tailored to engage children in a myriad of topics, from science to arts and crafts.

Not only limited to indoor activities, the museum also features an outdoor adventure park. With climbing structures, water features, and sand play, it promises endless fun. A visit here is not just for kids; adults will find themselves immersed in the joy of exploration and learning. Additionally, the museum’s focus on inclusive play ensures children of all abilities have a chance to experience the magic.


14. Downtown Aquarium

Dive into a world of aquatic wonder at the Downtown Aquarium. Home to over 500 species, this marine paradise offers an immersive experience. The exhibits range from the mystic mermaid shows to a touch tank where visitors can feel starfish and stingrays. It's also worth noting that the facility emphasizes conservation, ensuring guests leave with a deeper appreciation for our planet's aquatic ecosystems.

Beyond the marine life, the Downtown Aquarium offers sumptuous dining with floor-to-ceiling aquarium views. Savoring a meal as sharks and colorful fish glide by is an unforgettable experience. Combining marine magic with culinary delights, the aquarium is a splash hit. Additionally, the aquarium hosts special events throughout the year, from themed parties to educational workshops, enriching the visitor experience.


15. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

Thrill-seekers, your paradise awaits! Elitch Gardens, located in the heart of Downtown Denver, offers adrenaline-pumping rides and water attractions. From towering roller coasters to gentle kiddie rides, there's something for every age and thrill level. What's more, the park often features live entertainment and shows, adding an extra layer of amusement.

During summer, the water park becomes a haven for those looking to beat the heat. Lazy rivers, wave pools, and thrilling water slides ensure endless fun. As seasons change, Elitch Gardens transforms, hosting events like the Fright Fest during Halloween, making every visit unique.


16. Colorado Convention Center

This iconic venue, recognizable by its massive blue bear sculpture peeking inside, plays host to a myriad of events year-round. From conventions and trade shows to public fairs, the Colorado Convention Center is a hub of activity. Furthermore, its central location in Denver makes it an easily accessible and popular destination for both locals and visitors.

While the primary purpose is to host events, the center is also an architectural marvel with modern design and state-of-the-art facilities. If you're in town during a major event, consider dropping by to experience the pulse of Denver's bustling event scene.


17. Denver MicroBrew Tour

Denver's brewing scene is legendary, and there's no better way to experience it than with a MicroBrew Tour. Delve into Denver's rich beer history, learn about the brewing process, and of course, sample some exquisite brews. *The tour not only tantalizes the taste buds but also provides insights into the craft and passion that goes into each brew.*

Guided tours take you through some of the city's best breweries and taprooms, ensuring an authentic experience. From stouts to IPAs, discover the flavors that put Denver on the global brewing map.


18. Molly Brown House Museum

Step back in time at the Molly Brown House Museum, the historic home of the unsinkable Molly Brown. Known for her Titanic survival story, her life was much more than that fateful voyage. Dive deep into Denver's past and Molly's philanthropic endeavors. The museum also hosts special events and programs throughout the year, enriching the visitor experience.

This preserved Victorian-era home offers guided tours that take you through Molly's life, the early 20th-century lifestyle, and the architectural significance of the building. A trip here offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and tales of resilience.


19. Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox

One of Denver's most eclectic spots, Ophelia’s is a restaurant, bar, and live music venue all rolled into one. Housed in a former brothel, this unique space celebrates its colorful past with vintage boudoir-themed décor. The multi-level venue offers different vibes on each floor, making it versatile for various moods and occasions. With a menu that's as diverse as its history, you'll find dishes that combine global flavors with local ingredients.

From its diverse menu to the vibrant live performances, every moment at Ophelia's is electric. The atmosphere pulsates with energy, making it an essential stop for those seeking the vibrant side of Denver.

20. INTUEAT Private Chefs

If you're looking for a bespoke dining experience, INTUEAT Private Chefs offer a culinary journey like no other. Handpick your menu and watch as skilled chefs curate a meal right in front of you, ensuring a personalized touch. The experience is heightened by the chefs' ability to adapt to dietary preferences and special requests, ensuring a memorable meal for all. With meticulous attention to detail, from plating to pairing, every sensory element is considered and crafted to perfection.

Beyond just a meal, it’s an immersive experience. The chefs narrate tales behind each dish, offering insights into the ingredients and techniques. For food connoisseurs and those looking to celebrate special occasions, INTUEAT promises an unforgettable feast.


Downtown Denver, a city that beautifully marries the rustic charm of the Old West with the vivacity of modern urban life, offers a myriad of experiences. From art and history to sports and nature, the city's heart pulsates with attractions that cater to every whim and fancy. *Its welcoming residents, often referred to as "Mile-Highers" due to the city's elevation, are known for their hospitality and pride in their city's rich heritage. Coupled with its dynamic culinary scene and thriving nightlife, Denver's allure goes beyond its landmarks, making it a must-visit for travelers from around the globe.* Dive into this bustling metropolis, and let Denver unveil its treasures, one attraction at a time.

Jennifer Rives

This article is about my personal profile as a writer. It includes the genres I write in, the style I write in, and advice I have for new writers.


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