59 Best Things to Do in Denver in 2021 (By a Local!)

As a child, I would talk my mom into going to Casa Bonita every chance I could because it was one of the most fun things to do in Denver I knew of at that point. She always complained about the food, but she sure seemed to like the margaritas!

Three decades later, that little Colorado boy is now a recovering Denver lawyer turned professional travel blogger. I’ve spent the past five years traveling the world while living out of a backpack. But, while I was off adventuring to over 70 countries, my city grew into one of the trendiest destinations in the USA.

So, when the pandemic sent me scrambling home to Denver from Argentina, I took it as an opportunity to explore and show off the city I know best: Denver, Colorado.

I’ve spent the summer re-connecting with my favorite attractions in Denver, and exploring new Denver hotels, activities, sites, and points of interest that have sprung up while I was abroad. I documented and photographed it all, so I could write up this epic list of the best things to do in Denver, Colorado.

I hope this list helps you enjoy the best of Denver. I hope you love Denver with the same passion I’ve put into curating it for you!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

Best Things to Do in Denver

πŸ‘‰ Jump to: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

Red Rocks

The author looking out over Red Rocks amphitheater, one of the top things to do in Denver

Address: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465 | Website | Visit on the Denver Foothills Explorer Tour

Arguably the most spectacular outdoor concert venue in the USA, the Red Rocks open-air amphitheater is situated among 300-million-year-old protruding angular red sandstone formations. With seating for 9,525 and fantastic views over the Front Range, Red Rocks is truly a can’t-miss destination for any visit to Denver, and even makes our list of the best things to do in the state of Colorado.

The venue draws A-list musical talent, plus hosts the Film on the Rocks movie night series and the weekend morning Yoga on the Rocks workout session. Check the official calendar of events. Even if you can’t snag a concert ticket, you should still visit just to see Red Rocks. If you don’t have a car, join the uber-popular Denver Foothills Explorer tour, which includes a stop to Red Rocks and other mountain viewpoints.

⛰️ Local Trivia: Though it’s the undisputed top thing to do in Denver, did you know Red Rocks isn’t even located in Denver? It’s actually 10 miles west of the city in Morrison. But, weirdly, it IS owned by the City of Denver.

Larimer Square

Nate and his sister in Larimer Square
My sister recently got married, so of course I had to take her out to celebrate in Larimer Square

Address: 1430 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

Located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th, Larimer Square is easily the coolest block in town and the place to be see and be seen for the Colorado glitterati. Window shop at any one of the boutique stores (care to try on a $800 hat?), dine at high end restaurants like Rioja or Osteria Marco, or grab a drink at my favorite Denver speakeasy, The Green Russel. Oh, and be sure to stop by for a macaroon at The Drunken Bakery, whose eclectic interior is arranged with the floor and ceiling flipped!

Union Station

View of Denver's Union Station
The iconic shot of Union Station is from the front, but I prefer this angle from the platform in the back

Address: 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

A century ago, this historic train station served as an important stop for supply shipments coming out west. Since it’s refurbishing in 2014, Denver Union Station has become the cultural heart of the Mile High City β€” and the most popular points of interest in Denver. Dine at one of the excellent restaurants housed in the station, grab a cocktail at the Terminal Bar, or challenge your friends to a game of shuffleboard inside Union Station’s giant refinished lobby.

πŸ›οΈ Need a Hotel? The Crawford Hotel is a magnificently ornate property right inside Union Station. It’s a superb place to stay if you can afford it. If not, check out my article ranking all the best hotels in Denver for more options.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Woman walking among the Denver Botanic Gardens
Clara walking in the Botanic Gardens

Address: 1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Save 40%+ on Entrance Fees with a Denver CityPASS

A serene escape from the city just east of Cheesman Park, the incredible 23-acre Denver Botanic Gardens includes various themed gardens, an enclosed conservatory, and a public amphitheater which hosts a popular summer concert series. Featuring flora from around the world, you can grab a beer by the Japanese tea garden or take your own picnic to enjoy on a sunny Denver day.

The gardens also have a second location in Littleton, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, which features the historic Hildebrand Ranch, a butterfly farm, and a children’s play area. It’s a great thing to do in Denver with kids!

πŸ‘‰ Bookmark Now, Read Next: The best day trips from Denver.

Dairy Block

The author standing against a brick wall with the words Dairy Block
The alley in the middle of Dairy Block is packed with cool bars and shops

Address: 1800 Wazee St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

This city block near Coors Field, previously home to Windsor’s Dairy, has recently been transformed into a cosmopolitan micro-district. The cornerstone establishment is the Denver Milk Market, an expansive space home to 16 scrumptious food and drink establishments (my favorite: Kachina Catina).

In the middle of Dairy Block you’ll find one of Denver’s most Insta-worthy alley, where wine bars, boutique shops, and art galleries blend together to create an atmosphere with a decidedly European feel.

πŸ›ŽοΈ Need a hotel? The Maven Hotel, right in Dairy Block, is my pick for the best all-around hotel in Denver. It’s pretty reasonably priced considering the perfect location and gorgeous modern rooms.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

View of Summit Lake along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Welcome Center Address: 16 Mount Evans Hwy, Idaho Springs, CO 80452 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Browse Tours to Mount Evans from Denver

Up for a mountain day trip from Denver but don’t feel like hiking? Just 60 miles from the Mile High City, you can drive the highest paved road in North America to the top of one of Colorado’s 54 famous “fourteeners” (Rocky Mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation).

The 28-mile-long Mount Evans Scenic Byway winds its way up the 7,000 foot climb to the top of Mount Evans, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. But, seriously, you might actually have your breathe taken away – air is thin at these altitudes – so avoid this activity if you have respiratory issues. As of summer 2021, Mount Evans has a timed entry system which requires an advance reservation to be made here.

πŸš— How to Get There: If you have a car, driving up Mt. Evans is the obvious way. If not, rent one through Discover Cars (my favorite rental car site). If you’d rather someone else drive you up the mountain, there are many popular group and private tours to choose from.

Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum

Address: 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Save 40%+ With a Denver CityPASS

Sporting a futuristic angular exterior, the Denver Art Museum is an easy walk from downtown or Capitol Hill. Inside you’ll find several stories with rotating exhibits featuring modern and contemporary artists from around the world.

When I went recently, I was impressed by the display From Paris to Hollywood, featuring stunning fashion items from the wardrobes of Gregory and Veronique Peck. The Denver Art Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.

🎟️ Admission: $10 for Colorado residents, $13 for non-resident, free to youth age 18 and under and during the Denver Art Museum’s periodic Free Days.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Tour

View of exterior of Stranahan's Distillery in Denver Colorado

Address: 200 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223 | Website

It’s hard to believe that Colorado only opened it’s first distillery in 2004, but Stranahan’s has done its best to make up for the lost time by leading the charge in the state’s recent distillation-boom. These days, taking a tour of Stranahan’s Denver facility is a must-do activity when visiting Denver.

The only problem with the hour-long informative tour of the distillery is that it ends with a whiskey tasting of samples so generous that is likely to lead you to forget everything you just learned. But, hey, it’s all in the name of fun right?

🎟️ Details: Tours starts at $20 per person, and tickets can be booked here. Note that the Sunday 5 PM tour is free for Colorado residents and their guests, as is the Monday 4:30 pm tour for first responders and healthcare professionals.

River North Art District (“RiNo”)

Nate waves arms in a colorful alley in the RiNo district of Denver
RiNo is filled with street art (pictured: the alley behind Denver Central Market)

Google Map of RiNo | Website

For better or worse, Denver has changed dramatically over the past decade. And nowhere is the city’s evolution more on display than the River North Art District, known locally as “RiNo.” Today this former industrial hub’s warehouses and factories have been converted to a hip arts district sporting funky breweries, trendy restaurants, pumping bars, boutique shops, and colorful street art adorning nearly available patch of brick or concrete.

RiNo makes for a great self-guided walking tour, especially along the stretch of Larimer between 25th and 32nd streets. Be sure not to miss the vibrant alley behind the Denver Central Market.

πŸ‘‰ Local Tip: Need help figuring out which Denver neighborhood to base yourself in? Check out my mega guide to where to stay in Denver for a rundown of my top picks for the best areas.

Take a Craft Beer Tour

A bottle of Odell craft beer against a green backdrop

πŸ‘‰ Check out the Top 5 Denver Craft Beer Tours

With over 150 breweries, many located right downtown, Denver is nirvana for craft brew aficionados. The city even plays host to the annual Great American Beer Festival, which is a must if you are visiting Denver when the fall event returns. No matter the time of your visit, you can organize your own beer crawl by stringing together a few local favorites near Coors Field.

I’d suggest starting at Wynkoop Brewery (whose founder John Hickenlooper went on to become Mayor and later Governor), then working your way north to Jagged Mountain and Great Divide, before ending at my personal pick for the best brewery in Denver: Our Mutual Friend. Alternatively, consider joining one of many organized craft beer tours on offer in town, such as this one with over 300 positive reviews.

πŸΊβ›°οΈ Want to drink beer in the mountains? Check out the “brews and views” tours from Viator, which combine beer with visits to Denver-area mountain destinations!

Museums and Culture

πŸ‘‰ Jump to: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

πŸ‘‰ How to Save 40% on Admission Tickets – If visiting multiple attractions in a week, it pays to reserve a Denver CityPass online. My partner Clara and I saved 40% when we got the pass for a mini-tour to take the photos for this post (hope you like the photos by the way)!

History Colorado Center

Historical objects on display at the Colorado History Center
The 100 Object display is really special!

Address: 1200 N Broadway, Denver, CO 80203 | Website

This is an incredibly important museum, whose several floors highlighting different eras in the state’s history are all remarkably well curated. I appreciate that the curators do not sugar coat the darker sides of Colorado’s history (the state was once a KKK hotbed), and that the exhibits really make efforts to place the stories of Colorado’s Native, Black, and Latino communities front and center.

Be sure not to miss the exhibit featuring 100 objects from Colorado’s history (one really stands out in my memory: an original ballot box from the 1893 elections, which was the year women were first granted the franchise in Colorado).

πŸ‘‰ I Wrote More Guides! Bookmark Them All: Best Day Trips from Denver | Best Hotels | Where to Stay | Complete Denver Travel Guide | Places to Visit in CO

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Nate looking at a fossil T Rex at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Address: 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205 | Website

I have many fond memories of childhood visits to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which is an excellent thing to do in Denver for families, kids, or anyone who acts like one. The expansive City Park museum is filled with dinosaurs, mummies, an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, and fascinating exhibits galore. Open 9 am – 5 pm daily.

🎟️ Admission: $19.95 adults, $14.95 youth (IMAX, planetarium, and special exhibits extra). The Denver CityPASS is a particularly good deal for this museum, since it’s half the cost of the pass.

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

Nate looking at a plane in a hangar at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum
Can I fly this thing? πŸ™‚

Address: 7711 E Academy Blvd, Denver, CO 80230 | Website

The Lowry neighborhood in Denver sits on top of what used to be Lowry Air Force Base and, at one point, the initial home of the Air Force Academy. After the base was decommissioned, one of the hangars was converted into the host space for the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.

Inside you’ll find dozens of historical air and spacecraft, rotating exhibits, and a virtual flight simulator. It’s definitely a top thing to do in Denver with kids, veterans, history buffs, or anyone who loves aviation. After your visit, be sure to stop by for a bite or brew at the gigantic outdoor Lowry Beer Garden.

🎟️ Admission: $16.95 for adults, $9.95 for children. Save when visiting other attractions by grabbing a Denver CityPASS.

Denver Performing Arts Complex

Woman standing in front of the Denver Performing Arts Complex
Shows aren’t on becuase of covid, but you can still walk through and take photos

Address: 1400 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80204 | Website

The Denver Performing Arts Complex is a large downtown campus hosting several different performance venues, the most prominent of which are the excellent Buelle Theatre and the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. During non-pandemic times, programming included touring plays, concerts, performances, and art exhibits. The Lion King and Hamilton are currently slated to return in early 2022. Check the official website for the latest information.

Santa Fe Art District

Colorful buildings along the sidewalk of Santa Fe Drive in Denver
There are so many cool cafes and art galleries on Santa Fe

Address: 525 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204 | Website

This is the place to be if you want to check out cool art galleries, hipster hangouts, or unique museums like the Museo de las Americas. The monthly First Friday event brings out a crowd as patrons hop from gallery to gallery to watch performances and imbibe. If you’re in town for the first Friday of the month, it’s a can’t-miss thing to do in Denver!

Molly Brown House

View of the exterior of The Molly Brown House, a top attraction in Denver

Address: 1340 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Reserve Your Museum Tour Here

The Unsinkable Margaret Tobin Brown survived the Titanic, and her gorgeous Capitol Hill mansion survived thanks to a 1970s preservation effort that turned it into a fascinating house museum.

Entrance for a one hour self-guided tour starts at $14 per person for Colorado residents, and $16 for non-resident. You can reserve your spot online here. You’ll soon understand why the Molly Brown House is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Denver!

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

The author standing in front of the Kirkland Museum in Denver

Address: 1201 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80204 | Website

Featuring more than 30,000 works of art across its three principal exhibits, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art gets its name from storied 20th century Colorado painter Vance Kirkland, whose work forms one of the three main exhibits at the museum. The museum spent the summer closed due to a water main burst, but will re-open August 27, 2021. Note that, due to the fragile nature of some of the art, admission is limited to visitors age 13 and up.

Forney Museum of Transportation

The author in Denver's Forney Museum of Transportation
The Forney Museum really brought out the kid in me!

Address: 4303 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216 | Website

If you love vintage vehicles, you’ll be awed by the collection at Denver’s Forney Museum of Transportation. Among other items on display, the museum hosts Amelia Earhart’s Kissel Gold Bug Speedster, a Denver Cable Car dating to 1888, a “Big Boy” locomotive donated by Union Pacific, and an awesome collection of Ford Model Ts. The Forney Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (opens at noon Sundays).

Denver Museum of Contemporary Art

Exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art, a top site in Denver

Address: 1485 Delgany St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

Situated just south of Union Station, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art is an underrated Denver museum offering thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, displays. Don’t miss the excellent rooftop cafe and bar, which somehow seems to never be crowded despite the pleasant views of downtown.

🎟️ Admission: $10 for adults, free for children 18 and under.

Clyfford Still Museum

Exterior of the Clyfford Still Museum

Address: 1250 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80204 | Website

Clyfford Still is widely considered one of the most influential artists in American history and, upon his death in 1980, his will stipulated that his body of work be forever housed in only a single location in a city willing to build a dedicated museum. Denver stepped up to the plate in 2004, and today this popular Denver museum is the only place to find 95% of the work of the trailblazing abstract impressionist.

🎟️ Admission: Tickets are $10 for adults, free for youth 17 and under.

National Ballpark Museum

national ballpark museum exhibition
Ballpark wall of fame.

Address: 1940 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

If you’re a baseball fan, then you MUST stop by this small but incredibly well-cared-for museum. Located just steps from Coors Field, every single inch of the National Ballpark Museum is crammed with remarkable memorabilia celebrating the nation’s pastime, including seats from all 14 of the original classic ballparks. The volunteers and staff who run the non-profit museum are passionate and eager to pass on their knowledge.

🎟️ Admission: Adults – $10, Seniors – $5, Children & active duty military – Free.

πŸ“š Read Next: 41 Epic Places to Visit in Colorado

Sites and Points of Interest

πŸ‘‰ Jump to: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

Colorado State Capitol

The author looking up at the outside of the Colorado State Capitol Building

Address: 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203 | Website

Located right next to downtown, the golden dome of the Colorado State Capitol is one of the most iconic images of Colorado. Free tours were offered on weekdays before the pandemic, but as of summer 2021, they are still on pause. If you can’t make one, you can still snap great photos of the building’s famous golden dome. Look out for the marker on the 13th Capitol step for the exact location of the altitude of 5,280 feet above sea level β€” which gives Denver its moniker as the Mile High City.

Denver City and County Building

Purple lights projected on the Denver City and County Building
The color of the lights changes for different occasions (I believe this was during a Rockies game)

Address: 1437 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80202

Though it’s upstaged a bit by the Colorado Capitol, which is faces across Civic Center Park, the Denver City and County Building is an important Denver point of interest in its own right. It’s worth at least a quick walk by the exterior to see the Greek revival columns, which at night light up in spectacular fashion during holidays.

πŸ”– Bookmark All My FREE Denver Local Guides: Best Day Trips from Denver | Best Hotels | Where to Stay | Complete Denver Travel Guide

Tattered Cover Independent Bookstore

The author standing at the Tattered Cover Bookstore Colfax location
Me at the Colfax Tattered Cover

Address (McGregor Square location): 1991 Wazee St Suite 100, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

An iconic independent Denver bookseller, Tattered Cover was saved from closing during the pandemic when it was purchased by a new investment group. The new owners recently moved the historic LoDo store into prime real estate in the newly opened McGregor Square, offering the perfect place to pop in for a bit of peace and quiet during a Rockies game. You can also check out Tattered Cover’s other locations around town, including a store located in the historic Bonfils-Lowenstein Theater at 2526 E. Colfax and a smaller outpost within Denver’s Union Station.

Daniels & Fisher Clocktower

View of a tree and the Daniels and Fisher tower in Denver
The clocktower is still one of my favorite sites in Denver

Address: 1601 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

Once the tallest building in the Mountain West, this historic clocktower at 16th and Arapahoe remains a Denver icon a popular spot for local wedding ceremonies. At night, it lights up with a variety of date-specific colors (such as Rockies purple during baseball games). At the base of the clocktower you’ll find Skyline Park, which often plays hosts to seasonal events like ice skating rinks. In the basement is a modern cabaret show.

Denver Aquarium

A child at the Denver Aquarium

Address: 700 Water St, Denver, CO 80211 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Grab a Denver CityPASS to Save 40%+

The more than a million gallons of water at Denver Downtown Aquarium are home to over 500 species of marine and animal life, plus a (controversial) tiger habitat. It’s a kid friendly thing to do in Denver that also hosts a highly-reviewed restaurant where diners can enjoy a meal surrounded by a 150,000 gallon marine aquarium.

🎟️ Admission: adults (12-64 years) $23.50, seniors $22.50, children (3-11 years) $17.50. Definitely worth grabbing a Denver CityPASS beforehand, as just the aquarium pays back most of the cost.

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Interior stained glass at Denver's main cathedral

Address: 1530 Logan St, Denver, CO 80203 | Website

The main cathedral for Colorado Catholics is worth a quick visit even if you’re not an adherent for the beautiful soaring interior and stunning stained glass work. The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is located in the downtown area near The Brown Palace, and is open to visitors for short periods most evenings (check the official website for hours coinciding with your visit).

16th Street Mall

The author standing in front of the Denver Pavilions sign
With my friend Wilbert at the Denver sign in the Pavilions, on the 16th Street Mall

Address: 16th Street Between Broadway and Wynkoop

The 16th Street Mall is a 1.25 mile outdoor pedestrian mall that forms Downtown Denver’s main artery. Here you’ll find hundreds of shops and restaurants, plus the Denver Pavilions (a more traditional “mall”, where you can also catch a movie or go bowling). Plans are underway to revitalize the 16th Street Mall and, even in the meantime, strolling the mall definitely remains one of the top things to do in Denver. If you get tired of walking, free shuttle buses run the length of the mall.

Read Next: More things to do & activities around the world: Orlando, Croatia, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta

Food and Drink

πŸ‘‰ Jump to: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

Denver Central Market

Interior view of the Denver Central Market
Even on a weekday, the market is always busy

Address: 2669 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 | Website

Denver Central Market is located right in the middle of the uber-hip RiNo art district. Inside a shared roof you’ll find 11 artisan vendors serving up everything from chocolates to pizza to ice cream. In true River North spirit, the building and the alley behind it are adorned in head to toe street art. It’s a great place to stop in for a break while touring the district by foot, or to start you’re evening before hitting the area’s lively nightlife.

🍽️ Are You a Foodie? Then definitely don’t miss Denver’s super popular small group foodie tour, which takes you sampling through the city’s top culinary spots.

Little Man

Little Man Ice Cream (with the famous Linger sign in the background)
Little Man Ice Cream (with the famous Linger sign in the background)

Address: 2620 16th St, Denver, CO 80211 | Website

I used to live a few blocks away from Little Man, Denver’s iconic ice cream spot which is housed inside a larger-than-life milk can. My gym was next door to the shop, which meant that every time I finished my workout I’d have to gather my will to avoid ruining all my gains with one of Little Man’s delicious scoops of the creamy stuff. The only thing that saved me is Little Man’s popularity, which means that there is pretty much always a line out front. On a hot day, be prepared to wait for a half hour or more. Totally worth it, though.

The Source

View of clothes and a VW beetle at Denver's The Source market hall
One of the many boutique shops inside The Source

Address: 3330 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216 | Website

The Source is a RiNo-based community marketplace featuring 25 vendors slinging everything from flowers to haircuts to craft beer. The anchor tenants here are the celebrated restaurants Safta, which offers Middle Eastern fare, and bellota, a Mexican-inspired joint that spun-off from the now-closed Acorn. You’ll also find one of Denver’s trendiest hotels, The Source Hotel, which features a stylish rooftop pool and bar, plus an outpost of New Belgium brewery.

The Cruise Room

The Cruise Room Bar

Address: 1600 17th St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

Get dressed up and grab a drink at Denver’s original Prohibition-era speakeasy. Located inside The Oxford historic hotel, the art deco windowless interior of The Cruise Room was inspired by the Queen Mary. Stepping inside will transport you back in time to the 1920s, when this bar illegally served up gimlets and martinis to Denver’s elite.

Voodoo Doughnut

Several colorful donuts at Voodoo Doughnut in Denver
Hungry?

Address: 1520 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80218 & 98 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209 | Website

I still remember the mania that swept over Denver’s hipsters when Voodoo Doughnuts opened their first location on Colfax in 2013. It took weeks for the lines outside to calm down enough for me to dare to finally brave waiting that long for a donut. But the Portland-based company has built a cult-like following for their sweet and sometimes curious creations, offering unique flavors like their Spicy Margarita Cannolo, the Bacon Maple Bar, or (my personal favorite) the Captain Crunch-topped Oh Captain My Captain.

In addition to their Colfax flagship, Voodoo has also recently opened a second location on South Broadway.

Stanley Marketplace

View of exterior of Stanley Marketplace

Address: 2501 Dallas St, Aurora, CO 80010 | Website

Just over the Denver-Aurora border, Stanley Marketplace is a single-roof community marketplace where you can find over 50 independent Colorado businesses, including restaurants, bars, shops, salons, and more. Grab some Mexican fare at Comida, a pint at Cheluna Brewing Company, an ice cream cone at Sweet Cow, an empanada at Maria Empanadas, or a bowl of ramen at Qi-Lin (seriously, their ramen is legit!). When you’re done, browse the many stalls and help support Colorado-owned local businesses!

Kachina Cantina

The author dipping a chip in queso at the Kachina Cantina restaurant in Denver Colorado
I LOVED the queso fundido

Address: 1890 Wazee St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website

If I had friends visiting town and could only send them to one Denver restaurant, it would be Kachina Cantina. Serving a modern take on Mexican fare inspired by the USA’s Four Corners region and Baja Mexico, Kachina offers an energetic, but not too loud, atmosphere and an epic location right in the middle of Dairy Block. There is a large and beautifully decorated dining room, several outdoor tables, and a huge fun bar that with seats both indoors and outdoors.

Executive chef Cesar Tamariz’s spin on Southwestern fare is sure to leave your mouth watering for me. Kachina is a great place to grab dinner after a Rockies game or before a night out in downtown Denver, or if you’re looking to impress clients (or a date!). Be sure to book reservations in advance, as they have been consistently busy every time I’ve walked past.

Linger

View of a woman in front of the neon sign at Linger restaurant
Clara posing in front of the Linger sign

Address: 2030 W 30th Ave, Denver, CO 80211 | Website

Dinner to die for is on offer nightly at Linger, a gigantic former mortuary that once housed the remains of Buffalo Bill. Today the space has converted into one of Denver’s most stylish places to eat, but the new owners kept many touches from the building’s ghastlier days. Water is served from formaldehyde, for example, and the giant “O’Linger mortuaries” sign was converted to read “Linger eatauries.” Oh, and the food is delicious to boot (it’s one of my personal favorite restaurants in town!).

Tennyson Street

Woman walking down Tennyson Street in Berkeley Denver
Vital Root is one of many great restaurants on Tennyson

Address: Tennyson Street Between 38th and 46th Ave | Website

Tennyson Street is the main shopping and dining artery of Northwest Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood, and it’s fulfilled that role for over a century. If you have a shopping freak in your family, be sure to watch their credit card, because this is the best place to go window shopping in Denver. If all that retail therapy gets you hungry, stop by for a sandwich at The Grateful Gnome or high-end Mexican cuisine at El Chingon.

Fun and Family

πŸ‘‰ Jump to: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

Coors Field

Nate with Coors Field and Denver skyline in background
To me, the best seats are in the Rockpile

Address: 2001 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205 | Website

If you’re a baseball fan, it’ll be pretty easy to check off this thing to do in Denver. Though it’s one of the younger MLB parks, the Rockies’ home has made a name for itself as the “hitter’s park” becuase the Colorado altitude helps batted balls fly record distances.

One of the things I personally love about Coors Field is the affectionately named Rockpile, a section of bleachers behind centerfield where you can find Rockies tickets for as little as $7 per person. Sure, you’ll have to squint to see home base, but personally I think it’s a steal considering the epic views of Denver’s skyline you’ll get in the background.

Empower Field at Mile High

Crowds cheering at Broncos stadium
Broncos fans get pretty rowdy during the games

Address: 1701 Bryant St, Denver, CO 80204 | Website

I still remember how sad my family was when the Denver Broncos moved in 2000 from their prior home in the storied Mile High Stadium to what is now named Empower Field. But today I appreciate the new venue, as not one of the 76,125 seats at Empower Field offers a bad view.

In addition to hosting the Broncos, Empower Field also frequently hosts concerts from A-list performers (check the schedule here). Tours of the stadium are offered through the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (on pause due to covid, but slated to resume soon), with tickets costing $25 per person.

Elitch Gardens

A roller coaster at Elitch Gardens

Address: 2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Save $20 Per Ticket By Reserving Online in Advance

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do in Denver was to spend a day at the Elitch Gardens theme park. Located just south of downtown Denver between Empower Field and the Pepsi Center, “Elitch’s” offers six roller coasters, dozens of other rides, and a water park. I am still traumatized by childhood memories of my cousins trying to force me onto the terrifyingly rickety Twister II wooden coaster. Definitely something to check out if you’re a thrill seeker! Note that Elitch’s is open from April to October.

🎟️ Admission: General admission to Elitch Gardens costs at $64.99 at the door, but you can save if you get an advance online ticket for only $44.99.

Top Golf

A golfer swinging at a ball at Thorton's Top Golf location

Address: 10601 E Easter Ave, Centennial, CO 80112 | Website

With outposts in Thorton and Centennial, and a third set to open in Colorado Springs, the Top Golf driving range and social hub is a fun thing to do in Denver for golf fans, families, or anyone who needs an excuse to drink. Much more than just a driving range, Top Golf offers all sorts of games that involve hitting targets, collecting points, and trying to one-up your friends.

Come in the morning for $15 unlimited gameplay, or on “Half Price Tuesdays.” And never worry if you have a non-golfer in the family: Top Golf’s patio is the perfect place for your party to hang out, eat, and drink.

Archery Games

View of competitors at Archery Games Denver, a fun family activity in Denver

Address: 5405 W 56th Ave, Arvada, CO 80002 | Website

Ever heard of archery dodgeball? It’s a new concept involving two teams battling it out from across an arena with bows and foam-tipped arrows. Archery Games is a small locally-owned business that has created something of a viral stir in Colorado, with guests absolutely raving in their reviews.

You can sign up for public matches on their website to dip your toes into the world of archery dodgeball. If you have kids, they offer family-specific hours. You can also book a private session for larger groups, birthday parties, bachelor(ette) weekends, or corporate team building events. It’s definitely one of the most unique and fun things to do in the Denver area!

Unique and Cool

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Casa Bonita

View of exterior of Casa Bonita
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get inside on my latest visit, but it should be open soon!

Address: 6715 W Colfax Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214 | Website

Few places to see in Denver are as storied – or as controversial – as Casa Bonita. Any Denver local will tell you that the food at Casa Bonita is not the reason you come (which is probably why they force every entrant to purchase a meal). Instead, children adore Casa Bonita becuase the interior is a magical adventure park, complete with cliff divers, an indoor waterfall, and costumed performers.

πŸ“Ί Local Trivia: Casa Bonita is the main subject of The South Park episode bearing its name – and in fact the creators of South Park just agreed to buy the restaurant! The episode is 100% worth a watch to understand this Denver’s institution’s unique appeal. The way Cartman describes Casa Bonita in the start of the episode could have been words coming out of my mouth as a child.

The Beer Spa

A beer bath at the Denver Beer Spa

Address: 3004 N Downing St, Denver, CO 80205 | (720) 810-1484 | Website

Colorado has long been known for its creative craft beer, but Denver’s recently opened The Beer Spa really takes that to the next level. You’ll find a unique suite of spa services, including a full spectrum infrared sauna, “Zero Gravity” massage chairs, and private bubbly baths filled with barley and hops. And, of course, there is a full rotation of craft beers, wines, and ciders to sip during your beer spa day. It’s a great way to relax and unwind on a rainy day, or the perfect treat to give the beer lover in your family. The Beer Spa is locally-owned and easy to walk to if you’re staying in RiNo or downtown Denver.

Visit a Dispensary

Nate at the LoDo Wellness Center dispensary
Me touring the LoDo Wellness Center

Colorado became synonymous with cannabis when it became one of the first places in the world to legalize sale for recreational purposes. This has led a boom of cannabis tourism and, even though other states have followed suit in the years since, many tourists still make a pilgrimage to Colorado just to check out one of the state’s licensed dispensaries.

You won’t have to walk far to find one – just look for the telltale green cross and you’re there. There are many to choose from, but I always recommend that Denver tourists visit the LoDo Wellness Center at 1617 Wazee Street because you can take a photo in front of their greenhouse of cannabis leaves. Post it on the ‘gram and I’m sure you’ll make your mom proud!

International Church of Cannabis

View of the interior of the colorful International Church of Cannabis Denver
You can’t take photos during the lightshow, but trust me this looks even more incredible!

Address: 400 S Logan St, Denver, CO 80209 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Reserve Tickets for the BEYOND Light Show

Speaking of cannabis, the Elevationists’ technicolor-themed place of worship bills itself as the β€œspiritual home for cannabis lovers.” Located near the stretch of bars on South Broadway, the church is open to the public for visits during the afternoon and evenings, and display the Beyond Laser Light Experience at 20 past the hour (purchase tickets ahead of time here). Beware that marijuana consumption on premises is prohibited during the show, but arriving after consuming most certainly is not.

🌿Mile High Trivia: Truly hardcore cannabis aficionados – or those engaged to them – can even get married inside the International Church of Cannabis!

Marijuana Mansion

Woman in a royal chair at the Marijuana Mansion

Address: 1244 Grant St, Denver, CO 80203 | Website

Yes, this is the third cannabis-themed thing to do in Denver in a row, but after all this is the Mile High City. Imagine what would happen if the Molly Brown House could take edibles, and you’ll have a pretty vivid picture of what to expect at this Capitol Hill mansion, which serves as an event space dedicated to the celebration of grass. You can also buy a ticket which lets you roam the mansion and take snapshots for 30 minutes. Anything for the ‘gram, right?

Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel

Brown Palace Hotel
Tea room, Brown Palace Hotel

Address: 321 17th St, Denver, CO 80202 | Website | πŸ‘‰ Book a Night at the Brown Palace Hotel

Feeling like having a fancy afternoon? Go for high tea at the Brown Palace, a historic Denver hotel serving up this unique experience in its ornate lobby Tuesday through Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. Space is limited so reservations are suggested. The signature tea package starts at $36 per person, and is certainly one of the fanciest things to do in Denver.

πŸ‘‘ Or Stay a Night Like RoyaltyCheck Brown Palace prices on Booking now. Even just one night makes for a creative Denver staycation!

Levitt Pavilion Summer Concert Series

Address: 1380 W Florida Ave, Denver, CO 80223 | Website

This extraordinary outdoor amphitheater in the Ruby Hill neighborhood hosts a popular summer free concert series, which is run by a local non-profit. It’s a great thing to do in Denver for families, and makes for an awesome socially-distanced night out.

Nightlife

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Grizzly Rose

View of the sign at the Grizzly Rose, a top thing to do in Denver Colorado

Address: 5450 North, S Valley Hwy, Denver, CO 80216 | Website

Throw on your boots, button up those pearl straps, and get ready for a honky tonk night on the town. Few live music venues are as unique – or as expansive – as Denver’s iconic country music hall Grizzly Rose. Be sure to try your hand at the mechanical bull, if you dare. And, of course, be sure you have a plan to get home safely without drinking and driving!

Punch Bowl Social

The author walking in front of Punch Bowl Social in Denver

Address: 65 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203 | Website

Punch Bowl Social is basically Elitch’s for adults. Inside you’ll find bowling, ping pong, arcade games, karaoke, Jenga, multiple bars, a restaurant, and more fun things to do than I can name in this post. It’s a great place to kick off a night out on South Broadway, or a fun thing to do on a rainy day in Denver.

Bluebird Theatre

Sign outside the Bluebird Theatre in Denver

Address: 3317 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 | Website

The Bluebird Theatre has been a Colfax mainstay since its opening in 1913, when it initially served as a movie house. In the 1990s it was remodeled into a music venue, and today it is one of the best places in Denver to catch an indie music act. Note that the Bluebird is currently in the process of re-opening post-pandemic.

Colfax Avenue

Colfax Avenue Sign in Front of the Fillmore Theatre, a top Denver attraction

Playboy magazine once famously dubbed Colfax the “longest, wickedest street in America.” Or maybe it didn’t. Either way, there’s no denying that the 50-mile long street hold a special kind of charm. In the stretch around Capitol Hill you’ll find dive bars, LGBT bars like X Bar, cheap eats, and historic theatres like The Fillmore, The Ogden, and The Bluebird. Strolling Colfax Avenue is still one of my favorite local activities, though do be aware that after dark parts of it can feel less secure at times.

Outdoors

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Rocky Mountain Arsenal

View of bison with mountains in background
The herd was a little far away during this visit, but I managed to snap this photo!

Address: 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO 80022 | Website

Watch bison, and other wildlife, roam at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. Situated between downtown and DIA, this former chemicals weapons manufacturing center has made a stunning recovery and is now one of the country’s largest urban wildlife refuges. The arsenal offers more than 20 miles of trails with some of the best hiking near Denver, plus fishing during the summer.

The best thing to do here, however, is to take your car through the excellent 11 mile Wildlife Drive, a route which will give you the opportunity to spot bison, deer, hawks, waterfowl, and all sorts of other wildlife from the comfort of your car.

Cheesman Park

View of wildflowers in front of Greek columns in Cheeseman Park Denver

Google Maps

Denver has a truly impressive public park system, but my favorite park in Denver has to be Cheesman Park. Located next door to the Denver Botanic Gardens, Cheesman offers expansive views of the Rocky Mountains from the neo-classical pavilion located on its eastern edge. You’ll find miles of running trails and loads of space to spread out a picnic blanket and relax with friends.

πŸ“š Read Next: The Best Things to Do in Boulder, CO

Washington Park

Nate looking out over Washington Park in Denver
Washington Park is great even on a cloudy day!

Address: 701 S Franklin St, Denver, CO 80209

Another one of Denver’s top parks, located in the neighborhood that bears its name, Washington Park is bustling on most days with runners, bicyclists, and picnickers. But the best thing to do here is to get your serve on at Washington Park’s volleyball nets. All summer long you’ll find organized and impromptu games throughout the park. Plan ahead by reserving a net or bringing your own, or just plan to make some new friends.

City Park

Denver skyline from City Park

Address: Google Maps

The biggest park in Denver, City Park is home to the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and several lakes where you can find swan-like paddle boats for rent. In warmer months it also hosts City Park Jazz, a community event where thousands gather to hear local bands and gnash on fare from lines of food trucks.

Cherry Creek Trail

A biker on the Cherry Creek Trail

Address: Google Maps

Looking for a place to get in a run or a bike ride? The Cherry Creek Trail is the perfect place to workout for free in Denver. The 40 mile trail runs straight through the heart of downtown and ends at the spectacular Commons Park, which is a perfect place to watch the sunset in Denver.

Confluence & Commons Parks

Nate with Commons Park in the background
Commons Park is a great place to walk around sunset

Address: 2250 15th St, Denver, CO 80202

Right downtown you’ll find two of my favorite parks stacked back to back. These parks sit right where Cherry Creek spills into the South Platte River. Here you’ll find several bridges over the rushing water, expansive green space, and spectacular views. A personal favorite thing to do in Denver is to take a picnic blanket to the top of the hill and watch sunset over the Rocky Mountains. For additional things to do, check out the Denver Skate Park on the north end, or the giant REI outdoor equipment store on the south end.

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πŸ‘‰ Want More? Read Next: Best Things to Do in Colorado | Best Day Trips from Denver | Best Hotels | Where to Stay | Complete Denver Travel Guide | Places to Visit in CO

πŸ‘‰ Or, Missed Something? Jump Back Up To: Best Things | Museums & Culture | Sites & Points of Interest | Food & Drink | Nightlife | Fun & Family | Unique & Cool | Outdoors

Congrats for making it all the way to the end of this mega list of the best things to do in Denver! Be sure to check out all my Denver travel articles for tips on things like where to stay, the best day trips, and more.

What did you think? What were your favorite things? What did I miss? Scroll down and leave a comment!

Enjoy your visit to Denver!

Editor’s Note: Due to the ongoing health crisis, tours of the Denver Mint, which I would normally include high on this list of Denver activities, are not being offered to the public. I’ll endeavor to update this article once Denver Mint tours are offered again.

12 thoughts on “59 Best Things to Do in Denver in 2021 (By a Local!)”

  1. Welcome back. Great to see you blogging again. This is a detailed article with loads of info, thanks. Denver will be part of my big US tour when we can travel safely again and ths will help me enourmously.

  2. Great list of Denver locales … gotta go hit some of them again now that lockdown has lifted! However, as a former Cap Hill resident and long-time proofreader, that great urban oasis is actually Cheesman Park. Either way, it’s a wonderful hangout!

      1. Hi Nate, as a Denver, Colorado native Elitch Gardens original location was on 38th Ave and Tennyson in northwest Denver and got relocated to downtown Denver. And, supposedly to moving again!! It lost alot of charm when it got moved out of the neighborhood.

        1. Thanks for your comment Michelle! Elitch’s is definitely different than it was a long time ago, as is most of Denver, but my niece and nephew sure still seem to love it as much as I did as a kid!

  3. The Colfax store is NOT the original Tattered Cover Location. It is actually a relatively recent move compared to its other stores. It’s previous location was on 1st Ave. in Cherry Creek directly across from the CC Mall. That was not the original location but it was the one most old-timers associate with TC. It was four floors (Basement plus 3) and easy to spend an entire day (and paycheck!) in there.

    1. Thank you Craig! October is a great month to visit. The weather is nice and temperate, and you will hopefully see some changing leaves in the city’s parks. Have a fun time in Denver!

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