The Mile High City, so named because it sits at 5,280 feet above sea level or one mile high, Denver has been rocking since the late 1850s, when gold was discovered around Cherry Creek. Today, it is one of America’s hottest cities to live and play in and a great place to visit.
With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop and more than 300 days of sunshine per year, Denver is a visually appealing metropolis, filled with a variety of sights and attractions for everyone, from families to couples. Whether you are wandering the Denver Art Museum, doing some shopping and gallery hopping in Cherry Creek North, or visiting animals at the Denver Zoo, day or night, there is no shortage of things to do.
The city is also home to several parks, including Civic Center Park in the heart of downtown, Washington Park, Cheesman Park, and City Park in surrounding neighborhoods. Just outside the city limits is Denver’s most famous park: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, which is one of the top outdoor concert venues in the U.S.
1. Enjoy Live Music at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater is about 15 miles from the city center but is well worth the commute as this is the most revered attraction around Denver – and there is a shuttle to get you here should you not have a car. Red Rocks is both a live music venue and a city park owned by Denver. The name comes from the striking red sandstone rock formations found along the trails that also form the walls of the outdoor amphitheater.
The venue attracts major live music talent weekly in season and is most famous for its acoustics. Music buffs will want to stop by the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, which tells the stories of Colorado’s music greats.
2. Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science sits in City Park’s southeast corner and is one of Denver’s top cultural attractions. Among the most notable exhibits are the imposing dinosaur skeletons, remains of Ice Age animals, the collection of minerals presented by the Coors family, and one of the largest nuggets of gold found in Colorado.
The museum features changing exhibitions, so there is always something new to see. An IMAX theater and a Planetarium are also on-site. When you’ve finished wandering this museum, take time to check out City Park, which is popular with locals, and hosts a free summer jazz concert series.
The Space Odyssey exhibit has been renovated and revitalized and is now better than ever. You’ll be able to step into the new Fantasy Spaceship and fulfill your dreams of blasting off into space.
3. See a Show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts sits on the south side of Larimar Square and is a gigantic cultural center. The center consists of multiple venues, including the Boettcher Concert Hall, Auditorium Theater, and Ellie Caulkins Opera House. If you are looking for things to do in Denver at night, you can usually find something to entertain you here.
A night out at the Center for Performing Arts could mean watching a Broadway Show or enjoying a play or a variety of other performances. This venue hosts all kinds of major events. It is home to the Denver Center Theater Company, the Denver Center Attractions, and the Denver Center Theatre Academy. The center also functions as an educational facility, offering acting classes and programs, as well as professional development opportunities.
4. Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens, first laid out in the late 1950s, is one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States, occupying 23 acres next to Cheesman Park. The garden emphasizes native plants and sustainable, environmentally responsible practices. However, the various gardens display plants from all over the world. There are 43 individual gardens, some of which are laid out in natural landscapes, others of which are in more formal gardens.
Some of the highlights include the Japanese Garden; Marnie’s Pavilion with orchids, ferns, and waterfalls; and the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory, with exotic tropical and subtropical species. The Denver Botanic Gardens also hosts special events throughout the year, including concerts that draw in nationally recognized talent.
These are some of the best tourist attractions in this city.