What started out as a small mining camp in 1858 has turned into one of the most popular cities in the United States. Modern Denver is a very walkable city with a large outdoor community that takes advantage of the city’s great weather, amazing scenery, and close-by activities. With 300 days of sunshine and clear blue skies, travelers can see the beautiful but scary Rocky Mountains all the time.
People know that Denver has a lot to do in the winter, but the locals have also built up a lot of attractions, breweries, and street art that make it worth staying in town.
If you don’t plan to go anywhere else, you can spend your three days in Denver slowly wandering from one neighborhood to the next, seeing how each one has its own personality. This plan is all about that, so don’t forget to bring your step counter.
Given how easy it is to walk around Denver and how good the bus system is, you could stay anywhere within the city limits without any problems. But doing that would be a waste of your time in Denver. This city has a lot of cool neighborhoods, and if you stay outside of them, you won’t get to see what makes Denver so interesting.
Keeping this in mind, there are two main areas you should put at the top of your list.
The first is Lower Downtown, which is Denver’s oldest neighborhood and is full of attractions, restaurants, and some of the best nightlife in town. If you stay here, you’ll be in the middle of everything.
The second is the River North Arts District, which is where you’ll spend most of your third day in Denver. If you stay here, you’ll be close to lots of cute local coffee shops, art galleries, breweries, and some of the best food in the city. Even better, downtown Denver is only a few blocks away.
Denver is always a great place to visit because the weather is always great. If it’s cold and snowy, you can go to ski resorts that are among the best in the world, and the city’s breweries will be even more appealing.
The best times to go hiking are in the spring and fall, when temperatures range from 55°F to 75°F (13c-24c). So you can ride on the trails in the Rocky Mountains or around town without having to worry about being too hot or too cold.
The summers in Denver are sunny and beautiful. They bring an average high temperature of around 90°F (32°C) every day, but about 70% of the city’s annual rainfall. Summer is peak season, so the streets are busy and restaurants are lively. This is both a good and a bad thing.
DAY 1: ATTRACTIONS AND MUSIC
HOW TO DO IT
Your first stop in Denver should be the beautiful City Park. For people who have traveled a long way to get here, this is a great chance to get some fresh air and walk through beautiful urban areas.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, seen from the inside. Kit Leong/Shutterstock took this picture.
Go to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science when you’re ready to have some fun. With several full-size skeletons on display, you can learn about Colorado’s long history with dinosaurs. This is a great activity for both kids and adults. You can also see one of the biggest gold nuggets that has ever been found in the state of Colorado.
There are a lot of changing exhibits that go well with the permanent ones. You can look at the website of the museum to find out what’s going on while you’re in town.
Once you’ve learned about Denver’s natural history, it’s time to find out where some of the city’s best human history happened. Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play, is only three miles (five kilometers) from City Park.
Coors Field may not have as many stories to tell as Fenway, but no other stadium in America can beat the view of the Rocky Mountains from the first baseline. Take a walking tour of Coors Field to learn more about it and see what goes on behind the scenes. If it’s baseball season, stay for a game or move on to the next step.
When you go to Denver, one of the best things to do is to check out the famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. Red Rocks is a famous place both in Denver and around the world. It is only 15 miles (24 km) from the city center.
Seeing a live concert at Red Rocks is the best way to see it. On the Red Rocks website, you can find a list of live events that is always up to date. Each week, both new and well-known artists set up shop in the amphitheater. You can listen to your favorite songs while watching the stars in the night sky.
Even if there aren’t any shows going on while you’re in Denver, you should still check out Red Rocks because it is also a beautiful city park. You will also be able to visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, where you can learn all about the musicians from the Centennial State.
So you don’t have to rent a car, you can take a shuttle from Denver to Red Rocks.
WHAT TO COOK
Make sure to stop by Little Beast Street Food between your trips to City Park and Coors Field. There are Korean-style dishes that are full of flavor. Even though they are no longer making tacos with Korean flavors, you can still eat some delicious sandwiches like the bulgogi, which is a flatbread sandwich with beef that has been marinated in soy sauce and has a hint of kimchi. No matter what you order, get a shot of soju to make it even better.
Before you go to an outdoor concert at Red Rocks, you will want to eat somewhere near Red Rocks. So, Red Rocks Beer Garden comes into play. With a big patio outside, you can get into the mood of the night while trying out some spicy local beers. The menu is simple but tasty. You can get pizza or a big plate of hummus. For dessert, you must get a round of fully loaded popcorn.
DAY 2 WHAT TO DO
There’s no time to waste when you only have one full day to see everything Denver has to offer. Get to Lower Downtown, also known as LoDo, from where you are. Here you’ll find the impressive Larimer Square, which has shops, bars, and restaurants. However, it’s the brick warehouses that are now used for other things that really steal the show. This is a magical place to come back to at night when the whole street is lit up with fairy lights.
A look at the outside of the Tattered Cover bookstore. Epiglottis/Shutterstock has the photo.
From here, you can visit the nearby Tattered Cover, a huge bookstore with all the classics and a lot of great new books to read on your way home. After you’ve looked through the books at Tattered Cover, you can either take the free bus or walk to the 16th Street Mall. Aside from the obvious shops, there is a lively atmosphere with street performers and live music that pumps up the downtown core.
After getting up and enjoying the early morning sun, it’s time to step up your day with a ride on one of Denver’s many fun bike paths. Grab a bike from Denver’s strong bike share system, which is run by Lyft and Lime, and go on an adventure.
Wheel Fun Rentals is the place to go if you want to rent a bike for three days in Denver. They also have quad-cycles that are great for families who want to ride around in just one “vehicle.” They are in Washington Park, which is a large park with a lake. Ask Wheel Fun if they also rent out pedal boats.
Ok, back to the point. Now that you have a bike, it’s time to hit the trails. Since it is sunny 300 days a year in Denver, there is almost never a bad time to ride around this beautiful city.
The South Platte River Trail is a great place to ride a bike. It is 11.5 miles long and goes along the river that cuts Denver in half. Start at the big REI store in Lower Downtown, which is right on the river. You can go north to Carpio Sanguinette Park through the River North Art District or south to the Children’s Museum of Denver, the Downtown Aquarium, and Elitch Gardens. Most cyclists choose to go south, where they can see these places and Mile High Stadium up close.
Once you’ve gone as far as you want, go back to REI, where you started, and take a swim in the South Platte River at Confluence Park. With the dry air and constant sun, Denver can get pretty hot. After a long day of riding, give yourself a splash. After you’re done drying off, go back to your hotel and get ready for a night out.
Denver is a city that keeps growing, especially as more young people move there. People who want to have fun can be found everywhere in the city. There are a lot of people in pubs, breweries, cocktail bars, and nightclubs on different nights of the week. Each neighborhood has its own feel, and the River North has a growing scene with breweries and interesting cocktail bars. There are high-end sports bars, happy hours late at night, and the famous Cherry Cricket pub in Cherry Creek North.
The clubhouse is always the best place to go out at night in Denver, but this is always up for debate. But if you are staying downtown, LoDo is the best place to stay. There are the usual bars and cocktail lounges here, but there are also a few popular dance clubs that will really get your hips moving. Join Denver’s best pub crawl if you want to meet new people and visit the best places in LoDo.
On day 1 and day 3, you’ll have time to see more of Denver, so take the 90-minute drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.
There is no other park in the country like it. It is high on the Continental Divide. In the national park, there are sixty peaks that are higher than 12,000ft (3650m). One way to see how big the Rockies are and how amazing the views are is to stay in your car and drive the amazing Trail Ridge Road.
This road is the highest one in any national park. It goes for 48 miles (77 km). Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep and elk, and stop at as many overlooks as you can, including Forest Canyon Overlook. Here, you can look out over Longs Peak, Hayden Gorge, and Gorge Lakes from just below 12,000 feet.