23 Best Things to Do in Denver, From Brewery Visits to Red Rocks Hiking

These are the top things to do in the Mile High City.

Denver has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with people "discovering" the destination that seems to have it all — big-city amenities, premium hotels, and easy access to the mountains. In fact, in the last decade alone (2010 to 2020), the city's population grew about 20 percent, according to data from the Colorado census. The growth makes perfect sense when you consider all the city has to offer — from a tater tot fueled drag brunch to yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Ready to see what all the fuss is about? Here are 23 of the best things to do in Denver, Colorado.

General view of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 31 August 2014 in Morrison, Colorado
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Drop by for drag brunch (and bottomless mimosas) at Hamburger Mary's.

The uber-campy Hamburger Mary's Denver serves up Tater Ta-Ta's (a.k.a. tater tots) alongside an unbeatable drag performance. Swing by on Saturday for the Drag Brunch, a sell-out show with bottomless mimosas and good eats.

See a show or do a downward dog at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater nestled among red rock formations at the foot of the Rocky Mountains has long been a destination for big acts like The Beatles, Widespread Panic, and Halsey. But even if you don't make it for a show, you can enjoy the mix of nature and entertainment at the park's Yoga on the Rocks and Film on the Rocks events.

Make your way through Meow Wolf, a surreal art experience.

If you want to enter another world (without leaving the heart of Denver), head to Meow Wolf, an art experience with interactive exhibits, mind-bending art, and psychedelic encounters you can literally feel. The four-story exhibition includes more than 70 installations, portals, and rooms dreamed up by 300 creatives.

People in the stairwell of the Denver Art Museum

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Visit the Denver Art Museum.

Housed in a wildly angular, eye-catching building, the Denver Art Museum houses more than 70,000 diverse works with a revolving door of exhibitions that have included the work of Claude Monet, Norman Rockwell, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera.

Sip on tea at the iconic Brown Palace Hotel.

At The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, a Denver mainstay since 1892, you can step back in time (and to another continent) by joining their daily afternoon tea. Choose your tea of choice, then sit back and nosh on handmade pastries and tea sandwiches while the sounds of the grand piano float through the stained-glass-ceilinged atrium.

A general view during a game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado on May 21, 2021.
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Catch a game at the Mile High Stadium.

Whether or not you like football, it's hard to deny the novelty of watching a game at 5,280 feet (one mile) above sea level. And if you're really not into the game, you can cruise around the Empower Field at Mile High until you find a vantage point where you can see the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Denver skyline to the east. Not bad for a football stadium.

Take on the thrill of Elitch Gardens.

If you find yourself in Denver during the summer months, make a trip to the Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. Take on the Tower of Doom's 200-foot drop or stop by Twister II, a world-class wooden roller coaster, before rewarding yourself with a funnel cake.

Get lost in the bookshelves at Tattered Cover.

Barnes & Noble has its place, but there's something special about perusing the aisles at an independent bookstore. And while the Tattered Cover has become one of the largest independent booksellers in the U.S. since its humble start in 1971, it's a Denver institution and shouldn't be missed.

See a show at a Theater Company housed inside an old church.

The Curious Theatre Company, which is based out of an old church, has been pushing the theatrical envelope for decades. It remains the home of thought-provoking plays, many of which are written by local playwrights.

Spend the weekend bowling and brunching.

If you need to let off some work-week steam, head to Punch Bowl Social to throw some balls and eat some Sriracha peanut fries. If bowling isn't your game, try your hand at shuffleboard, life-size Jenga, pool, or some old-school arcade games.

Travel to another world at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Check out the big screen (the big, big screen) at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which is home to both an Imax and a planetarium. If none of the shows catch your eye, walk through the museum's Space Odyssey exhibition or brush up on your dino knowledge at the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.

Have a beer (or three) at Denver Beer Co.

With an outdoor, dog-friendly patio just begging for visitors and a good location in Denver's LoHi (Lower Highland) neighborhood, Denver Beer Co. is the place to be when the sun is out and the weather is warm.

Find a little bit of everything at Number Thirty Eight.

If you're with a group and not sure where to go, head to Number Thirty Eight, a sprawling food hall with 24 taprooms (serving beer, cider, wine, and hard alcohol), live music, games, and a giant outdoor patio.

Visit Nocturne for a high-end supper club experience with live jazz.

For a fancy night out, drop by Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, Denver's must-visit spot for modern jazz, classic cocktails, and a three-course menu.

Japanese garden at Denver botanic gardens
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Soak up some humidity at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Denver isn't known for its humidity (the state is generally dry), but inside the Denver Botanic Gardens conservatory, you can soak up the moisture while checking out thousands of tropical plant species. The garden also has a collection of native, aquatic, and alpine plants, and on certain days, you can see it all while grooving to live music or checking out a visiting art installation.

Check out the Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive.

The first Friday of every month, Santa Fe Drive comes alive for the First Friday Art Walk. You can pop in and out of galleries and shops, pick up some grub from a food cart, and enjoy some five-star people-watching.

Walkway up to rock formations in Roxborough State Park

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Visit the dramatic rock formations at Roxborough State Park.

Garden of the Gods in the neighboring city of Colorado Springs gets all the attention, but under an hour south of Denver is a park with red sandstone formations that are just as dramatic. Roxborough State Park is a 3,339-acre oasis with natural scenery that will make your jaw drop.

Rent a bike and cruise along the river.

The South Platte River passes right near downtown Denver and is paralleled by a paved bike path. Hop aboard one of the local scooter or bike-share providers (Lyft and Lime) and enjoy the view as you make your way to Blue Moon Brewing Company for a well-deserved beer.

Go vintage and thrift store shopping on Broadway.

Broadway is lined with the city's best vintage and thrift shops — especially between 1st and Bayaud avenues. All you have to do is park (or get off the bus) and make your way up and down Broadway, popping in and out of the street's cool stores, coffee shops, and bars. If you need a little pick-me-up, swing by Voodoo Doughnut.

Order a giant cinnamon roll at the Denver Biscuit Company.

It may be called Denver Biscuit Company, but it's all about the biscuit cinnamon roll (giant and amazing). If you're not into sweets, The Winona, a biscuit sandwich stuffed with fried chicken and doused with house-made cheddar pimento cheese, is hard to beat.

Visit the house of "Unsinkable Molly Brown."

Molly Brown, a philanthropist, activist, and socialite who survived the sinking of the Titanic, lived in Denver. And now, her home near downtown Denver has been converted into a museum. Inside the Molly Brown House Museum, you'll follow along with the ups and downs of Molly's life, including her fateful journey on the Titanic.

Eat your way through Union Station.

What was once a train station in the heart of Denver is now filled with some of the city's best restaurants and bars (in addition to still being a train hub). You can spend an entire day hopping from eatery to eatery — breakfast at Snooze, lunch at Acme, drinks at Terminal Bar, and ice cream at Milkbox Ice Creamery — with some shopping and people-watching thrown in.

Catch a Rockies game at Coors Field.

It's hard to beat beer, brats, and baseball on a bluebird Colorado day. And the views from Coors Field, which is located right in downtown Denver, will keep even the most skeptical baseball onlookers happy.

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