Things to Do in Downtown Denver, Colorado

From thrilling adventures to tranquil gardens, Downtown Denver has it all
From thrilling adventures to tranquil gardens, Downtown Denver has it all | © Danita Delimont Creative / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Stephanie Andrews
19 July 2020

A vibrant arts and music hub, with epic ski resorts and stunning mountain views – it’s no wonder Colorado’s Mile High City is a premier vacation spot. These tips from Culture Trip’s local insiders will help you get the most out of the state capital in the Rockies.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden
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Get away from the hustle and bustle and spend a fe quiet hours at Denver Botanic Gardens. This 24-acre (10ha) park offers perfectly landscaped paths through whimsical, themed gardens. Grab a coffee or a quick bite at the café, or stop at the gift shop for handmade souvenirs. If you’re here in summer or fall, check out Chatfield Farms, the botanic gardens’ sister pavilion, which hosts everything from outdoor music concerts to a spectacular lavender festival. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

Denver Zoo

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Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the Denver Zoo offers 80 acres (32ha) and more than 3,500 wild animals. One of the most exciting additions is the zoo’s baby rhino, who was born in February 2020. While you can purchase water and snacks inside, you can also bring food with you to enjoy a picnic in one of the park’s designated areas. Right outside the zoo is City Park, where you’ll find a variety of special events, including music festivals and food trucks. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

Larimer Square

Architectural Landmark, Shopping Mall
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This historic block in Denver is where you’ll find independent shops, sustainable restaurants, vibrant cocktail bars and pampering spas. Celebrate with bubbles at Denver’s only champagne bar, or listen to live music while lounging with a cocktail. Shop high-end products for yourself (or your pooch), get a stylish new haircut or indulge in a Michelin-star dining experience. When the sun goes down, catch a comedy show or just revel in a peaceful, late-night stroll under a canopy of string lights. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

16th Street Mall

Shopping Mall
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If this is your first time in Denver, the 16th Street Mall is the ideal starting point. This mile-long pedestrian walkway in the heart of Downtown conveniently connects major sites and attractions in the area. With the State Capitol Building at one end and Union Station at the other, the mall is filled to the brim with coffee shops, storefronts and movie theaters, as well as restaurants, bars and brewpubs. At night, take a horse-drawn carriage under the twinkle of string lights that decorate the tree-lined promenade. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa

Spa Hotel
4.5/5 (930 Reviews)

Add a little elegance to your vacation with afternoon tea at the famous Brown Palace. Sip exotic teas, champagnes or sparkling cider while nibbling on fancy cakes under the opulent chandeliers of the grand entrance. Anyone can visit the hotel and while you will have to pay for parking, the cost is reduced if you’re here for afternoon tea. The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa also makes a luxurious setting for a weekend getaway with someone special. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

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Dairy Block

4.7/5 (1127 Reviews)

This historic mini district in Downtown Denver is a recent addition to the LoDo neighborhood, with upscale shopping, lively bars and boutique hotels. It’s not far from Union Station, which goes directly to the airport. The Dairy Block offers fun for cocktail drinkers, adventurers, foodies and shopaholics, and is home to the Maven Hotel and Denver Milk Market, which boasts an eclectic mix of dine-in and takeaway bars and restaurants. This family-friendly hub is the perfect lunchtime spot or weekend attraction. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

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Downtown Aquarium

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What better way to spend a day with the family than watching underwater creatures at the Downtown Aquarium? This aquatic paradise is home to 500 species flipping their fins in more than 1m gallons of water. The aquarium even offers mermaid performances that teach about conservation. Plus there’s a cool behind-the-scenes tour and you can even dive with sharks. Inside the complex, you’ll also find an aquatic carousel and an underwater restaurant offering wall-to-wall views of the aquarium’s diverse sea life. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

United States Mint

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Ever wonder how money is made? Wonder no more when you visit the United States Mint in Downtown Denver, where it produces billions of coins each year. Grab your free ticket for a 45-minute at the gift shop entrance, and make sure you arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time. At the end you’ll walk away with newfound knowledge about how your money is made, and the gift shop sells cool coins and memorabilia. Security is strict, so leave your bags in the car. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

Elitch Gardens

Amusement Park
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The thrills and spills of Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, the area’s leading theme park, are all about family fun, with wild rides, live entertainment and water slides. It offers enjoyable, mellow rides for pint-size visitors and 12 of the best heart-thumping rides in Denver. Cool off from the summer heat in the giant wave pool, swirling down a 75ft (23m) tall family raft ride or heading down the ultimate 62ft (19m) speed slide. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

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