The best things to do in Denver, CO as a tourist
The 12 most interesting tourist attractions and places that Denver has to offer.
About Denver, Colorado
Denver is the capital of Colorado and is located on the eastern junction between the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. The famous Rocky Mountains are just 56 miles from the city.
If you like diversity, then Denver is the perfect choice for you. It is an artistic city, with many green spaces, rustic, but at the same time sophisticated and modern. When it comes to hospitality, you can choose between curious and refined.
Are you passionate about history? Then you will be glad to know that in Denver you can find art galleries and museums for all tastes.
If you enjoy spending time outdoors and in the wild, Denver has plenty of outdoor activities such as bike trails that start in the city and take you anywhere in the area. Also, Castlewood Canyon is very close to the city and offers many hiking trails.
Music and art are also present in Denver, as the city hosts a wide variety of festivals throughout the summer.
- The Colorado Renaissance Fair is nearby and is open from June 13 to August 2
- Cherry Creek Arts Festival in early July is very popular
- Dragon Boat takes place in late July
- Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival is at the end of August
After this short presentation of the city, here is the list of the best things to do in Denver CO.
Things to do in Denver CO
As you probably noticed from the description above, Denver is a very diverse city and can fulfill the most pretentious tastes and ideas. So, let’s see what are the best things to do in Denver CO.
Denver Art Museum
The first entry on our list of things to do in Denver CO is the Denver Art Museum. The museum’s collection includes Native American art from over 100 tribes and totals over 68,000 works from around the world.
The history of the museum begins with the founding of the Denver Artists Club in 1893, and in 1916, the club changed its name to the Denver Art Association.
After only two years, the club becomes the Denver Art Museum and hosts the first art galleries in the city’s municipal building. Over the years, the museum has moved from one building to another. In 1948, the museum purchased a building in the southern part of the city, and an architect from Denver, named Burnham Hoyt, reconditioned the building. This building was later renamed the Schleier Gallery, adding value to the ever-expanding museum.
The Kress Foundation has promised to donate three collections worth more than $ 2 million if the museum builds a new building to house them. After a fundraiser, the museum managed in 1954 to complete the construction of the new building.
The newest building of the museum is named after Frederic Hamilton who owns the collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design, and the Oceanic art collections. The building is also the main access point to the other galleries of the museum.
While most works of art are inside buildings, there are also significant works of outdoor sculptures.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The museum first opened its gates in 1996 and later moved to the current building in October 2007. The architect who designed the building, named David Adjaye, built a modern three-story building and a roof terrace. The terrace offers visitors a beautiful garden, a cafe, and a view of the railway construction sites.
The museum’s collection features a mix of photography, new media, and modern art. Unlike most art museums, the MCA Denver does not have a permanent collection.
Forney Transport Museum
Next on our list of things to do in Denver CO is an entry for the gearheads, so if you are passionate about the car industry, then Forney Transport Museum is the perfect place for you. The museum, named after founder JD Forney, houses a collection of nearly 500 exhibits.
At the beginning of the museum, the collection focused more on vintage cars, later expanding to other means of transport. Initially, the Forney collection was private and was not a museum in itself. Later it became one of the best collections of means of transport in the country.
The passion of the founder started from a gift received from his children, namely a Kissel Tourister in 1921.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
If you are passionate about music then the next tourist attraction will be to your liking. Near Morrison is a stone structure that hosts outdoor concerts. The amphitheater is located in Red Rocks Mountain Park and is administered by the city of Denver.
The perfectly acoustic surroundings gave the idea to John Walker Brisben, in 1900, to organize outdoor concerts. Initially, between 1906 and 1910, the concerts took place on a mobile platform paving the way for the construction of the amphitheater. Its construction was completed in 1941 and lasted five years.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver has one of the most beautiful botanical gardens, with an area of 93,000 square meters, an amphitheater for concerts, and a variety of themes. The garden is located in Cheesman Park, consisting of three different locations that make up a whole: the main section of the garden is on York Street. The second section is located in the Chatfield area, which has a natural meadow and riparian areas. The last section is on Mount Goliath and is an alpine garden with wildflowers arranged along the mountain trails.
What sets Denver Botanical Garden apart from all other gardens is that it has the largest worldwide collection of plants in cold climates. Another thing that will impress you is the 7 gardens that comprise most of the plant species in Colorado and its surroundings.
This amusement park is a place where you will surely have fun. It is located in the West Highland neighborhood of Denver. It was one of the most popular entertainment destinations in Colorado. The park is nationally recognized for its green spaces, lush gardens, ballroom, and theater. In 1994 the park moved to the city center and was renamed Six Flags Elitch Gardens. He later gave up Six Flags and regained the name Elitch Gardens.
Confluence Park may seem like a simple recreation area, but its location is significant because in 1858 William Greenberry Russell found gold there, which led to the founding of Denver.
Inside the park, you can enjoy different tracks for runners, bicycles, and pedestrian alleys. The park has two bridges that cross the South Platte River and the Cherry Creek Creek.
If you love kayaking then you should head to the eastern side of the South Platte River, as this area has been specially designed for kayaking.
The Denver Zoo was founded in 1896 with an orphaned black bear named Billy Bryan, who received a gift from Mayor Thomas McMurry. Today, the garden covers an area of 32 hectares and hosts about 4,000 animals from around the world. Among the 4,000 animals are African Penguin, African Lion, Siberian Tiger, American Flamingo, Snapping Turtle, Bald Eagle, Camels, Black Rhinoceros, and more.
In 2012, the garden opened the elephant exhibition called Toyota Elephant, which was originally announced in 2006. Due to financial delays, funds were raised only in 2009, which led to the launch of the exhibition in 2012.
The zoo is funded by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and is owned by the city of Denver.
Lakeside Amusement Park
Another amusement park that will arouse your interest is located in Lakeside, close to Denver. White City, the park’s original name, was founded in 1908 as a recreational resort, and eventually turned into an amusement park. Later, its name was changed to Lakeside Amusement Park.
Today, Lakeside Amusement Park is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. It is also among the largest parks with about 40 attractions, roller coasters, and a miniature train from the early twentieth century.
In case you get hungry, the park offers food stands and places specially arranged for a picnic.
The Denver Aquarium was founded and opened in 1999 on a $ 57 million loan. The founders of Colorado’s Ocean Journey nonprofit are Bill Fleming and Judy Fleming. At launch, the number of visitors was high, but in the following months, this number dropped sharply.
In 2002 the aquarium went bankrupt, being acquired by Landry’s Restaurants Inc. in 2003. After 2 years of operation, the aquarium is closed for renovation, later opening under the name of Downtown Aquarium.
If you are passionate about marine life, the aquarium has many interactive exhibits, including a tank where you can come in contact with a sea cat and horseshoe crabs. The aquarium has various endangered species such as fish, reptiles, mammals, and birds.
Colorado State Capitol
You’ve probably heard of the United States Capitol, the Colorado State Capitol is reminiscent of it. The building was designed by Elijah Myers and was built in 1890. In 2001 a major restoration of the building began, the work is completed after 8 years, in 2009. Following the modernization, the building was added to modern safety elements.
The first thing you notice as you approach the Colorado State Capitol is the stained glass windows depicting events from Colorado’s past. Another feature of the building is the interior halls that contain portraits of all the presidents of the United States.
Denver Public Library
Last but not least on our list of things to do in Denver CO is a famous library, so if you are passionate about books and history, you should not miss a visit to the Denver Public Library. It was founded in 1889 by John Cotton Dana and was based in one of the wings of Denver High School. The library purchased its first building in the city center, called the Central Library, in 1910.
In 1990, architect Michael Graves designed a new building, the current one, to house the library’s vast collection of books and documents. The building is located in the vicinity of the Denver Art Museum and has been added to the National Register of Historic Buildings.
The library offers you an impressive collection related to Western History. The collection includes over 600,000 photographs, 200,000 books, 3,700 documents, paper, atlases, and even a collection of fine art.
This concludes our list of things to do in Denver CO, but keep in mind that no matter what you like to do during your holiday, Denver is certainly the city that can fulfill any tourist interests. If you like art and culture, the museums and libraries in Denver will certainly appeal to your taste. If you enjoy wildlife and animals, then you should visit the zoo and the aquarium.
Are you an outdoor person or an adrenaline seeker? Then the parks, trails, green spaces, and amusement parks should definitely be on your itinerary.
All in all, you can find something for all family members in Denver.
If you want to find out more about popular destinations and things to do when you visit them, check out our travel tips section.
Originally published at https://alovelytrip.com on July 10, 2020.