Denver, the Mile High City, offers a tapestry of attractions that blend urban sophistication with outdoor adventure.
From the historic charm of Larimer Square to the natural beauty of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, there’s an array of points of interest catering to every taste and age group. Cultural enthusiasts revel in Denver Art Museum’s collections while sports fans can catch a game at Coors Field.
Whether you’re drawn by the call of the mountains or intrigued by local breweries and eateries, this city doesn’t disappoint.
Dive into our curated selection below for reviews on top picks that promise memorable experiences.
1. Dinosaur Ridge
Dinosaur Ridge offers a journey back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. This prehistoric hotspot is just minutes from Denver and provides an educational adventure for all ages.
- At this famed location, visitors can walk along trails dotted with fossils. It’s a hands-on history lesson where every step takes you further into the Jurassic past.
- The highlight for many are the dinosaur footprints etched in stone. These ancient marks give a rare glimpse into the size and behavior of these extinct giants.
- Don’t miss out on the interactive exhibits at the visitor center. They’re designed to engage and inform, offering insights into the region’s geological history.
Hiking enthusiasts will appreciate that Dinosaur Ridge is not only about paleontology but also offers scenic trails with views of both plains and mountains at over 6,000 feet above sea level.
Here are some quick facts:
- Distance: A few miles from downtown Denver
- Day trips: Perfect for a half-day excursion
- Reviews: Visitors often rave about their experiences, highlighting both educational value and natural beauty
Whether it’s your first visit or you’re returning to delve deeper into prehistory, Dinosaur Ridge never fails to amaze with its tangible connections to Earth’s distant past.
2. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Attending a concert at the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is an unforgettable experience. This venue, known for its stunning natural acoustics and majestic setting, has hosted some of the most famous acts in music history.
Beyond concerts, visitors can hike scenic trails that weave through the park’s iconic red rocks. These paths offer panoramic views that are both inspiring and photo-worthy. Hiking here doesn’t just exercise your body; it also rewards you with vistas you won’t soon forget.
The Colorado Music Hall of Fame, located on-site, provides a deep dive into the state’s musical legends. It tells stories of musicians who have shaped not just local culture but have made waves nationally and internationally as well.
- Concerts: Experience live music in an unparalleled atmosphere.
- Hiking: Explore trails with breathtaking views around every bend.
- Colorado Music Hall of Fame: Discover Colorado’s rich musical heritage.
Visiting this area allows for a full day packed with artistry and nature. Whether you’re attending a show or simply exploring, Red Rocks offers more than just entertainment—it’s a trip through soundscapes and landscapes alike.
3. Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
Visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave is a journey into the heart of the Wild West. It’s here that you pay respects to William F. Cody, known as “Buffalo Bill,” an iconic figure who once brought the mythos of frontier life to audiences worldwide.
Within this mountain perch atop Lookout Mountain, history buffs can explore a treasure trove of artifacts and memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s storied life. The museum showcases personal items, show costumes, and Native American artifacts providing an authentic glimpse into late-19th-century America.
Not only does this site honor a legendary showman with its extensive collection but also offers visitors stunning panoramic views. Gazing out over the Rockies, one can imagine how these rugged landscapes inspired tales of cowboys and pioneers during Buffalo Bill’s time.
For those seeking unique experiences:
- Explore rare historical exhibits detailing Buffalo Bill’s adventures.
- Reflect at his gravesite on Memorial Day or any visit for a touchstone to America’s past.
- Capture breathtaking photos against the backdrop of Colorado’s majestic mountains.
The museum doesn’t serve beer but there are nearby options in Denver for those looking to enjoy local brews after their visit.
4. American Mountaineering Museum
The American Mountaineering Museum in the US offers a deep dive into the history of mountaineering. Here, visitors learn about legendary climbers who have shaped this adventurous pursuit. The museum showcases their achievements and contributions to mountain conservation and safety.
Interactive exhibits bring the thrill of climbing within everyone’s reach. They simulate climbing experiences, making it an engaging visit for both seasoned hikers and those new to the sport. It’s not just about viewing; it’s about feeling part of the climb.
Honoring heroes is central to the museum’s mission. It pays tribute to individuals dedicated to preserving mountain environments and improving safety measures for climbers worldwide.
- Discover stories of pioneering ascents.
- Feel simulated climbs through interactive displays.
- Celebrate those who protect our mountains.
This isn’t your typical gallery stroll—it’s an immersive journey into high-altitude adventures without leaving Denver!
5. Wild Animal Sanctuary
Visiting the Wild Animal Sanctuary is a must for wildlife enthusiasts and those looking to support animal rehabilitation efforts. This sanctuary provides a haven for rescued wild animals, allowing visitors to witness these creatures enjoying their lives in vast habitats.
The elevated walkways are a highlight, stretching out over the enclosures and offering guests unobstructed views of lions, tigers, bears, and more as they roam freely below. These walkways ensure that you can spot wildlife without disturbing their natural behavior.
By choosing to visit this sanctuary near Denver, you’re not just in for an unforgettable experience; you’re also contributing to an important cause. The facility focuses on rescuing large predators from inadequate environments and giving them a new home where they can thrive.
Education plays a significant role at the Wild Animal Sanctuary. Through your visit, you’ll learn about the challenges these magnificent animals face in the wild and how sanctuaries work tirelessly to provide them with care and protection.
Whether it’s witnessing majestic beasts up close or simply taking in the beauty of nature enhanced by local wildflowers dotting the landscape around enclosures, your time here will be well spent. And while there aren’t shops within the sanctuary itself, your entrance fees go directly towards supporting these animals’ welfare — making every dollar part of your contribution to conservation.
6. Central City and Black Hawk
Central City and Black Hawk invite visitors to experience the thrill of gaming in Colorado’s mini-gaming capital. These neighboring towns offer a variety of casinos where you can try your luck, from classic slot machines to table games.
As you wander through these historic towns, the Victorian architecture transports you back to the days of the old west. Main Street is lined with buildings that have stood since the gold rush era, offering a glimpse into a bygone age.
These former mining towns not only provide entertainment but also education on America’s gold rush history. Local museums showcase artifacts and stories from when these towns were bustling centers of mining activity.
- Casinos: Dive into high-stakes fun or enjoy casual gaming at one of many establishments.
- Architecture: Admire well-preserved structures that echo the prosperity of ‘The Richest Square Mile on Earth’.
- History: Explore museums like Gilpin Historical Society or Coeur d’Alene Mine Shaft House for an immersive historical experience.
7. Georgetown Loop Railroad
Experience a journey back in time aboard the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where vintage steam locomotives pull you through breathtaking mountainous landscapes. This trip isn’t just a ride; it’s an immersion into the rich history of railroad travel.
The engineering prowess behind this railroad is evident as you traverse bridges and trestles, with views that capture the essence of Colorado’s rugged beauty. The round-trip adventure showcases not only nature’s splendor but also human ingenuity from the late 1800s.
Adding to your excursion, consider coupling your train ride with a mine tour. This unique opportunity allows adventurers to explore historic mines, further enriching their understanding of Colorado’s mining era.
Surrounding Victorian buildings dotting the landscape provide a picturesque backdrop to this living museum on rails. It’s more than just transportation—it’s an experience steeped in heritage and adventure.
8. Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Ascend America’s highest paved road, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, and immerse yourself in stunning alpine landscapes. This journey is one of the biggest points of interest around Denver and offers a unique driving experience that takes you to soaring elevations with breathtaking views.
Witness wildlife such as mountain goats and bighorn sheep roaming freely in their natural environment. These encounters provide an exceptional opportunity for nature photography and wildlife observation.
The pinnacle of this adventure is reaching over 14,000 feet at the summit of Mount Evans. Here, panoramic vistas unfold before your eyes—a reward well worth the drive up. The expansive sky touches rugged peaks while distant cities look minute against the grandeur of Colorado’s Rockies.
- Elevation: Over 14,000 feet
- Wildlife: Mountain goats & bighorn sheep
- Scenery: Panoramic alpine vistas
This scenic byway not only offers visual splendor but also serves as a gateway to understanding high-altitude ecosystems. Visitors gain insights into how plant and animal life adapt to extreme conditions above tree line.
9. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a haven for trekkers of all skill levels, offering a variety of trails that cater to leisurely strolls and adventurous backcountry expeditions alike.
- Easy walks provide families and casual hikers the chance to enjoy the park’s beauty without too much strain.
- For those seeking thrill, challenging routes demand good fitness and navigation skills.
Wildlife enthusiasts can revel in spotting majestic elk, stealthy moose, and other animals roaming freely within their habitat. These encounters offer rare glimpses into the lives of these creatures in the wild.
The park also serves as an escape to serenity with its pristine alpine lakes. Visitors often find peace in these tranquil waters reflecting the sky above.
One cannot miss experiencing the Continental Divide when at Rocky Mountain National Park. This natural phenomenon marks where water flows either towards the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Seasonal changes dramatically transform the park:
- Spring brings blooming flora.
- Summer offers full access to trails.
- Fall dazzles with golden aspen leaves.
- Winter presents snow-capped mountains ideal for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Always check a map before heading out on any trail and keep track of distances measured in kilometers (km). The list of activities available throughout different times of year ensures there’s always something new to discover at Rocky Mountain National Park—making every visit unique.
10. Idaho Springs
After exploring the mountains near Denver, make sure to check out another point of interest in Denver and unwind in the natural hot springs of Idaho Springs. The mineral-rich waters are known for their relaxing properties, providing a serene escape from adrenaline-fueled activities.
The Argo Gold Mine and Mill offers an educational journey into Colorado’s mining era. Visitors can explore the old mine and learn about gold extraction techniques while getting hands-on with historical mining equipment.
Local cuisine is a highlight in Idaho Springs, with Colorado-style pizza as a must-try dish. This unique take on pizza features honey in the crust, adding a sweet twist to savory flavors.
- Relaxation: Soak in soothing hot springs.
- History: Learn at Argo Gold Mine and Mill.
- Dining: Savor Colorado-style pizza.
Idaho Springs presents an appealing blend of relaxation, education, and culinary delights that make it a noteworthy stop after enjoying Denver’s surrounding nature.
Points of Interest Around Denver, Colorado You Don’t Want to Miss
We’ve traversed the prehistoric trails of Dinosaur Ridge, soaked up the natural acoustics at Red Rocks, and paid homage to the Wild West at Buffalo Bill’s final resting place. Our journey continued through the heart of mountaineering history, into the habitats of majestic wildlife, and along the veins of gold rush towns.
We ascended the heights of Mount Evans, rode the rails through mountainous spirals, and breathed in the alpine air of Rocky Mountain National Park. Idaho Springs’ waters whispered tales of rejuvenation as our adventure neared its end.
Let this be just the beginning of your exploration. Venture out to these wonders around Denver and create your own unforgettable memories. Share your stories with us, and let’s inspire a community of explorers together. Ready for your next adventure? Let’s hit the road!