Denver is an awesome city with great people… and even better vibes. It definitely deserves more than just a weekend visit. But no need to fret! If one weekend is all you’ve got – there’s plenty to do that will make you remember Denver forever!
I fell in love with this city – heck, it even made my list of “top 3 cities I’d move to” and I was only there for a little over 24 hours! So here is my take on what you should see, what you should do, and where you should go when making a quick stop at the mile high city.
16th Street Mall
Some may say it’s a tourist trap – and yes, it is filled with tourists but also locals alike. I loved 16th street. It’s different. It’s unique. And we don’t have one of these at home – so yea I enjoyed it. Our hotel was two blocks away – and it was the perfect location. Far away from the crowds, yet close enough to go walking to all the main restaurants and shops.
16th street mall is a mile-long pedestrian paved public walkway.
Lined with cafe’s, restaurants, and shops – it is the perfect place to spend a Denver mid-day afternoon. I personally love all the outdoor seating that is offered to the public; grab a bite at one of the restaurants and sit outside to people watch (or take a breather from all the shopping)! There are free shuttles that ride up and down the mile long street and stop at every intersection – so hop on.. and off.. and on again and explore all 16th street has to offer.
Cost: Free to walk around!
Just a few minutes away on foot from 16th street you’ll find Larimer Square. Very close, yet very different. Whimsically decorated with gas lamps that line the street, you don’t want to miss this sight at night. We stopped here during the day just to take a peak, but this place completely transforms at night. I’d say if you want to party or grab a drink with friends, Larimer Square is the place to do it. This also happens to be Denver’s oldest block – but you wouldn’t know that by it’s look. With trendy boutiques, popular brand name shops, restaurants, fun bars, and nightclubs – this is the place to be on a Friday night or any night actually; we were here on Thursday night and the atmosphere was live!
Cost: Free to walk around!
Visit LODO (lower downtown), Catch a Rockies Game, or Backstage Tour of Coors Field
Catching a baseball game in Coors Field is definitely something you don’t want to miss if you’re in the city while there’s a home game – even if you’re not a fan! The views alone from this stadium are something out of a movie. With backdrop views of the sun setting over the Rocky Mountains– it’ll make this experience worth it alone.
The Rockies are a household name and have a large fan base making game day something to remember. Relatively a new team, there is so much history and loyalty with fans that you feel like the Rockies have been around forever. Not here on game day? No worries..
You can catch a backstage tour of the inside of the stadium! There is a lot of history in Coors Field and you get to hear all about it during this 70-80 minutes tour – and if you’re lucky you get locker room and on-field access. The tour costs $10 per adult, with children and seniors getting a discount. Always check their website first to review any blackout dates or tour limitations.
Cost: Free to walk around LODO
- Adults: $10
- Seniors (55 and older): $8
- Children (12 and under):$7
You can find out more information about game day prices here.
Catch a Broncos Game, Tour the Stadium, or Watch An Away Game at a Sports bar
Tours of Sports Authority Field are available on certain days and last 70-90 minutes on foot. We did not do a tour this time around (we did get to see a small glimpse of it from our hotel window every day). But it is an option that is available to you.
Make sure to check out their site for blackout dates and to reserve your spot. We also didn’t catch any games in the stadium. But we were lucky enough to catch an intense away game one night at a local sports bar! It was definitely a unique experience! Coming from Miami, where you know, football hasn’t been too hot over the past few years, it was nice to experience the local Denver Broncos pride! P.s. They won in overtime so that made the experience that much better! And then they went on to win the Superbowl!
Tour Costs: Adults pay $20. Elderly, children and military pay $15. Children under 5 are free.
Tour The State Capitol and Take a Picture at the Engraved “One Mile Above Sea Level” Step
If you’re anywhere near Denver, you do not want to miss this stop! Located a few minutes away from Downtown Denver, Colorado’s State Capitol is a sight to see. With it’s Corinthian-style architectural design, it stands out from the rest of it’s modern neighbors. The State Capitol is home to the State Legislature and houses the office to the Governor of Colorado.
With over 300,000 visitors anually, this is a very popular destination. Free inside tours are available on certain days and times which allow you to see the House and Senate chambers, as well as several galleries located inside.
This building was constructed in the 1890’s out of Colorado rose onyx, a type of marble that is so rare it is believed that all reserves were used up on the construction of this building alone! From the outside, you will notice the bright gold covered dome – and yes, that is real pure gold. Another unique feature of this building is that is is located a mile above sea level! Here you will find the famous engraved mile marker step that everyone must take a picture at! It is definitely a very popular photo op in Denver.
A little secret about the engraved mile marker –
In 1909, the 15th step was designated as the “one mile above sea level” marker and a brass cap was placed as a symbol. After the brass cap was stolen several times throughout the years, a decision was made to actually engrave the step (the famous engraving we now see). However, in 1969, a discovery was made that this indeed was NOT the one mile above seal level marker and another step was given the designation.
Fast forward to 2003, and once again, guess what? It was found that another mistake had been made! Finally, for now, the 13th step has been designated as the true and correct one mile above sea level marker and a gold official marker has been placed here, 2 steps below the famous engraved words we all take pictures at!
Cost: Tours of the State Capitol are free and so is the photo op!
Stop at the Colorado Convention Center to See The Big Blue Bear
At 40 feet tall, this curious bear has definitely become another Mile High City’s iconic landmark. When you think convention centers you think, boring business meetings, somewhere we don’t want to go anywhere near when touring a town. However, Denver’s convention center has a very different feel to it; And the big blue bear definitely plays a role.
Created by a local artist, Lawrence Argent, his idea was to add something toy-like and playful to the convention center. The idea of a curious bear was born when he saw a photo image of a local bear peering into a window of a house – apparently during a drought some few years ago, bears were wandering into the city! Argent took this idea and twisted it into creating this larger than life innocent looking playful bear. Tourists and locals-alike stop by and make sure to take a photo with the now famous bear!
We did not get to experience the following activities ourselves due to lack of time but they were definitely on my list of things to possibly do and I feel compelled to include them here giving you plenty of options to choose from for your Denver trip!
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Rated “top 3” things to do on Tripadvisor, this is not something you want to miss. The museum is open Monday – Friday from 9am-5pm. If you have children with you on this trip, I would definitely make a stop here a priority. With many exhibits and hands on activities, not only will the kids have fun, adults will too! From exploring the cosmos, learning about gems and minerals, and coming face to face with T-Rex, this will make for a fun family outing on any day. Free days are available throughout the year. Check out more information here.
The Botanic gardens in Denver makes another great stop while in the city. With over 25 acres of garden space, there is a wide variety of plants, flowers and collections from all over the world. You can easily spend 2 – 3 hours here in this enchanted zen-full place. Spring and Summer are probably the most ideal time to come, when the gardens have sprung and are full of life. But Winter also has it’s own magical feel as snow covers the gardens and the festival lights glisten through all the white powder. We were unable to make it out to the gardens this time, but we are making sure to add it to our must do’s for next time! Entrance is $15 for adults – Free days are offered throughout the year so check that out before hand to save on admission. Find out more information here.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
It is said to be the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world. Mother nature was the architect; located outside in the middle of rock formations! Many famed artists have held concerts here from Sting to The Beatles to U2. But this place isn’t just awesome for music – take a stroll in one of the nearby trails or get your heart racing by running up and down the rocky steps, or take in the amazing views from 6450 feet above sea level. Hike, bike, shop, or take a guided tour – there is so much to do here – I can’t believe we missed this place! For more information check out their site – here.
Have you been to any of these places before? Share your experience with us below. Denver locals want to see something else added to the list? Let us know below!!