Located at the base of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Denver is the gateway to adventure in the West. But this charming mid-sized destination — nicknamed the Mile High City for its elevation at 5,280 feet above sea level — is worth exploring in its own right. From pioneering craft breweries to an open-air amphitheater built into craggy rock formations, below are some of the best ways to immerse yourself in all this high-altitude city has to offer.
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- How to get around Denver
- The best museums in Denver
- The best live entertainment in Denver
- The best restaurants in Denver
- The best breweries and bars in Denver
- Where to watch live sports in Denver
- Where to stay in Denver
How to get around Denver
With an abundance of transportation options and miles of interconnected walking and biking paths, it’s easy to get around the Mile High City.
Denver is highly walkable, especially the car-free 16th Street Mall, so getting around on your own two feet is an invigorating way to explore. And if your legs get tired, the 16th Street Mall also has a free electric shuttle that runs up and down the one-mile pedestrian promenade, which is lined with shops and restaurants.
Though parking can be tight in some neighborhoods, it’s also possible to drive, take a taxi or hop inside a ride-share vehicle. Many visitors rent a car at Denver International Airport (DIA), which not only makes it easy to get around the city but also to venture into the mountains for even more adventures.
Denver has a robust public transit system managed by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). If you don’t rent a car, hop aboard the A Line train at the airport, then take it all the way to Union Station, which is a hub for many transit routes. Buses also run all over the metro area (and beyond) at nearly all times of the day.
This is an active city with a vibrant bike culture. Ride in designated on-street bike lanes throughout the city and on more than 850 miles of paved trails. Bring your own or rent a bike through a bike-share program for quick, short treks. You can also hop on and off motorized scooters throughout downtown, as long as you ride on the road.
The best museums in Denver
Denver is brimming with arts, culture, and history, much of which reflects the city’s unique setting and significance in the American West. Visit these institutions for a glimpse of some of the best collections.
Denver Art Museum
With more than 70,000 works, the Denver Art Museum — or DAM, for short — is one of the largest museums of its kind between California and Chicago. It dates back to 1893, when a group of Colorado artists founded the Denver Artists’ Club to raise the status of the burgeoning city’s art scene. Today, the museum not only showcases works from Denver and the Rockies, but also from artists around the world. Its global collection encompasses photography, fashion, Asian art, architecture, design, African art, and works representing many other styles, eras, and geographies.
Where: 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
History Colorado Center
Step back in time and learn about the moments, people, and places that helped shape the Centennial State with a visit to the History Colorado Center. With 15 exhibits spanning four floors, this interactive museum encourages visitors to contemplate timely topics like LGBTQ+ civil rights and equality, Colorado’s precious natural resources, and the culture and language of the Ute Tribes.
Where: 1200 N Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
The best live entertainment in Denver
Musicians, artists, and performers of all genres have long looked to Colorado’s majestic landscape for inspiration. That’s a big reason Denver’s music, theater, dance, and comedy offerings are so extensive — see (and hear) for yourself at one of the city’s performing arts venues.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
It’s one of the most iconic spots in Denver: An outdoor performing arts venue, created from natural sandstone formations protruding from the earth. Set on 743 acres of wilderness at 6,450 feet of elevation, the amphitheater has hosted a variety of rock stars over the course of its 81-year history — from The Beatles to U2 to Sting. The city and county of Denver owns and operates Red Rocks, which has a packed events calendar. During the day, it’s a hub for yogis and fitness fanatics, who like to run, jump, and squat up and down the 70 rows of wooden benches. At night, it’s a magical place to take in live music while gazing at the city lights of Denver beyond the stage.
Where: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465
Denver Center for Performing Arts
Catch a serious Shakespeare play, a lively musical, or an inspiring symphony concert at the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA). Located right downtown and with nine distinct venues offering live performances all year long, the DCPA is the city’s artistic heart.
Where: 1301 13th St. Denver, CO 80204
The best restaurants in Denver
Creative and diverse, Denver’s dining scene reflects the growth and energy of this bustling city. From upscale Italian to innovative new American, get a taste of the Colorado capital city’s penchant for bold flavors and warm hospitality at these top restaurants.
This is no ordinary ramen shop: At Uncle, which has two locations in the city, chef-owner Tommy Lee puts his own spin on the brothy Japanese staple. In addition to traditional specialties like duck, shoyu, and chicken, Uncle also offers brothless ramen, northern Thai curry broth, and an array of innovative Pan-Asian bites, like Chinese eggplant buns and short-rib panang.
Where: 2215 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 and 95 S Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80209
With a bright, modern design that’s reminiscent of a home dining room, Tavernetta offers elegant but unfussy Italian fare like gnocchi with wild mushrooms, grilled whole sea bass, spaghetti pomodoro, and grass-fed beef carpaccio. And be sure to save room for a sweet treat at the end of your meal — Tavernetta’s decadent tiramisu or its flaky plum crostata, served with sweet cream gelato, are worth lingering over.
Where: 1889 16th St Mall, Denver, CO 80202
The Fifth String
With his farm-to-table restaurant The Fifth String, chef-owner Amos Watts shines a light on Colorado’s abundant seasonal produce and many hardworking farmers and ranchers. This neighborhood eatery in the city’s Lower Highlands, or LoHi, neighborhood serves up melt-in-your-mouth cuts of beef from Shavano Valley Ranch, such as dry-aged striploin and wagyu carpaccio. And even if bread before a meal isn’t really your thing, we recommend the tallow candle bread service, which includes an edible candle made of rendered beef fat with salt and herbs.
Where: 3316 Tejon St #102, Denver, CO 80211
Work & Class
Multi-time James Beard semifinalist Dana Rodriguez has a lot going on: In addition to Work & Class, she also runs Cantina Loca and Super Mega Bien — and, soon, she’ll be reopening the iconic Denver restaurant, Casa Bonita with a reinvigorated menu. At Work & Class, Rodriguez skillfully blends Latin and American flavors into scrumptious dishes, like coriander-roasted Colorado lamb and spiced fried sweet plantains.
Where: 2500 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
With Annette, Caroline Glover has created a warm, welcoming neighborhood spot deserving of national attention. In 2022, she won a James Beard Award for best chef in the mountain region. And after spending an enchanting evening at her five-year-old restaurant, you’ll understand why. Glover and her team transform fresh, wholesome ingredients into simple, perfectly prepared dishes like sunchoke gratin, roasted half chicken, and a must-order burger made with wagyu beef, special “chow chow” sauce, sour pickles, roasted garlic aioli, and cheddar, all served atop a homemade English muffin.
Where: 2501 Dallas St, Aurora, CO, 80010
The best breweries and bars in Denver
Home to more than 100 craft breweries and a variety of bars, Denver promises to quench your thirst — no matter your drink of choice. Sip a flight of hoppy IPAs, unwind with a bottle of pét-nat, or indulge with a perfectly balanced crack cocktail at one of these top Denver breweries and bars.
This award-winning brewery in southeast Denver is a must-visit for craft beer aficionados and beginners alike. With massive glass-paned garage doors flooding the tasting room with natural light, Comrade is an ideal spot to spend an afternoon sipping the hoppy Superpower IPA, the refreshing Yellow Card blonde ale, or the perfectly balanced REDCON red ale — better yet, get a taster flight so you don’t have to choose.
Where: 7667 E Iliff Ave. Ste F, Denver, CO 80231
With edgy, industrial interior design and outdoor seating in a graffiti-clad alley, Noble Riot is the perfect introduction to Denver’s River North Art District, aka RiNo. Here, husband-and-wife duo Scott and Nicole Mattson, along with business partner Troy Bowen, have created a comfy-cozy retreat where wine is infinitely approachable and the service is never pretentious. Impeccable vibes aside, the wine list is also impressive — the Noble Riot team’s vast knowledge of organic, biodynamic, wild fermented, and otherwise “natural” wines makes it easy to go with a staff recommendation every time.
Where: 1336 27th St, Denver, CO 80205
Room for Milly
Inspired by world-traveling socialite Milly Parker, Room for Milly is a cozy, elegant spot to linger over a drink and forget about the outside world for a while. Elegant cocktails like the Douglas — made with fino sherry, gin, salted thyme honey, and olives — pair perfectly with inventive small plates like tuna tartare and roasted mushroom hummus.
Where: 1336 27th St, Denver, CO 80205
The Beer Spa
Part tasting room, part day spa, The Beer Spa seamlessly combines this beloved fermented beverage with spa treatments into one soothing experience. The Beer Spa has a rotating selection of local craft beers (plus wines, ciders, kombuchas, and zero-proof drinks) on tap, which visitors can sip to their hearts’ content before, during, and after their spa experiences. With an insulated mug full of beer, spa-goers head to their pirate “beer therapy” room for a sweat session in an infrared sauna, followed by a soak in a bubbly tub infused with hops, barley, and herbs. There are also zero-gravity massage chairs for even deeper relaxation.
Where: 3004 N Downing St., Denver, CO, 80205
Where to watch live sports in Denver
As a metro area with roughly three million residents, Denver has a seriously impressive professional sports scene. It’s home to the Denver Broncos football team, the Colorado Rockies baseball team, the Colorado Avalanche hockey team, the Denver Nuggets basketball team, the Colorado Rapids soccer team, and the Colorado Mammoth lacrosse team, plus a handful of college sports programs, too. Whether you’re a diehard fan or more of a casual observer, you can’t go wrong spending an afternoon or evening at one of these top Denver sports venues.
Pull on a purple shirt and catch a baseball game at Coors Field, the home stadium of Colorado’s MLB team, the Rockies. Located in the heart of Denver in the city’s popular Lower Downtown neighborhood, the 76-acre ballpark also hosts outdoor concerts, movie nights, firework shows, and other special events. Pro tip: Try to snag a seat right of the field, where you’ll have unmatched views of the Rocky Mountains (and if you attend an evening game, you’ll be able to watch the sun dip behind the iconic peaks, too).
Where: 2001 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205
Empower Field at Mile High
Home to the Denver Broncos, Colorado’s pro football team, Empower Field at Mile High is a fun, centrally located spot to join a tailgate, watch a game or attend one of the city’s many festivals and events. Built in 2001, this sunny stadium in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood can accommodate more than 76,000 cheering fans — ideally, all proudly wearing Broncos’ blue and orange — on game day.
Where: 1701 Bryant St, Denver, CO 80204
Where to stay in Denver
Denver’s lodging options run the gamut from luxurious and swanky to trendy and comfortable. For a great night’s sleep in the Mile High City, book a room at one of these Denver hotels.
Conveniently located just steps from the Colorado Convention Center, Le Méridien lends an air of French sophistication to the downtown Denver scene. With bright and airy rooms, modern decor, and a cosmopolitan vibe, Le Méridien is ideal for a romantic getaway or a festive girls’ weekend. Aesthetics aside, Le Méridien is home to some of the best bars and restaurants in Denver. At Corinne, executive chef Jose Rodriguez prepares elegant New American cuisine, with dishes like chile-glazed organic chicken and spicy tuna bruschetta letting fresh and local ingredients shine through. Take the elevator to the rooftop and grab a drink at 54thirty, Denver’s highest open-air rooftop bar — and, if you can, be sure to time your visit with the sunset.
Where: 1475 California St, Denver, CO 80202
Clayton Members Club & Hotel
Now open in Denver’s upscale Cherry Creek neighborhood, Clayton Members Club & Hotel is an ideal spot to lay your head after a day of brewery-hopping, hiking, and sightseeing. It’s part hotel, part private members club, which means you can casually hobnob with Denver residents during your stay. In addition to a gorgeous rooftop pool and restaurant, the hotel has a private eatery that’s open only to guests and members, as well as a Mediterranean-inspired full-service restaurant called Kini’s.
Where: 233 Clayton St, Denver, CO 80206
This boutique Denver hotel is part of Dairy Block, a historic section of the city’s Lower Downtown neighborhood. For years, the site housed the historic 1920s-era Windsor Dairy, which provided milk to some of Denver’s most prominent families. Today, it’s been lovingly transformed into an energetic micro-district, complete with bars, restaurants, shops, a coworking space, and plenty of spots to lounge or work. Guests who stay at the artfully designed Maven have a front-row seat to it all.
Where: 1850 Wazee St, Denver, CO 80202
For longer stays in Denver, book into CatBird, which is on a mission to revolutionize extended-stay hotels. Taking a page from the vanlife and tiny house movements, CatBird’s rooms are cleverly designed to maximize space — complete with lofted beds, projector screens, mini-kitchens, and other efficient and adorable design elements. Its rooftop bar, the Red Barber, also offers sweeping views of the city’s skyline.
Where: 3770 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205