The Mile High City, so named because it sits at 5,280 feet above sea level or one mile high, Denver has been rocking since the late 1850s, when gold was discovered around Cherry Creek. Today, it is one of America's hottest cities to live and play in and a great place to visit.
ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT IN Denver
1. Enjoy Live Music at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater is about 15 miles from the city center but is well worth the commute as this is the most revered attraction around Denver - and there is a shuttle to get you here should you not have a car. Red Rocks is both a live music venue and a city park owned by Denver. The name comes from the striking red sandstone rock formations found along the trails that also form the walls of the outdoor amphitheater.
The venue attracts major live music talent weekly in season and is most famous for its acoustics. Music buffs will want to stop by the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, which tells the stories of Colorado's music greats.
2. Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science sits in City Park's southeast corner and is one of Denver's top cultural attractions. Among the most notable exhibits are the imposing dinosaur skeletons, remains of Ice Age animals, the collection of minerals presented by the Coors family, and one of the largest nuggets of gold found in Colorado.
The museum features changing exhibitions, so there is always something new to see. An IMAX theater and a Planetarium are also on-site. When you've finished wandering this museum, take time to check out City Park, which is popular with locals, and hosts a free summer jazz concert series.
3. See a Show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts sits on the south side of Larimar Square and is a gigantic cultural center. The center consists of multiple venues, including the Boettcher Concert Hall, Auditorium Theater, and Ellie Caulkins Opera House. If you are looking for things to do in Denver at night, you can usually find something to entertain you here.
A night out at the Center for Performing Arts could mean watching a Broadway Show or enjoying a play or a variety of other performances. This venue hosts all kinds of major events. It is home to the Denver Center Theater Company, the Denver Center Attractions, and the Denver Center Theatre Academy. The center also functions as an educational facility, offering acting classes and programs, as well as professional development opportunities.
4. Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens, first laid out in the late 1950s, is one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States, occupying 23 acres next to Cheesman Park. The garden emphasizes native plants and sustainable, environmentally responsible practices. However, the various gardens display plants from all over the world. There are 43 individual gardens, some of which are laid out in natural landscapes, others of which are in more formal gardens.
Some of the highlights include the Japanese Garden; Marnie's Pavilion with orchids, ferns, and waterfalls; and the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory, with exotic tropical and subtropical species. The Denver Botanic Gardens also hosts special events throughout the year, including concerts that draw in nationally recognized talent.
5. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Kirkland Museum displays a major collection of decorative art from 1880 to 1980. Every major design period is represented, from Arts & Crafts to Pop Art. Regional modernist art, from 1875 to 1980, with a focus on Colorado, is also documented with hundreds of works.
The museum features a retrospective of Colorado's distinguished painter, Vance Kirkland (1904-1981). All three collections are housed in a 1911 Arts & Crafts building, the oldest commercial art building in Denver. Kirkland Museum is a member of Historic Artists' Homes and Studios, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
6. Denver Art Museum
The massive, fortress-like Denver Art Museum has a vast collection, which includes American Indian, African, European, Asian, and Oceanic Art. Collections also include Spanish colonial and pre-Columbian works.
The remodeled Native American galleries are particularly impressive, covering a broad range of cultures and tribes from the United States and Canada. This extensive collection has gained a reputation throughout North America, with pieces that span 2,000 years of history.
7. Take a Tour or See a Game at Coors Field
Coors Field is the home of the Colorado Rockies baseball club. The stadium, which opened in 1995, has a seating capacity of 50,200. From the seats along the 1st base line, it's possible to see the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Tours of the facility are available year-round and are a good way to learn about the stadium and see a bit of the behind-the-scenes action.
Tickets are limited to a certain number each day, so advance purchases are a good idea. Tours last just under 1.5 hours and are accessible to those with disabilities.
8. Denver Zoo
The Denver Zoo is beautifully laid out, with enclosures adapted to different species, from the polar bears' den to monkey island. The zoo was begun in the late 1800s and has a rich history of conservation. Over the years, it has managed to remain one of Denver's most popular tourist attractions.
Exhibits that are sure to delight families with children of all ages include Stingray Cove, where you can pet a stingray as it swims by; the Toyota Elephant Passage, consisting of two miles of trails in a natural habitat featuring African animals; Harmony Hill Bear Habitat, home to the park's resident Grizzly Bear; and The EDGE, an enclosure that lets you get within six inches of two gorgeous Amur Tigers from Siberia.
9. Colorado State Capitol
On a low hill on the east side of Civic Center Park is the classical-style State Capitol, crowned by a gilded dome 250 feet high. From the viewing platform on the drum of the dome there are magnificent views of the city's imposing skyline and the Front Range. The 13th step on the west side of the Capitol is exactly one mile above sea level, thus the name "mile high city."
10. Denver Public Library
Famed architect Michael Graves designed the Denver Public Library, which opened in 1995. The library is noted for its western history and genealogical collections. Outside, the 30-foot-tall, red-orange steel sculpture is often used for reference as a landmark.