Insider tips: Planning a trip to Denver
Known as the Mile High City thanks to its elevation that is exactly one mile (5,280 feet or 1,609.344 meters) above sea level, Denver is the capital city of Colorado and the eastern entrance to the foothills of the soaring Rocky Mountains. There is so much to do in Denver that we enlisted the travel experts at TravelingMom, a leading family travel website, to share their favorite things to do and tips for making the most of a visit, even if you only have a few days. You can read more surprising facts about Denver here.
What should I do on my first trip to Denver?
With its stunning Rocky Mountain views and its downtown skyline, Denver, the capital city of Colorado, is a great place to visit. Take a stroll on the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian walkway, lined with trees, shops, restaurants, and brightly painted pianos, courtesy of local artists. Downtown Denver offers so many kid-friendly experiences, most within walking distance, or short drive away. Our favorites are the Denver U.S. Mint, Downtown Aquarium, and the Denver Firefighters Museum.
What are some hidden gems to see in Denver?
If you're a sports fan, take in a Colorado Rockies home baseball game at Coors Field (April-September season), grab a ballpark hot dog, visit the Dinger's Playground and swing the bat at Kidszone -- it's free. Add a "Behind the Scenes" tour of this classic ballpark in the heart of downtown. Baseball not your thing? Denver has plenty of other options. depending on the season: American football's Denver Broncos, basketball's Denver Nuggets, hockey's Colorado Avalanche, and soccer's Colorado Rapids all call the city home. And of course, include a visit to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum.
How much time should I spend in Denver?
When planning a trip to Denver, we suggest spending at least two nights to see all the top atrractions in downtown. Add another day or two to your stay to explore Denver neighborhoods or the Front Range's top cities, like Golden, Boulder or Colorado Springs. If you plan to explore the nearby Rocky Mountains to play in the snow or enjoy our mountain towns (and you should!) I'd suggest adding at least two more nights.
What food is Denver known for?
Denver's roots are deeply seated in western culture, so many associate Denver's foodie scene with Rocky Mountain Oysters (breaded and deep fried bull testicles) and cuts of prime bison and beef steak. But Denver is much more than that! The Mile High City was named one of 2021’s Best Foodie Cities in America by Wallet Hub -- and there are a lot of reasons why. As a melting pot of cultures, local neighborhoods dish their family recipes, including cuisine from Mexico, India, Thailand, Italy, and more.
What is the best way to get around Denver?
Transportation in Denver is dependent on where you're based and where you want to go. If you stay in or near downtown Denver, the most affordable and convenient option is walking. Taxis, Uber and Lyft are also convenient options. Fortunately, Denver also offers a public Light Rail system, which is the easiest and cheapest way to get to downtown Denver from Denver International Airport, as well as many of the city's neighborhoods. However, if you want to include a visit into the foothills or Rocky Mountains -- and you should! -- renting a car is your best option.
What are the best months to visit Denver?
Denver basks in the sunshine 245 days a year, so pick a season and chances are good you'll enjoy that Mile High sunshine. During winter, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains are stunning and there are loads of ski and snowboarding options. But the absolute best times to visit Denver are April and May. Our spring is colorful and the mountain air is crisp. The fall, September to October, offers the chance for leaf-peeping and still-warm weather. Denver is a city that likes to celebrate with cool events year-round starting in January with the National Western Rodeo and Stockshow, St. Patrick's Day Parade in March, Colorado Rockies basebal opening day in April, Denver Beer Fest in October, and the Parade of Lights in December.
What is Washington Park known for?
Whether your visit is family-centric or couples, you'll want to include a visit to Washington Park, running north to south from around Speer Boulevard to I-25. This continues to be named as one of the best places to live. Its namesake, Wash Park, highlights what the Mile High City is known for -- its amazing outdoors. This urban oasis features lush grass, colorful flower grandens, and multiple lakes for kayaking, paddleboating, and yes even fishing. Check out the surrounding track for running, walking or biking. Bring a picnic, let the kids romp in a nearby playground, and people watch from its expansive lawns.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
Downtown's historic Larimer Square is the perfect setting to experience Denver's food scene. Start with Rioja, the Spanish- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine by Chef-owner Jennifer Jasinski, of James Beard Foundation fame. The nearby south-of-the-border themed cuisine (and tequila!) of Tamaya, restaurant of chef celeb Richard Sandoval and the roof-top patio is worth the wait. The Uptown neighborhood features a wider variety of restaurants, sure to please all palates, ranging from American diners to farm-to-table chefs.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Known as the ultimate shopping mecca, if you think it, the Cherry Creek neighborhood will fulfill your shopping wish list. Browse its more than 160 shops, boutiques and restaurants (for when you need to rest your wearing shopping feet). For those with a luxury budget, check out the 40 exclusive stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Denver?
The Union Station neighborhood is a bustling hub of activity, with a prime location next to RTD's Light Rail, Denver's public train transportation. Located in the heart of downtown Denver is the recently renovated train station. Inside Union Station, discover 10 chef-owned restaurants and bars, boutiques and the 112-room Crawford Hotel. Steps away is the new Dairy Block and McGregor Square neighborhoods, featuring even more hotels, restaurants, shops, and Coors Field.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Denver?
Discover the Mile High City's largest outdoor space, the tree-lined City Park neighborhood, with miles of jogging and biking trails – and the best sunset over downtown Denver with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop! This is also home to two of the the city’s most popular family-friendly attractions: Denver Zoo, home to more than 4,000 animals, and Denver Museum of Nature & Science with its T-Rex life-size displays, IMAX and planetarium shows.