Denver Botanic Gardens#9 in Best Things To Do in Denver
The Denver Botanic Gardens' 24 acres feature a whopping 50 gardens for visitors to explore. This expansive facility in downtown Denver's Cheesman Park treats travelers to a variety of different environments, from a traditional Japanese garden (complete with bonsai trees) to the South African Plaza blooming with exotic plants like asparagus fern and torch lilies. Meanwhile, art aficionados will also appreciate the gardens thanks to the numerous sculptures that grace the grounds; the facility also plays host to touring exhibits that have included works by such artists as Stephen Talasnik and Dale Chihuly.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by all the gardens have to offer, consider tagging along on a guided tour. Docent-led tours (which cost $14 for non-members) focus both on the flora and the art found throughout the facility. Recent visitors said the gardens are enjoyable no matter the season, describing them as "stunning" and "mesmerizing." They also highly recommend perusing the gift shop.
Throughout the year, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts a variety of festivals, including a summer concert series and a Christmas festival. There is limited free parking available in the garden's parking complex between York and Josephine streets. Street parking is available in Cheesman Park or Congress Park. If you don't have your own set of wheels, you can use RTD routes No. 24 or No. 10 to access the gardens. The Denver Botanic Gardens is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 or 8 p.m., depending on the season; general admission to the gardens costs $12.50 for adults, $9.50 for seniors and $9 for students and children ages 3 to 15 (kids 2 and younger can enter for free). The Chatfield Gardens are also open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., though access will set you back $5 (per vehicle). As for the Mount Goliath location, you can visit whenever the Mount Evans road is open, and you'll need to pay the $10 fee to access the route. To learn more, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens' website.
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#1 Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
With its excellent views of the Rocky Mountains, miles of hiking trails and cinnamon-hued sandstone cliffs, Red Rocks Park is a big draw for outdoors enthusiasts. Occupying 700-some acres, this impressive park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the fascinating geographic transition between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. If you only have a short amount of time here, stretch your legs along the Trading Post Trail; this nearly 1 ½-mile-long path weaves through the rust-colored buttes, making for some spectacular scenery. Before you head out, travelers recommend stopping by the visitor center, which features information on the parks history and trails.
Another big draw is the expansive amphitheater, which has hosted such headliners as the Beatles, Tom Petty and John Denver. You'll soon find (and hear) that the theater – geologically formed by the red rocks – boasts amazing acoustics and an enjoyable atmosphere. But many recent visitors said that no matter the show, the majestic atmosphere makes it a good time. Even if you can't fit a concert into your schedule, many travelers agreed that the theater is worth a stop for the photos alone, while the park's visitor center features displays dedicated to past acts.
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