3-day Itinerary in Denver
Explore the best things to do in Paris in 3 days based on recommendations from local experts.
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In 1858, a group of American Indians and settlers struck gold at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Their discovery soon spread back to the East Coast, prompting people to pick up and move west. The site of the original pioneer camp (known back then as Auraria) soon grew into the charming area now known as Larimer Square. Although the city has since expanded, this historic neighborhood remains the heart and soul of the Mile High City, and according to some, it's the place to start your Denver experience. Recent visitors attest that Larimer Square is always buzzing with life, thanks to the area's numerous restaurants, shops and nightlife venues.
Before venturing to Larimer Square, you may want to pay a visit to the Larimer Square website. Here, you'll find a listing of all the local businesses and upcoming events, not to mention maps that can help orient where specific dining, shopping and entertainment options are.
Occupying the block of Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets, Larimer Square can easily be reached on foot from downtown and LoDo. Alternatively, visitors can hop on the Free MallRide, getting off at the 16th Street Mall & Larimer Street stop. You can visit Larimer Square at any time of day, though businesses adhere to their own hours of operation.10 minute walk
- 2#12View all PhotosfreeUnion Station#12 in DenverSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Denver's Union Station is a two for one: it's a working public transit station and a highly praised dining and shopping center. The station was a huge success when it first opened to the public in 1881, providing railroad service until the center of the building caught fire in 1894. The architecture from the 1917 redevelopment remains and today, it's home to an Amtrak hub and a bus concourse. Located in the hip Lower Downtown neighborhood (aka LoDo), with multiple dining options and boutiques, and The Crawford Hotel, Union Station is a newfound entertainment center.
To learn more about the art, history and retail space of the station, as well as the luxury hotel, consider taking a tour. The Crawford Hotel offers tours of Union Station for $20 and the proceeds benefit the hotel's Dollars For Dreams nonprofit partners. The tour culminates at the Terminal Bar for a complimentary drink, so visitors can get the full Union Station experience.
Travelers say the best way to experience Union Station is by relaxing in the comfortable couches and chairs for some people-watching. This pastime has helped the train station earn the nickname of "Denver's living room." Visitors point out that the facilities are very clean for a working transportation terminal, and note that while the station is not as large as train stations in other cities, such as New York and Washington, D.C., it exudes charm. The bars and restaurants can be pricey, though, so travelers suggest grabbing a drink during happy hour.
Union Station is situated in LoDo and about 26 miles west of Denver International Airport; travelers can easily get from the airport to the train station for $9 one-way via the A Line in less than 40 minutes. There is valet parking in a secure lot available on-site and an app that accompanies the service for easy car retrieval. The attraction is also accessible by light rail and it's within walking distance of the 16th Street Mall. For additional information, such as details on shops and eateries, head to the Union Station website.10 minute walk
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The 16th Street Mall is to Denver what Rodeo Drive is to Los Angeles. This mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare, which stretches across the southern end of the LoDo district and bypasses Larimer Square, is lined with a variety of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, making it a popular place to visit at nearly all hours of the day (although some travelers note that the area can feel a bit dicey at night, despite a heavy police presence). Even if you're not looking to give your credit card a workout, recent visitors recommend taking a stroll along the 16th Street Mall, as it leads to some excellent people-watching.
If you're not up for walking, hop aboard the free MallRide shuttle bus, which passes by every few minutes and stops at every street corner. After sundown, you might skip the bus and opt for a horse-and-carriage ride instead. Travelers say this is the place to window-shop, grab a bite to eat and pick up souvenirs.
The 16th Street Mall can easily be reached on foot from downtown and LoDo, or you can hop aboard the MallRide bus from either end of the street. You can access the 16th Street Mall at any time, and there's no entrance fee; however businesses adhere to their own hours of operation.10 minute walk
- 4#13View all Photos#13 in DenverMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
With galleries showcasing more than 70,000 works by famed artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Winslow Homer, the Denver Art Museum houses one of the most impressive collections of art between Chicago and the West Coast. Spread across two buildings, the museum's holdings range from pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary displays with such mediums as painting and sculpture represented. One of the highlights of a visit to the Denver Art Museum is its extensive assembly of western American art, which includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper related to the West going back two centuries.
Past visitors raved about the Denver Art Museum, praising its diverse and varied collections and the museum's ability to appeal to kids through interactive activities. Reviewers also recommend perusing the museum's gift shop for some unique and interesting finds.
You'll find the Denver Art Museum just south of Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, a few blocks from the United States Mint. You can easily walk to the museum from the downtown and LoDo districts; the Nos. 9 and 52 buses both stop nearby. The museum is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., remaining open until 8 p.m. on Friday. General admission costs $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students; children 18 and younger enter for free. Note that entry to special exhibits will cost extra. For more information, visit the Denver Art Museum's website.10-15 minute walk
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Nestled among the contemporary architecture of the Capitol Hill district is the Molly Brown House Museum, an eccentric example of Victorian life and design that no history buff should miss. Once the home of the "unsinkable" Margaret "Molly" Brown (Kathy Bates' character in the film, "Titanic,"), this museum offers a glimpse into Denver's history and the life of one of its most fascinating residents. On a guided tour of the house, you'll learn about Brown's experience aboard the Titanic, as well as her role in the women's suffragette movement and her endeavors in Colorado's mining industry.
Recent travelers described the tour guides as friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about history. Along with the personal history of Brown, you'll also hear about the house's renovations and artifacts.
The Molly Brown House Museum sits in downtown Denver's Golden Triangle area, just a short walk from the State Capitol building and Civic Center Park, or you can hop on bus No. 15. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. From June to August, the museum welcomes guests starting at 9:30 a.m. Tours start every half hour; admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $8 for children ages 6 to 18. To learn more, visit the Molly Brown House Museum website.
- 1#3View all PhotosfreeWashington Park#3 in DenverParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Located south of central Denver, Washington Park is consistently praised by Denverites and visitors alike for its ample facilities and enjoyable atmosphere. Occupying 165 acres, this immense park boasts miles jogging paths, swaths of gardens and, most notably, two massive lakes. Washington Park is a popular weekend hangout spot thanks to the variety of things to do here. You can spend your time simply relaxing on the grass, or you can take advantage of the park's eight tennis courts, boat rentals and Recreation Center, which houses a pool and offers scheduled fitness classes and swim lessons.
Denverites don't hesitate to praise their beloved Washington Park, comparing it to Boston Common or New York City's Central Park. You can get to Washington Park from the downtown area by hopping on the E light rail line. You are welcome to visit Washington Park at any time of day or night, and there's no entry fee; however, different facilities within the park adhere to their own hours of operation and may charge admission. For more information, visit the Washington Park website.10 minutes by car; 20-25 minutes by bike; 20 minutes by bus
- 2#9View all Photos#9 in DenverParks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.10 minutes by car; 20 minutes by bike; 25-30 minutes by bus
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With exhibits featuring everything from dinosaur bones to Egyptian mummies, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science inspires learning in the young and young at heart. This impressive facility houses artifacts pertaining to a variety of scientific areas, including anthropology, zoology, geology, health sciences, paleontology and space science. Some of the more popular displays include the wildlife exhibit, which includes more than 90 habitat scenes containing information on animals from around the world, from Alaska to Australia. Meanwhile, the hands-on Space Odyssey area introduces travelers to the outer reaches of the galaxy and beyond.
Recent travelers raved about the museum, saying that visitors will likely want to devote several hours to half a day to explore the engaging exhibits. They also praise the museum's cafe and gift shop.
Located in City Park, just south of the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is easily accessible via the Nos. 20, 32 and 40 buses. The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission costs $16.95 for adults, $13.95 for seniors and $11.95 for kids ages 3 to 18. The museum also offers daily shows and screenings in its planetarium and IMAX theater; you will have to pay extra to attend. To learn more about what to see and do at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, visit the museum's website.10-15 minute walk; 5 minutes by bike
- 4#5View all Photos#5 in DenverZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Modeled after a Kenyan nature preserve, the Denver Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, including tigers, black rhinos, kangaroos and orangutans. Sprawling across 80 acres of City Park, this impressive facility boasts a number of ways to view our furry, feathered and reptilian friends. Head to Predator Ridge, the recreated African savanna, to see hyenas, lions and African dogs roam, watch monkeys swing from tree branches at Primate Panorama or catch a glimpse of colorful critters like Panamanian golden frogs and green tree pythons at the Tropical Discovery center. You can also overload on cute during a visit to the nursery and take on a ride on the zoo's train and carousel.
While you're here, many travelers highly recommend timing your visit around feeding times, during which staff offers educational lectures about the zoo's residents. Keep in mind that this is a large facility; you'll want to budget plenty of time to see all the animals.
The Denver Zoo is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November through February. Prices vary depending on the season: In the spring, adult admission is $17 and kids (3 to 11) can enter for $12; in the summer and fall, adults pay $20 and kids pay $14; in the winter, adults will pay $15 to get in while kids will be charged $10. The zoo also offers several free admission days, which are listed on the Denver Zoo website. The walk to the zoo from downtown is about 3 miles; consider hopping on the No. 32 bus, which runs through downtown and LoDo into City Park.
- 1#11View all PhotosfreeCoors Brewery#11 in DenverTours, Wineries/Breweries, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDTours, Wineries/Breweries, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Brewing since 1873, Coors has become a Colorado institution worth visiting. "Cold as the Rockies" is a phrase we hear uttered during its commercials, and Golden, Colorado – the home of the beer company located about 15 miles west of downtown Denver – is a great spot for you to test this advertised truth. The brewery invites you to take a free self-guided tour (which should take about 30 minutes) through its facility, offering you the chance to learn more about Coors' malting and brewing processes. You'll also get a quick education on how beer is produced and packaged and find out more about the history of the brew. Once you reach the end of your tour, you can sample some beer in the tasting room.
One aspect of the Coors Brewery tour that visitors especially liked was its kid-friendliness. Youngsters will find the exhibits interesting, and while you're downing a cold brewski, your kids can quench their thirst with some free soft drinks. Just note that you are not allowed to bring any type of backpack, bag or purse with you as you explore the facility.
Reviews were mixed for the tour. Though some loved being able to go at their own pace without having to follow a group, others were disappointed in the absence of in-person guides. Past visitors also warn that you'll likely have to endure a wait to get in.
The brewery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday; tours are not offered on major holidays. During the summer months (June to mid-August), tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. To get to the brewery from downtown Denver, hop aboard the 16L bus, which runs along Colfax Avenue and stops just a few blocks from the brewery's entrance (at the corner of 13th and Ford streets). Visit the brewery's website to learn more about the tours.15-20 minutes by car
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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.
You will need a car to get to Red Rocks Park, which is located about 16 miles west of downtown Denver. In addition to restrooms, there is also a casual restaurant on-site. The park is open every day from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, and admission is free. You also won't have to pay to explore the visitor center, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April through October and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November through March. Concert tickets vary in price depending on demand; for more information on upcoming shows and ticket prices, visit the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre website.20-25 minutes by car
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If you came to Denver to experience the Rocky Mountains, you'll want to reserve a day to take a drive up to Mount Evans. In this instance, it isn't the destination that travelers rave about – it's the journey. To get to Mount Evans, you'll have to hop on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, a two-lane road known as the "road into the sky" because of the nearly 9,000 feet of elevation change. At the Mount Evans peak, drivers will be 14,264 feet above sea level. Along the way, you'll find a number of lookout points from which you can admire the view of the Rockies.
Those who have driven to Mount Evans recommend taking it slow and admiring the scenery, especially around Echo Lake Park. Located about halfway between Idaho Springs and the top of Mount Evans, Echo Lake boasts excellent fishing conditions, as well as picnic facilities and hiking trails. You can also stop by the Denver Botanic Gardens' Mount Goliath location, just beyond Echo Lake. But the views aren't the only reason to take your time along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Recent visitors cautioned others to drive carefully and slowly since there are steep drop-offs; they also recommend dressing in layers as the temperatures fluctuate depending on the elevation.
To start your drive, head west from Denver on Interstate 70 for 32 miles to exit 240 at the town of Idaho Springs. In order to access the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, you will need to pay a $15 fee (vehicles carrying more than 12 passengers will be required to pay more). Hikers, bikers, Federal Recreation Passport holders and those who simply drive to the top and back without stopping will not have to pay. Note that the road is only open to motor vehicle traffic between May and September, though hikers and bikers can access it all year long. Visit the Mount Evans page on the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service website to learn more about the scenic byway.
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