Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center
Located just minutes away from Denver International Airport the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center offers more than 1,300 guest rooms, a stunning indoor/outdoor water park, eight restaurants, a spa, and tons of entertainment and special events, making it a great home base or jumping-off point for your Colorado adventure.
Originally published in 2017 Carrie Taylor contributed additional reporting.
Discover The Dairy Block
Every town has its coolest neighborhood. You know the one. A quirky, creative area full of art galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, performance venues, and nightlife. Here in Denver, its LoDo. And LoDo’s own hippest area is known as The Dairy Block once a producer of milk and cheese, and now a reliable purveyor of fun and good times. Our neighborhood cultural hub is home to fantastic restaurants, unbeatable shopping, fantastic pubs and taverns, and of course The Maven. Youll find no end of great things to see and do all winter long by just stepping out our front door, picking a direction, and exploring. Eat, sip and explore your way through Dairy Block, with our Taste of Dairy Block experience.
Swim With Sharks At Downtown Aquarium
There are more than 15,000 fish, mammals and plants at the Downtown Aquarium and you can do more than gaze at them through the glass. Pet stingrays as they glide past you in the touch tank, or dive in and snorkel or scuba alongside giant groupers, Moray eels, guitar fish, sand tiger sharks and green sea turtles.
Downtown Aquarium has immersive adventures literally. You can dive with the sharks or pet a stingray.
Urban and nature come together at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
A network of trails wind in and around the slanting rock formations at Red Rocks.
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Test Your Stamina At The Manitou Incline
If you consider yourself an experienced hiker, you might consider taking your hike to new heights at the Manitou Incline. This .88-mile trail is known for its intense incline, with an average grade of 24 degrees and a grade as steep as 68 percent in some places. In fact, the incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile!
Go Back In Time At An Arcade
Maybe youre the type who prefers a little old-school amusement? Retro arcades are making a comeback throughout Colorado. From penny arcades for the kiddos to arcade bars catering to an older crowd, plenty of nostalgia awaits.
- With multiple locations in the Denver area, The 1Up Arcade Bar serves up wall-to-wall classics along with cocktails and food for a trip down memory lane.
- Just north of the city in Louisville, Tilt Pinball combines a vintage video arcade with comedy, trivia contests, live music, food, drinks and more for a rousing time with your group. Games dating back to the 1950s through today are constantly rotating on the floor, so theres always something new to discover.
- Traveling further back in time, the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade offers hundreds of classic pinball and arcade games. Some date back to the 1930s and some, sure enough, still cost just a cent to play.
- The Flipside in Loveland offers a full range of arcade games in a lounge environment seven nights a week, although popular Free Play Mondays give you unlimited games all night with just a $10 cover.
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Stroll Around Denver Botanical Gardens
Denver Botanical Gardens is a great place to relax, stroll around and to be surrounded by colorful vegetation! The gardens are gorgeous all year round, and make for a perfect family outing!
Conservation is a high priority for the curators who work tirelessly to provide conditions favorable for endangered plants, and natural habitats for vulnerable animal species. The gardens provide a wide range of settings from a tropical biosphere to a Japanese garden complete with pond and lily pads.
If you spend a few hours browsing all the lovely areas , be sure to pack a light picnic or something to snack on. Alternatively, you can enjoy a meal at one of two great restaurants!
Books To Read In Denver
The Backpacker Bible Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building an online income.
Sometimes a Great Notion A tale of a hardheaded Oregonian logging family that goes on strike, leading the town to drama and tragedy. Written by PNW legend, Ken Kesey.
Walden The transcendental masterpiece by Henry David Thoreau that helped modern Americans rediscover nature and her beauty. The book is set on the east coast, but it can certainly teach thing or two about enjoying nature in Colorado.
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Best Experiences In Denver For Kids
We know you used to enjoy exploring town at your leisure, but lets be realistic and accept that youre with kids and kids need a plan. Put down their tech devices and plan a few special experiences that are unique to Denver. Everything from hiking the rockies to a night-time astronomy tour to an alpaca encounter can be booked beforehand.
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ACTIVE is the leader in online event registrations from 5k running races and marathons to softball leagues and local events. ACTIVE also makes it easy to learn and prepare for all the things you love to do with expert resources, training plans and fitness calculators.
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Redline Contemporary Art Center
This remarkable contemporary arts center has a huge gallery space where work by emerging Coloradan artists is exhibited year-round. Fifteen artists in residence are hosted by RedLineeach year, their studio space lining the gallery. Open to the public, it provides an opportunity for visitors to watch works of art being created.
RedLine has two main exhibition spaces: the Exhibition Hall and the Project Space. It holds various events to promote community engagement, both inside and outside the center, with a focus on positive social change.
Walk The Cherry Creek Trail
While Denver is home to some impressive national parks and nearby mountains for hiking, one of the best walks to enjoy is right in town. The 42-mile track starts in downtown Denver and winds its way through urban areas, the middle of town, by prairie grasslands and finishes up at Franktown, meandering alongside Cherry Creek.
You can jog, cycle, run, or simply stroll any section of the path and enjoy the changing sights and terrain along the way. In the middle it passes Cherry Creek Reservoir. Cherry Creek joins with the South Platte River at Denvers Confluence Park in LoDo. Its a popular summer park to beat the heat with kayaking or tubing.
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Things To Do In Colorado In The Winter
56. Climb Ice
Rock climbers looking for a new challenge, or anyone looking for a unique winter adventure will find their answer at the Ouray Ice Park. Use of the park is free, with gear rentals and lessons available through independent outfitters and guides .280 Co Rd 361, Ouray
57. Participate in the Frozen Dead Guy Days
Attend one of the worlds best festivals right here in Colorado: Frozen Dead Guy Days. A three-day celebration of the life of Grandpa Bredo, who is kept on dry ice in a Nederland CO shed. With coffin races, parades, and a human Foosball game, this 3-day long festival held in early March encourages spectator participation.Nederland CO
58. Have an Old-Fashioned Mountain Christmas
The setting of John Denvers The Christmas Gift is filled with the holiday spirit each year, complete with chestnuts roasting on an open fire. This free event in Georgetown CO is held over two weekends in December. Click here for Georgetown Christmas Market dates and the schedule of events.Georgetown CO
59. Ski Like the Locals
One of the most popular things to do in Colorado in the winter is to spend a day skiing at any of the world-famous ski resorts. Many know the biggest resorts in Vail, Aspen, and Telluride, but local ski areas are often overlooked. Enjoy the best of Colorado skiing with fewer crowds, lower lift ticket prices, and shorter walks from the car to the lift. Eldora Mountain Arapahoe Basin Ski Cooper
60. Summit the Mountain on a Snowmobile
61. Sled with the Dogs
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
For many people, visiting Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is reason enough for a trip to Colorado. Set between 400ft-high red sandstone rocks 15 miles southwest of Denver, the 9000-seat theater offers stunning views and draws big-name bands all summer. When the setting sun brings out a rich, orange glow from the rock formations and the band on stage launches into the right tune, it’s a captivating experience, wholly befitting the parks 19th-century name, Garden of Angels.
Red Rocks Park can be almost as entertaining when its silent. The amphitheater is only a tiny part of the 600-acre space and is open during the day for free. Miles of hiking trails provide opportunities to lose the crowds and take in lovely rock formations. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame is worth a visit and is accessible from the parking lot.
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Childrens Museum Of Denver At Marsico Campus
At Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, you can do it all. Whether youre navigating through a 3 ½ story climber, stepping inside a 6-foot bubble, sculpting a clay masterpiece or powering a hot balloon, there is always something new to explore. Every day, our expertly designed exhibits and programs encourage kid-powered learning and open doors for Colorado’s curious young minds to express what they know and to discover, create and explore more – on their own terms.
Cross The Continental Divide At Rocky Mountain National Park
Located 71 miles northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 415 square miles of scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world, which crosses the Continental Divide at over two miles above sea level. The park has two information centers, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. Estes Park is a resort town on the edge of the park with restaurants and shops and the historic Stanley Hotel.
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See A Show At The Bluebird
The Bluebird is a quaint, historic theater situated on Colfax near City Park. It was designed and built in 19131914 as Thompson Theater and renamed the Bluebird Theater in 1922. The space is currently used as a live music venue, attracting a variety of musical groups and musicians from around the globe.
Go To A Beer Festival
Denver hosts a number of world-renowned beer festivals, the most famous of which is the Great American Beer Festival. Add that three-day festival to your calendar, or try another one like Beer Festivus, Collaboration Fest, Belgian Brew Fest and more, featuring local and foreign businesses like Sambla that attend.
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Make A Stop At Union Station Denver
No, were not suggesting you hop on a train and leave town, Denvers Union Station is a popular tourist attraction in itself. The station building first opened in 1881 and has since undergone major renovations to become the beautiful structure it is today. Along with a historic terminal building, the station also features a grand hotel and several restaurants and retailers.
A walk through this marvelous building will be especially pleasing for architecture buffs and admirers as Beaux-arts, classical revival and Romanesque revival styles are on show. But thats not all, its also a great place to sip on some craft beer, enjoy a delicious meal or people-watch in a beautiful space!
Admire The Street Art Of The Santa Fe Arts District
Photo: Robin Kanouse
Art for All is the districts slogan, and the area features galleries, cultural events and exhibitions showcasing hundreds of artists. But while many of the art features are behind the closed doors of ticketed galleries, theres plenty of street art in the district that you can admire, completely free of charge.
Speaking of free art, theres also the First Friday Art Walk, a free shuttle gallery tour every first Friday of the month at 5:30pm, stopping off at different galleries that open their doors and welcome visitors as part of the tour.
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Tea Time At Celestial Seasonings
Photo: Amy the Nurse
If you love your tea, then a trip to nearby Boulder should be on your itinerary for a free tour of renowned tea company Celestial Seasonings.
Learn everything about the process of creating tea, from the raw ingredients used to how the product is packaged and shipped, on the free 45-minute tour through the factory. Not only is the tour free, but complimentary samples of the delicious teas are offered throughout as well, so its win-win!
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At Hammonds Candy Factory
If you have a sweet tooth, or a general interest in the production of candy, then get down to Hammonds Candy Factory! The candy store provides complimentary factory tours that are educational and fun for candy lovers of all ages.
Hammonds has welcomed thousands of visitors from all over the world and demonstrated how the well known handcrafted candy canes, lollipops and ribbon candy are pulled, twisted, and shaped by hand the way it used to be in 1920! And best of all, youll get free samples of the finest candy at the end!
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Eat At A Frank Bonanno Restaurant
You may have already checked this one off your list and didnt even know it. Thats because culinary mastermind Frank Bonanno has his hand in a variety of projects across the city. In fact, he is behind ten of Denvers finest dining and drinking establishments, including Mizuna, Osteria Marco, Luca, Bones, Salt & Grinder, Green Russell, Russells Smokehouse, Vesper Lounge, Wednesdays Pie and French 75.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Watch animals roam at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, which is one of the only facilities of its kind in the United States where you can see animals living in an open, natural habitat. The 789-acre sanctuary is home to more than 450 rescued lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores, including many animals seized from Joe Exotic and other Tiger King “stars.”
Take a trip through the rapids with Clear Creek Rafting Co.
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Visit Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum
Wings Over the Rockies
The Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum is a museum that will fascinate all aircraft fans and their families. Housed in a 1930s former Air Force hangar, this museum has a truly awesome collection of close to 50 aircraft and space vehicles.
Some of the main attractions in the collection included rare aircrafts, such as a B-18A Bolo, an RF-84K Thunderflash Parasite, an Alexander Eaglerock built in Colorado and a Star Wars X-Wing fighter. There is also a WWII uniform collection and aviation art on the former site of Lowry Air Force Base.
Bowl A Strike At Punch Bowl Social
In the mood to go bowling? Play some arcade games? Grab a drink? Play shuffleboard? Sing karaoke? Eat dinner? Well, you can do all of the above and more at Punch Bowl Social, an exciting destination in Denvers urban core. Formerly housing a general store, this 27,000-square-foot facility is filled with excitement, whether its time for brunch or a late-night drink.
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Colorado River Whitewater Rafting
You cant visit Colorado without taking a whitewater rafting trip. From May to September, Geo Tours provides access, gear and guides who take you down Class IV rapids. The companyin operation since 1981shuttles you to and from parts of the Colorado River, Arkansas River and Clear Creek, depending on how far you want to raft. It also organizes overnight trips and inflatable kayaking if youd like a multi-day excursion.
Getting There: Take Highway 6 West to 470 South for 17 miles to Geo Tours in Morrison base for free transportation to rafting locations.
3. Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
See Large Carnivores At Wild Animal Sanctuary
Lions and tigers and bears oh my! Visit The Wild Animal Sanctuary, a 720-acre rescue and educational facility located just 30 miles outside of Denver, where more than 350 animals rescued from dire situations now roam free. It’s one of the only places in America where you can see lions, wolves and other large carnivores living in natural habitats, and you get to view it all from the “Mile Into the Wild” elevated walkway.
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Check Out Broncos Stadium At Mile High
The Mile High Stadium is home to NLF outfit, the Denver Broncos! Attending a Broncos game is a great experience for all ages, but if you cant make a game theres always an opportunity to take a tour of the stadium.
Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most state-of-the-art stadiums in North America! While being guided around the stadium, youll get to see the executive suites, the NFL visiting team locker room facilities, Thunder Stall, Keg Room and the entrance tunnel to the field!