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Headed to Colorado and planning to base out of Denver? There are so many places to visit near Denver Colorado and within the city itself. We lived there for five years and still didn’t make a dent. Here is a giant list of all of our personal recommendations as well as places still on our list!

Denver is one of our favorite cities in the United States, especially because of its proximity to so many great outdoor activities and epic adventures. Plus, the Mile High City is one of the best places to grab a beer and delicious food – especially if you love a good hipster hangout.

Downtown Denver, Colorado

There is something for everyone in and around Downtown Denver. From great places to enjoy art or history to gorgeous outdoor places, and (of course!) delicious and unique places to eat, drink, and have a fun night out! The 16th Street Mall is the most well-known area that has a ton to do and see in a small area. The iconic Union Station is nearby and actually is a direct line to the Denver International Airport via light rail, if you don’t want to have to drive!

Denver Botanic Gardens

Top Activities in Downtown Denver:

  1. Denver Botanic Gardens (our favorite place to go!)
  2. Union Station & Larimer Square for great food and drinks in a cool atmosphere
  3. Go to MeowWolf for an Other-Worldly Adventure
  4. Enjoy some Roller Coasters at Elitch Gardens Theme Park
  5. Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret (fun late-night entertainment for adults)
  6. Explore Local Museums, including the Denver Art Museum, Space Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the Molly Brown House Museum.
  7. Watch a Colorado Rockies Baseball Game at Coors Field
  8. Walk Up the Many Steps of the Colorado State Capitol
  9. Visit the U.S. Mint to See How Money is Made
  10. Stroll Down 16th Street Mall for Shopping, Food, and Fun
  11. Check for Local Special Events and Art Exhibits
  12. If visiting during the holidays, visit the Christmas Market and outdoor ice skating rink

East of Metro Denver, Colorado (Near the Airport) – 30 minutes away

If you go east of Denver out toward the Denver International Airport, you’ll see more wide-open areas, plains, and farmlands. However, there are still some great places to visit out that way also!

rocky mountain arsenal denver view with prairie dog

Top Activities East of Metro Denver:

  1. Visit Rocky Mountain Arsenal to see bison and other wildlife
  2. Broken Shovels Farm to support their mission and maybe even snuggle goats
  3. The Wild Animal Sanctuary to see rescued wildlife in a safe place
  4. Wander around Barr Lake State Park

West of Metro Denver, Colorado (Arvada, Golden, and Morrison) – 30-45 minutes away

Heading West of Denver takes you toward the gorgeous mountains Colorado is known for. There are tons of hikes, interesting old-west activities, great small towns with awesome breweries, and even places to see dinosaur footprints!

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Top Activities West of Denver:

  1. Go on the North Table Mountain Hike for views of Denver and the mountains
  2. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater for hiking, concerts, and summer movies
  3. Go to Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison to see dinosaur bones and footprints!
  4. Drive, Bike, or Hike Up Lookout Mountain in Golden
  5. Take Golden’s Coors Brewery Tour
  6. Go to Roxborough State Park to Admire the Red Rock Formations
  7. Visit the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
  8. Go to Black Hawk and Central City for Gambling

North Denver, Colorado (Westminster, Louisville, Broomfield & Lafayette) – 20-40 minutes away

This is the area we chose to live in when we were Coloradans because it just has so much to offer without being too close to the hectic city traffic! It’s not in the mountains or in the city, but there are still some great hikes in the foothills and fun to be had!

standley lake westminster

Top Activities North of Denver:

  1. Paddleboarding in Westminster on Standley Lake
  2. Go to Downtown Louisville & Lafayette for Great Food, Drinks & Atmosphere
  3. Visit the Westminster Butterfly Pavilion
  4. Go Hiking or Bicycling at Marshall Mesa
  5. Brewery Hop in Louisville & Lafayette (go see our friends at Crystal Springs!)
  6. Golf at Indian Peaks Golf Course
  7. Take Your Pup to the Westminster Hills Dog Park
  8. Bicycle on Coal Creek Trail
  9. Go to the Westminster Promenade for food and fun
    • Games at Dave & Buster’s
    • Bowling and mini golf at Fat CatsIce
    • Skating at ICE Centre
    • Movies at AMC
  10. Go Skating in Winter in Louisville

Read more about visiting Westminster in this blog post.

Boulder, Colorado – 30 minutes away

Ahhh Boulder. I worked in downtown Boulder, Colorado, on the iconic Pearl Street for about a year. And I spent every dollar of my paycheck going out to eat (and maybe sneak in a few drinks) on long lunches with my bestie who worked up the road. When we were feeling more ambitious, we’d take a long walk along Boulder Creek and then sit down for a picnic instead.

boulder flatirons hike in colorado

Top Activities in Boulder:

  1. Hike Mount Sanitas or Settler’s Park (easier) for Great Sunset Views
  2. Eat at as Many of the Fantastic Restaurants as Possible
  3. Go Brewery or Bar Hopping
    • Oskar Blues – iconic brewery and Colorado Staple
    • License No.1 Liquor Bar – speakeasy, moody feel
    • West Flander’s Brewery – great Belgian-style beers
    • Rayback Collective – fun spot with rotating taps and food trucks
    • Press Play Bar – cheap drinks and pinball
    • Finkel & Garf – unique beer flights paired with your favorite junk food
    • Red Stone Meadery – unique honey wine tastings
    • Avery Brewing Company – large brewery
  4. Stroll Along Boulder Creek or Tube Down It
  5. Go to Boulder Reservoir for Stand-Up Paddleboarding or lounging on the “beach”
  6. Wander Pearl Street for Shopping and People Watching
  7. Ride at Valmont Bike Park
  8. Soak in the Eldorado Springs Pool a Short Drive Away
  9. Watch a Show at the Iconic Boulder Theater
  10. Hike the Tails at NCAR
  11. Go Up to Panorama Point on Flagstaff Hill
  12. Hike around Chautauqua Park
  13. Go to Nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park
  14. Visit the Boulder Farmer’s Market
  15. Plan a Trip to Nederland for the Quirky Deadman Days Festival

Read more about visiting Boulder in this blog post.

Fort Collins, Colorado – 1.5 hours away 

Like many college towns, Fort Collins has a lot to offer in way of fun places to go out and great outdoor-focused activities. We love to go hiking or paddleboarding in this area. Just walking around downtown is a good time, too! Plus, you are very close to Rocky Mountain National Park here!

paddleboarding on horsetooth reservoir in colorado

Top Activities in Fort Collins:

  1. Paddleboarding on Horsetooth Reservoir
    • This is also a great place to rent a boat to take out or lounge at the “beach”
  2. Hike to the Iconic Horsetooth
  3. Brewery Hopping (yes, this is a trend in Colorado!)
  4. Go to a Football Game at the Colorado State University
  5. Visit the Gardens on Spring Creek
  6. Explore the Totally 80s Pizza & Museum
  7. Go to the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theatre
  8. Visit CSU’s Annual Flower Trial Botanical Gardens
  9. Go to a CSU football game and get there early for pre-game fun

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – 1 hour and 45 minutes away

The number one reason we fell in love with Colorado and wanted to move was Rocky Mountain National Park. This place is just stunning in every season and always has new trails and views to discover. On a recent visit, years after we moved, we even had the honor of seeing a moose and her baby! You never know what wonders you will get to experience here.

moose rocky mountain national park

Top Activities in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  1. Take a Scenic Drive Over Trail Ridge Road (seasonal)
  2. Hike to Your Heart’s Content!
  3. Wildlife Viewing: look for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, coyotes, fox, and moose!
  4. Stargazing on a Clear Night
  5. Go Fly Fishing in Summer (multiple great rivers!)
  6. Go Sledding in Winter (designated sledding hill off the main road)
  7. Explore Estes Park
    • Visit Stanley Hotel & Go on a Ghost Tour (it inspired Stephen King’s book The Shining)
    • Wander the Cute Town to Shop and Try a Few Treats
    • Go on a Horseback Riding Tour for Spectacular Views of the Mountains
  8. Explore Grand Lake
    • Have a picnic at Shadow Mountain LakeHike to Adams FallsExplore Downtown Grand Lake
    • Enjoy some relaxation at the Hot Sulphur Springs Nearby
    • Go for a Big New Year’s Celebration (FYI- Trail Ridge Road likely closed that time of year)

Read our complete guide for Rocky Mountain National Park here.

Georgetown to Vail, Colorado – 1-2 hours away

As you head out deeper into the mountains toward the famous ski towns, like Vail and Aspen, you get to enjoy some fantastic scenery. The hiking options really abound out there – with multiple 14ers to “bag!” (These are mountains above 14,000 feet that you can hike up – with the right preparation.) Plus, all the little towns out here have something lovely to offer.

Mt. Bierstadt trail

Top Activities in the i70 Corridor:

  1. Drive up Mount Evans Scenic Byway to take on the highest paved road in North America
  2. Go on the Georgetown Loop Railroad
  3. Bag an “easy” 14er at Mount Bierstadt (bring plenty of water!!!)
  4. Go See the Breckenridge Troll – an iconic photo opp
  5. Whitewater Rafting Down Clear Creek near Idaho Springs
  6. Visit Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs
  7. Go Hiking around Breckenridge and Vail
  8. Go Ice Skating on Evergreen Lake in Winter
  9. Canoe or Kayak Around Dillon Reservoir
  10. Soak at Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs
  11. Go Skiing, Snowboarding, or Snow Tubing in Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Vail or other Mountain Town
  12. Visit Golden & Georgetown for Old-Timey Christmas Activities
  13. Go to the annual Snow Sculpture Championship in Breckenridge

Colorado Springs, Colorado – 1.5 hours away

Pikes Peak is the main draw down in Colorado Springs, but it also has amazing red rocks formations at Garden of the Gods, the amazing Royal Gorge and so much more. We have had so many great memories down in the springs area!

pikes peak cog railway - best places to visit near denver colorado

Top Activities in Colorado Springs:

  1. Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs area (drive or take the cog railway up!)
  2. Take in the Views (or a Train Ride) at the Royal Gorge
  3. Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride with gorgeous panoramic views of the mountains
  4. Visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center to meet rescued wolves
  5. Go to the Manitou Cave Dwellings
  6. Soak at Sunwater Springs in Manitou Springs
  7. Hike around Garden of the Gods
  8. Visit Cave of the Winds Mountain Park
  9. Go see Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  10. Wander Around Glen Eyrie Castle
  11. BONUS: Drive a bit further for a great relaxing getaway at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs

Other Helpful Resources for Finding the Best Places to Visit Near Denver Colorado:

Denver Tourism – Check for Events & Guides

Boulder Tourism

Colorado Springs Tourism

Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado State Parks

Best Restaurants in Denver

We hope you have a great visit and if you know of any other places we should add to our list for our next visit, please leave a comment!