50 Cool Things To Do In and Around Denver
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Let’s be clear, I’m constantly amazed by all of the incredible stuff there is to do in Denver and the surrounding suburbs. So, I decided to put together a list that included the typical and not so typical activities that are awesome to do, pretty affordable and fun. Here’s my list of 50 cool things to do in and around Denver!
50 Cool Things to Do
- Comic Con-This is my first year attending and I can’t wait! Every year I would watch all of the sci-fi enthusiasts (read my people) converge downtown at the Convention Center with the Big Blue Bear. This year I look forward to being one of those people. I plan on sharing a post about my experience soon!
- Casa Bonita-Most Denver kids have gone to Casa Bonita at least once in their lives. There is nothing better than indoor cliff diving and mediocre food to make life complete. The sopapillas are pretty decent though.
- Colfax 1/2 or Full Marathon-After being on my to-do list for the past 5 years, I finally ran the Colfax 1/2 Marathon. Without training…like a crazy person. Fortunately, I was able to finish it but by mile 8 was questioning the decision to run/walk it without training. Best moments included: running through the zoo and checking out the animals, discovering that there was a nice ladies restroom open in the zoo, running under the giant American flag on Colfax, the Firemen without shirts, and actually finishing the race.
- Denver Cruiser Ride-Is an epic event that had gotten crazy big and was driving the founders crazy. They seem a lot happier this year after changing the format to 5 rides this summer instead of every Wednesday. Ride with hundreds of bike enthusiasts throughout the city of Denver, wear a costume, listen to music, and just have a great time.
- Catch a Cirque du Soleil Show-We are fortunate enough to have Cirque du Soleil stop through Denver basically every year. This year’s show is so good that I’ve decided to see it twice.
- Denver Center for Performing Arts Show-It’s official, Denverites don’t need to go to NYC to see theater. We are fortunate enough to enjoy a ton of amazing musicals and other serious shows produced a the DCPA. Take advantage of the $10 DCPA access shows (plus a $1.50 processing fee per ticket). Those tickets get picked up QUICK.
- Afternoon Tea at The Brown Palace-What is it about afternoon tea that is so appealing to so many people? I recently had a chance to enjoy it again at the Brown Palace and I can say that for me, it’s the opportunity to spend hours eating tiny bites of yumminess while spending time with family and friends.
- Underground Music Showcase-There is a phenomenal music scene in Denver. The UMS is the event to hang out with other music enthusiasts who can’t get enough of live music.
- Red Rocks-To be honest, I don’t need a reason to go to Red Rocks. I just go, all the time. It’s almost magical to me and I can’t get enough. If you haven’t had the chance to attend Movies on the Rocks, Yoga on the Rocks, or a concert-you need to add this to your list of things to do.
- Waterworld-It does get hot here and when it’s hot, Waterworld is one of the best places to cool off. The highlights: the Spacebowl, Voyage to the Center of the Earth, and the Wave Pool.
- Dim Sum at Star Kitchen-It is possible to go to Star Kitchen, eat your fill with a ton of friends and only end up paying $10 a person (plus tip). Yep, that has happened. Am in love with that place.
- Day in Boulder-Sometimes Boulder drives me crazy. But, sometimes it’s the town that I grew up in. Unpretentious, beautiful, and tranquil. If you’re visiting for at least 5 days-you have to spend at least an afternoon in Boulder. Here’s a link to a post I wrote about enjoying 36 Hours in Boulder. Have fun!
- Day in Rocky Mountian National Park–RMNP is one of my favorite places to hang out in Colorado. It’s a quick 1 1/2 drive from Denver (depending on the day). My favorite thing to do is to go at different times of the year because the park is always changing. Love.
- Happy Hour at Avanti-Is one of my favorite places to go and hang out with friends, get my drink on, and check out the Denver skyline.
- Groov3 class at Dance2b-I am OBSESSED with this hip hop dance/fitness class. Leslie (the instructor) is fabulous and I look forward to sweating like a pig, listening to great music, and throwing shade at Leslie because she never sweats. How is it possible?
- Rock and Roll Half Marathon-For those of you who love to run, this is a great event. I had the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon on my vision board for the past 5 years. I would talk about it and then back off because I was afraid. Until…I did it and had a great time. You will too!
- Wing Over the Rockies-This place is awesome not just because it has a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter and is located next to a large beer garden. Yep, this place is legit.
- Slam Nuba-Poetry slams are the coolest thing ever. And, Denver has an incredible community of poets who share their wisdom and artistry…not often enough. They also happen to be one of the best slam poetry teams in the U.S.
- The Derby Party-There is nothing better than getting my drink on, looking cute, wearing a fascinator, and supporting education all at the same time. The Derby Party lets me do that and I look forward to attending it every year. The tickets aren’t cheap…but, it’s a wonderful event and sends kids to college/university. Yes!
- The Polo Classic-Many, many years ago I went with my mother to the Polo Classic with my mom. I have no idea how she got the tickets (they’re pricey/we weren’t rich) but I still remember that experience and stepping on the divets that the horseshoes pulled up.
- The Barn Party-Apparently, this event has been going on for awhile and completely off my radar. It’s also run by the same people who run the Polo Classic. It’s on my list for next year.
- The Denver Botanic Gardens-Is a gorgeous oasis of calm in the city of Denver. The garden curator brings in amazing art installations that are seamlessly added into the landscape. Past exhibits included: Chihuly and Caulder.
- Ohana-There is this weird trend sweeping through Denver which is Hawaiian Poke. It’s a little weird to me because…we’re not close to the ocean. Surely, this trend could go very wrong? Well, it goes really well at Ohana. Delicious.
- Hanging Lake-Is worth the almost 4-hour drive to get there. Plan on spending the night and enjoying that part of the state. When you visit please do not go into the water or stand on the log. Period, end of story. Don’t be a douche. Also, plan on soaking in Glenwood Hot Springs afterward. Your knees will thank you!
- Manitou Incline-A mile of blissful pain. Here is a link to the post and podcast episode where I share my experienceon the Manitou Incline.
- Denver Central Market-Finally, finally Denver has become a foodie city. There are some cool food concepts opening up and DCM is one of them. If you’re looking for: chocolate, coffee, good food, or a fish monger…visit the DCM.
- Stanley Market Place-Similar to DCM, Stanley Market Place is a mixed use market. The difference: they have regular vendors including: Zero Waste, gyms, and co-working spaces.
- Ride the Cherry Creek Bike Path-I”m going to double-dog dare you to ride the bike path to Cherry Creek Resevoir instead of the typical ride downtown. It’s a beautiful slightly uphill ride through the city.
- Velorama Bike Event-It was with great sadness that I watched the Colorado Classic fold. For some reason, I love cycling. The Velorama is a music festival and cycling event. A great combination to attract new fans of a great sport.
- Hang out in Rino, eat, drink, check out the murals-RINO used to be Denver’s Skid Row. Seriously. While it still has some skeevy pockets, overall it’s pretty awesome. There is nothing better than wandering through the alleys and checking out the newest mural, getting a flat white from Stowaway, or grabbing a beer from one of the many breweries in the area.
- Jazz in the Park-For some reason I haven’t seen a lot of publicity on this event this year. But, it’s still pretty big. Go to City Park on Sunday evenings around 6:00 pm to picnic, hang out with friends, and listen to great music for free.
- Put Put Golf at Skyline Park-Underneath the Downtown Clock Tower there is a put-put golf course with all things Denver.
- Get Some Local Ice Cream-For a town of ridiculously fit people, there is a lot of great ice cream in town. Here are my favorites: Little Man, Sweet Cooies, and Sweet Action. I also would like to check out Rocket Ice Cream in the Lowry Neighborhood.
- National Western Stock Show-Watch some bronco busting every January when the Stock Show comes into town. It is a huge event that keeps getting bigger every year.
- Black American West Museum-Let’s be clear about this: there were, and still are, black cowboys and cowgirls. The Black American West Museum shares this rich history with visitors and scholars in town.
- El Chapultepec-This small, slightly grimy, and musical landmark was the regular stomping grounds of Jack Kerouac. If you don’t know who he is…Google him. If you’re looking for an unpretentious place filled with great music and Coloradans-go to there.
- Day trip to Estes Park-Before you reach Rocky Mountain National Park, if you’re arriving from the East (coming from Denver) then you will naturally go through Estes Park. It’s not just the home of the Stanley Hotel of the Shining infamy. It’s also a lovely mountain town with salt water taffy, a river walk one block off of Mainstreet, and a quirky tea room called Moon Kats.
- Like Professional Sports?-We have all the sports. If you’re into sports…Denver is a great town to visit. Our teams: Nuggets, Broncos, Rapids, Rockies, Avalanche, and the Denver Barbarians (rugby)
- Chalk Art Festival-The first weekend of every June Larimer Square is cordoned off and filled with artists, food, and activities. The artists create gorgeous works of art that will be washed away after the weekend.
- First Fridays-Art Walk in the Santa Fe Art District is one of my favorite events. Low key, great art, music, and food-it’s a great way to spend the evening with friends. Buy a glass of wine and just enjoy wandering up and down the streets. If you’re lucky enough, hopefully, you’re there when the street is blocked off.
- Yoga on the Rocks-Imagine watching several thousand people do a downward dog. It’s glorious. Here’s my tips and tricks on how to have a great time the next time you go.
- Any Ski Resort Closing Party before Mud Season. Those parties are legit.
- Frozen Dead Guy Days-Ok, people have a hard time wrapping their heads around what this festival is. In short, it’s a festival that is a celebration of “Grandpa” a Frozen Dead Guy in Nederland. It’s a fun and interesting story.
- Bolder Boulder-When I was a little girl, I would watch the elite runners pass by in a blaze of Olympic glory. It was (and still) continues to be one of the best race atmospheres in the U.S. Maybe it helps that everyone gets packed in together? Either way, if you’re a runner and you’re planning on visiting Colorado-this race may be for you.
- The Royal Gorge-A few years ago The Royal Gorge attractions suffered from a pretty catastrophic fire a few years ago. Fortunately, the actual bridge wasn’t affected and the attractions have been restored. This is a beautiful part of Colorado…just don’t pick up hikers down there…SuperMax is nearby.
- The Royal Gorge Rail-The views are just stunning. After exploring some of the vineyards in this part of the state, take a ride through the Gorge via the Rail. The prices are pretty freaking reasonable too! My favorite part is the open car.
- Pike’s Peak Cog Rail-The next time you hang out in Manitou Springs (and don’t plan on hiking the Manitou Incline) I highly recommend taking the Pike’s Peak Cog Rail up the mountain. It’s STUNNING. You will feel the difference in altitude.
- Pride-This event is huge! Welcoming, fun, and just a splash of crazy. Every Denverite should go to Pride.
- Marade-Once one of the biggest Martin Luther King Day Parades, the Marade has gotten a bit off the radar. I did a podcast episode about it and hope that they will bring in some new energy and ideas to revive a long-standing Denver tradition.
- Speakeasies Galore! There are a number of great speakeasies in Denver. My goal is to check them all out by the end of the year. Suggestions: Williams and Graham, Green Russell, Retrograde, Ste. Ellie, The Cruise Room, and B&GC