9 Things To Do Downtown That Don’t Include Going To The 16th Street Mall
One of the things that makes me crazy is when I talk to people who visited Denver once and I ask them what they did while they were here. I have more often than not heard the following answer:
I Went To The 16th Street Mall…and I Didn’t Like It
The thing is, Denver’s 16th Street Mall has a character and charm that many people will miss-especially depending on the time of year that they visit. It is an ever evolving walking mall with the full range of humanity on it. Business people, homies, homeless, hipsters, street performers, and everything in between. For a town the size of Denver, the 16th Street Mall can sometimes take people by surprise.
The thing is, there are a ton of activities and places to go that are are close to 16th Street Mall that will leave you entertained and won’t leave you wondering-why do people like Denver so much?? I am sharing an incomplete list of things to do for two reasons-I can write other posts and about fun downtown and it’s like eating an elephant… a little at a time.
9 Things To Do Downtown
- Rock Climbing at REI-There is a huge rock climbing…rock…called the Pinnacle. If you’re a non REI member you can climb it on a first come first served basis for around $10. Please check REI’s website for additional rules concerning safely climbing the wall.
- Confluence Park-Which is conveniently located next to REI. This park is incredibly busy throughout the summer for a number of reasons. The best one is that you can raft in the river that goes through the park! There are also festivals, coffee shops within walking distance, and grassy areas to sit and take in the sun.
- Hanging out at Union Station (just go down 17th Street)-Denver’s Union Station has undergone an amazing transformation from a lovely building slowly fading from our consciousness to a jewel of the city. It is also a central transportation hub and now the following modes of transportation are available from this central meeting point: buses, free mall shuttles, Amtrak, hopefully a new ski train, the light rail, and the train to Denver International Airport (beginning in 2016). The other awesome thing about Denver’s Union Station is that it snow home to bars, restaurants, Tattered Cover Book Store, and a high end hotel. People (including myself) will just go to the station to have a cup of coffee and hang out. It’s gorgeous and a wonderful example of my taxes dollars being put to good use. I love it!!
- Contemporary Art Museum (Heart with Arrow through it)-I have to be honest and say that I don’t always love contemporary art. Sometimes I just don’t understand what’s happening. But, if the goal of art is to push the viewer, illicit a response, and create a conversation then the Contemporary Art Museum of Denver is a place that you can’t miss. It’s is a gorgeous building designed by acclaimed architect, David Adjaye. There is also a fabulous coffee shop at the top of the building that is wonderful to linger over coffee and discuss what you just looked at for awhile.
- Platte Valley Trolley-I love this little trolley. It is run by a historical society and is located in between Confluence Park and REI. The trolley runs a long the Platte River and is a nice thing to do with kids that doesn’t involve a lot of stress.
- Larimer Square-I have to admit, that this tiny little jewel is one of my favorite places in Denver. It’s just so cute. Larimer Square is almost an homage to Europe with coffee shop patios, high end shopping, and good food. There are a number of events held on this block throughout the summer so I strongly recommend looking at its website to see what’s happening if you ‘re planning to visit.
- Denver Center for Performing Art-I’ve spent many years going to the DCPA and it is one of the surprising cultural draws that people outside Denver may not know that we have. The DCPA is said to be the 2nd largest theater complex in the United States outside of Broadway-I believe it! I have been very fortunate to watch a number of fabulous Broadway shows ranging from: Wicked, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, and The Color Purple. There are also concerts-I watched Lenny Kravitz perform there, and the local theater doing numerous productions ranging from drama-comedy. They are phenomenal. If you enjoy theater, you should put this on your list!
- Centennial Flower Gardens-I LOVE THIS GARDEN!! It is done in what I would consider a traditional English style. It is lovely. I stumbled upon it one day on my to Elitches Amusement park. It is a very tranquil place to sit, relax, and listen to the trickling waters of the different water fountains that can be found in the park. Considering that it is next to an amusement park it is shockingly quiet. If it is a beautiful day, and you need some down time I would highly recommend bringing a book, a blanket, some food and just relax. You’ll probably be one of 5 people in this park. LOVE IT!
- Public Art Scavenger Hunt– We have a lot of interesting, whimsical, and confusing public art. And none o fit is located along the 16th Street Mall. Take some time to explore and try to find our art. Pieces included: The Big Blue Bear, the awkward glowing red sculpture near Paris on the Platte Coffee shop, the dancing naked aliens next to the Denver Center for Performing Art and many more!
There are a number of other fun things that you can do that don’t involve going to the 16th Street Mall, while still being downtown. I hope this was helpful and the you have fun exploring the list. I will say that these are a lot more fun from about March-November (when things warm up and flowers are blooming). Enjoy!
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