What places and attractions to visit when in Denver, Colorado.
Denver, Colorado is known as the Mile High City because the state capital building is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level has many attractions to visit in the city. In other parts of the United States people still think of Denver as some old cow town where there are still cattle drives down Main Street. Though you can still see plenty of cattle in nearby ranches and people wearing cowboy hats, the Denver metropolitan area is now the largest city and the major business hub between Chicago and the west coast. If you’re going to be traveling to Denver for business or vacation, here are a few places you would want to visit.
Red Rocks Amphitheater once listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Red Rocks is made of natural rock formations where some of the sandstone formations rise 300 feet above the amphitheater. Red Rocks amphitheater is located 15 miles west of Denver. Concerts are scheduled between April and October for all kinds of music from symphony to rock. Red Rocks is one of the best outdoor places to watch a concert I can think of.
Concert at Red Rocks. Photo by Rob Lee
The Botanical Gardens is a paradise to walk through and has been named one of the top ten public gardens by Country Living Gardener magazine. A beautiful area of 23 acres and 32,000 plants is one of the country’s largest displays of its kind. Some of the different areas include the steamy tropical conservatory, the cactus and desert plants, Alpine, Aquatic, Native, Steep and Amenity. There are tours with professional guides that will identify plants, help with research and hold classes, or you can just walk around on your own. It also has one of the finest horticulture book collections in the US.
The Denver Mint is one of two US mints that offer free tours, not to mention it is fun and interesting to watch money being made. You can watch as blank ore is turned into coins and learn about the process and craftsmanship that goes into the making of coins plus the history of making coins.
The Denver Zoo is one of the finest zoos in the United States on 80 acres with 4,000 animals from 700 different species. The animals are set in re-creations of their native habitats ranging from Arctic wolves to the zebras of Africa where you actually feel as if you are in the animal’s natural habitat. The zoo has many different events including holiday BBQ’s and lectures.
Denver Art Museum has one of the largest world art collection in the western United States and an especially thorough collection of western art of Native American and Spanish Colonial art.
The Butterfly Pavilion, if you’re interested in butterflies this is the place to visit with over 1,200 live butterflies covering 250 different species from nine countries. Butterflies are not the only attraction you can see, the Pavilion was the first standalone zoo in the United States for invertebrates animals without backbones. You will also see horseshoe crabs, sea stars, ladybugs and many others from the beetle family.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, there are so many things to do and see at this museum that it would take several pages to write. There is the IMAX Theater, the planetarium, collections of all kinds ranging from the totem pole collection to the gem carvings of Russian folklore. With current and upcoming new exhibits including Egyptian mummies, North American Indian cultures, wildlife exhibits and astronomy exhibits not to mention the prehistoric collection with of course lots of dinosaur bones and there is always something new. The museum is open every day of the year except for Christmas.
Denver Sports. When in Denver you can go to beautiful Coors Field and watch a baseball game with the National League Colorado Rockies. During the winter, there are the Broncos, Nuggets and Avalanche games to go to.
Night game at Coors Field in Denver. Photo by Geoff Livingston
Plains Conservation Center on the east side of Denver is a great place to visit and learn all about the High Plains prairies. The native plants, animals and people that made the High Plains.
Buell Theater is the place where you can see Broadway shows and many times with the original Broadway cast members.
Elitch Gardens has been an amusement park and a place to see shows and concerts in Denver since 1890. With 40 rides, the Trocadero Theater and the 75-year old carousel.
The United States Air Force Academy is really beautiful and about 50 miles south of Denver and certainly worth touring. The Academy offers guided and self-guided tours. As with any military schools there are rules to follow so it would be best to check ahead of current rules.
USAF chapel photo by dbking/flickr
There are many other attractions of all kinds including the Forney Transportation Museum, The Molly Brown House, Alpaca ranches, tour the Coors Brewery and Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave and museum on Lookout Mountain just to the west of Denver.
Festivals around Denver
There are many festivals in the Denver area with the largest being the Colorado Renaissance Festival south of Denver in Larkspur. Walk into this festival and you really think you went back in time to the Renaissance period. The festival runs from June 13 until August 2 (in 2009).
Other festivals include the Greek Festival and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. This is just a short list of attractions in the Denver area with many more places to visit.
© 2009 Sam Montana
Plan a summer vacation to Colorado Part 1
Plan a summer vacation to Colorado Part 2
Vacation guide to Montana