Welcome to Denver – the Mile High City – where 300 days of sunshine, a thriving arts and cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and the Rocky Mountain backdrop combine for the world’s most spectacular playground. Denver offers stunning architecture, award-winning dining and unparalleled views, all within walking distance from its famed 16th Street pedestrian mall. A free shuttle carries visitors up and down this central corridor, providing quick access to world-class art and culture, wine bars, restaurants, and live music hot spots in Larimer Square or historic LoDo. Upscale shopping awaits at Cherry Creek, while Denver’s seven professional sports teams showcase this city’s active spirit. Experience what the locals know.
16th Street Mall – Pedestrian Mall
Lined with 200 trees and 50,000 flowers, this festive, mile-long pedestrian promenade has 28 outdoor cafes and offers Denver’s best people-watching. I.M. Pei designed the gray and pink granite pathway to resemble the pattern of a diamondback rattlesnake. Hop on the bus – they’re free and stop on every corner. After dark, horse-drawn carriages clatter up and down the Mall.
Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
Welcome to the Wild West! Buffalo Bill Cody’s exciting story as Pony Express rider, army scout, buffalo hunter and showman comes to life at this fun museum, high atop Lookout Mountain. Enjoy views of the snowcapped Rockies in one direction, the Great Plains in the other. For those with strong nerves, drive to the museum on the hairpin Lariat Loop Drive … then continue to I-70, exit 250, to see a live herd of buffalo.
Cherry Creek Shopping District
More than 500 department stores, boutiques, galleries, spas, and one-of-a-kind shops grace this browsing paradise – the largest concentration of stores between St. Louis and San Francisco. Cherry Creek Shopping Center is an ultra upscale mall with Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Tiffany’s, while across 1st Ave., Cherry Creek North offers tree-line streets with cafes, spas and galleries amidst fountains and public art.
Denver’s largest park has several lakes, spectacular mountain views, flower gardens and a hiking/jogging trail that is exactly one mile high.
The Clyfford Still Museum
Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum, which opened at the end of 2011, was founded to promote the late artist’s work and legacy. Still’s estate – 2,400 artworks – has been sealed off from the public since 1980.
Colorado Railroad Museum
Surrounded by towering Western buttes, the Colorado Railroad Museum combines a spectacular location with more than 100 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, cabooses and cars. Exhibits include a working Roundhouse, model railroads, photographs and artifacts, much of it housed in a replica of an 1880s-style depot. Train rides every Saturday on the Galloping Goose take guests on a third of mile loop of track, while “Steam ups” and special events including “A Day Out With Thomas” occur throughout the year.
Colorado State Capitol
Stand exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile high!) on the west steps, then climb to the rotunda for a panorama of snowcapped peaks. It is against state law to block the view of the 200 named mountains visible from the dome. Free tours on weekdays. The Capitol Dome will be undergoing major structural renovations for 2-3 years and not offering tours during that time-frame.
Denver was founded here as a gold mining camp in 1858. Today, the river park is the heart of Denver’s 850-mile bike trail network, and is surrounded by attractions. Gear up for the mountains at the REI Flagship store; ride the Platte River Trolley to the Downtown Aquarium to see stingrays and sharks and The Children’s Museum of Denver, with dozens of interactive “playscapes” for younger kids; eat and drink in the nearby neighborhoods of Riverfront, LoHi and Highlands; or scream your head off on the Mind Eraser at Elitch Gardens – Denver’s downtown theme park.
Coors Brewery Tour
“Taste the Rockies!” The world’s largest brewing site still uses the same Rocky Mountain spring water that Adolph Coors discovered in 1873. Free, self-guided tours show every step in the brewing process, and end with free samples for those over 21.
Denver Art Museum
There are two buildings – one a fortress-like structure from Italian architect Gio Ponti, the other, a structure that resembles a titanium crystal with peaks and shards designed by Daniel Libeskind. Inside, find the world’s greatest collection of Native American art and 68,000 other art objects, including works from European masters, Old West classics and phenomenal traveling exhibits, including two major shows in 2012: Yves Saint Laurent: A Retrospective (March 25, 2012-July 8, 2012) and Becoming Van Gogh (Oct. 21, 2012-Jan. 20, 2013).
Denver Botanic Gardens
This 23-acre oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens (some 33,000 plants), as well as one of the nation’s top 10 conservatories. Relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the new Mordecai Children’s Garden. Don’t miss Kizuna: West Meets East, a phenomenal open-air art exhibit on view through Nov. 4, 2012.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The fourth largest museum in the U.S. is a maze filled with treasures of the earth – dinosaurs, dioramas, space exhibits, science experiments, a digital planetarium, IMAX theatre and touring shows.
Lions and tigers and bears – and so much more, on lovely grounds make this the fourth most popular zoo in America. Go underwater with polar bears at Northern Shores, or eyeball-to-eyeball with a gorilla in Primate Panorama. Predator Ridge recreates the plains of Africa with a pride of lions, while Tropical Discovery is rainforest teeming with crocodiles and gila monsters. Opening June 1, 2012: Toyota Elephant Passage, a new 10-acre home for the Zoo’s elephants and rhinos.
The Brookings Institution ranks Denver as the fourth most walkable downtown in the nation. You can save on shoe-leather by riding the free shuttle bus on the 16th Street Mall – it makes everything downtown easy to reach.
Colorado’s first capital celebrates its Old West history and mountain location with a trendy downtown filled with galleries and recreation shops. Sip a beer at an outdoor café, while kayakers float by on fast rushing Clear Creek.
This trendy block of Victorian buildings is home to chic shopping, dance clubs, a comedy club, outdoor cafes and a dozen of Denver’s best restaurants. For 40 years in downtown Denver, it’s hip to be at the “Square.”
LoDo Historic District
Denver’s happening historic district is filled with turn-of-the-century warehouses, now home to 90 brewpubs, sports bars, restaurants and rooftop cafes. Stop by Rockmount Ranchwear for a snap button Western shirt at the store where they were invented; browse from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Bookstore; listen to jazz at El Chapultepec, one of Esquire Magazine’s 50 best bars; or sip a handcrafted beer at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver’s first brewpub opened by former Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor), John Hickenlooper.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitors Center
Carved from towering red rock monuments, this 9,000-seat arena is one of the world’s most renowned concert venues and has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. Listening to a concert here is on the “bucket list” of every true music fan. When there’s no concert, the Visitor Center has a museum and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks.
Learn how to make money! The Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one stamped with a little “D” for Denver. Free tours show every step in the process of turning a dull, blank, metal slug into shiny pocket change.
For more of all there is to see and do in Denver, visit www.VISITDENVER.org.
All info and photos courtesy of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.