Things to do in Denver

Must-see Denver sights

Denver, the state capital of Colorado, is the only major metropolis in the Rockies’ – and it’s one of the most unique, too. This popular, friendly city is made up of glittering skyscrapers, sophisticated brewpubs and dynamic businesses, all of which complement any visitors’ experience to the city. Founded in 1858, it has an interesting history as a former prospect town, and there are plenty of historical museums that piece together a well-proportioned history of the place. While it prides itself on its historical heritage, Denver also boasts an array of modernity too, from its stylish pedestrianised malls to moreish brewery tours.

  1. 16th Street Mall
  2. Molly Brown House Museum
  3. Coors Brewery Tour
  4. Black American West Museum
  5. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

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Rough Guides

1. 16th Street Mall

What separates Denver from other cities in the West is its lively downtown centre; and at its heart is 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrianized strip. Packed with outdoor cafes, shopping and dining complexes and pedestrian bridges, this lively area is one of the best things to do in Denver if you want to be where the people are. And if you visit on a rainy day, there are also 12 movie theatres to choose from. In terms of sights, the D&F Tower is a neat slice of history; built in 1909, it’s styled in the form of the Campanile of St Mark’s in Venice. As great as it is to visit during the day, an evening exploration can be just as fun, with horse-drawn carriages and pedi-cabs running along the mall, beneath hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights in the street-lined trees. Browsing Denver holiday packages? 16th Street Mall is a must-visit, whether you want to hit the shops, wander along the gently-lit promenade or dine at some of the top restaurants.

Best for: Shopping

While you’re there: One of the pedestrian bridges connects downtown to Lower Downtown, or LoHi, a hipster neighbourhood.

2. Molly Brown House Museum

You might already be familiar with the name Molly Brown – she was the “unsinkable” guest aboard the Titanic in 1912. Pay a visit to the wonderfully preserved Molly Brown House Museum to get to grips with just how remarkable, generous and fearless the real woman (whose real name was Margaret) was. The house is styled in early 20th-century Victorian grandeur with original period pieces (artwork, furniture, clothing), but it’s worth noting that a visit is possible by guided tour only, which sees you cover 16 rooms set over three floors.

Best for: Iconic Coloradians.

While you’re there: Check out the temporary exhibitions – there’s one about suffragist movements (Molly was an advocate for women’s rights).

3. Coors Brewery Tour

Essentially a Denver suburb, the town of Golden has been home to the beer giant Coors since 1873, and houses the world’s largest single brewery facility. For one of the coolest things to do in Denver (literally), take a self-guided tour (1.5hrs) of the Coors brewery , which sees you take in the malting, brewing and packaging process. And to reward yourself for soaking up all that important knowledge, join in with a tasting session: treat your tastebuds with the classic low-cal Coors Light and delicious Blue Moon Belgian White.

Best for: Drinking in the culture.

While you’re there: Pick up a hat, t-shirt or Crowler can at their on-site gift shop.

4. Black American West Museum

The Black American West Museum educates visitors on the vital roles African Americans played during the settlement and growth of the west. The displays tell you all about the different jobs African Americans had, from miners and soldiers to blacksmiths and schoolteachers, as well as pioneers and outlaws. It’s explained with a range of interesting programs and exhibits, and facts you might not have known before: did you know that one third of all 19th-century cowboys were black? The museum is located in the Five Points district as this was where black railroad workers were housed during the area’s development in the 1870s.

Best for: History

While you’re there: Go for a stroll around the nearby Mestizo-Curtis Park, and watch people bat it out on the tennis courts.

5. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

If you’ve had enough of sightseeing and are wondering what to do in Denver that involves a little more adrenaline, head to the Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. It’s essentially two parks in one: on one side are over 50 scream-inducing rides including looping rollercoasters such as ‘Brain Drain’ and ‘Mind Eraser’, while on the other side is a water park complete with painful-sounding water slides (Mega Wedgie Ultimate, anyone?) and tubes. There’s also a gentler range to choose from, with family-friendly and kids’ rides, and there’s loads of entertainment events that take place, too.

Best for: Getting wet’n’wild.

While you’re there: You can rent your own cabana if you want a longer stay with more perks thrown in; think table service and sun-loungers.

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