No matter where you play, shop or dine in Denver and around the metro area, a glance westward reveals you’re at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It’s the combination a great mix of culture and sports together with instant access to mountain-high playgrounds that makes the ‘Mile High City’ attractive both to the locals and visitors.
If you’re spending a few days in Denver, where a step in the gold-domed state capital marks exactly one mile above sea level, you’ll need to make a few decisions. Would you rather explore the shops and dine in the restaurants around LoDo (the local nickname for lower downtown), or wander into art galleries in the trendy RiNo (River North) district. Why not view the American Indian rugs and the impressionists in the Denver Art Museum‘s diverse collection, or gaze at the dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature & Science?
Have you ever seen a room full of gold? If not, tour Denver’s U. S. Mint. Listen to famous musicians at the Colorado Symphony, go to a play, laugh at a comedy club. Catch a rock concert at the dramatic Red Rocks open-air amphitheatre. Cheer on the Broncos, the Nuggets game or one of the five other professional sports teams.
Why not take a beer-lover’s tour at Coors Brewery, or lift a mug in one of the many microbreweries. Head up to Boulder for a few hours of people watching on the Pearl Street Mall. Marijuana is legal in Colorado and you can go on a weed tour. Visit the Colorado Pot Guide for more information. (Where you can purchase and smoke weed is strictly regulated.) Visit GoodtoKnow so you are aware of the rules before you choose to use.)
Don’t be surprised to see golfers on the links in late fall and early spring because Denver averages 300 days of sunshine each year, Even in February, locals dine on restaurants’ outdoor patios when the sun shines. Year-round, locals walk or ride bikes on the numerous paths that thread the city. (Didn’t bring a bike? just rent one at a B-cycle stand and drop it off at another.) Locals have been known to ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon in the spring.
We’ll make it easier for you to decide what to do. Here’s a Denver in 2 Days itinerary. Have a third day? Here’s an itinerary to explore nearby mountain towns. If you an art lover here’s an entertaining art walk. In town for business and wonder where to escape for a few hours… only have a half-day in Denver on your way to a mountain resort, here are some quick shots.
Mountain towns like Morrison, Golden and Evergreen are less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, when the weather is fine. The main streets are filled with shops and restaurants tucked into old-West buildings. Stroll on the paths by the rosy cliffs that form an outdoor amphitheatre at Red Rocks Park. View the large tracks where dinosaurs roamed on Dinosaur Ridge.
Experience the mountain scenery with a ride up to Idaho Springs for a gold mine tour. Then, wend your way up the curvaceous road – watching for the mountain goats – that climbs 14,00-foot-high Mount Evans. Resort towns including Breckenridge and Vail are fun day trips in the summertime and lure skiers and snowboarders in winter.
Denver is a 360-day a year destination. Even in the wintertime and the temperatures are in the 30s, when the sun is out you will see lots of locals in light clothing sitting outside catching rays, or biking and jogging on city paths. In the summertime, the temperatures can rise into the 90s, but it’s a dry heat, so more comfortable than you’ll find in cities with high humidity.
Mother Natures Gifts Colorado With Dramatic Changes of Weather
Whether you’re staying in Denver for your entire trip, or heading into the mountains, bring layers because the temperature and drop – or rise – 20 degrees or more in a few hours.
You’ll find there’s often a big difference in temperatures between Denver and the mountains that form the skyline to the west. Colorado weather is strongly influenced by these mountains, so major temperature swings in short periods of time are common. You can check the weather at www.weather.gov by entering the city followed by a comma and Colorado.
On the website run by meteorologist Joel Gratz you can input the type of activity you want to enjoy (hiking, biking and more) then add the location. Click on Run the Weather Machine you’ll get a weather forecast. Click on the details below the grades (“A” means the weather is good for your outing) for an hour-to-hour weather report. It’s especially helpful if you’re heading into the mountains to hike, bike or climb and you’re concerned about late-day thunderstorms.
Be prepared for dramatic weather changes. In the summer Denver can hit 100 degrees, but the mountains are 10-20 degrees cooler. Even in June or July at higher elevations snow squalls can roll in quickly and temperatures can drop 30 degrees in an hour. Afternoon thunderstorms in the summer are the norm, so don’t get caught on a high mountain peak in the afternoons. If you’re heading into the mountains bring layers of clothing, gloves hat, water and energy bars. Even if the sun is shining, don’t be tempted to leave them in your car if you are going hiking or biking.
Getting stuck of I-70 because of snowy or icy roads, trucks that didn’t put on
chains and slide sideways blocking the road, or traffic accidents, has happened to almost every traveler who frequently heads into the mountains in the winter.
Savvy Denverites who head into the mountains to ski, snowmobile or enjoy other winter sports keep bags in their car with extra layers of clothing, a blanket, water and energy bars. If you’re heading into the mountains in a rental car, or down to
Colorado Springs for a day or a short vacation, request an SUV or an all-wheel rental car that’s properly equipped for mountain driving. (That definition will vary from one rental car agency to another.) Always start with a full gas tank, in case you get stuck, bring a few extra layers of clothing, some water and energy bars.
It’s always a good idea to check road conditions before heading into the high country.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We donât want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in $US.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person
Buses and Light Rail
RTD, the Regional Transit District, is responsible for the public buses and light rail. While the shuttle buses on the 16th Street Mall are free, there’s a cost for all other bus and light rail transportation. If you want to head to Boulder, Golden, Morrison or Evergreen, it’s possible to go via public transportation. You can visit RTD online for schedules, but it’s often easier to just call 303-299-6000 and ask a human for advice on the best routing and times.
Train from the airport to downtown: Denver’s A Train goes from the downtown RTD station to Denver International Airport and back. The train, run by RTD, is outfitted with places to hold luggage.
Taxis: Metro Taxi or call 303-333-3333. Yellow Cab or call 303-777-7777
Uber: Use the Uber app or visit Uber online
Limousines: If you want to be driven around, rent a limo through Denver Limo or call 888-371-5763.
Rental bikes: Thousands of Denverites bike to work. If you want to bike around sections of the city, especially downtown, check out the city’s B-Cycle – bike sharing system.
How to get out of Denver and explore Colorado for a day
Day-Trip Shuttles: Colorado Mountain Express offers daily shared-ride shuttle service to Summit County and Vail from locations in downtown Denver. Bring your bikes and golf clubs at no extra cost in the summer; skis or snowboard in the winter. Reservations at least 48 hours in advance recommended. For details, visit Colorado Mountain Express or call (970) 754-7433.
Day Tour By Bus: If you want to explore outside Denver’s city limits but don’t have a car or want to drive yourself, Grayline offers a variety of day tours. Tours includes ‘Rocky Mountain National Park’, ‘Dinosaurs, Red Rocks and Coors’, ‘Mountain Parks’ (Red Rocks, a drive through Bear Creek Canyon and a stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite in Golden), and ‘Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy’.
Car Rentals: If you want to rent a car for a day and don’t want to pay the inflated prices at the airport car rental locations, investigate booking at an in-town rental location. Some of these companies offer free pickup service within a specific mile radius of their offices.
We’ve seen advertisement indicating per-day price on weekends as low as $9.99. (Of course, there will be taxes but no airport fee.) If you’re going to day trip into the mountains or down to Colorado Springs, opt for unlimited mileage. Speak with someone at the location where you want to rent for the best quote.
These companies have in-town car rental locations: Budget has 10 locations in the Denver metro area and advertises “free pickup service” at most locations. Enterprise has nine locations in the Denver Metro area and some may offer free pickup service. Hertz has nine locations in the Denver metro area. Avis has eight locations in the Denver metro area.
Private Guide Services: A Private Guide is a well-established company that offers custom tours. Denver Adventures offers a multitude of choices for active travelers ranging from hiking, mountain biking and climbing a 14er in the summer to snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing in the winter.
VISIT DENVER, the official Travel and Visitor Bureau for Denver, Colorado, has a transportation section on its website with more information about travel in and around the Denver metro area, list operators and guides for tours, and has some maps.