These are the places you need to see at least once.
Known as the Mile High City — thanks at least in part to its elevation above sea level — Denver is quickly becoming one of the most popular places to travel out west. And it's not just for snow-seekers and hikers. While the proximity to the Rocky Mountains is a serious draw, Denver is now home to a flourishing art and design scene and a clutch of top-notch distilleries and breweries. You'll need at least a three-day weekend to see it all, but here are the top 10 points of interest in Denver for travelers just passing through.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Widely known for hosting festivals, movie screenings, and musical performances, like the annual Winter on the Rocks concert in January, this open-air venue is even busy during the day. Red Rocks is routinely filled with locals participating in organized workout classes or jogging up and down the stairs. It's also known for being the world's only naturally occurring (and acoustically perfect) amphitheater.
Currently the central point for shopping and dining in Denver — don't miss the hand-made pastas and Serrano-wrapped octopus at Rioja — Larimer Square is also the city’s first historic district. Admire the 19th-century brick and stone facades that define this Lower Downtown block.
RiNo (River North) Art District
With nearly one craft brewery on every block, this industrial neighborhood is famous for its eye-catching street art and incredible number of urban wineries and breweries. Between pints and pours (we love the Infinite Monkey Theorem) check out some of the district's most impressive murals, like the almost delirious orbs and eyeballs covering 2668 Walnut Street.
Head to the east side of the 330-acre City Park, located in the neighborhood of the same name, for great views of the Denver skyline set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Come here at sunset for a truly impressive vista.
Denver Art Museum
The impressive and modern Gio Point-designed museum, with its castle-style roof line and glittering, tiled exterior is itself a piece of artwork. It's one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, the is perhaps most famous for its unique collection of American Indian art.
For more than a century, this historic train and underground bus station has been Denver's transportation hub. But today, the landmark doubles as one of the most prominent dining destinations in the city. Be sure to grab a drink at the appropriately-named Terminal Bar.
Alderfer Three Sisters Park
Just 40 minute from Denver is this 770-acre park, which feels hours away from any major metropolis. It's home to some of the best hikes near Denver, including the well-shaded Hidden Fawn loop — an approachable path for any skill level.
Travelers in need of a good read should head to this independent bookstore, which has several locations spread across the metro Denver area. Our favorite? The LoDo store, which occupies a turn-of-the-century mercantile building and features fireplaces, antique furniture, and timbered ceilings.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Located in downtown’s Cheeseman Park, visitors can stroll through 24 acres of gardens, including a collection of 17 Colorado-style gardens that feature native plants like cacti and succulents, as well as a Sacred Earth garden with plants significant to the Four Corners Region.
Molly Brown Museum
Margaret Brown, often referred to as The Unsinkable Molly Brown, was a Titanic survivor known for urging her lifeboat back to the debris field to search for more survivors. Today, this fascinating woman's former home is a museum dedicated to shining light on this tale, and Brown's many other accomplishments.