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Photo Credit: Ron Ruscio and VISIT DENVER
Welcome to Denver, where 300 days of sunshine, a thriving cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and natural beauty combine for the world's most spectacular playground. A young, active city at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Denver's stunning architecture, award-winning dining and unparalleled views are all here, year-round.
By an amazing stroke of good luck, the 13th step on the west side of the Colorado State Capitol Building is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level - one mile high. In Denver's rarified air, golf balls go 10 percent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a punch than at sea level. The Mile High City is also extremely dry, so it is a good idea to drink more water than usual. With less water vapor in the air at this altitude, the sky really is bluer in Colorado.
Photo Credit: Dave Falconer and VISIT DENVER
Denver is near the mountains, not in them. The Mile High City is located on high rolling plains, 12 miles east of the "foothills," a series of gentle mountains that climb to 11,000 feet. Just beyond is the "Front Range of the Rocky Mountains," a series of formidable snowcapped peaks that rise to 14,000 feet. Denver might not be in the mountains, but the mountains still dominate the city. The picturesque mountain panorama from Denver is 140 miles long. There are 200 visible named peaks including 32 that soar to 13,000 feet and above.
Denver has a population of 682,545 (2015 census) while there are 3 million people in the metro area. The region's population grew 14 percent between 2010 and 2015. According to the 2014 census, 31 percent of the city is made up of Hispanics while African-Americans make up 10 percent.
Denver is quickly gaining a reputation for its innovative, young chefs and eclectic, diverse cuisine with a Western flair. There are more than 2000 restaurants in metro Denver.
Also see Getting Around Denver Without a Car for transportation options.
Photo credit: VISIT DENVER
16TH STREET MALL - PEDESTRIAN MALL
Lined with 200 trees and 50,000 flowers, this festive, mile-long 16th Street Mall has 28 outdoor cafes and offers Denver's best people-watching. Renowned architect 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.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER & Steve Crecelius (Denver Pavillions), Scott Dressel-Martin (Union Station), Eric Lindberg (Larimer Square)
Denver's Union Station has undergone a massive restoration that transformed the landmark into a transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment hub and hotel. The historic, Beaux Arts 1914 train terminal is now a foodie destination, with a dozen restaurants and bars, from farm-to-table favorite Mercantile to the Terminal Bar, situated in the station's old ticket windows. A handful of local retailers includes a branch of the popular Tattered Cover Bookstore. Union Station is also fulfilling its original role as a major ground transportation hub, serving as an AMTRAK, light rail and shuttle bus station with direct rail service to Denver International Airport.
HISTORY COLORADO CENTER**
The History Colorado Center, one of Denver’s newest cultural attractions, is designed to ignite imaginations of all ages about Colorado history through high-tech and hands-on exhibits, programs for children and adults, and special events. (Plan to attend the ESC 2019 Welcome Reception the evening of October 8!)
Larimer Square is a 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. While you're in LoDo, 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 and Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper.
COLORADO STATE CAPITOL
Stand exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile high!) on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, then climb to the rotunda for a panorama of snow-capped peaks. It is against state law to block the view of the 200 named mountains visible from the dome. Free tours are available on weekdays.
DENVER ART MUSEUM**
The Denver Art Museum is made up of two architecturally stunning 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.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER & Bob Ash (State Capitol), Steve Crecelius (Denver Art Museum)
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 Clyfford Still 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.
ELITCH GARDENS THEME & WATER PARK
The only downtown theme park in America is really two parks in one: on one side of Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, experience 53 thrill rides, including looping roller coasters; on the other side, cool off in a wet 'n' wild water park with tubes waterslides and wave pools. The park is open from early May to early November.
City Park, Denver's largest park, has several lakes, spectacular mountain views, a public golf course, flower gardens and a hiking/jogging trail that is exactly one mile high.
DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE**
From stunning prehistoric fossils to an exploration of outer space, The Denver Museum of Nature & Science never fails to astound and amaze with realistic visions of the past, present and future. The Gates Planetarium is one of the most sophisticated planetariums in the country, giving visitors unparalleled insight into the workings of the cosmos, and the Phipps IMAX Theater features brilliantly filmed IMAX entertainment.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER & Scott Dressler-Martin (Denver Botanic Gardens), Evan Simon (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)
Lions and tigers and bears – and so much more, on lovely grounds make the Denver Zoo one of the most popular zoos 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.
DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS**
Denver Botanic Gardens, a 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. The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory is the largest single structure tropical conservatory in the U.S., including banyan tree roots and cloud forest orchids.
**These facilities participate in the Mile High Culture Pass, a three day pass granting access to some of the city's most facsinating attractions for $32.50.
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY AND FORT COLLINS
Distance from Denver: 60 miles (97 km)
I-25 North towards Fort Collins
Located a short drive north of Denver, Fort Collins is a vibrant town full of local eateries, pubs, boutiques and home to Colorado State University. With 300 days of sunshine, snow-capped mountains, idyllic lakes and clear-running rivers, it is hard to deny that people like to get outdoors here all year round. A day in Fort Collins can be filled with things to do and see. Where else can you spend the morning admiring a zoo-full of fanciful metal sculptures, the afternoon touring a brewery, and the evening listening to live music in an open-air amphitheater? With a thriving arts scene, burgeoning craft culture, an amazing mix of outdoor recreation opportunities and more, Fort Collins has something for everyone.
Colorado State University is home to award-winning dining centers, state-of-the art University Center for the Arts, the beautiful Annual Flower Trial Gardens and more. CSU Athletics is home to 16 Division I sports in the Mountain West Conference. Cheer on our fantastic Ram Athletes at the new On Campus Stadium or Moby Arena. Browse the CSU Visitors Guide to plan your visit.
Photo Credit: V. Richard Haro (Old Town Square)
CENTRAL CITY AND BLACK HAWK
Distance from Denver: 40 miles (64 km)
Take I-70 west and Exit 243 onto Central City Pkwy.
Central City and Black Hawk are home to more than 30 casinos with blackjack tables, craps, roulette, poker games and more than 10,000 slot machines. In 2009, gambling stakes were raised to $100, to the delight of high rollers, and casinos began opening their doors 24 hours a day. The two cities are also known for having some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in the West.
COLORADO SKI COUNTRY: SUMMIT COUNTY, VAIL AND BEAVER CREEK
Distance from Denver: 75 miles (120 km)
I-70 West, Exits 205, 203, 176 and 167
Summit County offers some of the world's best skiing, just a little more than an hour west of Denver. But the area is also a splendid summer resort destination. Breckenridge is a 130-year-old gold mining town filled with colorful Victorian buildings that now house shops, cafes and restaurants. Copper Mountain is a modern ski and summer resort offering all forms of outdoor recreation, from golf to tennis to snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Dillon/Silverthorne is a lovely pair of towns built on the shores of Lake Dillon. The area offers factory-outlet shopping in more than 100 stores. Frisco is yet another old Victorian mining town that has been restored, but still retains its Old West atmosphere. Keystone is a year-round resort that offers all kinds outdoor adventure, along with five-star dining. Vail is just a short drive from Summit County. This world-famous resort offers a European-style mountain village lined with shops and outdoor cafes, as well as the largest ski mountain in North America.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER & Steve Crecelius (Vail Village), Steamboat Ski & Resort (kid at ski school), Rich Grant (Airforce Academy Chapel)
PIKES PEAK COUNTRY
Distance from Denver: 60 miles (97 km)
I-25 South towards Colorado Springs
Pikes Peak Country is located south of Denver and features more than 40 attractions centered around 14,000-foot-high (4,267 m) Pikes Peak. Things to see include the Air Force Academy, one of three United States military colleges; the famous Broadmoor Resort, with its lake and three golf courses; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods, made of naturally formed, 500-foot-high (152 m) red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak.
RED ROCKS PARK & AMPHITHEATRE
Distance from Denver: 25 miles (40 km)
18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
A picture perfect setting with flawless all-natural acoustics 70 million years in the making, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a true Colorado original. In addition to its blockbuster summer concert series (everyone from the Beatles to U2 have played here), Red Rocks is open year-round, featuring the Red Rocks Performers Hall of Fame and the Trading Post Loop Hiking Trail, a 1.4-mile adventure through spectacular rock formations, valleys and a natural meadow.
BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM & GRAVE
Distance from Denver: 25 miles (40 km)
987 1/2 Lookout Mountain, Golden
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 the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave, 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.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER
Distance from Denver: 29 miles (47 km)
13th & Ford, Golden
The legendary Coors Brewery in Golden can brew up to 22 million barrels and package up to 16 million barrels annually, making it the biggest single-site brewer in the world. Take a free 30-minute, self-paced tour of the brewhouse, malthouse and packaging complex to view firsthand how more than 100 work teams make some of the most popular beer in the world.
CHATFIELD STATE PARK
11500 N. Roxborough Park Rd., Littleton
Float your boat in the lake, bicycle or hike on a trail that provides scenic views of the neighboring foothills and Platte River valley, camp, ride a horse and even fly a model airplane -- all at Chatfield State Park, nestled next to the foothills southwest of Denver. Boat rentals, a floating restaurant and a marina are also part of the fun at Chatfield.
Photo Credit: VISIT DENVER & Coors Field, Steve Crecelius (Pepsi Center)
Denver's beloved Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies play home games in the heart of downtown Denver at Coors Field, which offers the nostalgic feel of a classic ballpark mixed with state of the art technology. The season runs from April to September. See the team's schedule.
"Behind the Seams" tours of Coors Field are available Monday through Saturday during the season and then Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during the offseason and provide a behind-the-scenes look at one of the premier ballparks in Major League Baseball. All tours begin at Gate D (20th & Blake Street). Tours last 75-80 minutes and cover a distance of approximately one mile. All tours are accessible for guests with disabilities.
The enormous Sports Authority Field at Mile High is where the NFL's Denver Broncos call home. Here in Denver, being a Broncos fan isn't just a hobby - it's a way of life. The team has won three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning as quarterback. On game days, you'll see the city awash in the team's trademark orange, blue and white colors. The team is still best known for its league-dominating heyday with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway (who now owns two acclaimed Mile High City restaurants with two other locations in Colorado). The season runs from September to January. See the Broncos' schedule.
The Pepsi Center is the home of Denver's beloved hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche — the "Avs" to fans. With a powerhouse starting lineup leading the way, the team's solid presence in the NHL standings, and their home games are always packed with Avs fans — some of the most devoted (and vocal!) hockey aficionados in the U.S. The season runs from September to April. See the team's schedule.
Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids have a new home — the sprawling, high-tech Dick's Sporting Goods Park, which opened its doors in 2007. The Rapids are a force to be reckoned, with an international roster, featuring players from Jamaica, England, Africa, Japan and Argentina, not to mention plenty of homegrown talent. The season runs from March to October. See the team's schedule.
The NBA's Denver Nuggets rule the court at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. With a roster that includes big-name veterans and exciting up-and-comers, the Nuggets are truly one of The Mile High City's most exciting teams, year after year. The season runs from October to June. See the Nuggets' schedule.