Where to start in a city that's so jam-packed with things to do? The mountains are only 30 minutes away, so world-class skiing, snowboarding, and hiking are at your fingertips. If you prefer to stay within the city limits, a wealth of museums and parks awaits, as well as a zoo and aquarium. Denver Art Museum and Denver Museum of Nature and Science are renowned for exceptional quality in their fields. Sports fans certainly won't be bored either, because Denver is home to major football, basketball, baseball, and hockey teams. Unique to Denver are Red Rocks Amphitheatre – a great venue for a concert, or simply to explore on foot – and Colorado History Museum, which recounts the city's and state's past through photographs, artifacts, and multi-media displays.
1. Colorado Ski Vacation
Beaver Village Resort, 79303 US Highway 40, PO Box 43, Winter Park, CO 80482
In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, at the end of the historic Moffat tunnel railroad, nestled next to Rocky Mountain National Park, tucked inside acres of the Arapaho National Forest and situated just an hour from the Denver International Airport, lies Winter Park -- one of the top destinations for Colorado Ski Vacations. Winter Park is legendary for its ski country and backcountry trails, in addition to unparalleled panoramic views of mountain peaks, wildflower and lakes full of trophy trout fishing. It's long been boasted at "Colorado's favorite ski area," heralded by locals for its affordable prices, convenient location, rustic lodging and vibrant village life, characterized by one-of-a-kind restaurants, lively pubs with dancing and music, and quaint antique shops.
2. Denver Art Museum
100 W 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80204 · 720-865-5000
DOWNTOWN . The Denver Art Museum is highly regarded for its collection of Native American art, which includes over 16,000 pieces from more than 100 tribes across the US. The seven-story contemporary building also houses impressive displays of Pre-Columbian and Central American art and textiles, a fascinating Asian collection, and a fine assortment of modern American and European paintings. The Architecture, Design and Graphics galleries are notable as well. In 2006, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, a craggy structure of steel and glass designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, opened its doors across 13th Street from the original building. The building dramatically increases the museum's gallery and education space while redefining the Denver skyline.
3. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
2605 Red Rocks Park Rd, Morrison, CO 80465 · 303-697-5968
MORRISON . Truly unique to the area, Red Rocks combines natural geological wonders with a stellar concert and event schedule. Come during the day for the best view of the red sandstone formations, over 250 million years old and 300 feet high. A moderate 1.4 mile trail loops around the area for the best views. Return in the evening to experience acoustic perfection as some of the biggest stars in music take the stage, including acts like Fleetwood Mac and Mariah Carey. A summer film series provides a change of pace when two bands perform before the screening of a classic movie.
4. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205 · 303-322-7009
CITY PARK . This museum has the largest draw of any cultural exhibit in the region. Denver Museum of Natural History offers an exhilarating look at the history of life on planet earth and also provides an overview of the universe. Exhibits include an internal view of the human body, a gem mine, and the Hall of Ancient Peoples.
5. Denver Botanic Gardens
1005 York St, Denver, CO 80206 · 720-865-3500
CHEESMAN PARK . These city gardens issue a call to all green thumbs (and those in training) to come see Denver's horticultural treasures! The gardens spread across 23 acres and feature intriguing specimens from all corners of the globe. In fact, 15,000 species of plants and 20,680 of fungi are represented. Two sister properties, Chatfield Nature Preserve in Littleton and Mt. Goliath on Mt. Evans, are affiliates of the Denver Botanic Gardens and offer additional resources for fans of botany and gardening.
6. Colorado History Museum
1300 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203 · 303-866-3682
DOWNTOWN . Clever use of photographs and artifacts brings the past to life at this museum. Fascinating exhibits like "Ancient Voices" and "Soldiers on Skis" detail, respectively, the lives of the region's Paleo-Indians and the experiences of the 10th Mountain Division. The museum's most unique feature is " Colorado TimeScape," a multi-media display that takes as its focus a 3-D topographical model of the state. As visitors listen to a narrative history, lasers alter the landscape, providing a vivid account of Colorado's past 10,000 years.
7. Coors Field
2001 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205 · 303-762-5437
LODO . If you've got baseball in your blood, you have to make a pilgrimage to Coors Field. The baseball-only stadium came at a price tag of $215 million dollars, but locals say the cost was well worth it. The facility seats more than 50,000 fans and occupies 76 acres. Thanks to loyal fans, the famous ballpark sees a lot of in-season action. By the way, if you're in row 20 of the upper deck, you'll find yourself in a purple seat, indicating that you're exactly a mile above sea level.
8. Colorado State Capitol Building
200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203 · 303-866-2604
CAPITOL HILL . Even if you're not politically minded, you'll enjoy visiting Colorado's capitol building, which was designed to resemble Washington, DC's. Notable architectural elements include a gold-plated dome that rises 180 feet, carved statues that grace the west entrance, and vibrant stained glass windows. Be sure to search out the hand-painted renderings of US presidents inside. Outside, you can view memorials dedicated to patriots who have served the country and the state. Guided tours available.
9. United States Mint
320 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80204 · 303-405-4761
DOWNTOWN . If you've never visited a US Mint, be sure to pencil in time for Denver's, where coins are produced and gold and silver bullion stored. You'll find the process of money-making enlightening, especially when informative tour guides point out intriguing, little-known facts. The Mint Gift Shop offers fun, educational items, including books and money-themed gifts. The Mint accepts same day walk-up tour reservations on a space-available basis.
10. Molly Brown House Museum
1340 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203 · 303-832-4092
CAPITOL HILL . Located on Capitol Hill, this structure was home to the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, who gained her nickname by surviving the sinking of the Titanic. The home is fully restored and furnished with period pieces. Known for her flamboyance, Molly Brown was a formidable woman in Denver society. Special events such as teas and readings are offered at the home these days.
11. Denver Zoo
2300 Steele St, City Park, Denver, CO 80205-4899 · 303-376-4800
CITY PARK . The Denver Zoo, as it currently exists, arose from humble beginnings – the gift, in 1896, of a young black bear to the mayor. From this small start, the zoo has mushroomed into an 80-acre refuge housing approximately 4,000 animals. Habitats that mimic in-the-wild conditions shelter animal residents, who include great cats, primates, reptiles, birds, elephants, fish, and no small number of endangered species. A painting rhino is one of the zoo's unusual denizens. The facility has also gained fame for its conservation efforts.