Headed to Denver for the AFC Championship game? Don’t leave the city without seeing these 10 great attractions. You can hunt for dinosaur fossils at Red Rocks Park, stroll the historic LoDo district, surf the web from the 16th Street Mall, and more.
Red Rocks Park
Inspect dinosaur fossils, take in a concert, or just spend a day hiking in Red Rocks Park.
Fifteen miles west of Denver, dramatic red sandstone juts out of the Colorado foothills, creating a natural amphitheater. Paleontologists study fossil remains of the Jurassic period virtually alongside this natural seating area, which hosts concerts throughout the year.
Visit during the day to explore stunning rock formations on the snaking hiking trails. However, park officials warn visitors to prepare for high altitudes and quick, surprise weather changes.
16th Street Mall
Stroll through this pedestrian mall in the center of downtown Denver. Outdoor cafés, kiosks, and storefront shops line the sidewalks. Shoppers can also duck into the numerous stores in the Denver Pavilions, bowl at the Lucky Strike Lanes, or enjoy a new release at the 15-screen movie theater.
Tired of walking? Catch the free shuttle that runs the length of the mall.
Also, the mall offers free Wi-Fi access.
LoDo is what Denver residents call the Lower Downtown Historic District. In 1858, General William Larimer started a settlement that grew with the Gold Rush into a busy city of 35,000 people.
Though its first population boom ended with the 1893 Silver Crash, visitors and residents still flock to LoDo looking for riches, including fine-dining restaurants and posh boutiques. Take note of the historic architecture as you hit the trendy neighborhood nightclubs; you are strolling Denver’s first streets.
Visitors accustomed to charming New England towns will feel right at home in Larimer Square. What began as Denver’s first city block is now the heart of its chic lower downtown. Window shop at storefronts set in historic buildings or nibble a gourmet snack at a cafe featuring turn-of-the-century architecture. Part of the hip LoDo district, Larimer Square is known for its hot nightclubs, upscale eateries, and boutique shops.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Come for the interactive exhibit floors, and stay for an IMAX feature. Learn about Egyptians mummies, precious gems, and how the human body works. Plus, the museum includes a wing about space exploration and a state-of-the-art planetarium. Rotating movies and exhibits keep the experience fresh. For details, check the exhibition schedule.
The Denver Art Museum
Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Denver art museum building is as much a piece of art as any of the works contained within its walls.
The museum houses a comprehensive inventory, including African, pre-Columbian, modern, and American Indian art, as well as architecture and graphics collections.
The DAM also offers classes, workshops, special lectures, and other learning opportunities open to the general public.
Cherry Creek Shopping District
With hundreds of shops, Cherry Creek didn’t need another way to draw visitors to its long walkways. However, the district also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including a celebrity chef cooking series and monthly gallery nights, when participating art galleries open their floors to the public.
Rocky Mountain National Park
You can camp out, picnic, or just hike through the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Been there already? Take advantage of the natural beauty and outdoor adventure opportunities in the area. Denver is surrounded by hundreds of parks and wildlife areas, including Garden of the Gods, and Maroon Bells.
Or jump in the rental car and take time to explore Boulder or Georgetown
Downtown Aquarium and more animal adventures
Enjoy nature without having to leave the city limits. The Downtown Aquarium boasts several thousand species of fish and marine life in addition to special exhibits and programs just for kids.
Or stop by the Denver Zoo to explore an indoor tropical forest, see lions roam Predator Ridge, and peek into the enormous Primate Panorama.
New England-friendly bars
Watch the AFC Championship game at downtown Pour House, the city’s liveliest Boston bar.
Raised in Jamaica Plain, co-owners and brothers Storm Ireland and Jeff Arnold modeled their pub after Boston’s Pour House Bar and Grill. The brothers even packed their menu with Boston favorites, including Fluffernutter sandwiches and bangers and mash.