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The Ultimate Guide To Denver In A Weekend


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Wilmette Landaverde



Welcome to the Mile High City! Denver, Colorado is a vibrant and lively destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, a food lover, or simply seeking a weekend getaway, Denver has something for everyone.


Known for its stunning Rocky Mountain backdrop, Denver is nestled in the heart of Colorado and offers a unique mix of urban charm and natural splendor. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, this city is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, providing ample opportunities for hiking, skiing, biking, and exploring iconic national parks.


But Denver isn’t just about the great outdoors – it’s also a vibrant hub of art, culture, and history. The city boasts a thriving art scene, with numerous galleries and museums to peruse. From the impressive Denver Art Museum to the eclectic street art that adorns the walls of the RiNo Art District, there’s no shortage of artistic inspiration to be found.


Furthermore, Denver is a culinary haven, with a burgeoning food and craft beer scene. From farm-to-table restaurants to trendy food halls and breweries, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to satisfying your taste buds.


In this ultimate guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best experiences Denver has to offer in a weekend. We’ll explore the vibrant downtown area, delve into outdoor adventures, immerse ourselves in the city’s cultural offerings, and provide essential tips for making the most of your visit.


So pack your bags, get ready to explore the beauty of the Rockies, and let’s dive into the exciting world of Denver!


Day 1: Exploring Downtown Denver

Your first day in Denver will be dedicated to exploring the vibrant downtown area, where you’ll find a mix of historical landmarks, trendy neighborhoods, and a bustling culinary scene. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of the local eateries, fueling up for the adventure ahead.


Begin your exploration by visiting the iconic Union Station. This beautifully restored train station is not only a transportation hub but also a destination in itself. Admire the stunning architecture, grab a cup of coffee, and soak in the lively atmosphere of this bustling spot.


Next, take a stroll along the 16th Street Mall, a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Hop on the free MallRide shuttle that runs along the street, allowing you to explore the area at your leisure.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Denver Art Museum is a must. This impressive institution houses an extensive collection of artwork spanning various periods and styles. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, you’ll be captivated by the diverse range of exhibits.


After immersing yourself in art, head to Larimer Square, one of the oldest and most charming blocks in Denver. With its historic buildings, upscale boutiques, and gourmet restaurants, it’s the perfect place to indulge in a leisurely lunch and do some shopping.


In the afternoon, make your way to the State Capitol building, where you can take a guided tour and learn about the history and politics of Colorado. Don’t forget to climb to the observation deck for breathtaking views of the city and the Rocky Mountains.


As the day comes to a close, make your way to the trendy neighborhoods of LoDo (Lower Downtown) and LoHi (Lower Highlands). These areas offer an abundance of hip bars, breweries, and rooftop lounges where you can unwind and sample some of the city’s best craft beers.


Finish off your first day in Denver with a delicious dinner at one of the acclaimed restaurants in the downtown area. From farm-to-table establishments to international cuisine, you’ll find a wide range of options to suit every palate.


After a day packed with exploration, head back to your accommodation, rest up, and prepare for the adventures that await you on day two in Denver.


Day 2: Outdoor Adventures in Denver

On your second day in Denver, it’s time to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and thrilling outdoor activities that the city and its surroundings have to offer. With the majestic Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, get ready for an exhilarating day of adventure.


Start your morning by fueling up with a hearty breakfast, and then make your way to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. Known for its stunning natural acoustics and breathtaking rock formations, this iconic venue is a must-see. Take a leisurely hike through the park, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, tackle the challenging stairs of the amphitheater for an intense workout.


Next, head west to Golden, a charming town located just a short drive from Denver. Explore the picturesque downtown area, stroll along Clear Creek, and visit the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum to learn about the state’s rich mining history.


If you’re seeking a true outdoor adrenaline rush, head to Clear Creek Canyon, where you can try your hand at whitewater rafting. Join a guided rafting tour and navigate the thrilling rapids, surrounded by rugged cliffs and stunning scenery.


For a more leisurely outdoor experience, make your way to the Denver Botanic Gardens. This oasis in the city is home to a diverse collection of plants and gardens, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the beauty of the meticulously curated landscapes.


If you’re visiting Denver during the winter months, take advantage of the nearby ski resorts. Just a short drive from the city, resorts like Winter Park, Breckenridge, and Vail offer world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Hit the slopes and enjoy the exhilaration of gliding down fresh powder.


As the day winds down, relax and unwind with a visit to one of Denver’s many parks. City Park, Cheesman Park, and Washington Park are all popular choices, offering plenty of space to enjoy a picnic, play sports, or simply lounge and soak up the sun.


For an unforgettable evening experience, consider attending a concert at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. With its natural beauty and incredible acoustics, watching a performance under the stars is a truly magical experience.


After a day filled with outdoor adventure, return to your accommodation and reflect on the incredible experiences of the day. Get a good night’s rest, as there’s still more to explore in Denver on your final day!


Day 3: Cultural Experiences in Denver

On your final day in Denver, immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural offerings. From museums and historical sites to live performances and vibrant neighborhoods, there’s no shortage of cultural experiences to explore.


Start your day with a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This world-class museum offers fascinating exhibits on natural history, anthropology, and space exploration. Marvel at the towering dinosaur skeletons, learn about indigenous cultures, and explore the wonders of the cosmos.


Next, make your way to the historic Five Points neighborhood, known for its rich African-American heritage. Take a walk through the streets and discover the vibrant art scene, including galleries showcasing the works of local artists. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the soul food restaurants that call this neighborhood home.


Continue your cultural exploration with a visit to the Molly Brown House Museum. This Victorian-era mansion was once the home of Titanic survivor and philanthropist, Margaret Brown. Take a guided tour and learn about her extraordinary life and her impact on women’s rights and social reform.


For a taste of Denver’s performing arts scene, catch a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With multiple theaters offering a range of performances, including Broadway shows, plays, and musicals, you’re sure to find something that captivates you.


As lunchtime approaches, head to the trendy neighborhood of RiNo (River North). This art district is teeming with creativity, from colorful murals adorning the walls to stylish boutiques and craft breweries. Indulge in a delicious meal at one of the trendy eateries while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.


After lunch, discover the history of Colorado at the History Colorado Center. This interactive museum showcases the state’s past, from Native American cultures to the Gold Rush era and beyond. Engage with hands-on exhibits, watch historical films, and gain a deeper appreciation for the unique stories that have shaped Colorado’s identity.


End your cultural adventure with a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. This 24-acre oasis is not only a haven for plant enthusiasts but also a hub for cultural events. Check their calendar for concerts, art exhibits, and other cultural activities that might be happening during your visit.


As your time in Denver comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the incredible cultural experiences you’ve had. Denver’s vibrant arts and rich history make it a city that leaves a lasting impression.


Before you depart, indulge in a final meal at one of Denver’s acclaimed restaurants, celebrating the diverse culinary scene that makes the city truly special.


With memories of outdoor adventures and cultural discoveries, bid farewell to Denver, knowing that you’ve experienced some of the best the city has to offer.


Where to Stay

When it comes to choosing accommodations in Denver, you’ll find a wide range of options to suit every budget and preference. From luxury hotels in the heart of downtown to cozy bed and breakfasts in charming neighborhoods, here are some recommendations on where to stay during your visit:


Downtown Denver: If you want to be in the heart of the action, staying in downtown Denver is your best bet. Here, you’ll find a variety of upscale hotels, trendy boutique accommodations, and well-known chains. This area is perfect for those who want to explore the vibrant nightlife, shopping, and dining options that downtown has to offer.


RiNo (River North): Known for its eclectic art scene and trendy vibe, RiNo is a great neighborhood to stay in if you’re looking for a more unique and artistic experience. You’ll find boutique hotels, hip hostels, and rental apartments in this area. Plus, you’ll be within walking distance of galleries, stylish eateries, and craft breweries.


Cherry Creek: If you prefer a more upscale and luxurious stay, Cherry Creek is the neighborhood for you. This affluent area offers upscale hotels, high-end shopping, and gourmet dining options. It’s also conveniently located near the Cherry Creek Trail, providing easy access to outdoor activities.


Capitol Hill: For a mix of history and culture, consider staying in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Here, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from historic bed and breakfasts to modern boutique hotels. Capitol Hill is known for its beautiful architecture, proximity to cultural attractions like the Denver Art Museum, and vibrant dining scene.


Cherry Creek Trail: If you prefer a more outdoorsy experience, consider staying near the Cherry Creek Trail. This 42-mile paved trail winds through the city and offers opportunities for biking, jogging, and leisurely walks. There are several hotels and lodges along this trail, providing a peaceful and scenic retreat.


No matter where you choose to stay, Denver’s efficient public transportation system makes it easy to explore the city. The Light Rail, buses, and ride-sharing services are affordable and convenient options for getting around.


Before booking your accommodations, consider your budget, preferred location, and the type of experience you want to have while exploring Denver. Whether you’re seeking luxury, convenience, or a unique neighborhood vibe, Denver has the perfect place to call home during your visit.


Where to Eat

When it comes to dining in Denver, you’ll find a vibrant and diverse culinary scene that caters to every taste and preference. From farm-to-table eateries to international cuisines, here are some recommendations on where to indulge in a delicious meal during your visit:


Larimer Square: This historic block in downtown Denver is lined with top-notch restaurants and upscale eateries. From modern American cuisine to international flavors, you’ll find a range of options to satisfy your taste buds. Many of these restaurants feature locally sourced ingredients, ensuring a fresh and memorable dining experience.


LoDo (Lower Downtown): LoDo offers a mix of trendy bars and restaurants that are perfect for a night out on the town. Enjoy craft cocktails, craft beers, and innovative cuisine in this lively neighborhood. You’ll find everything from gastropubs and barbecue joints to sushi spots and upscale steak houses.


RiNo (River North): Known for its artistic vibe, RiNo is home to a plethora of unique and creative eateries. Explore the food halls that feature a variety of vendors offering everything from gourmet pizzas to artisanal ice cream. Don’t forget to also try out the locally brewed craft beers from the numerous breweries in the area.


Cherry Creek: If you’re looking for upscale dining and gourmet experiences, Cherry Creek is the place to be. This neighborhood boasts several high-end restaurants known for their impeccable service and innovative menus. From fine dining establishments to chef-driven eateries, you’ll find culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds.


South Broadway: This eclectic and vibrant neighborhood is a great option for those seeking unique dining experiences. From funky cafes and trendy gastropubs to ethnic eateries offering dishes from around the world, South Broadway has it all. Don’t miss out on exploring the diverse flavors and hidden gems found on this bustling street.


Food Trucks: Denver’s food truck scene is thriving, offering a wide range of cuisines on wheels. Look out for food truck gatherings and events where you can sample a variety of dishes from different vendors. These mobile eateries serve up everything from gourmet burgers and tacos to vegan delights and artisanal desserts.


Whether you’re a foodie seeking gastronomic adventures or simply craving a delicious meal, Denver has something for everyone. The city’s diverse culinary scene will satisfy your cravings and introduce you to flavors from near and far.


Be sure to check online reviews, seek recommendations from locals, and explore the neighborhoods to discover hidden culinary gems during your visit to Denver.


Transportation in Denver

Getting around Denver is easy and convenient, thanks to the city’s efficient transportation system. Whether you prefer public transportation or renting a car, here are the options available for navigating the city:


Public Transportation: Denver has an extensive public transportation system operated by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). The RTD offers bus services that cover the entire city, and the Light Rail system that connects various neighborhoods and suburbs. The Light Rail is a great option for getting around downtown and to nearby attractions, such as the Denver Tech Center and the Denver International Airport.


Bicycles and Scooters: Denver is also a bike-friendly city with numerous bike lanes and trails. You can rent bicycles from various locations, including B-cycle stations, where you can pick up and drop off bikes throughout the city. Additionally, electric scooters are available for rent, providing a fun and convenient way to explore the city.


Ride-Sharing Services: Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are widely available in Denver. They provide a convenient and reliable option for getting around the city, especially if you prefer the flexibility of door-to-door transportation.


Car Rental: If you prefer the convenience of having your own transportation, renting a car is a viable option. Denver has several car rental companies located at the airport and throughout the city. However, keep in mind that parking in certain areas, especially downtown, can be challenging and may have associated fees.


Walking: Denver is a pedestrian-friendly city, and exploring on foot is a great way to soak in the charm and atmosphere of the different neighborhoods. Many attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other, particularly in downtown and the surrounding areas.


When planning your transportation in Denver, consider factors such as the proximity of your accommodations to the attractions you plan to visit, the availability of parking if you choose to rent a car, and your preferred mode of transportation. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to check transportation schedules, fares, and any restrictions or guidelines in place during your visit.


With its comprehensive transportation options, getting around Denver is a breeze, allowing you to explore the city and its surrounding areas with ease and convenience.


Essential Tips for Visiting Denver

As you plan your trip to Denver, keep these essential tips in mind to make the most of your visit:


1. Prepare for the Altitude: Denver sits at a higher elevation than most cities, so it’s important to take precautions against altitude sickness. Stay hydrated, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and give yourself time to acclimate before engaging in strenuous activities.


2. Dress in Layers: Denver experiences a wide range of temperatures throughout the day and year, so dressing in layers is key. Even in the summer months, evenings can get chilly, so be sure to pack a jacket or sweater.


3. Sun Protection: With over 300 days of sunshine per year, Denver is a sun-soaked city. Protect yourself from the strong UV rays by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat when you’re out exploring.


4. Stay Hydrated: Denver’s high altitude and dry climate can lead to dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re engaging in outdoor activities or spending a lot of time in the sun.


5. Take Advantage of Happy Hour: Denver boasts an impressive craft beer scene, and many bars and breweries offer happy hour specials. Take advantage of these deals to sample some of the local brews and enjoy the lively atmosphere at a lower cost.


6. Embrace Outdoor Activities: Denver is renowned for its outdoor adventures. Whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, or simply strolling through the city’s parks, make time to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.


7. Plan for Mountain Weather: If you’re venturing into the mountains near Denver, be prepared for changing weather conditions. Pack appropriate clothing, check for trail and road closures, and be aware of potential elevation-related issues.


8. Respect Local Wildlife and Nature: When exploring the great outdoors around Denver, remember to respect the local wildlife and follow Leave No Trace principles. Keep a safe distance from animals, pack out your trash, and leave nature as you found it.


9. Be Mindful of Cannabis Laws: Colorado has legalized recreational cannabis, but it’s important to understand and respect the specific laws and regulations surrounding its use. Follow the designated areas and establishments if you choose to partake.


10. Support Local Businesses: Denver is full of local businesses, from restaurants and breweries to shops and art galleries. Look for opportunities to support the local economy and immerse yourself in the unique offerings of the city.


By keeping these essential tips in mind, you’ll have a memorable and enjoyable trip to Denver, filled with fascinating experiences and breathtaking moments.



Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our ultimate guide to Denver in a weekend. We hope this comprehensive overview has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration to make the most of your visit to the Mile High City.


From exploring the vibrant downtown area and indulging in outdoor adventures to immersing yourself in the city’s rich cultural offerings, Denver offers something for every traveler. With its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and diverse culinary options, this city truly has it all.


Remember to prepare for the altitude, dress in layers, and protect yourself from the sun. Stay hydrated, take advantage of happy hour specials, and embrace outdoor activities to truly immerse yourself in the Denver experience.


Whether you’re marveling at the breathtaking views from Red Rocks Park, discovering world-class art at the Denver Art Museum, or savoring delicious meals at local eateries, every moment in Denver is an opportunity for adventure and discovery.


As you explore the neighborhoods, engage with the locals, support local businesses, and take in the unique charm of the city, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, pack your bags, get ready to experience the best of Denver, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the Rocky Mountain paradise of Colorado!