Our massive Mile High metropolis is home to an innumerable amount of amazing attractions, and it’s often hard to choose which ones to explore on our free evenings and weekends. But we’ve made it a little easier for you by coming up with 10 hidden gems in Denver everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. From museums and book stores to watering holes and western wear, here are some unforgettable urban Mile High treasures that promise fun for visitors and locals alike.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Big Blue Bear
"I See What You Mean" by artist Lawrence Argent is a true jewel of Downtown Denver that induces a sense of wonder and delight in all who encounter it. You can find this fantastically whimsical 40-foot-tall bright blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center at 700 14th Street.
2. Tattered Cover Book Store
The incomparable Tattered Cover is an independently owned book store and cafe that's been "Bringing People and Books Together Since 1971 and is most certainly a tried and true Denver landmark. Their locations on Colfax and in LoDo have been community hubs for decades and provide a perfect place to gather with friends for coffee and conversation or to simply find a cozy nook for reading and relaxation.
3. Larimer Square Historic District
The quaintly charming Larimer Square is Denver's oldest and most historic city block and a prime location for strolling, sipping, and shopping. Larimer Street became the city's main street in 1861, shortly after General Larimer founded Denver City on November 22, 1858, and today it boasts a bounty of restaurants, shops, and bars that cater to visitors and locals alike.
4. Rockmount Ranch Wear
Just a stone's throw from Larimer Square on Wazee Street, is another one-of-a-kind Denver landmark that everyone should experience. "Papa Jack" Weil founded this third-generation family business back in 1946 and worked every day of his life until his passing at the ripe old age of 107. He was a true pioneer of western fashion who founded the original snap shirt and put out the first commercially produced bolo ties. As Papa Jack said, "The West is not a place. It is a state of mind."
5. Downtown Denver
Mile Highers are often proclaiming that they "never" go Downtown or even "avoid it like the plague," but frankly, I think that a crying shame because there is SO much to see and do, especially if you explore on foot. From Union Station and Coors Field to the Theatre District and Civic Center Park, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of museums, attractions, eateries, bars, and shops in which to while away the hours. Go on and be a tourist in your own town!
6. The Cruise Room
The historic Cruise Room, located at 1659 Wazee Street in the Oxford Hotel, is renowned both for being Denver's oldest post-Prohibition bar and for making a mean martini. This upscale Art Deco establishment was modeled after a lounge on the Queen Mary and promises a cocktail experience totally unique to the Mile High City.
7. Clyfford Still Museum
The Clyfford Still Museum is a once-in-a-lifetime Denver experience that you won't find anywhere else in the nation - or the world for that matter. The jaw-dropping 28,500-square-foot building was designed specifically to showcase Still's work, 95% of which is in the museum's possession - an unprecedented phenomenon in the art world. The sleek, smooth architecture and the quality of natural light afforded by the structure's perforated concrete ceiling is subtle yet powerful and creates an air of tranquility throughout the space that is nearly as lovely as Still's work itself. (Pro Tip: The museum is FREE every Friday from 5-8pm, as well as all day on the last Friday of every month.) The Clyfford Still Museum is located at 1250 Bannock Street, directly behind the ever-popular Denver Art Museum.
8. The ART Hotel & FIRE
After you get your fill of awe-inspiring art at the museum's Downtown, check out the superbly eclectic ART Hotel at 12th and Broadway, which boasts stunning decor and a fabulous rooftop lounge and restaurant with cozy fire pits, killer cocktails, mouthwatering munchies, and phenomenal views of the urban landscape.
9. Art District on Santa Fe
Every first Friday of the month, the charming Art District on Santa Fe hosts First Friday Art Walks from 6–9pm, featuring the largest concentration of art galleries in Colorado, with 60 participating artists studios, galleries, and restaurants. (Pro Tip: FREE guided shuttle buses pick up at the light rail station at 10th Avenue and Osage Street and ferry guests around the Art District between 5:30pm and 10pm.)
10. The Denver Central Market
One of Denver's newest and brightest community hubs is the Central Market, located in the historic 1928 H.H. Tammen building on the corner of 27th and Larimer in RiNo. Denver's Central Market is a "one-stop culinary shop," which houses a local butcher, fish market, bakery, bodega, chocolatier, pizzeria, and more!