The ultimate Denver bucket list could undoubtedly go on ad infinitum, but here are 26 amazing attractions that every tried and true Denverite must conquer as a right of passage. From iconic dishes and eateries to our city’s most notable landmarks, these Mile High staples are not to be missed, so grab your pals and get a move on!
1. Denver Art Museum
Founded in 1893 as the Denver Artist's Club, DAM had many temporary homes before opening its own gallery in 1949 and has continued to expand to include three architecturally stunning buildings totaling over 350,000 square-feet. There are 10 permanent collections on display with over 70,000 works of art.
2. Clyfford Still Musuem
The Clyfford Still Museum is undoubtedly one of the most serene spots in all of Denver and is just around the corner from the fabulous but ever-popular Denver Art Museum. The sleek, smooth modern architecture of the two-story, 28,500-square-foot building was designed specifically to showcase Still's work, and the quality of natural light afforded by the skylights and perforated concrete ceiling is subtle yet powerful and creates an air of tranquility throughout the space. Be still my heart!
3. Civic Center Park
This picturesque urban park opened in 1919 and continues to serve as the nucleus for Denver's government, arts, and culture. Civic Center Park is surrounded by many of the city's most prominent institutions.
4. Capitol Building
The Capitol is one of the most eye-catching features of the Civic Center and has been in operation since 1894. The infamous gold leaf was mined in Colorado and added to the dome in 1908 to honor the Colorado Gold Rush. The interior contains White Yule Marble from Colorado quarries and what is believed to be the entire supply of Colorado Rose Onyx. (Fun fact: The 13th step leading to the west entrance is exactly one mile high.)
5. Denver Performing Arts Complex
DPAC sits on 12 acres, contains 10 performance spaces, and is the second largest performing arts center in the United States. Its sculpture park is home to Jonathan Borofsky's The Dancers, a head-turning piece of art that stands proud at 60 feet tall.
6. Confluence Park
Confluence Park marks not only the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, but also the spot where the city began in 1858 when Green Russell and his prospectors began the search for gold.
7. Coors Field
The first official game at Coors Field was April 26, 1995, when the Rockies defeated the Mets 11-9. (Fun fact: According to the official site, "In 1999, Coors Field firmly founded itself as the most prolific offensive ballpark ever created. The Rockies and their opponents combined for 303 home runs, the most ever in a season at one venue, with one or more tenants.")
8. Mile High Stadium
Sports Authority Field at Mile High stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet and is located less than 50 feet from the site of the original Mile High Stadium. The current digs encompass a total of 1.8 million square feet and seats 76, 125 fans. Wowzers!
9. Larimer Square
Larimer Square is Denver's oldest and most historic block. Its namesake, General Larimer, founded Denver City on November 22, 1858, and Larimer Street became the city's main street in 1861.
10. Union Station
Since its establishment in 1881, Union Station has been the central transportation hub and railway station for the Mile High City. It underwent a major renovation that was completed in 2014 and now houses fabulous shops, restaurants, and a luxury hotel.
11. Casa Bonita
Since its inception in 1974, Casa Bonita has been captivating audiences with its cliff divers, pirate caves, mariachi bands, and other wacky forms of entertainment.
12. Lakeside Amusement Park
Established in 1908, Lakeside Amusement Park is another family-friendly Mile High landmark that every Denverite should visit at least once - but preferably repeatedly.
13. City Park
The sprawling 330 acres of City Park offers magnificent views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains beyond. City Park was designed in 1882 and is one of the oldest public spaces in the city.
14. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science was essentially conceived in 1868 when naturalist Edwin Carter began accumulating specimens of Colorado fauna and putting them on display in his log cabin. Word of Carter's collection got out and in 1900 The Colorado Museum of Natural History (now Denver Museum of Nature & Science) was founded. It gained a permanent home in City Park in 1908 and has continued to expand over the years to what is now a 716,000-square-foot complex with over 1,000,000 objects and artifacts.
Don't miss out on the magic of the 12,850-square-foot Leprino Family Atrium and open air terrace that affords breathtaking views of City Park, Denver, and the distant Rockies.
15. Wash Park
Wash Park has a little something for everyone - serene lakes, tended gardens, interesting playgrounds, and lush lawns with horseshoes, bowling, and croquet. Play a pick-up game of tennis or soccer, take a cruise on the bike path, or meander through the Mount Vernon Garden near Grasmere Lake. The perfect combination of activity and leisure!
16. Denver Biscuit Co.
With locations on East Colfax, Tennyson, and South Broadway, as well as a food truck roving the metro area, the Denver Biscuit Company is one of the Mile High City's most cherished treasures and the perfect place to overindulge before a nice long nap.
17. The Buckhorn Exchange
The Buckhorn Exchange is Denver's original steakhouse and oldest restaurant and has been serving Old West fare since 1893. The building is overflowing with historical artifacts, including a 125-piece gun collection and a 575-piece collection of taxidermy. You've got to see it to believe it!
18. Rocky Mountain Oysters
One of the most infamously iconic dishes in the Mile High is undoubtedly Rocky Mountain "oysters." This Colorado delicacy (aka deep-fried bull testicles) are a right of passage for Denverites and tourists alike. Buffalo Exchange and the Fort are serving up some of the ballsiest versions of this Western treat, so go get 'em!
19. My Brother's Bar
My Brother's Bar is the oldest watering hole in Denver that's still in operation and was once the preferred hangout of Neal Cassady, the Beat crew, and other notoriously nefarious lushes. This laid-back neighborhood haunt is still a popular spot for burgers and beers and barflies, so get on down there and make yourself a regular. (There's no website or sign out front, but you can find them in LoDo at 2376 15th Street.)
20. Cherry Cricket
There's no denying that Denver has undergone drastic changes in recent years, and the Cherry Creek neighborhood is no exception. But there's one thing that certainly hasn't changed, and that's the Cherry Cricket, where they've "been slinging burgers, brews and good times since 1945." You can always count on this nostalgic neighborhood favorite for fantastic food because at the Cherry Cricket "delicious never goes out of style."
21. Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Denver's self-proclaimed sausage czar has been handing out gourmet dogs at his cart at the 16th Street mall for more than a decade and now has three carts and two brick-and-mortar locations in Ballpark and Highlands Ranch. His wildly unique gourmet dogs have received many accolades, especially his elk jalapeño cheddar dog, which was featured on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Every Denverite needs an elk dog smothered in cola-soaked caramelized onions (or any of his other funky toppings like Harissa roasted cactus or bacon red onion marmalade). Whew dog!
22. First Friday Art Walk
Probably one of the most wonderful and well-known free events in Denver is the First Friday Art Walk held every month. Works by regionally and nationally acclaimed artists are on display in studios and galleries in the Art District on Sante Fe, as well as Tennyson, RiNo, Belmar, and the Navajo Art District in Littleton. A free feast for the eyes!
23. El Taco De Mexico
You don't have to break the bank to get good eats, and this no-frills, family-owned, female-run operation on Sante Fe is a testament to that truth. Many Denverites will tell you this joint serves the best chile relleno, smothered burrito, and green chile in town, and I suggest you see for yourself!
24. Denver Botanic Gardens
This little slice of paradise in Cheesman Park promises that no two visits will ever be the same. There are thousands of plants, both from Colorado and around the globe, lovingly placed in about 50 meticulously designed gardens over 24 acres, and their upcoming holiday Blossoms of Light is not to be missed.
25. Red Rocks Parks and Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is "the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world." The first documented performance took place in 1906, and it's been rocking every since.
26. 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 on 14th Street.
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