It’s always fun to show off your hometown to friends and family when they come to visit. This is especially true for residents of the Mile High City, as Denver attractions, festivals and sightseeing are among the best in the country.
The only problem is that visitors usually only stay for a few days, and there are enough exciting things to do in Denver to occupy several weeks or even months. I moved to Denver from Florida last year – for no other reason than I wanted to. It seemed like a place I would love living in and I’m pleased to report that I do. So for me, showcasing the highlights is a task I relish in planning and look forward to executing.
I’ve played host five times now and here I present my list of the best things to in Denver when your loved ones darken your doorstep.
1) 16th Street Mall
Sixteen blocks of shopping, food and libations offer a little something for everyone. Stock up on kitschy Colorado souvenirs at Where the Buffalo Roam or indulge in gourmet cuisine and handcrafted microbrews from one of the countless downtown Denver restaurants. You can even catch a movie at the United Artist Theaters or challenge your friends to a game of bowling at Lucky Strike Lanes. When 3:00 p.m. rolls around, grab a table on the patio of the Paramount Cafe for great happy hour specials and some seriously entertaining people-watching.
2) Sunset drinks at the Hyatt Regency’s Peaks Lounge
The Hyatt Regency on 15th Street is a short walk from the Paramount Cafe. (Not to be confused with the Grand Hyatt on Welton.) Take the elevator to the 27th floor for 180 degree views of downtown and the front range. Drinks are a bit on the expensive side, but well worth the markup when the sun slips behind the mountains and the blinds are lifted from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
3) Golden and Coors Brewery
You can’t come to Colorado and not “tap the Rockies”, as the old commercials used to say. Self-guided audio tours of Coors Brewery, the world’s largest single site brewing facility, are completely free. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy ample samples in the hospitality lounge at the end of the tour, so you really come out the winner here. Afterward leave your car in Coors’ parking lot and stroll a few blocks into quaint, historic downtown Golden.
4) Red Rocks Amphitheater
Even if you aren’t able to catch one of the many summer shows at this world renowned venue, it is still a “must do” in Denver. The natural beauty of the geological formations is awe-inspiring, and watching your sea-level friends huff and puff up the extensive stairway at high altitude is hilarious. Make sure they make it to the top so you can check out the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame located in the Visitor’s Center. It is filled with memorabilia from the likes of The Beatles, Tom Petty, The Grateful Dead, and many others who have graced the stage.
5) Rocky Mountain National Park
If time permits, take the 90 minute drive northwest through Estes Park to one of the country’s most stunning natural treasures. Activities abound, from hiking, biking, climbing, camping, picnicking and horseback riding. Or just take a scenic drive to the summit of Trail Ridge Road and take in the incredible views. You may very well spot elk, deer, moose, or Colorado’s state animal, the bighorn sheep.
No matter what you plan to do with your out of town guests, make sure you highlight the Denver attractions that are closest to your heart. It won’t be hard for them to see why you and so many others choose to call this amazing city home.