Looking for a fun place to visit on a long weekend? Denver, Colorado is the perfect place to go. This Mile High city is known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains and located close to some very epic destinations such as Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods, and so much more. In this travel guide I want to share with you how to spend a weekend in Denver.
Denver is known not just as the Mile High city but also the capital of Colorado. It is a diverse city featuring lots of historical aspects throughout like the capital and city hall but also some modern and fun places to visit throughout. Venture off a little further and you will find all sorts of hiking trails and fun outdoorsy things to do. Let’s start planning an epic Denver weekend trip!
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About Denver, Colorado – The Mile High City
Denver, Colorado dates back to the Old West era with the oldest block in the city dating back to 19th century buildings. The city is well known as the Mile High city since it is exactly a mile above sea level. Denver is also known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains where many people come to ski and adventure too. At Denver you can also find the Colorado state capitol alongside the City Hall and numerous art and history museums.
How to Get to Denver, Colorado
There are numerous ways to get to Denver. It all just depends on your method of transportation. Luckily Denver is a city that has many arrival options including plane, road trip, and even by train.
Traveling by Plane to Denver International Airport and to Downtown Denver
If you choose to travel by plane make sure to fly into the Denver International Airport (DEN). From the airport you can take the train to downtown Denver. It will take you directly to Denver Union Station. The cost to take the train is $10.50 each way but keep an eye on their site as they can have free months from time to time or prices may change.
The other option in getting from the airport to Denver would be renting a car or doing ride share such as taxi, Uber, or Lyft.
Traveling by Train to Denver’s Union Station
You can also travel by train if you are close enough but if you live further away it a long time for you to arrive. Best option is to fly in that case. You can learn more about taking the train to Denver on the Amtrack website here.
Traveling by Car Denver, Colorado
You can also do a road trip to Denver. Road trips are a great way to not just experience a new place but also stop and see new destinations along the way. You can plan the perfect family road trip to Denver with doing a little bit of research and planning ahead.
Where to Stay in Denver, Colorado for the Weekend
Choosing the best place to stay at in Denver is important. You want to make sure you pick an hotel that meets all of your needs, it’s in a good location, and that it is clean and well maintained. Here are some good hotels to choose from in Denver.
Sonesta in Downtown Denver
This is the hotel that we stayed at. The room was spacious and it was perfectly located by the mall. We walking distance from restaurants and stores and close to the Convention Center. The hotel was very clean and spacious. The parking garage was also private and only for guests and workers of that building so it felt safe to be in at night. I highly recommend this hotel as one of your options for your trip to Denver.
Other Places to Stay in Denver, Colorado
- Westin Downtown Denver
- Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown
- Crawford Hotel Denver Union Station
- Kimpton Monaco Denver Downtown
- Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
- The Art Hotel Denver Curio Collection by Hilton
- Brown Palace Hotel
3 Days in Denver Weekend Itinerary
You are probably wondering, “How can I spend 3 days in Denver? Is 3 days in Denver enough?” I am here to tell you that there is a lot to do in Denver but three days is definitely enough to really make the most of your time there. However, if you want to venture off a little further away during your visit, I would recommend adding 2 to 3 more days to your trip. In this travel guide I will share a 3 day itinerary to Denver but also include 2 bonus days that you can add.
Let’s get planning your epic weekend! This is everything that I did during my weekend and more!
Denver Weekend Itinerary: Day 1 – Arrival
Let’s get day 1 in Denver started. Of course this is the day of arrival so it won’t be a full day but here is how you can still make the most of it. I took an early morning flight so after I picked up my car rental and everything it was almost time for lunch.
Lunch at 3 Margaritas at 16th Street Mall
If you arrive in the mid morning I would recommend you grab lunch downtown at 3 Margaritas. Start the trip off with a delicious margarita and Mexican food. I got the chimichangas for my entree. The margarita was so good too and they have different options to choose from.
Afterwards we walked around the 16th Street Mall before heading out to Red Rocks Park for an afternoon hike.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Afternoon Hike and Lucky Strike Bowling
Red Rocks is actually located in Morrison, Colorado which is about a 20 minutes drive west from Denver. We decided to do the hiking trail that takes you to the Geologic Overlook Trail. The trail started behind the bathrooms at Upper North Lot. You will see some stairs that lead to West Aladema Parkway and the trailhead is right behind the building. You will see a sign saying “To Geologic Overlook Trail.” This trail will take you around these beautiful red rock formations and all the way to Red Rocks Park Geologic Marker. We then took the Red Rocks Connector trail to the Lower North Lot and walked down the Trading Post Rd till we got to the Half-Moon Lot. There we took the Funicular Trail back up to Upper North Lot.
After here, we headed back to downtown Denver area. Spent the rest of the afternoon at Lucky Strike bowling and playing at the arcade before ending the night.
Denver Weekend Itinerary: Day 2 – Full Day of Fun
This is your first full day at Denver. Let’s make the most of our day by trying new foods, doing new hikes, and visiting new places.
Breakfast at Trompeau Bakery
We woke up early and headed to a highly recommended French bakery called Trompeau Bakery in Englewood, Colorado. It’s a good midway point between Denver and Red Rocks. We grabbed breakfast here to go. I got a delicious egg croissant with some delicious buttery sauce. It was probably the best egg croissant I’ve ever had. I also got an oatmilk latte and a raspberry danish. I ate the croissant on the way there but saved the danish for after our morning hike.
Morning Hike at Red Rocks Amphitheater
We headed back to Red Rocks this morning since the night before the amphitheater was closed due to an event. I couldn’t go to Red Rocks and NOT see the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. There was a yoga event going on this morning so we decided to park by the Trading Post and hiking the Trading Post Trail all the way around.
When we got to the west entrance of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre the yoga event was ending so we waited a bit before entering. Once we went inside we took a seat in a shaded area and enjoyed our baked goods. This amphitheater is absolutely breathtaking. It’s such a one of a kind theater and so beautifully set up.
We then headed off to the gift shop to buy some souvenirs and check out the museum inside the Trading Post.
Morning Hike at Dinosaur Ridge
After Red Rocks we went across to Dinosaurs Ridge to hike there. This trail was much shorter and paved. It is such a fun trail to hike especially if you love dinosaurs or have kids that do. Throughout the trail you can see dinosaur bones and footprints. You can even see signs by them explaining what kind of bone or track it is and to what dinosaur it most likely belongs too. You can even see the different rock layers and a good explanation of each of those layers.
The hike is paved and easy to do with kids as well. A lot of bikers are on this trail so be cautious when hiking and make sure to walk on your lane.
Bonus: Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center
We didn’t go but another stop you can make in the morning is to Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center. This spot is perfect for kids to learn more about dinosaurs, view dinosaur tracks, fossils, and replicas. Plus there is a Gift Shop and outdoor picnic areas for lunch and souvenirs.
On our way back from our hikes we decided to stop at VooDoo Doughnuts for another treat. You can find several VooDoo Doughnut locations around Denver. We went to the one on Broadway. Here you can find one of a kind doughnuts. From VooDoo doll like doughnuts to delicious glazes with toppings, and even a wide variety of doughnut fillings.
Our afternoon plans consisted of attending the Taylor Swift – The Eras Tour Concert so I’m going to showcase some other things you can do instead.
For lunch we went to Cilantro Tacos Tequila Mezcal close to the Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. To be totally honest, we weren’t big fans of the amount of food we got for the prices we paid. It wasn’t totally bad but it wasn’t our favorite place we ate at. The drinks seem to be a huge hit though.
Afterwards we spent the rest of our afternoon at the stadium for the concert. However, I will share other things that you can do in the afternoon to make the most of your trip to Denver. Here are a few things that my best friend Christina did around Denver after I left to go back home.
Another option for lunch would be eating on Bear Creek Ave. close to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This area has a ton of options for you to choose from. You can grab lunch here first before heading to VooDoo Doughnuts for a treat. Some of the restaurants that were recommended in this area are:
Visiting Meow Wolf Denver | Convergence Station
My friend had an extra day so she was able to do Meow Wolf Denver. She said she absolutely loved it there and highly recommends it to anyone who visits Denver.
Meow Wolf Denver is a one of a kind walk-through art experience with many interactive rooms, bizarre sculptures & a story arcs. This interactive museum is so unique in the type of art displayed throughout and how immersive it is. Overall, the museum has multiple artists involved in the art work displayed throughout each of the rooms.
Night Time Fun
Winding down for the night is my kind of thing but if you want to explore more of the city at night then Denver has plenty to offer. Downtown Denver is known for their beer. They even have a beer trail map that you can follow around the city so you can hit all of the best beer spots. This would be a fun way to explore more of the city and the different breweries.
Denver Weekend Itinerary: Day 3 – Exploring Denver
This is a fun day to explore the city and see more of the beauty and historical aspects of it.
Breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co.
Let’s start the day off at Denver Biscuit Company for a delicious breakfast. The biscuits here were amazing and the homemade jelly was perfection. I had a well needed cup of coffee with dairy free oatmilk creamer that they had available. For my entree I ordered eggs, the biscuit, and vegan sausage. It was all so good. My friend ordered the granola bowl with a biscuit on the side and said it was absolutely delicious.
Visiting the Denver Zoo
After breakfast we headed to the Denver Zoo to check out all of the animals. The zoo is so much fun and they even had marine life in some areas. There is a good selection of wildlife to see here. It is a smaller zoo compared to other zoos that I have visited before so you will have plenty of time afterwards to grab lunch and head somewhere else. Don’t forget to check out the Veterinary hospital at the zoo.
We grabbed lunch at the zoo but didn’t like what I had ordered at all. Other’s liked the chicken but it just wasn’t for me. However, a good place to go for lunch is Blue Pan Pizza. It is centrally located between the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanical Gardens. You can never go wrong with a delicious pizza.
Visiting Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens is another beautiful place to visit. It is located close to the Denver Zoo so you can easily go from one place to the other and make the most of your day. You will find a wide array of flowers, trees, and plants on the premises for you to enjoy. Makes a perfect place to bring the kids too for a quick learning experience.
Ice Cream at 5280
Looking for a quick treat before your next stop? There are many options to choose from around Denver but we went for ice cream. We were just craving something cold and sweet. I got the cookie monster inspired ice cream and my friend got the brownie sundae.
Checking out the Colorado State Capitol Building
If you decide not to go to the Denver Botanic Gardens then visiting the historical side of Denver is a good alternative. This is where we went during our trip and highly enjoyed exploring the area. We got to see the Denver capitol and even got to step on the “one mile above sea level.” Located across the capitol is Denver Civic Center Park which has beautiful gardens and walkways all around. You can also see the Denver City Council here located directly across from the capitol.
Nearby you can find Voorhies Memorial located on the right (facing the City Council) and during Christmas you can find the Mile High Christmas Tree on the left. In Lincoln Veterans Memorial Park, located between the capitol and the the Civic Center Park, you can find Sadie Likens Memorial.
In this historical area of Denver you can also find a wide selection of places to visit such as the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library, restaurants, monuments, unique hotels, and much more.
Visit Denver Union Station
If you want to check out another unique and historical landmark in Denver then you have to visit the Denver Union Station. It took us about 30 minutes to to walk around and take pictures so it’s a quick stop to add to your itinerary. The mix of modern train and historical buildings is so unique and lovely. A lot of good photo spots here.
Dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy
To end the day we ate at Maggiano’s Little Italy with some friends and family. The food here was amazing! It is a little on the higher end but you definitely get your money’s worth of food. They do serve a lot and the service was perfect! I got the eggplant parmesan with spaghettis and it was very filling and delicious.
2 Bonus Days for Exploring Near Denver, Colorado
Planning to stay a little longer in Denver? Here are two bonus days that will let you take a new adventure to the Rocky Mountains and to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both are located a short driving distance from Denver but so totally worth adding to your trip it you have the time.
Bonus Day 1: Day Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning place to visit. Perfect for hiking, camping, backpacking, wildlife photography, and so much more. This outdoor destination is definitely one you should check off your list if you love being out in nature.
If you plan on visiting Rocky Mountain National Park during your trip, make sure to plan ahead and purchase tickets if needed so you are good to go. Sometimes you have to purchase tickets ahead of time during peak season such as the summer time.
Rocky Mountain is such an amazing place to visit if you have the time. It makes for a perfect day trip away from the city. Make sure to arrive early to make the most of your day. Jurga from Full Suitcase travel blog has an awesome 1 day itinerary to Rocky Mountain National Park here.
If you have extra time you can check out Estes Park, Colorado on your way out of the national park. You can even plan to have a late dinner here and even check out some of the area before completing your day trip.
Bonus Day 2: Day Trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Colorado is another place you can take a day trip too if you want to venture outside of the city of Denver. One of the most popular places to visit in Colorado Springs is Garden of the Gods. Here you can enjoy the unique landscape and even go on a hike throughout the mountains. Lisa from Wanderlust with Lisa has an amazing Guide to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado to help you plan for this day trip.
Other Things To Do In and Around Denver, Colorado
And if you just want to explore more of what Denver has to offer, here are a few more things you can do around Denver.
- Denver Art Museum
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science
- Visit the Coors Field Stadium
- Experience the Denver Beer Trail and try the local craft beers along the way
- Visit Denver Central Market
- Check out the local street art
- Visit Larimer Square
- Go to the Downtown Aquarium
- Visit the International Church of Cannabis
- Check out RiNo – a unique Denver neighborhood. Also known as River North Art District.
- Visit Elitch Gardens – a small amusement park.
- Visit Clyfford Still Museum
Best Time to Visit Denver
The best time of year to visit Denver is April to May and from September to October. However, this all depends on the type of trip that you are planning to do as well. If you are seeking a fun trip in the snow, then it is best to travel during the months of January to March. The summer, however, can be a bit more crowded but not too bad. I traveled during the month of July and it wasn’t overwhelmingly busy.
If you travel during the summer and plan to do outdoor activities, I recommend waking up early and making the most of the cooler morning weather. Once that mid day sun starts hitting, it does get a bit hot but nothing like the Florida humid heat that I live with.
How Many Days to Stay in Denver
I think a long weekend of 3 to 4 days gives you enough time to hit some pretty awesome spots around Denver. However, if you really want to make the most of your time there, and experience more of what Denver has to offer, I would definitely recommend a week.
Can I Visit Denver in a Day?
Of course you can! While I don’t think it is enough time to really fully enjoy everything this beautiful city has to offer, I think one well-planned day can give you enough time to hit some good spots. I recommend waking up very early and really plan your day out the best possible so you can make the most of your day.
If you only have time to visit Denver for a day I would recommend having a tentative itinerary such as:
- Early morning activity like a hike or exploring the city.
- Grabbing breakfast at a restaurant of your choice or bakery.
- Visiting a place such as a museum, aquarium, park, zoo, etc.
- Grabbing lunch at a restaurant of your choice.
- Visiting another place such as a museum, aquarium, park, zoo, etc. or you can also just explore downtown.
- If time allows, you can try to fit 2 activities in your afternoon before dinner instead of just one.
- Have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
- Enjoy some of the night life in Denver. You can visit some cute coffee shops, go shopping on 16th Street or bowling at Lucky Strike, or check out the local bars and breweries.
- Then head for a late night sleep at your hotel.
How to Get Around Denver
There are many ways to get around Denver. Overall, it’s fairly easy to get around especially if you are in the city. However, to get around a little further it is best to rent a car or use a taxi service.
Here are some of the best ways to get around Denver, Colorado.
- Renting a Car
- Taxi, Uber, or Lyft for Public Transportation
- Traveling Around Denver by Trail
- Traveling Around Denver by Bus
- Renting a Scooter or a Bike
- Traveling on the 16th Street Mall Ride
- Walking Around Denver
Denver Travel Tips
Denver is at a high elevation above sea level. One mile to be exact. The weather can also vary depending on the time of year that you visit. Here are some travel tips to help you be prepared.
- Know how to get around Denver.
- Make reservations for your hotel ahead of time. I would recommend staying in the city so it’s easier for you to just walk everywhere and limit your driving time.
- Stay hydrated to avoid altitude sickness. Denver is the Mile High City because it is located exactly one mile above sea level. Also make sure to get your rest and pace yourself with drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis as the effects can be stronger.
- Make sure to use travel insurance to protect your trip. You never know when something will come up. Having travel insurance can help make sure you don’t lose all of your money for your trip.
- Pack layers for the changing weather. Nights can be cool in the summer. However during the other months, the weather changes can vary greatly.
- If you are planning to attend a big show, concert or sporting event make sure to purchase your tickets way in advance.
- Make sure to plan ahead for some extra time at the airport. Navigating the Denver airport can take more time dur to extra security checkpoints and it being one of the biggest and busiest airports.
- Denver is a sunny city so it’s important to always have sunblock handy.
What to Pack for a Trip to Denver, Colorado
This all varies according to your itinerary but the main essentials to pack for a trip to Denver are:
- Appropriate clothing for your trip and for the number of days you will be traveling.
- At least 2 extra outfits for safety measures.
- Appropriate shoes. I would recommend comfy walking shoes, hiking shoes, and a nicer pair for dinners and outings.
- Layers such as jackets and coats depending on the time of year you are traveling. Even if you travel during the summer, take a jacket to be safe.
- Under clothing such as boxers, briefs, panties, bras, etc.
- Make-up and other hygiene essentials that you may use
- A hat and sunglasses
- Personal essentials such as ID, flight information, wallet, etc.
- Water bottle to stay hydrated. Make sure it is empty if you are going through TSA at the airport.
- Camera and all of the essentials to go with it.
- Phone and charger
- Any other things you may want to have with you or may need such as prescriptions/medications, other documents, etc.
Need Help Planning Your Trip to Denver?
As a certified travel agent who has visited and explored the beautiful city of Denver, I can help you plan the perfect trip! I would love to help you check this bucket list destination off your list. As your certified travel agent I can help…
- Find the best accommodations.
- Create the most fitting itinerary for your trip.
- Arrange airport transfers and car rentals.
- Manage bookings and reservations.
- Travel Insurance for your trip.
- and so much more!
Feel free to message me on Facebook here for more information.
Final Words on an Epic Weekend in Denver, Colorado
I hope that this guide helps you plan the most epic weekend to Denver, Colorado possible. Denver is such a lovely city to visit with many amazing things to do even in the surrounding areas. Make sure to make the most of your time there and don’t forget to stay hydrated.