Visit Denver, CO – Things to Do, Attractions and Safety
Denver, Colorado, famous for its art scene, historic architecture, Indigenous representation, and beautiful landscape, is one of the best destinations to visit in the western United States. It sits high among the Rocky Mountains and has some of the best ski resorts in the world. It’s one of the best destinations for couples and families and has plenty for visitors of all passions and tastes.
To help you make the most of your trip, this travel guide will give you everything you need to know about Denver, including where to stay, best time to visit, year-round weather, as well as the top attractions, restaurants, and shopping centers. You’ll get tips on safety, travel deals and discounts, packing list suggestions, transportation advice, and ways to make the most of your vacation.
Things to Know About Denver, Colorado
Denver sits at exactly one mile above sea level, giving it the nickname “Mile High City.” Denver is home to about 715,000 people and sees 31 million visitors a year. Famous celebrities from Denver include Tim Allen, David Fincher, Trey Parker, Kristin Cavallari, Duane Chapman, Chauncey Billups, and AnnaSophia Robb.
Denver’s downtown area is rated one of the most walkable areas in the nation, making it an awesome area to enjoy the city without driving long hours. This also makes it one of the better cities for solo travelers and couples looking to enjoy the city’s sights.
Denver is one of the few cities to have six professional sports teams. These include the Denver Broncos (NFL), the Colorado Rockies (MBL), the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), and the Colorado Mammoth (NLL).
Best Time to Visit Denver
Most visitors say the best time to visit Denver is April and May or September and October. The temperatures are comfortable, and the city is alive with events and things to do. These are great budget months and you’ll hit fewer crowds. This doesn’t always work for families with children in school though. The cheapest month to visit Denver (for flights and hotels) is January.
Weather In Denver
Denver has a warm desert climate similar to Utah. Expect little rain and lots of sun. Winters are cold with plenty of snow. December is the coldest month with highs around 47°F and lows around 19°F. Summers are hot and dry. The hottest month is July, with highs around 92°F and lows around 61°F. Denver has an average of 300 days of sunshine each year.
Colorado’s allergy season runs May through September with lots of grass and weed pollen. Likewise, Colorado has lots of smog and air pollution that cause a haze and may pose a challenge for at-risk individuals.
Where to Stay in Denver
When visiting any city, there are areas that cater to visitors, and areas that don’t. That’s why it’s important not only to find areas that fit your budget, but also to find areas that will meet your travel needs. We recommend sticking to well-known tourist areas for all travel. Tourist areas put you closer to attractions and are safer. Transportation is better connected, and you’ll have more options for food and fun. To help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve put together the following list of the most popular areas for visitors to stay in while visiting Denver.
Lower Downtown (LoDo)
Lower Downtown is the best downtown area and has tons of historical buildings and nice patio spaces. It’s a very romantic area, but you’ll find more chain establishments which makes it less thrilling for shopping and eating. You’ll also be close to Union Station and all it has to offer.
Five Points (aka River North/RiNo)
Five Points is one of the best places for local restaurants, coffee, and art. There are tons of murals but not so much greenspace. It’s a semi-industrial area, so it’s not as walkable, and this is one of the high-crime areas of Denver. If you get around in the car, you’ll have less problems. RiNo is well-known for its classy boutique hotels which are very romantic for couples and very calm for solo travelers.
Cherry Creek is very walkable with lots of designer stores. It’s great for shopping and going on a walk with family, friends, or your sweetheart.
Capitol Hill is a luxury area with lots of parks and green space. It has less direct access to bars and nightlife but is calm and clean. Better for business travelers and couples.
Lower Highlands (LoHi)
Rated the best overall place to stay in Denver, Lower Highlands, nicknamed LoHi has some of the best views of the mountains and some of the best restaurants. It’s farthest from the downtown area, but puts you close to the Platte River and awesome hiking and walking trails.
Gets Deals for Denver Hotels
Our MySittiVacations hotel finder can help you find affordable, safe hotels and bed and breakfast options for your trip. You can select specific hotels or search by area within dates of stay that work best for you. We apply special coupons which save you money and make planning your vacation that much easier. Check it out here. For the best deals you should plan your trip about 3 months in advance.
10 Must See Attractions and Things to Do in Denver, Colorado
Denver has a lot more to do than most cities. There’s a strong local vibe that you won’t find most places in the world. We’ve listed the most popular sights below which gives you other options of things to do and places to visit. If you’re looking for even more things to do (and huge discounts/deals) make sure to check out MySittiVacations’ Things to Do page here.
- Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens includes locations at York Street as well as Chatfield Farms. The facility focuses on displaying plants native to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Most plants are traditionally displayed in garden beds, however, the gardens also feature plant artwork, like One Fell Swoop by Patrick Dougherty which is a sculpture created from saplings.
- Denver Union Station
With over a century of history, the Denver Union Station has beautifully transformed from railroad hub to social hub. It’s now Denver’s go-to for shops, restaurants, and the renowned Crawford Hotel. It’s a pedestrian-friendly location as over 160 attractions and restaurants are located within half a mile of the hotel.
- Coors Field
Game-days galore, theme-day dates, and Coors Field concerts are only a few of the reasons to hang out at Denver’s beloved MLB field. Tours of the arena are available to the public.
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Nature and Science Museum of Denver offers educational exhibits like Mazes and Brain Games, Space Odyssey, and Egyptian Mummies. The Museum is also known for celebrating North American Indian Cultures and the prehistoric setting of the Rocky Mountain region.
- Denver Art Museum
Historic paintings and sculptures line the hallways of this well-known museum; however, the DAM is unique in that it also displays fashion pieces and live-action culinary shows (overviewing the art of Indigenous cuisine) to reveal the vastness of art. Tour over 70,000 creative pieces constructed by brilliant minds spanning centuries.
- Denver Zoo
The Denver Zoo is ranked among the biggest in the world, with over 80 acres and 3,000 animals. Fun for families, couples, and solo travelers. If you’re looking for other great zoos to visit or want to know about the biggest zoos in the world, make sure to check out our guide to zoos here.
- Molly Brown House Museum
The Molly Brown House Museum is an icon to Titanic survivor and heroine-activist Margaret Brown. Tours are about 45 minutes. (Seasonal haunted tours also available)
- Forney Museum of Transportation
The Forney Museum of Transportation is the coolest museum around when it comes to vehicles. There are over 800 artifacts, cars, trains, motorcycles, planes, and bikes all included.
- Washington Park
Washington Park is a 155 park with two flower gardens, two lakes, and everything you need for walking, jogging, biking, volleyball, and tennis. It’s one of the safer areas in Denver which makes it an awesome space to relax, exercise, or have a picnic.
- Mount Evans Scenic Byway
If you have a car, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a 28 mile (45-minute drive) that climbs over 7,000 feet. It’s one of the prettiest drives in Colorado. The Byway will close for poor weather, so check in advance.
Deals and Discounts for Tickets in Denver
MySittiVacations has exclusive discounts and deals for these and other major attractions in Denver. From tickets to entrance fees, as well as tours and other entertainment packages that can help make your trip even better while saving you some money. Check deals on attractions and things to do in Denver here.
8 Best Restaurants in Denver, Colorado
Colorado is known for its diverse food scene with just about every food available nearby. The following are Denver’s most popular and well-rated restaurants:
- Sukoon – Indian – Dine-in, Takeout, delivery – $$
- Humboldt Kitchen + Bar – American – Dine-in, Takeout, delivery – $$$
- El Five – Tapas – Dine-in, takeout, delivery – $$$
- The Bindery – New American – Dine-in, drive-through, delivery – $$$
- Guard and Grace – Steak – Dine-in, curbside, delivery – $$$
- The Capital Grille – Fine Dining – Dine-in, curbside – $$$$
- Rioja – Mediterranean – Dine-in, takeout, delivery – $$
- Marri’s Pizza & Pasta – Italian – Dine-in, curbside, delivery – $$$
This list contains the highest rated restaurants to eat at in Denver, but there are plenty of other places to try out as well. Make sure to check out MySittiVacations Restaurant Finder for other recommendations and deals.
9 Best Shopping Centers in Denver
If you’re looking to do a little shopping in Denver or want a great way to spend some time with friends, Denver has you covered. With several up-class malls and commercial districts you’ll see lots of specialty shops and boutiques. Denver is big on local-made high-quality fashion, jewelry, art, and novelty items. We’ve listed the best places to check out below.
- Cherry Creek Mall
- Belmar Shopping Center
- Colorado Mills Mall
- Park Meadows Mall
- Flatiron Crossing
- The Streets at SouthGlenn
- Town Center at Aurora
- 16th Street Mall
Is Denver Safe to Visit?
Risk while visiting Denver, Colorado is medium. Violent crimes in Denver are higher than the national average. Colorado itself ranks 26th for safety (compared to other states), with most crime occurring in specific neighborhoods. One of the biggest risks are the homeless who often haggle and threaten walkers. Watch your stuff and don’t keep valuables in your car. Choose reputable places to stay and follow general safety precautions. Risk of pickpockets is moderate. If you stay alert, avoid problem areas, and plan your trip before you leave, you shouldn’t experience any problems.
Safety Tips for Visiting Denver
On top of the tips, we’ve already mentioned above, there are a couple other safety tips you should follow for a safe trip to Denver.
- Drink water. Dehydration is just as dangerous as crime.
- Always lock doors to hotels and cars.
- Stay alert and know where you are and where you’re going.
- Try not to walk around at night. If you do, make sure you’re with a group.
- Stick to well-known tourist attractions and areas.
- Keep your eye on your children.
- Watch your drinks and don’t drink too much.
- Keep belongings on you at all times.
- Avoid homeless individuals and camps.
- Know how to use and carry pepper-spray.
Safest Neighborhoods in Denver
The safest neighborhoods in Denver are (in order) Wellshire, Indian Creek, Hilltop, Washington Park West, North Park Hill, Fort Logan, Berkeley, Washington Park, Country Club, and West Highland. This doesn’t mean crime doesn’t occur in these areas, or even that they’re the most tourist friendly, but the risk of something happening is lower if you stay in these areas.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Denver
The most dangerous neighborhoods in Denver are (in order) Civic Center, DIA, Union Station, CBD, Sun Valley, Auraria, Globeville, Five Points, and Lincoln Park. We recommend extra precaution while in these areas and making sure that you stay in hotels and b&bs with good reputations.
Best Ways to Get Around Denver, Colorado
When visiting Denver, the best mode of transportation in the downtown area is by foot. Downtown Denver is the most walkable downtown in the county. Public transportation in Denver is fantastic with numerous buses, shuttles, light-rails, and subways and can quickly and cheaply connect you to attractions, hotels, and the airport.. If you plan on staying within the Denver area, you may not need a car at all. (This is what makes Denver such a great destination for solo travelers and couples).
If you want to visit other parts of Colorado then you should consider renting a car. Public transportation works well if you stay in-city but has far fewer options getting you to other areas. You can check out reliable and cheap car rental companies in Denver through the MySittiVacations Cheap Car Rental Deal Finder.
Taxis as well as rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are all popular and reliable in Denver but cost more per trip.
Things to Pack for Denver
Denver has a standard packing list, with an emphasis on clothing that is breathable and heat friendly in summer, and cold friendly in winter.
- Good walking shoes.
- A camera.
- Headache medication.
- Clothes for a nice dinner or date.
- Warm clothes for winter.
Things to Pack for Outdoor Recreation in Denver
Aside from the standard packing list above, there are some extra things you should pack if you plan on enjoying any of Denver’s outdoors.
- Hiking boots
- Outdoor clothing (shorts, hiking pants, tank top, winter coat, etc.)
- Water bottles
- A small first-aid kit
- More sun protection (sunscreen, sunhat, aloe vera)
- Camping gear
Is Denver Family Friendly?
Denver is very family friendly. There are plenty of attractions for young children and teenagers like the Downtown Aquarium or the Firefighters Museum. It’s relatively budget friendly and has plenty to do and plenty of accommodations to meet your family’s needs.
Is Denver Good for Solo Travelers?
Denver is a great destination for solo travelers. Nightlife is active and has something to offer visitors of all ages and tastes. It’s a wonderful city to visit alone because it has so many attractions that can be taken at your own pace and can be enjoyed alone or with new friends.
Is Denver Good for Couples?
Yes! Nothing makes for a perfect date like the Denver Downtown area. If you’re looking for a honeymoon or special getaway, Denver is one of the most scenic cities in the U.S. You’ll be close to tons of outdoor parks, and you’ll be a short drive from Colorado’s famous mountain resorts.
Is Denver Good to Visit with Friends?
Yes! Taking a trip to Denver with a friend or group of friends is an awesome idea. There are tons of bed and breakfast options in Denver which are perfect for getting lots of space without spending as much as you would in hotels. Denver has tons of nightlife and other adult-oriented attractions perfect for checking out with friends.
Other Cities to Visit
Denver is a wonderful destination, but perhaps it doesn’t have everything you’re looking for. That’s okay. MySittiVacations has resources to help you find your dream vacation and turn it into reality. If you want a music vibe, we recommend Austin (known as the Live Music Capital of the World). If you want more of a resort feel, check out Las Vegas. For southern culture and local shopping see New Orleans. If you want a great party/nightlife atmosphere, check out Miami. If you’re looking for a kid-oriented destination try Orlando.