What To Do In DenverWhat To Do In Denver

Most people associate Denver, Colorado with snow. After all, they are located just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, a full mile above sea-level.

However, Denver has more hours of sun per year than either San Diego or Miami Beach.

That may explain why Denver has the nation's largest city park system.

Inside the city limits there are more than 200 parks. Including the surrounding areas, there are over 20,000 acres of parks to visit and explore.

Denver is the capital of Colorado and the United States' 24th most populous city. It's also home to the nation's largest airport. At 53 square miles, Denver International Airport is bigger than Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Chicago O'Hare Airport combined.

We hope you enjoy the top 10 places to visit in Denver.

#1 Denver Performing Arts Complex

Speer & Arapahoe

It may seem odd to list the Denver Performing Arts Complex as number one on our list until you realize that's it's the largest performing arts center in the country after the Lincoln Center, in New York City.

The four-block, 12-acre complex hosts the Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, and the Colorado Symphony. Patrons can also catch touring Broadway shows, concerts and professional theatre at the arts center.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts, as an organization, encompasses the Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver Center Attractions, National Theatre Conservatory, and the Denver Center Theatre Academy.

Buell Theatre, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, and Space Theatre are just a few of venues found within the complex.

#2 Red Rocks

8300 West Alameda Parkway

The famous Red Rocks is an 868-acre park and amphitheater located 15 miles outside of Denver. It's a world famous concert venue and often voted the best place to watch a show in the United States.

Its large red sandstone boulders, that seem to defy gravity, once had it listed among the Seven Wonders of the World. The honor maybe gone, but the park is still breathtakingly spectacular.

Even if your favorite band isn't performing at Red Rocks, the park is worth the trip.

#3 Denver Z00

2300 Steele Street

One of the most popular zoos in America, the Denver Zoo houses over 4,000 animals representing over 700 species.

Visitors can find the zoo situated on an 80-acre parcel of land in City Park.

In operation since 1896, the Denver Zoo is open every day of the year. The zoo periodically offers free admission. Look for those days in January, February, October, and November.

#4 U.S. Mint

320 West Colfax

Of all the U.S. mints, only the Denver and Philadelphia facilities offer tours.

The Denver Mint is the world's largest producer of coins. It turned out its first coin in 1906 and the mint has been producing regular and commemorative coins ever since.

Tours of the Denver Mint are free and they show visitors not only how blank ore becomes treasury coins but how the minting process has evolved over the years.

#5 Denver Art Museum

100 West 14th Avenue Parkway

The first question everyone asked about the Denver Art Museum is do they call it DAM? The answer is yes.

Dam is part of the Civic Center Cultural Complex in downtown Denver. The world-class facility is known for its vast collection of American Indian art.

In total, the museum houses over 68,000 works of art from all over the globe.

#6 Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche, Nuggets, & Rapids
Invesco Field at Mile High - 1701 Mile High Stadium Circle West
Coors Field - 2001 Blake Street
Pepsi Center - 1000 Chopper Circle
Dick's Sporting Goods Park - Commerce City, Colorado

Denver is one of 13 U.S. cities that have a representative in each of the four major sports leagues of North America.

The NFL's Broncos play at Invesco Field at Mile High. The Rockies of the MLB play ball at Coors Field.

The Avalanche (NHL) and the Nuggets (NBA) compete at the Pepsi Center.

While the Rapids, a Major League Soccer team, play at Dick's Sporting Goods Park located in nearby Commerce City.

#7 City Park

East of Downtown on 17th Avenue and York Street.

City Park is a 330-acre, multi-use facility containing Ferril and Duck Lakes as well as a public golf course, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Zoo.

Located in east-central Denver, the park is also known for its lush lawns, vibrant flower gardens, decorative fountains, and spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains.

#8 Paramount Theatre

1631 Glenarm Place

The best intimate concert venue in town is the 1,870 seat Paramount Theatre.

The Paramount hosts everything from rock shows to stand-up comics to dance recitals to movies.

The Paramount Theatre has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. When the facility debuted in 1930 it was the place to go to watch movies.

#9 Elitch Gardens Park

2000 Elitch Circle

Downtown Denver's premiere amusement park, Elitch Garden, entered its 120th season on May 1, 2010.

As one of Denver's top destinations for fun, Elitch Gardens has delighted visitors with its thrill rides, well-kept gardens, the Trocadero Ballroom, and the Theatre at The Gardens.

#10 16th Street Mall

16th Street

As you might imagine the 16th Street Mall is located on 16th Street in downtown Denver. It's a one-mile long pedestrian mall featuring Denver's best restaurants and shops--over 500 retailers in all.

You'll find such retailers as Virgin Records Megastore, Niketown, and The Gap. Restaurants include Maggiano's Little Italy, Hard Rock Cafe, and Rock Bottom Brewery.

A free shuttle operates daily taking shoppers from one end of the mall to the other.

If you don't feel like buying, there's ample seating under the tree-lined median. It's a great place to stop, relax, and people watch.

Denver is a diverse and interesting city offering its citizens and visitors ample opportunities for fun and recreation. But perhaps Denver's greatest asset is its proximity to the Rocky Mountains. The majestic peaks offer a life time of places to explore as well as a view that never disappoints.
by Jason OConnor
References and Bibliography
Ryan Hogan is the head writer for DenverSmarts, a site dedicated to all-things-Denver. He loves Denver and all the places to visit in the greater Denver, CO area.
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