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A weekend in Denver, Colorado is a perfect quick getaway! The Mile High City boasts exciting attractions, abundant Colorado nature and a thriving Denver craft beer scene. To help fellow travelers experience the best of the city, we created the perfect Denver Itinerary that includes all of the highlights!
Why Spend a Weekend in Denver, Colorado?
When I lived in nearby Boulder, weekend trips to Denver were frequent adventures. Although the two cities are close enough that we didn’t need to stay in Denver, we would get a hotel in the city as a staycation (especially if we were watching a game or attending a concert). Every time we would plan a trip to Denver, Colorado, we would seek out new things to do, places to go and foods to eat.
It is fair to say that throughout the years we have spent a lot of time in Denver discovering the absolute best of the city. We can tell you, from personal experience, that a weekend trip to Denver, Colorado is a perfect vacation. In fact, it is still one of our favorite US cities to visit!
Denver 3-Day Itinerary
Our Denver weekend itinerary is designed for people who want to make the most of their trip with a variety of experiences and adventures. Rather than detailing a weekend in a Denver 2-Day Itinerary, we have outlined 3 perfect days in Denver – assuming you will arrive Friday or Saturday and stay until Sunday or Monday evening.
How Many Days Should I Stay in Denver?
We think 3 days in Denver allows just enough time to experience the absolute best of the city! On a 3-day trip to Denver visitors can enjoy the best city sights, as well as venture beyond the urban limits to nearby attractions. Travelers spending a long weekend in Denver (and guests arriving during the week, as well) can use our 3-Day Denver Itinerary to easily plan their trip.
That said, if you are trying to plan One Day in Denver or need ideas for a Denver 5-Day Itinerary, we have tips for you as well! At the end of the post, we offer suggestions for visiting Denver in one day and how to plan longer stays in Colorado. Additionally, we provide advice for how to get there, where to stay and what to pack for your Denver trip.
Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your Denver Trip by using our Travel Planning Printables!
Our Perfect Denver Itinerary
Use our 3-Day Itinerary for Denver as a day-by-day guide for your weekend trip. Our trip plan is ideal for couples, groups of friends and solo travelers, but we also include tips throughout our 3-Day Itinerary around Denver for families traveling with kids.
Our Denver, Colorado Itinerary includes absolutely everything you need to know. Save, Pin or Bookmark this Denver blog post so that you can use it while planning – and during – your Denver trip!
Day 1: Discover Downtown Denver and LoDo
On Day 1 of you Denver trip itinerary, get checked into your accommodations (suggestions below) and set out to discover Denver’s vibrant downtown.
16th Street Mall
Start your 3 Day Denver Itinerary on a city discovery of the outdoor shopping promenade, the 16th Street Mall. The 1-mile-long street, which is lined with shops, restaurants and an astounding 42 outdoor cafes, sits in the heart of the city. A trip to downtown Denver would not be complete without navigating your way along this famous street.
At the south end of the 16th Street Mall, visitors will find the Civic Center Park, the Denver Art Museum, Cathedral and the Colorado State Capitol building – all of which are worth seeking out. At the north end of 16th Street is the Museum of Contemporary Art and Union Station (which is a must-see in Denver sightseeing!)
A free shuttle bus – called the MallRide – transports passengers up and down 16th Street Mall, conveniently stopping at every intersection along the way.
Pro Tip: If you get an early start to your weekend trip to Colorado and are in Denver for lunch, stop at Illegal Pete’s on 16th Street and Wazee for a bite to eat. It ranks as one of our all-time favorite spots for incredibly delicious burritos!
LoDo – or Lower Downtown – is the oldest neighborhood in the city and one of the best places to visit in Denver.
The Lower Downtown district dates to the 1850s – and throughout history it has seen many changes; from the introduction of railway traffic to serving as Denver’s Chinatown to devolving into a derelict area of disrepute. In the late 1980s, LoDo got a facelift and is now a mix of historic dwellings, modern structures and entertainment complexes (such as Coors Field).
Two must-see places in LoDo are Larimer Square and the Tattered Cover bookshop (located on 16th Street). However, what the LoDo district is now best known for – and the reason to include it on your Denver, Colorado itinerary – is the jubilant nightlife. There are ample dining options and a slew of places to have a few pints of locally produced Colorado craft beer.
Get a formal introduction to LoDo on a guided walking tour!
Where to Eat in Denver LoDo
Our top recommendation for food and drink is the Wynkoop Brewing Company, which is a Denver institution. It’s one of the best places to visit in Denver to understand the city’s celebrated history with craft beer. Wynkoop was the first brewery on the scene in LoDo, opening in 1988. Featuring unique local brews and a jovial environment, they offer a beer pairing menu and tasty food offerings.
If you are looking for something a step up from bar food for your Denver, Colorado trip, check out Woodie Fisher, a historic fire station converted into an upscale restaurant. Another option is the Mercantile Dining and Provision, which is a chic spot serving fresh and innovative fare.
Bars in LoDo
Denver has a solid reputation as a craft beer city – and sampling some of the local brews is a must on any trip to the city! In addition to Wynkoop, there are heaps of other breweries that have taprooms in downtown Denver. You can create your own Denver craft beer pub crawl (use this Denver Beer Trail map) – or join a highly-rated LoDo Craft Beer Tour.
Pro Tip: Another fun way to explore the bar scene is on a LoDo Haunted Pub Tour that features ghost stories while sipping suds. And, if you are creating a Denver Itinerary with Kids, consider this fun-for-all-ages Haunted Tour.
For cocktails in Denver, there is no better place to go than The Cruise Room. The iconic and glamorous bar, which is located in the LoDo landmark Oxford Hotel, dates to 1933 – and is considered to be Denver’s longest continuously running bar.
Day 2: Local Denver Market and Regional Exploration
On Day 2 of your Weekend in Denver Itinerary, spend the morning at a local market, then venture outside of the city limits to explore one of the nearby attractions.
Union Station Farmers Market
Open on Saturdays during the summer months, the Union Station Farmers Market is a small, community market and one of the cool places to visit in Denver.
The non-profit, zero-waste market is focused on farm fresh produce and embodies the spirit of supporting local farmers and businesses. In addition to the produce available at the market, some vendors sell ready made food – like tacos and baked goods – making it a good first stop of the day.
Pro Tip: If your trip does not coincide with a Saturday when the market is taking place, no worries! Instead, go to Union Station for breakfast at the oh-so-popular Snooze. Known for their pancakes (like Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes) and eggs benedict (such as the Bella Bella Benny), Snooze is one of the top brunch eateries in Denver.
Venture Outside On A Day Trip From Denver
In the afternoon, go on an adventure outside of the city limits on one of the quick weekend rips from Denver. There are numerous nearby destinations that can certainly entertain visitors, but we think a half-day trip to Boulder is the best choice!
Boulder – Hike, Shop, Drink, Eat
The nearby city of Boulder is easy to get to on a trip to Denver, Colorado. Located 30 miles northwest of Denver at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder ranks as one of the most beautiful cities in the USA. Although now exceptionally affluent, the city still clings to its hippie roots. With ample outdoor spaces and a picture-perfect main pedestrian thoroughfare, Pearl Street, Boulder is a must-see destination.
Top attractions in Boulder are the many hiking trails that climb into The Flatirons, shopping on Pearl Street, sampling the cuisine and locally produced craft beer.
Denver visitors with a car can easily plan their own day trip to Boulder. Travelers without a car can take a bus (1 hour) or get an Uber, but the fee for the one-way ride can easily exceed $100. Another fun option to see Boulder and get in a hike is to join the Boulder Hike and Beer Tour.
Pro Tip: Boulder is also home to the University of Colorado, which has a great campus to explore. On campus, be sure to pop into The Sink, a Boulder institution that serves amazing burgers, incredible pizzas and a huge selection of microbrews.
Other Denver Day Trips
While Boulder is our top pick for a day trip from Denver, there are many other nearby destinations. All of these destinations can be reached by car, but we are highlighting the top-rated tours so that visitors can just sit back, relax and enjoy the Colorado scenery.
Foothills Explorer Tour: Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Lookout Mountain, Golden
On this 4-hour small-group tour from Denver, explore the scenic landscapes surrounding the city. Visit the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater, take in majestic mountain views and pass through quaint western towns. Get the details!
Full-Day, Small-Group Tour: Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods
Without a doubt, Pikes Peak and Gardens of the Gods are two of the most incredible natural wonders of Colorado – and this all-day Denver tour covers them both! At the Garden of the Gods, stroll through stunning rock formations, then stop at the historic town of Manitou Springs for lunch and, finally, make the steep ascent to Pikes Peak Summit for breathtaking views. Find out more!
Rocky Mountain National Park: Full Day Denver Tour
The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in America – and you can see it on a day trip from Denver! On this full-day trip from Denver, visitors get to savor the epic views and, hopefully, see some wildlife – like elk, moose and maybe even black bears – along the route. Book it now!
Cheer on a Denver Sports Team
Watching a sports event is one of the top things to do on a Denver weekend trip. Often when we planned a weekend vacation in Denver, our trip was based around watching Colorado Rockies baseball. While the game was the highlight for us – we built an entire itinerary of what to do in Denver for a weekend around it.
Whether you are traveling to Denver as a family, couple, group of friends or solo, attending a sporting event is one of the best Denver vacation ideas – especially for an exciting evening of entertainment.
Denver is home to five professional sports teams: Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball, Denver Broncos football, Denver Nuggets basketball, Colorado Avalanche hockey and Colorado Rapids soccer.
With so many pro sports teams, there is a good chance that there will be at least one game during your trip – which would be a fantastic addition to your Denver vacation itinerary. The stadiums – Coors Field (Rockies), Pepsi Center (Nuggets and Avalanche) and Empower Field at Mile High Stadium (Broncos) – are all located in downtown Denver, making it easy to catch a game during your trip.
Pro Tip: If your Denver, Colorado weekend trip does not coincide with an at-home sporting event, spend the evening in the Capitol Hill district. The diverse neighborhood offers heaps of fun weekend activities in Denver. Check out the street art, go to a live show at the historic Ogden Theater, feast on vegetarian fare at City O’ City, drink at the classic watering hole Charlie Brown’s or stop in a cannabis shop (because it’s legal in Colorado, so why not?!).
Day 3: Denver, Colorado Culture
On the last day of your Denver, Colorado vacation itinerary, experience the unique Denver culture by visiting a museum, district or park – or all three!
Feast at a Denver Institution
Start your day with a hearty and filling breakfast from a downtown landmark, Sam’s No. 3. Established in 1927, the diner boasts a huge menu – with enormous portions to match. Try the Kitchen Sink Burrito (made famous when it was features on the food show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives) and a loaded Bloody Mary.
Get Outdoors In Denver
Spend the rest of your morning outdoors working off all the food you just ingested. There are numerous city parks that you can include on your itinerary for Denver, Colorado.
Stroll the magnificent and lush grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens, where they feature a collection of plants and diverse gardens.
However, if you want to go to a free park in Denver, set off on a walk through Cheesman Park, visit City Park or go further south to the lovely Washington Park.
Alternately, if you have a car, consider a visit to the amazing (and free!) Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Wildlife Refuge. Located close to the DEN Airport, the nature area contains many bison, deer and marmots! Take the 11 mile drive through the park and then walk along one of the several trekking trails.
If you are planning a Family Itinerary to Denver, Colorado, perhaps consider spending the morning at the Denver Zoo instead. The zoo, which was established in 1896, features natural enclosures and has won numerous awards for its environmental accomplishments.
Pro Tip: For a thrilling way to spend a day in Denver outdoors, put Elitch Gardens on your Denver trip planner! The fun amusement park features roller coasters and water slides.
Denver’s RiNo District – or River North Art District – is an exciting neighborhood to discover. Edgy and charming, the RiNo District is the artistic enclave of Denver. Boasting factories-turned-art-galleries and warehouses repurposed into hip breweries, there is plenty to see and do in RiNo.
One of the best things to do on your Denver 3 Day Itinerary it to explore the incredible displays of Street Art in the RiNo district. Visitors can freely wander the area to find works of art, but joining a locally guided Street Art tour ensures you find the best murals – as well as learn about the history of street art in Denver.
If you are getting hungry for lunch, don’t miss the Denver Central Market in RiNo! The gourmet food hall hosts several vendors serving a delicious array of local favorites.
In the last hours of your Denver trip, spend some time in one of the many museums in Denver. Art museums, like the Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, are top choices for art lovers.
The History Colorado Center and Molly Brown House Museum are interesting for history buffs. However, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is likely the most entertaining for kids and a top pick if you are planning a trip to Denver, Colorado with family.
Pro Tip: If museums are a focus in your Denver in a Weekend trip plan, consider buying a money-saving pass. The Mile High Culture Pass includes all six of the recommended museums – plus the Botanical Gardens – for one low price! Buy your combo all-in-one ticket here!
More Denver Itineraries
Still trying to decide how many days in Denver, Colorado? We have tips that will help you plan a trip to Denver!
Our outlined weekend guide to Denver is the best way to spend 3 perfect days in Denver. However, we know some visitors are limited to just 1 day in Denver, while other travelers are looking for activities to include in a longer Colorado trip itinerary. We are offering our top suggestions for both shorter and longer trips to Denver so that you can plan your ultimate trip!
1 Day Itinerary Denver
Planning what to do in Denver for a day is difficult – there are just so many choices! Visitors planning a Denver 1 day trip will want to plan an concise itinerary that features sights and attractions located in close proximity.
How To Plan a Trip to Denver in a Day
In order to create our ideal Denver 1-Day Itinerary, we would rearrange the activities outlined in our Weekend in Colorado. We think it is best to include attractions and sights from Days 1 and 3 in our above Denver 3-Day Itinerary.
For example, to see the best of Denver in 1 day, we would recommend visiting the best sights in Denver, starting in Civic Center Park, then walking up the 16th Street Mall. For lunch, we would eat at Illegal Pete’s and then continue north to Union Station. In the late afternoon, we would explore more of LoDo. Next, we would catch a baseball game and, afterwards, we would have a few pints at Wynkoop Brewery.
2 Day Itinerary Denver
On 2-day weekend trips to Denver, Colorado, visitors can fit quite a bit of sightseeing into an itinerary. In fact, we have devised the perfect way to create a Denver, Colorado vacation trip plan.
Planning a Trip for Two Days in Denver
It is fairly easy to create an ideal 2-Day Denver Itinerary. We recommend simply using Days 1 and 3 from our outlined 3-Day Denver Itinerary – eliminating the day trip outside of the city. In our opinion, there just is not enough time in a 2 Days in Denver Itinerary to venture outside of the city. Instead, stick to a downtown Denver vacation.
Alternate Denver Itinerary 3 Days
While we think our Denver Itinerary for 3 Days is the best way to visit the city, we realize that some guests will want to spend the entire weekend in the city, foregoing the option to take a day trip.
How To Plan a 3 Day Itinerary: Denver, Colorado
Visitors who want to create a 3 Days in Denver Itinerary that does not include a day trip outside of the city center can easily do so. There is so much to see and do in downtown Denver! In fact, there are enough listed activities in Day 3 of our Denver trip plan that visitors could easily spread the sightseeing over two days instead of trying to fit it all into one day.
On a 3 day trip to Denver, follow Day 1 of our long weekend in Denver trip plan. On Day 2, visit museums and parks on the south side of the city. Then, on Day 3, visit City Park, the Zoo and RiNo District.
4 Day Denver Itinerary
A Denver 4-Day Itinerary allows for much more Denver, Colorado sightseeing! If you are still unsure of how many days to spend in Denver and can swing four days, we highly recommend it!
How To Create a Denver, Colorado 4 Day Itinerary
A Denver, Colorado trip planner for 4 days is pretty easy to create using our 3 day itinerary around Denver as a base. We recommend following Days 1 and 2 as outlined in our 3-day trip to Denver. Then, use the activities from Day 3 and spread them over two days of city sightseeing.
For example, create a Denver Itinerary for 4 days by spending Day 3 exploring RiNo in the morning and going to Elitch Gardens in the afternoon. Then on Day 4, start the day by visiting the Botanical Gardens or go to the Zoo, then go to museums in the afternoon.
5 Day Denver Itinerary
A Denver Itinerary for 5 days allows for a lot more flexibility and the ability to see more of the surrounding region! We have devised the perfect way to spend 5 days in Denver.
How To Plan a Denver, Colorado 5 Day Itinerary
The best way to plan a 5 Day Colorado Itinerary is to follow our above suggestions for how to spend 4 days in Denver, then on your last day, go on another adventure outside of the city center.
For example, if you included a trip to Boulder from Denver in your itinerary, go on a second trip to Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods on the last day of your trip.
However, if you don’t want to go so far, check out a few more districts close to downtown. Consider spending time in the affluent Cherry Creek neighborhood on the southeast side of the city for some spectacular shopping. Alternatively, go north of downtown to LoHi for incredible restaurants. Postino (one of our favorite eateries hailing from Phoenix) and Little Man Ice Cream are our top picks!
How to Get to Denver, Colorado
The first step in planning a trip to Denver, Colorado is deciding how to get there. Most Denver visitors arrive by plane via the Denver International Airport (which is nicknamed DIA, but uses DEN as the airport code).
The airport is serviced by more than 20 airlines that have routes to more than 200 destinations. Start your search for the best prices on airfare at our go-to resource for airline tickets, SkyScanner!
Denver Airport (DIA) to Downtown Denver
The Denver Airport is located about 25 miles from downtown Denver – so you will need to consider how you will travel to Denver from the airport.
The convenient A Line Commuter Train is a good way to get from the airport to the city center, but there are also buses, shuttles and private transfers, which can be booked in advance. Booking private transfer may cost less than the train if traveling with a group of people…and is possibly even cheaper than hopping into a Uber.
Car Rental for your Denver, Colorado Trip
While we do not think a car is necessary for your 3 days trip to Denver, Colorado, it can be nice to have your own wheels (especially if you plan on exploring beyond the city center on your own). With your own vehicle, you will be able to more freely explore the sites and attractions of the Rocky Mountain region.
Where To Stay in Denver For a Weekend
Even though I lived in Boulder, we often spent weekends in Denver – and stayed in downtown Denver hotels or Airbnb Apartments to make it feel like a true weekend getaway. For a weekend trip to Denver, we think the best place to stay is in the heart of downtown.
Westin Downtown Denver
We stayed in the Denver downtown Westin on more than one occasion. Centrally located and outfitted with top amenities – it is the perfect hotel for Denver weekend trips.
What we liked best about staying at the hotel on a downtown Denver trip is the 2 swimming pools, an on-site bar and restaurant and comfy beds, some of the rooms have mountain views. Check availability!
Brown Palace Hotel
An iconic hotel in the heart of downtown Denver, the luxurious Brown Palace Hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Dating to 1892, the Brown Palace offers guests a timeless experience with modern conveniences.
In addition to the hotel’s high-end amenities, the property boasts six bars and restaurants and a phenomenal spa. The Brown Palace is a top pick for a romantic couples weekend in Denver. Check rates for your stay!
Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown
We have actually not stayed at the Hotel Indigo, but the location is ideal, the reviews are outstanding and we think it would make a great base for a weekend in Denver!
The chic hotel is located just a 5-minute walk to Union Station A Line (which connects the city to the airport) – but guests really love it for the stylish ambiance! Find out more!
Although we prefer to stay in private accommodations, budget and solo travelers may enjoy staying in hostels – and Hostel Fish in LoDo gets rave reviews! In addition to the superb location, what makes the fashionable hostel fantastic for a weekend trip to Denver is the on-site bar, fun dorm rooms and a shared kitchen. Additionally, they host organized activities. Check rates!
What To Pack for Your Trip To Denver
We have a few final travel tips for your Denver, Colorado Itinerary…what to pack!
Your packing list for your trip to Denver will ultimately depend on which activities you plan to include in your Denver Itinerary. That said, we have a few specific packing hacks for your Denver trip – and you can find all the best packing advice on our Ultimate Packing List!
Layered Clothing for Your Denver Trip
Denver is called the Mile High City because it is, in fact, located one mile above sea level. Being at such a high elevation means that sunny days are hot and nights are cool. Trust us on this one, when you consider what to pack for Denver, you will want to bring a hoodie or jacket – even when visiting Denver in the summer.
Weather Appropriate Gear for Your Denver Weekend
Don’t let the weather ruin your Denver weekend itinerary! Regardless of the time of year of your Denver trip, you will need to be prepared for the elements. Don’t forget a warm hat for the winter, a packable rain jacket for the spring, sunscreen for the summer and a lightweight jacket for the autumn! You will also want a great day bag to organize and protect all of your essential, everyday travel items.
Comfortable Shoes for Your Trip to Denver
Denver is a great city to explore on foot – and our Denver trip itinerary covers some serious ground! Be sure to pack a comfortable pair of city walking shoes! I like Skechers or casual Columbia shoes, which are great for the city – and will be alright for some hikes in Boulder (but if you plan on a more extensive hike, you will want hiking shoes!). Kris wears his Merrell trail shoes for both city and trail walking.
Travel Camera for Your Weekend in Denver Itinerary
Denver is a clean and beautiful city – so bring a great camera to capture the sights! While a Canon Powershot point-and-shoot is probably fine for the city, we highly recommend using a DSLR camera with a good lens to capture landscape shots outside of the city center. We carry a DSLR Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens. Not only is the camera easy to use, but it comes bundled with tons of accessories – which is why it is a perfect budget camera for beginner photographers!
Travel Insurance for Your Denver, Colorado Vacation
We think travel insurance is essential – even when you visit Denver for a weekend! With trip insurance, you will be protected in the event of delayed flights, lost luggage or a cancelled trip. Find out more about coverage and rates for your weekend Denver trip at World Nomads.
We Want To Know: Is there anything you would add to our Denver Itinerary? What are your favorite things to do in in Denver, Colorado? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
Planning To Visit Other Top Destinations in the USA?
When planning a trip in the USA, a weekend in Denver is a fabulous choice. If you are looking for more amazing US city destinations (or Underrated US Spots) we can help!
Get inspiration from our guide of the 20 Best USA Weekend Trips!
Find many more great places to visit on our Travel Guides USA page!
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