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A weekend in Denver, Colorado is a perfect quick getaway! The Mile High city boasts exciting attractions, abundant nature and a thriving 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!
Throughout the years, we have spent a lot of time in Denver. When I lived in nearby Boulder, weekend trips into the city were frequent adventures. 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 afternoon and stay until Sunday evening.
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 city sights, as well as venture beyond the city limits to nearby attractions. Visitors spending a long weekend in Denver (and guests arriving during the week, too!) 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. Additionally, we provide advice for how to get there, where to stay and what to pack for your Denver trip.
Our Denver, Colorado Itinerary includes absolutely everything you need to know. Save, Pin or Bookmark this blog post so that you can use it while planning – and during! – your trip!
A 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.
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 city discovery on Denver’s 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.
At the south end of the street, visitors will find the Civic Center Park, the Denver Art Museum, Cathedral and the Colorado State Capitol building. At the north end of 16th Street is the Museum of Contemporary Art and Union Station.
A free shuttle bus – called the MallRide – transports passengers up and down the street, conveniently stopping at every intersection along the way.
Pro Tip: For a bite to eat, stop at Illegal Pete’s on 16th Street and Wazee; 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. 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 the city’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 and modern structures.
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 is the jubilant nightlife. There are ample dining options and a slew of places to have a few pints of locally produced beer.
Get a formal introduction to LoDo on a guided walking tour!
Our top recommendation for food and drink is the Wynkoop Brewing Company, which is a city institution. The brewpub 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 typical American bar eats.
If you are looking for something a notch up from bar food, check out Woodie Fisher, a historic fire station converted into an upscale restaurant. Another option is the chic Mercantile Dining and Provision, which is a casual 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 – 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.
Cheer on the Local Team
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.
Day 2: Local 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 Saturday during the summer months, the Union Station Farmers Market is a small, community market. 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.
Venture Outside the City
In the afternoon, go on an adventure outside of the city limits. There are numerous nearby destinations that can certainly entertain visitors for half a day, but we think a half-day trip to Boulder is the best way to spend the day.
Boulder – Hike, Shop, Drink, Eat
Located 30 miles northwest of Denver at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is 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 and sampling the 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, too! 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 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 scenery.
Foothills Explorer Tour: Red Rocks, 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 the city, 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!
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!
Start your day outdoors! Spend the morning strolling the magnificent and lush grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens, where they feature a collection of plants and diverse gardens.
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.
Another way to spend the morning outside is by exploring 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.
Pro Tip: For a thrilling way to spend a day in Denver outdoors, go to Elitch Gardens where you can ride 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 in the city. Boasting factories-turned-art-galleries and warehouses repurposed into hip breweries, there is plenty to see and do.
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.
Pro Tip: 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!
How Many Days in Denver, Colorado?
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! Our ideal Denver 1-Day Itinerary would include activities 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 one of the museums, then walk up the 16th Street Mall to Union Station, followed by exploration of LoDo. Next, we would catch a baseball game and, afterwards, we would have a few pints at Wynkoop Brewery.
2 Day Itinerary Denver
To create an ideal 2-Day Denver Itinerary, we would use Days 1 and 3 from our outlined 3-Day Denver Itinerary – eliminating the day trip outside of the city. In our opinion, there simply is not enough time in a 2 Days in Denver Itinerary to venture outside of the city.
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.
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.
4 Day Denver Itinerary
A Denver 4-Day Itinerary allows for much more sightseeing! 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 recommend following our 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.
How To Get To Denver
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 SkyScanner!
Denver Airport to Denver
The Denver Airport is located about 25 miles from downtown Denver. The convenient A Line Commuter Train is a good way to get from the airport to the city, but there are also buses, shuttles and private transfers, which can be booked in advance (and may cost less than the train if traveling with a group of people…and is possibly even cheaper than hopping into a Uber).
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 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 – like 2 swimming pools, an on-site bar and restaurant and comfy beds, some of the rooms have mountain views. Check availability!
Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown
We have actually not stayed at the Hotel Indigo, but the location is ideal – and the reviews are outstanding! 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, the fashionable hostel features on on-site bar, 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 specific tips for things to pack for your Denver trip – and you can find all the best packing advice on our Ultimate Packing List!
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, you will want to bring a hoodie or jacket – even when visiting in the summer.
Weather Appropriate Gear
Depending on the time of year of your trip, you will want 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!
Denver is a great city to explore on foot – so be sure to pack a comfortable pair of city walking shoes! Skechers or casual Columbia shoes 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.
Denver is a clean and beautiful city – so bring a good 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 perfect for beginner photographers!
We think travel insurance is essential! 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 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? We’re here to help! See our detailed guides to Portland, Nashville, Seattle, Chicago, Austin, New York City, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Massachusetts and many more great places at our Travel Guides USA page!
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