When I receive an email outlining the 10 top things to do in Denver, Colorado I just have to sit up and take interest. So here they are:
1. Must-Sees at the Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum has been bringing phenomenal exhibitions to The Mile High City for decades now. But in 2014 they may have outdone themselves. The delights in store include:
Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (March 2-June 8) – This powerful exhibition brings together about 70 iconic artworks by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador Dalí, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol as well as one of Jackson Pollock’s finest drip paintings. In all, more than 40 influential artists will be on view.
Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century (opening November 16) – Experience a worldwide exclusive that includes an astonishing assortment of jewelry, timepieces and precious objects from the Cartier collection.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park – One of National Geographic’s “Best Trips 2014”
The editors at National Geographic chose wisely when they selected Rocky Mountain National Park as one of their “Best Trips 2014.” After all, this almost 100-year-old national park, just 70 miles from Denver, is one of the world’s greatest outdoor experiences: 400 square miles (1,036 sq km) of unspoiled scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles above sea level. The park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. It’s a dream come true.
3. Denver Is Sports City, USA
Home to seven pro sports teams, Denver is a pro sports paradise during any given year. The NFL’s Denver Broncos, led by NFL record-setting QB Peyton Manning, thrill sold out crowds at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies hit homers in downtown’s Coors Field. The NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche battle the competition at the Pepsi Center.
4. Big Happenings at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
While the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) has been exciting imaginations of all ages since 1900, 2014 may well be the most exciting in its history, with the addition of a brand new wing with 126,000 square feet and five levels of discovery to the Museum, providing even more space to engage and delight. February 14 will see the opening of the Morgridge Family Exploration Center: three above-ground levels of new exhibit space with a beautiful glass expanse that connects the Museum with City Park. There will be more room for world-class traveling exhibitions, a new, hands-on Discovery Zone for kids aged 3-5 (opening June 7), and a multi-level Science Atrium providing space for interactive experiments, science demonstrations, evening events and more.
5. The Craft Beer Capital of the West
In the past year, Denver has been recognized as one of America’s top beer cities by USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Condè Nast Traveler, GQ, Esquire, CNN and others. From long time craft beer favourites like Great Divide and Breckenridge Brewing to adventurous upstarts like Denver Beer Co. and Renegade, Denver’s craft beer scene continues to grow at an exponential rate. Denver brews more beer than any other American city and is home to Coors Brewery – the largest single brewing site in the world. More than 200 named beers are produced and served every day in Denver’s tap houses, brew pubs, breweries, and gastro pubs.
6. The Incomparable Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
This gorgeous 9,000-seat venue, just a short drive from downtown Denver, hosts a spectacular summer concert series from May through September – a show here is on every music lover’s bucket list.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is open year-round, with hiking trails that weave around the massive red sandstone rock formations that surround the amphitheatre, not to mention a free Performers’ Hall of Fame.
7. Farm To Table Food and Superstar Chefs
For years, Mile High City chefs have been working directly with local farms, utilizing Colorado’s bountiful harvest of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and organically raised meats to create dishes that are eco-friendly, innovative and delicious. In Denver, local is always better. The Mile High City’s superstar chefs are regulars on everything from The Food Network to Top Chef and make frequent appearances at the famed James Beard House in New York City.
Some of the city’s best eateries are mobile – during the summer, head to Civic Center Park every Tuesday and Thursday for Civic Center EATS, an ever-expanding collection of gourmet food trucks.
8. Open Air Art
Great art isn’t just in museums in Denver. All over the city, you’ll find gorgeous murals, whimsical sculptures and other kinds of public art that will delight and inspire. Denver’s Public Art Program directs 1 percent of any capital improvement project over $1 million be set aside for the inclusion of art in the design and construction of these projects. As a result, Denver has installed more than 150 works of art all around town.
9. The New, Improved Union Station
Denver’s Union Station is undergoing a massive restoration and redevelopment that will transform it into a transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment hub, all centered around a new 112-room hotel. Four new Colorado restaurants are being added including a seafood restaurant owned by recent James Beard Award winner for the Best Chef Southwest, Jen Jasinski and Alex Siedel, Food & Wine’s 2010 selection for Best New Chef and owner of the acclaimed Fruition restaurant. The restored station will also have two fast service restaurants and ten local one-of-a-kind boutiques. Two new parks will grace the front of the station, which will also serve daily Amtrak trains and Denver’s 124 miles of light and commuter rail.
10. Denver Is An Outdoor Paradise
Denver is all about the outdoors. Whether sipping a craft beer at a café, rafting down a river, biking from park to park, or exploring the natural splendors of the nearby Rocky Mountains, few places offer more opportunities to commune with nature than The Mile High City. And with 300 days of sunshine a year (more annual hours of sun than Miami Beach or San Diego), Denver provides them with plenty of time to do it. Denver has 200 named traditional parks within city limits, offering tennis and basketball courts, jogging paths, paddle boats and picnic tables. But there’s nothing traditional about the outdoors in The Mile High City. Denver Mountain Parks is a special division that operates 14,000 acres of rugged terrain in the nearby Rockies, including the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans Scenic Byway.