What to Do in Denver - Leah Goetzel Photography
what to do in denver

What to Do in Denver
Perfect Denver Vacation Itinerary

Colorado Guide

Are you planning a trip to Denver and asking yourself, what is there to do in Denver? Well take it from a Colorado wedding photographer who has traveled all over Colorado and is currently based in Denver! Here are my favorite things to do in Denver and the perfect Denver Itinerary.

Here’s my itinerary for a week in Colorado. The most important events are bolded, so if you’re only here for a weekend, pick and choose from those bolded items! 

And if you’re looking for a photographer to capture your vacation, send me a message!

Your Itinerary for a Week in Denver

Day One: Arrive & Explore Denver

  • Grab breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co in Tennyson
  • Walk around the different shops and stores
  • Head downtown
  • Visit the Denver Botanical Gardens
  • Wander through the RiNo district looking at murals
  • Grab drinks at different breweries 
  • Head over to the Highlands
  • Dinner at Linger or Wildflower
  • Ice cream at Little Man
  • Drinks at Forest Room 5 or William & Graham

Day Two: RMNP

  • Wake up early and grab sandwiches at Wooden Spoon Bakery
  • Drive through Lyons
  • If hungry, grab lunch/breakfast at Bella Butter Bar 
  • Pickup sandwiches at St. Vrain Market Deli
  • Stop off at Colorado Cherry Company (amazing pies)
  • Choose a hike at RMNP (here’s a great list of good hikes) If you don’t want to hike and just want to drive to cool lookouts here is my suggested route: 
    • Enter through Beaver Meadows entrance
    • Sprague Lake
    • Hidden Valley
    • Rainbow Curve Overlook (sometimes closed for weather)
    • Forest Canyon Overlook (closed after October, can be super windy, amazing views)
  • In my opinion Estes Park is super touristy, Disneyland vibes but if you want to stop off and explore after the park go for it. 
    • Stanley Hotel (Steven King, Shining Inspiration)
  • Head back and stop for dinner at either Lyons or in Boulder
    • Main Stage Brewing
    • Smokin Daves BBQ
    • Lyons Dairy Bar
    • 
    • Osakas Ramen
    • River and Woods
    • Bramble and Hare

Day Three: Hike around Golden

  • Early breakfast at Sassafras in Golden (if there’s a wait, head over to Higher Grounds for a coffee)
  • Walk around the downtown area
  • Grab sandwiches togo at D’Deli 
  • Drive to either Windy Saddle Park for views atop Lookout Mountain or Golden Canyon State Park for the best fall colors
  • Golden Mill food hall for Dinner
  • End the night with a show at the Red Rocks

Day Four/Five: Choose a Mountain Town

Here’s a really great lists of mountain town. If you’re going further than 3 hours definitely make it a two day trip. If you choose Breck (1.5 hrs), Frisco (1.5), Vail (2.5),  Buena Vista (2.5) or Salida (2.5) make sure to leave early and account for bad traffic, especially if you’re driving on i70!!

Day Five/Six: Museum Day & Small Towns Near Denver

  • Grab breakfast & choose a museum to explore
    • Molly Brown
    • Denver Art Museum
    • Denver Museum of Nature & Science 
    • Forney Museum of Transportation 
    • Meow Wolf
  • Head out to Louisville for lunch at Moxie 
  • Walk around the downtown area
    • Crystal Springs Brewery
    • Sweet Cow Ice Cream
    • Giovannitti Coffee Roasters
    • Bittersweet Cafe for Coffee
  • Drive to Stem Ciders in Lafayette for sunset, great views and drinks
  • Dinner at TeoCalli Mexican Food 
  • Explore the cute little downtown area

Day Six/Seven: Brainard Lake & Boulder

  • Wake up early and drive to Boulder
  • Grab bagels at Moes or Bread/pastries at Moxie in Boulder
  • Drive up to Brainard lake 
    • If you’re just hiking to Long Lake park at Pawnee Campground
    • If you’re going to hike up to Lake Isabelle try to park at Long Lake Trailhead to shave off ~1.5 miles from your hike (or don’t and hike the whole way lol)
  • Depending on time, explore Pearl Street after your hike
  • Then grab drinks and dinner
    • Jungle Tiki Bar
    • The Bitter Bar
    • Osakas Ramen
    • River and Woods
    • Bramble and Hare
    • Rosetta Hall Rooftop

Day Seven: Chill Day in Denver or Colorado Springs

Depends on how you’re feeling and when your flight leaves! 

Chill Denver Day

  • Tea at Brown Palace
  • Union Station
  • Visit another museum 
  • Denver Milk Market
  • Avanti Food Hall
  • Edgewater Public Market
  • Get a massage 
    • LoDo Massage Studio
    • Luna Massage & Wellness

Colorado Springs

So you’re wondering what to do in Denver? You might be visiting or just looking for something new to do around the city– well I’ve got you covered! Here are my favorite things to do in and around Denver!

My Favorite Things to do in Denver

Visit the Denver Botanical Gardens

The Denver Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places in Denver. It is absolutely beautiful all year round and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without going far. I absolutely love the variation of the gardens based on the seasons, winter is one of my favorite times to visit!

Favorite things to do in Denver, visit the Denver botanical gardens

Have a beer flight a local brewery

Denver is known for their beer scene, in fact, Colorado ranked 3rd in the number of craft breweries. One of my favorite weekend things to do is relax at a brewery and play some board games. It’s fun and social while still being chill and laid back!

Looking for the best breweries? Take a look at my list of favorite Denver breweries.

beer flight, Denver brewery, best things to do in Denver

Explore some of Denver’s best restaurants

Denver has some killer restaurants. From Italian to Latin American to Israeli, whatever you’re craving Denver likely has something delicious to offer!

Check out my list of favorite Denver restaurants.

Treat yourself to some ice cream

Two of my favorite ice cream places are in Denver– Little Man Ice Cream and Sweet Cow Ice Cream. If you go to Sweet Cow, splurge a little and get an ice cream cake. Life’s too short to only have cake once a year.

Go explore a new neighborhood

Denver has so many unique and different neighborhoods, each with their own character and charisma. Go find one that you haven’t been to often and explore around. If you’re new to the city, take a look at my neighborhood guide to see which place neighborhood seems up your alley!

Have afternoon tea at the Brown Palace

The Brown Palace is one of Denver’s oldest hotels. If you’re looking for something swanky to do, try an afternoon tea. The price is a little steep but what else would you expect from a tea time in an 128 hotel with Palace in its name??

Things to do right outside Denver

Go on a hike

There are so many gorgeous hikes to do around Denver. Some of my favorite hikes are just 30 minutes outside of the city! It’s amazing that you can experience such gorgeous scenery so close to the city. Here are some of my favorite hikes close by!

Coors Brewery Tour

I know that visiting a brewery is already on the list. But this one is just a little different. Visit the legendary Coors brewery and partake on a free 30 minute tour of the facility. It’s both fun and informative!

Day trips near Denver

Explore Boulder

Boulder is so close by but is frequently forgotten! But it’s only a 30-45 minute drive! There are so many awesome thing to do in Boulder, my favorite? Explore Chautauqua nature preserve. It’s a must see!

Visit Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods

There are lots of things to do in Colorado Springs, but my favorite thing is to visit the Garden of the Gods. It can get quite busy on the weekends, but there are so many trails you can find a peaceful spot.

Garden of the Gods Colorado springs, things to do outside Denver

Become one with nature at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a must see. It’s about an hour and half drive but so, so worth it. There is more than 400 square miles of majestic mountains, rolling plains, and crystal clear lakes.

Try your luck at a casino

Black Hawk and Central City are about 45 minutes outside of Denver and a real step back in time. The small casino towns look like they’ve been taken right out of an old western movie. Try your luck at the slots or just wander the small towns reading about their interesting history. And a bonus, the drive there is gorgeous!

Weekend trips near Denver

Hit the slopes

If you’re in Colorado during the winter months you should definitely hit up a ski town for some winter sports! There are tons of mountains with varying levels of difficulty so no matter if you are a beginning or expert, Colorado has something for you!

Relax in a log cabin

If you need a little relaxation away from the city, find a nice cabin to rent for the weekend. Here are some incredible cabins around Denver that you can rent.

Try something adventurous

There are tons of activities outside Denver for those seeking a thrill. Some of my favorites? Snowmobiling and white water rafting! Check out this post for more adventurous activities.

Meet Leah – Colorado Wedding Photographer

Hey there! I’m stoked for your upcoming trip to Denver, Colorado! If you are wanting to schedule a photoshoot to remember your trip, send me a message!

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I hope you enjoyed this post about what to do in Denver, Colorado! While you’re here, why don’t you check out some other helpful posts?

My favorite restaurants around the city

How to plan a Colorado wedding

The best coffee shops in Denver

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