Growing up in Colorado, my weekends were filled with hikes and everyday seemed beautiful with the Rockies as a backdrop to life. I recently returned to Colorado and was able to experience a weekend in Denver as a visitor instead of a native. While Colorado has so many beautiful and unique towns to explore, here are some of my favorite things to do in Denver that are near the metro area and don’t require a ton of outdoor expertise to enjoy!
Hike Hike Hike
Colorado offers endless breathtaking places to hike. However, if you are unable to make it into the mountains on a shorter weekend in Denver, there are still beautiful and easy-to-access hikes at your fingertips.
Just 25 minutes west on I-70 is one of the most unique concert spaces in the world. Red Rocks Amphitheater is more than just a venue, however. It also offers amazing hiking trails with views of the Denver skyline and the iconic red rocks. But the best part of hiking at Red Rocks has to be the accessibility. On days that there are no events, there are four parking lots that are free for hikers or people who want to exercise in the amphitheater. There is even a Starbucks and bathrooms available as well. With such amenities, you really can’t miss this hike on a weekend in Denver. Be sure to check out the Red Rocks events page to see if you can catch a movie or concert on the rocks during your visit as well.
Another accessible hike is the Chautauqua trailhead in Boulder. Only 30 minutes outside of Denver, you drive up Baseline Road and park right at the foot of the mountain. This hike can be more moderate depending on which trail you take. The trail that takes you to the top of the mountain also brings you in between the Flatirons (those large faces of rock) and offers beautiful views of Boulder and the surrounding metro. You might even see rock climbers taking the shortcut to the peak- straight up the Flatirons! The Chautauqua hike is one of my favorite things to do in Denver because of its prime location. You experience the feeling of climbing up a mountain without having to drive into the mountains at all.
Taste the Midwest
Little Man Ice Cream is a Colorado cuisine staple. It is the perfect treat for any day in Denver, even if you visit in the winter as I did. The amazing homemade flavors and unique vegan selection make for some of the best ice
Another Denver staple is Snooze. From gourmet pancakes and omelets, to craft breakfast drinks and sides, Snooze is a must for brunch. They have several metro locations so you can check them out on a morning downtown or for brunch after you hike in Boulder.
We ended up having an awkward amount of time to kill waiting for our return flight. We checked out of our Airbnb and had all of our luggage with us, but didn’t want to spend an excessive amount of time sitting in the airport. Board Game Republic is an excellent way to spend a layover in Denver and would also be perfect for any day you need to recover and stay indoors. They offer more than just excellent pub food and craft drinks, however. As the name suggests, Board Game Republic has an entire wall with over 700 games to choose from. We found that Betrayal at House on the Hill provided the perfect a balance of challenge and fun until we had to catch our flight.
Shop Shop Shop
Colorado is known for its outdoor culture, and shopping here is no exception. 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square are the most popular outdoor shopping areas in downtown Denver. Both are pedestrian friendly and offer a variety of shops, activities, and restaurants.
After you hike Chautauqua, trade in the skyscrapers of Denver for the smaller mountainside shops of Pearl Street in Boulder. Pearl Street has the quaint feel of mountain villages like Telluride and Vail with the convenience of being right in the metro.
There are endless fun things to do on a weekend in Denver. Did I miss any? I’d love to know for my next visit so please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I hope this post helps you with your upcoming Colorado adventure. If you liked this post be sure to check out some of my other guides to the midwest!