Top Places to Visit Around Denver, Colorado
The Best Colorado has to Offer for Locals and Travelers
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Otherwise, here’s some awesome places to see and things to do in Denver, Colorado!
There’s good reasons why every year thousands of tourists choose to visit the mile high city. From it’s incredible hiking, skiiing, and scenery to it’s many dive bars and bustling music scene, the Denver and surrounding metropolitan area is a phenomenal place to both travel and live.
I’ve been living in Denver for a little over three years now and it’s where I operate Firefly List out of. I’ve synthesized the biggest draws I’ve found to living in the city and the places I always recommend tourists and fellow residents visit alike. I’m going to cover Denver attractions as well as places I highly recommend venturing out to beyond the city limits.
Colorado Nature, Views, and Hiking Spots
I’ve been living in Denver for the past four years. I’ve done a fair bit of hiking and have seen much of what Colorado has to offer.
In my opinion, most of the world class hiking spots the state has to offer can be found a short distance from Denver. Although the Denver metropolitan area has a couple neat spots, I’m going to be focusing on the top areas to visit under an hour from the city. If hiking is your forte, check out ProTrails.com for some excellent routes and guides on local trails around the Colorado region.
Boulder is a phenomenal spot to visit for general hiking and you’re going to get some fantastic views visiting Chautauqua Park and seeing the flat irons. The flat irons are a notable point of interest to Colorado tourists visiting the Boulder area and are an absolutely iconic Colorado scene.
Pro tip: If you’re driving up Flagstaff mountain, keep driving past the initial exit for the amphitheater that sits on top. There’s some good ledges with breath taking views that you can often explore around completely alone.
2. Nederland, Colorado
There’s so many places to hike and explore Colorado’s natural beauty but one of the most overlooked locales I’ve found is Nederland which is about a 30-40 minute drive west of Boulder up Boulder Canyon.
The drive itself is an experience as you’ll see some phenomenal canyon views on your way there. One of my favorite trails in the world is the Lost Lakes trail off the Hessie Trailhead. It’s not an arduous trail by any means, beginner & intermediate friendly. From the trailhead it’s only about 1.5 miles up to Lost Lake, and alpine lake which has some stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Pro tip: If you do this trail, at about the half way point, there’s a 20-30 foot waterfall tucked away in the forest that you’ll need to leave the main trail to see. Many people have missed this and I’ll often find myself enjoying the spot completely alone.
2. Mt. Galbraith Loop & Lichen Peak, Golden CO
Both of these fairly short day hikes are closer to Denver city than the latter two hikes mentioned. Out of all of the hikes within a 20 minute drive of downtown, I find these two to be the most rewarding. Neither of the two are incredibly difficult, but both off some amazing views. Lichen peak has a cliff with large 100ft drop offs on either side for the more daring adventurists.
The Denver Music Scene and Venues
Denver is well known for its world class music venues including Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, and the Fillmore Auditorium. While you can catch many different types of shows in the mile high city, the electronic music scene has completely taken off in recent years.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
During the day, Red Rocks turns it’s massive 9,525 person capacity amphitheater into an outdoor spot you’ll find people relaxing and working out at. The surrounding area also has phenomenal hiking but most notably however, are the music acts that come through to the venue and the massive scale of production brought onto the stage. Seeing a show at Red Rocks for the first time as the sun sets to an artist you love is a moment people don’t forget.
The Filmore Auditorium is a gigantic auditorium located in Denver’s Capital Hill. The iconic music venue has featured some phenomenal acts over it’s history including Bob Dylan, Rob Zombie, Tycho, All Time Low, and Machine Gun Kelly among many others. The venue was a pivotal feature of Denver’s in bringing nationally touring acts to the cities music scene.
Places to Eat in Denver
1. Illegal Petes
Illegal Petes is a tex-mex restaurant founded in Denver but has rapidly expanded to numerous locations up and down the front range. If you’re into Mexican food, this is a local classic. If you end up going to Illegal Pete’s, I couldn’t recommend the smothered burrito’s more.
2. Denver Central Market
If you’re looking for a gigantic market with numerous places to buy pre-prepped food and many choices on ethnic dishes, consider paying the central market a visit. The locale in RiNo is a perfect for both drinks and food and you’re bound to find something you like in the 12 thousand sq. foot marketplace. The central market hosts various culinary artists with seating for each.
3. Old-Town Golden
Downtown Golden has many places to eat and in additions to it’s phenomenal mountain views, it’s a great place to walk around and explore the area. There’s no lack of health conscious foods to try in the area. Additionally, pair this adventure with the Lechin trail hike, just a 5 minute drive away.
Other Places to Visit
1. Drive up Mount Evans
I’ve never met someone who I’ve taken on a road trip up to the peak of Mount Evans (by car) that didn’t have a phenomenal time. The peak is easily accessible by car, though I’d be cautious driving this route in the winter. and offers some of the best views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains I’ve ever seen. If you’re out west of Denver toward Breckenridge anyways, I’d highly recommend considering Mount Evans for a short detour.
2. Cliff Diving at Saint Mary's Glacier
Saint Mary’s Glacier isn’t too far of a hike from Denver, and if you’re not into cliff diving and prefer to relax beside the glacier-formed lake, you can always do that as well. Alternatively, if you’re more into the adventurous side, there are 15 and 45 foot cliffs there that you’ll very often see people diving off of. The hike up to the lake isn’t difficult either, taking only 10 – 15 minutes total walking time.