I first visited Denver when I was about 8 years old, and I vividly remember how impressed I was by the view of the massive snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains from the heart of the city. Even as an adult, that vista still stirs my heart.
And though I don't consider myself a particularly outdoorsy person, I get an itching to go out and explore nature every time I visit. Fortunately, Denver offers a good balance of urban attractions and easy access to the great outdoors—and with three days in the city, you can get a taste of both. Here’s one way to do it.
Drink water and take it easy when you arrive—it'll help with altitude adjustment.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Start your Denver trip off by getting familiar with the Lower Downtown area, the oldest part of the city. This area of town is easy to explore on foot, and a guided walking tour will give you a better idea of local history and things to do in the city, from a local's perspective.
You'll likely have worked up an appetite from all that walking, so devote your afternoon to replenishing yourself with a downtown food tour—a great way to sample food from a variety of local restaurants all in one go.
On your second day, head out to Red Rocks Park, known for its amphitheater, which hosts concerts by many of the world's top performers. If you can't make it for a show, at least go hiking in the surrounding park. It’s helpful to opt for a tour so that you’ll have a guide to show you around.
Head back to Denver in time for an early evening ghost tour through the Capitol Hill neighborhood. You'll not only get your bearings in this historic part of town, but you'll also learn all about the city's paranormal past.
On your final day, head out to the famous Rocky Mountain National Park, where you'll see majestic peaks and—if you're lucky—spot some local wildlife. Consider a guided tour so that you can focus on seeing the landscape without the hassle of driving.
Make your way back to Denver in the evening to check out one of the city’s most whimsical attractions: the Beyond Light Show, an immersive laser light show held inside a historic church. Prebook a ticket to guarantee your admission—passes also include access to an on-site retro arcade and multiple art spaces.