Destination Guide: DenverJuly 19, 2016

What to Do In Denver (When You're Not Playing Golf)

Hiking in the Gore Range Mountains near Denver.
Rich Grant/Denver Metro Convention & Visitors BureauHiking in the Gore Range Mountains near Denver.

When in Denver, do as the locals do: hop on a bike. The city boasts 850 miles of bike paths to explore the diverse neighborhoods and attractions. Denver B-cycle is the city's bike sharing system. Check out the website for detailed itineraries and how to rent a bike. Two fun options include the off-road Cherry Creek Trail from the upscale shopping district to the Riverfront neighborhood and LoHi. Or head north on the Platte River Trail where you'll cross the river and catch kayakers running the manmade chutes at Confluence Park.

Photo: Steve Crecelius/VISIT DENVER

Bicyclists ride along Cherry Creek trail.

Downtown Denver is also a walker-friendly city with pedestrian-only zones, footpaths and bridges connecting the neighborhoods. A great way to see the city and get a taste of its local passion (craft beer) is to follow the Denver Beer Trail from LoDo to RiNo. (eatdrinkdenver.com offers a detailed guide of 14 downtown brewery stops). Or plan your visit around the annual Great American Beer Festival (this year's dates are October 6-8), said to be the world's largest hoppy event.

Photo: Visit Denver

Pouring beer samples at the Great American Beer Festival.

Denver is one of a handful of cities that has a United States Mint. If you're traveling with kids, this is a fun and fascinating stop. Thousands of coins are minted every minute, 14 billion annually. Advance reservations are required. The gold-leaf domed State Capitol is open for tours by appointment and is worth a visit for the 360-degree view of the Rockies from the top (to get to the viewing area, you have to climb 99 steps from the 3rd floor). Outside, stand on the 13th step of the Capitol, which marks where you are one mile above sea level. If you want to see the mountains up close and personal, however, hop in your car and take a day trip to Rocky Mountain State Park, 70 miles from town. Drive across the Continental Divide along Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world. The views will wow you. Rafting enthusiasts (or wannabes) should check out coloradorafting.net for a list of outfitters and the trips offered near Denver and around the state.

Photo: Visit Denver

Some of the area's unique attractions can be easily visited while you are driving to or from a round of golf. For an authentic glimpse of the old West, stop at the Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve, 20 miles west of the city, in Golden (perfect if you are heading to Fossil Trace). The city of Denver maintains the herd – they are actually bison – and are often visible from the highway overlook. For another fascinating look at local fauna (or at least traces of it), make a stop on the way to Golden at Dinosaur Ridge Trail, a 1.5 mile loop that has hundreds of dinosaur tracks and a quarry of Stegosaurus bones. You can actually touch the bones in the rock where they fossilized 100 million years ago.

If you only have time for one non-golf excursion, make it to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. (It's an easy drive from Denver or you can take a shuttle from Union Station.) Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, this National Historic Landmark is a stunning outdoor stage wedged between monolithic sandstone rocks that has hosted the likes of the Beetles, Jimi Hendrix and U2 and still offers a full concert series. You don't have to go to a concert to enjoy Red Rocks; hike within the surrounding park, join the locals for yoga on the rocks, or sit and admire the beauty from the outside deck of the Ship Rock Grille.

Photo: Steve Crecelius/VISIT DENVER

Concert goers enjoy an evening of entertainment at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater.


DENVER: DESTINATION GUIDE
Where To Play Golf In Denver
Where To Eat In Denver