The capital city of Colorado, Denver is a fantastic travel destination in the United States. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains means you can enjoy incredible mountain views from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the perfect destination for a long weekend because there are so many things to do over 3 days in Denver.
By a lot of standards, Denver is a relatively small city with a population just under one million people in city limits. Yet somehow this small mid-western city has everything a traveler could want.
Add in that Denver enjoys 300+ days of sunshine and relatively mild winters (yes, I promise!)…and it becomes more clear why Denver is a year-round vacation destination. This guide should help you decide what to do with 3 days in Denver and plan a perfect couples trip, guys/girls weekend or solo adventure to the city.
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5 Things To Do in Denver Colorado
One thing about visiting Denver is that there is no shortage of amazing things to do. You could visit for weeks on end and still not see it all. You won’t be bored, but you may have a hard time narrowing down the options. This gives you an idea of what to activities to put in your weekend itinerary for 3 days in Denver.
1. People Watch on The 16th Street Mall
The 16th street mall is quite famous to Denver. It’s a one-mile long pedestrian mall sprinkled with restaurants, bars, shops and more. It’s not uncommon to find street performers here, and outdoor events during the warmer months.
The best way to experience the 16th street mall is to walk. But if you aren’t able (or willing) to walk, feel free to take advantage of the free mall shuttle! Buses run continuously in both directions along 16th street, which is closed to other vehicles along the mall.
2. Take a Hike
3. Take a Photo Exactly One Mile High
4. Catch The Best Sunset Views
As the sun sets each evening to the west, it dips down behind the mountains and casts a beautiful glow across the foothills and into the city. Some days are better than others, but when you catch that perfect Denver sunset…there’s nothing like it!
And one of the best ways to catch a killer sunset is from one of Denver’s many rooftop bars/restaurants. Where you can wind down from an exciting day of sight seeing with delicious bites and a craft cocktail.
5. Hit Some of The Best Slopes in The Country
It’s no secret that some of the country’s best winter mountain resorts are in Colorado. And while not technically in Denver, I would be remiss to not include this as it’s such a huge staple in many Denver trips.
And you don’t have to venture that far from Denver to experience it! There are many options within a 60 to 90 minute drive from Denver. If you visit during ski season, it’s worth working in to your Denver itinerary.
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4 Things to Eat and Drink For 3 Days in Denver
For 3 days in Denver, you could spend your time simply eating and drinking your way around the city. And it would be great! Your pants might get a little tighter, but whatever, yolo.
1. Brunch: A Denver Institution
Denver takes brunch VERY seriously. There are a plethora of amazing brunch restaurants in the city to choose from. Some of which with wait times of an hour or more to get a table during peak times.
However, it’s worth a little bit of a wait. The competitive environment means restaurants are frequently trying to “one up” one another with the most delicious brunch fare. Or the best spread of bottomless brunch libations. Add a lively brunch crowd and you’ve got the makings of an unforgettable meal in the Mile High City.
2. Wild Game at The Buckhorn Exchange
The Buckhorn Exchange is famed with being both Denver’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, and with holding Colorado’s first (post-prohibition) liquor license. Eating here is like dipping deep into Denver’s history!
The menu has your standard steakhouse fare that will please most people (except maybe vegetarians/vegans). Steaks, ribs, chops, and the like. But what is really unique about Buckhorn is the availability of a wide array of exotic meats. Things like yak, ostrich, or kangaroo.
And if you’re brave enough, be sure and try the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
3. Green Chile Anything
Visitors might be surprised to know that Colorado is known for green chili. You can buy them by the bushel on the side of many roads in the summer. They are a frequent focal point on dishes in many Colorado restaurants. And both official and unofficial debates are held to determine who has the best pork green chili.
So keep your eyes focused on those restaurant menus and be sure and try a dish featuring this local delicacy.
4. The Denver Beer Trail
Beer is ingrained into the heart and soul of Denver culture. Favorable water laws have been bringing brewers to this area for decades. We even have the world’s largest brewery, Coors, right here in our backyard.
And the best way to experience beer in Denver? Do a little brewery hopping along the Denver beer trail. You can hit multiple spots and cover everything from IPAs to sour beers to your standard wheat and more.
3 Places to Stay For 3 Days in Denver, Colorado
Staying in the downtown core of the city means you’ll be close to all the action, generally speaking. But ultimately, Denver has plenty of lodging options to fit every type of budget!
1. Luxury: Brown Palace Hotel and Spa
When it comes to luxurious lodging in Denver, it doesn’t get any better (or more well known) than The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. Staying here is like taking a step back in time. This hotel has been updated with modern touches, while keeping a strong hold on its historic charm.
However, this all comes at a cost. So be prepared to spend a pretty penny!
3. Budget: Hostel Fish
Cities in the US are typically behind the game when it comes to hostels. But Denver does have some options. Hostel Fish is located above Ophelia’s, which is a well-known hot spot for amazing food and live music. They have modern furnishings, an amazing location, and both private and dorm-style beds available.
2 Must-Capture Instagram Spots
If you took a trip and didn’t post about it on the ‘gram, did the trip even happen?? #No
Make sure to hit up these spots for peak jealousy-inducing shots for your grid and/or stories.
1. Red Rocks Amphitheater
Known as being one of (if not THE) best outdoor music venues in the United States, Red Rocks Amphitheater is a site to be seen. The amphitheater itself is constructed in between towering red rock formations on either side. And beyond the stage (looking to the east) is the city with the Denver skyline on display.
#RedRocksAmphitheater #Nature #Denver
2. Denver Selfie Museum
Yes, you read that right…Denver has an entire museum dedicated to helping you achieve selfie perfection, The Denver Selfie Museum. This pop-up museum of Instagram art has 25 amazing installations to help spice up your insta grid.
#OOTD #Blessed #Denver #DenverSelfieMuseum
1 Insider Denver Travel Tip
Denver is lovingly known as the “Mile High City.” If you live here, the high elevation doesn’t bother you much. However, for those visiting from a lower elevation (especially sea level), adjusting to the altitude can be a little rough. It also takes more than a long weekend or 3 days in Denver to get used to the elevation.
Many can experience headaches or nose bleeds. You may feel extra tired, or just a little “off.” However, a little advanced preparation can help combat this. Here are my best tips to avoid altitude sickness while visiting Denver:
Drink water – both before you arrive, and while here. Our climate is dry and desert like, so you’ll need to drink almost twice as much water here as you do at home.
Adjust your alcohol consumption – drinks pack more of a punch here than at sea level. Pace yourself, or you may wind up getting hit like a ton of bricks.
Wear sunscreen – that high elevation means we are closer to the sun! Sunscreen is a must to protect your skin here.
Kara is the founder, writer and editor behind Destination: Live Life, a travel blog. After fleeing small-town life in Wyoming, Kara has called Denver, CO home for the last 12+ years. When she isn’t living that travel life, she can be found petting every dog that will let her, and laughing (loudly) at any opportunity.