Apr 5, 2024 - Newcomers Guide

Axios' guide to bucket list things to do in Denver

A large train platform with a white canopy, and several train tracks with a yellow lining. In the middle,  large structure with the words UNION STATION sits in the middle, while apartment buildings stand high across it.

Light rail tracks next to Union Station in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver's cultural fabric has changed in some ways recently, but there are still some quintessential things worth trying if you're new to the Mile High City.

The big picture: Moving somewhere new or trying to rediscover your city can be daunting but exciting.

Zoom in: We compiled a list of our favorite places to visit and experience in and around Denver that are worth going on your bucket list.

Explore Colfax Avenue

Multiple people wave colorful pride flags and other materials as they walk on the road during a festival, while hundreds more people line nearby streets. Most people are cheering and smiling.
People celebrating along Colfax Avenue during the 2003 Denver PrideFest. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The wickedest street in America serves as our de facto main street. You will find basically anything you'll need: Places to eat, drink, smoke, vote, and play or dance the night (or day!) away. For the most authentic experience, take the 15L — the local transit line that runs along the street.

First Friday Art Walks

A large white box inside a showroom showcases several pieces of artwork, including flowers and one depicting an elderly man. Behind it, several people are walking and viewing other artwork.
VFW Post 1 opened showcasing veteran-centered art pieces during First Friday Walk of Santa Fe Drive in Denver in Dec. 2023. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Finding art to fill your new space is key to turning a house into a home, and there's probably no better place to start your collection than at the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe, home to a colorful Arts District with galleries, museums and shops. You can find both fine and affordable art.

Hiking

A man walks along a trail while surrounded by trees and a nearby lake.
Trails at Belmar Park in Lakewood. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

People often link Denver to the mountains, despite us being a solid 50 miles or so from the nearest ones. Still, we're fairly close to hiking areas to satisfy your outdoor spirit, including Lair o' the Bear Park in JeffCo and Raccoon Trail at Golden Gate.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Thousands of people in attendance are seen in the foreground, while an enormous, red rock in the background extends into the sky. There are some trees nearby.
Thousands gather during an Easter sunrise service at Red Rocks last weekend. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Majestic and sprawling, Red Rock's legendary reputation is well-earned — it will live up to your expectations — and even if you can't catch a show, the city-owned venue in nearby Morrison is essentially a park during the day, so you can trek its hallowed grounds for free.

Union Station

A large, gray structure with the words UNION STATION in orange across its roof. A circular clock is placed under the words, while a street sign with 17th and WYNKOOP ST are in the foreground.
Union Station in Denver. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Once a quiet, sleepy train terminal, this Beaux Arts masterpiece is now home to multiple restaurants and bars, and a hotel. Its restoration has turned the building near downtown Denver into the city's "living room" — a welcoming place for almost anyone.

Honorable mentions

How to fake it: Denver's sports teams

A man in a white jersey tries to shot an orange basketball over a man wearing a black jersey with the word SPURS on it. Both players are near a basket with white laces.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić tries to score over Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs during an April 2 game at Denver's Ball Arena. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The past two years brought unprecedented success for local franchises, but even Denver teams that aren't so hot these days are still worthy of your fandom.

Between the lines: An ongoing dispute between Comcast's Xfinity and DISH Network with Altitude Sports, whose parent company owns the Avs and Nuggets, means it's hard to watch the most successful teams from your couch.

The vibe: The Denver Nuggets are the defending NBA champions, while the Colorado Avalanche are just two years removed from their latest title. A bit about their best players:

  • Nikola Jokić — you've probably heard of him (currently vying for his third regular season MVP) — and Jamal Murray are the reasons why the Nuggets are contenders to repeat.
  • For the Avs, Nathan MacKinnon is one of the best players in the NHL, while rising star Cale Makar is the cover player for the league's video game.
Four hockey players in white and burgundy jerseys, wearing white helmets, hug one another while celebrating a goal inside a packed arena.
Colorado Avalanche players celebrate a goal during a regular-season game against the St. Louis Blues last month in St. Louis. Photo: Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Between the lines: The Denver Broncos are three-time Super Bowl champions, but it's been a while since they've seen success on the field. The Colorado Rockies are, frankly, abysmal and haven't had a winning season since 2018.

  • The Broncos are a mess right now, and are trying to figure out their quarterback situation after a messy split with Russell Wilson.
  • Outfielder Charlie Blackmon and third baseman Kris Bryant are Rockies fan favorites despite the team winning just 59 games last year.

Zoom in: The city's three sporting venues are all located in the city proper.

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