During a week long family trip to Granby, Colorado, we spent one day in Denver at the start of our Rocky Mountain vacation.
We wanted to put together a little post highlighting what to see in Denver in one day, in case you also find yourself with a day to explore Colorado’s capital city.
One Day in Denver
Downtown is located just a quick 30 minute drive from the Denver airport, so take some time to immerse yourself in the downtown culture before or after your flight. Truth be told, we’re not really into big, bustling downtown areas, but we really enjoyed the vibe of Denver. We liked the rustic, old charm of many of the buildings in the various districts of the downtown. It wasn’t noisy or crowded and the traffic wasn’t bad. This of course may depend on whether or not there is a baseball or football game going on!
What to Do in Denver in a Day
Downtown Denver Bookstore
One of Sam’s favorite things to do when we travel is to look for an eclectic bookstore and purchase a unique first edition book. Tattered Cover in downtown Denver is one of the eclectic bookstores we’ve ever been in! It began as a small independent bookstore in the Cherry Creek district of Denver in 1971, with only 950 sq. feet. For more than 4 decades it has grown, evolved, and reshaped itself into three expansive locations in the greater Metro Denver Area.
We visited the 16th Street location. Unlike many of the large retail bookstores who are offering fewer and fewer places to relax and actually browse through a book, Tattered Cover encourages it! Throughout the store, comfortable arm chairs, rockers and chaise loungers are positioned for guests to sit back and get swept away in the pages of a book! We could’ve spent hours perusing the shelves!
Attend a Variety of Denver Events at Coors Field
Coors Field in Denver is home to the MLB team, the Colorado Rockies. It’s also where you can catch a great concert if your day in Denver coincides with when one of your favorite bands is in town. So, if you’ve got a day in Denver and want to see what events are going on at Coors Field, check for game and concert tickets.
Restaurants in Denver
Falling Rock Tap House
Falling Rock was voted “Top Ale House in the US” by Celebrator Beer News. It has over 80 beers on tap, over 130 bottled beers, a variety of specialty selections such as mead, cider and cask beers, and even has a gluten-free collection in bottles and on tap! I had a pint of the Prost Hefeweizen, a local brew. Tasty! Falling Rock prides itself in their delicious made-from-scratch food. Always fresh, never frozen, their extensive menu has something to please even the most discriminating palate.
For dinner, we came across Freshcraft. With a tagline of “Fresh food, craft beer”, who could resist?! Freshcraft has quite an extensive and elaborate beer menu. On their food menu are recommendations for what beer to pair with each entree. My father-in-law ordered the B.A.R. (Freshcraft’s take on the reuben has corned beef topped with Bavarian sauerkraut sauteed with rendered bacon. Sprinkled with fresh herbs, piled onto rye bread, and topped with a caramelized apple Russian dressing and melted swiss.)
My mother-in-law ordered the special of the day- some sort of fancy quinoa dish. She said it was delicious! Sam ordered the Quinoa Cakes (a fresh mixture of vegetables and quinoa, seared and served on green bean amandine, with a spinach and parsley salad dressed in our berry pomegranate vinaigrette). And I ordered the Fresh Pretzel Turkey Baja (freshly sliced slow roasted turkey layered on a fresh Hi Rise bakery pretzel bun with avocado pulp, tomato, jack cheese and our house-made spicy serrano mustard.)
Best Ice Cream in Denver
Ok, so we admittedly didn’t try every ice cream store in downtown Denver, but after sampling the goods at Little Man Ice Cream, there was no need to try any others! Little Man’s ice cream, gelato and sorbet are hand-made with some of the finest, locally sourced ingredients possible. They produce one small batch at a time to ensure prestige quality.
The Denver city skyline twinkles at night and as the sun goes down, the energy level picks up! With various music venues and dance clubs throughout the city offering a thriving and lively nightlife, you’ll have plenty of options for having a great time well into the night!
The Bluebird Theater
Holidays in Denver Events
If you happen to be in Denver during the holidays, there are plenty of downtown events to get you in the holiday spirit! Check out our post on Holiday Activities in Denver and start planning your festive day in Denver!
So, obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list of everything there is to do Colorado’s mile-high capital city, since we only spent one day in Denver ourselves. If nothing else, hopefully we’ve given you a few ideas on how you can spend a day in Denver. This was just one day of our week in Colorado, so if you’re doing some more exploring yourself, check out our posts on Granby, Winter Park, and Boulder.
More Options for Things to Do with One Day in Denver
Because we wanted to give you more options for things to do with one day in Denver, we enlisted the help of some of our travel blogging buddies. Here are their recommendations for more things to do in Denver…
Best Breakfast in Denver
Contributed by Vicky from Buddy the Traveling Monkey
“The best way to start your day in Denver is to eat breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company. It’s one of the best breakfast restaurants in Denver, and it has an amazing variety of biscuit inspired dishes. You can find both sweet and savory plates on their menu; everything from the classic Biscuits and Gravy to the very popular Biscuit Pot Pie (it’s a biscuit covered in savory pot pie filling). They also have vegetarian options, such as switching out the sausage gravy for mushroom gravy. Whatever you choose, get ready for large portions and a very happy stomach!”
Denver’s Food Halls
Contributed by Lauren from The DownLo
“While Portland and a few others are known for their food truck scenes, Denver is one of the nation’s pioneers in food halls with 12+ sprinkled around the city. Inspired by old-world European public markets, these artisanal community spaces are filled with food stalls and specialty purveyors with everything from butchers to bakers. Each has a bit of a different vibe and design, but all offer a variety of bites under one roof to satisfy any possible craving.”
“Some not to miss include the Milk Market for its Instagrammable interior, Broadway Market for its pour your own beer taps, and AVANTI for its killer patio. But whichever one you visit, it’s the place to make yourself a DIY food crawl and get sampling!” For some of the most visually stunning and delicious things to eat in the city, check out Lauren’s post on the most Instagrammable food and drinks in Denver.
E-Tuk Tour of Denver
Contributed by Suzanne at The Travelbunny
“A cool way to discover Denver’s highlights is to take an e-Tuk tour of the city. It’s the ultimate 2.5 hour urban Denver city tour and your entertaining guide will have you laughing your way around the Mile High hotspots in an all-electric e-tuk. Perfect if you’re short on time and want to catch all of Denver’s best bits during your Colorado road trip.”
“The tour visits Union Station, the uber cool RINO district with its epic street art, craft breweries and Central Market. Stop by the Molly Brown Museum, Larimer Square and Denver’s State Capitol Building. Say hello to the Big Blue Bear and drop by the Brown Palace Hotel. Your local guide will keep you entertained and informed with unique insights as you whizz around Denver in an eco-friendly e-tuk. The most fun you can have on three wheels!”
The Museum of Nature & Science
Got any other recommendations on what to see in Denver in one day? Please share in the comments below for future travelers to the city!