Forged as a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1858, the capital of Colorado has long since shaken off its frontier reputation. Though it still retains a bit of cowboy energy, the city offers all the experiences of a modern state capital.
Head to the Golden Triangle Museum District to explore some of the city’s best attractions. Eight museums are located here, including the Denver Art Museum, the History Colorado Center and the Art Institute of Colorado. The area also boasts shops, cafes, salons, artists studios and performing arts centers. Take a stroll through the nearby City Park in the afternoon, or take your pick from the district’s bars and clubs by night.
Other museums outside the Golden Triangle district are still worth exploring. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and The Children’s Museum of Denver are great for families. Don’t miss The Denver Zoo, either. Founded in the late 1800s, it’s considered one of the best zoos in the country and is a great family activity.
During summer the city comes to life with outdoor concerts and seasonal theme parks. Cool off on Water World’s Mile High Flyer or spend an evening looping the loop on the Lakeside Amusement Park roller coaster.
Once you’ve seen the city, rent a car and head for the hills. The Rocky Mountains are only 1.5 hours drive, and offer breathtaking views of winding rivers, snowy peaks and dramatic gorges.
Keep an eye out for shows at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre where music lovers can enjoy a concert among towering canyons. At Dinosaur Ridge the whole family can venture along the Triceratops Trail and marvel at the 1,600 free-flying butterflies in the Tropical Conservatory at the Butterfly Pavilion.
Denver and its surrounding areas offer plenty for those with a love of the great outdoors. In winter, hit the slopes at nearby Vail, Copper Mountain or Beaver Creek. Or venture a little further to Aspen, about four hours drive to the west. In the warmer months, hike the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park or jump on a bike and tour Colorado's Wine Country.