denver skyline with mountain

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Outdoor Action Meets Arts and Culture at Denver Museums, Gardens and More

Denver’s Larimer Square sparkles with energy and activity, day or night. (Photo: Alamy)

Denver has grown from its Old West roots into a vibrant hub for outdoor enthusiasts with a penchant for arts and entertainment. The city’s health-conscious appeal (think: farm-to-table, organic foods and over 100 miles of multi-use trails) meshes well with its devotion to the arts, which pay homage to everyone from contemporary to Western artists.

Arts and Outdoors

Larimer Square

Whether you’re a shopping enthusiast, are sniffing out the city’s hottest restaurants, or simply want to people watch in the thick of the city, you’ll want to make your way to Larimer Square. This central hub is home to boutique shops selling clothes, jewelry, and more. When hunger strikes, you’ll find you’re a mere stone’s throw from many of the city’s trendiest restaurants. Night owl? The Larimer Square neighborhood is also home to a number of popular nightclubs and bars.

The American Museum of Western Art

An extraordinary collection of Western art is found at the American Museum of Western Art, housed inside the historic, 19th-century Navarre Building. Wandering through the exhibits offers visitors a world of appreciate for Western art, as well as a glimpse into Colorado’s storied history. The Anschutz Collection represents artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran and Georgia O’Keeffe. Reserve tickets in advance.

READ ALSO: 4 Keys to Seeing Denver Like a Foodie

Denver Art Museum

Located in the thick of Denver’s Golden Triangle Museum District, the Denver Art Museum is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in the art. While the collection housed inside is stellar, it’s almost worth a stop to simply admire the building’s remarkable exterior, of sloping peaks and sharp, metallic angles. Once you’ve taken the requisite Instagram snapshot of the outside, wander inside to gaze at more than 70,000 pieces of art.

Clyfford Still Museum

Even lovers of Abstract Expressionism may be unfamiliar with Clyfford Still. One of the 20th century’s most important artists, Still went off the radar at his career’s peak but remains beloved among art world aficiondados. Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum promotes his legacy, displaying some 2,400 pieces of his work.

B-Cycle Bike Tour

Got the urge to explore the great outdoors? This city’s got you covered. B-Cycle, Denver’s bicycle sharing program is a popular way to explore the city. Grab a bike from one of 84 stations dotting the city and set off along popular trails, like the Cherry Creek bike path. Added bonus for travelers on a budget: rides less than 30 minutes long are free.

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens sprawl across 23 acres in an airy neighborhood outside the city center and is home to themed gardens, a conservatory and amphitheater. The Gardens also feature special exhibits such as the recent stunning Dale Chihuly exhibit of glass sculptures.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Families traveling with kids — as well as adults with a love for science and nature — should make their way to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, home to a collection of looming dinosaur skeletons, exhibits on outer space, a planetarium with regular starry shows, and an IMAX theater.

Get Your Grub On


Turned off by eating in a former mortuary? Don’t be silly! Linger has become one of Denver’s trendiest (and tastiest) restaurants with a farm-to-street food focus. Its decor pays loving homage to the building’s former status as home to the deceased.

Osteria Marco

Osteria Marco isn’t your run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant; this is authentic Italian eats at their best. Enjoy homemade burrata and house-cured meats before diving into freshly-made pizzas, lamb meatballs or short ribs with black truffle cornbread.

Stoic & Genuine

Stoic & Genuine will leave seafood lovers enthralled by its eclectic oyster bar and fresh seafood selections, such as Alaskan king crab legs — all of which are flown in daily. Also consider trying the pan-roasted chicken — it’s downright succulent.

Green Russell

Who doesn’t love a good city speakeasy? Head downstairs and through a pie shop to enter Green Russell, a stylish cocktail bar where first-rate bartenders will whip up unusual cocktails to match your favorite flavors.

Denver Beer Co.

Denver has long made its mark as a craft brewing capital; it’s nearly criminal to leave without visiting a brewery like Denver Brewing Co. Enjoy seasonal ales and lagers alongside locals — if the weather is pleasant, try to score an outdoor table.