Things to Do in Denver
Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a beautiful tree-lined, pedestrian area at the heart of the city. This downtown promenade of red and gray granite is a bustling center, popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to an abundance of outdoor cafes, shops and restaurants among renovated historic buildings and modern glass skyscrapers.
The mall boasts more than 300 shops and more than 50 restaurants in a 16-block stretch of 16th Street. Some of the most popular spots include Niketown and Virgin Records’ Megastore, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe and Rock Bottom Brewery, where you can enjoy a hearty selection of draft craft beer. Along with great shopping and dining, the mall is also a hub for local street performers, with a delightful range folk and country singers performing amid dancers.
Reminiscent of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Colorado State Capitol Building sitting high atop Denver is not just a 24 karat gold-domed meeting place for the Colorado General Assembly, but also an homage to the American governmental process, as well as a truly beautiful archeological wonder.
Built a mile high above sea level, as denoted by the markings inscribed upon its steps, the Colorado State Capital Building has incredible views of downtown Denver, and a history that tells of the days of the Gold Rush and the incredible use of the beautiful Colorado Rose Onyx used to build the interior of the capitol and the designs of dignitaries engraved therein. It is said that the entire known supply of this rare marble was exhausted in making of the Colorado State Capitol.
Tours will tell of early Colorado history, the Capitol construction, the origin of several stained glass windows, the Woman’s Gold Tapestry.
The Denver Art Museum is recognized for its prized Native American collection, the country’s largest. Spanning the US and Canada, from prehistoric times to the present, the hugely varied collection ranges from basketry and beadwork to paintings and sculpture.
The art museum also has enviable Asian, European and US collections, and a comprehensive African gallery of paintings, sculptures and artifacts.
Iconic works by artists from the American west underscore Denver’s Rocky Mountains location and history, and the museum’s photography collection includes more than 7,000 images.
Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts a varied calendar of temporary traveling exhibitions.
Reach into your pocket or change drawer and pull out a handful of U.S. pennies. Look carefully at their fronts—chances are most will have a small letter “D” just below the date. This is the mint mark for the Denver Mint, one of only a handful of facilities that produces U.S. currency. This particular location is a byproduct of the days when Denver was a gold-mining hub. When gold was found in Colorado in 1858, hundreds of merchants, miners and settlers moved in to claim their stake. A year later, Denver was founded, and several years after that, in 1863, the government decided to develop a mint facility here. In addition to producing money people use every day, the Denver Mint also stamps out a variety of not-in-circulation commemorative coins.
The grand architecture of the massive Renaissance-style 1904 mint building itself is worth checking out. To go inside, visitors must sign up for one of the free tours, which includes historical exhibits, vaults and gold bars.
More Things to Do in Denver
Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods is not an average city park with duck ponds and walking paths. Instead, this urban park—which is also a designated National Landmark—boasts 1,367 acres of unique wilderness, Great Plains grassland and juniper woodlands.
The most iconic section of the park is the towering ridge of sandstone formations that reveal 300 million years of geological history. Famous red rock formations include the Balanced Rock, the Gateway Rock and the Three Graces, and among the crags and overhangs, visitors can spot petroglyphs from the Native American Ute tribe that once roamed these lands. The park came to be in 1909 after landowner Charles Perkins requested that his property be donated to the city upon his death. In line with his final wishes, the park remains free and open to the public.
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