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Are you wondering how to spend 1 day in Denver? Don’t worry; it’s totally possible, whether you’re here for a layover or you’re just driving through!
Denver has quickly become one of my favorite cities. We moved here almost two years ago and I am still learning new things about Denver each and every day. There is so much to do here, but even spending a day in the city is the perfect way to get introduced to what the mile high city is all about.
Keep reading to learn how to spend 1 day in Denver!
How to Get to Denver
The most common way to get to Denver is by plane. Denver International Airport is the biggest airport in the country and there is no shortage of flights in and out of the city every day.
The airport itself is pretty cool too. If you do choose to fly in, keep an eye out for all of the construction signs around the airport. There are countless conspiracy theories about the airport and they have really leaned into it to make an average flying experience a little more enjoyable.
After flying in, you can rent a car right at the airport and head into the city, or take a train from the airport right to Union Station in Downtown Denver.
If you are not a big fan of flying, there is also an Amtrak line that comes right through the city. Denver is one of a few stops on the California Zephyr line that goes from Chicago to San Francisco.
The train brings your right to Union Station as well so you are right in the middle of the city as soon as you step off of the train.
How to Get Around Denver
If you are staying in the downtown area, it is pretty easy to get around Denver without renting a car. There are electric scooters and bikes that you can rent throughout the city as well. This is a super convenient way to get around and you will see tons of people around the city riding them.
There is also the lightrail and city busses that you can use to get around. The public transport system isn’t as extensive as some other cities though so they are not always the best option to get you where you need to go.
Uber and Lyft are also very popular and it is fairly easy to get a ride quickly if you do need to get somewhere a little further out of the way.
If you do want to go a little outside of the city, I would suggest renting a car. There are a lot of amazing sites around Denver that you can get to pretty quickly by car. Some of these places can be reached by public transportation as well, but it does normally add a good amount of time to your trip.
Where to Stay in Denver
There are so many hotels to choose from when you are staying in Denver. The city center is full of hotels if you want to stay right in the city center. You will notice, though, that you will tend to pay a little more money for hotels right in the city center.
If you do have a car or aren’t opposed to staying a little outside of the downtown area, there are tons of hotels in the surrounding neighborhoods that will work great for your trip.
Below we have included a couple of different hotel options for different budgets. The prices for the rooms do vary too depending on the time of year as well so be sure to keep that in mind!
Luxury Hotel: Ritz Carlton
If you are looking to spend your time in Denver in style, then the Ritz Carlton is the way to go. Located right downtown and just a few blocks away from Coors Field, you will be in a prime location.
Not only will you get an amazing room here, you also get access to a state-of-the-art fitness center, a business center, and a spa. If you are looking for a close place to grab dinner, you can head right downstairs to Elway’s for a steak dinner.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block
The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block is a boutique hotel right in the heart of downtown Denver. Not only do you get beautiful rooms but there are also some great amenities included with your room.
A stay at the Maven also gets you discounts at a ton of local restaurants and shops as well as access to their gym. To top it all off, there is a courtesy car you have access to throughout your stay!
Budget Hotel: Days Inn by Wyndham Denver Downtown
The Days Inn by Wyndham is a great budget option for your stay in downtown Denver. While it still may be a little more expensive than if you were to stay outside of the downtown area, it is a great option.
The Days Inn also offers free breakfast which can be a great plus if you are trying to stay on a budget and is located near the Colorado State Capitol. For a hotel about a mile from the center of the city, this is a great option!
How to Spend One Day in Denver
Let’s get down to it: how to spend 1 day in Denver. While everyone has their own opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do in Denver, this is what we would recommend doing and where we recommend eating during your trip to Denver.
Watch the Sunrise at Red Rocks
If you are a morning person, catching the sunrise at Red Rocks Amphitheater is a great way to start your day. Located about 15 miles from downtown, Red Rocks is one of the most well-known spots around Denver.
Red Rocks offers the perfect view of the sunrise over Denver and you are sure to see other locals watching the day kick off with you. There are also some avid workout enthusiasts who run up and down the amphitheater steps and believe me, it is impressive to watch.
Once the sun has come up, you can take a little bit of time and walk along some of the trails to catch some more amazing views before heading back downtown.
Breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co.
After waking up early, you are probably going to be a bit hungry. Denver Biscuit Co. is a great option to kick your day off right. There are a couple of different locations around the city so you should find a location close to where you are.
The food there is absolutely amazing so you can’t really go wrong with anything you order. If you are looking for some suggestions, our favorites are The Cordon Bleu and The Franklin.
The Cordon Blue has fried chicken, ham, swiss cheese, and a house made honey butter. Try it on a french toast biscuit for an even more delectable breakfast.
The Franklin has fried chicken, bacon, and cheddar cheese and is covered in their house made gravy. I got the chicken Nashville hot style and it was absolutely delicious!
If you are not that big of a fan of biscuits, there are tons of other breakfast spots around. Some of our favorites are Syrup and Snooze. Both restaurants have a variety of food options to choose from and we really haven’t had anything that wasn’t amazing on the menu.
Stroll Down 16th Street Mall
Okay so basically anyone will tell you to go to the 16th Street Mall when you are in downtown Denver. 16th Street Mall is just over 1 mile long and is home to a variety of different stores and restaurants.
Honestly, though, the 16th Street Mall isn’t really anything special. If you are looking for some souvenirs to commemorate your trip by, you will definitely find what you are looking for on the mall. You will also find some mainstream stores like Target and TJ Maxx.
If you do want to head down to 16th street, I would suggest not spending a lot of your day there as there are some other really cool things that are more worth your time in the surrounding areas.
Head to Denver Milk Market and McGreggor Square
Denver Milk Market is full of local shops to browse through and some great places to grab a couple of snacks (like ice cream or crepes) or a cup of coffee to keep you going throughout the day.
McGregor Square is relatively new and is a great place to stop by and relax for a little bit. There is a large outdoor area where you can sit down and enjoy a drink from the food hall.
If you happen to stop by during a game, you are sure to run into a lively crowd and can stop and watch some of it on the massive screens that are in McGregor Square.
Stop by Coors Field for a Picture
After hanging out at McGregor Square for a little bit, be sure to head across the street to Coors Field. Even if you don’t go to a game, Coors Field is still a really cool spot and I would definitely suggest stopping by to take a picture.
There are also some great murals on the building surrounding Coors Field that are definitely work checking out.
Drop into D’Corazon for Lunch
Okay, this is one of our favorite spots to visit with 1 day in Denver. Every time someone visits us, this is the one place we always make sure to stop and eat at.
D’Corazon is a Mexican restaurant serving up some of the best smothered burritos and green chile cheese fries you will find in Denver. Green chiles are a huge part of food in Denver and there are very few restaurants you can go to that don’t have some sort of green chile dish on their menu.
Our favorite things to get here are the ground beef burrito from the a la carte menu. This burrito is under $9 and is bursting with flavor. It is smothered in green chiles and I will admit that I was hesitant to try it at first. I was never a fan of having to eat my burritos with a fork and knife but this burrito is definitely worth it.
Their green chile fries are also amazing. We have tried these fries at a lot of different restaurants around town during our time here and these rank as some of the best.
If you are looking for something to add even more flavor to your dish, we suggest getting the spicy chile con queso dip. It is so flavorful and tastes amazing on its own with chips or layered on top of your burrito.
Illegal burger serves up some amazing burgers and truffle fries. They also have a good selection of beer and delicious milkshakes to help keep you going.
Rock Bottom Brewery is a brewery chain that was founded in downtown Denver and now has locations across the US. They have a tasty menu and all of the beer they have on tap is brewed right in house!
Pop into One of the Museums or Head Over to Meow Wolf
If you are looking for an escape from the heat (or the cold if you’re visiting in winter), head over to one of the many museums and experiences that are throughout downtown Denver.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is full of beautiful exhibitions and has many that rotate throughout the year so be sure to check out what is showing before your trip. You can purchase your tickets online and they cost between $7-$10. Kids 18 and under get into the museum for free!
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a great museum to go to if you are visiting with kids. There is plenty of exhibits (some interactive) to visit during your trip. You can purchase tickets online and they cost between $15-$20. There are some additional exhibits that require an extra ticket as well.
Meow Wolf is an interactive art experience that is unlike any other. Meow Wolf transports you to a different world and is full of surprises around every corner.
It is a little more pricy than the other museums around the city and you will have to purchase a ticket ahead of time. Tickets range from $44-$53. While it is more expensive, the experience is one-of-a-kind!
Finish the Night Off in the RiNo District
After a busy day exploring the city, there is no better way to cap it off than heading over to the RiNo District. This area of town is full of incredible street art, food halls, breweries, and restaurants.
You are sure to find a lively atmosphere here and there are tons of places to sit down and grab dinner after a long day. Some of the restaurants and bars even have live music for you to enjoy.
If you are not sure what to do, we suggest heading down to the Denver Central Market first. There are a ton of places in and around the market to eat so you are sure to find something everyone will enjoy. Right around the market, you can also find some local shops and pop-up events that you can wander through.
If you have a little extra time, we suggest hopping on a scooter and riding through the streets to look at all of the art on the buildings. There are some really incredible pieces hidden around every corner throughout RiNo.
While 1 day in Denver is definitely not enough, there is a ton of stuff you can do in that time to really get a feel for what Denver has to offer.
Staying for a little more than 1 day? We definitely recommend checking out some of the cities around Denver (like Boulder or Golden) or heading over to Estes Park and do some hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park!