Want to make sure you don’t miss out on all the great things to do in Denver? Our ultimate 3 days in Denver itinerary has you covered!
Though you could easily spend weeks or months enjoying all that Denver has to offer, 3 days in Denver is enough to get a taste of this amazing city.
With a thriving arts and culture scene and plenty of parks, museums, live music venues, and historic buildings, there is plenty to see downtown.
And just outside the city, there are mountains, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and more, just waiting to be explored.
So if you’re wondering how to spend 3 days in Denver, this itinerary is for you.
We’ll include all the best landmarks, museums, markets, and attractions downtown, and balance them out with a bit of nature and fresh air in the national parks.
Modify the itinerary however you like, but this article is designed to give you an idea of how to spend the perfect weekend in Denver Colorado.
For more inspiration, check out our list of the 21 Best Things To Do In Denver!
Table of Contents
- How To Enjoy Your 3 Days In Denver Itinerary
- Day 1: Exploring Downtown Denver
- Day 2: Head into the Rocky Mountains
- Day 3: Red Rocks Park and Colorado Rockies OR More Downtown Denver
- Denver Travel Guide
How To Enjoy Your 3 Days In Denver Itinerary
This itinerary will hopefully make your Denver trip planning run a little more smoothly.
Another thing to consider for your trip is the Denver CityPASS.
If you’re planning on visiting most of the museums, gardens, and other attractions mentioned in this itinerary, the CityPASS helps you save money on the entrance fees.
You can choose which attractions you’re hoping to visit when you buy the pass, and you’ll get discounted entry fees. This is a great way to save a bit of money while exploring Denver!
Day 1: Exploring Downtown Denver
There is so much to see in Denver Colorado, so you won’t want to waste a second of your 3 days in Denver itinerary.
Luckily, most of the best attractions in the city center are close to each other so you can see them all on foot. However, public transport and Ubers are available if your feet get tired!
Spend the first day of your Denver itinerary exploring all that downtown has to offer.
You’ll see museums, parks, street art, breweries, historic landmarks, and more. Wear comfortable walking shoes, pack a bottle of water, and get ready for a busy day of sightseeing.
Day 1 Morning: Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens are the perfect first stop for your Denver weekend itinerary.
With numerous landscaped gardens full of beautiful, colorful plants, stroll through here to enjoy some zen at the start of the day.
Check out the Japanese Gardens, the special exhibitions, and the public art displays.
After exploring the gardens, it’s a 35-minute walk, a 6-minute drive, or a 20-minute bus ride into the heart of downtown.
- Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
- Address: 1007 York Streek
- Cost: $15 for adults, $11 for students and kids under 15
Day 1 Afternoon: Capitol Hill Area
This area is the heart of downtown Denver. Here you’ll find the famous Colorado Capitol Building as well as numerous museums, parks, and other attractions.
Everything in this area is best explored on foot. You don’t have to visit all of these museums and attractions, but they are all close to each other so you can pick and choose which places interest you the most.
Pop into any downtown cafe or restaurant for some lunch whenever you need a break from sightseeing.
Read Next: Spending more time exploring Colorado? Be sure to read our guide on all of the best things to do in Colorado Springs!
Civic Center Park
This sprawling green space with landscaped gardens is the perfect oasis of greenery in the midst of the Mile High City. Complete with fountains, gardens, statues, food trucks, and more, Civic Center Park acts as a communal gathering space for events and for leisure.
Visit the website to check what’s on when you are visiting Denver! There are often concerts, fitness classes, festivals, and more.
Colorado State Capitol Building
Topped with an iconic, shimmering golden dome, the Colorado State Capitol Building is an impressive Colorado landmark.
Located at the end of Civic Center Park, you can admire the majestic building from the outside or go on a free tour of the inside to learn about the Colorado General Assembly.
- Colorado State Capitol hours: 7:30 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday
- Address: 200 E Colfax Ave
- Hours for free tours: 10 am or 11 am, Monday – Friday
Denver Art Museum
Another highlight of downtown is the Denver Art Museum. If you’re an art lover, you’ll be amazed by all this museum has to offer.
With special art galleries dedicated to different themes, such as indigenous art, modern art, contemporary art, and more, there is lots to learn and admire at the Denver Art Museum.
Just next to the Denver Art Museum, you’ll also find the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, as well as the Clyfford Still Museum. Art enthusiasts can check out all three art museums during their weekend in Denver itinerary.
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, close 9 pm on Tuesdays
- Address: 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
- Cost: $18 adults, $10 students/seniors/military, FREE for youth under 18
READ NEXT: Consider visiting another great Rocky Mountain city and read our post on all of the best things to do in Salt Lake City!
Molly Brown House Museum
Formerly the home of Titanic survivor, Margaret Tobin Brown, this historic building was saved from demolition in the 1960s by the citizens of Denver.
Now, the Molly Brown House Museum celebrates philanthropy, activism, and history. Visit to admire the impressive building or to tour the exhibits inside.
- Address: 1340 Pennsylvania Street
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday – Sunday, closed on most holidays
- Cost: $16 adults, $14 seniors/students/military, $12 ages 6-18 (prices are cheaper for Colorado residents
History Colorado Center
History lovers should also check out this interactive museum in Denver Colorado. The History Colorado Center showcases art, artifacts, stories, and exhibitions about the city, the state, and the American West.
Book your ticket online to save $1 on admission!
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- Address: 1200 N Broadway
- Cost: $14 adults, $12 seniors, $10 students, $8 kids 5-15, FREE kids under 5
Heading further west? Check out this 3 Days in San Fransisco Itinerary.
Day 1 Evening: LoDo Area
Next on this 3 day Denver itinerary is spending the evening in the LoDo area. From Capitol Hill, it’s a 25-minute walk, a 6-minute drive, or a 20-minute ride on public transport.
“LoDo” refers to “Lower Downtown”, an unofficial neighborhood of the Mile High City. It is one of the oldest areas of the city and is full of historic sites and landmarks as well as plenty of restaurants and bars.
Here are some of the highlights that you should check out while exploring this historic part of Denver.
16th Street Mall
This mile-long pedestrian boulevard is the perfect place to spend an evening during 3 days in Denver.
16th Street Mall is packed with shops, restaurants, bars, street performers, and more. Simply walk through and people watch, window-shop, or grab a cocktail and a bite to eat.
Some of the best places to eat in 16th Street Mall include Mellow Mushroom for stone-baked pizzas, Appaloosa Grill for burgers and live music, and The Kitchen for farm-to-table cuisine.
There are also lots of international eateries, breweries, and take-away food spots.
Along 16th Street Mall you’ll pass Larimer Square, another must-see place on any Denver itinerary. As the oldest block in the Mile High City, it’s here where Denver began.
Full of historic architecture, twinkling lights, and more shops and eateries, Larimer Square is a highlight of visiting Denver. Hang out for a while or continue your sightseeing.
From Larimer Square, it’s just a 10-minute walk to Denver Union Station.
Union Station is possibly the most famous historic landmark in Denver. Not only is the station a transport hub, it’s a social and cultural hub for locals and tourists who visit Denver.
Visit Union Station to grab a cocktail, visit an arcade, see live music, or just meander around. Be sure to snap a photo of the outside of Union Station, as the historic building is one of the top tourist attractions in the city.
LoDo is home to lots of microbreweries that specialize in craft beer. While exploring this area of downtown Denver, stop in a few of them to grab a flight of craft beer or some food.
Top breweries in the area include The Sandlot Brewery, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, and Wynkoop Brewing Company.
You could also embark on a craft brewery tour if you want to learn more about the local businesses and the art of making craft beer. This guided brewery walking tour covers all the best spots in the LoDo area.
Day 2: Head into the Rocky Mountains
One of the best things about visiting Denver is its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Fresh air, lush forests, tumbling waterfalls, and jagged mountain peaks are just outside the city center.
Start day 2 of your perfect weekend in Denver itinerary with a day trip into the mountains. Even if you’re tired from the previous day of sightseeing, take advantage of the gorgeous nature near Denver and get out for some hiking and exploring.
This is a good day to rent a car if you haven’t already, however, there are tour options available for those without a car.
Day 2 Morning: Lookout Mountain
Located just a 30-minute drive west of central Denver, this is one of the closest mountains to the city. There is no direct public transport to Lookout Mountain. However, you can take a combination of public buses and trains to get there, or just take an Uber.
Once you arrive, this mountain offers a beautiful lookout over the Mile High City and its surroundings. In addition to the lookout, there are 110 acres of parks, trails, and attractions up here.
Go mountain biking, rock climbing, or hiking in the wilderness. Or visit the Nature Center to learn about the local plants and wildlife. Whether you just check out the views or spend some time enjoying nature, this free space is a highlight of any Denver trip.
Read next: The 21 Best Things To Do In Portland, Oregon
Day 2 Afternoon: Mount Evans Scenic Byway and St. Mary’s Glacier
Continue on exploring the nature outside Denver Colorado by heading for the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
This winding alpine drive takes you through the Colorado Rockies and is known as the highest paved road in North America. If you aren’t scared of heights and you love dramatic mountain views, definitely drive along some or all of the route.
From the starting point of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway near Idaho Springs, it’s about a 30-minute drive to St. Mary’s Glacier. This frozen lake and snowfield is an easy day trip from Denver. In summer, the lake isn’t frozen and is surrounded by green forests.
Either embark on a hike near the glacier, go fishing, or just admire the scenery.
If you aren’t planning on renting a car when you visit Denver, you can still venture out to the Rocky Mountains.
Book a day tour on Get Your Guide, which includes transport to and from Denver, a guided hike up St. Mary’s Glacier, lunch, and a visit to geothermal pools.
Day 2 Evening: River North Arts District
After exploring the mountains, head back into town for another fun night out. Tonight you’re heading to the River North Art District (RiNo for short).
Full of art galleries, cool street art, coffee shops, jazz bars, craft breweries, delicious food, live music, markets, and more, the RiNo Art District is a hip and unique place to hang out.
The streets in this area boast some of Denver’s best street art, so be on the lookout for cool murals while exploring. You could even book a Graffiti Tour of Denver to have a local show you where the most amazing street art is.
Another highlight of the River North Art District is the Denver Central Market. This spacious gourmet food hall is home to local vendors that offer amazing food and a cozy ambiance.
From pizza and burgers to handmade chocolates and ice cream, to grain bowls, poke bowls, and more, eat to your heart’s content at the Denver Central Market.
Denver Central Market Info
- Address: 2669 Larimer Street
- Hours: 8 am – 9 pm (closes at 11 pm on weekends)
Between the galleries, the art, and the food, this area is the perfect place to spend the second evening of your 3 days in Denver itinerary. Check out the RiNo Art District website for events in the area.
Day 3: Red Rocks Park and Colorado Rockies OR More Downtown Denver
On the last day of your perfect weekend in Denver, it’s time to hit any attractions that you may have missed. Spend the morning at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and park, a famous spot in Denver.
Then for the rest of the day, either continue exploring downtown or head out into Rocky Mountain National Park if you’re itching for more time in nature.
Whatever activities you choose, savor the last day of your Denver weekend trip!
Day 3 Morning: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Grab breakfast downtown and then head out to this iconic Denver landmark.
Built into an ancient red sandstone rock face, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is stunning to look at and is an essential part of Denver’s community.
This open-air amphitheater hosts festivals, concerts, and events, and you can see what’s playing on the website.
Check out the famous amphitheater before hitting the trails.
Red Rocks Park has a few hiking trails where you can stretch your legs and enjoy the surrounding nature.
The Trading Post Trail is short and easy at just 1.6 miles. This loop brings you past all the best rock formations.
The Red Rocks Trail is a more challenging, 6-mile hike that heads into the nearby Matthew Winters Park.
Embark on a hike or just check out the park and the nearby Trading Post, Visitor Center, and Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
- Hours: Park opens one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset (amphitheater hours vary depending on season and performance dates)
- Address: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison
- Cost: Free, unless you’re attending a performance
Day 3 Afternoon Option 1: Visit City Park
The last afternoon of your Denver itinerary can either be spent in the city or in nature, it’s entirely up to you.
If you don’t have a car and you’d rather stick close to the city, spend the afternoon enjoying City Park.
This giant green space in Denver is home to many attractions, as well as lakes, picnic areas, tennis courts, and walking trails.
It is also home to the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, both of which are incredible and fun for the whole family.
Day 3 Afternoon Option 2: Rocky Mountain National Park
Another option for your afternoon is heading into Rocky Mountain National Park for more outdoor adventures.
This option is ideal if you have a car, as the park is about 1.5 hours outside the city. Once you arrive, you are spoiled for options in terms of activities.
There are lots of stunning hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Lots of great trails begin at Bear Lake, which is a beautiful sight just by itself. From here you can choose to walk the flat and easy Bear Lake Trail which is less than 1 mile long, or you can hike further to other nearby lakes.
Hiking from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake is a 3.6 miles long trail that passes 4 beautiful alpine lakes. This trail is moderate in terms of difficulty and has gorgeous views.
The Alpine Ridge Trail is a steeper trail with amazing views, and Alberta Falls Trail is short but leads to a majestic waterfall.
Those looking for more of a challenge can try the Deer Mountain Trail, a 6.2-mile hike that is steep and offers mountain views.
Another fun activity to try in Rocky Mountain National Park is ziplining. Soar over the treetops and get an adrenaline rush while soaking in those stunning mountain views!
Organized by Denver Adventures, this zip lining tour covers more than 6,000ft of ziplines through the Rocky Mountain pine forest. The views are breathtaking, and the customer reviews are all positive. This is a super fun addition to any 3 day Denver itinerary.
Other fun things to do in the park include fishing, cycling, rock climbing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and more.
Visit the official national parks website for more info and ideas about Rocky Mountain National Park.
If your travels are taking you to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to check out The Perfect 3 Days in Seattle Itinerary!
Day 3 Evening: Catch Some Live Music
After an epic day, finish off your weekend in Denver itinerary with a bang. Check out the live music scene, as there are lots of fun venues scattered around the city.
Some of the best live music venues in Denver include:
- Bluebird Theatre: A cozy and intimate historic venue
- Lost Lake Lounge: A dive bar featuring indie music
- Larimer Lounge: A popular restaurant and bar that turns into a dance floor for concerts at night
- Nocturne: For jazz music and cocktails
- The Black Buzzard at Oskar Blues: A restaurant upstairs with bands playing downstairs
- Ogden Theatre: A historic venue with big concerts and shows
- Your Mom’s House: An independent live music venue that plays a huge variety of different music
Denver Travel Guide
Now that we’ve covered the ultimate Denver trip itinerary, here are some more travel tips like when to visit, how to get around, and where to stay.
When is the Best Time to Visit Denver Colorado
The best time to plan a trip to Denver is usually shoulder season.
The shoulder season falls between April and May in the spring or September and October in the autumn.
These times of year have pleasant weather that isn’t too hot or too cold. There is also a drop in tourism compared to the busy summer season, so flight and accommodation prices are cheaper than normal. There are also fewer crowds!
However, if you’re planning a trip to Denver for skiing and snowboarding, of course, winter is a better time to visit. You’ll get lots of fresh snow on the slopes!
Summer is the peak travel season in Denver, so the weather is hot and sunny and amazing for outdoor activities. However, the crowds and bigger, and prices are higher.
So the best time to plan a Denver weekend getaway is in spring or autumn.
Getting Around Denver Colorado
Getting around Denver Colorado is very easy and straightforward, whether you have a car or not.
If you’re flying into Denver International Airport, you can take the Airport Rail for $10.50 each way. It travels directly from the airport to Union Sation in downtown.
If you’re planning on renting a car, which is a good idea for a Colorado road trip or for venturing out into the mountains, you can rent one at the airport or in the city itself.
However, it is easy to explore Denver without a car. If you’ll be spending most of your Denver itinerary in the downtown area, it’s actually easier to explore without a car.
Most of the attractions downtown are within walking distance of each other, and you won’t have to worry about parking if you’re exploring on foot. There is also a light rail and a bus service to help you get around, and Ubers and taxis are also available.
Check the official Denver transport website to plan your journeys around the city via public transport.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
Where to Stay in Denver Colorado
If you’re wondering where to stay in Denver, check out these recommendations that cover accommodation for all budgets.
There are plenty of convenient and affordable options near the city center so you can fully explore Denver in 3 days.
Best Hostel in Denver: Hostel Fish
Hostel Fish is located in a convenient spot near the 16th Street Mall, Coors Field, and Union Station. You can walk to all the best attractions on your Denver itinerary!
With a social atmosphere and lots of positive reviews on Hostelworld, this hostel is perfect for young travelers who want to save money and meet people.
There is a restaurant and bar on-site, as well as a tour desk to help you plan any tours or activities you may need.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Denver: The Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel is a well-reviewed, good-quality hotel in downtown Denver. Co
Complete with a bar, pool, spa, fitness center, and comfy rooms, this hotel has everything you could possibly need for 3 days in Denver. It’s also reasonably priced, so you can enjoy a comfortable stay without spending a fortune.
Best Luxury Hotel in Denver: The Brown Palace Hotel
The best luxury accommodation in Denver is the Brown Palace Hotel. Located right in downtown, the Brown Palace Hotel is perfect for a trip to Denver because it is right near all the best attractions.
The rooms have a historic and elegant ambiance, and there is a spa and 3 restaurants on-site.
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