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Top 7 Things to Do in Denver

Say "Colorado," and you probably think hoppy craft beer, fast skiing and some of the most liberal-minded folks in America (after all, they did vote to legalize marijuana in 2013). But "yeah, brah" stereotype aside, the state really inspires residents and travelers to embrace an active, healthy and interesting lifestyle. And Denver is the cultural capital at its epicenter.

 

Greater Denver, a sprawl of nearly 3 million people, stretches along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Though the region is front row to a mecca for adventure sports enthusiasts, Denver itself boasts metropolitan variety and Western charm—2 things in short supply elsewhere in Colorado. City parks and botanical gardens, art museums and the hipster-filled downtown district barely scratch the surface for those itching to further explore the city's cultural attractions. Here’s our short list for the best things to do in Denver.

 

Photography By Thinkstock.com

1. Stroll through Downtown

Denver’s downtown blends both a Wild West and urban chic vibe. Hit up the 16th Street Mall to browse decades-old bookshops like Tattered Cover and buy cowboy apparel at Rockmount Ranch Wear. Rockmount is the notorious inventor of the snap button shirt, a favorite of music legends like Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen. Thirsty or hungry? Head to Denver's LoDo (lower downtown) district and peruse the 28 square blocks of restaurants, sports bars and brewpubs. You'll stumble upon live music in various bars and restaurants every night of the week here.

Photography By Photolibrary/Getty Images

2. Visit the Aquarium

It might seem oddly placed in a city surrounded by mountains and desert, but Denver’s Downtown Aquarium doesn’t disappoint. Over 1 million gallons of underwater exhibits highlight freshwater and oceanic ecosystems that are home to over 500 species of sea life. An interactive touch tank where it's possible to pet stingrays wins our vote for coolest exhibit. Other favorites include the coral lagoon and shipwreck. Grab a bite at the aquarium's restaurant, which is surrounded by a 50,000-gallon tank of brightly colored tropical fish from the Caribbean, Hawaii, South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Photography By Flickr, John Fowler

3. Browse the Botanic Gardens

You may recognize this Denver green space from Woody Allen’s film Sleeper and it’s as pretty in person as it is on camera. With 3 different locations across the city, the Denver Botanic Gardens feature a large amphitheater used for summer concerts, a conservatory, themed gardens and rotating exhibits. Whether you’re a nature lover or just like to escape the concrete jungle without leaving city limits, the Gardens are a must-visit.

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