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Denver, Colorado- Top Things to Do in 48Hrs

Denver, Colorado was founded in 1858 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush and grew into a well-known mining town. Today the city is home to over 700,000 people but the Denver metro area is close to 3 million people and is easily one of the fastest-growing cities in the USA. One interesting fact is that Denver is known as the mile high city because it’s located exactly one mile above sea level (5,280 feet). Another interesting fact is that Denver has more sunshine than San Diego, averaging 300 days each year! With so many sites to explore from the Denver Art Museum to Coors Field to the outdoors, there is something for everyone!


Denver is a quick 2-hour flight from San Diego, making this city a great place for a long weekend getaway. In this guide, I’ll share the best things to do in Denver in 48- Hrs.!


Tip: If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, add an extra day to your trip. The park is only about a 1 hr 20 min drive from Denver, but it might be easier to stay the night near the park and give yourself an extra day to relax after hiking. 


Downtown Denver

Best Stay: The Thompson Hotel 

 

The Thompson Hotel is located in the heart of the city! It’s within walking distance to many restaurants, shops, and parks. I walked over 10 miles during my stay because I walked to so many places! When you walk into the hotel you are greeted by a gorgeous lobby with cozy seating areas, a coffee bar to your left, and a luxurious bar and restaurant to your right.  The rooms are spacious with comfy beds and spa-like bathrooms equipped with a rain shower! This hotel also has a lounge area called Reynard Social which serves craft cocktails, and small plates and has plenty of seating areas for you to jam to tunes and relax after a busy day of exploring the city. I was pleasantly surprised by all the wellness amenities such as the refillable water bottle stations in the hallways, the eucalyptus hanging in the bathrooms, and the spacious gym with all the necessary equipment to maintain your wellness routine. If you decide to stay at this hotel you don’t need a car unless you plan on venturing outside the city. If you choose to rent a car, the monthly valet fee is quite pricey at $65 a night and there is not a lot of street parking close to the hotel due to some nearby construction. 



Best Rooftop: 54Thirty 


Denver's highest open-air rooftop bar is located on the 20th floor of the Le Méridien Hotel. The hostess leads guests to the elevator once you enter through the hotel's main entrance. As soon as you enter the bar you are greeted with lively music, fresh air, and expansive views of the mountains and downtown Denver. The bar offers craft cocktails and small bites. The seating is first come first serve, and plenty of fire pits are around for those chilly evenings. This place can get crowded so I recommend arriving early if you want to visit with fewer people. Since the weather in Denver can b vary based on the season I recommend checking the website for hours of operation before you go. 


Best Budget-Friendly Activity: Free Denver Walking Tour


Denver Walking Tours hosts this free tour and it is one of the best budget-friendly activities to do in the city. The tour can be booked online and there is a small processing fee of $2.00. The tour starts at 10 a.m. at the Colorado State Capital and ends at Union Station. It includes stops at 11 of the city's tourist attractions including The Big Blue Bear,  Larimer Square, and the U.S. Mint. The total time of the tour is about 2-2.5 hours and ends up being about 1.7 miles total. One of my favorite parts of the tour was meeting people from other parts of the country and the world. In my tour group, we had a few people from Germany, someone from New York, and a few Denver locals! 



Best Urban Park: Confluence Park 


Did you know Denver is home to over 250 urban parks and over 850 miles of biking trails? During my trip to Denver, I had the opportunity to explore Confluence Park. Confluence Park is located in downtown Denver about a 15-minute walk from the Thompson Hotel. The riverside park has grassy areas for lounging, walking, and biking trails. During the summer you can find adventures kayaking down the river. After you are done exploring the park, check out the REI Outdoor store, it’s located just a few feet away from the park!



Best Local Sweet Treat: Little Man Ice Cream


After visiting Confluence Park, take a short walk to Little Man Ice Cream a local spot serving homemade ice cream in Denver since 2008. They have a standard menu where guests can order sundaes, banana splits, and shakes. Their unique ice cream flavors change constantly, so each time you visit there is an opportunity to try something new.



Best Unique Outdoor Experience: Red Rocks Amphitheater 


The Red Rocks Amphitheater sits at 6,450 feet above sea level and is the only naturally occurring amphitheater in the world. In the late 1930s construction began to build a seating area between the rocks and it was officially open to the public in 1941. Today, this amphitheater is a place for live concerts, hiking trails, and exercise enthusiasts.  

The first time that I visited was in 2020, but I was not aware that there were several trails to hike near the amphitheater. This time during my visit, I was able to explore some trails and I recommend it during your visit. If you are looking for an easy-to-moderate trail, I recommend the Trading Post Trail.


Tip: Before you visit, check the website to find out if there is a concert happening. If there is, you are still able to hike the nearby trails but parking may be difficult to find and you will not be able to access the amphitheater. 



Best Way to Support Local: Denver Farmers Market


If you are interested in supporting the local community, add a farmers market to your itinerary. One of the largest farmers markets in Denver happens every Saturday, May 4 to October 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located on the East Side of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center next to Macy’s. Parking is free, and you can get the ticket validated at the market.

The market has a variety of vendors from farmers selling fresh produce and local artists. 


If you are looking for a weekend trip from San Diego, Denver is a perfect place for a getaway!

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