Whether you’re wishing to create some memorable adventures or are in the process of checking off bucket list items, you don’t have to travel far to experience fabulous attractions and venues near Denver. The metro area is chock full of unforgettable sights and sounds, and many of them don’t even require a full-day commitment.
Winter is an exceptional time to enjoy Colorado’s beauty. Whether there is snow on the ground or not, you’ll typically face fewer crowds in the winter. Yes, it’s tempting to just stay inside, start a fire, and dream about summer. But the cold temperatures provide an exceptional backdrop to enjoy some of the dramatic and interesting landmarks around the Mile High City. A frosty morning or snowy afternoon can turn the surrounding parks, foothills, and mountains into a wonderland of opportunity.
Embrace the crisp air and take advantage of the likelihood that most people will be staying inside when it’s cold and snowing outside. Whether you’re outside or in, experiencing the myriad of Colorado activities makes you appreciate our great state and reminds us of just why we live here.
Usaj Realty has put together a list of the top 11 things to do in Denver in winter. All of these locations are within an hour’s drive from Denver. Hopefully, this will inspire you to devise a list of your own and make it a priority to put them on your calendar before spring arrives on March 20, 2023.
Take a Trip and Explore Meow Wolf, 1338 1st Street
Meow Wolf is an interactive art experience that is not to be missed if you are in the Denver area. There are several different exhibits to explore, each with its own unique theme and set of challenges. You could easily spend an afternoon or even a full day here, and there’s always something new to see. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they’re always happy to answer any questions you may have. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, be sure to check out Meow Wolf!
Tour the Serene Clyfford Still Museum, 1250 Bannock Street
The Clyfford Still Museum is a must-see for art lovers visiting Denver. The museum is dedicated to the work of painter Clyfford Still, and features a large collection of his work as well as art by other prominent Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum is housed in an impressive, modern building and has a very spacious interior, giving visitors plenty of room to explore the exhibits. The museum also has a well-curated gift shop, which offers unique souvenirs and gifts related to the art on display.
Go Ice Skating at Evergreen Lake, 29612 Upper Bear Creek Rd. in Evergreen
If this setting doesn’t evoke images of Currier & Ives, we don’t know what does. Situated in picturesque Evergreen and surrounded by towering mountain peaks and Denver Mountain Parks, Evergreen Lake is an ice skaters paradise. This breathtaking 8.5 acre lake offers 11 hockey rinks and an enormous public skating area, all maintained daily by a Zamboni. Bring your own skates or rent at the Evergreen Lake House, a beautiful lodge situated on the shore of the lake. The lodge provides a perfect setting to enjoy hot chocolate and snacks by the giant stone fireplace. Evergreen Lake is considered one of the most beautiful ice rinks in the world. Make this the winter to make the 30 minute drive from Denver to enjoy a true slice of heaven. Dress warmly and make sure you bring your camera. Call the Evergreen hotline (720-880-1391) before you head out as days and hours of operation are dictated by weather and ice conditions.
Spend an Afternoon at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave Pkwy. in Denver
Founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists’ Club, the Denver Art Museum has grown into one of the largest art museums in the western United States. It has a collection of over 70,000 works of art and boasts powerful traveling exhibits throughout the year. In 2006, the Denver Art Museum doubled in size and now features over 350,000 square feet which houses a plethora of paintings, ceramics, textiles, weavings, indigenous art and more. The exhibits that come to the Denver Art Museum are truly remarkable. Get your tickets here for the featured Saints, Sinners and Fools, a collection that spans 300 years and features Fleming masterworks. Other highlighted exhibits include Georgia O’Keefe photography (through November 6), Who Tells a Tail Adds a Tail (Latin American contemporary art), Other People’s Pictures and Disruption. Take advantage of free first Saturdays throughout the year when there is no charge to enter the museum. The Denver Art Museums also offers lectures, programs, classes and symposiums. Check out their website for all the current offerings.
Head to the Clear Creek River Walk, 13th & Ford in Golden
Golden is a wonderful community, nestled between the foothills and South Table Mountain. It’s a joy to visit this former gold rush town during the winter with its unique shops, cozy restaurants and craft breweries.
While you’re in Golden, check out one of the best urban trail systems. The City of Golden has done a magnificent job with the Clear Creek River Walk Trail, which parallels Clear Creek, and allows you to enjoy a refreshing stroll through the city. With tremendous views, access to restaurants and shops along the way, and the perfect site to exercise your dog, the Clear Creek River Walk has it all. During the summer months, this venue gets a triple word score for tubing, picnicking, and offering opportunities to relax and watch the world go by.
Despite the invasion of craft brewers into the state, the Coors Brewery is still the granddaddy of them all, and visiting this monolith in Golden has been a staple for any tourist or resident. Visitors will see many enhancements in the facility and an enriched tour experience. Check the website to reserve a tour of the brewery or a spot in the lounge where you can sample three different brews.
Grab a Drink at Union Station, 17th & Wynkoop in Downtown Denver
Completely renovated in 2014, Union Station Denver is the crown jewel of the revamped Lower Downtown neighborhood in Denver. The $54 million facelift of Union Station created retail, restaurant, and bar space as well as the stylish and luxurious Crawford Hotel. Just behind Union Station are the original Denver Pacific Railway train tracks that now serve the RTD’s ‘train to the plain’ service to Denver International Airport as well as Amtrak. Additionally, the site includes the underground station for RTD bus service from Denver to and from various points in the metro area. Originally built in 1868 to serve both freight and passenger trains, Union Station was a hub of activity until the latter part of the 20th century when rail travel began to decline. The structure suffered as well until RTD purchased the land in 2001 and turned the site into a multi-use transportation center. In and around Union Station, you’ll find the vibrant tang of LoDo, which has become a symbol of the city of Denver’s renaissance. This revitalized neighborhood is perfect for walking, biking, running your dog or relaxing with your favorite beverage.
See the Flatirons/Chautauqua Park, Baseline and 9th St. in Boulder
Like Red Rocks of Denver, the Flatirons formations in Boulder serve as the enduring symbol of the city. Named for its resemblance to the flat part of an iron, these five majestic outcroppings are a popular climbing venue and serve as the backdrop for the many hiking trails in the area. Part of the Boulder Mountain Parks system, this area is known for its Mesa Trail, which extends all the way south to Eldorado Springs. There are also other short and steep hiking options. The Chautauqua Dining Hall is adjacent to the park and is a favorite dining spot year-round. If you’re looking for a memorable way to spend a weekend or celebrate a special event, stay at one of the cottages at Colorado Chautauqua. Located at the base of the Flatirons and one of only 26 National Historic Landmarks in the state of Colorado, the Colorado Chautauqua is one of only a few remaining chautauquas in the U.S. and offers the ultimate in R&R, charm and opportunities to re-energize the body and soul. If a hike is possible during the winter, we highly recommend it! Even if there is snow and ice on the trails, grab a pair of crampons or traction devices for your boots. Winter hiking in Boulder is truly spectacular.
Walk the Steps at Red Rocks Amphitheater, 18300 W. Alameda Pkwy. in Morrison
No visit to the Front Range is complete without visiting this iconic venue. Set amidst towering red sandstone formations in Denver’s foothills, Red Rocks Park serves as the ultimate eye candy. In the winter, these spires, sprinkled with snow and frost, are an artist’s masterpiece that will captivate your senses. At the core of this Denver Mountain Park is the natural amphitheater which hosts some of the finest musicians and bands from around the world. The Civilian Conservation Corp built the seating and accompanying venue structures back in the late 1930s, and it received National Historic Landmark status in 2015. Enjoy the many trails and vistas on the 700 plus acres. This is the premier setting to watch a Colorado sunrise or sunset.
Visit the Capitol Building, 200 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver
Steeped in history, the Capitol Building of Colorado is as majestic as the Rocky Mountains themselves. Built in the early 1890s and opened in 1894, it is an inspiring structure that epitomizes the pioneers’ journey to the West. Its beautiful ionic pillars, mesmerizing stained glass, and distinctive gold dome are a tribute to the people who helped settle the territory. In addition to the spectacular architecture, one of the most identifying symbols at the Capitol is the “one mile above sea level” inscription. After numerous attempts to get the measurement exactly right, people can now stand exactly one mile above sea level on the 13th step of the stairs leading up to the building. The Capitol Building accents the Capitol Hill neighborhood, well-known for its walkability and proximity to downtown.
Go Ice Skating at the Downtown Denver Rink, 1611 Arapahoe Street
The Downtown Denver Rink is one of the coolest places to go ice skating in the city. It’s located in the heart of downtown, and it’s the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The rink is opens on November 21st and runs through February 14th. There’s also a concession stand where you can buy snacks and drinks.
If you’re looking for a fun winter activity, be sure to check out the Downtown Denver Rink. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening with friends or family. See the hours of the rink here.
Enjoy High Tea at the Brown Palace, 1730 Tremont Place in Denver
Since 1892, the Brown Palace exudes luxury, style, and extraordinary service, accommodations, and cuisine. Built of sandstone and red granite, the Brown Palace has set the bar for over a century of what a full-service hotel should “look like.” From the moment you step through the main doors, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into elegance befitting royalty. You can’t go wrong with any of the cuisine served at the Brown Palace, but the can’t miss service is high tea. Since the early 1900s, the Brown Palace has been offering high tea to the delight of its patrons. Available every afternoon in the stunning atrium from 12-4 p.m., guests enjoy pastries, finger sandwiches, Devonshire cream and Brown Palace truffles along with a variety of loose-leaf teas, all while listening to the lilting chords of the pianist on the grand piano.
Parade of Lights, Downtown Denver
The Parade of Lights in Downtown Denver is a spectacular event that attracts visitors from all over the state. This year, the parade will be held on December 3rd at 6PM, and it promises to be better than ever. The parade will feature floats, marching bands, and other entertainment, and it will culminate with a fireworks show. If you’re looking for something fun to do this winter, be sure to check out the Parade of Lights in Denver!
Snowshoe at Rocky Mountain National Park, 1000 U.S. Hwy. 36 in Estes Park
When you have the Rocky Mountains running north-south through the entire state of Colorado, what’s the big deal with going to a park to see them? Try sheer enormity! Home to 14er Longs Peak and the Mummy Range, which features many 13ers, the size of Rocky Mountain National Park is breathtaking in itself. As one of the highest-elevation national parks in the country, it encompasses over 265,000 acres and an additional 253,000 acres of United States Forest Service wilderness areas on the north and west side of the park. RMNP is the fourth most visited national park in the United States so winter is a perfect time to escape the crowds. Featuring miles of trails, perfect for a snowshoeing adventure, you’ll bask in the winter glory of snow-capped peaks and frozen lakes. There is also sledding and tubing at Hidden Valley, winter hiking, snowcat tours, snowmobiling, and ice skating. RMNP is the perfect escape from the city and is only 76 miles from Denver. Best of all, the park’s “entrance” is Estes Park, a city filled with wonderful restaurants, shops, galleries, and many outdoor activities. Check out the Estes Park Mountain Shop for the very best in outdoor gear and apparel.
Go Skiing at Loveland. I-70 and exit 216
Living in Colorado, going skiing is a no-brainer. And when you hit the Loveland Ski Resort, it means only an hour in your car. For 75 years, generation after generation has enjoyed this no-nonsense, no-frills ski area above the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel. What it lacks in amenities, it makes up for with convenience, pricing, and length of the season. Loveland is gearing up for the 2022-2023 season and will be open soon. Typically open by late October and closing in May, Loveland boasts 1,800 acres of terrain and an average snowfall of 422 inches. Generally, Loveland is less crowded and its dedicated followers come back year after year. Skiers and boarders benefit from a variety of lift tickets including season passes that include bonus days at other Colorado resorts.
Wander Through Garden of the Gods, 1805 N. 30th St. in Colorado Springs
This free, public park located in Colorado Springs is another example of statuesque sandstone formations and spires that have left an indelible mark on its visitors since the early 1900s. Now part of the city of Colorado Springs park system, outdoor enthusiasts revel in the beauty of the Garden of the Gods and enjoy guided nature walks, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, road biking and technical rock climbing. This is a National Natural Landmark for good reason. The spectacular rock outcroppings against the backdrop of West Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak provides a vista you’ll not forget for years to come. There are miles and miles of hiking and running trails, and make sure you visit the Visitor and Nature Center during your stay.
Catch a show at the Denver Center for Performing Arts
The Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) is a world-renowned performing arts center that offers a variety of theater, dance, and music performances each year. The DCPA is home to the Denver Center Theatre Company, the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Colorado Ballet, among other acclaimed companies.
The Denver Center for Performing Arts has a variety of shows coming up this winter. Some of the highlights include “A Christmas Carol,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Nutcracker.” There is something for everyone at the Denver Center for Performing Arts, so be sure to check out the schedule and get tickets today!
Take a Scenic Drive up to Estes Park
If you’re looking for a winter escape, Estes Park is the perfect place to go. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, this town is known for its stunning scenery and charming downtown area. In the winter, the mountains are covered in a thick layer of snow, making it the perfect place for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. There are also plenty of cozy restaurants and bars, as well as plenty of shops to keep you busy. So if you’re looking for a winter getaway, be sure to check out Estes Park!
(Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in November of 2019. It has been edited and updated to provide current information).