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Things to Do in Colorado

Phoenix’s fair skies and warm temps draw winter-weary travelers to this sun-drenched corner nicknamed the Valley of the Sun. The capital of Arizona, Phoenix serves as home to a variety of cultural institutions. Join a small-group or private tour to experience the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, and the unique Museum of Musical Instruments. Or follow your guide to the Desert Botanical Garden, which showcases the abundant flora of the Southwest, which thrives in the hot, arid climate. Check out plentiful golf courses and ballparks that serve as baseball spring training facilities and home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Foodies will find plenty to love: Book a culinary tour that tempts with Southwestern fare and wine and beer tastings. Beyond the metropolitan city, discover the dry, rugged desert landscape on an all-terrain vehicle tour, a hiking tour via one of the many trails, or on a horseback excursion. Or reach for the skies with a hot-air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert at sunrise or sunset, with just a splash of Champagne. Phoenix makes a great departure point for forays to see the Grand Canyon’s Painted Desert. Or venture to points north, such as Sedona for its magnificent Red Rocks and nearby American Indian ruins.
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Molly Brown House Museum
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13 Tours and Activities
Visitors may know Margaret “Molly” Brown in association with the RMS Titanic, but there was much more to her life than the ill-fated voyage for which she became famous. An activist, suffragist, and philanthropist, Brown’s spirit lives on through educational tours, exhibits, and programming inside her restored historic Denver home.
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Larimer Square
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Larimer Square is the oldest part of Denver, with Victorian-era buildings now home to many of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The foundation of Colorado’s capital, the 2-block district is popular with locals and tourists alike, strolling beneath strings of lights and state flags.
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Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo)
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9 Tours and Activities
A lively district of restaurants, shops, and nightlife, Lower Downtown Denver (or LoDo) is a top destination for Denver culture. In addition to its vibrant scene, though, LoDo is also home to some of the city’s best-preserved historic architecture and more Victorian–era buildings than anywhere else in the United States.
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Arkansas River
37 Tours and Activities

Flowing through four states, the Arkansas River is the sixth longest river in the United States. Its source basin and Arkansas River Canyon can be found in Colorado, where it is a popular spot to go whitewater rafting. It runs past the Rocky Mountains and drops extensively as it flows through the valley, creating the conditions that are good for rafting and kayaking. Depending on the section of the river there is everything from Class IV and V rapids to gentler II and III sections that are ideal for beginners. Waters weave scenically in and through canyons and gorges surrounded by thick forest and snow-capped peaks.

Aside from boating and fishing, visitors to the Arkansas River often utilize the facilities and the beautiful backdrop for activities such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, birding, and rock climbing. There is also great fly fishing in this part of the river, particularly for trout.

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Denver 16th Street Mall
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Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a beautiful tree-lined, pedestrian area at the heart of the city. This downtown promenade of red and gray granite is a bustling center, popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to an abundance of outdoor cafes, shops and restaurants among renovated historic buildings and modern glass skyscrapers.

The mall boasts more than 300 shops and more than 50 restaurants in a 16-block stretch of 16th Street. Some of the most popular spots include Niketown and Virgin Records’ Megastore, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe and Rock Bottom Brewery, where you can enjoy a hearty selection of draft craft beer. Along with great shopping and dining, the mall is also a hub for local street performers, with a delightful range folk and country singers performing amid dancers.

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Colorado State Capitol Building
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Reminiscent of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Colorado State Capitol Building sitting high atop Denver is not just a 24 karat gold-domed meeting place for the Colorado General Assembly, but also an homage to the American governmental process, as well as a truly beautiful archeological wonder.

Built a mile high above sea level, as denoted by the markings inscribed upon its steps, the Colorado State Capital Building has incredible views of downtown Denver, and a history that tells of the days of the Gold Rush and the incredible use of the beautiful Colorado Rose Onyx used to build the interior of the capitol and the designs of dignitaries engraved therein. It is said that the entire known supply of this rare marble was exhausted in making of the Colorado State Capitol.

Tours will tell of early Colorado history, the Capitol construction, the origin of several stained glass windows, the Woman’s Gold Tapestry.

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Historic Downtown Durango
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The heart of Durango is a nationally registered historic district where visitors can walk in the footsteps of the miners and railroad workers who helped settle the Wild West, though today’s Durango is quite a bit more upscale that it was when William Jackson Palmer settled the area in the late 1800s. Historic attractions include the original Strater Hotel, built in 1887, and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which still carries passengers between the two towns along the Animas River. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Museum sits at the back of the railyard with exhibits describing the history of the town and the railway.

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Denver Center for the Performing Arts
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Denver, Colorado is home to the United States’ largest nonprofit theater organization, and the city’s Center for the Performing Arts offers an incredible variety of live shows in its ten performance venues. From their own theater company to Broadway shows, Cabaret, and “Off-Center” plays, nearly every type of theater can be found here. As such the center has everything from a concert hall to an opera house, an auditorium, a ballroom, and four major theaters. The structure stretches across four city blocks and nearly 12 acres, with over 10,000 seats in front of its stages. Its impressive 80 foot glass roof tops it all off, making it the largest performing arts center in the country as well.
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Denver Art Museum (DAM)
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The Denver Art Museum is recognized for its prized Native American collection, the country’s largest. Spanning the US and Canada, from prehistoric times to the present, the hugely varied collection ranges from basketry and beadwork to paintings and sculpture.

The art museum also has enviable Asian, European and US collections, and a comprehensive African gallery of paintings, sculptures and artifacts.

Iconic works by artists from the American west underscore Denver’s Rocky Mountains location and history, and the museum’s photography collection includes more than 7,000 images.

Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts a varied calendar of temporary traveling exhibitions.

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More Things to Do in Colorado

Denver Civic Center Park

Denver Civic Center Park

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Denver Civic Center Park was created more than 100 years ago as the civic heart for the city of Denver. The urban green space is the site of the Colorado State Capitol, and arching footpaths across the park offer a chance to stroll among the gardens and marvel at the surrounding architecture, including the Denver City and County Building, the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Central Library. The park is also home to the Greek Theater and the historic Carnegie Library.
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Denver Mint

Denver Mint

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Reach into your pocket or change drawer and pull out a handful of U.S. pennies. Look carefully at their fronts—chances are most will have a small letter “D” just below the date. This is the mint mark for the Denver Mint, one of only a handful of facilities that produces U.S. currency. This particular location is a byproduct of the days when Denver was a gold-mining hub. When gold was found in Colorado in 1858, hundreds of merchants, miners and settlers moved in to claim their stake. A year later, Denver was founded, and several years after that, in 1863, the government decided to develop a mint facility here. In addition to producing money people use every day, the Denver Mint also stamps out a variety of not-in-circulation commemorative coins.

The grand architecture of the massive Renaissance-style 1904 mint building itself is worth checking out. To go inside, visitors must sign up for one of the free tours, which includes historical exhibits, vaults and gold bars.

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Denver Firefighters Museum

Denver Firefighters Museum

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The Denver Firefighters Museum offers guests a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes of the life and times of modern firefighting. The venue offers a chance for the young ones to try on some firefighter suits and pretend they’re on the job, while the adults peruse over a century’s worth of historical artifacts, all housed in the original Firehouse Number 1 built in 1909. A great look into a turn-of-the-century firehouse and all the progress made in firefighting technique and technology over the 20th century, the Denver Firefighters Museum offers something interesting for all of us.
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Washington Park

Washington Park

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A major neighborhood of Denver and one of its largest urban parks, Washington Park provides a beautiful slice of nature in the middle of the city. Spread out over more than 150 acres, it’s home to beautiful flower gardens and two lakes shaded by tall trees and beside open meadows. Initially designed in the French country style, the park has kept its historic architecture and thoughtful layout. Sculptures throughout reflect the city’s history, while one of the flower gardens is an exact replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon.
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Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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A premier education center in America’s Southwest, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science boasts a planetarium, an IMAX theater, and a wide range of exhibits that showcase the biological and geological history of Earth and the universe. Exhibits range from ancient artifacts to interactive virtual-reality zones the whole can family can explore.
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Denver City Park

Denver City Park

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Denver’s 314-acre City Park is the largest park in the city, built in 1882 following the tradition of New York City’s Central Park and later used as the site of the 1893 World’s Fair. Today, this beautiful urban green space boasts a number of attractions, including the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and a pair of lakes, complete with a boathouse where visitors can rent paddleboats. Ferril Lake is the location of the iconic Prismatic Fountain, a newly renovated centerpiece that lights up the nights with brilliant, ever-changing displays of light and water.
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Hard Rock Cafe Denver

Hard Rock Cafe Denver

With classic American foods served alongside some of rock and roll’s best music memorabilia, the Hard Rock Cafe Denver is part of the two-story Denver Pavilions shopping area downtown. Marked by the 20 foot neon electric guitar out front, it always draws a lively crowd and hosts a variety of music events on its stage.
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Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park

When summertime hits and the heat comes, there’s little that beats a day spent frolicking at the water park -- except maybe one spent laughing ourselves silly while holding on for dear life when getting thrown about on roller coasters. Denver’s Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park combine the best of both worlds and constitute 70 winding acres of adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides and twisting water slides. Located in downtown Denver, Elitch Gardens has, for over 120 years, been offering visitors the best time for their money. With over 50 rides like the Mind Eraser, Twister, Boomerang, and a bevy of winding waterslides at your disposal, Elitch Gardens makes any day spent here one to remember.
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Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo

Built on 80 acres of land in the Northern corner of Denver’s historic City Park, the Denver Zoo is a full day of animal excitement. The first of its kind in America, the highly regarded Denver Zoo did away with cages and began using naturalistic zoo enclosures beginning with its famous Bear Mountain back in 1906, and continues the trend of conscientious zoo maintenance and upkeep.
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Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Let your children run free in the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. Here, kids are not just allowed to, but are encouraged to touch everything, role play, pretend, and let their imaginations run wild. Climb aboard a real Denver fire truck, make a masterpiece in the art room, or stand inside a bubble you yourself just blew—the Children’s Museum of Denver prides itself on its various activities and exhibits for the young and hungry mind. Rated as one of the top 12 children's museums in the country by Forbes Magazine, from engineering buildings and concrete trucks in the Assembly Plant, to blasting rockets off into the air, the Children’s Museum of Denver has enough to occupy both child and adult for hours.
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Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium

Denver’s Downtown Aquarium is more than just an aquarium -- it’s also an entertainment and dining complex. Featuring over a million gallons of underwater exhibits, and over 500 species of animals, the Downtown Aquarium proudly houses sea otters, thousands of fish from climates all over the world, an interactive Stingray Reef touch tank, and even two live Bengal Tigers. Exhibits are ordered by where the animals originate, which aids in children learning about the various ecosystems. An upscale, full-service Aquarium Restaurant with floor to ceiling glass views of the large aquarium holding tank is available, and women in mermaid suits have been known to appear and wave to onlookers.
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Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens is Denver’s very own agrarian escape from the city, while still being within the city’s confines. Featuring North America’s largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates around the world, a Japanese Garden, and Denver’s first publicly accessible green roof, the Denver Botanic Gardens routinely presents visitors with a cutting edge way of approaching horticulture and what growing a garden means.
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