Denver, Colorado’s capital city, is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is not just a USA bucket list destination but also a terrific vacation destination with a variety of activities for city and nature enthusiasts equally.
People here enjoy being outside, are big sports fans, enjoy a drink with a view (extra points if it’s one of the many local brews), and are generally polite and hospitable.
But what if you want to see more of Colorado than Denver has to offer?
You’ll be pleased to learn that some of Colorado’s top attractions are conveniently located near Denver.
While there are many possibilities, this list will help you limit it down to select 11 of the greatest day trips from Denver.
The Best Day Trips From Denver, CO
1. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
The vast sandstone formations in the area give Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater its name. It is located just west of Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
There are lots to do here during the day, as it is a National Historic Landmark.
Red Rocks Park is the ideal location for some high-quality outdoor recreation. Hiking, trail running, and mountain biking are all possible among the stunning environment, which includes vistas of downtown Denver to the east.
Visitors can also utilize the amphitheater steps to increase their workout intensity – but be warned: it’s difficult, especially at higher elevations!
However, seeing a play at Red Rocks in the evening is the greatest way to go! Every year, the concert lineup features the finest of the greatest.
They host unique activities like stand-up comedians, large group workouts, and a weekly movie series in the summer.
2. Boulder, Colorado
Although Boulder is only a short drive from Denver, it feels like a world away when you arrive.
Boulder has a small-town feel to it, with a strange blend of posh and hippie vibes. Boulder is a great destination for city folks to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
In Boulder, you can explore Chautauqua Park, see the historic Pearl Street pedestrian mall, sample some of Colorado’s greatest beers, and dine at one of the city’s flourishing restaurants.
There are so many things to do in Boulder that a day excursion might easily be filled with unforgettable new experiences. So make sure to add some more time to your agenda to allow for more exploration!
3. Coors Brewery
The Coors Brewery is the world’s largest brewery, and it’s located in Golden, Colorado, just north of Denver.
Golden produces more beer per capita than any other city in the world, owing largely to Coors! Furthermore, they provide free 30-minute tours of their operations regularly.
Visitors on the brewery tour get an up-close peek at what happens behind the scenes. The malting, brewing, and packaging procedures used to get Coors beers to the end customer may be seen here.
You’ll also get plenty of free samples of their beer along the route.
But don’t believe there’s nothing else to see here! There are so many things to do in Golden that you could easily spend an entire day or longer visit one of Denver’s nearest mountain towns.
4. Blackhawk/Central City, Colorado
A trip to Blackhawk/Central City is like taking a trip back in time. Back to the Wild West, and what Colorado would have looked like when the first people arrived and established themselves.
Today, however, these modest, historic towns are better known as Colorado’s prime gaming destination! There is a fair mix of high-end casinos and smaller, local establishments to enjoy.
And no matter where you end up, you’ll have access to the greatest gaming Colorado has to offer.
5. Georgetown Loop Railroad and Mining Park
The Georgetown Loop Railroad and Mining Park, located 45 miles west of Denver, is a historically immersive experience. You can board the train and journey back in time to the 1800s.
The trains on the track are steam-powered behemoths that have been preserved and maintained for nearly 120 years. The loop connects travelers between Georgetown and Silver Plume, two mountain mining villages.
Bring the whole family along for a day of fun on the train, a visit to a silver mine, or learning to gold pan.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Colorado’s most popular tourist destinations. In reality, the park attracts over four million people each year who come to experience the park’s 400+ square miles of breathtaking alpine scenery.
Visitors can enjoy scenic driving, fishing, horseback riding, animal observation, and more throughout the park.
Trail Ridge Road is particularly popular, and it also happens to be the country’s highest continually paved road! That makes sense when you consider that it’s also known as the “Highway to the Sky.”
And it doesn’t matter when you go to RMNP! Throughout the year, a wide range of activities is available.
7. Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark that is just a short drive south of Denver.
With almost 1,300 acres to explore and breathtaking views of towering red rock formations, it’s easy to see why this is such a favorite Denver destination.
There are several methods to see what the park has to offer. It’s ideal for biking, hiking, equestrian riding, and rock climbing (depending on your abilities).
To wrap up your day trip from Denver, go to the adjacent Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.
8. Breckenridge, Colorado
A list of fantastic day trips from Denver would be incomplete without a visit to a ski resort town!
Breckenridge is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is home to both a booming ski resort (aptly named Breckenridge Ski Resort) and a historic tiny town with plenty of lovely mountain charm.
As one might expect, Breckenridge is a fantastic winter vacation destination, with activities centered on all things snow, including skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and more.
Biking, hiking, and alpine sports are available when visiting outside of the winter months.
But, regardless of when you arrive, there are lots of fantastic restaurants to try, small businesses to browse, and pleasant residents to converse with.
9. Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Okay, 2 hours and 30 minutes are perhaps pushing the limits of a “day excursion,” but a journey to Glenwood Springs is well worth it!
Take a lovely drive into the mountains from Denver to start your day. The scenery is breathtaking!
Then drive to Hanging Lake Trail, one of Colorado’s most famous treks, right outside Glenwood Springs.
It’s a short hike (about one mile), but it gains a lot of elevation in that time, making it quite difficult.
After that, drive to Glenwood to soak your post-hike muscles in the wonderful hot springs.
The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is large in the heart of town. Iron Mountain Hot Springs, on the other hand, has more intimate pools with river views.
Then top it off with a delicious lunch at Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse, and you’ve had a jam-packed yet wonderfully enjoyable day!
10. Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park is a beautiful alpine town located just northwest of Denver, Colorado.
Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park usually stay here because of the range of activities available and the proximity to the park entrance.
The Estes Park Aerial Tramway offers breathtaking views of the valley. A visit to the Stanley Hotel, which was featured in Stephen King’s film “The Shining” and just so happens to be one of Colorado’s most haunted hotels, will delight (and immediately recognize) horror enthusiasts.
And, of course, Estes Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities — which is so Colorado!
11. Bishop Castle
This is without a doubt the “weirdest” location on the list, but what is life without dipping your toes into the strange?
Bishop Castle, named after its creator, is a one-man creation that has grown in popularity as a Colorado roadside attraction. And it’ll undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip!
There are no guided tours available here; the castle is always accessible and free to the public, and visitors are encouraged to explore on their own time.
The castle has a magnificent ballroom, odd architecture, a fire-breathing dragon thrown in for good measure, and tall stone and iron towers with amazing views.
Colorado has no shortage of ski resorts, with Aspen adding to the state’s large roster of great slopes. In the White River National Forest, Aspen was founded as a mining town during the nineteenth-century silver mining boom. Still, its identity is now almost inexorably linked to skiing.
Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hot air ballooning are among the winter outdoor activities available in the town, with four trail-covered mountains. Hiking, cycling, and fly fishing are all popular summer activities in the town, with beautiful natural scenery and infrastructure.