Downtown Denver: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Planning your next trip to the Mile High City? Don’t miss the chance to explore Downtown Denver to experience its history, shopping, and unique attractions. During your time in the city’s historic district, you’ll encounter Victorian architecture, a thriving arts scene, and Denver’s vibrant nightlife.

Shop til’ you drop at the retail paradise of 16th Street Mall, or search for treasures in the artisan stores of Dairy Block and Larimer Square. Impressive theatre spaces like Denver Performing Arts Complex and huge stadiums like Ball Arena set the stage for world-class sports, concerts, and performances. Grab your pre-show cocktails at quirky bars like Roosevelt or sip wine with panoramic mountain views at 54thirty Rooftop.

Ready for the ultimate Colorado city break? Craft an incredible itinerary with this complete guide to Downtown Denver, including where to visit, where to eat & drink, and the best places to stay.

Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.

What to see & do in Downtown Denver

16th Street Mall

Give your credit card a workout at 16th Street Mall. This 1.25-mile-long pedestrian street through Downtown Denver is packed with shops, cafes, and restaurants. To speed up your shopping adventure, there’s even a free shuttle running up and down the street to get you between the 250 stores faster.

16th Street Mall

The pretty promenade of white and grey granite sits in the shadow of the Venetian-style Daniels and Fisher Tower. Away from the buzz of the traffic, you’ll have the head space to make important decisions about your retail therapy. Along the 16th Street Mall, you’ll find popular favorites like Gap and Banana Republic, as well as the chance to buy retro clothing and Denver-themed souvenirs.

Once the sun sets, watch the lights twinkle above your head as you listen to the echoes of horse-drawn carriages clapping down the street. Soak up the atmosphere at one of the 40 outdoor cafes, and restaurants spread along 16th Street Mall.

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Ignite your creativity at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. This small gallery hosts world-class exhibitions, events, and lectures. The museum’s aim is to explore the art and culture of our time through rotating works from regional, national, and international artists.

Ever-changing exhibits mean that every visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver will be a new experience. Rotating works could alternate between colorful mixed media and intriguing sculptures. If you want to deepen your understanding of the work on display, you can book guided tours on their official website or use the mobile tour guide on your smartphone.

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

When you’re done expanding your mind at one of Denver’s top tourist attractions, it’s time to head to the museum’s bar. The stylish space has a sunny rooftop with fabulous views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Grab a cappuccino to fuel you up for the rest of your day in Denver. Or try one of the cocktails inspired by the museum’s current exhibitions.

Confluence Park

Get some fresh air and tick off a Denver historical site with a trip to Confluence Park. In 1858, this place was the epicenter of the Colorado Gold Rush. Today, it’s known as the birthplace of the city of Denver.

Confluence Park gets its name from the meeting place of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. It’s the perfect place to switch off from the city and enjoy the trickling of the water.

Confluence Park

On a warm day, bask in the sun by the waterfront and jump in for a quick dip when you need to cool down. There are lots of gentle steps into sheltered areas of the water.

Explore the area by hiking and biking along the surrounding trails. Weave between pretty bridges and peaceful canals on your journey. Or rent kayaks, tubes, and bucket rafts to ride the current down the South Platte River.

Denver Performing Arts Complex

Denver Performing Arts Complex will deliver you a high dose of culture on your Downtown Denver adventure. The 12-acre site contains four institutions: the Colorado Ballet, the Colorado Symphony, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Opera Colorado. With over ten different performance spaces, it’s one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States.

Denver Performing Arts Complex

Explore the vast site under the shelter of an 80-foot glass archway. As well as immense theatres, concert halls, and opera houses, you’ll find modern art galleries, immersive exhibitions, and relaxed spaces for a pre-show drink. Grab a bite at Prelude + Post, which focuses on regional and sustainable dishes, or sample the cocktails at Under the Glass Roof.

Throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex, you’ll find some of Denver’s most interesting public art. From the joyful dancing sculptures towering 60 feet above you to the intriguing chandelier in the opera house lobby, you’ll be inspired before the curtains even open.

Larimer Square

Larimer Square is the beating heart of Downtown Denver. The funky area was one of the first places of settlement in the city and is home to some of Denver’s original businesses. Today, the neighborhood in Lower Downtown (LoDo) is a creative hub overflowing with energy from its bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Strolling the charming Larimer Square takes you on a whirlwind ride through different times and places. Pretty Victorian buildings, sparkling fairy lights, and vibrant events set the scene for the city’s first designated historic district.

Larimer Square

From live music to public art, there’s always something going on around Larimer Square to create a hive of activity. Grab a drink or a bite to eat on one of the pretty outdoor patios and soak up the buzzing atmosphere.

Larimer Square is also known for its eclectic choice of shopping. Ornate Victorian buildings have been renovated into upscale galleries, vintage stores, and boutiques. From handmade Peruvian knitwear to custom dog collars, this area is the place to search for one-of-a-kind mementos from your trip.

Dairy Block

Spend some time in Denver’s coolest hangout. The Dairy Block is part art gallery, part retail block, and part lifestyle space. As well as unique bars and restaurants, you’ll find a co-working space and a boutique hotel.

Step into a maze of murals and installations with artwork from over 30 local artists spread throughout the Dairy Block. The whirlwind of color is sprinkled with painted tables, inspirational quotes, and bizarre décor.

Dairy Block

Shopaholics can lose themselves in upscale stores selling artisan goods. Browse wooden accessories, sustainable furniture, and custom jewelry as you make your way through the space.

From the curated food hall at The Milk Market to the creative sushi dishes at For[a]ged, Dairy Block is an emporium of flavor. Continue the party with charcuterie pairings at Blanchard Family Wines, tiki drinks at Poka Lola, or speakeasy vibes at Run for the Roses. It’s easy to lose a whole evening in here, with pop-up events and weekly drag queen bingo.

Coors Field

If you’re crazy about sports, make a visit to Coors Field, home of the MLB’s Colorado Rockies. Open since 1995, this baseball stadium in Downtown Dever can fit a whopping 50,144 spectators inside!

Coors Field

Snag a ticket for one of the games to soak up the energy of the Colorado sports fans and see the Colorado Rockies in action. With a great choice of food vendors and fabulous eating and drinking options, you’ll have a great day out, even if you don’t care about the baseball game.

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If you can’t get tickets to a game or want a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium, you can book a tour of Coors Field in advance here. Even if you’re a novice, a tour will give you the opportunity to delve into the world of baseball. Learn more about the history of the sport, fun facts about the Rockies, and a local’s perspective on life in Colorado.

Ball Arena

See what events are on offer at the Ball Arena. The arena hosts over 250 events a year, so you’re sure to find a game, concert, or performance to fill your evening. With seats for up to 20,000 people, you’re in for a spectacular show with a buzzing atmosphere.

Ball Arena

Ball Arena is the home of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, allowing you to see some of the country’s elite teams in person. If music is more your thing, Ball Arena has previously hosted star-studded acts like Madonna, Blink 182, and Lionel Richie.

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As well as tasty concessions in the stands, there are lots of eating and drinking options to fuel your excitement. Grab hearty seasonal dishes from the western lodge-themed Breckenridge Brewery Mountain House, or try Colorado craft cocktails and beers at the Truly Club.

Where to eat & drink

Downtown Denver is brimming with hip bars and restaurants with lots of creative twists. Global menus and fun nods to the city’s history make this neighborhood a unique place for a night on the town.

Feast on epic portions from the huge menu at Sam’s No. 3 Downtown. This classic diner has been running since 1927. It’s a great spot for brunch but has a mouth-watering dinner menu too.

Funky industrial décor and a modern American menu make The Pig & Sprout a trendy and social space to grab a bite. The restaurant’s varied dishes cater to vegans and carnivores, so everybody in your group will be satisfied.

Restaurants in Larimer Square

Taste Mediterranean flair at Rioja. Using local and seasonal ingredients, this stylish restaurant will have you booking your next trip to the hills of Spain and Italy.

Or sample authentic Mexican cuisine at the upscale Tamayo. The restaurant’s plant-filled rooftop deck is a dreamy spot for tacos and margaritas.

Budding mixologists will have a fantastic time in Downtown Denver, too. The bars here have a huge focus on passionate service and the art of cocktails.

Take your drink with a side of literary flair at Roosevelt. The sleek space is given an extra pop by the colorful bookshelves lining the walls and plenty of quirky book-themed touches. Expert mixologists deliver artful creations to you in record time.

Or get classic speakeasy vibes at Union Lodge No. 1. The historic building from 1889 houses passionate bartenders who will craft you exciting prohibition-style cocktails.

Bar in Union Station

54thirty Rooftop is an open-air bar with panoramic views of Denver and the surrounding mountains. Warm up by the firepits as you sip craft cocktails and graze the chef’s charcuterie board.

The Cooper Lounge gives you fabulous views of Downtown Denver from the mezzanine of the Denver Union Station. Inspired by the elegant service on board luxury trains, chic cocktails, flawless presentation, and an enormous wine list await you.

Where to stay

As it’s the heart of the city, Downtown is home to some of the most popular places to stay in Denver. The accommodation options here include everything from the city’s top-rated hotels to vacation rentals. Central areas to check for cool digs include Lower Downtown (LoDo), the Central Business District, Capitol Hill, and the River North Art District (RiNo).

Sentral Union Station

Sentral Union Station

Live like a local in the heart of Downtown. This stylish apartment is less than a ten-minute walk from the Dairy Block and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Enjoy the privacy of your own living area and a fully equipped kitchen. If you’re feeling social, there’s a shared courtyard with a heated saltwater pool, hot tubs, and firepits.

Hotel Indigo Union Station

Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown – Union Station, an IHG Hotel

This modern boutique hotel features local artwork and décor inspired by Colorado’s history. Serene rooms give you expansive views of Coors Field, the city, or the mountains. Squeeze in a workout in the modern fitness center before grazing tapas and wine in the vibrant Mediterranean-themed restaurant.

The Oxford Hotel

The Oxford Hotel

Denver’s most historic hotel stands in an opulent 1891 building just one block from 16th Street Mall. The thoughtful interior design blends modern living with antique charm. With an onsite spa and fitness center, Denver’s longest-running bar, and a sustainable steakhouse, you may forget to step out of the hotel. Nightly art, music, and tasting events add a unique touch to your stay in Denver.

Kimpton Hotel Born

Kimpton Hotel Born, an IHG Hotel

This four-star hotel is right next to Union Station, giving you seamless transport around the city and the rest of Colorado. Warm and homely touches cut through sleek modern design. Work up a sweat in the fitness center or laze by the fireplace. The hotel’s onsite restaurant serves up local ingredients caramelized over a wood-fired grill.

The Rally Hotel at McGregor Square

The Rally Hotel at McGregor Square

Enjoy mile-high views in the mile-high city with a panoramic rooftop pool overlooking Coors Field. This fun and colorful hotel features curated artwork and unusual furnishings. Make the most of free access to the Skybridge fitness center before getting your complimentary wine, beer, or cocktail and a scoop of ice cream during the nightly social hour.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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