Denver, Colorado view from Cheesman Park
Jetsetter Guides

The 10 Coolest Things to Do in Denver Now

Once a quiet Western town, Colorado's capital is now a burgeoning city filled with music, art, culture, and, of course, legal cannabis. Though many pass through on their way to the Rockies for skiing and hiking, there’s plenty to do and to love right within the Mile High City. Grab a few bottles of water (hydration is vital at 5,280 feet) and your ID card (you’ll need it for some of these adventures) and go explore the ins and outs of this gritty metropolis.

exterior of Mayan Theatre at night
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Catch a flick at the Mayan Theatre

Historic cinema houses can easily turn a movie night into a full-fledged experience. Built in 1930 in the Mayan Revival style (an architectural style that grew in popularity during the Art Deco period), the stunning Mayan Theatre showcases indie and foreign language films on three screens. Arrive early so you can grab a cocktail at the upstairs Mayan Bar before settling into your seat with a bag of buttery popcorn for a classic movie palace experience.

Denver, Colorado, USA - May 1, 2016: Many shops in the Arts District on Santa Fe near downtown.
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See some art during First Friday Art Walks

On the first Friday of every month, art lovers gather in Denver's Art District on Santa Fe Drive to gallery-hop, chow down at food trucks, and enjoy some live entertainment. Time will fly as you contemplate contemporary works at the Mirus Gallery and Mai Wyn Fine Art Gallery or explore Latin American art and culture at Museo De Las Americas. Interested in buying? Pick up screen-printed goodies at Ink Lounge or support the work of our veterans at the VFW Post 1 Art Gallery before catching a free performance by the Colorado Ballet. If you get hungry (or thirsty), you can always pop into Joe Maxx Coffee, Crazy Mountain Brewing, or grab a bite at any of the food trucks parked along 7th and 9th avenues.

RELATED: The World's Most Underrated Cities for Art and Design

people eating and hanging out in a food hall
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Dig in at one of Denver's many food halls

Denver’s restaurant scene is stellar, but if you’re short on time and high on appetite, we suggest dropping into any one of Denver’s rich food halls. In LoDo, you'll have your pick among 16 vendors at Milk Market, from sweet or savory crepes at Fem to international wines at Cellar to hearty ciabatta sandwiches at S&G Salumeria. Hanging out in RiNo? Head to The Source (Denver’s first food hall) for wood-fired American fare at Acorn or Mexican soul food at Comida—the perfect fuel for browsing the hall's flower shops and local fashion outlets. If you'd rather settle in and stay awhile, Avanti features sweeping views of downtown from up in the Highlands, plus options for burgers, French cuisine, arepas, and more. Hungry yet?

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Learn to swing at the Mercury Cafe

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, and fortunately the Mercury Cafe is all about it, where you can learn or improve your Charleston, Lindy hop, and other classic dance moves. Drop in for a Sunday afternoon class (which will only set you back about $10) to kick things off, then graduate to some of the more intermediate and advanced classes (like West Coast Swing on Wednesdays). No matter how coordinated you are, the instructors will have you jitterbugging faster than you can say Judy Garland.

RELATED: The Ultimate Girls’ Weekend Guide to Denver

interior of Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
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Book a music-themed brunch at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Denverites love brunch, and eclectic bar-restaurant-music venue Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox might serve the best of them all. The venue pairs crème brûlée french toast with Irish folk, chicken and waffles with New Orleans funk, and plantain and cacao pancakes with a special DJ tribute to Prince. We're confident only good things can come out of bottomless mimosas paired with live music—but you’ll only know for sure if you go there yourself.

Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, showing the glowing lights and vintage brick design in the early hours of a summer dawn on August 9, 2018 in Lodo, Denver.
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Cheer on a Rockies game at Coors Field

While we wouldn’t say the Rockies are a religion for all of Denver, the local baseball team has a strong fanbase—enough to make any trip to Coors Field a good time. If you’d rather spend your cash on hot dogs, merch, and beer (and you don’t mind a little sunshine) versus splurging on expensive seats, we suggest purchasing Rockpile tickets in advance (just $4) and sit just above center field. You’re guaranteed a great view of the game here no matter what.

RELATED: The 8 Most Underrated Cities in America

frontal view of International Church of Cannabis interior
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Attend a service at the International Church of Cannabis

Leave it to Denver to create such a laid-back, technicolored house of worship. The International Church of Cannabis is home to a group of people who call themselves Elevationists, and it’s truly a sight to behold. The Church is open to the public a few times a week for those who are curious and simply want to learn more. For the full-on experience (complete with the burning of the 420 sacrament), you’ll have to sign up for membership ahead of time (and make sure to bring your ID, as it’s strictly 21 and over).

RELATED: Would YOU Try a Luxury Yoga Cannabis Retreat in Colorado?

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Observe a coffee ceremony at Whittier Cafe

Denver doesn't lack in coffee shops, but there’s only one that serves African coffee exclusively and is so heavily dedicated to social justice—Whittier Cafe. The cafe is also one of the only places in Denver where you can witness a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony in person. Every Sunday at 2 p.m., locals and visitors gather to watch staff roast and brew the coffee beans in a jebena (clay pot). Enjoy your cuppa with a pastry or panini (they also have Ethiopian, Kenyan, and South African wine and beer on tap).

man pouring draft beer into a glass
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Knock back a beer (or two) at Trve Brewing

Denver’s craft beer scene is among the largest, most diverse in the nation, so breweries need to go the extra mile to stand out. Trve Brewing is one of them. The metal-themed brewery fully commits with its occult-looking artwork, black walls, appropriate soundtrack (Slayer is popular), and even the beers themselves, which have some pretty metal-sounding names (Cosmic Crypt, Scorn, and World’s Blood, to name just a few).  Want to show off just how metal you are? Pick up some branded swag (t-shirts, beanies, wine glasses) on your way out.

Beef and chorizo tacos
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Pair live jazz with Mexican grub at El Chapultepec

Open since 1933, long-standing jazz and blues club El Chapultepec is an essential stop on any Denver itinerary. The historic dive began as a Mexican cantina (you can still purchase dirt-cheap Mexican eats here) and evolved into a nightclub that's hosted greats like Count Basie and Buddy Defranco. Grab a seat at the bar where Jack Kerouac once hung out, bite into a burrito, and get lost in the tunes. Just don't forget your Washingtons—it's cash only.

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