What are some of the best places in Denver for outdoor fun?

Denver is a growing city with 2.5 million people in the metropolitan area, and with the Great Plains sweeping away to the east, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains immediately to the west, and a dry, mild climate (where you’ll find 300 days of sunshine), it’s easy to see why so many people have flocked here. To enjoy the magnificent scenery for yourself, check out these top spots in Denver:

1. Denver Botanic Gardens. Entering these gardens is like stepping into a tropical paradise. Roam the 23 acres with more than 15,000 types of plants. Stop by the new 50,000-square-foot Greenhouse Complex, which houses a two-story pavilion filled with waterfalls and orchids, and the Orangery, which shelters citrus trees in the style of fashionable 17th-century European homes.

2. The Denver Zoo. The beautiful 80-acre grounds here host nearly 4,000 animals. Visit the unusual monkeys and apes in the Primate Panorama, and then the polar bears and sea lions in the arctic Northern Shores.

3. Hyland Hills Water World. This is one of the largest water parks in the country — adults can cool off in the football-field-sized wave pool and fly down one of the 12 thrill-seeking rides. Then bring the kids to Wally World, a miniature water park specifically for the short set.

  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best museums in Denver?

    The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, for sure, is awesome. That would probably be No. 1 and that’s because of the kids — they love it — and I think they do a great job there. The Denver Art Museum is spectacular. They get some really good shows that come through. The Clyfford Still Museum is really cool. It’s small, easy to get around — you’re not spending the whole day in a museum, which sometimes can get trying with kids. And obviously we’ve outgrown it, but the Children’s Museum of Denver was really cool when my kids were little. You could spend a day there for sure. But I think every city has the same kind of children’s museum.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best restaurants in Denver?

    I like New Saigon a lot. My sons love the Dungeness crab — all slick with garlic and onion. It’s just a fun experience there to over order, dig in with chopsticks, drink those gelatin bubble drinks and go home completely satiated. I like ChoLon [Modern Asian Bistro]. It’s innovative food in a beautiful setting. I like Cherry Creek Grill — I know I shouldn’t say that because it’s a chain (it’s the Hillstone Restaurant Group), but they do a great job. We go there because I know what I’m going to get there — the lighting is perfect, the food is consistent, it’s comfortable. I love the French dip. Our family used to go about once a month, but since they took the fish sandwich off the menu, it’s more like every six months or so. And I like Sushi Den. I think it’s some of the best sushi in the country. Sushi Den has the best fish I’ve ever had — cooked, raw, New York, San Francisco, whatever — period.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best places for brunch in Denver?

    [My family] loves brunch. For some reason everyone in Denver loves brunch. I don’t ever remember growing up in New Jersey and doing brunch. It was more about going to the deli and getting a sandwich at 11 a.m. than it was going out for eggs. Maybe it was because there were so many diners, which we don’t have here, and you’d go to a diner at 11 p.m. So maybe it was you were eating your eggs later in the day and sandwiches earlier in the day.

    But one of my favorite places for brunch is Sassafras [American Eatery]. I think they do a great job. It’s new and cute, in an old restored bungalow house. I shouldn’t say this, but I get the chicken fried steak or two eggs over-easy with hash browns. I’m going to have to pick one of my own — we go to Lou’s Food Bar. It’s probably the No. 1 place we go to for brunch. I know I own it, but I still love it. I had never had chicken and biscuits until a few months ago, and we have one on the menu. The chef said, “You should try it.” And I was like, “No, it’s fried, it’s heavy.” He sent it out to me and I’ve had it like six times since. Chicken, biscuits and gravy — who knew that fried chicken, a biscuit and sausage gravy could be so good?
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  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best hotels in Denver?

    I like the JW Marriott [Denver] Cherry Creek because they pamper you there. [Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star] Four Seasons [Hotel Denver] is spectacular. I actually stayed there for my birthday this year. Four Seasons has the most impeccable service and the most knowledgeable concierge ever — plus it’s in the very heart of Denver. There’s really no need to even take a cab anywhere from the Four Seasons. Hotel Teatro is a very nice hotel. Those are the nicest hotels in Denver. Hotel Teatro and Hotel Monaco Denver are nice boutique-y hotels. They’re more intimate, maybe a little less fussy and a bit more comfortable. I have to say, though, I like to be pampered in a hotel. I cut a lot of corners when I travel, but where I stay isn’t really one of them.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What is there to see in Denver?

    A [Colorado] Rockies game is always fun in the summer. The Denver Botanic Gardens are spectacular. And I think our zoo is really good.

    The Cherry Creek Trail is something fun to do. To just bike that path is amazing because you’re getting exercise, it’s beautiful in Colorado and you can bike for 50, 60, 70 miles on it [with adjoining trails]. You can ride from Denver to Boulder [via the Cherry Creek Bike Path and other trails].

    I think it’s great to go to Larimer Square — and not just because I have a restaurant there. That’s a gorgeous block when it’s all lit up in the winter. There are so many dining and shopping options. It’s just a great little block in a beautiful city.
  • On October 18, 2012
    Michelle Doucette answered the question: Michelle Doucette

    What are some of the best places in Denver for outdoor fun?

    Despite its urban façade, Denver is a mountain town at heart — and a four-season one at that.
     
    Summer days are perfect for exploring the city’s biking trails and green spaces; two fresh-air favorites are the sprawling City Park (visit the Denver Zoo here) and Washington Park (take a cue from the locals and call it Wash Park). And on summer nights, there’s no better seat in town than a spot in the Coors Field grandstand. Watching the Colorado Rockies play before a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is one of the great MLB ballpark experiences.
     
    In any season, the South Platte River is another pleasant place to explore the outdoors within city limits. Follow its trails to Confluence Park and watch kayakers in action before ducking into the riverside REI flagship store to pick up some gear of your own.
     
    Be sure to take that gear with you as you venture just outside the city to experience the great outdoors at Denver’s doorstep — and don’t be surprised if you pass a bighorn sheep or an elk on your way. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, less than 30 minutes from downtown, is without a doubt one of the country’s best places to see a concert. The views of the Denver skyline from your seat will be stunning, and a hike on the trails surrounding the venue will reward you with even more impressive vistas.
     
    Finally, no winter or spring trip to the Mile High City would be complete without a (very likely sunny) ski day. Winter Park Resort is just over an hour away and the legendary slopes of Breckenridge and Vail are just beyond that.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can you watch sports in Denver?

    Today, every sport is represented in this lively mountain city within gleaming facilities´┐Żbut it wasn’t always that way. A building boom in the 1990s resulted in a new airport; a downtown baseball park surrounded by a lively nightlife district dubbed LoDo (lower downtown); new football, basketball and hockey stadiums; and a redeveloped river valley just west of downtown with an aquarium, an amusement park and a shopping district. The Nuggets, Denver’s professional basketball team, play ball at the Pepsi Center, which is also home to the two-time Stanley Cap champions the Avalanche, Colorado’s professional hockey team. Coors Field is the official ballpark of the Rockies, Colorado’s pro baseball team, and Invesco Field is home to the Broncos, Denver’s professional football team. Last but not least is Colorado’s professional soccer team, the Rapids, who play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best steakhouses in Denver?

    Located in downtown Denver in what was once the Denver National Bank, The Broker is a fun place to dine on a great steak. The restaurant’s centerpiece is a huge bank vault, which is now the dining room; and private parties can take over one of the old boardrooms. Go down some stairs and through what seems like it might have been a secret passageway, and you find yourself in the restaurant’s massive wine cellar, which has a dining table that can seat up to 20 (or just two, if you’re feeling romantic). The steakhouse features dishes like roasted prime rib with creamed horseradish and steak Diane with a Courvoisier cream sauce. But one of the highlights precedes the main course: a complimentary bowl of chilled shrimp.

    Because it wouldn’t be a Colorado vacation without a hearty steak dinner — and Denver wouldn’t be Denver without Bronco Hall-of-Famer John Elway — add Elway’s to your must-do list. This steakhouse is a touchdown all around, featuring smart décor and a floor-to-ceiling wine wall holding thousands of bottles. The lamb fondue appetizer, Elway’s salmon and the bone-in rib-eye are sure bets. We recommend the Bison burger or sliced prime rib sandwich.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which Denver hotels have the best amenities?

    The Jet Hotel puts a fun and modern spin on traditional in-room amenities. Rooms come with French presses for your morning caffeine fix, insulated pitchers to tote around ice and a CD alarm clock with a library of discs.

    Then there’s the Oxford Hotel. It’s one of Denver’s oldest hotels, but it provides some of the most modern conveniences. Rooms have free WiFi, Bose stereo systems and plasma TVs. Plus, a bath butler will draw you an aromatic bath whenever you request it.

    Lastly, families will find the amenities at Loews Denver Hotel to be a godsend. Parents won’t have to lug around baby equipment, since the hotel provides tubs, bottle warmers and outlet plugs, and older kids will stay busy with kits that include games.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are some of the best places in Denver for outdoor fun?

    Denver is a growing city with 2.5 million people in the metropolitan area, and with the Great Plains sweeping away to the east, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains immediately to the west, and a dry, mild climate (where you’ll find 300 days of sunshine), it’s easy to see why so many people have flocked here. To enjoy the magnificent scenery for yourself, check out these top spots in Denver:

    1. Denver Botanic Gardens. Entering these gardens is like stepping into a tropical paradise. Roam the 23 acres with more than 15,000 types of plants. Stop by the new 50,000-square-foot Greenhouse Complex, which houses a two-story pavilion filled with waterfalls and orchids, and the Orangery, which shelters citrus trees in the style of fashionable 17th-century European homes.

    2. The Denver Zoo. The beautiful 80-acre grounds here host nearly 4,000 animals. Visit the unusual monkeys and apes in the Primate Panorama, and then the polar bears and sea lions in the arctic Northern Shores.

    3. Hyland Hills Water World. This is one of the largest water parks in the country — adults can cool off in the football-field-sized wave pool and fly down one of the 12 thrill-seeking rides. Then bring the kids to Wally World, a miniature water park specifically for the short set.
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