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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.
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.