Guide: How To Spend 24 Hours in Denver

By
The Aspire Team
|
January 30, 2024

Welcome to the Mile High City, where the great outdoors meets urban life, and where Wild West charm meets modern excitement. While you can easily spend years in Denver and still not do everything, sometimes you’re just short on time. Whether you’ve got a long layover, are in town on business, are here for a convention, or visiting friends or family, we’re convinced you can see a good bit of the highlights in 24 hours. Crafted by locals who know the city inside out, this guide ensures that whether you have a day or an entire year, every moment in Denver will be uniquely yours. 

Denver has something for the art enthusiast, history buffs, outdoor adventurers, families looking for fun, or anyone trying to get an authentic feel for the city. Whoever you are, this guide has you covered. You can mix and match these curated itineraries to tailor your visit precisely to your interests. From indulging in local culinary delights to immersing yourself in the city's rich history or exploring the great outdoors, the possibilities are endless.

Are there obligatory shameless plugs for our tours? Maybe! But you know what? We know this city inside and out, so who better than us to show you around? 

Welcome to Denver, Colorado. Let the adventure begin!

Essential Denver Experience

Ideal for: 

Travelers seeking the full Denver experience with a blend of popular attractions and local gems.

Itinerary:

8:30 AM: Begin your day with a delightful breakfast at Sam’s No. 3.

10:00 AM: Embark on the Denver, Red Rocks, and Beyond Tour, exploring historic neighborhoods and scenic spots.

1:30 PM: Savor a meal at the Michelin Guide-recommended La Diabla.

3:00 PM: Stroll through the vibrant Dairy Block and explore the RiNo Arts District.

6:30 PM: Enjoy dinner at My Brother’s Bar, Denver’s oldest bar.

8:00 PM: Conclude your day with entertainment at the Clocktower Cabaret.

The Rundown: 

Start your day off with the best breakfast in town at the classic downtown Denver eatery, Sam’s No. 3. From there, walk about 10 minutes up to Union Station and meet your guide for your Denver, Red Rocks, and Beyond tour. 

This four-hour sightseeing tour is the best way to do it all: you’ll drive through historic neighborhoods, catch amazing mountain views, see the best cultural and historic landmarks, and then enjoy a quick visit to the world-famous Red Rocks. To top it off, you’ll drive into the foothills for birds-eye views from Lookout Mountain, home to the famous Wild West cowboy Buffalo Bill’s gravesite and museum. 

Once you arrive back at Union Station, take a stroll through the vibrant Dairy Block to La Diabla, a hole-in-the-wall Michelin Guide-recommended Mexican restaurant. After you’ve eaten your fill, continue walking to the RiNo Arts District, where you can see over 100 pieces of street art and enjoy Colorado-brewed beer from one of 20 local breweries. 

After that, take a short Uber ride to My Brother’s Bar, another historic, local eatery. This is the oldest bar in Denver, dating back to 1873. In this historic building, enjoy burgers, hot dogs, and of course, local beer. Finish your night off with a trip to the Clocktower Cabaret for music, dancing, or comedy in the old Daniel’s and Fisher Clocktower in the heart of downtown Denver. 

Best Day In Denver For Families

Ideal for: 

Families looking for a balance between kid-friendly activities and exploring the best of Denver.

Itinerary:

9:00 AM: Kick off the day with breakfast at Snooze, a family-friendly favorite.

10:00 AM: Visit the interactive exhibits at the Denver Children’s Museum.

12:00 PM: Have lunch at the diverse and delightful Milk Market.

1:00 PM: Embark on the Rocky Mountain Escape Tour for scenic family fun.

5:30 PM: Enjoy a unique dinner experience at Ace Eat Serve.

8:00 PM: Treat the family to dessert at Little Man Ice Cream.

The Rundown: 

Denver-favorite Snooze has the all-American breakfast of your dreams with a wide variety of both kid and adult-friendly options. There are multiple locations throughout the city, and each is sure to serve up deliciousness. After that, hit up the Children’s Museum of Denver for exciting and educational interactive exhibits for the little ones. 

After museum time, grab a bite to eat at the Denver Milk Market. This food hall has countless options that will please the little ones but also give grown-ups their much-needed fill of Denver’s awesome food scene. 

From the Milk Market, head just three blocks up to Union Station to take the afternoon Rocky Mountain Escape tour. This four-hour scenic, guided tour will take you out of the city to some of the most beautiful spots in the Rocky Mountains, without the hassle of spending all day on a hike with kids. 

Once you arrive back at Union Station, it’s time for a fun and unique dinner experience at Ace Eat Serve. This restaurant-ping pong hall serves up tasty Asian grub in a fun setting. Wrap up your day with a quick trip to Little Man Ice Cream, our favorite Denver-based homemade ice creamery.

Outdoor Enthusiast's Adventure

Ideal for: 

Nature lovers who are eager to explore the wonders of the Rocky Mountains.

Itinerary:

8:00 AM: Begin your day with a guided hiking tour in Rocky Mountain National Park with breakfast and lunch on the way.

6:00 PM: Witness a breathtaking sunset at Confluence Park.

6:30 PM: Explore the REI Flagship Store for outdoor gear and inspiration.

7:30 PM: Savor local meat at Denver’s oldest steakhouse, Buckhorn Exchange.

9:00 PM: Relax with craft beers at Jagged Mountain Brewing in a historic building.

The Rundown: 

Start your day bright and early by meeting your guide at Union Station for your hiking trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. As a lover of all things outdoors, you can’t come to Denver without doing Rocky! Your guide will drive you up towards the mountains for a quick stop in Lyons, Colorado, where you’ll grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich at their downtown coffee shop.

From there, your guide will discuss all things RMNP as you drive through the park and venture out on your guided hike. Don’t worry about picking the right trail, finding parking, seeing the best views, packing lunch, having the correct safety gear, making sure you have enough water… we’ll take care of it. 

After your hike, you’ll be driven back to Union Station. From there, take a short walk across the Platte River to Confluence Park. Watch neighbors and friends gather at the stunning park to watch the sunset. Conveniently, the REI flagship store, an exceptionally cool building and a gearhead’s paradise is right on the park – you’ll want to check it out. After that, take an Uber to Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest steakhouse, for the best local meat in town. If you’re still not tired, head to downtown to Wynkoop Brewery for a nightcap in a historic building. 

Journey Through History

Ideal for: 

Those intrigued by the stories woven into Denver’s unique historical tapestry.

Itinerary:

8:00 AM: Begin with breakfast at Jelly Cafe.

9:30 AM: Tour the US Mint for a glimpse into monetary history.

11:00 AM: Explore the Colorado State Capitol.

12:30 PM: Lunch at the historic Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.

2:00 PM: Dive into the rich narratives at the History Colorado Museum.

5:00 PM: Visit Union Station, a hub of history and modernity.

6:00 PM: Dine in Larimer Square surrounded by historic charm.

8:00 PM: Cap off the day with drinks at the Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel.

The Rundown: 

Start your day at Jelly Cafe in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, a Denver favorite. Now, let the history tour begin: take a quick stroll over to the US Mint, one of two in the country, for a guided tour, and then walk just across the street for a tour of the Colorado State Capitol. Both of these tours are free, one hour long, and will provide you with so much information! Just make sure you book in advance. 

For lunch, walk towards downtown and stop at the stunning, classic Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. This glorious building hosts twelve different restaurants, so you’ll surely find something to fit your tastes. After lunch, head down to History Colorado, an exquisite museum that will give you a taste of all things Wild West. 

After that, take the free 16th Street Mall bus from Civic Center Station up to Union Station. Walk around and take in the beauty of this National Historic Site and fully operational train station. For dinner, head just a couple blocks to the west to Denver’s first historic district, Larimer Square, for dinner. 

Finally, finish your day and reminisce about everything you learned over drinks at the Cruise Room, modeled after the bar on the Queen May, on the first floor of the Oxford Hotel, the oldest operating hotel in Denver. 

For continued adventure, be sure to check out the many half-day and full-day tours offered through Aspire Tours to get the full feel for all things Denver and Colorado. As you bid adieu to this city of perpetual sunshine, remember that the adventure doesn't end here – Denver beckons you to return, offering new discoveries and endless possibilities each time.

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