What to do in Denver or Around it.
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Visit the Denver Aquarium
Located just north of downtown Denver, the Downtown Aquarium is a great place to spend a chilly afternoon in winter. The aquarium houses more than 500 species of animals and includes an interactive stingray reef touch tank.
When you’re done making your way through the many underwater exhibits, pop into the Aquarium Restaurant for lunch or warm up with a drink from the Dive Lounge.
Go Ice Skating at Skyline Park
Open from November to February, the Downtown Denver Rink offers free ice skating at Skyline Park seven days a week. This downtown Denver ice skating rink has hosted more than 400,000 skaters over the years and is a great option for families looking for fun things to do in Denver in winter. While access to the skating rink is free, ice skate rentals are $7 for kids under 12.
Visit the Denver Art Museum
Art lovers should check out the newly expanding Denver Art Museum and its collection of more than 70,000 pieces of art. Their collections feature everything from Pre-Columbian art to Western American art with visiting exhibitions on display all throughout the year. Most notably, the Denver Art Museum is hosting Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature through February 2020, a renowned exhibit featuring more than 120 painting spanning Monet’s entire career. Tickets to this temporary exhibit sell out quickly, and advanced reservations are highly encouraged.
View World-Class Art at the Clyfford Still Museum
Head to the Clyfford Still Museum for one of the only chances to see the works of this great American painter on display. He was part of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists but retreated from the art world during his life and stopped showing his work. Now you can view his moving pieces of modern art in the Clyfford Still Museum, the only museum in the country dedicated solely to his work.
Take in Blossoms of Light at the Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens’ signature event for over 30 years, this annual holiday lights festival transforms the York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland. With fresh and exciting new features every year including a 360-degree immersive light experience, the Blossoms of Light event is not to be missed.
Stroll the gardens and be sure to take a break for warm drinks, holiday treats or even dinner.
Perfect for families, holiday date nights or just a fun, festive winter activity with friends, be sure to purchase tickets well in advance.
Step Inside the New Mile High Tree
Denver’s holiday season is getting bigger and brighter with a new addition downtown: the Mile High Tree. This brilliantly lit, 110-foot-tall immersive art installation will be open all season long in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Center. The best part? Visiting is completely free.
You can take in the dazzling lights, enjoy the music show, which will play every 30 minutes, or even enter the tree itself and view it from the inside (it fits 140 guests inside at a time).The Mile High Tree is new to downtown Denver in 2019 and will be a staple winter activity for years to come as it will be moved and housed in different parts of downtown each year.
Warm Up with Hot Chocolate at Union Station
Take a break from holiday shopping downtown and warm up inside the newly renovated Denver Union Station, located in the heart of downtown. Often referred to as “Denver’s living room,” this is a great spot to eat, drink, mix and mingle with locals and visitors alike. You’ll see travelers coming and going from the active train platform in the back as well as locals sipping cocktails or enjoying a meal at one of the many award-winning restaurants inside the station.
Over the holidays, a massive Christmas tree dominates the Great Hall, and kids can meet Santa on the weekends as well.
Head over to Terminal Bar, once the train ticketing counter, Pig Train, the local coffee spot, or Mercantile Dining & Provisions for a hot chocolate.
Tour the Denver Mint
Learn the rich history of the United States Mint and see how billions of coins are produced each year on a free tour of the Denver Mint. There are just four mints in the entire country, so this is a unique and free thing to do in Denver in Winter. The tours last approximately 45 minutes, and there are six per day starting at 8 a.m.
Even though this is a free Denver tour, they often sell out, so we recommend going early to get in line and reserve your spot.
Visit the Denver Zoo for its Annual Zoo Lights Event
For 30 years, Zoo Lights has been transforming the Denver Zoo into a wild winter wonderland. Denver Zoo’s annual display is one of the city’s most popular, which means you’ll want to prepare for crowds during busy times. In addition to the 60-acre display, there is live entertainment, select animal sightings, food and drink, Santa meet-and-greets and the zoo’s signature “illuminated animated sculptures” throughout.
See the Dillon Ice Castles
While it’s not technically in Denver, you have to take the hour drive to Dillon, Colorado, to check out the Dillon Ice Castles. This is arguably one of the best winter attractions in all of Colorado, so it’s not one that you’re going to want to miss!
This event takes place exclusively in winter for a few months and is filled with tons of mind-boggling sculptures. You’ll find tunnels, castles, towers, and more. Plus, everything is lit up with lots of fun colors, bringing the place even more alive!
Indulge at The Brown Palace Hotel
One of the top-rated hotels in Denver is The Brown Palace Hotel. It’s a 4-star hotel with relatively comparable rates considering how nice of a hotel it is. It’s also rather historic, having been built in the 1890s.
While you could easily stay here in the winter or any time of year, you’ll want to visit The Brown Palace Hotel to attend their Afternoon Tea. It’s such a fun event to attend, and it’s even more fun in the winter because it’ll warm you up. This classic tea service happens in the afternoon between 12 and 4 pm, so make sure you plan your trip to The Brown Palace Hotel wisely.
Hike in Boulder
Believe it or not, but hiking is still a fun thing to do in winter in Colorado. The best place to go hiking near Denver is Boulder. It’s less than an hour away by car and is accessible by public transportation if you book tickets for the Flatiron Flyer.
Boulder has tons of great hikes, but arguably the most popular is hiking near the Flatirons. Because some of the more difficult hikes can get icy and snowy in the winter, try to pick one of the trails that are a bit flatter.
The weather in Denver during the winter is genuinely not that bad. Sure, it snows, but temperature-wise it’s usually not that cold compared to other parts of the United States.