With its clear mountain air and stunning views, Denver is a thriving city that still has something of the atmosphere of the frontier. It was founded in 1858 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and was quickly recognised as a site with military and trade potential due to its position at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. It was also well positioned for the exchange of goods with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, who had summer encampments nearby. By the1860s it had grown into a thriving town and a decade later it was connected to the railway system. It has since become one of America’s largest cities.
Attractions in Denver
It’s not widely publicised, but Denver has one of the biggest museums in America – the Denver Museum of Nature & Science – with everything from Egyptian mummies to dinosaurs and an IMAX cinema. It also has some stunning galleries, notably the Denver Art Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, not forgetting the Clyfford Still museum where you can see the works of one of Denver’s favourite sons. Visitors can also take a trip around the US Mint to see how the money is made, or go and spend their own money in the gigantic 16th Street Mall. Larimer Square is also well worth a visit, with its chic boutiques and fabulous restaurants. As evening draws in, it reveals itself as the centre of the city’s nightlife.
Colorado, being particularly famous for its spectacular natural landscapes, you will not be surprised to discover that there are must-see places to visit just outside the city. These include the stunningly beautiful Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, which has great hiking trails and also hosts concerts by night. The Denver Botanic Gardens also have live musical events going on from time to time and are well worth exploring regardless – look out for the orchid house, the Alpine rock garden and the elegant traditional Japanese garden.
A few miles to the east of the city, the Loveland Ski Area is open all season and is a great place for sports enthusiasts to get in some time on the slopes, with a variety of challenge levels available.
When to go
The ski season in Colorado runs from October to June. For the best weather, June to August is the ideal time. To get the best deals on cheap hotels in Denver, it’s worth going in April or May or in September or October. The latter period has a distinctive beauty of its own, as the trees on the hills around the city turn to red and gold.
How to get around
Within Denver itself, buses and rail make it easy to get around without a car, and there are always cabs available if needed. It’s also easy to hire a bike. For those who want to venture outside the city, hiring a car is really essential. Mountain bikes are a fun way to get around some of the trails but others need to be completed on foot, so no visitor should be without some sturdy footwear.
Contributed by Charlotte