Denver in the Winter: Best Secrets from a Local

Denver in the winter is an unpretentious wonderland, and it’s been ranked as the best places to visit in the country. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something fun to do with your family or a night out on the town, Denver fits the bill. In this blog post we’ll be discussing all of Denver’s attractions and things to do during these cold months. Whether you’re visiting for work or leisure, there are plenty of opportunities here waiting for you.

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Skiing in the legendary back bowls of Vail

Skiing and Snowboarding

Let’s get the obvious winter attraction out of the way. The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world.  Whether you’re a newbie or an expert, there are five slopes nearby that will work for everyone.

The closest one is Eldora Mountain Resort , just 45 minutes away from downtown Denver by car. There’s plenty of terrain on offer here: over 50 trails stretching over 680 acres. Eldora also offers tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing for those who want to try something different!

If you’re looking for a bigger mountain with more challenging slopes, head to Keystone Resort or Breckenridge Ski Resort which are both around an hour away from Denver.

The next closest would be Winter Park or Copper Mountain Resort which are both just under two hours away.

Lastly, the famous Vail. Vail is the biggest mountain of them all, and its slopes are known for being among the most challenging in North America. If you’ve been to some of Vail’s sister mountains like Breckenridge or Keystone then this shouldn’t be a problem!

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Sneak peek of Convergence Station, Denver

Meow Wolf

The newest addition to the Denver scene is none other than the world famous Meow Wolf. Prepare to enter a dreamscape of creativity. This interactive art installation is worth the trip alone. We won’t spoil the fun, but prepare to be mesmerized.

Open from 10am to 10pm every day. Admission is $45 per person and worth every penny. You can easily spend upwards of 2-3 hours here, so plan accordingly.

Botanic Gardens

Denver’s Botanic Gardens are another must-see in the winter. There is still plenty to see despite the cold weather, and it’s pleasant for an afternoon walk after lunch. The gardens are home to a conservatory, Japanese Gardens, and dozens of other exhibits including works by Chihuly. My personal favorite is the tropical greenhouse with huge humid-climate plants. Admission is $15 for adults, $11.50 for seniors and $11 for children.

Between late November and early January there’s also the Blossom of Light signature event. Tickets are $21 for adults and free for children aged 2 and under. They sell out fast, so plan ahead.

The gardens are open every day from 9am to 4pm.

Dining in Denver

Denver is a foodie’s paradise, and there are endless options when it comes to dining. We recommend trying out some of the local favorites:

Linger – This trendy spot offers up international cuisine with a modern twist. The atmosphere is perfect for an intimate dinner or date night. There’s also a heated rooftop offering beautiful views of the city.

Sera’s Ramen Enclave – This hidden gem is located in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood. Tucked away off the main street down a short alleyway, we recommend the vegan ramen for first timers.

Awake – Denver’s first sober bar featuring everything from wine to whiskey. Drinks contain all the usual fixings of a cocktail and some not-so-usual; tryptophan and CBD to name a couple. With an amuse-bouche menu you’re set for an afternoon with friends. The only thing missing is the hangover.

SantiagosThe spot in Denver for green chile. Open for breakfast and lunch, expect hearty portions (breakfast sizes are usually smaller) and good prices. The half & half is the way to go if you’re not sure how much heat you can take.

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One of Denver’s newest hotspots, Happy Camper

Bars & Nightlife

Where do the locals like to grab a drink? Here are some of our favorites:

Forest Room 5 [LoHi] – Like a smaller version of Meow Wolf there’s some creative wonders hidden at the Forest. A locals favorite you can enjoy drinks in the teddy bear tiny room or in the teepee outside.

Millers & Fossi [RiNo] Hidden behind an art gallery in Denver’s art district you can come here to grab a glass of wine and split a charcuterie board. A romantic vibe and modern setting expect craft cocktails and comfy chairs to discuss your budding book club.

Happy Camper [LoHi] – The It place of the last two summers Happy Camper is unique, fun, and full of a vibrant crowd ready for a night out. Fire pits, photo worthy decor and plenty of food options you have everything you need. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of Avanti and Recess, so you can bar hop and try out the local beers.

Stoney’s Bar & Grill [Uptown & Cap Hill] A sports bar featuring plenty of TVs, live music, multiple dining areas, and trivia nights in a ski style pub. Expect plenty of drink options, traditional bar food and a fun atmosphere.

The larger-than-life works of Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still Museum

In our humble opinion, this is the best museum in the city. Dedicated to the works of Clyfford Still, one of the most important painters of the 20th century. Known for his vibrant colors and abstract style, this museum is a must-see for art lovers.

The museum has an extensive collection of the artist’s work including paintings from his later years as well as his haunting earlier works. The building itself is worth seeing too – it uses natural light to illuminate many of its galleries and was designed specifically for this gallery.

The museum is located in a central spot making it easy to visit a few other nearby museums and restaurants after you’re done.

Red Rocks

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving and running weekends through December, Film on the Rocks Holiday Drive-In will features movies for the season in a unique drive-in setting with the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre as a backdrop. Gates opening one hour prior to screening for up to 350 ticketed cars.

The venue itself is (usually) open every day for visitors to come and walk around, exercise and take photos. You’ll see plenty of locals here every day of the week and it’s a great place to come get panoramic views of the city.

Views from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur Ridge

Less than a ten minute drive next door to Red Rocks is the free attraction of world famous Dinosaur Ridge. It is ranked as the #1 dinosaur track sites in the United States. This short incline is a quick jaunt through some of the oldest rock layers in North America.  It’s worth planning your visit if you have time with one of Denver’s most popular historical sites and two great museums located nearby.

If needed, there is a shuttle and tour service in the museum at the base of the mountain, but you can walk it if you’d prefer. Dogs are welcome!

SoFar Sounds

If you’re looking for local music this is a great spot to find an intimate show. SoFar sounds hosts live performances in small venues and houses across the city every week. The events are around $15-$20 and feature local artists in unique settings. Everything from backyards, to secret galleries to speakeasy style bars.

It’s BYOB and I recommend bringing a blanket to sit on too.

Denver in the winter is hard to beat. With the snowcapped mountains in the background, and plenty of things to do indoors and out, there’s no shortage of fun.

Have you been to Colorado in the winter? Let us know in the comments below!

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