Are you looking for romantic and fun things to do in Denver in winter this year? The Mile High City has lots of cool winter activities from sledding, skiing in the Rocky Mountains, taking the ski train to Winter Park, and amazing winter scenic drives. For indoor lovers, you will find winter concerts, live music, romantic dining, and high teas, plus lots more amazing activities in our ultimate guide to Denver in winter. You might also like our winter guide to Rocky Mountain National Park which is full of snowy fun in Estes Park.
For quite some time we were on the fence about visiting Denver in winter. The idea of spending time outdoors in chilling temperatures was not that appealing but all the snowy fun and stunning views of snow-covered Rockies kept beckoning us.
Plus the idea of making our toddler wear a heap of clothes plus mittens and a hat wasn’t that exciting. And then came the baby. No way was I taking an infant in a snowsuit up there – don’t get me wrong, I’m all about taking infants everywhere – but it would have just made it less fun for me!
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And then came Valentine’s Day and with it, our opportunity to go a romantic getaway while the kids were with the grandparents. So guess where we went – yes, Denver, Estes Park, and the Colorado Rockies! On our way, we also stopped in the charming town of Loveland located north of Denver and tied love locks!
As we discovered, Denver in winter is all about romance and fun. The city literally sparkles even in February – yes, while other cities take down their Holiday Lights, many areas of Downtown Denver keep them all year long! There are a host of activities all winter starting from the Holiday Lights in November and December to Valentine’s Day festivities in February.
The city has many reputed museums and we could explore quite a few of them, courtesy of the amazing Denver Passport we received from Visit Denver. To avail the same benefits, you can buy either the Denver City Pass or the Mile High Culture Pass. Both the passes give access to a host of attractions including the Denver Art Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens.
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“Every day, the sun comes out and the sky’s always blue.
That’s what I miss about Denver. “
– Dikembe Mutombo, the American athlete who played basketball for the Denver Nuggets
Where to stay in Denver?
After our time in Estes Park, we returned our car at the airport and decided to explore Denver Downtown on foot. The main reason for this: we wanted to avoid sky-high parking rates in Downtown areas. Yeah, we are cheapskates like that!
We figured that taking an Uber to faraway areas will be cheaper than valet parking and it was totally true. We took the train from the Airport to the Union Station and from there took the 16th Street Mall free bus to 16th and Curtis where our hotel was located.
We were staying at the Curtis, for which I found an awesome deal on booking – my fave hotel site because they price match! Turned out to be the best decision ever. The Curtis is a Doubletree hotel but unlike any other, I have seen. It has unique themed floors and themed rooms and lots of pretty artwork everywhere. And of course, the famous Doubletree cookies! In fact, I learned during my stay that the Curtis is among the 10 Best Art Hotels in the country.
We were staying on the Floor of the Champions and the decor was powerful imagery of newspaper headlines and sports heroes. Our room was super cozy with similarly themed artwork. However, the best part about our stay at The Curtis was the awesome location.
As I already mentioned, the hotel was just two blocks away from the free bus stop and we could take the 16th Street Mall Bus to most major attractions. That meant very less walking in the streets while it snowed plus we saved a lot of money taking the free bus.
Also, a lot of eateries, restaurants, and pubs were located nearby. One night, we were in the mood for a late dinner at 1 am and were surprised to discover quite a few places open at that hour within walking distance!
My favorite, however, was our Bottomless Mimosa brunch at the on-site Corner Office. The mimosas were perfect for our romantic Valentine’s Day vacation. The hubby got an omelet to go with them while I ordered the French Toast trio – three French toasts topped with strawberries, blueberries, and peach! Delicious!
We would happily stay at The Curtis again, especially at those awesome rates. To book your stay at The Curtis now, click here. Make sure to book a hyper themed room for the best experience!
What to pack for Denver in winter?
The answer is, surprisingly, not a towering pile of clothes! When we started planning our trip I sorted all my winter clothes in a pile and then realized I could never possibly carry them in a small backpack.
In the end, I packed a pair of thermal underwear, 3 t-shirts, 3 sweaters, a couple of jeans, and a coat – and was perfectly warm and comfortable during our stay. I just layered the thermals with sweaters for the most part. I bought my thermals for under $25 and they are super soft and warm. I can see myself using them over several winters.
I also recommend packing your sweaters in packing cubes so the wool fibers do not break down and pill – you know, those small fuzzy balls that spoil the look?! Also must on your packing list are warm mittens for all the snow activities, gloves, woolen socks and hats, and warm scarves. Don’t forget to pack a good pair of waterproof winter boots. That’s it! You are all set to enjoy Denver in winter.
Outdoor Things to do in Denver in the Winter for Couples
There are lots of outdoor things to do in Denver in winter from sledding, skiing, winter hikes, winter day trips to scenic places, taking strolls through walks and many other activities.
The important thing to remember is that Denver is located at an elevation of one mile above sea level – hence the name of Mile High City. If you aren’t used to that high elevations, then you will need some time to acclimatize.
On our first day in Denver, I was feeling out of breath even while leisurely walking in downtown areas. But by the last day of our trip, we could easily winter hike and snowshoe in the Rocky Mountains. The fastest way to get acclimatized to the rare air is by sipping water and keeping yourself hydrating, thus replenishing the oxygen levels in your body.
We also dressed in layers, keeping ourselves warm, and thus not utilizing extra body heat. Here are our favorite romantic and fun outdoor things to do in winter:
See the beautiful icy landscapes at Denver’s City Park
Denver has many outdoor parks and gardens and is a great city for urban green spaces. Our favorite park in Denver is City Park. The park is huge – over 300 acres! – and the center of activity for couples as well as families.
The City Park contains many of Denver’s premier attractions including the Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Ferril and Duck Lakes, and the Colorado Museum of Natural History. The views from the park are spectacular: shimmering lakes, lots of trees, the Denver skyline, Front Range, and the Rocky Mountains.
We walked along Ferril Lake just to the west of the Museum and saw a lot of birds, few other visitors, and children playing in the snow. It was lots of fun. In summer, you can visit the Prismatic Fountain and Ferril Lake and take the most popular shot of Denver with the fountain, lake, skyline, and the Rocky Mountains.
The fountain looks beautiful at night when it is lit up in a myriad of colors. Other popular parks including Washington Park and Cheesman Park are also great for winter strolls and spectacular landscapes.
Take a romantic stroll under the twinkling lights of the 16th Street Mall
Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a popular pedestrian mall that is the hub for shopping, fine dining, and street art. This is one of the trendiest places in Denver and has over 50 restaurants including chains like the Cheesecake Factory, Hard Rock Cafe as well as gourmet restaurants.
The 16th Street Mall is designed by the famous Chinese American architect, I. M. Pei. We are fans of Pei’s architectural works and have previously visited many of his works including the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha, Qatar and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
I. M. Pei’s most famous project, however, is the Louvre Museum pyramid in Paris. We were, hence, quite eager to visit the 16th Street Mall in Denver and it didn’t disappoint.
The mile-long pedestrian mall extends from the Union Station to the Civic Center Station and has excellent urban design and landscape architecture. I loved the unique street lights located in the middle of the mall. The many trees are covered with lights year long and it looks really romantic at night. There are sculptures and murals at regular intervals and buskers and street performers entertain visitors.
I also loved the creative window displays of shops; it must be wonderful in the Holiday Season. The free mall bus runs every two to three minutes and is great to explore the area. We spent a lot of time at the 16th Street Mall during our stay in Denver and had great fun exploring the nearby shops.
Skate at the Downtown Denver ice rink
Every winter, the Downtown Denver Ice Rink opens at the Skyline Park starting November, just a few days before Thanksgiving. The ice rink is free to everyone and you just need a pair of ice skates to spin around this hottest Denver winter attraction.
Skate rentals are also available at the rink; you will need to bring warm woolen socks and mittens to keep your hands warm. If you don’t know ice skating, there are even free lessons available on Sundays. Many themed events from DJ concerts, Meet with Santa Claus, and other holiday events are planned at the rink on weekends.
The ice rink is in season till the first week of February but the exact dates change every year – you can check out the status for the current year as well as special events calendar here.
Here’s a pro-tip: The ice rink can be booked for private events outside of regular times: so you can actually splurge and have a wonderful undisturbed date or even propose at the empty ice rink for a special wow! Btw, if you do that and we gave you the idea – then do share a picture with us, we would love to hear all about it!
Go sledding at Ruby Hill Park or Sledding Hill Park
You know the best kind of winter activities? Those where you get to actually play and have fun in the snow! We love sledding because there is absolutely no learning curve as there is for skiing, it’s simply much more fun than other purpose-driven snow activities like snowshoeing and it’s super cheap compared to snowmobiling!
If you don’t have snow sleds, you can use any kind of large tray/saucer or even the water tube works well. Just climb up a snowy hill and push yourself down – easy peasy!
Denver has lots of free sledding areas, most of which are urban parks. The most popular by far in Denver is the Ruby Hill Park for its awesome slopes and huge space. The park also has hiking trails, picnic tables, and great city views so you grab your sleds, a picnic lunch, some wine, and make it an outdoors day.
Other popular sledding locations include the Scott Carpenter Park in nearby Boulder and the Sledding Hill Park in Littleton.
Splurge on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride around Downtown Denver
The horse-drawn carriage rides by Irish Rose Drafts are quite expensive compared to the regular horse carriage rides you will find in say New Orleans or San Antonio but they are definitely a splurge-worthy way to experience the Mile High City. The rides are available on weekends around the year and every day in the Holiday Season. They also have special rides for Valentine’s Day.
The carriage rides pass by popular Downtown attractions including Skyline Park, Larimer Square, 16th Street Mall, and the Blue Bear sculpture at the Convention Center. You will be able to see the city’s highlights from a magical carriage ride and snuggle under a warm blanket for the ultimate romantic experience.
Take a photo with Denver’s famous Blue Bear
While not strictly a winter activity, taking a photo with Denver’s famous Blue Bear sculpture located outside the Convention Center is a must when in Denver. This giant sculpture of the bear taking a peek inside the building lobby is named ‘I See What You Mean’ and is created by local Denver artist, Lawrence Argent.
The bear is over 40 feet tall and imposing but the fun blue color makes it – kind of – playful! From the inside, it felt as if the giant blue bear wants to just peep through the window and see what’s happening inside. We loved the giant Blue Bear and everything it represents – from the huge Rockies to the friendly curiosity of Colorado people and the exciting wildlife experiences that lurk in many parts of the state.
See the Parade of Lights to kick off the Holiday Season
Denver’s Parade of Lights is one of Colorado’s most popular holiday festivals. The Parade of Lights has beautiful lit-up floats, vibrant costumes, marching bands, dance troupes, horse riders, giant balloons, and of course Santa Claus! The Parade is a fun and magical experience.
The parade route is 2 miles long and there are plenty of viewing places along the route but to make the most of this romantic date, get some hot chocolate and parade seating tickets – so cosy! We recommend wearing mittens, hats, and scarves for the parade – as things can get cold quite fast even though it’s just the start of the winter.
Shop for romantic, unique gifts at the Denver Christkindlmarkt
I am in love with Christmas markets since I saw the pretty German ones in movies as a kid. While we haven’t visited any European ones yet, we love the Christmas Market in Chicago, the Texas-goes-Euro themed one in Houston, and the charming Bavarian one in Helen, Georgia. Denver’s Christkindlmarkt is also warm, festive, and a vibrant place to get into the Holiday spirit.
The market began in 2000 and since then has become one of the city’s most anticipated holiday events. You can take a stroll through the market and buy handmade jewelry, clothes, and other gifts. Other attractions in the market include meeting the Christkind, trying German drinks, and eating delicious cuisine.
Watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Denver Downtown
Like most major cities around the world, Denver ushers in the New Year with a grand fireworks show. The fireworks take place at the 16th Street Mall and can best be seen by staking a place alongside the shops lining the pedestrian mall. The fireworks show looks beautiful behind Downtown Denver’s beautiful buildings, the accompanying live music played by DJs, and a bevy of street performers from acrobats, street walkers, and comedians creates the backdrop for what seems like the biggest block party of the year!
Enjoy Denver’s own rodeo at the National Western Stock Show in January
We are from Houston, so we naturally love rodeos! Denver’s National Western Stock Show is held in January and is as much fun as any event that has cowboys, horses, bullfights, livestock, and lassos! The Stock Show has quite a variety of events from livestock auctions, parades, rodeos, bbq cookoffs, dance performances, and petting farms filled with many cute baby animals.
There are so many things to do that you won’t realize how the time flew and you will want to return for more! All in all, the rodeo makes an ideal romantic date for horse and animal lovers. So if you happen to be in Denver in January, grab your boots and cowboy hats and get ready to have tons of fun.
Sip craft beers at the Winter Brew Fest
Denver’s Winter Brew Fest is where you want to be to sample all of Colorado’s most popular craft beers in one place. The Winter Brew Fest is also held in January, just like the National Western Stock Show making January a great winter month to visit Denver.
Colorado is home to some of the country’s best known breweries including Coors in Golden and Blue Moon in Denver. At the Brew Fest, you can sample unlimited quantities of beers from major breweries, microbreweries, and nanobreweries.
Along with craft beers, you will find great food, concerts, and lots of free samples making it one of the most popular winter events in the Mile High City.
Romantic Indoor things to do in Denver in winter
We get it – not everyone loves being outdoors in winter. And even if you love snow, sometimes you just need to spend quality time with your loved one in warm, cozy surroundings doing simple things like catching a movie or listening to music. Many of these attractions are located in either the Downtown of LoDo (Lower Downtown) area and easily accessible from the city center. Here’s something to do for those lazy days when you just want to be rid of the snow and dream of the tropics:
Eat a romantic dinner under the lights of Larimer Square
Historic Larimer Square in Downtown Denver is the Mile High City’s oldest commercial block. The square is named after General William Larimer who founded Denver during the Wild West and Gold Rush times of the 19th century.
The late 19th century buildings surrounding Larimer Square are now historically preserved and restored; they now house a variety of businesses including restaurants, pubs, and boutique stores. The charmingly-lit Larimer Square has many unique dining experiences and cuisines that will satisfy even the most picky eaters.
We recommend starting by taking a stroll around Larimer Square and then stepping inside whichever place takes your fancy. Or for a more formal experience, make reservations and ask for a special table setting for two. Bistro Vendome, Crimson Room, Euclid Hall Bar, and Rioja are some of the romantic bars and restaurants in the Square.
See the tropical plants in Denver Botanic Gardens in winter
One of the attractions that our Denver Passport had free entry to were the Denver Botanic Gardens. You might wonder why visit the Botanical Gardens when everything is either bare or covered by snow, but these gardens located on York Street look pretty spectacular even in winter.
While the outdoor garden is a frozen winter wonderland with fall leaves frozen on some trees and red apples on others, the indoor tropical conservatory is ablaze with color.
The tropical conservatory has hibiscus, orchids, and other tropical flowers native to Africa, Asia, and South America. Apart from flowers you will also find big leafy palm trees, citrus trees, and a warm, humid climate which will make you forget that you are still in Denver.
Catch up on good, old-fashioned train romance at the Union Station
Since time immemorial, trains and majestic train stations have evoked nostalgia and romance. There is just something about trains that transports romantics to yesterday’s world, where air travel was a thing of the future and trains were grand old dames of transportation.
The first-time I visited Denver was on the California Zephyr while traveling from San Francisco to Chicago and since then I have loved Denver’s Union Station. We recommend taking the Zephyr from Denver to Glenwood Springs – a half-day / 5 hrs trip – through breathtaking scenery for a weekend in Glenwood Springs.
If you don’t have the time, then simply stroll along the platforms, people watch, and dine at the eateries in Union Station while you listen to the sounds of train whistles and farewells.
Enjoy the majestic views of Denver from the State Capitol Building
The Colorado State Capitol is located in Downtown Denver and it has free tours on the hour on weekdays. We arrived for the 11 am tour on a Monday and were blown away by the stately building’s Neoclassical architecture and shining Golden Dome.
The capitol has lots of Colorado and Denver history, exhibits on the construction of the Capitol, and lots of interesting facts. The Capitol building is built from a rare red marble found locally known as Colorado rose onyx. In fact, the stone is so rare that all known reserves are said to be depleted post the Capitol construction.
The golden dome is made from gold mined in the state and celebrates the state’s mining past. The dome shone brilliantly in the morning sun at the time of our visit. Another fun fact is that the Capitol building sits exactly one mile high above sea level.
See the Denver skyline from the Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is located in City Park premises. The museum is built on the eastern edge of the park and has high elevation compared to the surrounding areas. As a result, the Museum has beautiful views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Our Denver passport provided free entry to the Museum of Nature and Science as well and we enjoyed the exhibits including many dinosaur skeletons including Stegosaurus and Diplodocus – I don’t usually know the names of dinosaurs this well but since our preschooler became interested in dinosaurs it’s kind of become second nature!
The museum also has many natural history exhibits, exhibits on Egyptian mummies, and Native American culture.
Have a regal high tea at the Brown Palace Hotel
One of the most delightfully quaint, luxury and highly sought after experiences in Denver is the Afternoon High Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.
The Historic Brown Palace Hotel opened in late 19th century and features beautiful Italian Renaissance style architecture. The tea is served in the beautifully ornate atrium lobby with a view of the surrounding balconies and magnificent ceiling.
The Afternoon High Tea for two will easily run into three figures but you will be feasting on English style high tea complete with Devonshire cream, scones, and finger sandwiches. Off course, there is refined light music in the background courtesy of a pianist: the entire experience transports you to London.
We recommend reservations especially if you are planning to visit on weekends. Complete your tea with a unique cultural hotel tour that delves deep into the architecture, history, and interesting facts.
Visit the Tattered Cover Book Store and find your next read
The Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver is as famous as the Strand Book Store in NYC. The independent book store has many branches in various areas of Denver. We visited three of these: the one in LoDo on 16th Street, the one in Union Station, and the one at the Airport.
The LoDo location was by far my favorite, it’s HUGE and has an enormous collection of books. The store has author appearances and signings almost daily and is a great place to shop for books. The staff is friendly and helpful. I loved the coffee shop area and many couches and chairs spread throughout the store.
See the beautiful paintings and temporary exhibits at the Denver Art Museum
Another attraction where our Denver Passport provided free entry was the Denver Art Museum. After seeing the Colorado State Capitol, we walked to the nearby Denver Art Museum and checked out their beautiful collections.
The museum is housed in an impressive building that reflects a mix of modernist and postmodernist architecture. There are many striking outdoor sculptures near the entrance. The museum has many art galleries dedicated to contemporary art, modern abstract art, Asian art, African Art, Native Arts from all over the world, photographs, textiles, and sculptures.
I especially loved the Native Art collection which has headgears, textiles, apparel, fabrics, weapons, and other items created by Native artists all over the world. The many paintings in the ‘Animals in Art’ collection are also strikingly beautiful. The museum also holds temporary exhibits, when we visited it had an interesting exhibit on Dior, the fashion house.
Sample Rocky Mountain Oysters, Colorado lab, elk steak or any of Colorado’s specialities
Colorado’s cuisine evolved from that of the Wild West, so hunting and wild game food play a major part since the earliest times. The cowboy and ranch culture is also prevalent and steaks, rib-eyes, chops, and BBQs have their own place. Add to that, Denver’s fame as a metropolitan city and you have got a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.
During our time in Denver, we ate American, Japanese, Italian, Greek, and Thai cuisines among others. There are some dishes that are iconic to Colorado, the most famous amongst them being Rocky Mountain Oysters. If you are wondering what are they or how did the oysters get there, then definitely read more here – and if you have the stomach, then try a plate or two.
Other musts are wild game foods: elks steaks, buffalo burgers, wild boar meatloafs, braised duck, Colorado lamb chops, and Rocky Mountain trouts! We tried an elk steak and the blackened trout while in Estes Park and loved them both.
Learn how money is made at the US Mint in Denver
The United States Mint in Denver is also located Downtown and is a great place to visit and learn how billions of coins are produced every year. The Denver Mint offers free guided tours to visitors on weekdays.
We had previously visited the Old US Mint in New Orleans, but since that was a closed mint/museum, we were free to wander around and take photos.
However, since the Denver Mint is an operating mint there are many restrictions on photography, taking children under 7 inside, as well as on permitted items.
Nevertheless, it is fascinating to learn about all the phases of the minting process from designing to actually striking the coins while on the tour. We recommend this since the only other place where you can tour a working US mint is in Philadelphia.
After the tour, we suggest going to the US Mint Gift Shop which has many unique coins and related souvenirs and is a great place to end your visit.
Celebrate the spirit of the Denver Broncos at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame located in Denver honors Colorado’s famous sports legends. Each year new Colorado sportsmen who excel in their field are inducted into the Hall of Fame. The attached free museum is located at the Gate #1 of the Mile High Stadium (Denver Broncos Stadium). Here you can wander through the collection and see great moments in Colorado sports, contribution of women and girls to Colorado sports, and information on all sportsperson who were inducted in the Hall of Fame.
We suggest devoting an hour to see the entire museum and all its exhibits. You can also tour the stadium on a guided 75 mins tour which is a must for every Broncos fan. You will be able to tour the box seats, locker rooms and get a behind-the-scenes look at the sports arena. The Colorado Hall of Fame and Museum makes a perfect date for sports enthusiasts.
Fun Things to do near Denver in winter
Denver has an amazing location. Many of Colorado’s best attractions are within an hour from Denver, making half-day to day trips quite feasible. In addition, the city offers great transport and shuttles to many nearby areas including the Ski Train to Winter Park. Here are some of the best things to do around Denver in winter:
Visit the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison
The beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a unique rock structure which is used as an open-air amphitheatre. The Red Rocks have perfect natural acoustics and the rock structure was formed over 200 million years ago.
The Red Rocks natural area was likely used by the Native Ute tribe since ancient times. The amphitheatre was built in 1941 to provide seating for over 9000 people. The walls of the amphitheatre contain records from the Jurassic period. In Summer, many concerts are held at Red Rocks. While there are no concerts at Red Rocks in winter, it is amazing to tour the Amphitheatre and admire the fantastic natural setting.
Also the red rocks look beautiful when it is covered by a light layer of snow. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame is located at the Trading Post in Red Rocks. The Trading Post also has many Red Rocks souvenirs. We recommend visiting both the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Colorado Hall of Fame if you are in the area.
Find dinosaur bones and footprints at Dinosaur Ridge
Dinosaur Ridge is located near Red Rocks in Morrison and is a great place for Jurassic Park fans of all ages. It is famous for the vast number of dinosaur fossils and footprints found in the area. Preserved remains of Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and other popular dinosaurs have been found at Dinosaur Ridge.
The Dinosaur Ridge exhibit area has great exhibits about fossils, footprints, and dinosaur species found there. Visitors can also hike marked interpretative trails to see geological layers and remains of the Jurassic era animals. The easiest way to see the park is through the bus tour.
The Dinosaur Ridge remains one of my favorite places to see the remains of these ancient giants because you can actually touch the footprints and bones here.
Tour the Coors Brewery in Golden and sample refreshing cold beers
Coors has the largest single-site brewery in the world and it is open for a free tour. The Brewery in Golden is located just about 8 miles from Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Dinosaur Ridge and can be easily seen on a day trip from Denver.
Visitors board the shuttle bus at the parking lot and it goes around Golden’s Main Street, explaining its history, before dropping visitors off at the brewery for their tour. The self-guided audio tour is half an hour long and visitors get to see the unique malting, brewing and packaging process first hand while walking at their own pace.
At the end of the tour, visitors get free full-sized samples of 3 different brews and you can buy more at the lounge. The brewery tour can be done with kids and there is even root beer for them at the end.
Celebrate your love with a love lock in Loveland
On our way from Denver to the Rocky Mountains, we visited the town of Loveland. Loveland is famous for its Valentine’s Day remailing program – over thousands of people send their VDay cards to Loveland – where volunteers open outer envelopes, stamp inner ones ‘With Love from Loveland’ and remail them to final destinations.
As a result, Loveland is known as America’s Sweetheart City and there are lots of romantic things to do in Loveland. Our favorite was seeing the biggest LOVE sculpture in the country and tying a love lock to celebrate our love. Other Loveland attractions include sculptures, hiking trails, breweries, and distilleries.
Enjoy a mountain retreat in Estes Park
Estes Park is located about an hour away from Denver and is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. From November to April, Estes Park transforms into a winter wonderland. You can spend a day at a romantic retreat, soak in a hot tub, and sip wine by the fireplace or have fun skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or simply playing in the snow.
Estes Park’s main street of Elkhorn Avenue is also perfect to explore as a romantic day trip: here you will find cute taffy and fudge shops, blown glass galleries, boutique shopping, independent bookstores, and popcorn.
Learn cross country skiing or downhill skiing at Eldora Ski Resort
Eldora Mountain Resort is one of the most popular ski areas around Denver. It is located near the town of Nederland along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. Eldora caters to day skiers and snowboarders and makes a great day trip from Denver. If you haven’t skied before, you can sign up for skiing lessons at Eldora to learn either alpine or cross country skiing. Eldora Ski Resort also offers ski rentals and is a great winter activity near Denver.
Go on a dog sled ride at Winter Park
If you thought you had to visit Alaska or Norway to enjoy dog sled rides, then let us remind you of the most popular Colorado activity at Winter Park – fun dog sled rides for the entire family! While the dog sledding is offered year long, it is definitely more fun in the snow.
Getting pulled by Siberian and Alaskan huskies on a sled ride through the snowy countryside is honestly the most fun experience you will ever have. The dogs are super enthusiastic and pull the sleds at amazing speeds; the guides drive the sleds and direct the dogs through the pine forests and mountain peaks.
The dog sled rides at Winter Park have amazing views of the towering, icy peaks of the Continental Divide. After the ride you can also pet the cute dogs and take pictures with them.
Sip tea while you check out the flatirons formations in Boulder
Boulder is located just an hour away from Denver and is a fun and vibrant city. Boulder is most famous for its flatirons formations – huge, red, tilted rock slabs that dominate the Boulder skyline. The Flatirons area has some of Denver’s best hikes – from the trails you can see many of the interesting rock formations. You can even try climbing the formations using carabiners and safety mountaineering equipment.
Another must activity in Boulder is the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory Tour. The tour provides an interesting look into the world of tea and is an hour long. You will begin your tour in the Tea Room, where you can drink as many samples as you want while waiting for your tour group to assemble. At the end of the tour, you can purchase the ones you liked best in their expansive gift shop.
Snowshoe frozen lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park
If you have an extra day in Denver, you can easily visit Rocky Mountain National Park on a winter day trip. Winter driving in the Colorado Rockies can be tricky and we recommend renting an SUV to better maneuver the icy roads.
Rocky Mountain National Park looks stunning in winter with frozen lakes and waterfalls, snow piles along road side, and lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. There are many snowshoeing trails inside the park and you can rent snowshoes either in Downtown Estes Park or at REI in Denver.
Our favorite snowshoe trail in RMNP is the Bear Lake Loop Trail. Bear Lake has stunning views of the Continental Divide and is a fantastic hike for beginners.
Understand the history of Colorado’s mining towns and view Victorian architecture in Central City
Colorado’s Gold Rush in the Rockies happened in 1859 and Central City came to be established as a mining town with gambling halls, drinking saloons, and famous madams. During the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, Central City was one of the richest areas in the Wild West.
Today, Central City has many historically preserved Victorian homes, opera houses, and buildings. You can walk along the town and view the 1800s architecture and even see an opera in the famous Central City Opera House. Central City is also the base for exploring Golden Gate Canyon State Park which has snowshoeing and ice climbing in winter.
Play poker, blackjack, and roulettes in the casinos of Black Hawk
Black Hawk, located an hour east of Denver, is Colorado’s casino central. Like Central City, Black Hawk also began as a mining town during the Gold Rush era. We suggest walking through the casinos and trying your hand at slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and poker.
Like Las Vegas, some of these casinos also have lavish seafood and steak buffets and bars where you can get drinks. Other popular activities in Black Hawk include a self-guided tour through historic buildings, riding the free shuttle up and down Main Street, panning for gold, and admiring the scenic backdrop of the Rockies.
Visit the Garden of the Gods Park at Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods located in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado Springs is a geological wonder known for its renowned multi-colored sandstone rock formations.
Garden of the Gods is free to visit and you can drive through the natural area and park at lookout points. Garden of the Gods also has many popular hiking / snowshoeing trails and you can climb the interesting rock formations.
The Visitor Center has a great video on the geological processes that formed the Garden of the Gods while the nearby Garden of the Gods Trading Post is great place to browse through Native American artworks and purchase souvenirs.
In short, Denver in winter is all about snowy fun and warm, cozy indoors activities. Most of the Mile High City’s attractions are equally enjoyable in winter and compared to summer, have fewer crowds and offer better fun factor.
Disclaimer: We received complimentary entry to many of Denver’s attractions, courtesy Visit Denver while the amazing team of The Curtis provided us with complimentary breakfast at the Corner Office. All opinions, including attractions recommendations, are completely our own!