11 Fantastic Denver Winter Activities That Don’t Involve Skiing

Denver, Colorado is a great place to visit any time of the year, but especially in the winter. It’s true that many use Colorado’s capital as a home base for their high mountain skiing adventure, but if you don’t have your eyes on the slopes, no worries! There’s plenty to see, do, and experience here that doesn’t involve a lift ticket or expensive rentals.

Here are nearly a dozen of our favorite off-ski activities that will delight any visitor to Denver during the winter months.

Denver Art Museum (Photo credit: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com)

1. Obtain an artistic solution

the Denver Art Museum has an incredibly curated collection in its two modern downtown buildings. From photography and textiles to Indigenous art and the Impressionists, the works span genres and are broad and thought-provoking. The art museum is the perfect place to spend a cool day and stroll among magnificent masterpieces from around the world and across the ages.

Pro tips: Don’t miss the fantastic museum shop, stocked with homewares, jewelry and other must-have pieces. Also consider taking a lunch break here; a recent stopover in The Ponti Didn’t disappoint…but don’t forget to make reservations!

View of the 16th Street pedestrian mall in red and gray granite.
16th Street Mall promenade (Photo credit: Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com)

2. Stroll down 16th Street

Ready to take those steps and spend the day at the 16th Street Mall. This pedestrian-only promenade is beautifully lit during the holiday season and stays open and bustling all winter long! The mall stretches a mile from downtown and is lined with dozens of restaurants, cafes, bars, boutiques and shops. You’re bound to find the perfect gift or souvenir along this stretch of downtown Denver!

As you walk along the mall, keep an eye out for a tall bell tower. This is the D&F Tower, a replica of the Campanile di San Marco in Venice which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1909! Another fun fact: the mall was designed by famed architect IM Pei, and its blocks of red, white and gray granite are set in a repeating pattern that, when spied from above, looks like skin of a diamondback rattlesnake.

Special light and flag display of Colorado State flags and bistro lights in historic Larimer Square.
Teri Virbickis / Shutterstock.com

3. Larimer Square

Right next to the 16th Street Mall, you’ll find another gem in the city. We are talking about Larimer Square. Here, high-end boutiques, excellent restaurants and luxury lounges are housed in historic buildings. It’s fun to browse and snack on for lunch…and at night the whole area sparkles with string lights, making the whole place cozy and romantic. We like Osteria Marco for its decadent homemade burrata and flatbreads, and La Rioja for its tapas-style Mediterranean dishes. Both places had comfortable indoor seating, but we opted for a warm patio instead.

Pro Tip: If you had to leave your beloved pup at home and want to catch up, head over to Dog warned. They have an excellent range of everything a pampered dog could want, from fashionable studded collars to sweaters, toys and even a range of smoked all-natural beef bones. Our daughter spent hours on hers!

Aerial view of Mile High Stadium.
Mile High Stadium (Photo credit: Leeweh / Shutterstock.com)

4. Be athletic

Did you know that Denver has six different professional sports teams? For those of you keeping score, this includes football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. And luckily for winter visitors, the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Denver Broncos (NFL) and Colorado Mammoth (NLL) all face off in the colder months. Attending one of their games and cheering on the local team is great fun and a great way to really get to know the city.

Pro Tip: You’ll want to book tickets for these teams as far in advance as possible to get the best seats available.

A beautiful busy street in Golden, Colorado.
Golden, Colorado (Photo credit: Gina Stef / Shutterstock.com)

5. Take a craft beer tour

There’s no doubt about it: Denver is a beer city with deep historical roots. Coors, one of our country’s oldest breweries, has been producing cold brews in nearby Golden since 1873. But Denver has also become the epicenter of the craft brewing scene. From big to small batch, sours to stouts, and everything in between, you’re bound to find a style to suit you. Beer is such a big deal in Denver that you can book your own personalized beer/pub tour, or check out some of our tried-and-true favorite breweries here. Whichever way you try, sampling some of Denver’s best-known beers in the very places where they’re made is a great way to spend a winter’s day!

Denver Botanical Gardens.
Denver Botanical Gardens (Photo credit: Ami Parikh / Shutterstock.com)

6. Stop to admire the orchids (inside, of course!)

Most of us don’t think of visiting a botanical garden in the winter, but that’s a different story in Denver. the Denver Botanical Gardens are of course beautiful in summer, however, this winter Showcase of orchids is guaranteed to dazzle and delight flower lovers. Hundreds of varieties of exotic flowers will be on display, in all colors, sizes and patterns. We can’t think of a more romantic way to spend part of Valentine’s Day!

Pro Tip: Entrance tickets must be purchased in advance and are not available on site.

7. Visit a bibliophile’s paradise

When it’s cold outside, sometimes all you want to do is curl up with a hot drink and a good book. Denver has you covered with its iconic independent bookstore — Tattered cover. Founded in 1971, the store has long been a haven for book lovers and has also served as a community meeting place. Today, there are multiple locations of this beloved bookstore, including one downtown at McGregor Square and another on Colfax. At Tattered Cover, you’ll find best-selling fan favorites and first editions signed by the author, as well as a good selection of gifts and games. No matter where you choose to browse, there are plenty of places in Tattered Cover to sit down, sip a tea or latte, and browse books at your leisure.

Denver Union Station at sunset.
Denver Union Station (Photo credit: Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com)

8. All aboard at Union Station

Train enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who want to make time to visit Denver Union Station. The Beaux-Arts building, built in 1914 in sculpted granite and terracotta, was fully renovated 100 years later in 2014. Walk through its Great Hall and you’ll understand why this iconic space is nicknamed the city’s living room . Of course, there are travelers who leave to take their Amtrak train or one of the city’s RTD transportation options. But there are several excellent restaurants and shops here that are also worth checking out. A star among them, Ultreia, with its tapas-style Iberian cuisine and selection of premium gin and tonic cocktails.

Brown Palace Hotel at the intersection of Broadway, Tremont and 17th streets.
Jim Lambert / Shutterstock.com

9. High Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel

If you need to warm up and want to treat yourself to a luxury bite/sip session at one of the city’s most beloved spots, book a reservation for afternoon tea at Brown Palace. This historic hotel, built in 1892 at the height of the state’s gold rush, is a gorgeous throwback to the heart of downtown that has been meticulously maintained. The suites and shared spaces here are chic, as is the high tea experience. You will be served in the fabulous main atrium of the hotel, under a huge crystal chandelier. There’s nothing better than fancy sandwiches, sweet and decadent pastries and maybe a glass of champagne served in a beautiful setting to chase away the winter blues. (It beats après-ski every time in our book!)

Pro Tip: The high tea service here fills up quickly, especially during the holidays, so be sure to reserve a spot in advance!

10. Hit the dairy block

Shop. To eat. Drink. Sounds like the perfect plan for a winter day in Denver, and you can accomplish all three in the Dairy Block Micro District. Located near the baseball stadium in the LoDo neighborhood, this neighborhood was once home to – you guessed it – Windsor Dairy. Historic buildings that once produced milk for the entire city have been redeveloped into a micro-neighborhood featuring more than a dozen shops and boutiques, restaurants, bars and the milk market, a food hall offering 15 different restaurants and places to prepare a coffee or a cocktail. Here you can have a few different tastes from some of Denver’s best food purveyors. Good luck picking a favourite!

Cherry Creek trail on a typical summer weekend.
Cherry Creek (Photo credit: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com)

11. Take advantage of the great outdoors

Yes, winter is getting cold in Denver. But plan to bundle up and enjoy the spectacular mountain views during your stay. The city has extensive walking paths and cycle paths, perfect for taking your steps after a big meal or a gourmet dessert. What else, the city’s network of parks is extensive, including nearly 20,000 acres of city parks and mountain parks, so you’ll never be far from green spaces. Whether it’s strolling through Cheesman, the park-turned cemetery with sweeping mountain views in a historic residential neighborhood, or biking through Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet , brave the cold and get out. You will not regret it.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind they call Denver the Mile High City for a reason. The air here is probably thinner than you are used to and is generally quite dry, especially in the winter months. Make sure you stay well hydrated during your visit and remember: you just can’t apply too much sunscreen, moisturizer or lip balm!

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