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Nine Fascinating Pieces of Denver’s Architecture You Must See

Nine Fascinating Pieces of Denver’s Architecture You Must See

Nine Fascinating Pieces of Denver’s Architecture You Must See

The peaks of the Rockies are a big part of the unforgettable backdrop set against this busy Colorado city. But did you know that some of Denver’s buildings are almost equally impressive?

Denver has been many things over the years. Once a small cow-town, it was also a very important location during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Its rich history may have played a role in making people view Denver as one of the most independent cities in the US. Even the city’s architectural style reflects this fact through its unique ingenuity.

Do you want to see some of Denver’s most impressive buildings? There are quite a number of them, so make sure to take your time. Use this list as your primer to the city’s amazing man-made marvels.

#1. Colorado State Capitol

One of the top Denver attractions, the state capitol building dates back to 1894 and bears the mark of Elijah E. Myers. 

What catches the eye of many is that it almost perfectly mimics the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. But the similarities stop there.

Its dome features copper panels and gold leaves straight out of a Colorado gold mine, representing the state’s importance during the gold rush. But even the interior is immaculately decorated, as it has rose onyx pieces that were also mined within the state.

#2. Union Station

Denver’s Union Station first opened in 1984 after D.H. Burnham & Co was commissioned for the design. And the transportation hub retains most of its original features even after going through a handful of renovations over time. That said, the impressive terrazzo floors and the Columbine motifs still stand. 

Today, the building serves as both a transportation hub and a hotel lobby for the Crawford. Visitors can also spend time in the retail sector or the dining center after inspecting Union Station’s impressive architecture.

#3. D&F Clock Tower

If you want to find things to do in Denver other than hiking, check out more of the city’s impressive buildings. And the gorgeous D&F Clock Tower always deserves a visit. 

It’s one of the city’s historic landmarks and lights up the city skyline on a nightly basis. Built in 1911, it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. But its height is relatively less impressive compared to the others in the vicinity.

But it’s not the building’s height of 393-feet that impresses tourists anyway. What really catches anyone’s eye is the Italian Renaissance architectural style and the combination of terracotta, stone, and brick.

Visiting the tower is simply one of the best things to do in Denver at night if you’re not up to partying with the locals.

#4. The Denver City and County Building

A trip to the cultural center of the city will be well worth it. 

Construction on the City and County of Denver building finished in 1932. And since then, the neoclassical structure has been a centerpiece and landmark of Denver, Colorado. 

Considering its appearance, it blends in well in the middle of the Civic Center where you can find statues, gardens, and a Greek amphitheater of the same neoclassical design.

#5. Frederic C. Hamilton Building

This is one of the newest Denver attractions, as the construction on the Frederic C. Hamilton building only ended in 2006. 

The structure is part of the Denver Art Museum, which always deserves a visit. But even the building itself draws the attention of visitors and locals. By all accounts, it’s a massive work of art that features a metallic and asymmetrical look.

Some 9,000 titanium panels shine against the sun every day, while the interior’s angular design easily commands attention. Of course, you can see some art exhibits there, too.

#6. The Denver Public Library

You don’t have to be searching for a book just to visit the Denver Public Library. 

The building is now one of the most popular Denver attractions thanks to its postmodern architectural style. Initially, however, it looked very different. This all changed in 1990 when architect Michael Graves won the renovation project. 

What you’ll now see up close are the varying colors and natural materials used, and how well they all fit together to capture the essence of what a library should look like. The interior gives off a superb vibe, too, what with the high vaulted ceiling and abundance of natural wood finishes.

#7. The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory

You probably already know that the Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the most popular Denver attractions. But what you may not know is that one of the city’s architectural gems is located inside the Gardens.

When visiting the Gardens, don’t forget to explore The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Open since 1966, it later reached its historic landmark status as one of the most marvelous greenhouses ever.

The ingenious combination of concrete and Plexiglas gave birth to a functioning sculptural wonder that’s available for anyone to explore year-round.

#8. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

As you can tell by now, there’s no shortage of architectural variety in Denver. And adding to the list of the top Denver attractions is this European-style cathedral.

Thomas Walsh, Aaron Gove, and Leon Coquard were the three architects responsible for the design of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It’s one of the few genuinely awe-inspiring French Gothic cathedrals in Colorado. 

You can see a couple of gargoyles, massive spires, 75 stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and just about any other classical details you can think of.

#9. Brown Palace Hotel

Maybe the Brown Palace Hotel isn’t the most jaw-dropping piece of architecture in Denver. However, it’s of significant historical importance.

Completed in 1892, this red building will immediately catch the eyes of passersby. This hotel on 17th street has terracotta walls, making it the second fireproof building in the country.

Although it lacks detail compared to other buildings in this list, it still manages to impress with its Colorado wildlife carvings, rounded corners, and triangle shape.

Explore Denver’s Clash of Styles

Irrespective of whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or not, you can’t deny that Denver has a unique style and a good number of notable buildings. From the capitol building to the terracotta hotel and on to the massive greenhouse, everything reflects the city’s long-standing independent cultural trademark.

Styles from all over the world converge at the heart of Colorado to create some of the best Denver attractions any tourist would want to see.

Trip Ideas

The 12 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Denver, Colorado

Visit Denver Colorado

The 12 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Denver, Colorado

Planning a trip to the Mile High City? The views are spectacular at one mile above sea level and higher. And there are many outdoor and indoor activities for tourists all year round.

Denver is the most populous city in Colorado. It’s also a tourist hotspot due to its fantastic scenery and quirky attractions. It has parks, museums, and miles of trails, among many others. And almost no amazing area is off-limits throughout the year.

Not sure where to spend some time while in Denver, Colorado? Check out these locations.

1.   Spend Half a Day at the Red Rocks Park

The Red Rocks Park in Denver offers amazing views and miles of hiking trails. It’s where you can see amazing sights, namely the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.

But that’s not all the 700 acres of rust-colored scenery has to offer.

The park also features a massive amphitheater that hosts world-renowned artists. What’s even better is that you get to experience the unique acoustics created by the park’s natural features. Bordered by the red rocks, the amphitheater is always worth a visit, if nothing at least for the view.

2.   Visit Washington Park

For more outdoor recreation, visit the Washington Park. It’s just three miles from the city center so it’s easy to fit in your itinerary. The park occupies 165 acres and has two huge lakes.

For Denverites, it’s a regular weekend hangout spot. And for tourists, it’s an amazing spot near Denver where you can rent a boat or play some tennis.

The park is open all the time but, the facilities have their own schedules.

3.   Sightsee on Colorado Highway 5

Denver is all about the views. That’s why you shouldn’t miss out on sightseeing on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. This spot is accessible by car so it’s easy to get to at any time. With an elevation of 14,264ft, the view here of the Rocky Mountains is amazing.

And if the idea of standing on the tallest paved road in America excites you, there are multiple stopping points along the road for you to do so. It makes it easy to avoid crowds of tourists who want to do the same.

4.   Tour the Denver Art Museum

When you’re ready to immerse yourself in art, the Denver Art Museum is a great choice. It consists of two buildings featuring over 70,000 works of art. Even better, the museum’s collection features exhibits from artists with diverse backgrounds.

And it’s not just for art lovers. There’s a bit of everything here for everyone, including nice architecture.

5.   Have a Beer at Coors Field

Visiting Coors Field is on many tourists’ to-do lists. After all, it’s the Colorado Rockies’ home field that’s sponsored by the famous beer.

Ground tours are available in the off-season. There are video batting cages that scream fun for all ages. Why not try your luck at hitting fastballs?

Best of all, you’ll always have a view of the Rocky Mountains that tower over the ballpark.

6.   Check Out the Museum of Transportation

If you’re out of luck with Denver weather, here’s another indoor destination – the Museum of Transportation. It has a large collection of quirky automobiles, including Amelia Earhart’s Big Boy locomotive. And your kids might get a kick out of seeing Herbie the Love Bug.

Everything looks alive in this weird little museum. Especially with all the mannequins posing in and around the exhibit pieces.

7.   Take a Stroll Down Larimer Square

If you’re looking for things to do in Denver, a trip to Larimer Square should bring up plenty of opportunities.

This square is actually a street no longer than one block. And yet, it is rich in historic buildings, shops, boutiques, and restaurants. You’ll have lots to do here both day and night, what with the lively atmosphere that seems to never end.

8.   Reach for the Skies at the Rockies Air & Space Museum

If you thought the Museum of Transportation was a weird hotspot, wait until you see this museum.

Not only is it rich in history, but it also features amazing aircraft. Where else would you see a B-18A Bolo and a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter in the same hangar?

The guided tours are great for taking in some knowledge. And the unique collection of space vehicles is one you won’t find anywhere else.

9.   Go Climbing

Being next to the Rocky Mountains, Denver is one of the best cities to visit if you’re a climber. But even if you’re not, you can try your hand at it if you want to. That’s because there are many companies that offer lessons and guidance.

For starters, check out the Outdoor Climbing School for a variety of programs for those traveling with or without kids. You don’t have to be an expert to take a shot at climbing the Rockies.

10.   Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens

The gardens are a beautiful place to go for a walk. They feature multiple conservation programs and a variety of natural habitats for many species. There’s even a tropical biosphere if you want to see some exotic plants. And the Japanese garden section looks as authentic as it can be.

Did you know that you can also have a picnic at the Denver Botanic Gardens? It’s an amazing destination for those who want a more relaxing outdoor adventure.

11.   Quick Stop at the Colorado State Capitol

Are you a history buff with a thing for the Gold Rush? You might want to make a quick stop at the Colorado State Capitol building. Commissioned in the 1980s and made out of white granite, this historic building is impressive to see in person.

It’s a landmark location that perfectly commemorates the Colorado Gold Rush, complete with a golden dome made with actual gold leaf. In fact, you can climb and get to the top of the dome if you want an amazing view of the city.

12.   Visit the Denver Zoo

The zoo’s 8 acres of land houses over 4,000 animals – from aquatic creatures and invertebrates to birds, reptiles, and mammals. And it’s not the only sight to behold.

There are also some cool Lego animal replicas around the compound. These are sure to excite the younger audience, especially once they see the animatronic dinosaurs.

Prepare for a Rocky Adventure

Back in 2016, Denver received the award for being the best place to live in America. And the city hasn’t slowed down since.

But if you’re just visiting, you might want to plan a longer vacation because there’s a lot you won’t want to miss.

There’s so much to do here in Denver – whether it’s hiking the Rockies or touring unique museums and attractions.

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What to Do on a Weekend Trip to Denver?

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

What to Do on a Weekend Trip to Denver?

Wondering what you can do in Denver with little time on your hands? Start with the following hotspots and attractions.

A trip to the Mile High City can be exhilarating. After all, the views of the Rocky Mountains alone make for a perfect weekend getaway. 

But there’s more to this gem of a city than meets the eye.

There’s a lot to explore in Denver no matter what kind of weather you have on your visit. Indoors or outdoors, there’s always something cool to see and exciting to do. And the following tops the list.

1. Picnic in the Denver Botanic Gardens

Of all the things to do in Denver on weekends, having a picnic at the popular gardens is one of the most relaxing. It’s a place where multiple rare species of plants live in their natural habitats, as well as themed gardens like a Japanese garden. 

You can also bring your own meal or sample some of the local fares at either of the two restaurants.

If the weather permits, you easily can spend the better part of a day relaxing and exploring the majestic Denver Botanic Gardens. You might even catch an event there if you’re lucky.

2. Go to the Children’s Museum of Denver

Traveling with the family usually implies additional planning, including finding some things to do in Denver with kids. If that’s the case, give the Children’s Museum a try.

The museum initially only targeted kids up to eight years old. These days, however, it’s a must-see attraction for guests of all ages. It boasts an impressive number of displays and interactive exhibits. You can all have fun, explore, learn, go nature climbing, talk science, and so much more. 

The snack bar should help you keep up your energy, too.

3. Test Your Detective Skills

Are you looking for fun things to do in Denver? How about attending a mystery dinner theater? If that’s right up your alley, know that the Adams Mystery Playhouse is one of the coolest venues in town. 

It has terrific actors on staff and a great dinner menu. Here, your job is to enjoy your meal, search for clues, and solve the murder. Winning teams will receive souvenir prizes with which they can commemorate the experience. 

It’s not a bad deal for a weekend night out in Denver.

4. Reach for the Skies

If you can’t visit much of Denver on your short trip, it’s best to cover as much ground as possible in a short amount of time. And booking a seat on a Rocky Mountain Hot Air balloon tour is a great way to get a fantastic view of its world-famous mountains.

Even though the hot air balloons don’t fly higher than 1,800 feet, it’s still a thrilling experience that allows you to see most of Denver’s picturesque surroundings. At the end of the flight, you get to pop open a champagne bottle and enjoy a glass, all while calming your heart rate.

5. Enjoy Some Spirits

A free distillery tour is one of the best things to do in Denver, especially when traveling on a budget. And the Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey tour offers just that. 

It lasts well over an hour and narrates the history of the local brand and the complex process of making fine-aged whiskey. And at the end of the tour, you can sample some of the spirits if you’re up for it. 

6. Gaze at the Flying Machines Inside the Air & Space Museum

Denver, Colorado is home to a former US Air Force hangar. It spans 150,000-square feet and now houses a diverse collection of aircraft and other flying vehicles.

You can check out some very rare displays, such as a B-18A Bolo. Sci-fi lovers are in luck as they can even see a model of the Star Wars X-Wing fighter. Meanwhile, kids and aviation enthusiasts will probably enjoy the museum the most. That’s because many of the aircraft allow entry to the cockpit.

It’s a great way to learn a thing or two about how military planes work and how to operate the various instruments found inside of one.

7. Museum of Nature and Science

Often dubbed the region’s best informal science resource, the museum is a place of awe and wonder that guests of all ages can enjoy. Learning about the natural wonders of Earth and beyond is simply one of the best things to do in Denver.

Check out exhibits of Colorado fauna and learn about the many birds and mammals that call the Rocky Mountains home. You can also take a break and visit the planetarium or explore the various wonders of space.

8. Visit the Transportation Museum

If you’d rather check out a more niche museum, the Forney Transportation Museum can deliver in spades – it’s a unique facility with over 600 items on display. 

Everything comes with a story about the history of transportation. From some of the oldest carriages, bikes, and steam locomotives to cars, motorcycles, and airplanes – there’s a bit of everything for everyone to enjoy.

However, two vehicles usually draw the biggest attention. There’s the 1923 Kissel Gold Bug once owned by Amelia Earhart and the other is an old Model T that’s still in excellent condition.

9. Explore What You Can on Mount Evans

If your weekend trip to Denver is all about getting some fresh air, then Mount Evans won’t disappoint. It’s Colorado’s 12th highest peak and the closest one to downtown Denver. 

Hiking to the top of the peak is simply one of the most rewarding things to do in Denver. You can gaze at the picturesque scenery and not have to contend with heavy traffic, either. 

Keep in mind that going on foot may take up to four hours if you start your journey at the lake. Luckily, there’s also a paved road if you want to drive most of the way up. 

You’re likely to find exploring the mountain while going through various climate zones a thrilling experience.

One weekend is not Enough

You can get a good idea of what Denver has to offer even if you only have time for a weekend trip. But once you get there and start exploring, you’ll learn right away that Mile High City deserves a couple more days of your time.

Surrounding the city are amazing mountain landscapes and wildlife. Meanwhile, the city’s many museums can each keep you busy for half a day. And don’t forget that there are tons of other attractions to visit.

That’s why on your next visit to Denver, make sure to stay longer.

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