Why go now?
This gateway to hiking, camping and skiing in the Rocky Mountains is a standout travel destination in its own right. Standing one mile above sea level and with 300 days of sunshine per year, Denver has a lively arts and music scene, from the world-renowned Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (1) to the Denver Performing Arts Complex (2) (artscomplex.com), the second-largest theatre complex in the country. Yet Denver’s Wild West roots are never far away – the city has its own buffalo herd and real-life frontiersman “Buffalo Bill” is buried on nearby Lookout Mountain (3) (001 303 526 0744; buffalobill.org). Norwegian Air has launched direct flights from London Gatwick from just $199 one way, so it’s never been cheaper to visit the Mile High City.
Get your bearings
See what’s what with a walk around LoDo (lower downtown), Larimer Square (4) and the 16th Street Mall (5), a mile-long pedestrian promenade lined with shops and outdoor cafes perfect for people-watching. Free shuttles run the length of the mall, making it easy to cover a lot of ground quickly. Nearby Larimer Square (larimersquare.com) is Denver’s most historic block, now home to an eclectic mix of independent shops, high-end restaurants and lively bars. Find the Denver Tourist Information Center (6) (001 303 892 1505) on California and 16th.
Take a view
The golden dome atop the Colorado State Capitol (7) (colorado.gov/capitol) offers panoramic views of the city. To get there, take a free historical tour of the capitol building (offered 10am-3pm Monday to Friday). Walk-ins are welcome.
Take a hike
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (1) (001 720 865 2494; redrocksonline.com) is the best outdoor concert venue in the world, according to Rolling Stone. Carved from towering red rock monuments, it has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. The Visitor Center is open year-round and has a free museum and Performers’ Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave between the magnificent red rocks. Keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife.
Lunch on the run
Head to Union Station (8) (unionstationindenver.com), a renovated 1914 Beaux-Arts train station which serves as Denver’s main transport hub as well as housing restaurants, bars and boutique shops. Grab a burger or made-to-order sandwich from Acme Delicatessen (9) (001 720 460 3706; acmedelicatessen.com) or, during the summer, you can pick up a bite to eat at the Union Station Farmers…