Denver was known as The Mile-High City long before it became a mecca for marijuana enthusiasts. That said, Colorado’s embrace of reefer rights may help explain why its capital city recently rose to #6 on the 2017 Travel Hacker list of most popular destinations.
According to our data, travelers who book a flight to this trending hotspot two months in advance look to save the most, with a median airfare of $296.
The city offers experiences you can’t find anywhere else, from scenic sights in the great outdoors to more than 100 brewpubs, breweries and taprooms to explore.
Check out these four things you can only do in Denver:
1. Go to church in the wilderness
The U.S. has no shortage of stunning vistas to take in, but how many of them come complete with a chapel built upon a rock formation like something straight out of a storybook?
St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, also known as Chapel on the Rock, is located at Camp Saint Malo, near the Rocky Mountain National Park. With Mount Meeker sitting postcard perfect behind it, the church appears as if it’s growing out of the ground. Surviving fire, flood and rock slides over its more than 80 years, the site has become a tourist destination for believers and nonbelievers alike, earning its place on the list of things to do in Denver.
A note of caution – the church is undergoing renovations and may not be open to visitors until the end of summer 2017, so consider calling ahead to check before planning a trip out to visit.
2. Walk the Beer Trail
Colorado loves its suds, and it’s got the numbers to prove it. Not only is more beer brewed in Denver than any other city in the U.S., it lays claim to over 100 breweries and bars in its greater metropolitan area.
Visitors hoping to scratch their liquid itch should leave their keys at home and download a free copy of the Denver Beer Trail map. Otherwise you can pick up a copy at the downtown Denver Tourist Information Center. Either way, you’ll have a handy guide to 20 Denver breweries in the city’s downtown area.
Of course, depending on the size of your stomach and your thirst for adventure, there are options to create your own trail, adding new breweries as you see fit. Tivoli Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in Colorado, makes for a nice starting point.
3. Enjoy marijuana in bars and restaurants
Numerous states across the U.S. have legalized marijuana to some degree, but Denver is the only state that allows for its use in bars and restaurants. The recently passed law empowers bar and restaurant owners to apply for patrons to partake indoors. While indoor use does not mean smoking, the law creates potential for outdoor smoking areas.
“Denver can now lay claim to being America’s highest major city in more ways than one”
Bars and restaurants are not allowed to supply marijuana themselves, making it a BYOM situation. Still, sitting one mile above sea level, Denver can now lay claim to being America’s highest major city in more ways than one. Of course, the newness of the law means it pays to reach out beforehand to make sure an eatery or watering hole is participating. Be sure to obey the law during your visit.
4. Peek at some predators
There may be plenty of tourists at the Denver Zoo, but locals know the real attraction is at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in the nearby town of Keenesburg. The facility rescues animals from captivity, and has become the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world.
Using an elevated walkway, the longest footbridge on planet Earth, visitors get to explore hundreds of acres of natural habitats containing everything from lions and tigers to leopards and wolves.
It’s the closest humans can get to these meat eaters in real life without breaking a sweat. Plus, the animals themselves are provided a space and freedom unheard of in modern zoos, allowing them to be rehabilitated from abuse and neglect. It’s a wildlife win-win.
While far from an exhaustive list, these four activities will get you started once you make Denver your destination. Find out what other adventures the Queen City of the West has to offer.