Are you planning a trip to Denver, Colorado but want to avoid the tourist traps and experience the city like a local? Look no further! In this post, we’ll be sharing our top 10 hidden gems in Denver that only locals know about. From unique restaurants and bars to outdoor adventures and cultural events, these spots will give you a true taste of Denver and its vibrant culture. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the Mile High City like a true insider!
Founded in the 1850s, Denver is a popular spot for the locals. Food, entertainment, and the outdoors are few of the fun places locals love. Here are a few favorites locals frequently visit.
1. Forest Room 5
With a menu that changes every season, Forest Room 5 is a fun, family-friendly restaurant worth seeing. Although it’s in walking distance of other bars, this place has a full-service bar with strong cocktails and craft beers. With a woodsy atmosphere, there are a variety of rooms with different forest scenes and stumps to sit on instead of chairs.
There’s an outside waiting area with a teepee and a fire pit for the adventurous while you’re waiting. With mouth-watering appetizers, a large menu, and a separate kids menu, this is a perfect place to go eat for families as well as those who are wanting to enjoy the atmosphere.
2. BeauJo’s Colorado-Style Pizza
Established in 1973,BeauJo’s is a unique restaurant that is popular amongst locals. Perhaps its most unique feature, other than the pizza, is that they use a combination of solar and wind power to power their location.
They are best known for their Colorado-Style Pizza known as “Mountain Pie.” With a garlic cream sauce to die for, tons of toppings, and a crust that is delicious when dipped in honey, it’s no wonder locals love this place. For those who have Celiac Disease, they even offer gluten-free pizza and sandwich options. Wheat-Free Wednesdays where, at lunchtime, the salad bar is free with the purchase of a pizza or sandwich is just an added bonus.
3. Adams Mystery Playhouse
Fun starts the minute you walk into the mystery mansion. Each table has up to 10 guests and everyone at your table is your investigative team. Each dinner show starts with a cocktail mixer, a free scavenger hunt (that contains a key clue to solving the mystery), and getting to know your suspects (the actors).
Each show has a mixture of comedy, mystery, and an interactive cast. You’ll love how everyone is a suspect and how impossible it is not to get wrapped up in the mystery. Quite a few people wear costumes, so you might want to dress the part. A full-service cash bar is also a plus, but don’t forget to bring the cash for your drinks.
4. Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
Started by Jim Pittenger, a former biker and repo man, this anything but ordinary restaurant started out as a hot dog cart. Never, fear he now has a brick and mortal location in downtown Denver. The owner’s unique hot dogs have a wide variety of meat choices: reindeer, elk, and wild boar are just a few listed on the menu. For vegans, there’s even a vegan-friendly version made with herbs and spices. For pickier eaters, the restaurant does offer a traditional hot dog for kids and a few beef options for adults. For those who like a good alcoholic drink with their dog, the restaurant does also offer some beers and cocktail options.
5. Apex Movement
Established in 2006, Apex Movement is a professional training facility that offers Sky Diving, Capoeira, Juggling, Parkour, and American Ninja Warrior training amongst a few others.During Open Gym hours, for $10 per person, ages 12 and up can try the different equipment at their own pace. Ages 6 and up can also attend, but must have had 3 introductory classes to able to get on the equipment. A friendly, open environment with trainers on hand during open gym, even first-timers can enjoy this place. This place is a must-see for anyone who has ever wanted to try things like Parkour, Crossfit, Juggling, and Capoeira.
6. Lakeside Amusement Park
Operating since 1908, Lakeside is a fairly inexpensive amusement park located off a lake. It contains such classic rides as bumper cars, a drop tower, a train ride around the lake, and a merry-go-round, but it also has a variety of spinning and roller coasters. For those under 42” tall, they also offer a Kiddies’ Playland. Although a bit older, this park hasn’t lost its charm. This park has amazing views, fun rides, and all-around family fun that will keep kids happy and make adults feel nostalgic. This is a must-see for anyone visiting the Denver area.
7. Great Room Escape
Can you solve the clues and escape before time runs out? Think you could’ve been Sherlock Holmes? Up to 12 participants have 1 hour to solve the challenging clues, puzzles, and riddles. Each clue builds upon the next in order to find the final key to solving the mystery. These puzzles are hard to solve without help, so they’re a great way for families or friends to learn to work together. This unique, fun, interactive experience will engage, thrill, and maybe even spook participants. This is a must do for anyone looking to challenge their detective skills. Tickets cost $40.Cheesman Park: E 8th Ave & Franklin.
8. Cheesman Park
Denver is home to a lot of beautiful parks, but this one located in downtown Denver may be haunted. At first glance, this park is a beautiful 80-acre park with a 150-mile panoramic view. This makes it a perfect place for a picnic, a place for the kids to play, or a fun place to get a little fresh air and exercise. This park, however also used to be home to a graveyard during the Victorian Era.
Although many graves were removed, it is believed that 2,000 or more bodies still remain. Believed to be haunted by outlaws, vagrants, and even a few paupers, you may find yourself meeting a ghost instead of a human. This park is ideal for any ghost seekers or families looking for a place to stretch their legs.
9. Town of Morrison, Colorado
Just 15 miles west of Denver, Morrison may be a small rural area town of about 432 people, but it is home to many great attractions. Off Alameda Parkway, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre (183000 W Alameda Pkwy) is the perfect mix of outdoors and entertainment. During the day, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking views as they hike challenging trails around the Red Rocks park, then come back in the evening for live well-known bands’ concerts (such as the Goo Goo Dolls).
Not far from Red Rocks is Dinosaur Ridge (16831 W. Alameda Pkwy.), where families can see real dinosaur footprints. Other attractions include Buffalo Bill’s grave, a speedway, and a couple different museums that are perfect for the family and/or outdoor and history enthusiasts.
10. 16th Street Mall
Built in 1982, this pedestrian mall is 1.25 miles long, runs through downtown Denver, and has something for everyone. Walks are made of red, white, and gray granite to resemble the back of a diamondback snake. Food places galore, you can shop to you drop, then catch a bite to eat. As you shop, you’ll be entertained by street performers or you can take a free bus ride that runs along the mall and stops at every corner.
To add more to the fun, you can team up with family or friends to complete a classic, but fun scavenger hunt that starts at the Capitol Building and runs through the mall. This immerses you in the rich history of Denver while enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown.
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