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24 Hours in Denver: CHEAP Itinerary for 1 Day in Denver Colorado

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021 by Michelle Moyer

Spending 24 Hours in Denver: Enjoying the Outdoors

view of Denver and mountains on a tour of 1 day in Denver
DENVER! Image: Visit Denver

Denver is the perfect place to spend a lot of time outdoors and a great destination for a weekend trip.  Even if you are only in Denver for a day, there are a ton of things to do.  Recently, I took a mother-daughter trip and we spent 24 hours in Denver, Colorado.  All of our time was spent walking around Denver.  We had a rental car, but we only used it to go get ice cream!!  –You will see that delicious ice cream suggestion at the end of my 1 day in Denver itinerary list.  Make sure you don’t miss out on it!

What to see in 1 day in Denver:  Sites in Downtown Denver

Popular Sites to see on a walking tour in Denver:  Click on each site for details.

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Short on time in Mile High City? 
Make sure to hit these destinations on your 1-day Denver trip!

How to start off the day with only 24 hours in Denver

red free shuttle going along city street on Denver
Free Shuttle at 16th St Mall – Image: RebeccaTodd

It is a very walkable city, so if you only have 1 day in Denver, you can still see a lot of very cool sites if you plan your 24-hour itinerary well ahead of time.  My daughter and I were very impressed with the number of things to do in Denver and the ease of seeing everything.  —we REALLY LOVED the Free shuttle up and down the 16th mall and used that quite often —follow along on our adventures as we spend 1 day in Denver.  Even in winter, we were able to cross everything off of our list!

Start at SNOOZE for breakfast

2262 Larimer St., Denver, CO 80205    MAP
Open weekdays from 7am – 4pm

Is there a better way to start off your Denver walking itinerary than with a large, delicious breakfast?  Snooze Eatery seated us in the outside area of their restaurant due to the pandemic. They greeted us with extra-friendly service the whole morning and hooked up some cozy warm heaters so that we were toasty warm during our meal. .

Snooze has many locations, but we chose the one near RiNo so that we could continue with our itinerary plans afterward.  I chose to chow down on OMG French Toast and my daughter had the Snooze Classic.  They have a large menu to choose from so the choice was difficult.  I chose the perfect dish because those OMG French Toasts were just as the name implies.  I exclaimed OMG as they just melted in my mouth with sweet goodness!

Begin a 1 Day in Denver Itinerary

We managed to roll out of our seats with full bellies and began our 24 hours in Denver with a walking tour in the RiNo district.  Our plan was to get our fill of this artsy neighborhood in the morning and then head back toward downtown for the afternoon. Denver has seven different art districts, with RiNo being super close to our downtown Denver Curtis boutique hotel so we could walk to it.

Map of Denver - RiNo area and walking tour of Denver
Walking Tour of Denver – Part 1 – RiNo District

–RiNo– River North Arts District

gathering of people socializing in front of colorful street mural
RiNo District – Image: Adam Larkey

The River North Art District is a vibrant neighborhood near downtown Denver which is called RiNo for short and has embraced creative rhino arts and logos all around the area. It is key to the arts and culture scene in Mile High City and is home to street murals, jazz bars, experimental galleries, rockabilly microbreweries, innovative food halls, and working art studios.

“Love This City” Mural

MAP

Mural with I LOVE DENVER in bright colors
Love This City Mural – Image: Visit Denver

I love Denver!  This is the perfect place to start your Denver Street Art Tour.  It is very close to Snooze, so after you finish your delicious breakfast go around the corner and walk 2 minutes to Broadway / Arapahoe / Park Avenue West and admire your first artwork.  Such colors!

RiNo Street Murals

artwork on the side of the building- seen during on 1 day in Denver itinerary

Street murals are found EVERYWHERE in the RiNo district on each building and around every corner.  We spent over an hour walking around RiNo.  Just when we thought we had seen the best, another one popped up on the next restaurant or hidden in an alley, and it is better and bolder than the one before.  I had a list of addresses with me, but it really wasn’t needed.  All we had to do was walk down Larimer Street and we were able to see some mega-colorful street art.  Even the crosswalks, dumpsters, construction barriers, and sidewalk posts were graced with artwork!

This is the perfect spot to start your 24 hours in Denver.  Wander along the streets and immerse yourself in these creative artworks.

image of a girl on a wal mural on a walking tour in Denver

Enjoy the street art that you are seeing at the moment!  Some of the most popular street art may be gone the next time you visit.  Each year in September, the city holds an art festival called CRUSH WALLS  which brings in international artists and spectators, as well as local talent and on-lookers.  During this event, the street murals are ‘crushed,’ painted over, and repainted into another outstanding design to give a different artist a chance to literally make a mark in the art scene. This keeps the colorful street art designs fresh, new, and exciting each year.

I had many favorites from our 2020 Mother-Daughter 24-hour trip to Denver

Denver Central Market

2669 Larimer Street   MAP
open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Central Market in Denver - lots of people eating at tables
Central Market – Image: James Florio

At the end of our street mural tour, we stopped by the Denver Central Market, a gourmet marketplace located in the middle of RiNo on Larimer Street.  This is a great stop for a snack early in the day.

The local vendors include sections for gourmet pizza, sandwiches, fish, bakery, coffee, chocolate, most with carry-out service, or you can dine on the dark wooden tables in the Market.  There is also a bar for pre-dinner cocktails as well as retails outlets selling everything from bread to spices.

Right next door to the Denver Central Market, there is an art alley with flashy murals and outdoor seating.  Don’t forget to take a peek at the alley BEHIND the Market for more great artwork

wall mural in Denver - girls with purple hair
Murals behind the Central Market on a 1-day tour in Denver

–LoDo–Lower Downtown

Another Denver neighborhood and another spunky abbreviation.  LoDo, Lower Downtown, is one of the oldest Denver neighborhoods and is a hip historic area and hangout for tourists, drinkers and all-around party-going happening crowds at the city’s most popular restaurants, bars and shops.

Coors Field

2001 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205   MAP

Stadium in Denver - 24 hrs in Denver walking tour
Coors Field in Denver

We continued walking toward downtown Denver from RiNo, and soon encountered the huge Coors Field.  It is the baseball stadium and home to the Colorado Rockies since 1995.  It was built with a $300 million price tag and named for the Coors Brewing Company which purchased the naming rights.  Due to the high elevation in the Mile-High City, the ballpark is a hitter’s park, so the outfield fences were constructed further from home plate (Note: Golf balls also go further and alcoholic drinks are stronger in the thin mile-high air!).

Coors Field is expected to host the 2021 MLB All-Star Game in July. I am sure that Denver will be the perfect host city for this event.

Union Station 

1701 Wynkoop Street   MAP

Union Station - historic building in downtown Denver
Union Station – Image: Scott Dressel Martin

We certainly were not hungry yet after our filling breakfast at Snooze that started us on our 1-day walking tour of Denver.  However, if you got a later start and missed breakfast, you have another opportunity to try this eatery.  Union Station has a Snooze on the ground floor with outdoor seating.

Every big city seems to have a Union Station and Denver is no exception.  Union Station is a beautiful historic building inside and outside.  It has been renovated and re-opened in 2014.  It is Denver’s transportation hub, a hotel, as well a plaza for shops and eateries.  We walked through the station, browsed around some of the shops, and reminisced as we walked past the enticing smells from Snooze.

It is a grandiose structure looming high at the corner end of the 16th street mall.  Trains and busses all stop here, making downtown Denver, and especially the LoDo area, an easy-access destination.  The free 16th street Mall shuttle also stops here.  The Grand Hall is a large open space inside Union Station which exemplifies the historic nature while also incorporating modern elements.

Tattered Cover Bookstore

2526 East Colfax Avenue | 1628 16th Street  | 7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton

people shopping in bookstore with shelves lined with books in Denver
Tattered Cover Bookstore

Tattered Cover Bookstore is one of the largest independent bookstores in the U.S. and opened in Denver in 1971.  There are many locations around the city depending on your walking itinerary route.  We visited the branch that was right across from Union Station.  This one has moved to a McGregor Square location, but can still easily fit into the 1-day Denver itinerary after a visit to Union Square.

Take some time to visit the expansive collections that they house and find that unique piece to keep you occupied on your trip home.  Perhaps there will be a book signing when you stop in.

Options for a 1 day tour of Denver Part 2

After we finished at the bookstore we decided to head to the other side of the 16th street mall to start the second half of our self-guided 1-Day in Denver Tour.  So far, everything that we had visited was free and we planned to continue this cheap itinerary We visited Denver in the winter and it was a little chilly, so we opted for the free bus.  It took us completely down 16th street and dropped us off at Civic Center Park where we continued our 24-hour Denver walking tour.

map of denver with 1 day walking tour highlighted
One Day in Denver – Part 2 of the 24 hour Denver walking tour

Denver Civic Center

101 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80204   MAP

Park area with market booths in Denver
Civic Center Park in winter

This beautiful park area is Denver’s prime greenspace and public gathering area.  It is full of green lawns, flower beds, fountains, and statues among its 25,000 square feet of park space.  There is a Greek amphitheater that plays host to live performances while the weather is nice.  Civic Center Park is bookended by the state Capitol and City Council building and surrounded by many other government and cultural buildings.

We visited Civic Center Park in December while the Christmas Market was going on and enjoyed the festivities as well as the I Love Denver Sign placed at the entrance to the market.

Colorado State Capitol

200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203    MAP
Open: 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM weekdays

view of Colorado State Capitol seen on a tour of 1 day in Denver
Colorado State Capitol Building

The Colorado State Capitol with its golden dome normally welcomes 300,000 visitors annually, who walk through the historic Statehouse learning about the General Assembly and who admire the Colorado heritage throughout the building.

It was built in 1894 to resemble the United States Capitol in Washington DC and is constructed of white granite.  Inside, the halls are lined with painted portraits of each of the U.S. presidents while the many stained-glass windows throughout the building depict scenes from Colorado history. 

Golden lobby of Colorado State Capitol
Colorado State Capitol – Image: Rebecca Tood

IMPORTANT NOTE: Public tours of the Capitol are suspended until further notice.
Free public tours are offered hourly 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. 

Virtual tours are currently being offered.  Use the map of the Capitol to take a tour from the comfort of your computer chair.

The Mile High Step

At the Denver State Capitol Building
200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203    MAP

text on mile above sea - on Colorado State Capitol steps
The Mile High Step at the Colorado State Capitol Building

This site was fenced off for construction while we were touring, but normally, visitors can STAND on the Mile High Step which is engraved and located on the 13th step of the stairway on the west side of the Denver State Capitol Building. The Mile High Step is exactly one mile above the sea level, like most of the city of Denver, hence the Mile High City nickname.

City and County Building

large historic builidng with pillars seen during 24 hours in Denver
Denver City and County Building

We were able to see this huge building from the Capitol steps, but then we walked closer to get a better view.  The City and County Building is home to the Denver city council and is huge and unmissable.  Wintertime views are extra special because there is a holiday light and music show that is spectacular.

Grab a tour of Denver to have all the history and stories of the city included as you see the sites in Mile High City.

–Indoor sites to see in Denver–

If you only have one day in Denver, you probably will not have time for all the indoor activities, museums, and tours that the city has to offer.  Come back to Mile-High City and spend more time exploring the Denver Art Museum, the Molly Brown House, the Denver library, and the Denver Mint.  These are also good suggestions for a day in Denver with bad weather!

Other Denver Activity Ideas

Convention Center 

700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202   MAP

Big Blue Bear peeking into Colorado Convention Center
Big Blue Bear at Denver Convention Center

The Big Blue Bear at the Convention Center is worth a stop even if you aren’t attending a convention in the Mile High City.  The Bear is forty feet high and peeks into the Convention Center from the outside.  We stopped here and couldn’t resist snapping some photos of the cute guy!

Larimer Square

1430 Larimer Street  MAP

twinkling lights at night at Larimer Square in Denver on a 1 day trip in Denver
Image: Larimer Square

Larimer Square is not really a square, but a block-long street lined with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, clubs, wine bars, and comedy clubs.  The vibe is distinctly Mediterranean as eateries serve everything from French to Italian cuisine under the twinkling lights strung down the street among the outside dining areas.  This historic district is Denver’s origin and has been overhauled into one of the best social areas with the most amazing ambiance in all of Denver.

16th Street Mall                                     

MAP

people walking around 16th street mall on a denver itinerary
16th Street Mall – Image: Rebecca Todd

We spent hours walking along this street, window shopping, and enjoying the many eateries.  The 16th Street Mall can be done first, last, or all throughout your 1-day in Denver itinerary.  It is centrally located and easy to navigate due to the free electric shuttle that goes up and down the pedestrian street.

The 16th Street Mall is a mile-long outdoor shopping complex filled with over 300 retail outlets and numerous cafes and bars, many with outside dining terraces that are perfect for people watching while you are dining.  Of course, the mall is also filled with street performers who will be very eager to display their talents for you.

It was particularly beautiful during our December trip when they had holiday lights, displays, the Mile-High Christmas Tree, and many festive performances along the Mall.

I Heart Denver store

500 16th Street #264  MAP

One particularly popular store at the 16th Street Mall is the I heart Denver Store.  They specialize in —Denver Souvenirs!  We did purchase our allotment and managed to fit them into our suitcase for the trip home.

Little Man Ice Cream

2620 16th Street  MAP

giant milk jug at Little Man Ice Cream in Denver on a 1-day trip
Image: Visit Denver

This is the only activity that we didn’t walk to, but an uber in Denver is super easy too.  Little Man Ice Cream is a short drive from downtown Denver and is one of the most popular spots in the city —not just because of the yummy ice cream that they are serving.  This is a great photo location and they often have live music playing on nice evenings.

Denver Scavenger Hunt

This cool activity in downtown Denver will take you all around LODO to see the sites that I described on my Denver 1-day itinerary plan.  Play with family and friends, or wander around the city on the Scavenger Hunt on your own.

–Day Trips from Denver–

If you have more than 24 hours in Denver, there are several great day trips from the city.  We were fortunate enough to have a few extra vacation days and were able to tour Red Rock Amphitheatre and many sites in Colorado Springs.

Red Rock Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO  80465  MAP

Just a short drive from Denver, this amphitheater is an amazing sight to see with its massive red rocks framing the amphitheater.  There are also hiking trails in this park, so make sure to include it if you have more than 24 hours in Denver.

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a perfect day trip destination from Denver due to all the active hiking, adventures, and sites that this city has to offer.

Definitely make sure you put driving Pikes Peak on your Colorado Springs itinerary.  After you are done visiting America’s Mountain, make a stop at the Garden of the Gods, a National Natural Landmark.  Other sites include Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Helen Hunt Waterfalls among many others. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

View of mountains in rocky mountain national park
Image: RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Park is nearly 415 square miles of federal land encompassing mountains, alpine lakes, 300 miles of hiking trails, wildlife, wildflowers and wooded forests.  If you have more than 1 day in Denver, make sure to hit this national treasure of a park.

International Church of Cannibis

I am not sure if this is worth going out of your way for, but it was definitely a unique stop since it was on our route.  The International Church of Cannibis is a religious organization that uses cannabis to elevate its members to a higher understanding of self.  Use of cannibis is restricted to members and not allowed during the hours that the church is open to the public.

The ‘lobby’ is crammed full of nostalgia in the form of games, arcades and entertainment.  We definitely spent a good half hour just looking around at all the little gems from the collection.

The ‘world-famous’ Light Show and Meditation is actually pretty cool and relaxing.  They don’t allow any filming during the show, but we were allowed to take photos of the room afterwards.

Colorful Church of Cannibis
International Church of Cannabis

Where to stay in Denver

I definitely recommend checking out the Curtis Hotel as the best little boutique hotel in Downtown Denver.  It is hyper-themed on each floor and visually entertaining.  It is within walking distance of the 16th street mall and perfect if you plan the 24 hour Denver itinerary that I have outlined.


Other ideas for accommodations include these hotels and VRBOs.
(We do not solicit AirBNB anymore due to their inconsiderate lesion from affiliate participation)

Enjoy the Mile High City!!

Hopefully, all of these ideas will keep you busy during your 24 hours in Denver. That is not a lot of time to explore this exciting city, but if you follow this ultimate guide you will be able to see quite a bit in your 1 day in Denver and it will tempt you to come back to explore more of what Mile High City has to offer.

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Molly ORourke

There is so much to do in Denver. Wash. Park is one of my 1 day itinerary picks. I also love walking around low-do and just enjoy the energy. Great post!

Krista

Denver looks like a great city to visit for a quick trip! I really like the wall art too it looks very unique.

Deb

Hubby has been to Denver for work several times, but I have yet to get there. Looks like a great place to explore! We are trying to go to all baseball stadiums and Coors field would be a great one to check off the list too!

Megan

What a perfect list! You covered so many great places in Denver. Snooze is definitely a big deal! 🙂

Jamie

Love Denver! Can totally agree with the arts district as well as Coors Field. Need to visit the Capital!

Josy A

I love the murals and the blue bear! It’s always so nice to visit a city that is full of art. 🙂

I have to admit, I never planned to stay long in Denver (I’d want to be out in the mountains hiking of skiing.) But it is nice to see the city is so fun to visit too.

Linda Egeler

Perfect timing on this post! We are thinking of visiting Denver this summer. I didn’t realize street murals were so popular. I am putting the blue bear and Little Man ice cream on my list!

Jennifer M Record

I literally just adde 2 hours in Denver to my itinerary..stealing a lot of these recommendations!

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