Denver is known for its craft beer scene, access to nature, and high altitude. It’s regarded as the “Mile High City” because it sits over 5,000 feet above sea level. There is no shortage of excitement that locals can find while living in Denver, but if you find yourself wanting to venture off the beaten path, we’ve got the list for you. We reached out to locals to share their favorite hidden gems in Denver. So whether you live in an apartment in Capitol Hill or just bought a house in Highland, you won’t want to miss these local favorites.
Hidden gem locations in Denver
Nature and Science Museum
“My favorite spot to enjoy the Denver skyline set against the Rocky Mountains is the Nature and Science Museum,” notes Little Miss Bike Tour, a blog dedicated to solo travel on a bike. “Make your way up to the 3rd-floor rooftop terrace at sunset for a postcard-worthy view of City Park.”
But before making your way up to the terrace, be sure to check out one of the many exhibits at the Nature and Science Museum including Egyptian Mummies and Space Odyssey.
Death and Glory
Death and Glory is a skate shop that specializes in inline skates, rollerskates, and skateboards since 2018.
Jackie Zoeller of Denver Headshot Co. notes, “One such place we have learned to love is the skate shop on South Broadway, called Death and Glory. That place is so well put together and so knowledgeable about healthy ways to spend time and money. Even though we don’t buy skates every time we go in, there’s always the experience of seeing what’s new whether it be stickers, merchandise, posters, tattoos, or floor plans.”
Elitch Garden is a theme and waterpark which has been open for over 100 years.
“A favorite place of mine would be Elitch Gardens which has a rich history,” shares local photographer Kelly Hein of Venn Diagram Photography. “Elitch Gardens was run by Mary Elitch and her husband. She was a thriving female business owner of the time once her husband passed shortly after the opening of the, then, Zoological Park. She attracted people to the City of Denver while everyone else was getting rich with Gold up in the mountains.”
Hidden gem outdoor activities in Denver
Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Hills, and Cherry Creek Reservoir
Denver has always been a tremendous location for cyclists. With sunny weather 300 days a year, cycling is almost a year-round outdoor activity.
Gravel Bike Adventures, a female-led website that creates gravel bike routes shares, “With the population growth in Denver over the last ten years, we have seen a huge interest in gravel biking. Gravel biking is ideal for keeping you away from car traffic, it doesn’t require a lot of technical skills like mountain biking, and you still get to see the beautiful landscape that Colorado provides.”
They recommend checking out Chatfield Reservoir and Waterton Canyon, Cherry Hills and Highline Canal, and Cherry Creek Reservoir as great options for gravel biking.
Beaver Meadows (Trail #44)
“Near Evergreen, CO, Beaver Meadows is a hidden gem that’s close to the Denver metro area. This less-traveled trail has old-growth pine, wildflower meadows, beaver ponds, beautiful views of Mt. Evans, and historic shelters. The catch is the trail is only open in the summer, requires driving 5 miles down a washboard rough dirt road, and you’ll need a fishing license to hike there – even if you’re not fishing.” reveals Karen Hoglund, a local photographer.
Hidden gem food and drink spots in Denver
Mile High Spirits
Mile High Spirits is a distillery and lounge that offers house cocktails, live music, and food trucks. They also offer tours, cocktail classes, and private events.
“What makes it unique here is they take you through the whole process, raves Denver Local Tours, a tour company offering walking tours throughout Denver’s neighborhoods. “You see everything from the Rack House where over 53,000 gallons of Whiskies are being aged, and you get up close and personal with the distilling equipment. To finish it off, you actually get to taste the distillate (Moonshine) right out of the still at full proof.”
“Hello Darling is a brand new coffee and cocktail lab in Riverfront Park and the perfect place to enjoy craft coffee and locally baked pastries by day and cocktails with cheese and charcuterie at night,” shares Local Table Tours, a local food tour.
Some must-tries include their locally sourced coffee and classic cocktails such as espresso martinis and Manhattans.
El Noa Noa
El Noa Noa is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that offers everything from guacamole and chips to steak fajitas.
“My hidden gem is El Noa Noa restaurant. This unassuming Mexican restaurant has been a staple on Santa Fe Drive for 42 years and has the best patio. I always order the same thing: Tacos Mi Tierra and their Coin Margarita,” shares Jeremy Rill, a local photographer.
The ART Hotel – FIRE Terrace
FIRE Terrace is a rooftop bar located in the ART Hotel. It overlooks Broadway street and provides a beautiful view of Denver.
“The 4th-floor terrace at the ART Hotel (FIRE Terrace) is a favorite spot to gather with friends in the Golden Triangle for drinks and appetizers. It’s open year-round and is especially nice on a summer evening. It’s a pleasant and inviting space for casual get-togethers with nice views of the city,” raves Golden Triangle of Denver, a creative district of Denver.
Sam’s No. 3
“Denver is packed with so many hidden gems, and our family’s favorite is Sam’s No. 3. There is nothing fancy about Sam’s No. 3, but if you love diners you’ll want to give them a try, the pancakes and chili cheese fries are must-haves,” says The Denver Housewife, a blog dedicated to life in Denver.
Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery
Bigsby’s Folly is a Craft Winery that offers house wines and a full-service bar. They also have a menu that includes small bites like truffle popcorn and tomato bisque.
“For a unique spot that’s perfect for catching up, sipping cocktails, and noshing, I definitely recommend Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery and Restaurant,” shares local photographer Erin Winter. “They have small plates perfect for sharing, in addition to various wines and full-bar offerings. Make sure to enjoy some Green Chili Goat Cheese dip and a Devil’s Margarita while kicking back in their art-deco-inspired furniture.”