8 must see parks in Denver

Published by: BouncePosted Updated

Denver, Colorado’s capital city, is the ideal holiday destination in any season, with year-round sunshine and incredible natural wonders surrounding it. It’s located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, offering plenty of outdoor experiences. Just outside the city are spectacular wildlife, gigantic peaks, gorgeous flora, and stunning rock formations waiting to be explored. But you don’t have to go far to see picturesque landscapes and natural sights, as the parks in Denver offer fantastic opportunities to escape the metropolis and discover the great outdoors.

The City and County of Denver boast over 200 hundred parks, covering more than 5,000 acres of green space, urban parks, and parkways, and an additional 14,000 acres of majestic mountain parks in Douglas, Grand, Clear Creek, and Jefferson County. Denver parks are open throughout the year for recreation and entertainment, offering trails for walking, hiking, and running, and other activities like motorized boating.

Whether you only have a few days or more time to spare during your trip, a visit to a park in Denver should be added to your itinerary. They’re also perfect for locals to get a different perspective of the Mile High City and break out of their daily routines.

If you're out and about and want to see a Denver park, book a spot with Bounce luggage storage facilities in Denver. Stow your non-essentials or heavy bags. Then, relax in a beautiful park near town or close to Sloan's Lake or Mount Evans. Denver has panoramic views everywhere you go!

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City Park

If you don’t have time to see many places in Denver, you should at least go to City Park. It’s the largest urban park in Denver, occupying about 330 acres between East 17th and East 23rd Avenues from York St. to Colorado Blvd. It was established in 1882 and is known for its large fields, lakes, and scenic views of downtown Denver.

There’s no question that City Park is one of the city’s finest spots for sightseeing, playing sports, and exercising, with two tennis courts, soccer, football, and baseball fields, horseshoes, playgrounds, and picnic sites. It also features historical monuments, including the 8.5-meter statue of Martin Luther King Jr., dedicated in 2002.

Additionally, City Park is home to two of the city’s major attractions: the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Zoo. Animal lovers will enjoy an up-close look at the giraffes and get the chance to feed them and see behind the scenes at the animal hospital in the Denver Zoo, while curious visitors and history buffs can explore the exhibitions and displays at the museum to understand and appreciate the natural world better.

The fun doesn’t end when the sun sets in City Park. Those looking for a romantic experience can rent a pedal boat for a one-in-a-lifetime swan boat experience. The iconic swan boats on the lake are illuminated with LED lights for after-dark sparkles, perfect for families, friends, and couples. There are also numerous benches to rest while enjoying the views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains. If you're here in summer, don't miss the chance to participate in events like art festivals, tours, live music, and free concerts at City Park Jazz.

Confluence Park

Aptly named for its location at the confluence of Cherry Creek and South Platte River, Confluence Park is a favorite gathering place for visitors and outdoorsy Denverites. It’s particularly busy on weekends, as locals and tourists congregate to unwind and play in the water to escape the heat in summer. It was one of the country’s first riverfront restoration projects when it was constructed in the 1970s and sits at the birthplace of Denver, combining history with outdoor recreation.

One of the park’s highlights is the whitewater course for tubers and kayakers. If you don’t have your own equipment, Confluence Kayaks is a one-stop shop for all your needed outdoor gear in downtown Denver. If you’re not into kayaking, you’ll still be entertained watching kayakers brave the rapids against the city skyline backdrop, basking in the sun on the sandy banks, and picnicking on a balmy summer afternoon. There’s also a shallow water area for kids to build sandcastles or splash around.

For land-based recreation, why not tackle the cycling, running, and walking trails along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek? The Cherry Creek Regional Trail has separate biking and walking trails, and if you go along the Platte Trail southwest, you’ll reach the Chatfield Reservoir.

In addition, Confluence Park is the setting for summer concerts and a great starting point for a leisurely walk along the river. The park’s Shoemaker Plaza is also a must-visit for residents and visitors looking for history and nature experiences.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens is a 24-acre urban oasis located at York Street, offering a wide range of distinctive gardens, a library, parking, and shopping and dining opportunities. The extensive collections include diverse plants from around the world and 18 gardens that display plants that thrive in the state’s climate, providing season-long textures and colors.

The Mordecai Children’s Garden is an unmissable stop for families with children to explore the natural world and plant life in the park. It has different raw natural materials for kids to use their sense of wonder and imagination to create their connection with nature. This three-acre garden represents Colorado’s diverse ecosystems, featuring foothills, grasslands, woodlands, and more. It is suited for children from twelve months to eight years, though everyone of all ages is welcome here.

Dedicate an entire day to visit Denver Botanic Gardens, as there are many places to see and things to do here. There are Water and Shady Gardens, Ornamental Gardens, and Internationally Inspired Gardens, with designs and plant selection influenced by the garden style from various regions and countries like China and Japan. Tours are also available with a knowledgeable guide to gain new insight into native and exotic plants, art, gardens, and more.

Lookout Mountain Park

Around twelve miles west of downtown Denver is another beautiful place for a day trip or a spontaneous weekend excursion. Lookout Mountain Park is a favorite vantage point on the peak of Lookout Mountain, overlooking the historic Golden Town. It is home to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, one of the most famous cultural and historical attractions in the Golden and Denver metro areas, attracting over half a million visitors touring the museum and the gravesite.

Lookout Mountain Park is part of the 14-thousand-acre Denver Mountain Parks system. Besides the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, the park has a picnic area with native grasses and shrubs. This rustic-style picnic shelter consists of timbers and local stone, while the shelter’s northeast area features large rocky outcroppings. The grave lies to the east and is connected with the park by a hiking trail.

Wear comfy clothes and shoes, as most of the park is steep. If you have belongings you can’t leave in the car, head to the nearest Denver luggage storage and pick them up at your convenience.

Central Park

At eighty acres, Central Park is the third-largest park in Denver, attracting many thrill-seekers for RC boating, sledding, sports, biking, etc. The majority of the park is a vast open space with a small pond, rolling hills, and picnic areas. Visitors can also come to relax in the covered pavilion, play in the big Dr. Seuss-inspired playground, or simply marvel at the view of the Rocky Mountains.

Central Park has something for everyone, no matter the season. An extensive trail system is a haven for joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers, and dog walkers. In winter, sledding is a favorite activity among residents. If it’s too cold to be outside, there are indoor facilities and covered areas to stay warm in winter.

A few elements have been added to the newly refurbished playground at Central Park Denver. If you enjoyed the old purple hills, you’d also love the new turf-covered hills. There’s also a sandy play area and sections with rubber surfaces and wood chips, providing a safe place for your little ones to play. The fountain area/splash pad between the pavilion and the playground is also the children’s favorite, which opens every summer. Also found are soccer fields, an amphitheater, bocce ball courts, a barbecue area, benches, a small lake for RC boating, and more.

Civic Center Park

Considered the heart of Denver, Civic Center Park is the city’s most urban green space, surrounded by art, history, and city life. Its structures are over a century old, making it a historic architectural and natural gem worth exploring. On all sides are must-visit spots, including the City and County Building, the State Capitol, and the Denver Art Museum.

It may not be the best park in Denver if you’re looking for lush greenery, but it has beautiful landscaping and grassy patches for relaxation in the heart of the city. Due to its central location in downtown Denver, it’s always bustling with life any day of the week. You’ll often encounter locals and tourists congregating and taking advantage of its vibrant atmosphere. It’s also a stone’s throw from several attractions in Mile High City, such as the Denver Public Library and the 16th Street Mall.

Many events also take place in Civic Center Park. These include the Capitol Hill People’s Fair, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, A Taste of Colorado, Cinco de Mayo, and Civic Center EATS, where you’ll find tons of food trucks in the summer months. It has no trail system, but visitors can circle the park on foot to check out some of the city’s premier attractions. The park features several park benches and picnic tables to chill out and rest.

Washington Park

Pack your picnic basket and head to Washington Park, a 155-acre flat grassy area ideal for playing nearly anything, from volleyball and tennis to basketball and running. Bring a picnic blanket and pick a spot for a picnic or fish at one of the two tranquil lakes.

Washington Park is undoubtedly one of the best parks in Denver for recreation and relaxation.  There are flower gardens to stroll through and lots of things to do. The tree-lined walkways call for avid walkers or just anyone who values quiet and safe walks, while active young families can meet up with others and challenge them on a volleyball game. Children have unlimited space for running, and if you want to go boating, you can rent paddle boats on Smith Lake, circle around, and see Washington Park from different angles.

You'll find tennis courts, two children’s playgrounds, a lawn bowling/croquet field, and a 2.6-mile biking/jogging path, so everyone can easily get busy and entertained the entire day. If you want to cycle but don’t have a bike, you can rent one and explore the park.

Cheesman Park

Whether you’re looking for a spot to get fresh air or let your furry friend wander without a leash, Cheesman Park is the place to go. It’s located in its namesake neighborhood, one of the most desirable areas in the state’s capital. It’s the starting point of the annual PrideFest parade, where you’ll witness a sea of rainbow flags filling the park.

The park’s shady paths are often crowded with dog walkers, cyclists, and joggers on warm evenings and weekends, while yoga mats, volleyball nets, and picnic baskets are dotted throughout the vast lawns. It’s a favored spot among locals and tourists, offering a peaceful retreat in Denver. But what many visitors may not realize is that beneath the flower gardens, bike paths, and lush green space were graves of some of the many who were buried at the site in the 19th century.

Cheesman Park was the first cemetery laid out in 1858 by town founder William Larimer. The city grew by 1890, and it was agreed to move the graveyard from downtown Denver and make it a park. Unfortunately, not all bodies were moved, which is why there were still some human bones found when working in the park in the 1960s. So it’s no surprise that Cheesman Park, as a former cemetery, is considered one of the city’s most haunted places.

The best Mile High City parks

Whether you've arrived via Union Station or Denver Airport, you'll want to get started in Denver's natural spaces as soon as you arrive. Don’t waste your valuable time indoors when there are many remarkable parks in Denver to visit and begin your nature adventure. Even if you’re not outdoorsy, you’ll surely have a pleasant time surrounded by flowers, exotic and native plants, trails, and cultural and historical attractions.

No matter where you are in the city, you’ll always find yourself a few steps away from peaceful green spaces for a quick city break. And if you’re looking for more things to do outdoors, read our guides on 7 beaches near Denver and the 15 best hikes in Denver to see what other activities you can do and places to visit around the Mile High City.

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