Modern urban life meets the Old West in the Mile High City. Founded as a mining town in the 1850s, Colorado's capital has never quite lost its rugged frontier spirit. Denver’s proximity of the Rocky Mountains probably has a lot to do with it. The great outdoors are bound to stay near the forefront of your mind with such a spectacular reminder crowding the horizon.

If you can tear your eyes away from the scenery, though, there are tons of things to see and do in Denver. In the trendy Lower Downtown Historic District—LoDo to natives—you can take a stroll through the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, where the 27,000 square foot environmentally sustainable building is as much a work of art as the traveling exhibits it hosts. Or, mingle with the fashion-forward crowd filling the restaurants, boutiques, and nightclubs of Larimer Square, which also happens to be the city’s oldest and most historic block. In downtown proper, the pedestrian-friendly 16th Street Mall cuts a swath through the heart of the city, past sidewalk cafés, skyscrapers, and plazas filled with street performers. If live performance is your thing, head to the Paramount Theater, where prize fighting events share the stage with laser shows, famous bands, and kid-friendly shows.

For an outdoor adventure inside the city limits, make your way to City Park, which houses the Denver Zoo as well as the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The museum’s long-standing wildlife hall features more than 90 dioramas and taxidermal animals from around the world, including Arctic walruses and cheetahs. Near the intersection of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, is Confluence park, which features custom designed water chutes for kayakers, and hosts free weekly nighttime concerts. The park is also within close proximity to nearby attractions such as the Downtown Aquarium, where families can gaze at underwater wonders––including mermaids––, or Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, where 63-acres of roller coasters and water slides offers thrills right in the middle of downtown.

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