5-Day Family Christmas Holiday Itinerary in Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

5 days

Cherry Creek Shopping and Dining District
City of Denver government building
Christmas decorations in downtown Denver
Union Station
Civic Center Park during Christmas

About Denver, Colorado

Discover Denver, Colorado, the "Mile High City" nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Known for its vibrant arts scene, Denver offers a blend of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure. Explore the Denver Art Museum, catch a game at Coors Field, or stroll through the Botanic Gardens. Indulge in world-class dining and shopping in Larimer Square. For nature lovers, the city is a gateway to some of the world's best skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Don't miss the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a natural rock formation turned concert venue. Denver's craft beer culture is a must-experience, with numerous local breweries offering tours and tastings. With 300 days of sunshine, Denver is an exciting year-round destination.

5-Day Itinerary

Day 1

Exploring the Botanic Gardens and Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Morning

Start your day at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a 24-acre park filled with themed gardens, a tropical rainforest, and a sunken amphitheater. During the Christmas season, the gardens are beautifully decorated with holiday lights.

Lunch

Enjoy a family-friendly lunch at a local restaurant that offers a variety of cuisines to cater to all tastes.

Afternoon

Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which features a variety of exhibits including dinosaur fossils, Egyptian mummies, and a planetarium.

Dinner

Have dinner at a restaurant that offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu that caters to both adults and children.

Evening

End your day with a visit to the Denver Zoo, which is beautifully lit up with Christmas lights during the holiday season.

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the Denver Art Museum, home to a vast collection of American Indian Art and over 70,000 diverse works from across the centuries and world.

Lunch

Have lunch at a family-friendly restaurant in the city center.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring the Colorado State Capitol, where you can take a tour of the historic building and enjoy panoramic views of Denver and the Rocky Mountains from the dome.

Dinner

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant that offers a variety of dishes that cater to all tastes.

Evening

Experience the Denver Christkindl Market, a traditional German Christmas market filled with handmade crafts, authentic German food, and holiday performances.

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the Denver Mint, one of the oldest and largest coin producing mints in the world.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local restaurant that offers a variety of cuisines to cater to all tastes.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon at the Children's Museum of Denver, which offers interactive exhibits for children of all ages.

Dinner

Enjoy dinner at a family-friendly restaurant in the city center.

Evening

End your day with a visit to the Blossoms of Light event at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where you can enjoy a dazzling display of Christmas lights.

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, which features a collection of over 20,000 objects.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local restaurant that offers a variety of dishes that cater to all tastes.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring the Denver Firefighters Museum, where you can learn about the history of firefighting in Denver through a variety of exhibits.

Dinner

Enjoy dinner at a family-friendly restaurant in the city center.

Evening

Experience the Parade of Lights, a major event during Denver's Christmas season, featuring marching bands, ornate float displays, and a special appearance by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa!

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, home to over 50 aircraft and space vehicles.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local restaurant that offers a variety of cuisines to cater to all tastes.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon at the Downtown Aquarium, which features over 500 species of animals, an interactive Stingray Reef touch tank, and a Mystic Mermaids show.

Dinner

Enjoy dinner at a family-friendly restaurant in the city center.

Evening

End your trip with a visit to the Denver Pavilions' Holiday Carousel. Enjoy the festive lights, music, and the joy of a classic carousel ride.

Attractions in Itinerary (15)

Denver Botanic Gardens

1
Denver Botanic Gardens

A 23-acre park filled with themed gardens, a tropical rainforest, and a sunken amphitheater that hosts summer concert series.

Parks
Gardens
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

2
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

A museum that offers a wide range of exhibits, from dinosaurs to space exploration.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Denver Zoo

3
Denver Zoo

One of the most popular zoos in the United States, Denver Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, including rare amur leopards, okapi, black rhinoceros, elephants, vampire bats, orangutan, and Komodo dragons.

Attractions
Entertainment
Denver Art Museum

4
Denver Art Museum

One of the largest art museums in the West, featuring a vast collection of American Indian Art.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Colorado State Capitol

5
Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado State Capitol is a historic building in Denver, Colorado. It houses the Colorado General Assembly and the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

Monuments
Architecture
Denver Christkindl Market

6
Denver Christkindl Market

The Denver Christkindl Market is a traditional German Christmas market located in downtown Denver. It features vendors selling a variety of crafts, food, and drinks, offering a unique holiday shopping and dining experience.

Cultural Experiences
Food and Drink
Shopping
Denver Mint

7
Denver Mint

The Denver Mint is a branch of the United States Mint that produces coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce.

Monuments
Museums
Children's Museum of Denver

8
Children's Museum of Denver

The Children's Museum of Denver is a community staple that offers a wide range of interactive exhibits designed to inspire learning through play. The museum is perfect for children of all ages, with exhibits that cater to different age groups and interests.

Attractions
Museums
Cultural Experiences
Blossoms of Light

9
Blossoms of Light

Blossoms of Light is a popular holiday event in Denver, featuring thousands of twinkling lights in elegant designs. It's a magical experience that transforms the Denver Botanic Gardens into a winter wonderland.

Attractions
Cultural Experiences
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys

10
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys

The Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys is a unique museum in Denver, Colorado. It features a vast collection of dolls, toys, and miniatures from various periods and cultures.

Museums
Denver Firefighters Museum

11
Denver Firefighters Museum

The Denver Firefighters Museum is a fascinating destination that offers a glimpse into the history of firefighting in Denver. It features a variety of exhibits and artifacts, including vintage fire trucks and equipment, historical photos, and interactive displays.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Parade of Lights

12
Parade of Lights

The Parade of Lights is a beloved Denver tradition that marks the start of the holiday season. It features beautifully illuminated floats, marching bands, and performers, creating a magical spectacle for all ages.

Cultural Experiences
Entertainment
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

13
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is a museum in Denver, Colorado, dedicated to the history and science of aviation and space travel.

Museums
Downtown Aquarium

14
Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is a family-friendly attraction featuring a wide variety of marine and freshwater species, interactive exhibits, and a restaurant.

Attractions
Denver Pavilions' Holiday Carousel

The Denver Pavilions' Holiday Carousel is a popular attraction during the holiday season. It offers a variety of holiday-themed rides and entertainment for all ages.

Attractions
Entertainment
Cultural Experiences

Local Food and Drinks (12)

Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain Oysters

A unique delicacy in Denver, these are actually deep-fried bull testicles, often served with a side of cocktail sauce.

Colorado Green Chili

Colorado Green Chili

A spicy stew made with pork, tomatoes, and green chilies. It's a staple in Denver and can be found in many local restaurants.

Denver Omelette

Denver Omelette

A hearty breakfast dish made with ham, onions, bell peppers, and cheese. It's named after the city itself.

Bison Steak

Bison Steak

Bison is a lean and flavorful meat that's popular in Denver. It's often grilled and served as a steak.

Palisade Peaches

Palisade Peaches

These juicy, sweet peaches are grown in Palisade, a town on the Western Slope of Colorado. They're often used in desserts or eaten fresh.

Colorado Lamb

Colorado Lamb

Colorado is known for its high-quality lamb, which is often roasted or grilled and served with a variety of sides.

Elk Sausage

Elk is a common game meat in Colorado, and it's often made into a flavorful sausage.

Trout

Trout

Trout is a popular fish in Colorado, often caught fresh from local rivers and lakes. It's typically grilled or pan-fried.

Colorado Craft Beer

Colorado Craft Beer

Denver is known for its thriving craft beer scene, with many local breweries offering a wide range of styles.

Colorado Whiskey

Colorado Whiskey

Colorado's high altitude and pure mountain water make it an ideal place for whiskey distillation. There are several local distilleries producing high-quality whiskey.

Chile Relleno

Chile Relleno

A popular dish in Denver's Mexican restaurants, it's a large chili pepper stuffed with cheese or meat, battered and fried, and served with tomato sauce.

Colorado Wine

Colorado Wine

Colorado's high altitude vineyards produce a variety of wines, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Denver, Colorado is during the summer months from June to August when the weather is warm and city parks are in full bloom. This is also the peak season for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and camping. However, if you're interested in winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, the best time to visit would be from December to March. Denver also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, so it might be worth checking those out when planning your trip.

National holidays

Here you can find the national calendar of all public holidays for the year. These dates are subject to change as official changes are announced, so check back regularly for updates.

DateDayHoliday Name

January 1

Mon

New Year's Day

January 15

Mon

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 19

Mon

Presidents' Day

May 27

Mon

Memorial Day

June 19

Wed

Juneteenth

July 4

Thu

Independence Day

September 2

Mon

Labor Day

October 14

Mon

Columbus Day

November 11

Mon

Veterans Day

November 28

Thu

Thanksgiving Day

December 25

Wed

Christmas Day

Please note that during national and public holidays, opening hours for establishments, museums, etc. may vary. Don't forget to check in advance!

How to get around

Denver's RTD Light Rail is a convenient way to travel around the city. It connects downtown Denver with its outlying areas and suburbs. The Light Rail operates on several lines, each designated by a different color. It's a great option for avoiding traffic and parking hassles.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) also operates an extensive bus network that covers Denver and its surrounding areas. Buses run regularly and cover many routes that the Light Rail doesn't. It's a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to get around the city.

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are widely available in Denver. These services are convenient for direct trips and can be cheaper than taxis, especially if you're traveling with a group. They can be hailed from anywhere using a smartphone app.

Denver's citywide bike-sharing program, B-cycle, is a great way to get around if you prefer a more active mode of transportation. There are numerous B-cycle stations around the city where you can pick up or drop off a bike.

Renting a car can be a good option if you're planning to visit places outside of Denver or if you prefer to have your own vehicle. Most major car rental companies have locations at Denver International Airport and around the city.

Taxis are readily available in Denver, especially in the downtown area. They can be hailed on the street, at taxi stands, or booked in advance. It's a convenient option, but can be more expensive than other methods.

Denver is a very walkable city, especially in areas like downtown, Cherry Creek, and the Highlands. There are plenty of sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas. Walking can be a pleasant way to explore the city and take in the sights.

Electric scooters are a fun and quick way to get around Denver. Companies like Lime and Bird have scooters available for rent throughout the city. You can rent one using a smartphone app.

Car sharing services like Car2Go and Zipcar are available in Denver. These services allow you to rent a car for a few hours or a whole day, providing flexibility for your travel plans.

While we strive for accuracy in our "How to get around" section, the information may not always be up-to-date or 100% accurate; we highly recommend cross-checking with local resources before your travel.

Important information

Currency$ USD

Time zoneUTC-5

Driving sideRight

Emergency phone911

Drinking waterYes

Power sockets

Power socket type APower socket type B

Voltage120 V

Things to know about Denver, Colorado as a first time visitor

1

Denver is known as the 'Mile High City' because it is exactly one mile (5,280 feet or 1.6 kilometers) above sea level.

2

The city has a semi-arid, four-season climate with mild winters and warm summers. The average high temperature in summer is around 88°F (31°C), while in winter it's around 45°F (7°C).

3

Denver is very sunny, boasting over 300 days of sunshine a year, more than San Diego or Miami Beach.

4

The city is very dry, so it's important to stay hydrated, especially because the altitude can exacerbate the effects of dehydration.

5

Due to the high altitude, alcohol can have a stronger effect. It's recommended to drink in moderation until you know how your body reacts.

6

Denver is a very walkable city, with a compact downtown area. However, if you prefer, the city also has a comprehensive public transportation system, including buses and light rail.

7

Denver is a very bike-friendly city, with numerous bike rental stations and dedicated bike lanes.

8

The city is a foodie paradise, with a diverse food scene that includes everything from food trucks to high-end restaurants.

9

Denver has a thriving craft beer scene, with more than 100 breweries in the metro area.

10

The city is also known for its love of the arts, with a vibrant arts scene that includes numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues.

11

Denver is a sports-loving city, home to four major sports teams: the Denver Broncos (NFL), Colorado Rockies (MLB), Denver Nuggets (NBA), and Colorado Avalanche (NHL).

12

The city is very environmentally conscious, with numerous parks, bike lanes, and recycling programs.

13

Denver is located near the Rocky Mountains, making it a great base for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.

14

The city has a high cost of living compared to the national average, so budget accordingly.

15

Denver's population is very diverse, with a large Hispanic community and a growing number of Asian and African American residents.

16

The city is very casual, so there's no need to pack formal wear unless you plan on attending a special event.

17

Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone and does observe Daylight Saving Time.

18

The city has a low crime rate compared to other major U.S. cities, but like any city, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings secure.

19

Denver has a high altitude and it's common for visitors to experience some symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches and shortness of breath. It's recommended to take it easy for the first few days to acclimate.

20

The city has a strong commitment to accessibility, with many wheelchair-accessible attractions and accommodations.

Packing List

  • Clothing

  • Underwear (5 pairs)

  • Socks (5 pairs)

  • T-shirts (5)

  • Long-sleeve shirts (2)

  • Jeans or trousers (2 pairs)

  • Shorts or skirts (2)

  • Sweater or hoodie (1)

  • Lightweight jacket (1)

  • Waterproof jacket (1)

  • Swimsuit (1)

  • Sleepwear (1 set)

  • Comfortable walking shoes (1 pair)

  • Sandals or flip-flops (1 pair)

  • Hat or cap (1)

  • Sunglasses (1 pair)

  • Gloves (1 pair)

  • Toiletries

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Dental floss

  • Deodorant

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Body wash or soap

  • Razor

  • Shaving cream

  • Sunscreen

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Moisturizer

  • Prescription medications

  • First aid kit

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Travel-size laundry detergent

  • Travel documents and essentials

  • Passport or ID

  • Flight tickets

  • Hotel booking confirmation

  • Travel insurance documents

  • Credit and debit cards

  • Cash

  • Guidebook or map

  • Emergency contacts and addresses

  • Electronics and gadgets

  • Smartphone

  • Charger for smartphone

  • Headphones

  • Camera

  • Charger for camera

  • Power bank

  • Travel adapter

  • Laptop or tablet (optional)

  • Charger for laptop or tablet (optional)

  • Miscellaneous items

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Snacks

  • Books or e-books

  • Travel pillow

  • Earplugs

  • Eye mask

  • Travel-size umbrella

  • Daypack for daily excursions

  • Ziplock bags for toiletries

  • Tissues or wet wipes

Weather Conditions

Denver, Colorado, also known as the "Mile High City," is known for its unpredictable weather patterns. It's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day, so it's essential to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. In general, Denver experiences a semi-arid, four-season climate with mild winters and warm summers. The city receives a lot of sunshine, averaging over 300 sunny days per year. However, it's also known for its sudden weather changes, so always check the forecast before heading out. During the winter months (December to February), temperatures can range from 45°F (7°C) during the day to 18°F (-8°C) at night. Snowfall is common, but it usually melts quickly due to the frequent sunny days. If you're planning to visit during this time, pack warm clothing, including a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat. Snow boots are also a good idea, especially if you plan to venture into the mountains. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are transitional seasons in Denver, with temperatures ranging from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (24°C). These seasons can bring anything from snow to warm, sunny days, so it's best to pack layers. Summers (June to August) in Denver are warm but not overly hot, with average high temperatures around 85°F (29°C) and lows around 60°F (16°C). Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons, so pack a rain jacket or umbrella. Regardless of the season, Denver's high altitude can lead to intense sun and rapid dehydration. Always carry a water bottle, apply sunscreen regularly, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Lastly, if you're planning to visit the mountains, be aware that weather conditions can be drastically different from those in the city. Temperatures can be much colder, and snow can fall at any time of the year. Always check the local forecast and be prepared with appropriate clothing and gear.

MonthHi / Lo (°C)Weather Overview

January

7° / -9°

January is Denver's coldest month, with frequent snowfall and chilly temperatures. Dress warmly and enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

February

11° / -8°

February sees a slight increase in temperature, but snowfall is still common. It's a great time for winter activities and exploring indoor attractions.

March

13° / -5°

March brings warmer temperatures and less snowfall. It's a transitional month, with winter sports still available and spring activities beginning.

April

17° / -1°

April is a pleasant month with moderate temperatures. It's a great time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing.

May

24° / 4°

May marks the beginning of summer with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. It's perfect for outdoor adventures and exploring the city.

June

29° / 9°

June is a hot month with long, sunny days. It's an excellent time for water activities, picnics, and enjoying Denver's parks.

July

32° / 12°

July is the hottest month in Denver, with high temperatures and lots of sunshine. It's a great time for water sports, festivals, and outdoor concerts.

August

31° / 11°

August is still hot but slightly cooler than July. It's a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, visit the Rocky Mountains, and explore Denver's nightlife.

September

27° / 7°

September brings cooler temperatures and the start of fall. It's a beautiful time to visit for leaf-peeping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

October

21° / 1°

October is a crisp, cool month with beautiful fall colors. It's a great time for hiking, sightseeing, and enjoying Denver's breweries.

November

13° / -3°

November marks the start of winter with cooler temperatures and the first snowfalls. It's a good time for indoor activities and early winter sports.

December

7° / -7°

December is a cold, snowy month, perfect for enjoying winter sports and holiday festivities. Dress warmly and enjoy the winter wonderland.

Did you know?

Did you know that Denver is known as the 'Mile High City' because it is exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level?

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