City Guide / Denver

What to Do in Denver in the Summer

By Felicia Brower | Jul 7, 2022
Sunset over Denver from City Park, one of the best things to do in Denver during the summer.

Denver, Colorado, is a bustling city year-round, but it especially comes to life during the warmer months. With a wide variety of paid and free things to do, this city makes it easy for you to stay occupied once the summer season rolls around.

Summer temperatures in Denver usually range somewhere between 80 and 90 degrees on most days and 60 and 70 degrees most nights, and this city’s arid climate means you won’t have to worry about humidity and the hassles that come with it.

From music and beer festivals to incredible drinks and dining with a view to outstanding cultural events and museums, Denver is the place to be in the summer. If you’re looking for fun things to do during your stay in Denver this summer, we’ve compiled a list of things you won’t want to miss:

Summer events and festivals in Denver

Independence Eve 4th of July Celebration Fireworks in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, Colorado

You can find exciting festivals and events to go to year-round in the Mile High City, but there’s just something special about the summer in Denver. If you’re into music, you don’t want to miss the aptly named Underground Music Festival, Denver’s largest and longest-running weekend-long music festival that showcases both new and lesser-known musical artists.

If you’re a beer lover, definitely check out Summer Brew Fest at Mile High Station, where you can taste craft beers from local breweries, grab a bite from one of many food trucks, or check out the other vendors frequenting this Colorado festival.

The Cheesman Park Art Festival, held in the historic Capitol Hill park, is dedicated to handmade juried works of art. No commercial booths are allowed at this festival, so you can feel good about supporting local artists. Cheesman Park is one of the area’s most storied destinations—it’s a former cemetery and is often featured in area ghost tours!

As far as summer events and festivals go, you can stay up-to-date with what’s going on around town on Visit Denver‘s event calendar. Other notable summer events in Denver include:

  • The Cherry Creek Arts Festival: This free, award-winning festival features 250 nationally and internationally renowned and emerging artists.
  • Independence Eve at Civic Center Park: This evening event starts with a performance from the Colorado Symphony and ends with a literal bang during an impressive fireworks display.
  • The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival: A weekend-long festival at Sloan’s Lake Park that honors the traditional Chinese sport of dragon boat racing. Celebrate the culture and contributions of Colorado’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and watch the competition at this popular festival.

Summer food and drinks in Denver

Exterior of Denver

This Colorado city boasts a long list of first-rate distilleries and breweries that make for the perfect afternoon or evening activity this time of year. For starters, Stranahan’s and Laws Whiskey House are well-known for their award-winning whiskeys, and Mythology has quite the roster of premium handcrafted spirits.

Great Divide Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Co, and Denver Beer Co. are all must-visit spots for hop heads everywhere in the summer. If you want to try craft brews from all over the state, stop by Tap Fourteen near Coors Field in the Ballpark District for its 70 Colorado craft beers and its rooftop beer garden.

When you’re ready to dine, you can pick a food hall with a lot of options, like Denver Central Market in RiNo or Denver Milk Market in the Dairy Block District. The Mile High City is a popular place for restaurateurs and chefs to test out new dining concepts, so it’s also a great place to check out some pop-ups. If farm-to-table is more your style, Potager in Capitol Hill and Humboldt Kitchen in City Park offer the freshest local food in awesome atmospheres.

Follow dinner with a nightcap with a view. 54thirty on the 20th-floor roof of Le Méridien hotel gives patrons a rooftop view of the mountains, Peaks Lounge on the 27th floor of the Hyatt Regency hotel offers spectacular views from one of the tallest bars in the city, and El Five in LoHi lets diners gaze at an incredible view of the skyline.

Union Station in downtown Denver has some distinguished interior views to go with the fine dining found at the establishments in the 100-year-old train depot. Insider tip: Check out The Cooper Lounge, a semi-hidden bar on the mezzanine overlooking the Great Hall.

Want to bring your furry friend with you for dinner and drinks? You aren’t alone, and thankfully there are several pet-friendly patios around town. Recess Beer Garden, The Watering Bowl, and The Brutal Poodle all offer spots for well-behaved pups to hang out while you enjoy your night out during the summer season.

Summer outdoor hot spots in Denver

A Multi-Use Trail in Denver, Colorado

You’ll have sunshine and blue skies for most days of the summer, so you’ll probably want to spend a good chunk of it outside. The city’s parks are a fun place to picnic, people-watch, or just soak up the summer sun. Take a walk around the lake nestled in the 330 acres of City Park, head south to Capitol Hill’s Cheesman Park, or spend some time at Washington Park, which boasts two lakes, places to play a pickup game of volleyball or tennis, and flower gardens (one of which is a replica of George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon!).

If you’d prefer to watch the pros play, head over to Coors Field downtown to watch a Colorado Rockies game. If you aren’t picky about where you sit, save some money and buy discount tickets to The Rooftop, a standing-room section with first-come, first-serve seating and outstanding views of the Rocky Mountains.

If you’d like a low-key outdoor experience with the added perk of a live music event, Denver Botanic Gardens has a Music at the Gardens series every summer with both traditional concerts in their in-ground amphitheater and Evenings al Fresco, where talented local musicians perform in various areas throughout the York Street venue.

You might be surprised that you don’t have to go far to find a good place to hike in the city. The Colorado Mountain Club’s The Best Urban Hikes: Denver guidebook outlines two- to eight-mile-long trails ranging in experience levels that take you through 30 nature areas.

Sometimes you do want to go far for fun, and one of the best things about this part of Colorado is that it’s easy to take weekend day trips out of town for hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or any activities your outdoor heart desires. There are multiple park systems within an hour’s drive, including Denver Mountain Parks, Colorado State Parks, and Jeffco Open Space Parks, and the locals know the best places to stretch your legs and take in the views. To check a national park off your list, head north to Estes Park. The Rockies are also right in your backyard, with Rocky Mountain National Park only an hour and 45 minutes away from this part of Colorado. Whether you’re in the mood for some outdoor adventures or a scenic drive, the greater Denver area offers it all.

Arts and culture in Denver in the summer

Exterior of Denver Art Museum

Spend one of the warmer or smokier days in Denver at a museum. The Museum of Contemporary Art has Penny Saturdays, where admission is only 1 cent on the first Saturday of the month. Check out some incredible rotating contemporary art exhibitions from a wide range of voices, many of whom have never been able to easily share their stories before.

For a more traditional art museum experience, head to the Denver Art Museum. With more than 70,000 works of art from collections from artists based all over the world, the museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast. Save money by visiting on an SCFD Free Day or Free Days at the DAM. Admission is always free for visitors under 18, making it a budget-friendly option for younger visitors when they come to town.

The nearby Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art showcases around 4,400 decorative artworks at a time from artists and designers, shown together salon-style. Check out Colorado and regional art dating back to 1845, with examples of every major design period from Arts & Crafts through Postmodern.

You can also see art in dozens of galleries, studios, co-ops, and other unique venues in the Santa Fe district every first Friday of the month during First Friday Art Walks. It’s free to stroll, and many spots offer libations while you peruse the art. The Denver area is also home to stunning street art that you can peruse on a walk around town.

While you live in Denver during the summer, make sure you get a library card from the Denver Public Library. Not only does it give you access to thousands of books to read at the park, movies to watch with friends, and audiobooks to listen to while you’re exploring, but it also offers Museum and Cultural Passes. “Check out” free admission to some of the city’s most popular museums, including the Molly Brown House Museum, History Colorado, Denver Botanic Gardens, the family-friendly Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

“My Landing was just a short distance away from some of Denver’s most iconic districts and attractions. When I wasn’t busy filming, I had countless options for dining and entertainment. Some of my favorite places that I visited while living in Denver were the Denver Zoo, the Meow Wolf art exhibit, and the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.”

— Max Hilty, “Why Denver Was the Perfect City to Spend the Summer

Thinking about moving to Denver for the summer?

The Mile High City is a fantastic place to spend the summer months. A lot of Denverites moved to the area from another place, so it tends to be a welcoming environment to visitors, whether short- or long-term. Every neighborhood offers something special, and Landing’s fully furnished apartments and flexible leasing terms make it easy to choose different places around the city for different experiences. If you’re thinking about making the Mile. High City your home during the warmer months to take advantage of all of the amazing activities this city has to offer, learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!

Felicia Brower

Felicia Brower is a Denver-based freelance travel and lifestyle writer who loves to write about exploring the city and the great outdoors of Colorado. She loves the weird, wild, and wonderful and when she's not busy working, you can find her hiking, wandering around Denver, or planning her next adventure. (Let her know your suggestions!) Her work has been previously published in Atlas Obscura, AARP, Ohio Magazine, and Natural Awakenings. Connect with her on Twitter at @feliciaistyping.