Home of famous Denver Union Station, Meow Wolf: Convergence Station, Denver Art Museum and plenty of things to do in Denver on Memorial Day. We've compiled some of the best activities to do in Denver on this Memorial Day holiday.
Union Station, Denver's so-called “living room,” sits in the center of Lower Downtown. It's a busy transit center with an outdoor play fountain, patio-filled restaurants, and boutiques. But this is all new; for decades the historic Beaux Arts building—first constructed in 1881 before several fires required renovations in 1914—was a desolate and run-down train station. A $54 million restoration and a dedicated train to the airport changed all that, and the station’s Grand Hall has returned to its glory days. On Memorial Day, tourists and locals alike come to gawk at the historic architecture, linger over drinks, or enjoy community events, including a weekend farmer’s market. Grab a farm-to-table dinner at Mercantile Dining & Provision, then finish the night slinging cocktails at the Terminal Bar.
Meow Wolf installations are, by design, indescribable. Three hundred artists, including more than 110 from Colorado, collaborated on 79 projects, spread over four floors, to create a loud, neon-lit dreamscape that has something important to say if you scratch beneath the surface of the surreal, Instagram-friendly tableaus. Hidden catacomb passageways, trash-strewn cityscapes, alien bodegas and pizza parlors, and tons of Easter eggs about Denver culture and history allude to big-picture topics like accessibility and Indigenous rights. As the Denver Convergence Station iteration of Meow Wolf warns on its website, the exhibit features “dark spaces, low lighting, low overhangs, tight spaces, crawl spaces, narrow walkways, steep stairways, flashing/strobe lights, theatrical fog effects, music, some loud noises, and exposed materials.” In other words, be prepared for everything—especially if you’re claustrophobic or hate crowds.
Serious art lovers, this one’s for you. The city’s biggest art museum is a bustling hub at the center of the Golden Triangle Creative District known for both its vast permanent collection and its blockbuster temporary exhibitions. But just because art aficionados can geek out on everything from the 1971 Gio Ponti building to colorful, large-format murals, that doesn’t mean the DAM is reserved for stuffy nerds in sweater vests. No, the best part of the DAM is that art experts and novices can both find things to love. An extensive collection of Native American Art is one of the best in the world; Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge” stops people in their tracks; and kids will enjoy hunting down the family-friendly activity centers scattered throughout the building. Grab a map at the entrance and don’t forget to check out the first floor gift shop for a treasure trove of glimmering vases and artsy gifts.
There’s a reason Red Rocks is considered one of the most beautiful outdoor music venues in the country. Bright red sandstone rocks jut out from either side of the stage to create a natural amphitheater with truly remarkable acoustics, and concert-goers are treated to views of downtown Denver and the surrounding foothills. Even if you can’t see a concert, Red Rocks is worth visiting; fitness groups often run the stairs of the amphitheater on the weekend and the 1.4-mile Trading Post Trail rewards hikers with brilliant rock formations and valley views. Must visit on Memorial Day.
Picture the prettiest street in any city: wide sidewalks, red brick buildings, and restaurant patios full of well-dressed 30-somethings sipping wine. Boutique storefronts threaten your pocketbook, twinkle lights sparkle at night, and a pie shop hides a Prohibition-era “speakeasy” Green Russell , named for a Colorado gold miner. This is Larimer Square, the city’s first historic district. And even though you haven’t really been to the Mile High City unless you’ve Instagrammed the street’s signature twinkling lights—pro tip, they look especially amazing around the holidays—Larimer Square somehow manages to remain an authentic, non-touristy destination.
Colorado’s first beer-themed spa opened this February in a residential area near Denver's RiNo (River North Art District). Owners Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French were inspired to bring the beer spa concept back to the States after traveling through Eastern Europe, where many spots offer the chance to bathe in hot beer. In translating the idea for an American audience, they stripped out all the Mitteleuropa kitsch and modernized the concept, borrowing from Japanese and Korean spas. Rather than book a traditional spa treatment, you’re left to your own devices in the hushed but comfortable private therapy rooms. Begin the circuit in the infrared sauna, which can reach up to 170-degree Fahrenheit, and extend the relaxation with an optional session in a zero-gravity massage chair that scans your body, tilts you back, and then comes at you from all angles like some kind of super-relaxing robotic carwash.
If there’s one museum that surprises you in the Mile High City, our money’s on the Clyfford Still Museum. At first glance, your eyes might slide over the imposing, cantilevered concrete building located adjacent to the much larger Denver Art Museum in the Golden Triangle. But don’t miss this rarely crowded, under-the-radar gem. Inside, a 3,200-piece collection focuses on the life and work of Clyfford Still, a modern artist famous for his groundbreaking abstract paintings. Spacious exhibition halls guide you chronologically through Still’s body of work, beginning with small sketches and landscape paintings from the 1920s and culminating in colorful canvases from the 1950s that cover the whole wall. This is a museum that educates without pretension; conversational placards prompt visitors to look at specific lines or colors in each painting and well-placed benches are the perfect place to contemplate Still’s influential contribution to the modern art movement and you and your family must visit on Memorial Day.
Set on 24 acres in the tree-lined Cheesman Park neighborhood, the Denver Botanic Gardens is a peaceful oasis that's perfect for a one- or two-hour stroll. Gravel and stone paths meander through dozens of different types of gardens, from drought-tolerant xeriscaping to a traditional Japanese garden. On Memorial Day, don’t miss the rotating exhibits that showcase internationally recognized artwork peeking out from behind the plants, a socially distanced alternative to the city's museums. Also, be on the lookout for a giant orange- and red-glass Chihuly sculpture and So Proud of My Children, a carved stone piece depicting maternal love by Zimbabwean artist Nicholas Kadzungura. Plant lovers won't ever want to leave.