Colorado State Capitol (credit: CBS)
The city of Denver was founded in 1858 as a mining town, as thousands of people rushed west to join the Gold Rush. Since then, Denver has outgrown its former “cowtown” persona. It is now a large, metropolitan city with all the arts and culture of any similarly-sized city. However, just because Denver has grown so much in size over the years, doesn’t mean it’s lost all of the beautiful history that makes Denver so special. There are still tons of important landmarks, buildings and parks that date back to Denver’s earliest days, so take a little time and set out to learn more about the Mile High City and all the different people that have helped make it what it is today.
Colorado State Capitol
200 E. Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80203
The most iconic building in Denver, the Colorado State Capitol, opened in 1894 and the iconic gold leaf dome was added in 1908. The stunning building is also home to the entire known supply of Colorado Rose Onyx, a very rare rose-colored marble, which was used during the construction of the building. You can request a free tour of the Capitol building including a historical tour that walks you through early Colorado history in addition to the construction of the building, the stained glass windows and the distinctive art found throughout the Capitol. There is also a second tour offered that takes you through Mr. Brown’s Attic, with a stunning 360-degree view from the dome itself.
Molly Brown House Museum
1340 Pennsylvania St
Denver, CO 80203
This historic home is one of the most visited sites in Denver. Margaret “Molly” Brown, one of Denver’s most famous residents, lived in this house in the late 1890s and owned the home until her death in 1932. Of course, Molly Brown is most known for being one of the survivors of the famous Titanic, which helped her get the nickname “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Today, the home has been lovingly restored to look like it did at the turn of the 20th Century. You can take the 45-minute guided tour to learn all about the Titanic heroine and one of Denver’s most iconic activists. There are also lots of special events offered at the Molly Brown House Museum throughout the year, from High Tea to other fascinating exhibits about the era and the contribution of women throughout history.
Related: Top Bars With History In Denver
United States Mint
320 W Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80204
Since 1906, the Denver branch of the United States Mint has produced coins used all over the country. The Denver Mint is among the largest producer of coins in the world, and you can always spot a Denver coin, as it bears a “D” mint mark. You can take one of the free tours of the Mint, though reservations are required. During the tour you’ll get a chance to see how the coins are made, hear some history of the building itself and get some more insider information about the coin-making process. Once you are done with the tour, stop by the gift shop for some collectible items to remember your trip to the largest producer of coins in the world.
The Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St
Denver, CO 80204
There are a lot of fantastic restaurants in Denver but The Buckhorn Exchange is something special. It’s Denver’s oldest restaurant, built in 1893 and it holds Denver’s first liquor license. One walk around this historic restaurant and you’ll get a glimpse into Colorado’s history, the restaurant is home to a rare 575-piece collection of taxidermy animals, all of which are native to the area, and a 125-piece gun collection that includes a pistol from 1891. Everything about The Buckhorn Exchange screams “Old West” as the owners have spent a lot of time ensuring the memorabilia and structure was kept intact and preserved. Of course, it also helps that The Buckhorn Exchange is one of the best restaurants in town. You’ll go for the food, but you’ll want to stay for the history.
Related: Top Women’s History Spots In Denver
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
18300 W Alameda Parkway
Morrison, CO 80465
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is known as one of the best places to see a concert in the world, as it’s the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world. You’ll marvel at the stunning rock formations, which perfectly cradle the sound as it bounces from the stage to the seating area, and you’ll love the hundreds of huge international acts that always stop at Red Rocks on their world-wide tours. Even if you don’t go for a concert, however, there is a lot to enjoy at Red Rocks. You can get a guided tour, enjoy some stunning hiking and biking, or visit the visitor center and amazing backstage museum that is a tribute to all the famous names that have played here.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.