If you’re planning a trip to Denver and wondering about the best area to stay without a car, then look no further.
Navigating Denver without a vehicle is not only doable but can be an exciting experience. The key lies in choosing the right place to stay. Get it wrong, and you could find yourself far from the points of interest, and spending more time and money on commuting than exploring. Thankfully, my guide is here to ensure that won’t happen.
Having trotted around Denver without a car myself, relying on public transport and my own two feet, I’ve learned the city’s ins and outs. Now, it’s my pleasure to pass on that knowledge to you.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, exploring with a significant other, or venturing with the whole family, I’ve crafted this guide with you in mind.
📖 Table of Contents
- Where to Stay in Denver Without a Car
- How to Get Around Denver Without a Car
- Things to Do in Denver Without a Car
- Is Denver Safe to Explore Without a Car?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Stay in Denver Without a Car
When it comes to finding the perfect car-free areas and accommodation, this city has got you covered. With public transportation, walkable neighborhoods, and bike-friendly streets they’re all easy to explore. Whether you’re looking for urban life, historic spots, or artsy neighborhoods.
If you're mainly after the best places to stay, no matter which of the five no-car-friendly neighborhoods in Denver, here's a quick roundup of top accommodations for all budgets:
|● 🎒 Budget:||Ember Hostel|
(Rated: 9.5 of 10) 🤩
|● 🏨 Mid-Range:||The Ramble Hotel|
(Rated: 9.3 of 10) 🤩
|● 🥂 High-End:||Four Seasons Hotel|
(Rated: 8.4 of 10) 🤩
1. Downtown: Best for Urban Explorers
When it comes to the bustling energy of urban life, Downtown Denver is the place to be.
Perfect for those who want to dive into the heart and soul of Denver without a car, Downtown offers easy access to shopping centers, museums, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Whether you’re an urban explorer or a shopaholic, you can get around effortlessly on foot or by public transit.
- Accessibility: Walkable streets make everything conveniently close.
- Entertainment: An abundance of restaurants, museums, and entertainment venues.
- Public Transport: Free shuttle buses along the 16th Street Mall.
- Noise: Can be noisy due to the central location.
City dwellers and those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture, shopping, and nightlife.
If you’re searching for the pulse of Denver, Downtown is your go-to destination. Vibrant and full of life, it’s the perfect base for those who want to explore the city’s core. A stay here means you’ll never be far from the action.
📌 TIP: Stay near the 16th Street Mall for free shuttle buses. This allows you to easily explore Downtown attractions like Denver Pavilions for shopping, D&F Clock Tower for city views, and Paramount Theatre for live shows.
2. Capitol Hill: Best for History Buffs
Nestled in the very soul of Denver, Capitol Hill is a place where history whispers through the streets, and vibrant culture waits around every corner.
If you’re keen on exploring Denver without a car, this area offers a satisfying combination of stunning architecture, diverse boutiques, and lovely cafés and galleries.
Whether you’re a history buff or an art lover, Capitol Hill will satisfy your curiosity and introduce you to the rich heritage of Denver. Staying here is not just about accommodation; it’s about immersing yourself in the local lifestyle.
- Accessibility: Easy access to historic sites and museums, making it perfect for exploring Denver without a car.
- Diverse Offerings: Cafés, galleries, and boutiques are abundant for a variety of interests.
- Cultural Richness: The area’s history and architecture provide a unique and enriching experience.
- Crowded During Events: Can become crowded during cultural events or festivals.
Culture lovers looking for a historic yet vibrant area filled with diverse offerings, from galleries to cafés, all within walking distance.
Capitol Hill is an unmissable destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in Denver’s rich history and cultural offerings. A blend of the old and new, it’s a treasure trove that turns the journey of exploration into art itself.
📌 TIP: Consider exploring the Molly Brown House Museum or the Denver Art Museum nearby. Biking is also a popular way to get around this area, making it a breeze to discover hidden gems without the need for a car. And if you're all about smart budgeting, make sure to take advantage of the Denver CityPASS, which can save you up to 43% on top attractions. 💰
3. RiNo (River North Art District): Best for Creative Souls
When it comes to creativity and innovation, RiNo (River North Art District) is the destination within Denver.
This lively district, known for its inspiring street art and dynamic art scene, not only houses incredible galleries but is also a haven for crafting shops and trendy eateries.
If you’re in the mood for some vibrant art and modern food, then RiNo’s mix of cultures is calling your name. Whether you want to feast your eyes on unique artistic creations or taste some of the latest gastronomic sensations, this place is waiting for you.
- Art Scene: RiNo is famous for its vibrant art community, attracting art lovers from all over.
- Trendy Restaurants: Diverse and modern dining options are abundant here.
- Might be Crowded: The popularity of the art scene might lead to crowded streets, especially during events.
Art enthusiasts, lovers of street art, and those looking for a blend of innovative creativity and modern dining.
RiNo (River North Art District) offers a remarkable fusion of art and modern living. Its lively streets, filled with artistic expression and trendy eateries, make it an essential stop for those exploring Denver without a car.
📌 TIP: Explore the creative world at Globeville Riverfront Art Center (GRACe), filled with artist studios, or experience ceramic art at Plinth Gallery in RiNo. These spaces provide a front-row seat to Denver's thriving art community.
4. Uptown: Best for Park and Jazz Lovers
Uptown is a mesmerizing blend of old and new, where classic Victorian homes reside alongside sleek modern apartments. A stay here promises an eclectic mix of local eateries, boutiques, and parks, all easily accessible without a car.
If you have a penchant for culture and jazz, this vibrant neighborhood will strike a chord with you.
- Accessibility: Local attractions are all within walking distance.
- Cultural Blend: Offers a mix of historical architecture and contemporary lifestyle.
- Entertainment Options: Free jazz concerts and other cultural events are to be found here.
- Limited Nightlife: May lack vibrant nightlife compared to other areas.
Music enthusiasts and those who enjoy a peaceful yet culturally rich neighborhood. A haven for lovers of jazz and historical architecture.
Uptown is an excellent choice for visitors who prefer a quieter, more refined environment. The area’s diverse cultural offerings and accessible parks make it a standout location for explorers seeking to immerse themselves in Denver’s unique blend of tradition and modernity.
📌 TIP: City Park, located nearby, hosts free jazz concerts in the summer. Grab a picnic basket and enjoy a night of soothing music under the twinkling stars. Or simply grab the chance to escape and unwind in the busy city.
5. Golden Triangle: Best for Museum Lovers
The Golden Triangle, sophisticated and elegant, is a haven for art lovers. Its proximity to significant cultural institutions like the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado History Museum makes it a captivating choice.
If you’re keen to explore Denver’s artistic heritage, staying in this area without a car is an inspiring option.
- Access to Culture: Enjoy walking distance of major museums and galleries.
- Scenic Beauty: Wander through historic streets adorned with architectural gems.
- Less Nightlife: Not known for vibrant nightlife compared to other areas.
Art enthusiasts, history buffs, and those looking for a refined and culturally rich experience.
If art and culture are at the top of your list, the Golden Triangle is a match made in heaven. Stay here to immerse yourself in Denver’s artistic heritage without needing a car, enjoying both convenience and cultural depth.
📌 TIP: Walk through Denver's rich artistic heritage, from masterpieces at the Denver Art Museum to historical insights at the Colorado History Museum, and the preserved elegance of the Byers-Evans House Museum. It's a walkable journey into the city's cultural soul. And don't miss out on a golden opportunity to save; the Denver CityPASS can help you enjoy these attractions at a discount of up to 43% 💰
How to Get Around Denver Without a Car
Denver’s infrastructure offers diverse transportation options that suit every kind of traveler. Whether you enjoy taking in the cityscape by foot, prefer a fun bike ride, or choose public transport, here’s a complete guide to getting around Denver without a car.
Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) boasts an extensive network of buses, light rail, and commuter rail services that connect different parts of the city.
You can even enjoy a free ride on the MallRide that operates along the bustling 16th Street Mall or hop on the MetroRide for free transportation on 18th and 19th Streets.
For seamless travel, I recommend using the RTD MyRide app. It allows you to purchase tickets directly from your phone, eliminating the need for physical tickets. However, if you prefer cash, you can buy tickets at station ticket machines or onboard certain buses.
📌 TIP: If you're planning to use public transportation frequently, consider an RTD Day Pass for unlimited access to bus and light rail services. This pass can also be bought through the RTD MyRide app.
Electric Bikes and Scooters
Denver’s bike-friendly environment supports both locals and visitors with over 100 miles of multi-use trails and bike lanes.
Embrace the eco-friendly buzz of Denver with electric bikes and scooters popular among residents and visitors alike. They offer a fun and effortless way to explore the city, especially if you’re looking to cover short distances or navigate through busy streets.
You can download their respective apps on your smartphone, create an account, and easily unlock and ride the available vehicles in designated areas. Additionally, these apps provide information on pricing, battery life, and available drop-off locations, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience.
For those moments when you need a quick and private ride, both Lyft and Uber are readily available, along with traditional taxi services. This option is perfect for destinations not covered by public transport or for late-night travels.
If you love walking, Denver won’t disappoint. Many of the city’s attractions are pedestrian-friendly. Especially if you’re staying in the earlier recommended areas (Downtown, Capitol Hill, RiNo, Uptown, or the Golden Triangle). Here you can enjoy a relaxed stroll to restaurants, parks, and other hotspots.
📌 TIP: When it comes to exploring Denver, the popular Google Maps is your trusty guide. Here's how to use it for seamless navigation, including public transportation: 1. Launch Google Maps and input your destination. 2. Select your preferred travel mode: walking, biking, or public transit. Google Maps will unveil optimal routes and estimated travel times. 3. When you're set to embark, tap 'Start' for step-by-step guidance. Planning? Utilize the 'Depart at' feature to set a specific departure time, ensuring your journey aligns perfectly with your schedule.
Things to Do in Denver Without a Car
Denver welcomes all visitors with open arms, offering attractions that are easily explored without a car. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant spirit and discover its gems effortlessly. Here’s a preview of what this dynamic urban city has in store for you.
Best Tours in Denver Without a Car
Discover Denver’s essence without the need for a car. From the towering Rocky Mountains to the vibrant gastronomic scene, these tours offer unique, accessible adventures. Dive into nature’s beauty, tease your taste buds, and soar through scenic landscapes, all at the heart of Denver.
1. Afternoon Rocky Mountain Escape: A Refreshing Nature Retreat
Nestled in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, the Afternoon Rocky Mountain Escape offers a thrilling adventure for those exploring Denver.
This escape immerses you in unforgettable landscapes and the soothing sounds of the wilderness, all accessible with the same start and end point in the city center.
As a part of the unique tours available in the area, the Rocky Mountain Escape isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s a call to the wild for nature lovers and adventurers seeking a genuine connection with Colorado’s most iconic mountains.
- Convenience: Easy access from Denver, making personal transportation unnecessary.
- Natural Beauty: An opportunity to witness the majestic Rocky Mountains up close.
- Guided Experience: Expert guides ensure a safe and informative adventure.
- Weather Dependence: Tours might be canceled due to poor weather.
- Limited Availability: Popular among tourists; booking is advised.
Nature enthusiasts looking for an authentic mountain experience, whether traveling alone or in small groups. This tour opens the wilderness for those seeking an extraordinary adventure in Denver.
The Afternoon Rocky Mountain Escape is a true embodiment of Colorado’s natural wonder. The combination of accessibility and breathtaking landscapes makes it a must-do. If the great outdoors calls your name, this experience will resonate with you long after you’ve returned home.
📌 TIP: Consider wearing sturdy footwear and packing layered clothing for this adventure. Mountain weather can be unpredictable, and it's best to be prepared for all conditions.
2. Downtown Denver Food Tour: A Gastronomic Exploration of Urban Flavors
Denver’s gastronomic scene is a blend of flavors, where creativity meets tradition.
The Downtown Denver Food Tour offers a lovely journey through the heart of the city’s gastronomy, making it unnecessary to have a car. It’s not only a feast; it’s a window into Denver’s culture and community.
Walking through the bustling downtown streets, you’ll sample dishes that define Denver’s gastronomic creativity. From innovative chefs to traditional recipes, this tour gives you a taste of the city that you can savor long after the tour ends.
- Diverse Tastes: Offers an array of local flavors.
- Guided Experience: Knowledgeable guides share Denver’s gastronomic history.
- Easily Accessible: The tour is planned around walkable downtown locations.
- Advance Booking Required: Space is limited, so early reservations are essential.
- May Not Suit All Diets: Limited options for specific dietary needs.
Foodies eager to explore Denver’s rich gastronomic heritage without needing a car.
For the gastronomic explorers, the Downtown Denver Food Tour is a flavorful way to delve into the city’s culture. It connects you to the heart of Denver’s food scene, offering an adventure that stimulates more than just your taste buds.
📌 TIP: Wear comfortable walking shoes for this tour, and don't hesitate to express any dietary preferences or restrictions at the time of booking.
3. Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure from Denver: Soar Through Scenic Landscapes
Buckle up, adventure enthusiasts! The Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure is not just a tour; it’s an exhilarating escapade that gives you a bird’s-eye view of Colorado’s stunning landscapes.
Located just outside Denver, this zipline adventure combines adrenaline-pumping excitement with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. This heart-pounding journey through the treetops is perfect for those looking to experience Denver without a car.
- Thrilling Experience: Satisfy your thirst for excitement as you glide over mountainous terrain.
- Stunning Scenery: Experience breathtaking views of the Rockies like never before.
- Accessibility: Easy access with the same start and end point in the city center
- Professional Guides: Expert instructors provide safety training and ensure an unforgettable time.
- Not for the Faint-hearted: This zipline adventure is not suitable for those with a fear of heights.
- Weather Dependent: Weather conditions might affect the schedule.
Adventurous souls and thrill-seekers who crave excitement and want to discover Denver’s rugged side without needing a car.
The Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that promises an outstanding thrill. If adventure runs in your veins, and you’re looking for a way to explore the beauty of the Rockies without a car, then this is the adventure for you.
📌 TIP: Make sure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your spot. Also, don’t forget to dress appropriately for this high-flying adventure, wearing closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing.
Best Day Trips in Denver Without a Car
Explore the outskirts of Denver with these fun day trips, no car required.
Embrace the raw elegance of Rocky Mountain National Park, marvel at Pikes Peak’s breathtaking views, and let Colorado’s natural wonders captivate you. Each journey promises an authentic and unforgettable exploration of Denver’s diverse landscapes.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park Small Group Tour: An Intimate Journey Through Wilderness
Embark on the raw elegance of Rocky Mountain National Park with this small group tour.
Witness the towering peaks, alpine lakes, and lively wildlife in the company of a select few, all under the guidance of an expert tour leader. Ideal for those who wish for a cozier, more personalized connection with both nature and fellow travelers in the outskirts of Denver.
- Intimacy: Experience the tour with a small group of like-minded adventurers, fostering genuine connections and a more personalized touch.
- Convenience: Transportation is managed for you, allowing full immersion in the experience without the need for personal transportation.
- Scenic Beauty: Take in the stunning views of mountains, lakes, and wildlife, embodying the very essence of Denver’s natural brilliance.
- Limited Availability: With the intimate nature of the tour, booking well in advance is advised, as spaces are few and can fill rapidly.
Those adventure-seekers, nature enthusiasts, or anyone eager to delve deeply into Denver’s scenic majesty with a close-knit group. If you value an intimate exploration of the Rockies, this tour is tailored for you.
The Small Group Tour to Discover Rocky Mountain National Park is a treasure for explorers desiring a closer, more exclusive adventure into Denver’s outdoor marvels.
While potentially a bit more costly than a larger group tour, the intimacy, convenience, and extraordinary views render it an exceptional expedition for those prioritizing quality and an authentic connection with both nature and fellow travelers.
📌 TIP: Enthralled by this intimate tour? Secure your spot soon! Small group tours offer a unique blend of camaraderie and attention to detail, providing an enriched exploration at a reasonable price.
2. Small-Group Tour of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods: Marvel at Colorado’s Natural Wonders
Denver offers a haven for nature enthusiasts with an overload of sceneries to explore. If you’re someone who likes to immerse yourself in landscapes that are nothing short of breathtaking, the small-group tour of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods is a must-do.
This tour is perfect for those looking to explore Denver without a car, providing an intimate and captivating experience of nature’s artwork.
- Accessibility: Ideal for those without a car, as transportation is provided.
- Scenery: Features stunning views of Pikes Peak and the red rock formations of the Garden of the Gods.
- Guided Experience: Knowledgeable guides offer informative insights into the region’s geology and history.
- Duration: Can be a long day trip, which might not suit everyone.
- Group Size: Limited to small groups, may fill up quickly during peak seasons.
Nature enthusiasts who want a guided, hassle-free experience exploring some of Denver’s most beautiful natural landmarks without needing a car.
The small-group tour of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods is an unmissable experience for nature lovers visiting Denver. It offers a seamless and enchanting exploration of some of Colorado’s natural wonders, ensuring a memorable journey.
📌 TIP: If you're keen on photography, make sure to bring along your camera. The Garden of the Gods offers some of the most photogenic landscapes in Denver, and you'll want to capture these moments. If visiting during summer, bring sunscreen and plenty of water, as temperatures can soar.
3. COG Railway Tour to the Summit of Pikes Peak: A Historic Ride to Breathtaking Views
Chasing an adrenaline rush while staying in Denver? Look no further than the COG Railway Tour to the Summit of Pikes Peak. This thrilling ride will elevate your Colorado experience – quite literally!
Ascend Pikes Peak via the cog railway and marvel at the panoramic views that only a few are fortunate to witness. A perfect option for those without a car, this tour is not just transportation but an adventure in itself.
- Unique Experience: The COG railway itself is a rare and fascinating mode of travel.
- Breathtaking Views: Offers unmatched views of the surrounding landscapes from the summit.
- Convenient: No need for a car; transportation is sorted.
- Altitude: The summit is at a high altitude, which might cause discomfort for some.
- Weather-Dependent: Tours can be canceled due to poor weather conditions.
Adventure seekers and train enthusiasts looking for an extraordinary and exhilarating experience in Denver without requiring a car.
The COG Railway Tour to the Summit of Pikes Peak is an exciting and impressive way to explore Denver’s natural beauty. With the unique ride and the unparalleled views from the summit, this is a must-try adventure for thrill-seekers. Just keep an eye on the weather and book in advance!
📌 TIP: Dress in layers! The temperature at the summit can be quite different from the base. Also, if you're prone to altitude sickness, consider bringing along some remedies or consult with your healthcare provider before the trip.
Is Denver Safe to Explore Without a Car?
Ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S., Denver is well-suited for exploration without a car.
Exploring Denver on foot or through its public transportation system can be a pleasant experience, and taking some smart steps can make your journey less stressful.
First off, do some thorough research. Understand the neighborhoods that spark your curiosity. Staying close to major attractions or transport hubs can be a straightforward option.
As the sun sets over the Rockies, it can be wise to find lively spots for the evening. If you’re venturing into new territories, sticking to the main streets instead of wandering into unknown regions ensures safety.
It’s a universal travel tip, but in Denver too, avoid flaunting valuable possessions to maintain a low profile.
No need to worry, though. Just exercise general caution, but most importantly allow yourself to be swept away by the dynamic culture, breathtaking landscapes, and everything else that the Mile High City has to offer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Denver is quite a walkable city, especially in its bustling downtown area. With wide sidewalks, pedestrian-friendly streets, and a network of scenic walking trails, exploring Denver on foot is both convenient and pleasurable. And don’t miss the Cherry Creek Trail, where you can enjoy a panoramic walk along the water, passing by art and parks.
While having a car in Denver might be convenient, it’s far from necessary. The city’s public transportation system, including buses and light rail, covers most major attractions. Also, you can enjoy over 100 miles of bike trails, thanks to the Denver B-cycle initiative. Electric bikes and scooters from Lime, Bird, and Spin are great for short distances, and for quicker or private travel, Lyft, Uber, and traditional taxis are also available. These options make exploring Denver without a car both practical and enjoyable.
Renting a car in Denver is a matter of personal preference and itinerary. If you plan to stay within city limits and want to explore Denver’s vibrant neighborhoods, public transportation, and walking are likely more than enough. However, if you’re looking to venture into nearby mountains or other parts of Colorado, renting a car may provide that extra freedom and convenience if not going on an arranged tour or day trip.
Traveling between Colorado Springs and Denver without a car is quite feasible. You can take advantage of Bustang, Colorado’s intercity express bus service, which connects the two cities. Within Denver, as mentioned, there’s an excellent network of public transportation. Colorado Springs also offers various local buses and ride-sharing services to help you explore without needing to rent a car.