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Set ablaze by the fervent glow of the sun, the scarlet magnetism of the Red Rocks park is compelling as it is humbling. Looming sentinels of gradient-red sandstone cliffs pierce the skies in this geological wonderland that lies nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Quirkily christened for their shape and form, some of the formations include the Seat of Pluto and the Cave of the Seven Ladders. However, one of the most winning features of this rose-tinted rock park that has received much exposure over the years, is the Red Rocks Amphitheater. This unique outdoor venue, a sweeping concert stage corralled by a fleet of towering boulders miraculously lends itself to the excellent acoustics and has previously hosted legends like the Beatles and John Denver.
This museum is one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing almost two million visitors a year. There are permanent displays on North American Tribes, Egyptian mummies, dinosaurs, and minerals, all stunningly detailed and vast. The museum also hosts traveling exhibits such as Ramses II and Imperial Tombs of China. An IMAX cinema, gift shop and cafe are also on-site.
Experience the great outdoors at Denver Botanic Gardens. Sprawling over three acres (nine hectares), this natural oasis is replete with several themed gardens. Stroll along bonsais at the Japanese Garden, or enjoy a fairytale-like experience with Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Storybook Gardens. Xeriscape Demo Garden is great to gather tips on home gardening and horticulture, while the Rock Alpine Garden showcases a unique topography. Take a guided tour and marvel at the verdant landscape dotted with exotic flora, lawns, waterfalls and ponds. In addition, these gardens offer several botanical exhibitions, illustrations and workshops that are both fun and interesting.
This five-floor museum is wonderfully diverse and is at the forefront of offering new exhibits. In the past, it has featured impressionist artists as well as the work of Winslow Homer. This museum brags— and rightfully so— about housing one of the largest art collections between Kansas City and the West Coast. It's Native American art collection, which encompasses an entire floor, is not to be missed. In addition, 2006 heralded the dedication of a new wing of the museum. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the Frederic C. Hamilton building adds to the already stunning architecture of the cityscape and has become a popular attraction for museum visitors.
Where else can you visit polar ice caps, a tropical forest, the African Savannah, and a jungle all in one day? The spectacular Denver zoo offers state-of-the-art habitats featuring more than 3500 animals representing 600 species. Visit with sloths, tree frogs, and a moray eel at the indoor Tropical Discovery exhibit. Or wander through the seven-acre Primate Panorama exhibit. From cold climate penguins to tropical flamingos, Bird World will inspire your appreciation of winged things. It is open 365 days a year.
Modeled after the venerated United States Capitol, the Colorado State Capitol is a neoclassical beauty constructed using Colorado white granite. Standing exactly one mile above sea level, the building meticulously epitomizes Colorado's Gold Rush through the Gold Leaf on its striking dome. Quintessential illustrations on the stained glass windows further immortalize the capitol's respect for the state it calls home. The Colorado State Capitol hosted its first general assembly in 1894, and it was inscribed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
This restored Victorian mansion, once the home of legendary Denver resident Maggie (Molly) Brown now serves as a popular museum that attracts more than 40,000 visitors a year. The museum explores the eccentric life of the 'Unsinkable Molly Brown,' a Titanic survivor and eminent figure in the city's Gold Rush heritage. After the tour, browse around the gift shop and check out the selection of t-shirts, books and other memorabilia. There are guided tours available and regular special events and performances also take place.
What is now the United States Mint in Denver actually began as a humble company. In 1858, Clark, Gruber and Company started a private mint, making gold coins from the spoils of the Colorado gold rush in order to save on shipping the ore to the east coast. After minting over 500,000 dollars, the US Treasury officially bought the mint in 1863. Today, the mint is a popular tourist destination in Denver, lending insights into the stages and the entire process of currency-making. One of the oldest establishments in Colorado, the mint is touted to be one of the single largest producers of coins in the world. The mint is certainly an iconic repository of American currency, and all currency produced here has the denomination 'D' inscribed on it. Having been considerably mentioned in popular media, the Denver Mint is an indelible historic landmark of the country.
The mall is a mile-long, tree-lined promenade stretching through the heart of downtown. Bustling with street vendors, souvenir shops, clothing and jewelry stores, and a plethora of bars and restaurants, this energetic strip offers plenty of variety. The Denver Pavilions, at the entrance of the mall, is a new open-air shopping plaza filled with trendy chains, including the Denver edition of the Hard Rock Café. The D & F Tower, a 325-foot (100-meter) replica of the Campanile (bell tower) in Venice, graces the center of the mall. The Tabor Center adds to the shopping enthusiasm. Free shuttles provide transportation up and down the mall, allowing for convenient cross-town sightseeing.
For an insight into Colorado's rich history, there's no better place to visit than the History Colorado Center in the Golden Triangle area of Denver. Dedicated to preserving the past in order to inform the future, this center features a myriad of exhibits, artifacts, hands-on displays and more. Visitors can hop into the steampunk time machine complete with a virtual countdown clock that will take you to places like Leadville Ice Palace, Tomato Wars of the 1820s and many other historic points in time.