7 Fun Activities To Do In or around Denver Colorado This Summer

Summer is just around the corner! I am a Colorado native and have lived in the Denver area my entire life. There are so many fun, and family friendly activities, fairs, festivals, and events going on in Denver every summer and I thought it'd be helpful for me to share some of the best ones with you! Each of these events is absolutely worth attending and a perfect way to spend a summer day with your friends and family. 


Film on the rocks is where they play a movie in the outdoor amphitheater at Red Rocks. Admission starts at $15. I've attended this several times and it's always an amazing experience. We've seen Almost Famous, Jurassic Park and The Sandlot, they typically play classics that almost everyone enjoys. The movie starts at dusk, I recommend getting there early to watch the sun go down, it's one of the most beautiful sights, Red Rocks Amphitheater is just as breathtaking to me as the Greco Theater in Sicily (and that's saying a lot, trust me). 


This event has food, drinks, entertainment, culture, and dragon boat races you can watch. It's a free event and this year it'll be July 28th and 29th at Sloan's Lake Park in Denver. 

There are a number of farmers' markets in the Denver area, just click the link above to see locations and schedules. I of course love getting fresh produce and shopping from local farmers at these markets, but they are also just a fun social event too. You can eat, drink, shop and wander around in the gorgeous summer weather. They are wonderful events for families and the best part is they are free and create an amazing sense of community. 

This is unique because you get to see artists in action. You get to enjoy the food, wine tasting and music while the artists sit on the ground working on their chalk art. There is also an area where kids will have the opportunity to create some of their own chalk art. It's a family friendly event. and the kids will have a blast.

For me personally, hiking is one of my favorite Colorado activities. We are blessed by such beauty in this state and until you hike you don't really get a taste of it. There are an unbelievable amount of trails and paths you can take, ranging in different difficulty levels (make sure to look into that before starting a trail). I have linked above an article that the Denver Post did on 10 hikes to do this summer, it's worth checking out. 

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From 5:30-9:30 pm you get to enjoy the art district on Santa Fe on the first Fridays of the month. There are hundreds of artists that participate, so if you are into art this is a great community event to join in on! Oh and there;s also food trucks (always fun). 

Above I have linked another Denver blogger's post, she did an amazing job covering where to watch outdoor movies in Denver. There are several options to choose from, all around town. I've attended the movie and music in the park in Golden, CO and it was a blast. They have food trucks, music, and of course when the sun goes down they show a movie. It's the perfect summer night activity for family night, date night or girls night out. Anyone would have a blast attending movie in the park. 

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Ice Castle Dillon Colorado

With a new baby and our life being very different these days, we are loving local adventures. So, when we heard there was an Ice Castle being built in Dillon, Colorado (about an hour from us) and we got invited to check it out before it opened to the public, we had to go! Dillon is west from Denver in the mountains, and we lucked out with clear roads on our way up there. My husband and I went, and we took my sister and her three kids. My niece is five years old and was thrilled to see "Elsa's Castle". I can't even imagine how magical that was for her, to be a little girl who loves the movie Frozen and to get to see an ice castle that is super similar to what Elsa built in the movie, too fun!

We left the baby with my mom in Denver, and honestly I wouldn't say this is a baby friendly outing... even with boots on it could be easy to slip and fall which with a baby could be very bad (obviously). On top of that, it is unbelievably cold which probably isn't ideal for a baby. If I'm being honest though, Giulian probably would have liked this adventure more than Mexico, he hated the heat and humidity (he is a Colorado baby 100%).  And it was really cool to see parents bring their little ones (most slightly older than Giulian, like 1 year and older) to the castle on sleds and slide them around. 

The castle was a blast! They had ice tunnels you could climb through, slides for the kids, lights under the ice to light up the castle and create a magical ambiance, and the icicles were beautiful. Because we were there early, and Colorado has been slightly warmer this year, the castle wasn't completely finished. They are working on making the castle bigger and better as we speak and they even have bigger slides, more of a maze to go through, and lots more ice to put on. So as much fun as we had, and as cool as it was it is only getting better as they continue to add to it.

They  also served hot cocoa and cookies after wandering the castle to warm you up, which was much needed. If you are lucky enough to have an ice castle being built near you (I think there are currently only six in the US), you should totally go check it out. It's a fun winter outing that is perfect for the whole family. I'm so grateful that Colorado was one of the locations for an ice castle this year. It's a great winter bucket list adventure! 

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Estes Park & The Peak to Peak Highway

Fall in Colorado is absolutely stunning. It is even more amazing if you take a little drive up to the mountains and explore while the leaves are turning. If you missed my post last year on fall foliage in Colorado, check it out! The best time to go is in September, mid September is usually best to catch the colorful trees in the Rocky Mountains. This season we went up to Estes Park, Colorado and then drove on the Peak to Peak Highway home for a scenic ride. 

Estes park in my opinion is known for two things, Elk and the famous Stanley Hotel where the horror film The Shining was filmed at. Estes is stunning so if you are looking for a quick day trip from Denver, this spot might be perfect. Right when you pull into town there will be a lake on the right side of town. Often this is where the Elk will be gathered, and the day we went that was just the case. We pulled in, parked the car and got up close with the elk of Estes. Make sure to be careful and keep a safe distance, but at the same time the elk are very used to tourists stopping for pictures. The female elk (without antlers) are far less aggressive than the males. They are all so beautiful and it was such a blast watching them in nature. We did have an incident that occurred while we were there. Two of the males were fighting and they were running right towards us! We all hid behind a car, thank God, and it was all fine, but wow talk about exciting! Like I said, keep a safe distance because you never know when they will start bickering and chasing one another, and they surely don't care if you are in their way, they will come for you too. 

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elk in estes park co
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elk in colorado
baby elk in estes park

If you visit Estes Park make sure to stop in at the Stanley Hotel! If you have ever seen The Shining starring Jack Nicholson then you are familiar with this hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1900's. Today it is a hot spot to get married, vacation or even take a ghost tour. We stopped in for lunch. We ate at the restaurant near the bar. Yes, the bar in the movie where the ghost serves his drinks! Today the bar looks quite different, but it is still exciting to see it. The food there is amazing, I would absolutely recommend eating there. We then walked around the hotel property admiring the antiques and beauty the hotel has to offer. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking Estes Park, the views of the mountains are beautiful. 

the stanley hotel
Stanley hotel
the stanley
inside stanley hotel

After lunch we headed into town to grab coffee and wander. The town is a very quaint mountain town with lots to look at. There are tons of great shops, restaurants and candy stores. There is a beautiful river on one side of the town and a few restaurants looking over the river. If we had not eaten at the Stanley Hotel, I think this would have been the next best option. If you are lucky you will see elk wandering around "their" town. We did not see any that day, but my mom has seen that before. 

estes park
estes park
estes park

We left Estes just in time to catch the Peak to Peak Highway before the sun went down. The Peak to Peak highway is a designated scenic byway that goes from Estes Park to Nederland, then towards I-70 to make your way back to Denver. This time of year this is such a great highway to take if you are driving back to the Denver area because it has amazing fall foliage. There is also a stunning church on the highway that you can stop at and look around. It's a stunning stone church nestled in nature. My suggestion would be to allow yourself enough time driving on this highway to be able to stop and enjoy every bit of it. 

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peak to peak highway church
peak to peak highway colorado

I hope you enjoyed this post on my adventure through Estes Park Colorado, the Stanley Hotel and the Peak to Peak Highway. If you have any questions, simply comment below. To stay updated on my newest adventures and most current blog posts, enter your email address below. Thanks for reading!