29 Best Things to Do in Denver in Fall

As a local tour company, we’re well informed on the city’s seasonal happenings. There are so many things to do in Denver in fall. Activities range from harvest celebrations to family-friendly festivals, Halloween attractions, leaf peeping, and more.  

This guide highlights the absolute best autumn activities in Denver, allowing you to make the most of this short, scenic season. We also share free activities and day trips for every interest.  

A group on a downtown Denver food tour by Delicious Denver Food Tours

Autumn is harvest season and what better way to enjoy its bounty than on a Downtown Denver Food Tour! This 3-hour guided experience includes five generous tastings from award-winning restaurants. Savor Colorado green chile, fry bread tacos, flaky baked empanadas, and more local flavors — which you can pair with complementary boozy beverages. 

While walking between stops, your expert guide will share insights about the city and its dining scene. Delicious Denver Food Tours also hosts other engaging experiences, like its RiNo Arts District Food Tour and Denver Wine Walk. These tours accommodate all dietary needs and preferences, as well as varying group sizes. Both locals and tourists love these foodie outings! 

Empower Field at Mile High during a Denver Broncos game

Cheer on the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High this season! There are several home games from Sept. – Dec. These include matches against rival teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders. Wear all orange, pick up a case of Broncos Country pale ales, and tailgate at the stadium for the complete experience. 

Four men dressed in German attire, celebrating Denver Oktoberfest

Denver Oktoberfest is a two-weekend festival located on Larimer and 21st in Ballpark. Festivities occur Sept. 22 – 24 and Sept. 29 – Oct. 1. Enjoy the beer hall and German-inspired fare, live music, and competitions like stein hoisting and keg bowling. Admission is free but VIP ticket holders get the full package with unlimited beer and wine, included meals, and more.

An aerial view of Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms during autumn

There are many reasons to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens during the fall. The Chatfield Gardens location will host its first-ever beer festival, Hop Festival, on Sept. 16. The Littleton site will also celebrate its annual Pumpkin Festival, complete with a 7-acre corn maze, on Oct. 6 – 8. 

The downtown York Street location will have a fall plant and bulb sale on Sept. 22 – 23. Its spooky Halloween event, Ghosts in the Gardens, occurs Oct. 13 – 15 and Oct. 26 – 29. Also, don’t miss Glow at the Gardens. Thousands of jack o’ lanterns will decorate the venue on Oct. 17 – 22.

Lastly, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts free days through autumn. Get free admission to its Plains Conservation Center on Saturday, Nov. 18, as well as York Street and Chatfield Gardens on Friday, Nov. 24. 

A child dressed in a Halloween costume, looking at animals at the Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo also hosts special activities and free days throughout the season. Families will love its Wild Fall event. Costumed characters and carved pumpkins decorate the venue from Sept. 29 – Oct. 31. After dark, candy stations appear along the Trick-or-Treat Trail. 

The 21+ crowd will enjoy the Monster Masquerade, the year’s last Adulting with the Animals event. Enjoy a costume contest, beer tastings, and live music on Oct. 26.

Also, the zoo hosts one of the best free things to do in Denver in fall. Skip admission costs on Saturday, Oct. 7; Tuesday, Nov. 7; and Sunday, Nov. 12.  

A group attending an event during Denver Beer Week

Denver Beer Week occurs Sept. 15 – 23, culminating with the Great American Beer Festival. Various breweries and restaurants throughout the city will celebrate locals’ favorite beverage with specials, flights, food pairings, and new beer releases. Several establishments will also host live music, stream football games, and offer other entertainment. 

Beer being poured into a Great American Beer Festival sampling glass

The Great American Beer Festival is one of the country’s largest beer competitions. On Sept. 21 – 23, 500+ craft breweries from across the US will serve 2,000+ tastings at the Colorado Convention Center. Enjoy every ale imaginable at GABF, from seasonal brews to flagship pours and award-winners. Wear a pretzel necklace into the venue and enjoy concessions on-site.  

Chefs preparing for Harvest Week, one of the best things to do in Denver in fall

Denver Harvest Week is set to occur from Oct. 2 – 5 at Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse. It will feature 24 independent chefs and local restaurants. Each evening, guests will be provided passed appetizers, a five-course meal served family style, and access to an open bar. 

Ticket sales benefit the non-profit EatDenver, which supports the local restaurant industry with advocacy, education programs, and networking opportunities. Denver Harvest Week also supports The GrowHaus, which provides food access, health education, and professional development to local communities. 

Families picking pumpkins during the Pumpkin Harvest Festival

On Oct. 14 – 15, Four Mile Historic Park will host its annual Pumpkin Harvest Festival. It’s one of the best things to do in Denver in fall, featuring live music, dozens of local vendors, and the opportunity to build your own scarecrow. Visitors can also pick pumpkins from the patch, nosh on apple cider donuts, and enjoy other seasonal festivities at this Glendale attraction. 

Two women admiring a display at Denver Pumpkin Nights

The Adams County Fairgrounds transforms during Pumpkin Nights, a family-friendly festival that takes place from Oct. 17 – Nov. 3. Explore fantastical lands like the Forbidden City and a pirate’s cove, each decorated with hundreds of jack o’ lanterns. Watch artists carve pumpkins, be amazed by fire dancers, and enjoy tasty bites from local food truck vendors. 

Racers participating in the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot

The 50th annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot will occur on Nov. 23! Each year, thousands participate in the four-mile run/walk through Washington Park. Register the whole family, little ones and pups included, to benefit the local community. Proceeds go to community partners which supply affordable housing, professional development services, basic needs, and more.

A group dressed up on 16th Street Mall for the Denver Zombie Crawl

This Halloween, attend the Denver Zombie Crawl along 16th Street Mall. Wander the open-air complex among the undead, and get into the spirit by dressing up. Take advantage of makeup booths and enter the costume contest for a chance to win prizes. Zombie Crawl also hosts after-parties at some of the city’s top clubs, including The Black Box and Your Mom’s House.

Two costumed actors at Elitch Gardens' Fright Fest, one of the best things to do in Denver in fall

All ages will love celebrating Halloween at Elitch Gardens’ annual Fright Fest. The two-part event features Family by Day activities, like the Trick or Treat Trail in KiddieLand. Then, during Fright by Night, ghouls and goblins appear throughout the amusement park. Get spooked by costumed characters and haunted houses, and let screams out on thrilling rides. 

A group on a Dark Side of Denver ghost tour

Learn about the city’s paranormal happenings on a Dark Side of Denver Ghost Tour. Its most popular two-hour tour includes visits to Union Station and the surrounding historic structures. Hear stories of those who haunt these former bars and brothels as night falls in the LoDo neighborhood.

Phil Goodstein, a local author who’s written extensively on Denver’s history and ghostly encounters, leads two other tours. Join this eccentric character in exploring the spooky sites throughout Capitol Hill or Cheesman Park — if you dare! 

Costumed actors at 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver

13th Floor Haunted House is one of the most popular Halloween attractions in Denver. This year’s storylines involve a post-apocalyptic world, demonic possessions, and fairytale villains that are sure to give you a fright. 

There are also two themed bars on site, as well as other experiences. Arm yourself with a jellyball gun and target the zombies in the shooting range. Get through a labyrinth haunted by a deranged clown, have your tarot cards read, and enjoy more Halloween fun. 

An aerial view of the Art District on Santa Fe during Denver Arts Week

Denver Arts Week occurs Nov. 3 – 11. It will kick off with First Friday events in several city neighborhoods. Visit Tennyson Street, the Art District on Santa Fe, and the 40 West Arts District, which will host a Día de los Muertos art crawl. A number of cultural sites will also host free days this week, including the incredible Clyfford Still Museum. 

Crowds at Cherry Creek farmers market, one of the best fall activities in Denver

Celebrate harvest season at several local farmers markets! The Highlands Farmers Market appears every Sunday through Oct. 15. On Saturdays through Oct. 28, head to the City Park Farmers Market. The Cherry Creek market also operates on Saturdays through Nov. 4. 

See this list for more options across the metro area and enjoy one of the best things to do in Denver in fall! 

Crowds and pop-up tents at Morrison Ciderfest

Morrison Ciderfest occurs on Sept. 30 in the community’s charming downtown district. Watch cider press demonstrations, climb aboard hay rides, shop from local arts and crafts vendors, and dance to live music all day long. All ages are welcome at this free event. 

Red Rocks Amphitheatre during an autumn concert

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is also located in Morrison and is an iconic Colorado attraction. Of course, the venue’s concerts, film screenings, and fitness events require paid tickets. But simply visiting Red Rocks is one of the best free things to do in Denver in fall. See the amphitheatre, hit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and take a hike through the incredible rock formations.

Cherry Creek Bike Path during fall

Pedaling down the Cherry Creek Bike Path is a wonderful way to admire fall colors in the city. This 40-mile route connects downtown’s Union Station with Franktown, a small community near Castle Rock. Bikers can access the path from several points, explore Cherry Creek State Park, and visit other highlights featured on its TrailLink map

An autumn view of Eldorado Canyon State Park

Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far to admire the mountains’ fall foliage. Some of the area’s best leaf-peeping trails are found in nearby Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It has hikes for all skill levels, as well as camping and other outdoor activities. 

Eldorado Canyon State Park is another ideal aspen-viewing location, as is Herman Gulch and Mount Bierstadt, one of the easiest and most popular Colorado 14ers. Find its trailhead along the stunning Guanella Pass. 

Autumn foliage along Guanella Pass, one of the best day trips from Denver in fall

Guanella Pass can also be enjoyed without a strenuous hike. Simply drive the scenic route from Georgetown to Grant, admiring gold and orange aspens along the way. To extend the journey, head eight miles west from Grant to Kenosha Pass, another gorgeous area. 

The Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway is also a wonderful fall experience. It runs from Black Hawk to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and its iconic Trail Ridge Road. 

A group in Halloween costumes outside The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel is another iconic destination in Estes Park. It’s famous for inspiring Steven King’s The Shining, and visitors can even stay in the suite he booked in 1974. The hotel also hosts theatrical seances, spooky nightly tours of the grounds, and several other events for horror fans — and the general visitor, too. 

Even if haunted attractions aren’t your thing, the Stanley Hotel is worth a visit. Admire the surrounding fall colors, stay in a historic room, and enjoy dining on-site. The Cascades Restaurant is highly recommended, having the largest selection of whiskeys in Colorado. 

Elk in Estes Park, commonly seen during Elk Fest

Elk Fest is yet another reason to make a trip to Estes Park this fall. This annual event takes place on Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 and coincides with the elk rut. Herds are often seen throughout town, bugling to find a mate. 

Families can participate in the festival’s Rut Run 5K, wander the vendors’ stalls, and listen to local musicians including Danny Many Horses. Native American dancers will join him in performances and storytelling. In addition, several Estes Park shops and eateries will offer specials during the event, allowing visitors to make the most of their experience.  

The Georgetown Loop Railroad route during autumn

The Georgetown Loop Railroad route is absolutely stunning in autumn. The historic locomotive winds through colorful aspen groves and into the mountains, amazing visitors with its views. Fall foliage is best admired on the weekends of Sept. 22 – 24 and Sept. 29 – Oct. 1.

The attraction hosts several other seasonal rides including the Pumpkinfest Train on Oct. 6 – 8, which provides children with a free pumpkin and candy. Adults will enjoy the Autumnfest Train the following weekend, which includes free beer tastings from local craft breweries. 

A rainbow over the orchard at Adam's Apple Orchard

If you want to pick apples in the Denver area, plan well in advance! Nelms Farm in Golden and Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont are popular destinations. Their U-Pick orchards require reservations, which often sell out by August. 

But don’t worry if you missed the memo. Adam’s Apple Orchard has apple picking available on weekends through early October — no reservations required. Find its orchard and country store in Ault, located 30 minutes east of Fort Collins. 

A decorated sign for Anderson Farms, one of the best things to do in Denver in fall

Anderson Farms is located in Erie, about 30 minutes north of Denver. It features several family-friendly attractions, including wagon rides to the pumpkin patch and the opportunity to meet farm animals. 

All ages will love the massive corn maze, which features several checkpoints. Punch cards are provided, making for an interactive experience. Come nightfall, there’s also Terror in the Corn. Get spooked by costumed characters and Halloween decor as you make your way through this “Mile of Mayhem.” 

A banner for the Telluride Horror Show in downtown Telluride, Colorado

Admittedly, Telluride is more of a weekend getaway from Denver rather than a day trip. It’s about six hours from the city, but so worth the drive — especially for the annual Telluride Horror Show, which occurs Oct. 13 – 15. 

It’s the largest horror film festival in Colorado, featuring dozens of events and productions within the horror, thriller, and sci-fi genres. Several films are screened for the first time and are created by top-talent authors and filmmakers.