Denver Pictures

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Many travelers see Denver as a jumping-off point for a Rocky Mountain getaway, using the Colorado capital for its airport and nothing else. But those folks are missing out: The Mile High City offers a mix of urban excitement and natural surroundings that other American cities can only dream of. We're not saying you should pass on the opportunity to hike the Rockies' trails or ski their slopes — just that you shouldn't do so without making reservations at some of Denver's eclectic eateries, exploring its museums or sampling a few of its famous brews. Working some of these more metropolitan enticements into your vacation will allow you to experience the Denver that locals know and love.

Denverites are much more laid back than residents of other major American cities, promoting an active, outdoorsy culture that thrives on good food and craft beer. Take a cue from the city's residents and spend your days in the Mile High City getting to know its hiking paths, shopping streets and brewery trails. In addition to loving nature, Denver's population also exhibits a passion for art, culture and cuisine. If Mother Nature isn't your companion of choice, spend your time wandering around the Denver Art Museum or Larimer Square before grabbing a basket of Rocky Mountain oysters along the Capitol Hill district's Restaurant Row. And if you happen to have kids in tow, you'll find plenty of ways to keep them entertained here, from a world-class zoo to the fascinating U.S. Mint.

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