Navigating a layover at Denver International Airport (DEN) doesn’t have to be a tedious experience. From art exhibits and culinary delights to pet-friendly spaces and observation decks, DEN offers a diverse range of activities that cater to varied interests.
Whether you have just a couple of hours or an extended layover, here’s how you can make the most of your time at this bustling transportation hub.
Visit the Art Exhibits
Denver International Airport (DIA) is home to a compelling array of public art that captures the spirit of Colorado. Among the pieces is “Blue Mustang,” a 32-foot tall sculpture by Luis Jiménez, located near the airport’s entrance.
Often the subject of both awe and controversy, the sculpture offers travelers a striking visual experience.
Artworks extend throughout the airport, from murals to interactive installations, offering a multifaceted look at the region’s culture and history.
DIA’s food scene offers passengers a genuine taste of Colorado. From local delicacies to farm-to-table options, the airport’s restaurants are a culinary microcosm of the state.
The diverse offerings allow passengers to sample regional dishes and flavors without leaving the terminal, transforming the obligatory pre-flight meal into an opportunity to experience Colorado’s unique food culture.
The airport’s transit center, known as the Grand Hall, serves as a bustling hub for both rail and bus services. But beyond its utilitarian functions, the space has become a sort of urban living room.
With its modern design, the Great Hall is an excellent place for people-watching, offering an authentic snapshot of the city’s cosmopolitan character.
It’s also dotted with cafes and shops, giving you ample opportunities to grab a coffee or browse while you wait.
DIA offers a shopping experience that ranges from boutique to brand name. The airport provides a retail landscape that reflects both the local culture and global trends.
Whether you’re in search of Colorado-themed souvenirs or high-end designer goods, the diverse array of stores ensures that passengers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
For a targeted relaxation experience during your layover, “A Massage” is your go-to spot, located in both Concourse B and C.
Their range of services is designed to cater to the diverse needs of travelers. Choose from a Chair Massage, which focuses on alleviating tension in the back, neck, and shoulders—ideal for a quick, refreshing break.
If you have more time and need deeper relaxation, a Table Massage provides a more comprehensive treatment. For expectant mothers, the Prenatal massage option is specially designed for pregnancy-related discomforts.
They also offer Reflexology, a technique targeting specific points on the feet to improve overall well-being.
Observation Deck in Concourse B and C
If you’re in Concourse B or C, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the observation deck. Offering sweeping views of both the airport’s runways and the majestic Rocky Mountains in the distance, this spot is a must-see.
Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast eager to watch planes take off and land, or simply someone who appreciates a stunning backdrop, the observation deck provides an unforgettable experience.
DIA’s premium lounges offer an elevated experience for those willing to pay an entry fee. These lounges are equipped with a range of amenities such as complimentary snacks, beverages, and high-speed Wi-Fi.
They offer a tranquil environment, complete with comfortable seating and ample power outlets, making them an ideal option for business travelers or anyone looking to escape the general terminal chaos.
For aviation enthusiasts, DIA offers exceptional views of the airfield. The airport’s architectural design includes large windows that overlook the runways and taxiways.
These spots provide a front-row seat to the intricacies of airport operations, from takeoffs and landings to the precise choreography of ground vehicles, making it a captivating experience for those interested in aviation.
Located between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport, the plaza is an outdoor space where you can get some fresh air and sunshine.
Occasionally, the plaza hosts live music and other events, providing a break from the indoor airport atmosphere.
The airport features several bookstores, including Tattered Cover, a Denver institution. It’s a perfect spot to pick up some reading material for your flight or simply to kill time with some quality literature.
Whether you’re looking to pick up some reading material for your flight, discover a new author, or simply escape the bustle of the terminal, this bookstore offers a multifaceted experience for bibliophiles.
Pet Relief Areas
For travelers accompanied by four-legged friends, DEN offers designated pet relief areas that ensure a comfortable layover for all members of your party.
Located in each concourse as well as the Jeppesen Terminal, these areas are equipped with synthetic grass and waste disposal facilities.
Whether it’s before a flight or between connections, these spots provide a convenient space for pets to relax and relieve themselves, making the travel experience more pleasant for both pets and their owners.
Quick City Visit
If your layover at Denver International Airport extends for five hours or more, taking a quick jaunt to downtown Denver becomes a viable option, thanks to the airport’s efficient rail system.
A 40-minute ride on the A Line drops you at Union Station, a hub that’s both a historic landmark and a gateway to the city’s attractions.
16th Street Mall
This mile-long pedestrian walkway is packed with shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Free shuttles run the length of the mall if you’re pressed for time or want to cover more ground.
Colorado State Capitol
If you’re interested in architecture or politics, a visit to the Colorado State Capitol building is worthwhile. The iconic gold dome offers panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from its observation deck.
Denver Art Museum
Featuring more than 70,000 works of art from all over the world, this museum is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
Known as Denver’s most historic block, Larimer Square offers a mixture of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The area often hosts events, street performances, and has a vibrant nightlife.
If you’d like some fresh air and green space, head to Confluence Park. It’s where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet, offering a beautiful setting for a quick walk or just to relax.
Short for ‘Lower Downtown’, this area is rich in historic architecture and features some of Denver’s most popular bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
Given that Denver is known as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” you might want to check out one of the many craft breweries downtown. Most offer tours and tastings, allowing you to experience Denver’s beer culture.
If you’re visiting during the winter months, this park features an ice skating rink. During the rest of the year, it’s a pleasant spot for a picnic and offers various family-friendly activities.
Although it would be a quick visit, the Downtown Aquarium offers a glimpse into aquatic and geographic ecosystems and is an entertaining option for all ages.
Remember to account for the 40-minute return trip and the time you’ll need to go back through security. With careful planning, a long layover can turn into a mini Denver adventure.