Known as the Mile High City, Denver isn't just the state capital of Colorado, it's also one of the very best places to visit in the Centennial State if you're looking for beautiful parks, fascinating museums, super restaurants, great shopping, exciting cultural experiences, and fun outdoor activities.

More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips

Denver is an excellent city to explore with a lot to offer, and due to its prime location right by the Rocky Mountains, it's also an excellent gateway for all kinds of thrilling mountain day trips. Read on to learn about just a few of the best mountain day trips you and your family or friends can enjoy direct from Denver.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway Day Trip from Denver

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a little under two hours away from Denver by car. No other paved road anywhere in America has such a high elevation, and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway lets you drive all the way up to the top of Mount Evans, climbing to an extraordinary height of over 14,000 feet above sea level. The road runs for about 14 miles and the drive is amazing, offering world class views you wouldn't find anywhere else. Plus, when you get to the top, you can enjoy a little half-mile hike to the true summit.

Manitou Springs Day Trip from Denver

A foothills town some 90 minutes away from Denver and quite closely situated to Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs is a popular mountain day trip destination for people in Denver. You'll find the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park nearby for ziplining and aerial adventures, or you can try exploring the ruins of the awe-inspiring Manitou Cliff Dwellings. You can also simply take in the mountain town itself, meeting friendly locals, exploring the various art galleries, and shopping in the city's charming boutiques.

Cañon City Day Trip from Denver

A Home Rule Municipality in Fremont County, Cañon City is over two hours away from Denver, but it's one of the top mountain destinations you can choose for a day trip. Situated in the Royal Gorge, Cañon City features the Royal Gorge Railway, a highly scenic train ride taking you through the surrounding mountains for some extraordinary views and memorable experiences. River rafting and hiking are also popular activities in this part of the state.

Conifer Day Trip from Denver

Conifer is a small unincorporated community out in Jefferson County, not far from Denver. You can follow US-285 to get there, and the drive shouldn't take too long at all. When you arrive, you'll be able to enjoy one of the best mountain zipline experiences in the entire United States. You'll be soaring through the skies at peak heights of 8,000 feet above sea level, enjoying extraordinary views all around you and making some magical memories with your fellow travelers.

Bear Creek Canyon Day Trip from Denver

Bear Creek Canyon, also known as the Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive, is only half an hour out of Downtown Denver, so it's one of the closest and most convenient mountain day trips you can do from the Colorado state capital. Part of the city's park system, this scenic mountain drive is perfect for wildlife spotting and admiring the amazing scenery of the state. You can make stops along the way to take photos or go on little hikes as well.

Garden of the Gods Day Trip from Denver

A National Natural Landmark since 1971, Garden of the Gods is a public park situated in the city of Colorado Springs. You'll need to drive about an hour and a half to get there, but the mountain views and unique beauty of this location definitely justify the time you'll spend in the car. There are some truly fascinating rock formations to be seen in this area, with lots of good climbing, mountain biking, and hiking routes in the local area too, along with a couple of nearby museums and all the conveniences of Colorado Springs.

Golden Day Trip from Denver

Golden is an old gold rush mining town located just west of Denver. It only takes about half an hour to get there from Downtown Denver, so it's another very convenient option for your Denver day trip needs. This city is home to some lovely hiking trails, as well as unique attractions like the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum and the Colorado Railroad Museum, offering amazing insight and glimpses into the fascinating past and mining heritage of the Denver area.