Explore the Optometry’s Meeting® host city of Denver
Over 120 hours of cutting-edge, expert-led educational programming intersects the profession’s leadership and networking opportunities at Optometry’s Meeting®, June 24-26, in Denver, Colorado, where a reimagined experience gives doctors, paraoptometrics and students every chance to engage and meet head on optometry’s expanding scope of practice. But while you’re in Denver, don’t forget to venture beyond the Colorado Convention Center—and rest assured that the city has taken every precaution to safely welcome visitors with its Mile High Standards.
As of June 1, the City and County of Denver and the state of Colorado have lifted most capacity limits, distancing requirements and mask mandates in most settings. Masks continue to be required for people age 3 and older in Denver who are not fully vaccinated in settings such as hospitals, schools, childcare centers, etc. The federal government requires face coverings through Sept. 13, 2021, on all public transportation networks, airplanes, buses, trains, taxis, Ubers and Lyfts. The Public Health Orders in Denver and Colorado are in effect June 1 through July 1, 2021.
Whether you’re looking to indulge in local cuisine, hit the trails or find the perfect family day trip, local AOA members share their recommendations of how to explore Denver.
Sightseeing and entertainment
Alderfer and Three Sisters Park
Located in nearby Evergreen, Colorado.
“Evergreen is a pretty area in the foothills of Denver with great trails for hiking or mountain biking. Acclimate to the altitude first, and drink lots of water!”–Tara DeRose, O.D.
Follow these high-altitude tips from VISIT DENVER.
Currently, the home of the Colorado Rockies is at 70% capacity and masks are no longer required in the ballpark, though they are still encouraged for those who are not fully vaccinated. The Rockies will host a full-capacity crowd beginning June 28 through the remainder of the 2021 regular season.
“Coors Field is an amazing outdoor ballpark with views of the Rocky Mountains and a fun rooftop area.” –Tara DeRose, O.D.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
At the heart of the Denver cultural experience for more than 100 years. Guests are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online. Entry times will take place every 20 minutes beginning at the top of each hour during operational hours, and admission lines will be marked for physical distancing purposes.
Home to more than 3,000 animals, the zoo limits the number of visitors daily and timed-entry tickets must be purchased in advance.
Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
“If you want to experience the Rocky Mountains but not take a long drive from Denver, there are some beautiful places less than two hours away that are full of scenic beauty and Colorado wildlife. No. 1 on my list is the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This city park and museum are free to visit and has a loop drive of incredible vistas. It is 70 miles south of downtown Denver on I-25.” –Jennifer Simonson, O.D.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
“It’s the highest paved road in North America. We love the alpine lakes and frequent sighting of mountain goats and bighorn sheep near Mount Evans. It is 60 miles west of Denver on I-70. Mount Evans is one of the famous ‘fourteeners’—Colorado peaks 14,000 feet or more above sea level.” –Jennifer Simonson, O.D.
The park is open, but reservations are required for entry.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
“Red Rocks is a natural rock amphitheater known for concerts with amazing acoustics, but it’s also a popular area for working out: running stairs, doing yoga or walking the surrounding trails.” –Tara DeRose, O.D.
The amphitheater will resume full capacity starting June 21. Continued use of masks in crowded settings is recommended.
16th Street Mall – Pedestrian Mall
There are 42 outdoor cafes along the mall, 12 movie theaters and plenty of shops. At the north end of the mall, 16th Street continues as a pedestrian path over three bridges connecting downtown to Commons Park and LoHi, a neighborhood filled with restaurants and brewpubs. Points of interest along the mall include the D&F Tower, a two-thirds replica of the Campanile of St. Mark's in Venice that was the highest building west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1909. When your feet are tired, hail a horse-drawn carriage or pedi-cab.
Food + drink
Denver’s Microbrewery Scene
“Enjoy a pint of beer at one of Denver’s 72 microbreweries. Hop on a scooter or bike share and head to one of these gems, including Denver Beer Co., Renegade Brewing Co., Epic Brewing Co. and Prost Brewing, just to name a few.” -Tom Cruse, O.D.
“You haven’t been to Denver if you haven’t checked out Larimer Square. It’s absolutely beautiful at night. It has cute boutique shops, night clubs, as well as some great Mexican, Italian and steakhouses.”–Kristin O’Brien, O.D.
Local breweries near Coors Field
“There are several breweries close to the stadium for a variety of tastes. I personally like the Great Divide Brewing Co. and Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery for a pregame beer flight. Breckenridge Brewery and Wynkoop Brewing Co. both serve food that makes them perfect for a meal before a game. Wynkoop is one of Denver’s oldest craft breweries and is located across from Union Station.”–Hayes Redmond, O.D.
Milkbox Ice Creamery
“We often stop at Milkbox Ice Creamery for a great ice cream cone and let the kids play in the water feature out front. Great way to cool down on a hot day."–Hayes Redmond, O.D.
“Grab some coffee while you wait for a table at this popular brunch restaurant.” –Tara DeRose, O.D.
South Pearl Street
"Make a reservation for some of the best sushi in Denver at Sushi Den or Izakaya Den. Also on South Pearl Street, have a beer at Platte Park Brewing, walk across the street for a burger at Park Burger and finish off the night with ice cream next door at Sweet Cow Ice Cream.” -Tom Cruse, O.D.
“We like to restaurant hop in Union Station,” –Tara DeRose, O.D.
“For the best view without going to the mountains, go to ViewHouse. There are multiple locations and all are great for scenery.” –Kristin O’Brien, O.D.
Denver travel information
Find helpful travel information, including air travel, airport rail, public transit, taxis, ride share and more.
Developing tomorrow’s leaders, today
In 2017, the AOA and the American Optometric Student Association launched an ambitious initiative to bring 2,000+ students and newly graduated doctors of optometry to Washington, D.C., to promote career readiness and success, foster professional aspirations and develop the next generation. Called AOA+, the initiative is returning to Optometry’s Meeting® 2023, bigger and bolder than before. Six years later, what do those inaugural participants say about AOA+ as a catalyzing moment in their careers?
AOA redoubles plan advocacy; volunteers chart association’s path forward
Nearly 300 AOA volunteers convened in committee workgroups this past weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, to engage in association business, including developing impactful resources and advising optometry’s foremost advocate.
Optometry’s Meeting® 2023: Keep up with contemporary optometry through continuing education
What are you waiting for? Early-bird registration is now open for Optometry’s Meeting® in Washington, D.C., June 21-24. And that means you can get first dibs on continuing education and professional development at the premier event in our profession. Interested in a unique, interactive case history diagnosis workshop or working toward a micro-credential for paraoptometric surgical assisting? Enroll in the education at Optometry’s Meeting.