The best books to explore Denver no matter if you're a newcomer or local

Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

The books I picked & why

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A History Lover's Guide to Denver

By Mark A. Barnhouse,

Book cover of A History Lover's Guide to Denver

Why this book?

As the title indicates, history lovers will enjoy this book. I appreciated the short, easy-to-read entries. It was a well-written book with excellent photography. The author Mark Barnhouse is a Denver native and has published six history books on Denver. As a result of his experience, this book is of high-quality and polished.


A Short History of Denver

By Stephen J. Leonard, Thomas J. Noel,

Book cover of A Short History of Denver

Why this book?

An outstanding history book of Denver filled with interesting details. Short enough not to bore me. Detailed enough to grasp the significant events, people, buildings, and aspects of Denver that give it a well-rounded and thorough view. Well organized and researched. This book is a treasure for Denver's history. I applaud and appreciate the authors for putting their knowledge and research into the hands of the public is such an easy-to-read book form.


Walking Denver: 32 Tours of the Mile High City's Best Urban Trails, Historic Architecture, and Cultural Highlights

By Mindy Sink, Sophie Seymour,

Book cover of Walking Denver: 32 Tours of the Mile High City's Best Urban Trails, Historic Architecture, and Cultural Highlights

Why this book?

I had fun learning more about Denver by walking. I decided to take 32 different friends or family members on the 32 different walks outlined in the book. It was a great way to spend time outdoors in conversation and exploration. It is fabulous if you are new to Denver or if you want to rediscover the city where you have lived for a long time. 


Secret Denver: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure

By Eric Peterson, David Lewis,

Book cover of Secret Denver: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure

Why this book?

After reading a lot of Denver history and guidebooks, I found Secret Denver a fun addition to my collection. Sometimes I enjoy going off the beaten path of traditional guidebooks, and Secret Denver has ideas of what to explore and obscure facts that are interesting. Not all entries are in Denver proper, so one can also go outside the city limits for a few outings if desired. 


Denver Then and Now

By Joshua Dinar,

Book cover of Denver Then and Now

Why this book?

I like reading about Denver's history, but I love seeing pictures bring that history to life. This book shows old pictures of buildings and compares them with the present-day look. In some cases, beautiful old buildings no longer exist or have been drastically altered. This is a great coffee table book. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Denver, Colorado, and historic sites?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Denver, Colorado, and historic sites.

Denver Explore 17 books about Denver
Colorado Explore 40 books about Colorado
Historic Sites Explore 9 books about historic sites

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Hell's Belles, Revised Edition, If the Ice Had Held, and Laughing Boy if you like this list.