Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Highlands Ranch, CO

  • Published 2022/12/28

Highlands Ranch is a suburb within Denver in Douglas Countywithin Colorado.

The first settlers arrived in this area way back in 1860.

One of the most famous people who first lived here was Rufus Clark, also known as “Potato King.”

Clark donated ample money and land to Highlands Ranch, which has been allocated to become the area’s finest parks.

The population in this suburb reached 105,631 based on the 2020 census.

Its total land area comprises 24.268 square miles of land and 0.025 square miles of water.

The open trails and parks within the community make this place a good and relaxing place to live.

It sits 5,920 feet above sea level, giving you a breathtaking view of the surrounding communities.

But aside from that, Highlands Ranch is also filled with other destinations that await to be discovered.

Take a look at these best things to do in Highlands Ranch, Colorado!

Stop by the Highlands Ranch Mansion

Exterior view of  Highlands Ranch Mansion

Steve Lagreca /

Highlands Ranch Mansion is a historic mansion on East Gateway Dr.

It used to be home to the suburbs’ most notable families, including oil tycoons, cattle barons, socialites, and political leaders.

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Highlands Ranch Mansion’s spacious landscaped grounds and take a photo of its picturesque architectural details.

This mansion will make you feel like you’re traveling back in time.

It is also surrounded by barns, a working ranch, pastures, ranch houses, corrals, and an iconic windmill.

Due to its unique ambiance and rich historical value, Highlands Ranch Mansion is a favorite venue for soon-to-wed couples looking for a wedding venue.

Lectures and tours are also held here.

Have a Drink or Two at Grist Brewing Company

Grist Brewing Company is a 6,700-square-foot brewpub on Commerce Center Cir #300.

This is a perfect place for a little night out with friends.

Grist Brewing Company features an expansive bar known for its craft beers.

You’ll never run out of choices from their cocktails and other alcoholic beverages.

It also boasts spacious indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Grist Brewing Company has four locations within the Denver area, and this one in Highlands Ranch is their production facility and tasting room.

Let Your Kids Play at Play Street Museum Highlands Ranch

Play Street Museum Highlands Ranch is a fun and exciting destination on South Colorado Blvd.

This attraction is a network of small-format children’s museums.

Your little ones will enjoy exploring Play Street Museum Highlands Ranch’s interactive exhibits.

Their imagination and creativity will also be used in its pretend town square and educational play space.

You can even book Play Street Museum Highlands Ranch for events, parties, and field trips.

You can also enroll your kids in its playtime sessions conducted four times a day.

WIFI is available within the vicinity, so adults are welcome to sit back and relax while waiting for their children.

Go for a Picnic at Civic Green Park

Civic Green Park is a green space located on South Ridgeline Blvd.

This park is dotted with trees and landscaped areas perfect for picnic sessions with loved ones.

The best time to visit Civic Green Park is during the early morning and late afternoon.

It also features gardens and a picnic pavilion suited for 100 people.

You’ll easily recognize this park through its three bridges built over a man-made stream and arched amphitheater.

There are also fountains and two water-feature ponds inside this park.

Stroll at Cheese Ranch Historic & Natural Area

Cheese Ranch Historic & Natural Area is nestled on Sugarstone Cir.

It features walking trails and a fishing pond with a pier.

Cheese Ranch Historic & Natural Areais perfect for sightseeing and some peaceful time with nature.

It also has a community garden and a wildlife observation area where you can spot some amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

This cheese ranch served as a famous social center for people across the state.

People used to come to this ranch to eat delicious food and try out delectable cheeses.

Play with Friends at West Fork Disc Golf Course

West Fork Disc Golf Course is situated on South Broadway.

This 18-hole golf course was designed by John Bird and was established in 2020.

It measures 5126 to 6141 feet.

West Fork Disc Golf Course is surrounded by concrete tees and is cart friendly.

Your furry friends are also welcome to roam around here.

Aside from the golf course, West Fork Disc Golf Course is also a public park with challenging walking trails that will lead to some of the area’s scenic spots.

Play Basketball at Dad Clark Park

Dad Clark Park is a hidden park on Astorbrook Cir.

This park has a sports field and basketball courts, perfect if you want to play some sport with your friends.

A community garden is also available where locals and visitors can get free produce.

Your kids will also love Dad Clark Park’s playground, which has swings, slides, monkey bars, and more.

Drinking fountains and barbeque grills are also available, so food won’t be a problem while you’re here.

Just bring your snacks and other drinks and use Dad Clark Park’s shelter suited for more than 40 people.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Pose for a Photo at 17 Mile House Farm Park

View of 17 Mile House Farm Park

Thomas Stockman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

17 Mile House Farm Park is a heritage site on South Parker Rd., Centennial.

You can reach this place through a 27-minute drive from Highlands Ranch.

This 160-year-old farm was a resting stop for traveling Smoky Hill wagon trails in the 1860s.

Now, 17 Mile House Farm Park is home to a 19th-century farmhouse open for tours, picnics, and other activities.

A bike rack and access to the Cherry Creek Regional Trail are available here.

Visit Centennial Center Park

Centennial Center Park is located on East Peakview Ave., Centennial.

It can be reached via a 19-minute drive from Highlands Ranch.

This 11-acre park was opened in 2021 and is ideally situated adjacent to the Centennial Civic Center.

Centennial Center Park has a plaza that features the historical timeline of the Cherry Creek Basin.

It also boasts an amphitheater that represents the four periods of human history.

Centennial Center Park is a good place where you and your family can bond and relax simultaneously.

You can explore its bicycle paths and walking trails.

Picnic tables, gas fireplaces, and barbeque grills are also available.

Spend Some Time at Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Lake at Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Faina Gurevich /

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park is a 75-acre green space on South Jasper Ct., Centennial.

This is also where you can find native plants and fantastic wildlife creatures.

It is just 23 minutes away from Highlands Ranch.

This park is owned and operated by the Arapahoe County Open Space.

Autumn trees at Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Faina Gurevich /

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park has trails, an outdoor classroom, a covered gazebo, and well-maintained restrooms.

Cherry Creek runs until the middle part of the park.

It serves as a habitat for wildlife and storm conveyance.

You can also explore this park by cycling.

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park is also ADA accessible, so everyone in the family can have a great time here.

Bridge at Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Faina Gurevich /

Challenge Yourself at the Clue Room

The Clue Room is the first and largest escape game company in Colorado.

It can be located on South Yosemite St., Centennial.

You can reach this place via a 17-minute drive from Highlands Ranch.

You should try all of The Clue Room’s exciting and challenging games, such as Spy Ops, Operation Shield and Sword, The Shadow Galley, and others.

You and your teammates only have 60 minutes to escape your chosen room or game using your combined mental prowess and problem-solving skills.

The Clue Room also accepts booking for birthdays, company events, and other occasions.

Try Boating at Chatfield State Park

Paddle boarding at Chatfield State Park

Wayne Broussard /

Chatfield State Park is located on North Roxborough Park Rd., Littleton.

It belongs in Douglas and Jefferson counties.

You’ll reach this park via a 13-minute drive from Highlands Ranch.

Chatfield State Park is popular for boaters, hikers, campers, and fishers.

Paddleboats, pontoons, ski boats, and sailboats can also be rented out here at Chatfield State Park.

Landscape of Chatfield State Park

Luke P Ferguson /

You can also bike here and see the park’s most beautiful and picture-perfect spots.

If you ever get hungry, you can lay your picnic blanket and enjoy food with friends and family.

Chatfield State Park has a full-service marina, swimming beach, and off-leash dog walking area.

On-site lodging allowed here at Chatfield State Park is tents and RVs.

Natural trail at Chatfield State Park

Sean Xu /

Spend the Day at Trails Recreation Center

Trails Recreation Center is a 78,000-square-foot recreation facility on East Lake Ave., Centennial.

It is just 26 minutes away from Highlands Ranch.

It was opened in 2004 and has served residents and locals with exciting recreational activities.

Some programs offered here at Trails Recreation Center are swimming lessons, athletic classes, dance, and personal training.

Trails Recreation Center also boasts fun amenities like a hot tub, sauna, steam room, and espresso bike.

If you want to try out a more relaxing activity, its pottery, sculpting, photography and painting programs are perfect for you.

Spend the Day Bird Watching at South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center

Landscape of  South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center

Gennady Zakharin /

South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center is a natural oasis on West Carson Dr., Littleton.

It is nestled just 11 minutes away from Highlands Ranch.

South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center measure 800 acres and are home to five lakes suitable for fishing.

Since this is a natural habitat for wildlife, South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center also serves as a good place for bird watching.

Birds resting on a bark at  South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center

Nina B /

You can also spot other mammal species here.

This park is also a good viewing spot where you can admire the Rocky Mountains from afar.

Make sure to explore South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center’s trail system, which will bring you to green forests and breathtaking locations.

View of  South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center

Gennady Zakharin /

Enjoy the Cold Weather at SNÖBAHN Indoor Ski + Snowboard Center.

SNÖBAHN Indoor Ski + Snowboard Center is located on South York St., Centennial.

It is just a short 14-minute drive from Highlands Ranch.

SNÖBAHN Indoor Ski + Snowboard Center is the perfect place if you want to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.

Gears for rent are also available here.

SNÖBAHN Indoor Ski + Snowboard Center features lodge and resting areas suited for adults who want to take a break and socialize with others.

Showers and lockers are also conveniently available.

SNÖBAHN Indoor Ski + Snowboard Center also hosts birthdays and other important celebrations.

See Colorful Wildflowers at Denver Botanic Gardens

Sculptures displayed at Denver Botanic Gardens

Arina P Habich /

Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms is nestled on West Deer Creek Canyon Rd., Littleton.

It is just 17 minutes from Highlands Ranch.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing this 700-acre native plant refuge.

Colorful christmas decorations at Denver Botanic Gardens

Sean Xu /

Denver Botanic Gardens is where you can see and admire native plants and wildflowers.

A seasonal butterfly house can also be visited.

Denver Botanic Gardens also serves as home to historic buildings traced back to the 1800s.

It also offers a 2.5-mile nature trail.

Lily pond at Denver Botanic Gardens


Aside from that, Denver Botanic Gardens is also a good spot for bird watching, so make sure to bring your binoculars!

Denver Botanic Gardens is truly a picture-perfect location, but a permit is required for portrait and commercial photography.

Couples enjoying their day at Denver Botanic Gardens

Page Light Studios /

Final Thoughts

Many local attractions within and near Highlands Ranch are truly one of a kind.

A change of scenery and experiencing new adventures is something that every person must try.

So if you’re looking for a destination where you can relax, recharge, and recollect yourself, take time to explore what this suburban has to offer.

You can use this guide to try out all the best things to do in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

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