Stop at the South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center, where you can join nature walks or take classes like intro to tree climbing.
1. Jump in a kayak
Part from the South Platte River's parade of bikers and joggers, and get a new perspective from the water. Pick up a kayak downtown at Confluence Kayaks, right near Confluence Park. You can take a tour with a guide, or go out on your own. Guided tours $129 full day, $89 half-day; rentals $50 full day, $30 half-day; confluencekayaks.com
2. Find the river's wild side
Confluence Kayaks will shuttle you to the put-in below Chatfield Dam in South Platte Park, 15 miles upstream. Push off, cruise down the river 1.5 miles, and make your first stop at the South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center (pictured), where you can join nature walks or take classes like intro to tree climbing. Park entry free, classes from $5; in Littleton; 303/730-1022.
3. Cruise to a garden
Two miles downstream from the nature center, visit the 30-acre Hudson Gardens ($5; in Littleton; hudsongardens.org) to walk among a conifer grove, waterfalls, water lilies, and even a Hobbit Hole garden. If you need a break, pull into the Platte River Bar and Grill ($; 303/798-9356) for a beer and burger with river views.
4. Refresh on the riverside
Back at Confluence Park, make a beeline for My Brother¹s Bar, the oldest still-operating bar in Denver, and the notorious Beat Generation hangout of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Kick back on the shaded patio, and try a Twisted Pine Brown Ale and the Johnnyburger slathered with jalapeño cream cheese and grilled onions. $; closed Sun; 303/455-9991.