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Colorado is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. A rugged yet stunning landscape is created by snowcapped mountains, rushing rivers, and dramatic canyons. Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs offer cultural experiences. While you might think of Colorado primarily as a ski destination, there are plenty of fun things to do in Colorado at any time of year.
You can hike in one of the state’s four national parks in the spring and cool off in one of the state’s lakes in the summer. In addition, Colorado is home to numerous annual festivals, breweries, and historic mining towns. With so many activities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide how to spend your time. Here are the top 10 ten things to do in Colorado. Some tours and excursions may be affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. You should check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State, and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Mile High City is full of museums, trendy restaurants, historical sites and top-notch views, making it one of the best spots in Colorado. Visitors recommend stopping at the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and the Denver Botanic Gardens for a taste of culture. Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature & Science are great places to spend the day with children. There are also a variety of unique tour options, including brewery tours and graffiti tours, so you can see as much of the city as possible. If you’re on a budget, you can also have a picnic in City Park, which offers views of the mountains and plenty of room to run around. At night, stroll through Larimer Square to find breweries and bars. Great Divide Brewing Company and Ratio Beer works are two top-rated breweries. It is also an excellent place to explore in the evening due to its vibrant nightlife scene, live musical performances, and notable street art. There are plenty of accommodations in Colorado’s capital city as well, from upscale hotels like the Four Seasons Hotel Denver to more budget-friendly options.
In landlocked Colorado, you won’t find any traditional surfing experiences, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try the sport out. Try sand surfing. If you have a sandboard, comfortable clothes, and a bit of courage, you can surf down Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve’s massive dunes. It is important to know that there are no board rental facilities in the park; you need to rent from a shop in the nearby San Luis Valley. The closest rental store is the Oasis Store, located 4 miles from the entrance. You’ll have trouble sliding on snow sleds or snowboards – the best boards are made for sand. A little more than half a mile from the main parking area, sand surfers can reach some decent-sized dunes. Surfing is allowed anywhere on the dunes except for the vegetated areas, so those looking for larger slopes can choose to walk a bit further. Sand sledding is a great alternative for those who would rather sit than stand. It costs $25 per vehicle to enter the park, and there is no need to make a reservation. It is open every day of the year. The park also offers plenty of other activities, such as hiking and swimming in Medano Creek.
Hotels in Denver: Top hotels
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center||★★★★||-27%||179 131 ||View hotel|
|Grand Hyatt Denver||★★★★||-32%||198 135 ||View hotel|
|Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel||★★★★||-10%||185 166 ||View hotel|
|The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection||★★★★||-22%||325 255 ||View hotel|
|Embassy Suites Denver - Downtown/Convention Center||★★★★||-20%||138 110 ||View hotel|
|The Curtis- A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel||★★★★||-7%||114 106 ||View hotel|
|Sonesta Denver Downtown||★★★★||-16%||115 96 ||View hotel|
|Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel||★★★★||-31%||184 127 ||View hotel|
|Four Seasons Hotel Denver||★★★★★||-11%||574 513 ||View hotel|
|Warwick Denver||★★★★||-12%||137 120 ||View hotel|
Conquer the Flatirons
If you find yourself in Boulder, you should hike the Flatirons. The sandstone peaks are intertwined with miles of hiking trails suitable for hikers of all levels. There are five Flatirons. The First and Second Flatiron Trails (a 2.7-mile loop) provide rewarding views of the city and its surroundings but are strenuous. According to past hikers, the Second and Third Flatiron Trails (2.2 miles) are also intermediate to difficult, but travelers are impressed by the trail’s beauty. McClintock Trail and Enchanted Mesa Trail are both easy hikes with breathtaking views. Climbers will love the opportunity to scale the rocks – the First and Third Flatirons provide popular climbing routes. There are also guided climbs in this area if you need some assistance maneuvering these famous rock climbing areas. The Chautauqua Trailhead offers a large park area where you can relax and admire the Flatirons if you don’t feel like hiking or climbing. Chautauqua Trailhead is just south of downtown Boulder, so you can fuel up in the city afterward.
Explore the Ghost Towns
The state of Colorado is filled with abandoned towns, many of them abandoned because of mining struggles in the early 1900s. Today, travelers can take a look at the remains of these ghost towns and learn more about Colorado’s unique history. The ghost town of St. Elmo is located about 80 miles southeast of Aspen and 110 miles west of Colorado Springs. Visitors can explore a saloon, a jail, and about 40 other abandoned buildings from the 1920s. Many say a visit to St. Elmo is a great way to learn about the state’s silver and gold miners, and many suggest buying souvenirs at the still-operating general store. Visit Independence Ghost Town, where you’ll find empty stables, an old general store, and remnants of cabins if you’re staying in Aspen. Located at 11,000 feet, this town has tons of snow each year and is only accessible during the summer months. Visitors can either wander around by themselves or take a guided tour with members of the Aspen Historical Society. (A docent is usually on-site between mid-June and early September.) Past visitors have enjoyed exploring the abandoned buildings and learning about the town’s history from the informative signs.
Catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre will take your experience to the next level. The bleacher-style seats are built into a cliff and surrounded by towering sandstone structures on three sides. The acoustics of the venue have won the praise of visitors, who say it is one of the best places to watch a live performance. You can check the event schedule to see when your favorite artist is performing between April and November. If you can’t attend a show, Red Rocks is still a great place to visit during the day. The concert area has several hiking trails, including the easy Trading Post Trail (1.4 miles) and the intermediate Red Rocks and Morrison Slide trails (3 miles). Additionally, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area from high up in the stands. Some summer nights, the venue even offers drive-in movies. Visit the Red Rocks Hall of Fame to see the famous artists who have performed here. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame is also located at the venue, which is conveniently located about 15 miles southwest of Denver.
Relax in the hot springs of Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs is a small town located along the Colorado River surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. The town’s mineral waters come from the nearby Yampah spring, which naturally heats to about 122 degrees. There are three main areas for visitors to enjoy the hot springs in town. In the 92-degree water of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, visitors can swim laps in the largest hot springs pool in the world. This venue is kid-friendly and does not require reservations. The Iron Mountain Hot Springs also offers a quieter atmosphere, 16 soaking pools connected by heated walkways, and rain showers so visitors can cool off when needed. Reserving a time slot in advance is highly recommended as access to the weekend is often sold out. Another thermal attraction in Glenwood Springs is Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, which is one of the few vapor caves on the continent. Natural steam is released in this underground area, which visitors can enjoy by descending into the caves and relaxing on the benches. Inside the caves, temperatures can reach 112 degrees, but visitors can cool off with a visit to the nearby cooling room or cold water tub. There is no need to make reservations for the caves, but they are helpful. There is also a spa area here where you can book body treatments like facials and massages.
Go whitewater rafting
There are 100 miles of fast-flowing water on the Arkansas River, starting in Colorado and running all the way to Arkansas. Though it might seem intimidating, there are plenty of easy rafting routes for first-timers or those seeking a relaxing trip. Lower Browns Canyon offers a few mild rapids with plenty of time to take in the mountain scenery in between. A trip to Little Gore Canyon will also be leisurely and may be appealing to families with younger children. Royal Gorge is reserved for adrenaline junkies looking for steep drops, big splashes, and constant rapids. Another strenuous route for advanced rafters is Pine Creek, which originates near Granite Gorge. Various tour companies operate rafting stations along the river. You won’t be too far from a rafting opportunity no matter where you stay in Colorado. You can choose between a single-day or multiday rafting trip, depending on which company you choose. Take a look at U.S. News’ roundup of the best whitewater rafting tours in Colorado.
Swimming, fishing, boating, and soaking up the sun are all popular activities at Grand Lake. It is less than 3 miles southeast of the Grand Lake entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and about 100 miles northwest of Denver. You’ll find plenty of kids playing, adults sunbathing, and maybe even a moose or two testings the waters of the lake. Visitors appreciate the designated picnic spots and that the area is well maintained. Also, the stunning view of the mountains reflecting off the lake will take your beach day to the next level. At the marina on the lake, visitors can rent motorboats or kayaks to explore the water. The Grand Lake Yacht Club is also nearby. During your stay at Grand Lake, you can enjoy many cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums in the small town around the water. You will still find plenty of activities to keep you occupied at Grand Lake in winter. Once the lake freezes over, ice fishing and ice hockey are popular activities.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
In a small area, this national park offers a lot of scenery. Dark, jagged peaks slice through the earth, creating dramatic canyons and breathtaking views. Although it measures less than 50 square miles, visitors appreciate the park’s intimate atmosphere and the lack of crowds. Due to its steepness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison doesn’t offer as many hiking opportunities as other parks. This is why many visitors say driving is the best way to take in the scenery. With a car, you can see the whole park in one day. Upon arrival in the park, you can choose to explore the North Rim or the South Rim. The North Rim has three trails and six overlook areas but is less developed than its counterpart. Visitors prefer the South Rim for its five short nature walks and 12 overlooks. Your road trip begins at the South Rim Visitor Center, where you will pay $30. Ideally, stop at all the overlooks, but if you are pressed for time, make sure you see Gunnison Point, Chasm View, and Painted Wall (the highest cliff in Colorado).
Visit Colorado’s wine country
Many people associate Colorado with craft beer and countless breweries. Many people are surprised to learn that Colorado also produces plenty of wine. Colorado’s “wine country” is located near Grand Junction, where mountain air combines with Colorado River water to create an ideal wine-making climate. In Grand Junction and nearby Palisade, there are many wineries and tasting rooms. Some of the top options, according to recent visitors, include Maison la Belle Vie Winery, Hermosa Vineyards, and Two Rivers Winery. At these venues, oenophiles can sample everything from riesling to cabernet sauvignon. Moreover, the wine is sure to taste even better with stunning mountain views in the background. For an extra dose of fun, visitors recommend riding an e-bike through Colorado’s wine country. You can also take limos, shuttles, and taxi bikes to get to each wine-filled destination. Take advantage of one of Grand Junction’s best hotels when it’s time to wind down. Most are conveniently located near Main Street’s bars and restaurants.
Summit Pikes Peak
In the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak rises more than 14,000 feet in the sky. There are several ways to ascend this mountain, located about 30 miles west of Colorado Springs. It has inspired many stories and songs, including “America the Beautiful.” Driving to the summit is the easiest method, and it takes just three or four hours. On the way up, there are many places to stop and admire the views. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is another popular way of reaching the top. A little more than an hour ride up the mountain provides breathtaking views (the altitude may literally take your breath away). Before boarding the train back down, passengers can enjoy the scenery for about 40 minutes at the top. Tickets for this round-trip ride can be purchased in advance online. The final route up the mountain is on foot. Hikers and mountain bikers should only attempt to scale Pikes Peak via the Barr Trail if they are highly skilled. Prepare yourself with plenty of nutrient for the eight- to 14-hour journey if you decide to try this trek. The 13.5-mile hike to the summit will be worth it once you reach the top and get to see incredible views of Colorado Springs and the surrounding area.
Vail is known for its excellent skiing, but it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy some pampering. Shop (or window shop) for genuine leather at Kemo Sabe, browse original clothing designs at Axel’s or stroll through the meticulously landscaped Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Enjoy an afternoon wine tasting at 4 Eagle Ranch or Root & Flower. You can enjoy upscale Japanese cuisine at Matsuhisa or contemporary American dishes at Sweet Basil in the evening. Vail offers a variety of luxurious accommodation options. If you’re looking for top-notch spa amenities, book a stay at the European-inspired Sonnenalp Hotel. A spa on-site offers massages, body treatments, scrubs, hydrofacials, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, and even an oxygen bar if the altitude gets to you. Consider staying at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, where accommodations may include spacious living areas, cozy furnishings, and fireplaces along with mountain views.