child having fun at the water park

18 Best Things To Do in Colorado for 2021

Colorado may be known for its snow-capped mountain peaks and powdery winter conditions, but the state does actually enjoy all four seasons. No matter what time of year you find yourself in the Centennial State, you’ll be rich with things to do, landscapes to see and foods to taste.

That’s something worth celebrating. After all, it’s nice to experience options when on vacation. Too many choices, however, can clutter the itinerary.

List of the 18 Best Things To Do in Colorado:

  1. Great Wolf Lodge
  2. Aspen Mountain Ski Resorts
  3. Glenwood Hot Springs
  4. The Great Sand Dunes National Park
  5. Mesa Verde National Park
  6. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  7. Mount Evans Scenic Byway
  8. Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
  9. Garden of the Gods
  10. Larimer Square
  11. Hanging Lake
  12. Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum
  13. Gold Panning
  14. Rocky Mountain National Park
  15. Pearl Street Mall
  16. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  17. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
  18. Picketwire Canyonlands

That’s why we decided to narrow it down and put together a list of only our favorite things to do when in town. Read on to learn more about where to go, what to see and some of the other best things to do in Colorado.

1. Great Wolf Lodge

18 Best Things To Do in Colorado for 2021

Whether you’re looking to escape the bitter winter winds or are looking to dodge that summer heat, Great Wolf Lodge provides for the perfect family getaway. Located in the heart of Colorado Springs, there’s plenty of things to do with toddlers and kids alike at the water park. Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park in Colorado has tons of kids’ activities to help keep the pack entertained.

The property also contains a number of restaurants, bars and even a spa for the adult members of the family to enjoy. The 380,000-foot property boasts over 300 guest suites. Feel free to spend the night after a day at the watermark! Think about extending your stay or upgrading to one of the property’s premium or themed suites.

We promise you won’t want to miss out on this weather-proof good time!

2. Aspen Mountain Ski Resorts

Colorado’s Aspen Mountain covered in snow
Source: Aspen Meadows

Of course we had to mention this popular winter activity when talking about things to do in Colorado! The Centennial State receives around 300 inches of snow a year. Combine that with the 300 days of sunshine Colorado experiences, and you land at some pretty ideal conditions for hitting the slopes.

The state contains over 29,758 acres of skiing at 23 resorts. 675 of those acres belong to Aspen Mountain, an award-winning winter destination. We should note that the mountain does not contain any beginner trails, so those starting at a lower level are invited to visit neighboring mountains, Snowmass and Buttermilk.

There, both adults and kids can get acquainted with the slopes at an appropriate pace. Of course, you don’t have to ski while in Aspen. This tiny mountain town is also known for its hiking spots, hot springs, restaurants, shopping areas and more!

3. Glenwood Hot Springs

Located between Aspen and Vail is the world’s largest hot springs pool, which is kept at a comfortable 90-93 degrees Fahrenheit. The water contains 15 minerals, which the Native Americans called “Yamph,” or Big Medicine.

A soak in the springs is said to help eliminate toxins, increase circulation and reduce blood pressure. The historic thermal spring water has been drawing in visitors from all over the world since 1888.

There’s also lodging on-site if you feel like spending the night.

4. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Sprawling sand dunes and mountain views at one of Colorado’s national parks
Source: nps.gov

Sure, we may associate most of Colorado with snow-capped mountain peaks and alpine forests, but there’s another side to the state scenery, and it revolves around sand – a lot of sand.

Welcome to the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado, home to the tallest dunes in North America. The park also contains grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes and tundra to explore.

Of course, the biggest draw tends to revolve around the dunes. Sand sledding and sandboarding are two of the most popular activities to check out while visiting the park. If you’re planning on making the trip during the summer months, try to arrive during the early morning or evening.

The sand surface can reach upwards of 150 degrees Fahrenheit during the heat of the day! There are also winds and thunderstorms to look out for so keep a close eye on the weather before heading out.

5. Mesa Verde National Park

View of ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado
Source: nps.gov

If you like interacting with history, then you need to make the trip to Mesa Verde National Park. Originally established in 1906, the park is designed to preserve and interpret the archaeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited the region for over 700 years.

Today, the park protects upwards of 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 dwellings, which have been celebrated as some of the most notable and best preserved throughout North America. It’s believed that the Ancestral Puebloan people began building cliff dwellings somewhere around 1190s.

By the time the 1270s hit, however, they started the migration down into present-day New Mexico and Arizona.

Visitors are welcome to participate in self-guided tours, explore the nearby hiking trails, photograph the surrounding wildlife and even spend some time stargazing during their visit.

6. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

An evening concert at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Source: Red Rock Online

Your concert-going experience will never be the same. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre stands at 6,400 feet above sea level. The open-air Amphitheatre, which is located just 10 miles outside of Denver, was built directly into a rock structure back in 1906.

The venue can seat over 9,000 people and opens right up into the surrounding park. There, you can explore more amazing red rock formations, hiking trails, wildlife and more!

7. Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Driving to the Ricky Mountains from Denver, Colorado
Source: Denver.org

Pack up the car and get ready to hit the road. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway ranks as one of the country’s most famous drives.

Located just Miles west of Denver, it’s the highest paved road in North America. To reach the top you must climb through 9,000 feet of elevation grain and across five climate zones to the 14,264-foot summit of Mount Evans.

You’ll be sure to pass rows up pine trees, glacier-cut valleys and bighorn sheep along the way. Buckle up and be safe!

8. Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Portrait of Colorado’s famous Buffalo Bill
Source: Visit Golden

If you’ve got a thing for western legends, then you’ll want to carve out some time for the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. Born in 1846, Willian F. Cody gained an incredible reputation as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, Pony Express rider, Indian fighter and impresario.

That’s the resume that landed him the nickname “Buffalo Bill.” The museum was founded by Johnny Baker, a close friend and “unofficial” foster son to the legend himself. The exhibits illustrate the life, times and legend of Willian F. Cody.

It also includes information on Native American objects and firearms. You can also visit Cody’s grave, located in Lookout Mountain Park, overlooking the Rockies.

9. Garden of the Gods

Red Rock formations at Colorado’s Garden of the Gods National State Park
Source: Garden of Gods

Well, there must be a good story behind a name like that. Rumor has it that two surveyors landed in the area back in 1859 with plans to build a townsite. After taking in the towering sandstone formations the region is known for, one joked that it would be a perfect spot for a beer garden.

“Been Garden?” his companion explained. “Why, it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” And that they did. Today, the park is a registered National Natural Landmark.

Located in Colorado Springs, the park contains grasslands, woodlands, mountains and more. Each year, it receives an estimated six million visitors from all 50 states and more than 60 different countries.

10. Larimer Square

View of Denver’s popular Larimer Square at night
Source: 10 Best

Take the time to explore one of Colorado’s most exciting cities! There are tons of things to do in Denver, but if you need to narrow it down, we suggest heading to one of the trendiest spots in town. Larimer Square is located in the heart of Denver’s urban shopping and dining district.

It’s filled with Victorian buildings and specialty boutiques. It’s also known for its collection of chef-driven restaurants. If you’re into Italian food you might want to check out Osteria Marco. The eatery is known for its playful take on contemporary Italian cuisine, handcrafted pizzas and cured meats.

11. Hanging Lake

The green waters of Hanging Like in Glenwood Canyon
Source: Colorado.com

No trip to Colorado would be complete without a day trip to one of the state’s most celebrated natural attractions. Hanging Lake was named a National Natural Landmark back in 2011, and rightfully so. Located, just 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, this destination is best known for its green waters, spectacular waterfalls and amazing hiking trails.

Hanging Lake even has a permit and shuttle system in place to protect its fragile ecosystem. If you’re in Colorado, make sure not to miss out on this spectacular spot!

12. Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum

Passengers enjoy a view of snow-covered Rocky Mountains aboard the Narrow Gauge Railroad
Source: Durango Train

If you have a soft spot for old-fashioned America, then you’ve got to check out the Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum. There, you can embark on a 3-and-a-half-hour journey to Silverton, one of Colorado’s historic mining towns. You’ll be riding on a coal-fired, steam-powered train through the Rocky Mountains.

You’ll also have the opportunity to stop for lunch, go shopping and explore the town!

13. Gold Panning

Man panning for gold in Castlewood Canyon State Park
Source: cpw.state.co.us

Gold panning refers to a traditional form of mining gold. Yes, actual gold. According to the academics, it’s actually a fairly popular activity for tourists to engage in when visiting Colorado.

So, gear up and grab a pan, a shovel, a wader and whatever else you might want to spend the day by the stream. There are tons of places to partake, but we recommend starting with the Castlewood Canyon State Park or the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

14. Rocky Mountain National Park

Big horn rams on the tundra in the Rocky Mountain State Park
Source: cpw.state.co.us

Nature lovers, rejoice! The Rocky Mountain National Park contains 415 square miles of mountainous bliss. Visitors can explore the park by taking a scenic drive along the trail Ridge Road or by foot on one of the many hiking trails the area has to offer.

You can also ski, snowshoe or horseback your way through this this mountain oasis. There are also tons of wildlifeto observe. You might just stumble upon elk, moose or mountain lions – oh my!

15. Pearl Street Mall

View of the Pearl Street Mall at dusk in Boulder
Source: Colorado.com

Don’t let the name fool you, the Pearl Street Mall refers to an outdoor cluster of restaurants, boutiques, art galleries located in downtown Boulder. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare is home to over 1,000 businesses. Of course, there are also a few craft breweries around that are worth checking out.

Mountain Sun, Oskar Blues Boulder Tap Room and Boulder Beer are all located on the main strip. Enjoy the locally owned atmosphere and scenic mountain views.

16. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado
Source: visitcos.com

Sure, Colorado is home to a lot of wildlife, but there are some things you can’t see out in the wild. Like tigers. Or hippos. Or most other members of the 30 species of endangered animals hanging around this special spot. Welcome to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the only one of its kind.

The park stands at an elevation of 6,714 feet above sea level, which provides visitors with amazing mountainside views. it’s also home to some long-term conservation projects revolving around orangutans, giraffes, elephants, African vultures, Wyoming toads and more. 75 cents is donated to the effort from each admission. So far, the zoo has raised over 2.5 million dollars for field conservation.

17. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

View of the suspension bridge at the Royal Gorge in Colorado
Source: Colorado.com

Welcome to the home of America’s highest suspension bridge and zip line! The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park boasts some of the state’s most celebrated scenery. From amazing red rock formations to orchards and museums, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy.

The park also provides a host of ways to explore the landscape. There are hiking trails, areas to bike, mountain climb and more. Though, adventurers might gravitate more towards the aerial gondolas, sky coasters and towering zip line instead. Head on down and decide for yourself!

18. Picketwire Canyonlands

Dinosaur prints at Colorado’s Picketwire Canyonlands
Source: Recreation.gov

Ever want to interact with dinosaurs? Head over to Picketwire Canyonlands and let that fantasy come to life. Ok, so the place doesn’t actually contain living dinosaurs, but it is home to the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America.

According to the literature, the area was part of a large, shallow lake teaming with Brontosaurs and Allosaurs some 150 million years ago. These spectacular beings left their footprints along the lake’s muddy edge. Eventually, these tracks were buried and turned to stone. Today, the area contains over 1,300 prints that extend along a quarter mile plain.

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