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