Outdoor adventurers, skiers, nature lovers and history buffs a return to Colorado year after year for memorable vacations surrounded by spectacular scenery. Colorado is famous for its first class ski resorts such as Aspen, Telluride and Crested Butte and elegant cities packed with cultural attractions, including Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Estes Park. You can get back to nature in the beautiful state parks where you can admire everything from towering sand dunes and waterfalls to gushing white water rapids and historic scenic railways. Here are the best places to visit in Colorado.
1. Colorado Springs
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Colorado Springs lies at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of over 6,000 feet and is a springboard to some of Colorado’s best hiking trails as well as many other outdoor activities. Just a few of the energetic activities you can try include white water rafting in the Royal Gorge, hiking in the beautiful Garden of the Gods Park or cycling the Barr Trail.
You can enjoy a spot of wildlife viewing at several of the nearby parks or turn your attention to such historic and cultural attractions as the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and the Cripple Creek Heritage Museum. Art lovers can enjoy stimulating art walks or check out the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. Things to Do in Colorado Springs
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Although Aspen is best known as a winter sports destination, this lovely little town in the heart of the White River National Forest is a brilliant year-round destination for active adventurers, festival lovers and arts aficionados. Besides downhill skiing, you can try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating and dog sledding, before rounding off your day with Après-Ski cocktails, local craft beers or a delicious meal.
In summer you can ride the Aspen Mountain Gondola, go white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, hot air ballooning or fly fishing, or add some culture to the mix at the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet or Theatre Aspen. Foodies should not miss the annual FOOD & WINE Classic in June. Things to Do in Aspen
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The charming town of Boulder is surrounded by dramatic scenery, including the amazing Flatirons, acres of forest and snow-capped peaks – a perfect year-round playground. You can soak up the atmosphere on historic Pearl Street before hiking deep into Flatiron territory from the Open Space Mountain Park or meander through the town along Boulder Creek Path.
Other outdoor activities abound, including hot air ballooning, rock climbing, kayaking and skiing at the Eldora Mountain Resort. Boulder also has good museums, art galleries and theaters, and foodies are exceptionally well-catered for – you can visit the Dushanbe Tea House, discover fresh produce on a farm trail, taste craft beers on a brewery tour, and visit the farmers’ market. Things to Do in Boulder
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Denver is the capital of Colorado and it perfectly reflects the diversity of the state, offering visitors of all ages virtually unlimited attractions to suit all interests. You can visit several art museums, including the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and there are several art districts filled with galleries to thrill and delight all art lovers.
The Golden Triangle Museum District boasts eight of the city’s museums and the Denver Performing Arts Complex can provide ample entertainment. Outdoor activities include biking along the historic Greenway Trail, having fun at one of the several extreme sports parks, playing a round of golf, strolling through lovely parks and gardens, or visiting the Denver Zoo. Things to Do in Denver
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If you are looking for an ideal year-round vacation destination offering a great mix of cultural and outdoor activities, Telluride has it all. This town has been voted one of the top ski resorts in America and offers just about every snow activity you can imagine against a backdrop of dramatic mountain peaks covered in dazzling powder snow.
In summer you can swap skies for hiking boots and discover endless trails through the beautiful landscape, or try cycling, fishing, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and back-country camping. The Telluride Arts District is packed with arts and culture attractions and the town has also been named one of the top 20 foodie destinations in the country. Things to Do in Telluride
6. Glenwood Springs
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Make your way to Glenwood Springs for a fun-filled Rocky Mountain holiday surrounded by natural hot springs, gushing recreational rivers and loads of other fun attractions. You can take the Iron Mountain Tramway to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park to enjoy the thrilling rides or go deep underground for a walking tour of the Glenwood Caverns.
Back at ground level, you can go paddling, kayaking, fishing, hiking or biking in summer or enjoy a variety of snow sports in winter. After an energetic day you can head to one of the hot springs to enjoy the restorative properties of the natural thermal springs or visit a couple of galleries or museums. Things to Do in Glenwood Springs
7. Estes Park
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Estes Park is a popular springboard to all the attractions of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and although there is a definite emphasis on outdoor adventure activities, an impressive 26 museums and galleries as well as three relaxing spas cater to the more sedentary visitor.
You can get maps and info at the Estes Park Visitors Center and catch a free shuttle bus to most main attractions. Intrepid adventurers will find an almost endless list of outdoor activities to try, including mountaineering on Longs Peak, thrilling white water rafting, hiking, biking, backpacking, skiing and snowshoeing. Less daring visitors can enjoy the River Walk, take a scenic drive, play a round of golf, or do some wildlife watching. Things to Do in Estes Park
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Breckenridge is justifiably famous as one of the best ski resorts in the country, but spending a little time seeking out the off-piste charms of the town can be extremely rewarding. You can explore the thriving arts and culture scene or learn some Breckenridge history on a tour with a local expert – popular choices include the Historic Tour, the Haunted Tour and the Gold Mining Tour. In summer you can go hiking, biking, fishing, paddling and rafting, while in winter everyone heads to the slopes to enjoy world-class winter sport activities and ride the highest ski lift in the country. Things to Do in Breckenridge
9. Grand Junction
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Grand Junction offers great opportunities for outdoor recreation combined with a good mix of cultural attractions and dozens of wineries. Art enthusiasts should not miss the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, the many public art installations, and the monthly First Friday Art Tour.
The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, the High Desert Opera, the Mesa State College Theatre and the Avalon Theatre provide a great selection of entertainment. Nature lovers can explore the diverse landscape along many miles of hiking and biking trails, try an off-road adventure, climb the marvelous red rock formations, or take to the rivers for some rafting, kayaking and paddling. Leave plenty of time to taste your way around the 22 wineries and tasting rooms. Things to Do in Grand Junction
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Once famous as a gold-rush outpost, the modern city of Golden has diversified by leaps and bounds and now offers visitors a great mix of outdoor, cultural and historic attractions. Go back in time to the gold mining era on a tour of Historic Downtown, where you will find several museums including the Golden History Center and the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.
You can explore eight other designated Historic Neighborhoods before swapping history for nature as you hike or cycle the numerous scenic trails. Families can have fun at the Splash Water Park while adults can taste their way around small craft breweries and visit the largest American brewery on the Coors Tour. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest.
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Gunnison ticks all the boxes as an ideal getaway destination for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers. If you visit during the summer, you will find yourself in one of the most scenic hiking and camping areas in the Rockies with the added benefit of extravagant wildflower displays.
Explore many miles of cycling and mountain biking trails or go white water rafting, paddling, wind-surfing and kayaking. Mesa Lake is rumored to be the best place in Colorado for trout fishing and in winter you can even go ice fishing. You can expect to find the full gamut of winter sports, including thrilling snowmobile tours. If you need a break from the action, you can visit the Pioneer Museum or a few of the local art galleries.
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Located in southwestern Colorado, close to the Four Corners Monument where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, Durango is perfectly positioned for sightseeing and year-round outdoor activities. The town also has a vibrant art scene and you can spend many happy hours visiting a fascinating array of art galleries and live theater attractions.
Nature lovers can go hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding or climbing in one of the surrounding national parks, or you could choose to explore historic archaeological sites such as Hovenweep, Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a highlight of any visit and you can combine various adventure sports packages with your scenic train ride. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest. Things to Do in Durango
Only a few miles from downtown Denver, Littleton is a historic suburb of Denver with its own charm and history. Its turn-of-the-century houses are witnesses of the rich history while cozy restaurants and bars are inviting and popular. The Main Street has a lineup of independently owned galleries and shops. The Littleton Museum tells the story of the town’s past with its 19th century farm. Town Hall Arts Center presents community-run theater and music events. Littleton has more than 59 parks and two light rail stations with access to Downtown Denver. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Rockies are only half hour away. South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center offer hiking trails and fishing lakes. Pirates Cove Water Park has lap pools, a 35-foot slide, and a tubing river.
14. Pagosa Springs
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Pagosa Springs is a charming small-town vacation destination in southwest Colorado offering year-round activities for all ages. You can enjoy swimming, boating and fishing in the Navajo State Park, go hiking or back-packing in the San Juan National Forest, or take a scenic drive up Wolf Creek Pass for sensational views of the Treasure Falls.
Other interesting summer activities include guided tours of Chimney Rock National Monument, hot air balloon adventures and paddling, tubing or rafting along the San Juan River. In winter you can go dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snow tubing and more at the Wolf Creek Ski Area, enjoy some brewery-hopping or simply relax in the natural Pagosa Hot Springs. Things to Do in Pagosa Springs
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Nestled at the foot of Pike’s Peak, the historic town of Manitou Springs has been welcoming visitors for over a hundred years. Here you can take a scenic ride on the world’s highest cog train, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and then enjoy white water rafting with one of several adventure tour companies.
There are multiple scenic trails to hike and challenging cycling paths to discover as well as many more activities like zip-lining and horseback riding. You can explore the history and architecture of historic sites like Miramont Castle and Manitou Cliff Dwellings, visit the Manitou Springs Heritage Center, or enjoy some pampering at a day spa before catching a show at the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Theatre.
16. Fort Collins
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Fort Collins is an ideal vacation destination that combines outdoor, cultural and culinary attractions. Learn some history as you tour the Old Town on foot or take a scenic drive along the historic Overland Trail.
Visiting several national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, is easy or make the most of the abundant outdoor activities, which include hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, golf and horseback riding. There are several fascinating museums and over 15 galleries to visit on the First Friday Gallery Walk. Round off the day with a Local Table foodie tour or take in a Canyon Concert Ballet or the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra. Things to Do in Fort Collins
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Greeley is conveniently located just 50 miles from Denver in one of the top agricultural areas of America, which is great news for foodies. You can visit various breweries, buy farm-fresh produce at the farmers’ market and dine farm-to-fork style at many restaurants in the bustling Greeley Creative District, which includes several historic buildings that now house galleries, museums and entertainment venues.
Here you can go on an art walk, attend a current event or festival, and learn all about Greeley’s history at the Centennial Village Museum. The Colorado Model Railroad Museum is another must-see attraction, or you could explore the outdoors by hiking the Poudre River Trail or the Pawnee National Grasslands or playing a round of golf. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest.
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Nestling in the heart of a former volcanic caldera in the San Juan Mountains, the little Colorado town of Creede will blow you away with its amazing natural splendor and small-town atmosphere. You can learn about Creede’s mining history at the Creede Historical Museum and the Underground Mining Museum and enjoy the annual summer Creede Repertory Festival.
Casting a line in one of the finest trout fishing areas in the country, river rafting or kayaking on the Rio Grande River, hiking, biking or wildlife viewing are some of the great summer activities on offer. In winter you can explore cross-country trails, go snowmobiling or enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding at the Wolf Creek Ski Area.
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19. Cripple Creek
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Cripple Creek is best known as a historic mining and gambling town, but besides the fun and entertainment of its nine modern casinos, Cripple Creek offers diverse activities for all ages. You can satisfy your lust for adventure with white water rafting, river tubing, rock-climbing, mountain biking and off-road racing or explore the Trails of Gold network of hiking and biking trails through historic sites in the gold camp.
If you prefer four wheels, you can go on a scenic drive along the Gold Belt Tour or go on a Jeep tour with High Country Excursions. No visit would be complete without probing the depths of the gold mine, taking a scenic ride on the Cripple Creek Railroad, or trying your luck at the casino. Things to Do in Cripple Creek
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Located just 45 minutes west of Denver, historic Georgetown annually attracts hundreds of visitors who come to experience the history and pioneering spirit of this 1875 mining town. Absorb the atmosphere at museums like the Hamill House Museum, the Georgetown Heritage Center and the Hotel de Paris. Learn all about silver mining as you take a ride to Silver Plume on the historic Georgetown Loop Railway - you can tour the Lebanon Silver Mine en-route.
Georgetown is surrounded by some stunning Rocky Mountain landscape, which you can admire on a scenic drive along the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, or by hiking, biking or cross-country skiing along the many inviting trails. Other activities include white water rafting, ATV tours and fishing. Things to Do in Georgetown
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Ouray is one of the many historic Colorado mining towns that have re-invented themselves as outdoor playgrounds for adventure sport fanatics. The town is steeped in history, which you can explore at the Ouray County Historical Museum, the Ouray Alchemist Pharmaceutical Museum or on a tour of the Old Hundred Mine, before visiting one of the natural thermal pools that have been attracting visitors for over 100 years.
The town has a lively arts and culture scene, reflected by several galleries and a busy live theater schedule. Outdoors, the fun never stops; you can hike over 70 spectacular trails, have fun on a Jeep, snow-mobile or OHV tour, bike the Ridgway Area Trail System or go rock climbing, canyoneering, fishing, skiing, and hot air ballooning. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest. Things to Do in Ouray
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Crested Butte is an amazing ski destination and the wildflower capital of Colorado, attracting outdoor enthusiasts all year round. Before you hit the slopes or the hiking trails, you can learn about the mining history of the town on a Crested Butte Historic District Walking Tour and meet some of the town’s talented artists on a tour of the Crested Butte Creative District.
You can explore the beautiful landscape on a scenic drive to see spectacular fall foliage or spring wildflowers, get energetic on the many hiking and biking trails, play a round of golf, or do some fly fishing. In winter the expansive ski area provides a thrilling variety of winter sports. Things to Do in Crested Butte
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Not only is the town of Trinidad a certified Colorado Creative District, there are also several historic and outdoor attractions to entertain visitors of all ages. Catch a glimpse of the town’s history on the quaint Trinidad Trolley tour, visit Baca House and Bloom Mansion, and see many other restored Victorian buildings.
The A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art and the many galleries in the creative district are bound to thrill art lovers, while the Southern Colorado Repertory Theater provides live entertainment. Outdoor enthusiasts can go camping, fishing, hiking and boating in the Trinidad Lake State Park, seek dinosaur tracks in the Comanche National Grassland, or go trout fishing on the Purgatoire River.
24. Buena Vista
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Buena Vista is an historic mining and railroad town that resoundingly lives up to its Spanish name meaning “good views” – you are surrounded by towering mountain peaks that provide a wonderful year-round playground for adventure seekers. The area boasts some of the best river rafting adventures in the country and you can also go hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and zip-lining.
In winter you can try cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails and after an energetic day out there is nothing better than a soak in one of the natural thermal springs. You can visit the Buena Vista Heritage Museum or go on a Ghost Town adventure, visit several working art studios and galleries, or quench your thirst at a local brewery. Things to Do in Buena Vista
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Silverton is an old mining town in the San Juan Mountains which today provides a rugged environment for adventure sport enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Most of downtown has been designated a National Historic District where you can learn about the history of the area at several historic attractions.
The rugged and elevated landscape and disused mining roads provide a challenging playground for mountain biking and off-road vehicles, while fishermen can head to Molas Lake to cast a line. You can go hiking in the San Juan National Forest, take a four wheel drive along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, or savor a scenic ride on the Durango & Silverton Rail Road. Things to Do in Silverton
25 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
- Colorado Springs, Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
- Aspen, Photo: Courtesy of aiisha - Fotolia.com
- Boulder, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Denver, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Telluride, Photo: Courtesy of gburba - Fotolia.com
- Glenwood Springs, Photo: Courtesy of Carbonbrain - Fotolia.com
- Estes Park, Photo: Courtesy of marinzolich - Fotolia.com
- Breckenridge, Photo: Courtesy of Evan Meyer - Fotolia.com
- Grand Junction, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
- Golden, Photo: Courtesy of farbled_01 - Fotolia.com
- Gunnison, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Durango, Photo: Courtesy of oscity - Fotolia.com
- Littleton, Photo: arinahabich/stock.adobe.com
- Pagosa Springs, Photo: Courtesy of tharathepptl - Fotolia.com
- Manitou Springs, Photo: Courtesy of Evan Meyer - Fotolia.com
- Fort Collins, Photo: Courtesy of Marek - Fotolia.com
- Greeley, Photo: Courtesy of Marek - Fotolia.com
- Creede, Photo: Courtesy of grizz - Fotolia.com
- Cripple Creek, Photo: Courtesy of Gino Santa Maria - Fotolia.com
- Georgetown, Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
- Ouray, Photo: Courtesy of ricktravel - Fotolia.com
- Crested Butte, Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
- Trinidad, Photo: Courtesy of Jdubsvideo - Fotolia.com
- Buena Vista, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Silverton, Photo: Courtesy of eunikas - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Nelson Sirlin - Fotolia.com
Louisville is conveniently situated between Denver and Boulder, offering visitors an attractive weekend getaway destination with a distinctive American small-town feel. You can stroll through the historic Old Town, where several historic buildings now house modern shops, restaurants and businesses. Downtown is also home to the Louisville Art District, which is packed with galleries, studios and hosts a monthly First Friday Art Walk.
Live music and theater is popular and you can catch a concert at the Center Stage Theatre Company or the Coal Creek Community Theater. Outdoor activities include walking, hiking, biking and ice skating, while nearby Boulder offers many additional cultural and outdoor attractions.