Colorado contains most of the southern Rocky Mountains and is named for the powerful river that rushes through it. The state has a myriad of settings, from alpine meadows, deep canyons, plateaus and mesas to deserts and dunes.
Visitors can hike through canyons and up lush mountainsides in the summer and partake in all the offerings and festivals of the capital city, Denver. Here are the best things to do in Colorado.
1. The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is home to the highest zip line and suspension bridge in the country and features some of the most adrenaline-pumping rides and breathtaking views from high above the Gorge. Some of the attractions at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park include aerial gondolas, the Royal Rush Skycoaster, Waterclock, Plaza Theater, Tommy Knocker Children’s Playground, the Cloudscraper Zipline, and the visitor center, along with the bridge itself. The Park is located just an hour from Colorado Springs and is open 365 days per year weather permitting although open hours change seasonally.
4218 Co. Road 3A, Canon City, Colorado, 81212, (website link)
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2. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum
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In 1882, a rail line between the mining town of Silverton, Colorado and the railroad town of Durango was opened in order to transport gold and silver.
Three feet wide, the narrow coal-fired steam engines originally carried ore, miners, cowboys, and settlers, and it now transports visitors on an original train on the very same line.
The forty-five mile trip takes four and a half hours to ride, as it is still coal-fired, and winds along narrow mountain paths and in and out of canyons. Historic narration is available on the trains for interested tourists.
Both the Silverton and Durango ends of the line have railroad museums; the Durango Museum contains artifacts pertaining to the history of railroading, and the Silverton Museum displays a Baldwin Locomotive from 1902 in the original 1882 Depot. Things to Do in Durango
479 Main Avenue, Durango, Colorado 81301, Phone: 970-247-2733
3. Denver Botanic Gardens
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The Denver Botanic Gardens have the perfect combination of gardens displaying the best of western North America’s plant life and gardens created to mirror settings from around the world.
Over twenty-four acres, the gardens highlight drought-resistant native western flora and adapted plants that work well in the western climate.
They also have ornamental displays of perennial favorites: daylilies, roses, and irises. The Mordecai Children’s Garden encourages hands-on exploration of soil and water and has stroller parking, picnic tables, and year-round programing.
There are many gardens dedicated to the serenity of Japanese strolling gardens and bonsai, a South African garden with hardy plants from their steppe region, and a greenhouse overflowing with tropical and subtropical flowers. Details & Photos
1007 York Street, Denver, Colorado 80206, Phone: 720-865-3501
4. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College aims to educated and inspire the community about visual and performing arts. Visitors will experience extraordinary cultural and historical performances and exhibitions that are sure to delight.
The Center’s permanent collection focuses its collecting practices to work produced in North and Central America, mainly Hispanic and Native American work. However, many pieces from European and Modern American artists are heavily featured.
The Fine Arts Center prides itself on offering a large variety of courses for artists of any age and any skill level. The facility offers classes year-round with qualified and supportive instructors for anyone interested in painting, drawing, pottery, photography, or filmography. Free parking is available for visitors across from the main entrance on Dale Street.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 30 W Dale St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, Phone: 719-634-5581
You are reading "25 Must-See Attractions in Colorado" & Fun trips close to me
5. CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens
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CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens is a devoted horticultural research garden on the campus of Fort Collins' Colorado State University, open to the public throughout the year near the campus' Center for the Arts.
The garden strives to serve as a trial space for the performance of annual plant cultivars in the region's high-altitude Rocky Mountain environmental conditions, with primary annual plantings on display between late May and mid-October.
Plant varieties are grouped by genus and arranged by color, with more than 1,000 different cultivars typically on display each year.
In addition to the main annual showcase, the garden also presented an annual pansy display, which is planted in fall and on display through the early spring.
Perennials cultivated by the garden are also on display year-round across the street from the garden facility. Things to Do in Fort Collins
CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens, 1401 Remington St, Fort Collins, CO 80523, Phone: (970) 491-7179
6. Telluride Mountain Village Gondola, Colorado
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The Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola is the only free ride of its kind in the United States.
Opened in 1996, it is both public transportation between the two towns, and a ski, snowboard, and mountain bike lift for visitors and residents wishing to use the ski runs.
The thirteen-minute trip from Telluride to Mountain Village or vice versa lasts thirteen minutes and gives dramatic all-round views of the San Juan Mountains.
The gondolas are wheelchair accessible, have ski, snowboard, and bike racks. Blankets are provided at each station for your comfort during the winter season. Things to Do in Telluride
Telluride Mountain Village Gondola, 301 W. San Juan Avenue, Telluride, CO 81435, Phone: 877-358-7122
7. Aspen Art Museum
The Aspen Art Museum is worthy of a place on the itinerary of any art lovers planning a trip to Colorado.
Founded by local artists, the Aspen Art Museum is dedicated to promoting the arts by means of exhibitions, workshops, inspiring lectures and much more.
To ensure that everyone has access to art in all its shapes and sizes, the museum offers free entry to all so that younger generations will all have access to stimulating and inspiring exhibitions and classes. There is always something worth seeing at the museum. While you are in Aspen, go skiing, shopping, hiking, and dine at great restaurants.
637 E. Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, Phone: 970-925-8050
8. Tread of Pioneers Museum
© Tread of Pioneers Museum
Tread of Pioneers Museum is a regional Colorado history museum housed within Steamboat Springs' historic 1901 Zimmerman House.
Permanent exhibits and artifacts are showcased within the renovated Queen Anne-style home, including pieces from the museum's extensive firearms collection and a replica chuckwagon from the region's pioneer days.
Visitors can also view exhibits on the region's indigenous history, skiing industry, agriculture, and infamous Wild West outlaws such as Harry Tracy of Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang. Things to Do in Steamboat Springs
800 Oak St, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477, Phone: 970- 879-2214, (website link)
9. Bishop Castle, Colorado
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Bishop Castle is an incredible feat of one man’s desire to singlehandedly build a fortress in the midst of the San Ysabel National Forest. Jim Bishop purchased the land in 1959 and began building his castle after he got married in 1967. He wanted to build a simple stone cabin for himself and his bride, but he never stopped building, and now the castle is a huge masterwork of turrets, crenellations, arches, and an enormous steam-producing dragon built from stainless steel plates.
It is a place of wonder, especially considering that Jim Bishop himself has laid every stone and worked every piece of wrought iron.
Bishop Castle is open every day, and admission is always free, although there is a donation box if you wish to contribute. Construction is ongoing and not sealed off; parents are advised to keep a close eye on their youngsters while at the castle. More day trips from Colorado Springs
12705 Colorado Rte. 165, Rye, Colorado 81069, Phone: 719-564-4366
10. Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
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In twenty-five acres of Colorado, more gold has been mined than in all of Alaska and California combined.
The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine was at the heart of Colorado’s gold mining industry, and this tour takes visitors into mine shafts and tunnels that have been worked since 1889. An elevator ferries visitors 1,000 feet below the earth, and it is not for the claustrophobic.
Once inside the mine, former miners and descendants of miners give excellent guided tours lasting approximately 45 minutes, teaching visitors about gold mine conditions, showing them a century’s worth of mining equipment, and displaying a vein of gold ore still running through the tunnels. Above ground there is a gift shop and a seasonal diner. Things to Do in Cripple Creek
9388 Hwy. 67, Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813, Phone: 719-689-2466
11. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is dedicated to conservation, captive breeding of endangered species, and comprehensive animal care.
It aims to give every visitor an experience that will last them a lifetime. Founded in 1926, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is, as the name implies, on the slope of a mountain, affording both visitors and animals fabulous views, though it requires stout walking shoes and a degree of physical fitness.
With over 750 animals of 170 species, the zoo is world-class, and contains the largest herd of reticulated giraffes in any zoo anywhere.
A special feature of the zoo is the fact they allow visitors to hand-feed the giraffes, which are very tame.
Hoping to inspire conservation action, the zoo has thoughtfully housed all of its animals in as natural an environment as possible so that visitors can understand the needs of each animal of each species. More info
4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80806, Phone: 719-633-9925
12. Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
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William F. Cody, aka “Buffalo Bill,” was a skilled bison hunter, a scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, and a world-famous showman who performed Wild West shows across the United States, in Europe, and in front of Queen Victoria, who was fascinated by him.
The small museum outside of Golden, Colorado looks at Buffalo Bill’s life from its beginning in Iowa Territory in 1846.
A former Pony Express rider, William F. Cody became the most famous man in America for a time, and the museum recalls the hype and the reality of his life.
Up on a hillside, Buffalo Bill Cody’s gravesite overlooks the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. The museum has a gift shop and a small café, while the grounds have picnic areas. Things to Do in Golden
987 ½ Lookout Mountain Road, Golden, Colorado 80401, Phone: 303-526-0744, (website link)
13. Museum of the Mountain West
© Museum of the Mountain West
The Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose is the result of a lifetime of collecting artifacts relating to Old West history by Richard E. Fike, a historical archeologist and a specialist in embossed medicine bottles.
As a child, Pike set up museums in his parents’ home, and as an adult he collected everything he could find, including buildings.
The museum is set in a number of accurately built and preserved historical settings, including a church, a saloon, several residences, a dentist’s office, a railroad depot, a school, and a dry goods store.
Visitors are permitted to (gently!) handle the artifacts within the museum, and skilled docents tell the tales of life in the Old West.
68169 E. Miami Road, Montrose, Colorado 81401, Phone: 970-240-3400
14. Molly Brown House Museum
© Molly Brown House Museum
Margaret “Molly” Brown is famed for surviving the sinking of the Titanic, but the woman was so much more than that.
Born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1867, Margaret Tobin Brown was a socialite, philanthropist, and activist who tirelessly pursued rights for women, workers, and children, passionately believing in universal education and literacy.
She helped to establish the first juvenile court in the United States and ran for Senate, albeit unsuccessfully.
The Molly Brown House Museum is set in her home in Denver, and it has vast collections of artifacts belonging to her and her family, along with items relating to her circumstances and time period.
Expert docents lead forty-five minute guided tours that begin in the home’s carriage house; educational programs are available on- and off-site. Romantic Weekend Getaways from Denver, Colorado
1340 Pennsylvania Street, Denver, Colorado 80203, Phone: 303-832-4092
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15. Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center
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Located fifteen minutes north of Denver, the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center in Westminster is a popular family destination filled with invertebrates, which are creatures without backbones.
More than 1,600 butterflies flit magically through the tropical forest zone of the pavilion, hatching from cocoons and drinking nectar from flowers.
Visitors can stroke sea stars and horseshoe crabs in the sea life touch zone, hold Rosie the tarantula, stroll on the outdoor nature trail, and watch bees while learning how vital they are to the future of the planet.
The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center have educational programs for all ages, from young children to seniors, and a gift shop filled with interesting items. Things to Do in Westminster
6752 W. 104th Avenue, Westminster, Colorado 80020, Phone: 303-469-5441
16. Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
© Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
Imagine floating away all your troubles and stress in the world’s largest natural thermal hot pool.
You will find this amazing pool at the Glenwood Springs Resort, where the healing mineral-rich thermal waters have been working their magic for more than 170 years.
Of course, your experience at the Hot Springs will be very different today compared to when it first opened in 1888.
Today’s visitors will find a modern and appealing resort which offers hiking, biking, shopping and dining as well as a range of pampering spa treatments, unlimited soaking, comfortable lodge accommodation and more. Special packages are available all year round.
415 E. 6th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, 970 947 2955
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17. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO
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Located at an elevation of 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rock Park lies at the transitional zone where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains.
This is a place of great beauty which is home to wildlife, amazing geological features and extraordinary vistas.
What makes Red Rocks even more unique is that it is the only naturally occurring amphitheatre in the world which boasts perfect acoustics.
Over many decades, Red Rocks has hosted dozens of big-name bands, opera stars and other musicians.
The amphitheatre also hosts a variety of other events including Yoga at the Rocks, star-gazing and much more. It would be a shame to miss a concert at this totally amazing venue while you are visiting Colorado. Things to Do in Morrison
18300 W. Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO, 720 865 2494
18. Things to Do: Opera Colorado
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Opera Colorado is Denver's premiere world-class opera company, presenting fine opera performances each season since 1981 at the city's Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
The company mounts two full-scale opera performances each season in November and May, focusing on classics such as Verdi's La Traviata and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. An annual winter chamber performance is also presented, highlighting a new or contemporary opera work in a more intimate theater setting.
Other performances throughout the year include recitals, panel discussions, and artist meet-and-greet events. Educational programming at the company reaches more than 45,000 participants each year, including in-school outreach programming.
Opera guests can enjoy on-site dining at Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, with bar drinks and snacks offered within the theater's lobby spaces before shows and during intermissions. Things to Do in Englewood
4121 S Navajo St ste 100, Englewood, CO 80110, Phone: 303-468-2030
19. Downtown Aquarium, Denver
More than just another aquarium, Denver’s Downtown Aquarium is an exciting family entertainment venue which offers various family amusements as well as fascinating marine exhibits.
The huge aquarium complex has more than 1 million gallons of marine exhibits for visitors to admire.
There are more than 500 species of animals on display, including exhibits showcasing animals native to the US, desert-adapted animals, coral reef marine life and so much more.
The aquarium has a brilliant walk-through glass tunnel where you will be surrounded by fish and water on three sides.
There is also a Stingray Reef interactive touch tank and the chance to see a mermaid show when you visit the restaurant. Things to Do in Denver
700 Water Street, Denver, CO 80211, 303 561 4450
20. Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to celebrating the amazing accomplishments of great women from the state of Colorado, honoring their legacies and cementing their status for years to come.
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame organizes all kinds of events throughout the year, including its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, as well as portrait exhibits and more. More info
More ideas: Mesa Verde
21. Benson Park Sculpture Garden
© Benson Park Sculpture Garden
The Benson Park Sculpture Garden rests on ten acres of land in the heart of Loveland, Colorado.
There are 148 permanent sculptures on display, representing almost every medium, and the pieces have been gathered from around the world.
Beautifully landscaped and set around charming water features, the garden has wide paved walkways that facilitate wheelchairs and strollers.
On the second weekend of every August, the Benson Park Sculpture Garden hosts Sculpture in the Park, which is the largest sculpture display and sale in North America.
There is ample nearby parking, public restrooms, and picnic areas scattered throughout the park. Admission is free, and the park is open all day year-round. Things to Do in Loveland
1125 W 29th St, Loveland, CO 80538, Phone: 970-663-2940
22. Cliff Palace and Balcony House, Colorado
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Cliff Palace and Balcony House are ancient cliff dwellings that the ancestral Pueblo Indians inhabited in the 12th and 13th centuries. Located in Mesa Verde National Park, both are World Heritage Sites and National Monuments.
Balcony House had forty-five rooms and two kivas (ovens), and it can only be accessed on ranger-guided tours.
Tour participants must climb a thirty-two foot ladder and then crawl through a twelve-foot tunnel to access Balcony House.
Its original dwellers would have climbed the rock face using narrow toeholds; its limited accessibility made it easy to defend against intruders.
Cliff Palace was constructed in the cliff face with sandstone blocks, mortar, and wooden beams.
It once had over 150 rooms and 25 kivas and was probably used for ceremonial purposes. As with Balcony House, Cliff Palace is only accessible on a ranger-guided tour. Things to Do in Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde, Colorado 81330, Phone: 970-529-4465
23. Elitch Gardens
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Elitch Gardens is a theme park and water park in the middle of Denver.
It is a park that all can enjoy; there are thrill rides and other attractions that are geared to families and small children.
You can also find a large selection of wild metal roller coasters, experiences that drop riders from a great height, and a huge Ferris wheel.
Kids will enjoy the carousel and trips in airplanes and trains that entertain without being frightening.
Island Kingdom Water Park is a huge wet playground within Elitch Gardens with a whole assortment of water slides, including ones with enormous drops, and others that hurtle you at high speed.
For families and children there are a lazy river, a wave pool, and slides geared to small tykes.
2000 Elitches Circle, Denver, Colorado 80204, Phone: 303-595-4386, (website link)
More ideas: Things to Do in Denver with Kids
24. Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
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In 1833, brothers William and Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain built a trading post on the Santa Fe Trail that led from Missouri to Mexico.
The fort was built to enable fur trade between settlers, travelers, and the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, who came peacefully to exchange buffalo robes for other goods.
Bent’s Old Fort had an important secondary role as the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail, and it was a godsend for travelers and soldiers who could stop for repairs, replenish their supplies, and enjoy good food, water, and company.
Disaster and disease closed the fort in 1849; reconstruction began in 1876, and guided tours of the fort are a must for families and history buffs. Things to Do in La Junta
35110 Highway 194 East, La Junta, Colorado 81050, Phone: 719-383-5010
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Colorado Vacation: Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument, run by the National Park Service, contains six prehistoric villages built in the Pueblo area between 1200 and 1300 A.D.
Balanced on the rims of canyons or perched precariously on boulders, the dwellings are viewable from a two-mile hiking trail through a small canyon.
The multi-tower buildings are still well preserved after eight hundred years, and seeing them is worth driving to the remote location on the Colorado/Utah border.
Dogs are welcome on the hiking trails.
The Square Tower Group has a small interpretative center, and rangers are available throughout the park to answer questions and give guidance.
Hovenweep has a primitive 31-site campground that fills up on a first-come, first-served basis. Things to Do in Cortez
McElmo Route, Cortez, Colorado 81321, Phone: 970-562-4282
Denver Art Museum
The Great Sand Denver Art Museum is a world-class conservatory of over 70,000 works of art from around the world and in varied media. It has an excellent collection of American Indian art, which represents nearly every tribe across North America, and has the world’s foremost collection of American West art. Lovers of European art will be delighted by its inclusion of works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and Pissarro.
The museum’s holdings of African art include rare sculptures and focus on the works of the Yoruba people of West Africa. The museum is family-friendly, providing backpacks of activities for visiting children to help them explore the world of art, and it offers free admission every day for youth under the age of 18. The museum has a popular restaurant, Palette, and a gift shop full of interesting souvenirs.
100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, Colorado 80204, Phone: 720-865-5000
Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colorado
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science began with one man, Edwin Carter, who in 1868 moved to a one-room cabin high in the Rocky Mountains and singlehandedly amassed the largest collection of Colorado fauna in existence. In 1908, the museum in Denver formally opened, and it made world headlines when in 1926 museum researchers found fossil proof that North America was inhabited over 10,000 years ago.
Today, the museum is a center for education, research, and tourism. It is centered on family experiences and holds permanent collections and rotating exhibits. Displays of and about dinosaurs, robots, space, weather, and expert docents give every visitor a memorable trip, and the planetarium and the IMAX theater have revolving shows and delight all ages. An innovative children’s center is perfect for visits with young children.
2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, Colorado 80205, Phone: 303-370-6000
Located in Summit County, the Copper Mountain Ski Resort is just 75 miles west of Denver. This popular winter sport playground covers around 2500 acres of terrain where snow sport enthusiasts can enjoy all their favorite winter sports. Copper Mountain is ideal for the whole family and has a wonderful selection of trails for all abilities, from total beginners to expert skiers. You can enjoy 25 chair lifts serving 140 marked trails of which roughly 50% are ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers, while advanced and expert skiers can enjoy the remaining 50%+. The town is friendly and easy to access and there are plenty of après ski and dining choices.
Copper Rd, Frisco, CO 80443, 970 968 2318
Things to Do in Colorado: The National Museum of World War II Aviation
The National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs focuses on education, primarily in helping visitors and K-12 students understand the role of aviation in the Second World War and how it shaped our world.
The museum has twenty-two flyable aircraft in a hangar adjacent to both the Colorado Springs airport and Peterson AFB. In a second hangar visitors can watch volunteers restore World War II planes.
Two-hour tours are docent-led, and each guide gives his or her perspective on the importance of World War II aviation.
The museum’s aircraft includes a P38 Lightning, a B25 Mitchell, a Fairchild PT-19, a Beechcraft Model 18, and a Grumman F7F Tigercat.
775 Aviation Way, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80916, Phone: 719-637-7559
More ideas: Colorado Hotels & Resorts