12 Things To See and Do in Colorado

  • Colorado’s immense natural beauty offers explorers and nature lovers some of the most breathtaking vistas in the United States.
  • The state’s wide variety of environments and activities provides an attraction for every type of traveler.
  • For campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, Colorado is a place like no other.
  • For those seeking frosty slopes and powdery snow, Aspen and Denver offer the best skiing in the country.

In Colorado, there’s an activity for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re on a solo trip, a romantic getaway or a family vacation, the state has incredible options for everyone and in every season. Take a look at a dozen of the top things to see and do in Colorado.

1. Discover Denver’s Amazing Parks

Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the ones that matter the most. If you’re visiting Denver and you’re in the mood for a peaceful stroll and cool, refreshing air, check out some of the parks. Known as the Mile High City, the state’s capital stands at an elevation of 5,278 feet.

Running through the city is an area known as Rivers and Trails, which is home to an astonishing 200 parks. The most famous is City Park, known for its resemblance to New York City’s Central Park. This massive recreation area has gardens, a golf course and attractions galore. The Denver Zoo, Martin Luther King Memorial and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science all call the park home.

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2. Camp in Rocky Mountain National Park

With more than 300 kilometers of trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is perfect for those planning a camping trip into the great outdoors. In addition to plentiful camping facilities, there’s hiking, wildlife observation, fishing and, of course, ample opportunities to take in the incredible landscapes of the Rocky Mountains.

You can visit the park at any time of the year, but not all campsites are open in winter. For the summer, almost all places are booked well in advance, so be sure to plan ahead and check the park’s website for information. If you aren’t much of a camper and simply want to take a tour through the park, renting a car and lodging in the nearest city, Estes Park, is a good plan.

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3. Take a Ghost Tour of Estes Park

Speaking of Estes Park, the city is home to The Stanley Hotel, the place that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining,” a veritable classic of literature and cinema. Better still, you can take a ghastly ghost tour of the hotel.

The hotel offers two types of tours. During the day, you can discover the property’s history dating back to its founding in 1909. You’ll learn all about its unique architecture and remarkable guests. By night, the hotel’s darkest stories are revealed. And there are more than a few you can discover on your own.

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4. Skiing in Aspen: Options for Every Experience Level

When it comes to skiing, Aspen is regarded as one of the best places in the world to get time on the slopes. The popular ski resorts have top-notch facilities that cater to the most demanding enthusiasts as well as new adventurers.

The four most frequented mountains for skiing are:

  • Snowmass: The mountain has more than 40 slopes for skiers of all experience levels, and plenty of shops and restaurants to warm yourself in. You can also go tubing here if skiing isn’t for you!
  • Aspen Mountain: With 70 slopes, this mountain top comes recommended for skiers and non-skiers alike, since it offers some of the most breathtaking views in the region.
  • Highlands: Amateur skiers beware, Highlands 118 slopes are some of the most challenging in Colorado.
  • Buttermilk: This unimposing mountain’s easy slopes are great for families with children as well as snowboarders.

Even if you aren’t a fan of skiing, Aspen is worth the visit. The charming city has a long list of shops, museums, galleries and restaurants to visit. And the natural beauty of the snow-capped mountains will take your breath away.

Shutterstock/David A Litman

5 . Take a Romantic Train Ride From Durango to Silverton

One of Colorado’s most fascinating attractions, the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, is a great option for anyone looking for something different or even a romantic getaway. The tourist train, which runs between the cities of Durango and Silverton, has beautifully restored carriages, all pulled along by an old-fashioned steam locomotive.

The train ride weaves travelers through fabulous sightseeing opportunities, such as Horseshoe Curve, the High Bridge and the High Line. You can choose between two trip options: One of just over five hours, perfect for families with children, and another longer itinerary, with a stopover of two hours in Silverton.

Shutterstock/Sherry Talbot

6. Get an Adrenaline Fix in Durango

If you’re an extreme sports enthusiast, Durango is right up your alley. At any time of the year, this city is a perfect destination for adrenaline junkies. Located in the middle of the San Juan mountains, this city offers endless adventurous activities, including mountain biking, zip-lining and rock climbing. If you’re into water sports, there’s even rafting and kayaking along the Aminas River.

In the winter, Durango transforms into an extreme winter sports paradise. While Purgatory Ski Resort offers regular skiing, adventurous types can partake in dog and horse sledding, Nordic skiing and snow tubing, just to name a few of the resort’s dozens of activities.

Shutterstock/Mike_O

7. Drink In the Beer Culture in Fort Collins

If you appreciate a good beer, consider spending a few days of your vacation to get to know the graceful city of Fort Collins, the fourth most populous in the state. In addition to being a charming place to visit, the city is home to some of the best craft beer in the United States. Dotted with local breweries sharing samples of their craftsmanship, Fort Collins all but guarantees a fun time.

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8. Experience Enchantment at the Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs

Known as the “land of mystical beauty,” the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is a must-see. The unique rock formations in the park are unforgettable. When visiting, give yourself a day or two to hike or ride a horse through the trails while taking in goliath formations such as Balanced Rock, Kissing Camels and Siamese Twins.

If you want to know how these natural sculptures were formed more than 300 million years ago, head to the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center and catch a movie explaining the origin of the impressive stones.

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9. Discover the Second Most Visited Mountain in the World

Another fascinating attraction in Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak. Standing at over 14,107 feet high, this behemoth is the second most visited mountain in the world. Also known as the “Mountain of America,” it offers incredible views, especially at the summit.

You can ascend the summit aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or, if you feel up to it, hike to the top on the Barr Trail. Whichever you choose, the path is filled with wondrous vistas of mountain ranges, lakes, forests, canyons and valleys.

Shutterstock/Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin

10. Refresh Yourself in Manitou Springs

If you’re visiting Pikes Peak, be sure to pay a visit to the lovely little town of Manitou Springs. The city’s claim to fame is its abundance of natural mineral water. All over the city, bubbling fountains provide fresh mineral water to anyone who cares to partake in the refreshment.

According to residents, the water contains high levels of minerals and is effervescent, almost as if it were carbonated. Guided tours will take you through the town and tell you the stories of the fountains.

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11. Discover the Historic Mines of Breckenridge

Founded over 150 years ago, Breckenridge retains an old Western aura. Tourists come from all over to explore the old gold mines located around the town. While touring, you’ll learn about the town’s history, explore the nearby region and even participate in a good old-fashioned gold hunt.

In addition to the old gold mines, Breckenridge is a popular ski destination for tourists on a budget, offering far more reasonable prices than the other famous resort cities in Colorado.

Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

12. Take a Family Trip to Vail Valley

As a tourist attraction, Vail Valley is no less a resort town than the other Colorado cities, offering an assortment of ski resorts and outdoor activities. But nature lovers, in particular, will want to visit. The city is home to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest resting botanical gardens in all of North America. Standing at over 8,200 feet, the gardens offer magnificent trails through lush flora with over 2,000 types of plants. The city’s quaint charm, traditional travel attractions and lush vegetation nestled in scenic mountains make it a wonderful destination for the entire family.

Whether you’re a solo traveler searching for adventure, a couple seeking a romantic getaway, or a family looking for the perfect place to spend summer or winter vacation, you’ll find it in this amazing state.

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Tim Kaechle

Tim Kaechle

Tim Kaechle is a freelance writer and digital nomad who loves learning and creating things for the web. When he’s not busy writing about his myriad of interests, he’s brushing up on his programming and digital design skills, all while wandering the world. He’s currently kicking around in Brazil and planning his next big adventure.

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