You might have already guessed if you follow me on social media that I’ve been spending some time in Colorado, USA. As soon as the Colorado road trip was booked the first thing I started searching for was ‘things to do in Colorado’, and the first thing that struck me was that the list of places to visit and tourist attractions were literally endless.
As someone who has never been to Colorado, Denver or the Front Range before I decided the best people to ask about what to do in Colorado were my fellow travel bloggers. They have shared the very best things to do in Colorado so lets dive right in and talk about the incredible outdoor activities, sightseeing and of course the amazing food and drink Colorado has to offer.
Things to do in Colorado
Take a Jeep Tour in Ouray, Colorado
Leigh who shares her adventures at Campfires and Concierges explains why a jeep tour of Ouray is one of the many fun things to do in Colorado.
I love getting off the beaten path when I’m traveling, and spending the day with Colorado West Jeep Tours was the perfect activity to do just that in Ouray, Colorado. Our skilled driver took us up to Imogene Pass, at over 13,000 feet of elevation.
We were able to peer over into the next valley at Telluride and learn all about the history of mining in the San Juan Mountains. We stopped at a few spots to take photos and even walk around some old mining buildings and tunnels.
Skilled 4WD drivers can do this Colorado activity on their own, but I highly recommend leaving the driving to a professional, especially when the tour guides can give you so much background about the area.
Take a High Thrill Bike Ride Through Vail Pass
Ladona Stork at Walking the Parks writes with passion about all the experiences you can have in America’s National Parks. She shares why an adrenalin pumped bike ride is a great activity to add to your list of what to do in Colorado.
Enjoy a Fun Packed Summer Adventure to Aspen – Snowmass
Tanya from Rad Family Travel blog has convinced me there’s plenty of activities to keep everyone busy in Aspen -Snowmass. It turns out it’s a great place to visit if you are looking for things to do in Colorado in the summer.
Aspen – Snowmass offers just as many outdoor adventures and adrenaline rush activities in the summer as it does in the winter, if not more. The highlight of driving into Aspen in the summer is coming from Leadville via Independence Pass, where hairpin turns take you up to 12,095 feet before descending again. This highest paved pass in America, Independence Pass crosses over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen, Colorado.
In the summer, the best things to do in Aspen – Snowmass include biking the Rio Grande Trail, hiking to Crater Lake for a picnic at the base of the spectacular Maroon Bells, and riding the Silver Queen gondola up to the Aspen Summit.
Visit Snowmass Lost Forest and tackle a challenge course, an alpine coaster, zipline, and climbing wall with your kids. Nearby, you can go whitewater rafting on the Roaring Fork or Arkansas River. For a more laidback afternoon, drive Castle Creek Road to the Pine Creek Cookhouse for relaxing views and upscale dining. Shopping and eating in Aspen is a real treat as well.
If you would like to find out more, read things to do in Aspen – Snomass, Colorado in the summer.
Visit Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Just look at the colour of the rocks at Garden of the Gods, Colorado. I would love to see these with my own eyes after reading what Danielle at Wanderlust While Working has to say about one of the best places to visit in Colorado.
With a name like Garden of the Gods, it’s hard not to put this famous tourist attraction on your Colorado bucket list. Nestled in the shadow of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is a set of red rock formations seemingly dropped from the sky and turned into a park.
The park is full of named formations like “Kissing Camels”, “Balanced Rock”, and “Siamese Twins”, and has tons of opportunities for hiking, biking, and if you’re feeling more adventurous, rock climbing.
The best part is that the park is and always will be free to the public! I recommend arriving early to get good parking and taking the Palmer Trail around the exterior of the park for some beautiful views. Early morning also gives you a better chance to catch a glimpse of wildlife, including birds, deer, rabbits, and even bighorn sheep if you are lucky! For more information check out my Beginner’s Guide to Garden of the Gods and add it to your list of places to visit in Colorado.
Skiing or Snowboarding in Vail, Colorado
For anyone who loves skiing or snowboarding, Sara from Our Kind of Crazy blog will inspire you to add Vail in the Rocky Mountains to your growing list of Colorado attractions.
Colorado is famous for the great Rocky Mountains, and one of the best ways to enjoy the Rockies is to head to Vail for some skiing or snowboarding.
Vail, Colorado is one of the most famous ski mountains in the US, and for good reason. It is the third largest ski resort in the United States, and has over 5,000 ski-able acres to shred. Vail is a perfect place for both beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders, since it has dozens of runs for each skill level.
Vail also has a very quaint town for a nice relaxing getaway. If you’re in Vail during the summer months without snow, there is still lots of outdoor activities like hiking, golfing, and bike rides for example. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, no matter the season, when you visit Colorado.
Visit Dinosaur Ridge
When I asked Melissa from The Family Voyage for some ideas of places to go in Colorado, I knew that exploring Dinosaur Ridge had to make the list of fun family friendly activities.
One of the best things to do in Colorado is explore the region’s ancient history – all the way back to the dinosaurs! Just a 25 minute drive from downtown Denver in the town of Morrison, you’ll find Dinosaur Ridge.
Dinosaur Ridge is part of the Dakota Hogback formation and one of the world’s most famous fossil deposits. It’s also extremely accessible. Most visitors to the site go on a paleontologist-guided tour of the site in a minibus. It’s a little more expensive than walking the entire road on your own, but so worthwhile, making it one of the top things to do in Colorado.
We absolutely loved our visit! We saw iguanodon tracks, brontosaurus “bulges”, fossilized ripple marks and much more. Even better, our extremely knowledgeable guide explained how these signs were left behind and answered detailed questions for over an hour. Of all the things we did during our two weeks in Colorado, visiting Dinosaur Ridge was one of the most memorable!
Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Sitting in the Iron Mountain Hot Springs looking at the snow covered mountains Colorado is famous for is a must do activity for people visiting the area. Here’s what Shauna from Family Travel Fever wanted to share about one of her favourite Colorado sites:
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
The state of Colorado has lots places to visit with hot springs. If you can’t make it to Iron Mountain then Jess & Ron from Unearth the Voyage suggest visiting Pagosa Springs instead.
Besides hiking some of the best trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best things to see and do in Colorado is to discover all of the secret and not so secret hot springs this gorgeous state has to offer!
There are many places you can spend some time soaking in hot springs, but my favorite has to be Pagosa Springs. Pagosa Springs is a cute little town that is home to the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world! That is definitely not to me missed!
The “mother spring” supplies the entire town with mineral hot springs baths you can spend the day relaxing and soaking in. There are three different hot spring facilities in town, but the best and my favorite is The Springs Resort and Spa.
You can choose to either stay at the resort or just visit the hot springs for the day. The Springs has 23 pools that vary in temperature and all are rich in mineral water supplied straight from the mother spring. The pools are perched on and above the San Juan river, and some springs are even half river half hot spring which mixes the cold river water with the boiling hot springs water. A day spent here is complete and utter bliss!
Visit the Denver Breweries
As I’ve discovered myself very recently, Denver has an excellent craft beer scene, and Julie from Wandering Sunsets shares why visiting the breweries is a fun thing to do if you are visiting Colorado.
Practise Landscape Photography in Colorado
I have to confess that I spent a lot of time taking photographs in Colorado, but none are quite as incredible as this one by Asher from Asher & Lyric blog. Seeing as there’s so many places to see in Colorado, it’s the perfect place to learn or practise your photography skills.
Go To Miramont Castle
Did you know there was a castle in Colorado? Martha from the Quirky Globetrotter shares why Miramont Castle is one of the things to visit in Colorado.
Most travelers are unaware that there is a quaint, castle nestled in the little town of Manitou Springs, Colorado. The Miramont Castle was built in 1895 by the French, Catholic Priest Jean Baptiste Francolon and is one of the less discovered Colorado tourist attractions.
The large, stone mansion is modelled after European architecture, but the exact style is unknown. Experts note that there are at least nine different architecture styles used in the construction and the decorative elements of Miramont Castle. Yet, in a mystical way, all the different architectures are harmonious with one another and make this a very unique place to visit.
Miramont Castle is also unique because it emphasizes the beauty and importance of nature. Throughout the entire castle’s interior, there are numerous design elements that incorporate nature, including the castle’s expansive picture windows that gaze upon the Rocky Mountains. Most of the interior is finished with a warm-toned wood that adds a cozy element to this large castle in Colorado.
If you plan to visit the Miramont Castle, try to time your visit around the castle’s afternoon tea. Visitors get to spend a few hours in the castle’s dining room enjoying a delicious sweet feast. It’s nothing short of grand. The castle’s afternoon tea is a highly coveted event during the holidays, so make sure to book well in advance if it’s one of the things you have to do in Colorado.
Visit Golden, Colorado
Golden is a family friendly town just outside of Denver, which makes it one of the easiest places to see in Colorado for international visitors. Diana from Traveling in Heels shares all the cool places you can visit here.
Howdy Folks is the sign that welcomes visitors to Golden, Colorado. Located in the foothills about 20 minutes west of downtown Denver, Golden welcomes families with a wide range of activities from hiking, biking, tubing, cultural attractions, museums, and Old West history.
Our family loves escaping to this urban getaway as it’s just 10 minutes from our home. Favorite things to do include simply exploring its downtown. We like to create a scavenger hunt with its free self-guided walking tour of downtown Golden’s public art collection, with 30+ statues and murals along streets such as Miners Alley. Its historic downtown includes 4-blocks of unique shops and restaurants.
Love trains? Be sure to visit the Colorado Railroad Museum, home to fifty models of old trains and the famed D&RG locomotive, the oldest working locomotive in Colorado. Explore the Museum’s 15-acre railyard with its 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, HO Model Railroad and G-scale garden railway. And yes, you can take a train ride!
And of course, when in Colorado, you can’t miss hiking the renowned Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. Visit during the day for the best view of the red sandstone formations, over 250 million years old and 300 feet high. A 1.4-mile trail loops around the area for the best views.
Grand Lake, Colorado
If you are wondering where to go in Colorado for a holiday, Lauren from Explorer Momma has experienced many family vacations at Grand Lake, Colorado and has some great reasons for you to visit too.
Grand Lake, Colorado is one of the best places to visit in Colorado in the summer. It’s located just outside the western side of the Rocky Mountain National Park and is generally much less crowded than Estes Park and the opposite side. I’ve grown up going there every summer for fun family adventures and now take my own kids.
Why is Grand Lake so fabulous? There are activities here for all ages: fishing, hiking, beaches, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and probably the best little café in Colorado, The Fat Cat Café. Grand Lake is specifically known for its moose, and they are often seen wandering through town and around the lake. If you enjoy seeing wildlife, this is the place to be.
Earlier in the summer is the least crowded. Head over to the Grand Lake East Shore Trailhead and take a hike up to the Shadow Mountain Lookout for amazing views of Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake, and the surrounding mountains.
There are a variety of other hikes around at many different levels. My husband and son love the fishing, my daughter loves the little mountain town, and I love to relax by the lake! There is something for everyone in Grand Lake, Colorado.
There are activities every single day here and with plenty of charm and a historic feel, Grand Lake is perfect for a relaxing family vacation.
Mesa Verde National Park
One of the most interesting and historic things to see in Colorado are the ancient cave dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo at Mesa Verde National Park. Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs tells us why this should be part of your Colorado sightseeing.
Comanche National Grasslands
The Comanche National Grassland is not your typical tourist destination in Colorado. Located in the southeastern high desert of Colorado, it’s a land of prairies and canyons and has private ranches scattered within its 463,373 acres.
There are two units. The Timpas Unit, near La Junta, has a picnic shelter and a trail which follows the Santa Fe trail to the Sierra Vista Overlook. There’s also hiking at Picketwire Canyon along the Purgatoire River track site, where you can see more than 1,300 tracks of Brontosaurs and Allosaurs. This is one of the largest dinosaur trackways in the world, and the impressions date back 150 million years.
The Carrizo Unit is just north of the Oklahoma border and is known for its petroglyphs. A six-mile hike leads to Crack Cave in Picture Canyon. There’s a section of rock art in the cave that is only visible for a few minutes at sunrise and sunset during the equinoxes. This unit is also good for fishing and birding, and primitive camping is allowed on all public lands.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Just take a look at this photograph by Michelle from The Wandering Queen! If you need any more convincing that this is one of the best places to see in Colorado read what she has to say below.
Driving Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Umiko from Two World Treasures shares one of here favourite Colorado tourist spots, along with some really helpful tips for enjoying Mount Evans and reaching the summit.
If you still need more ideas of where to visit in Colorado, then we highly recommend driving the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. In fact, it’s one of the top recommended day trips from Denver.
You’ll be blessed with fantastic views on your entire drive along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. You can stop at the Walter Pesman Alpine Garden to see the 1,700-year-old unique Bristlecone pines, and the Summit Lake where you can spot bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats if you enjoy watchable wildlife.
When you arrive at the mountain’s top, there’s a short trail to the 14,264 foot summit. Just a quarter-mile hike, but the view from the summit is incredibly beautiful! Many would say it’s one of the grandest panoramas in the state, so this has to be one of the best things to see in Colorado.
Here’s a few tips before you go: – visit before noon to avoid common afternoon thunderstorms. Make sure you wear a really good sunscreen to avoid burning. Bring a light jacket in case of a sudden change in the weather. Take particular care when driving as the road is narrow. It’s best to expect breathing difficulty at higher elevation due to the thin air.
The first time we drove here was on our Colorado One Week Unplanned Trip, and the second one was just last summer. Both times we experienced the afternoon thunderstorms and were glad we were prepared.
Directions: From Denver head west on I-70 to Exit 240/CO-103 S at the town of Idaho Springs. Continue south on CO Hwy 103 to the junction of CO Hwy. 5, the entrance to Mount Evans.
Breckenridge Sleigh Rides
Mary Beth from MB Sees shares a very different kind of outdoor activity you may wish to try in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Colorado is well known for its numerous skiing options, but my husband and I did something a little different during our last visit to Breckenridge. A slow, relaxing horse-drawn sleigh ride! It was a welcome break from all the high-adrenaline activities of the weekend, as we were able to snuggle up under a blanket with some hot chocolate and just enjoy some quiet moments at a completely different pace.
We took in some great mountain views from the valley floor on the romantic half hour ride, as two huge horses guided our bright-red sleigh through the field. If you’re looking for something a little different – or if you’re in the mood to pop the question (this is when my husband did it!) – try a sleigh ride through the snow!
Denver eTuk Tour
I was absolutely delighted when I saw Sharon from Daily Dream 360 blog contribution to my list of fun stuff to do in Colorado as we went on an eTuk tour during our visit to Denver. I would definitely describe it as a cool and unique activity, but I’ll let Sharon tell you some more.