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A nature lover’s paradise, Colorado is filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes, offering travelers over 300 days of sunshine to come and explore its diverse areas. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to picturesque towns and cosmopolitan cities, Colorado is surrounded by vibrant outdoor attractions, diverse wildlife, and byways just begging to be explored. Whether you hit the slopes at a luxury ski resort, hike the trails at a National Park or take a scenic drive through the countryside, Colorado has so many great things to see and do throughout the year. Perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers who are looking for an outdoor adventure, read on to discover the best places to vacation in Colorado.
Colorado’s biggest city, Denver offers an eclectic mix of attractions, from its trendy eateries to its impressive museums. A combination of a cityscape and natural surroundings, Denver is more than just a base to explore Colorado’s other outdoor treasures. Boasting a laid-back ambiance, this Mile High City is centered around an outdoorsy culture of locals that welcome visitors to sample their delicious craft beer, vibrant shopping streets, and beautiful hiking paths. Spend a day at the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, or the Denver Zoo, then browse Larimer Square and catch a game at Coors Field.
A perfect destination for travelers who crave nature, Colorado Springs appeals to visitors who are also looking for cultural attractions to fill their itinerary. Surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Colorado Rockies, Colorado Spring’s beautiful scenery is only highlighted by the city’s quirky art galleries in Manitou Springs, airplanes at the Air Force Academy, the world-class Olympic Training Center, and the rugged Old West feeling found in Old Colorado City. There are plenty of outdoor activities for visitors to indulge in, of course, including nearby Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon.
A city that conjures up images of a magical winter wonderland, Aspen boasts beautiful surroundings, where visitors can soak up panoramic views of the Colorado Rockies against the area’s abundance of mountain chalets and popular ski areas. A mecca for winter sports enthusiasts, visitors can also find a wealth of high-end boutiques, interesting museums and excellent hiking trails. Whether you choose to climb to the summit, spot diverse wildlife or simply soak in your surroundings, the Maroon Bell peaks is a must on any itinerary. After a day of adventure at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands or Buttermilk, relax at the world-famous and therapeutic Glenwood Springs.
Located only a 30-minute drive from Denver, Boulder holds its own with its abundance of lush parks and beautiful landscapes perfect for a weekend getaway. A city with a hippie-like vibe, visitors who explore this area will be delighted to discover an array of shops, breweries and cafes. In addition to its thriving arts and cultural attractions, visitors can lace up their boots and head to the trails at Boulder Creek Path, Eldorado Canyon State Park and the Flatirons. Home of the University of Colorado, plenty of restaurants and drinking establishments are available to choose from, while visitors who are looking for a place to relax can also have a spot of tea at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory.
A small city that packs a lot of punch for its size, Vail is one of the most beloved ski destinations in the country, where it’s not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two. Nestled between the Gore Mountain Range and Sawatch Mountain Range, this narrow alley is home to the largest single-mountain resort in the United States. While most visitors come to Vail for its famous 5,289 acres of ski slopes, in the summer visitors can also explore the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Holy Cross Wilderness area to hike the area’s rugged mountainside trails.
Considered the base camp for the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is less than a 2-hour drive from Denver. Located near the east entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a quiet area surrounded by protected land. Here you’ll find pristine wilderness with endless indoor and outdoor activities, from scenic hikes and bike trails to wine tasting and spa treatments. Take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway to the top of a small peak and soak in breathtaking panoramic views of the valley and downtown area, take a walk along the Riverwalk in Downtown Estes Park or take the kids to the Estes Park Ride-A-Kart & Cascade Creek Mini-Golf.
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the country’s most beautiful natural area’s to explore in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park is an ideal vacation destination for those who crave outdoor adventures and awe-inspiring vistas of mountains, lakes, and valleys. With 355 miles of hiking trails, ranging from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain climbs, there are corners of this park that appeal to everyone. Take a scenic drive and spot diverse wildlife, such as Elk, Mule Deer, and Bighorn Sheep, or go hunting for one of the 30 postcard-worthy waterfalls views. While there is no lodge inside the park, visitors can find campgrounds to pitch a tent and spend a night under the stars.
Founded in 1859, Breckenridge is a historic town that rose in popularity for its fantastic ski resorts. While Breckenridge is known as a skiing mecca and surrounded by stunning peaks, the area has much more to offer. Sitting 9,603 feet above sea level, visitors can take a walking tour through the central district to hear stories of those who came here to find gold, shop for unique souvenirs, such as jewelry and antiques, or indulge in a day wine tasting or brewery visits along the Main Street center. Those who want to have an outdoor adventure other than skiing can try their hand at snowshoeing, sledding, tubing and even dog sledding, which can be arranged with one of the many companies available throughout the town.
Offering visitors a variety of outdoor activities to choose from, Steamboat Springs is a fun-filled vacation destination for all types of travelers. While skiing and snowboarding at Mount Werner are the city’s biggest draws, visitors can also explore its vibrant cultural scene at the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra or the Steamboat Art Museum. Take a day to soak in the hot mineral springs at Old Town Hot Springs or Strawberry Park Hot Springs, go for a 360-degree mountain view gondola ride to the top of Mount Werner, or soak in the breathtaking waterfall views at Fish Creek Falls. Summertime is perfect for tubing on the Yampa River, where visitors can hike to iconic landmarks like Rabbits Ears or try their hand at trout fishing along the river.
An alluring destination to explore throughout the year, Durango offers a wealth of activities for every season. From white water rafting to horseback riding, fishing and snowboarding, outdoor enthusiasts will be in heaven at Durango. Popular for its Durango train ride day trip, the famous line runs from the old mining areas in Durango and Silverton, where visitors can soak in breathtaking views of the mountain vistas against its black steam-powered engines. Explore the archaeological sites in Mesa Verde National Park, visit Henry Strater Theatre, the oldest running theatre in Colorado, and explore the downtown area to discover an array of lovely shops, galleries, and eateries.
An excellent vacation destination for visitors who are ready to hit the slopes, winter enthusiasts flock to Telluride every year for its 1,700 skiable acres that cater to both experts and novices alike. Visitors flock to Town Park on the southeast edge of town for its abundance of activities available, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fishing ponds and campgrounds that are popular for the city’s annual festivals and events. Bear Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls offer a variety of scenic hiking trails, while the Telluride Historical Museum and Historic Sheridan Opera House are two cultural attractions that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Popular during both the winter and the summer, Crested Butte offers year-round activities that appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. Soak in the crisp mountain air after taking the Silver Queen lift up to 11,875 feet up to see Crested Butte from above, visit the pedestrian-friendly city center with its locally-owned shops, or choose your pick between summer and fall mountain biking and the area’s numerous trails. Those with little ones can head to the Trailhead Children’s Museum, Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum or find swimming and hiking at Meridian Lake in the summer.