Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Colorado
Why We Love Colorado – Colorado’s Rocky Mountains offering quiet retreats to nature, outdoor adventures, and some of the best winter sports on the planet. And, although Colorado’s ski resorts are what put it on the global tourism map, the Centennial State has a lot to offer for every kind of traveler. Denver is a world-class destination offering some of the best restaurants, nightlife, and cultural sites in the West. Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins all have a lot to offer too, as do Colorado’s hundreds of charming mountain towns and dozens of parks. Come for white rafting, craft brewery hopping, soaking in natural hot springs, touring museums, or just watching the spectacular sunsets that gave this wonderful state its name. -Travel Lemming founder & Colorado local Nate Hake
Best of Colorado
No matter your travel style, Colorado has plenty of places to visit that are sure to have you coming back for years. Some of the most popular Colorado destinations include:
- Denver – Colorado’s capital city and the cultural center of the state. Packed with fun things to do, trendy restaurants, and pulsating nightlife. All just a day trip away from the mountains.
- Rocky Mountain National Park – Possibly the most beautiful place in Colorado, sporting a quarter-million acres of protected mountain and forest filled with hiking trails, camping spots, and scenic drives.
- Boulder – Wander the Pearl Street Mall, hike the Flatirons, and browse art galleries and cafes. The perfect city for nature lovers and filled with stuff to do.
- Mesa Verde National Park – A fascinating archaeological site consisting of an ancient Native American city carved into the side of a cliff.
- Aspen – Glitterati from around the globe flock here every winter and summer. Home to the Instagram-famous Maroon Bells.
- Vail – Colorado’s other world-famous ski town, though worth a visit in summer too.
- Fort Collins – Beer lovers shouldn’t sleep on Colorado’s city in the north.
- Colorado Springs – Colorado’s second-largest city is quickly emerging as a tourist destination in its own right. Don’t miss Garden of the Gods.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park – If skiing isn’t your thing, how about sandboarding?
👉 Explore all places to visit in Colorado.
From outdoor adventure to urban exploration, Colorado is packed with must-do activities:
- Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park – From 14,000 summits to family-friendly strolls, exploring RMNP is a must-do. Come in fall to see the leaves changing colors.
- Watch a Concert at Red Rocks – The top thing to do in Denver is one of the most spectacular outdoor amphitheaters in the US, and draws famous acts from around the world.
- Raft the Arkansas River – Colorado’s top spring activity is white water rafting, and there is no place better to do it than the rapids of the Arkansas River.
- Explore Garden of the Gods – Stunning red rock formations and sweeping vistas of Colorado Springs. Bring a picnic lunch.
- Go Skiing or Snowboarding – From Telluride to Breckenridge, Colorado is famous as a winter sports destination for good reason!
- Museum Hop in Denver – Check out the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Center, or the spectacularly underrated Forney Museum of Transportation.
- Explore Historic Colorado Mountain Towns – Colorado is filled with mountain towns steeped in mining history and things to do, like Buena Vista and Leadville.
👉 Read full guide of the things to do in Colorado.
Deciding on a place to base yourself in Colorado can be challenging, but thankfully there are so many good places to stay in or near the Rocky Mountains:
- Denver – The most popular place for tourists to stay in Colorado, offering all the amenities of a large city while still giving you access to day trips to the mountains.
- Breckenridge – One of the more moderately priced mountain resorts. Lifts will take you directly from town up the mountain.
- Boulder – A great place to base yourself if you want easy access to the mountains without sacrificing the benefits of staying in an urban center.
- Ouray – An underrated mountain town in the southwest part of the state.
- Colorado Springs – A good base for visiting the southern part of the Front Range, or for those looking for a cheaper alternative to Denver.
👉 Read the full guide to where to stay in Colorado.
🛎️ Best Hotels
From expansive mountain resorts to boutique hotels to glamping, Colorado offers a wide array of unique accommodation options for every budget.
- The Broadmore – An iconic luxury resort in Colorado Springs that is a destination in its own right. Posh suites, an 18 hole golf course, 8 restaurants, and multiple pools.
- The Stanley Hotel – Made famous as the inspiration for the hotel in The Shining, this iconic hotel is still in operation in Estes Park.
- The Oxford – A historic Denver hotel that once hosted the first mountain elevator in the West, as well as Denver’s most famous Prohibition-era speakeasy.
- Mount Princeton Hot Springs – One of the best hot springs resorts in Colorado, and a great place to stay in Buena Vista.
- Yogi Bear’s Yellowstone Camp Resort – Travel Lemming founder Nate’s favorite spot as a kid, located near Larkspur and still entertaining children to this day!
If you have your own set of wheels, Colorado makes for the perfect road trip destination. Really, you can’t go wrong driving in just about any direction on your Colorado road trip itinerary, but these are some of our favorite Colorado road trips:
- Peak to Peak Scenic Byway – Starting in Black Hawk, follow this scenic byway through mining towns and stunning mountain scenery to Estes Park. A great mini road trip for anyone visiting Denver.
- Denver to Gunnison to Mesa Verde – An epic mult-day road trip taking in some of the best parts of the state of Colorado.
- Trail Ridge Road, RMNP – The best drive in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering spectacular views as it passes through several mountain ridges.
👉 Read the full list of best road trips in Colorado.
Home to the 30 highest peaks in the US’s Rocky Mountains, Colorado is famous for its 14’ers – mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation. The locals will often volunteer how many of these they’ve climbed, though you don’t have to hike to visit one:
- Mount Evans – Home to the highest paved road in the contiguous USA, driving to the top is something of a local ritual. Watch out for mountain goats!
- Pikes Peak – Probably Colorado’s most famous mountain, Pikes Peak lords over Colorado Springs. Drive to the top or take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for a unique experience.
- Grays & Torreys Peak – Technically two mountains, these are two of the easiest Colorado 14ers if you’re looking to check off hiking one (though bear in mind “easy” is a relative term).
- Longs Peak – A much harder climb that should not be attempted by first time climbers, but a gorgeous setting in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Mount Elbert – The highest point in the Rocky Mountains, and the tallest mountain in Colorado. Located between Aspen and Leadville.
Colorado is synonymous with winter sports, so you’ll find no shortage of fantastic resorts for skiing and snowboarding. Some of our favorites include:
- Breckenridge – A gold rush town turned charming ski resort. Be sure to snap a photo with the famous troll forest sculpture.
- Vail – One of the most famous ski resorts in the world, and for good reason. Just book ahead and be prepared to shell out for your stay.
- Aspen – Another uber famous ski resort, Aspen is as famous for its apres ski culture as it is for its (excellent) slopes.
- Telluride – Hard to get to, but worth the trip, Telluride is a fanstatically beautiful (if a little expensive) Colorado ski destination.
- Arapahoe Basin – Often the last Colorado ski resort to close in a given year, come during the sunny spring and ski in your swimsuit!
👉 Read full list of the best ski resorts in Colorado
After a long day hiking, or a day spent on the slopes, few things feel better than slowly slipping into one of Colorado’s fantastic hot springs:
- Strawberry Park Hot Springs – Where a hot spring and a cold river meet, this fantastic hot springs near Steamboat Springs becomes clothing optional after dark!
- Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa – A great springs formerly used by the Ute tribe. A convenient stopover if you’re planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort – These hot springs near Nathrop are an attraction in their own right. Be sure to book ahead to stay at the resort.
- Conundrum Hot Springs – One of the highest hot springs in North America, and a must visit for any true Colorado hiker. It’s a challenging 8.5 mile hike to get in, so plan to camp overnight!
- Salida Hot Springs Pool – One of the largest pool hot springs in the country, and a great place to visit in Colorado with kids.
👉 Read full list of best hot springs in Colorado
Colorado Travel Advice
🗓️ Best Time to Visit
Colorado is a year round destination you’ll want to be sure to time your visit depending upon what brings you to the Centeniall State:
- 🍂 Fall – A spectacular time for “leaf peeping.” Drive through RMNP – or really anywhere in the Rockies – and watch the cascading colors of the aspens.
- 🌞 Summer – The best time of year to visit for hiking, camping, and most outdoor activities. It can get hot along the Front Range cities, but the mountains are just perfect.
- ❄️ Winter – Obviously when you should plan to visit Colorado if you’re planning to ski or snowboard. Just be sure to be prepared for cold weather!
- 🌼 Spring – A good time to visit for whitewater rafting or late ski season deals. Just be aware the weather can be a bit hit or miss.
🚌 Getting In & Around
Though cars are king here, you will find a variety of ways of getting into and around the state of Colorado:
- ✈️ Airports – Most visitors will arrive at Denver International Airport (DIA) or Colorado Springs (COS), though other airports include Aspen (ASE), Eagle County (EGE), and Pueblo (PUB).
- 🚗 Driving – A rental car is ideal for exploring the full breadth of the state, especially the Rockies. If you are just staying in Denver or Boulder, you can get by without it.
- 🚇 Public Transit – Public transportation is best in the cities. Denver’s RTD offers a modern light rail system. Shuttle systems are also common in the mountain towns.
- 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are ubiquitous in the cities. In the mountains, it is an option in some towns, though have a backup plan.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Colorado is great for bikers, with loads of trails through the cities, plus tons of mountain trails for adventurers. Some ski resorts let you take your bike on the lifts during the summer.
- 🛴 Scooters – Scooters can be found throughout the Front Range cities.
- 🚶♀️ Walking – Colorado is slowly becoming more walker friendly, with the most walkable cities being Denver and Boulder.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- ⛰️ – Watch the Allittude – If you’re coming from sea level, give yourself time to acclimate – especially if doing any kind of outdoor activity.
- 🦪 – Rocky Mountain Oysters Are Not Seaford – They are fried bull testicles. And, yes, you will really see them on Colorado menus. Hungry?
- 🌡️ – Weather is Unpredictable – In Denver, it can snow in June, or be 70 degrees and sunny in January. Be ready for anything.
- 🌿 – 420 Is Legal, But Know the Rules – Yes, you can buy it at dispensaries around the state. But you can’t light up in public, a restaurant, a bar, or your hotel. And definitely can’t smoke and drive.
- 🔥 – Be Careful with Fire – Like many Western states, Colorado is periodically wrecked by tragic wildfires. Learn about fire bans during your visit, and be careful with campfires lest you become a national story for the wrong reasons.
- 🥾 – Hiking Boots – A good pair of hiking boots is a must if you’re planning to get up in the mountains to check out the many hiking trails in Colorado.
- ⛷️ – Ski Gear – If coming for winter sports, you can check your skis on the plane (the airports even have special luggage carousels for them). The resorts rent out gear too if you don’t have your own.
- 🌞 – Sunscreen – Even in winter, the Colorado sun is strong. Use a strong SPF and don’t get burned.
- 🧥 – Fleece Jacket – With the weather so unpredictable, and so many elevations to consider, packing a good fleece or light jacket can come in handy even during the warmer months.
- 💧 – Water Bottle – It’s very dry in Colorado and, especially with the elevation, it’s crucial to keep hydrated even during the winter months.
👉 Read our complete packing checklist for Colorado.
🤓 Facts & Info
- Population – 5.8 million people
- Capital – Denver
- Largest Metro Areas – Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Boulder, Colorado Springs
- Time Zone – Mountain Time (UTC -6 / UTC -7 during daylight savings)
- Airports – Denver International Airport (DIA), Colorado Springs (COS), Aspen (ASE), Eagle County (EGE), Pueblo (PUB).
- Colleges & Universities – University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado College, University of Denver, Colorado School of Mines
- Nicknames – The Centennial State, Colorful Colorado, Columbine State, Silver State
- Demonynm – Coloradan
- USPS Abbreviation – CO
- Governor – Jared Polis (Democrat)
- Country – United States of America
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- MERIC Cost of Living State Rank – 34th most affordable
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $100-200+/night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $80-$250+/night
- Rental Car – $800-200/day
- Public Transit Ticket – ~$3-5
- Take Out Meal for Two – $20-$30
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $40-$100
- Draft Beer – $6-$12
FAQs About Visiting Colorado
Is Colorado safe for tourists?
Colorado is generally safe for tourists, though visitors should monitor the ongoing health crisis in their destination. Crime is relatively low in Colorado. Wildfires are a real risk, and visitors should pay attention to the latest fire bans before lighting a campfire.
What is the number 1 attraction in Colorado?
The top attraction in Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park, which receives 4.7 million annual visitors. Other popular Colorado attractions include Red Rocks, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dune National Park, and the Aspen and Vail ski resorts.
What food is Colorado famous for?
Colorado is famous for Rocky Mountain oysters which, despite the name are not seafood but rather animal testicles. Other famous Colorado foods include lamb, trout, Palisade peaches, Colorado chili verde, and bison burgers.
Is Colorado good for a holiday?
Colorado makes for a fantastic holiday destination, as it offers something for everyone. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will love Colorado’s hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. Urban enthusiasts will enjoy the culture in Denver and Boulder, while Colorado’s many hot springs resorts make for a great spa getaway.
What is the most beautiful part of Colorado?
The Rocky Mountains are generally considered the most beautiful part of Colorado, with Rocky Mountain National Park, Ouray, Breckenridge, and Glenwood Springs being particularly beautiful mountain destinations in Colorado.
Meet Our Colorado Travel Experts
Nate Hake is a travel writer and recovering attorney from Denver, Colorado. In 2016, Nate started traveling the world full time on a backpacking trip which took him to 43 countries across six continents in a single year (see his favorite travel photos from that trip here). Nate has been a full-time world traveler ever since. His travel advice has been featured in leading publications like NBC News, CNN, Mic, Business Insider, Mashable, and Yahoo News.
Laura Falin is a freelance writer in Colorado who has written for publications like BabyCenter, Colorado Parent Magazine, and Denver Parent. Laura loves hiking, paddle boarding, camping, and snowboarding, and she has run exactly one marathon. She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband and four children. They love exploring the state and the rest of the U.S., usually by car, and they are pros at 20-hour road trips!
Abigail Nueve is a Colorado-based writer who aspires to work from the road. An avid hiker, skier, and canyoneer, she shares a unique perspective of the American West, highlighting destinations less traveled. When she isn’t exploring the outdoors with her husband and two dogs, Abigail manages her freelance marketing business, Campsite Creative.
📰 Colorado Travel Guides
Travel Lemming was founded by a Coloradan, so you’ll find lots of helpful information and guides to many parts of the Centennial State. Here is an index of all our Colorado travel guides: