I’m a Colorado local who can guide you to the absolute best places to visit in Colorado!
From the top travel destinations in Colorado to a few hidden local gems, this is the only list you’ll need to decide where to go and what to see in Colorado. After reading, bookmark my guide to the best things to do in Colorado for more awesome Colorado activities.
📺 Want a video version of this list? In this 5-minute video, Abigail rounds up her 14 favorite places to go in Colorado 👇:
Table of Contents
- 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Maroon Bells
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
- Snowmass Village
- Pikes Peak
- Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
- Colorado Springs
- Glenwood Springs
- Crested Butte
- Grand Junction
- Pagosa Springs
- Garden of the Gods
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Colorado National Monument
- Estes Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Hanging Lake
- Buena Vista
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
- Red Feather Lakes Area
- Grand Lake
- Steamboat Springs
- Fort Collins
- Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
- San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway
- Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
- Castle Rock
- FAQs About Where to Go in Colorado
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41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
Take in the sights in the Mile High City.
The Mile High City is a great place to start your visit in Colorado, and likely your point of entry. As one of the best cities in Colorado, Denver features several fantastic art museums and art galleries, a science museum with amazing displays of local gems and minerals, lots of outdoor activities, and more fun things to do.
There’s even a river for kayaking and tubing that runs right through several of Denver’s neighborhoods. If you’re a sports fan, Denver is home to six pro teams, so there’s always a game or match on somewhere. After a day of exploring, grab a bite while admiring the historic buildings in Larimer Square.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Pull on your hiking boots and enjoy endless views of mountain peaks.
Rocky Mountain National Park is about a two-hour drive from the Mile High City, making it one of the best Denver day trips. The drive and the destination both offer spectacular views!
Just about every spot at the park gives you a scenic view of the Rocky Mountains, and you may spot moose, elk, marmots, and adorable pikas roaming the park. Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park lead to summits, waterfalls, and alpine lakes.
The scenic Trail Ridge Road is a must for summertime visitors. It’s the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. and climbs to more than 12,000 feet above sea level.
Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely one of the best places to visit in Colorado! But be sure to plan ahead — reservations are required during peak season.
Head to nature-lovers’ paradise, a must-see in Colorado.
There’s a good chance you’ve actually seen the Maroon Bells before. Located near Aspen, they’re a popular stock shot of Colorado because they’re just that awe-inspiring. In fact, they even occupy the homepage of Travel Lemming!
Maroon Bells is one of the most popular places to see in Colorado and given tourists’ interest, there’s a reservation system during the summer. You can either reserve a parking spot or a seat on the shuttle from nearby Aspen.
Plan ahead and don’t be deterred by crowds. Trust me, Maroon Bells is one of the best places to visit in Colorado!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Visit one of the more remote Colorado national parks.
Visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a variety of outdoor adventures. Popular pastimes include hiking, fishing, and simply admiring the views carved out by the Gunnison River.
This national park is one of the four national parks in Colorado and is in a less-developed area of the state, with the small Colorado town of Crawford about half an hour away.
If you’re looking for quiet and a chance to appreciate nature, Gunnison National Park is one of the best destinations in Colorado!
Ride a historic train through the picturesque wilderness.
Durango is in southwestern Colorado, about a six-hour drive from Denver, and with a Colorado feel all its own! There are hiking and mountain biking trails, river rafting opportunities, and scenic drives nearby. See our guide on what to do in Durango for more.
You’re also not far from Mesa Verde National Park and the Four Corners Monument, two other popular places to go in Colorado.
One unique Colorado experience is to hop aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the best train rides in Colorado. For more picturesque views, take the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway drive, beginning in Durango.
Coast down the Million Dollar Highway into one of Colorado’s best mountain towns.
If you take the narrow-gauge train from Durango, you’ll end up in the former mining town of Silverton. The town is a National Historic Landmark, and along with being the destination of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, it’s a stop on the San Juan Skyway as well.
If you’re in need of Colorado vacation ideas, Silverton has plenty. You can shop for souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, head out hiking, go on a Jeep tour, or try an ATV ride in one of Colorado’s best mountain towns.
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Sled and sandboard down some of the tallest dunes in North America.
Colorado’s national parks make some of the best places to visit in Colorado! Each one will give you a quick history and science lesson about various regions, and Great Sand Dunes National Park is no exception.
The sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park are actually the tallest dunes in North America, and visitors can hike, splash in Medano Creek (in certain seasons), and even sled down the dunes.
All the while, you’re surrounded by amazing views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains just beyond the dunes. It’s definitely one of the most mesmerizing places in Colorado!
Enjoy outdoor recreation and plenty of breweries in this quirky college town.
You’ll find lots of fun things to do in Boulder, a funky college town just a 45-minute drive from Denver. The area has plenty of nearby hiking trails and mountain biking paths to explore the nearby Flatirons — the flat rocks that give Boulder a striking backdrop.
Pearl Street Mall is a popular strip, with shops, restaurants, and breweries where you can unwind after a day of outdoor activities.
👉 Love hiking and beer? Who doesn’t? This Boulder Hike & Brews tour takes you to hike the Flatirons with an expert, then to a taproom near Pearl Street to sample a local, award-winning beer.
Take part in year-round activities in this popular ski town.
Lots of people only think of Colorado ski towns in winter, but they offer plenty to do year-round! Snowmass is home to one of Colorado’s top ski resorts and is a prime place for winter sports. But in summer, it’s a great destination for mountain bikers, hikers, fishers, and more.
Kids will also love the activities at The Lost Forest, including an alpine coaster, a treetop challenge course, and a climbing wall.
Hike, drive, or ride a train up one of Colorado’s 14ers.
Pikes Peak towers 14,115 feet above the sea, and is one of the best Colorado places to visit. You can get to the top several ways — by hiking (which is definitely a lot of work!), biking, driving the Pikes Peak Highway, or booking a spot on The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
For a fun adventure, you can take guided Jeep tours to the top which gives you a lot of info about the history of one of the most famous Colorado destinations.
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Perch yourself high above one of Colorado’s deepest canyons.
Royal Gorge’s suspension bridge crosses high above the Arkansas River, giving you amazing views of the canyon if you’re brave enough to cross.
There’s also an adventure park at the gorge, featuring the highest zipline in the country, a rollercoaster, and aerial gondolas that carry you over the canyon. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to visit in Colorado and a great option for families.
👉 If You Loved: The view from the Royal Gorge Bridge, this Jeep tour will give you another perspective… and take you over the highest suspension bridge in the whole country!
Discover several of the best places to go in Colorado in the state’s second-largest city.
Colorado Springs is about an hour’s drive south of Denver, and this travel destination offers a great base camp for more Colorado adventures!
Top activities in Colorado Springs include visiting the Garden of the Gods, The Broadmoor Seven Falls, and taking a scenic drive up nearby Pikes Peak or down to Manitou Springs. There are also several great day trips from Colorado Springs worth experiencing.
Soak in several of Colorado’s hot springs in this charming mountain town.
Glenwood Springs sits perched in the mountains just off I-70, about a three-hour drive east of Denver. The town is best known for its large swimming pools that are fed by the hot springs in the area.
Many people enjoy sitting in the spring-fed pools during a peaceful snowfall. But Glenwood Springs is popular year-round — it’s home to several of the top hot springs in Colorado, after all.
You can also take an ATV tour or hit the nearby Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park for a fun day in the mountains! Glenwood is also a short drive from Hanging Lake, so nature lovers can hit that hiking trail while you’re there.
🚗 Getting There: If you’re headed to Glenwood from the Denver area, be aware that the status of I-70 could make or break your trip. Be sure to check traffic reports before you start the drive!
Take a road trip to this far-off ski town, one of the best vacation spots in Colorado.
The city of Telluride should be at the top of anyone’s list of places to visit in Colorado! It’s a long drive from Colorado’s major metro areas, but the untouched beauty of the Telluride area makes it a big draw year-round.
Whether you enjoy warm or cold weather outdoor activities, you’re sure to find something to do in this gorgeous Colorado mountain town. Check out our guide to the best activities in Telluride to get planning.
Spot summer wildflowers and ski deep powder in this beloved destination.
Crested Butte is one of the best places to visit in Colorado if you want to do some fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, golfing and so much more!
Of course, winter in Crested Butte means skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or one-of-a-kind sleigh rides through the cold winter air.
Enjoy world-class skiing while staying in this Bavarian-inspired mountain village.
A lot of people know of Vail as one of the most popular places to visit in Colorado, thanks to the world-famous Vail ski resort. Don’t get me wrong, skiing is definitely a great reason to visit Vail, but there is so much more to this popular Colorado vacation spot.
Vail offers fun activities year-round. In summer, the ski gondolas convert for mountain biking. Vail also has gorgeous hiking trails, and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are free and a beautiful spot to wander and relax. Don’t forget about the world-class shopping and dining in the village, too!
Explore towering redstone cliffs and rock formations in this western region.
Grand Junction is a great spot to visit in Colorado, especially if you’re coming into the state from nearby Utah. The town of Grand Junction has its own vibe, different from Denver but very Colorado-feeling all the same!
There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, along with rafting, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities in Grand Junction.
You’ll soon realize why exploring the Grand Junction area is one of the activities that also makes our list of the best things to do in Colorado.
Head to Pagosa Springs, the best place to visit in Colorado for peaceful relaxation.
The hot springs in Pagosa Springs make it one of the best places to visit in Colorado! Three resorts in town are fed by the Mother Spring aquifer, which is more than 1,002 feet deep — certified as the world’s deepest geothermal spring.
Besides the springs, Pagosa also has several impressive waterfalls you can visit, and quaint downtown shopping and dining. See our guide to the best things to do in Pagosa Springs.
Sip wine in the Colorado sunshine.
Palisade is near Grand Junction, but off the beaten path which makes it one of the great places to visit in Colorado! Palisade is in the heart of Colorado’s Wine Country, and you can spend a day touring wineries and vineyards.
Palisade is also renowned for its delicious peaches and produce and you can schedule a farm tour as well.
Garden of the Gods
Take a hike at one of the most family-friendly and fun places to go in Colorado.
Garden of the Gods Park is one of the best Colorado tourist attractions. The red rock formations with the Rocky Mountains behind make a beautiful, scenic picture.
The hiking trails are mostly paved, so strollers and wheelchairs can be easily pushed. Look for fun formations like the Sleeping Giant and the Kissing Camels on your walk through the park.
Tube down Clear Creek, mountain bike, and more.
The town of Golden is about a twenty-minute drive from Denver, and one of the unique places to visit in Colorado. Most people associate Golden with the famous Coors Brewery tour, but there are also many other breweries and some distilleries in its historic downtown.
Some of the top things to do in Golden include tubing on Clear Creek and browsing the quaint shops on Washington Avenue, along with hiking and mountain biking in a nearby park. Golden Gate Canyon is one of the premier places for outdoor recreation and ranks as one of Colorado’s best state parks.
Dinosaur National Monument
Discover the stories of ancient peoples, carved into these colorful cliffs.
Dinosaur National Monument is on the western edge of Colorado and actually extends into Utah as well. You will, of course, learn about the dinosaurs that lived here, but you’ll also be able to view petroglyphs from early people.
You can read about the settlers and outlaws who ended up in this rocky, barren region for lots of different reasons. Like the rocks, their stories are definitely colorful! This National Monument is definitely one of the coolest places to visit in Colorado.
Colorado National Monument
Experience quintessential views of the Wild West.
Colorado National Monument is in Fruita, just next to Grand Junction near the western edge of Colorado. It preserves a very Western-looking landscape, and you could easily picture John Wayne riding through the canyons here!
Take the historic Rim Rock Drive for the full view of the land, one of the best road trips in Colorado. Or go hiking or mountain biking in the park for more stunning overlooks. Wildlife viewing is popular here — be sure to watch for bighorn sheep and eagles flying high above the park.
Explore the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Estes Park is just outside the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and is one of the must-see places in Colorado. It’s a great place to stop after visiting the park, and one of the more underrated Colorado vacation spots.
You’ll find lots of fun things to do in Estes Park. There are hiking and biking trails, or you could try horseback riding in summer, and skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and more in winter.
Estes Park is nestled in the Rockies, so whatever you do, you’ll be surrounded by amazing views of the mountains.
Visit this mountain town any time of year for spectacular sights and activities.
Breckenridge is one of the best places to visit in Colorado for winter skiing and views of snow-capped mountains. Without question, Breckenridge Ski Resort is the town’s key draw.
But the ski town also features many incredible things to do beyond winter. Summer is great for hiking and there are plenty of mountain biking trails.
If you get a chance to visit in the fall, the colorful foliage in the mountains near Breckenridge is fleeting but unforgettable! The season’s yellow aspens are hands-down one of the best things to see in Colorado.
Mesa Verde National Park
Tour the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park are a reminder of the ingenuity of the ancient native civilizations that lived in Colorado long ago.
The cliff dwellings were built with great care so that the Ancestral Pueblo people stayed warm in winter, cool in summer, and had places to preserve food and to worship and mingle.
If you need a nearby Colorado town to base yourself on, Mancos is less than a ten-minute drive. Durango is a bigger town with more options for lodging and is a little over half an hour away.
Witness the charm and beauty of the “Switzerland of America.”
Ouray bills itself as the Switzerland of America, and the charming town tucked into the San Juan Mountains is one of the best places to see in Colorado.
Try horseback riding, go rock climbing, or try your skills at Ouray’s ice park. The town also hosts an international film festival every June.
Climb to one of Colorado’s most iconic attractions.
Hanging Lake is just a short drive from Glenwood Springs. The hike, too, is pretty short — but pretty steep! You’re rewarded at the end with views of a beautiful lake that’s an unusual bluish-green shade. The color is due to minerals that dissolve in the lake, and to keep its pristine beauty, no swimming is allowed.
Enjoy water activities and mountain sports in this picturesque mountain town.
Buena Vista sits along the Arkansas River, making it a great place to visit in Colorado, especially for rafting. There’s also lots of fishing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and many more activities in Buena Vista!
There are several hot springs for relaxing in Buena Vista as well. Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa is in town, and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort is just a short drive away.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
See a show at this world-famous music venue, one of the top places to visit in Colorado.
Red Rocks is just a twenty-minute drive from downtown Denver, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Colorado if you’re a rock fan — both the geologic and the musical kind!
The park has some of the top hiking trails near Denver where you can look for dinosaur fossils. In the visitor center, you’ll learn about all the musical acts that have been performed at Red Rocks since it was built.
Visit Colorado’s most luxurious ski town, a haven for outdoor and art lovers.
Aspen has a reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous, but it’s a great place in Colorado with plenty to do — even if you’re not a multimillionaire!
You’re close to Maroon Bells and other outdoor areas. Aspen also has lots of music venues, a film festival, spas and yoga classes, horseback riding opportunities and so much more! See our guide to what to do in Aspen to plan your trip.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to hike in the area, but don’t want to venture out on your own, this Aspen East End Light Hike takes you along hidden river trails and less traveled paths.
Red Feather Lakes Area
Raft, kayak, and fish within meditative scenery.
The Red Feather Lakes area of northern Colorado is one of those less-explored places in Colorado, which makes it an attractive option if you don’t want crowds!
The Cache La Poudre River has plenty of rafting, fishing, kayaking, and more water activities and the Shambhala Mountain Center is a unique Buddhist retreat where you can meditate in the midst of all this beauty.
Enjoy both water and land activities at this beautiful mountain lake.
Grand Lake is just before the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, which makes it one of the best towns to visit while you spend some time in the park.
There’s also plenty to do in Grand Lake itself including boating, fishing, and hiking in summer and cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowshoeing in winter.
Discover endless activities in Steamboat, one of the best places in Colorado to visit year-round.
Steamboat Springs is another of the best places to visit in Colorado if you want to do some skiing or snowboarding! There’s a ski resort at Steamboat, and in summer, you can hike, paddleboard on the lake, swim, fish, and more.
Regardless of the time of the year, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a must. Read our full guide to the best things to do in Steamboat Springs and get planning your Colorado adventure now!
Drink craft beer and more in this northern college town.
Fort Collins is a college town that’s also known for its breweries like the New Belgium Brewing Company. Their popular beer, Fat Tire, pays tribute to another popular activity: mountain biking.
There are also many trails to hike near Fort Collins, and there’s plenty of shopping and great dining. In fact, Disneyland’s Main Street was modeled after Fort Collins’ downtown area. Here, you’ll find several of the best things to do in Fort Collins.
Enjoy many Colorado activities in North America’s highest incorporated city.
Leadville is an old mining town that’s the highest incorporated city in the U.S. Leadville is located less than half an hour from the Copper Mountain ski resort, and you’ll find tons of fun things to do in Leadville in winter, summer, or any season.
But, for a real Colorado hidden gem, check out the even closer (and much cheaper!) Ski Cooper. Ski Cooper offers lift-accessed downhill skiing and snowboarding and is the perfect place for a kid’s first ski experience.
The next-door Tennessee Pass Nordic Center also offers groomed cross-country ski trails if you want a slower pace. In summer, the area is one of the best places to visit in Colorado for fly fishing, hiking, and biking.
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Whitewater raft over adrenaline-pumping rapids.
The Arkansas Headwaters is one of the country’s most popular places for kayaking and whitewater rafting tours. The river also has excellent fishing, especially for rainbow trout.
There are lots of other outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and watching for native Colorado wildlife in the area.
The recreation area is in the town of Salida, one of the best small towns in Colorado that’s also fun to explore in itself.
San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway
Wind through one of Colorado’s most scenic mountain ranges.
The San Juan Skyway is a 235-mile loop through many southwestern Colorado towns, that takes in many of the best places in Colorado. You can start in Durango, but you have the option to stay and visit or spend the night, in towns including Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, or Cortez as well.
One part of this scenic byway is known as the “Million Dollar Highway,” either because there’s still plenty of gold in them thar hills, or because the views themselves are worth a million bucks.
Admire the Victorian architecture and natural beauty while on a scenic train tour.
Georgetown is tucked into the mountains along I-70, just under an hour’s drive from Denver. The town has historic buildings with quaint shops and restaurants, and the drive up Guanella Pass in summer and early fall is breathtaking.
You can also ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where you can stop for a silver mine tour or pan for gold.
📚 Read Next: Check out our guide on places to visit in Washington state. It’s another one of the best states for outdoor lovers!
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
Drive the highest paved road in North America.
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is about a ninety-minute drive from Denver, but well worth it! You’ll be driving on the highest paved road in North America, and as you might expect, you’ll get some amazing views.
The drive ends at the top of Mount Blue Sky, formerly known as Mount Evans. Mount Blue Sky is one of Colorado’s “fourteeners” — mountains that tower over 14,000 feet above sea level. Along the way, be sure to keep an eye out for mountain goats!
Oh, and be aware that Mount Blue Sky now requires timed entry reservations, so be sure to plan ahead. It’s not only one of the best places to visit in Colorado, but it’s one of the best attractions in the Denver area, so it fills up!
Shop ’til you drop at one of the state’s largest outlet malls.
Nestled between Denver and Colorado Springs, Castle Rock is an often overlooked place to visit in Colorado.
You’ll find more things to do in Castle Rock than you might expect: from shopping at one of Colorado’s best outlet malls to climbing the rock that gives the city its name, to brewery hopping, and even zip lining.
Explore miles and miles of trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Nederland is one of the best places to visit in Colorado during the fall. Autumn is when the leaves on the aspens are turning gorgeous shades of bright yellow all around Nederland.
It’s fun the rest of the year, too, with hikes in the Indian Peaks wilderness, or skiing at the nearby Eldora Mountain Resort. Nederland is also along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, so you can take a drive for even more views.
FAQs About Where to Go in Colorado
What is the prettiest place in Colorado?
That’s it for some of the best places to visit in Colorado! Check out our guide to staying in Colorado for more ideas, and leave a comment letting us know your favorite Colorado destination or place to visit in Colorado!
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