I’m a Colorado local with insights into the absolute best things to do in Colorado!
Many Centennial State travelers stick to the obvious: skiing, experiences in Denver, and a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. This comprehensive guide covers the popular sites, but there are so many unique Colorado activities. I share where to sandboard, soak in natural hot springs, embark on scenic train tours, and more!
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34 Best Things to Do in Colorado
▶️ Hit play to watch a video version of Abigail’s favorite stuff to do in Colorado:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Discover what makes this national park one of the most popular in the United States.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado, and is the perfect place to hike… even if you’re not really into hiking! There are just so many great hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park to choose from.
If you want an easier activity or if the altitude is getting to you, you’ll find short, flat trails like the Coyote Valley Trail on the east side of the park. It’s paved and a great thing to do with kids. Sprague Lake Trail is another easy walk.
But RMNP offers hiking trails at every difficulty level after that, including one that summits Longs Peak, one of the best 14ers in Colorado (that means “mountains over 14,000 feet tall” in Colorado lingo.)
From Estes Park, be sure to drive Trail Ridge Road which soars to above 12,000 feet. You’ll get spectacular views and you may spot elk, marmots, and other Colorado wildlife!
👉 Local Tip: Rocky Mountain National Park is currently on a timed entry system that requires reservations. Be sure to plan ahead if this is one of your things to do in Colorado!
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Witness unrivaled scenery at this world-famous music venue.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a gorgeous, not-too-big outdoor space that many bands have said is their favorite place to perform. Seeing a show here is hands-down one of the most fun activities in Colorado — and one of the best things to do in Denver!
But even if you’re here in the off-season and can’t catch the musical performances, you can still see the amphitheater for free. You’ll find great hiking trails, plus a museum where you can learn more about the park’s history.
Visit this Colorado mountain town that offers year-round activities.
Many people think of skiing when they think of things to do in Colorado, and Vail offers plenty of world-class slopes to do that! Vail Resort has everything a skier or snowboarder could want, including awesome runs, lifts, gondolas, and great spots to eat and shop nearby.
This quaint mountain town isn’t only a winter destination, though! If you’re looking for fun things to do in Colorado in the summer, Vail is a great place to be. You can mountain bike or hike those same slopes, or visit the Betty Ford Alpine Garden to relax and enjoy the mountain flowers.
Get planning your Vail adventure now with our list of the best things to do in Vail.
Arkansas River Rafting
Experience whitewater rapids through the Royal Gorge.
Along with skiing, many people think of rafting when they head to Colorado! This half-day rafting tour takes you on the rapids of the Arkansas River, starting at its source and heading to the bottom of the Royal Gorge for breathtaking views of the canyon from the bottom instead of the top.
This Arkansas River rafting trip is great for beginners and one of the best things to do in Colorado with kids. You’ll get a view of Colorado that most people don’t!
Garden of the Gods
Hike and climb through this iconic Colorado Springs park.
Garden of the Gods is a free park in Colorado Springs that has easy walking paths taking you past red rock formations around the park. See if you can find the Sleeping Giant or the Kissing Camels (and if you can figure out why they’re named that!).
If you want to do even more during your visit, book a private rock climbing lesson — it’s the only way you’re allowed on the rocks at the park!
📚 Related Reading: My article on the best day trips from Colorado Springs includes even more vacation ideas!
Explore this luxurious mountain town, one of the top things to do in Colorado.
Of all the things to do in Colorado, year-round sightseeing around Aspen will leave you with scenery and memories you’ll keep for the rest of your life!
While exploring one of Colorado’s best mountain towns, be sure to take a short drive to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area to see great views of these peaks. There are a variety of hiking trails there for all levels so you can tailor your activity to suit your group.
If you’re visiting Aspen in winter, you’ll find excellent skiing and snowboarding, and if you come in summer, you can hike, mountain bike, fish, and do all sorts of outdoor activities in Aspen. Regardless of when you come, you’ll find award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, and more.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Ride a National Historic Landmark through the San Juan Mountains.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the best train tours in Colorado! It’s been in continuous operation since 1882. It will take you on a 3 ½ hour trip to the mining town of Silverton where you can eat, shop, and explore the many fun things to do in Silverton for a few hours before the trip back.
The ride itself follows the Animas River, and you’ll venture over Horseshoe Curve and the High Bridge… which could cause some nail-biting, but will also give you amazing pictures!
Enjoy breweries, outdoor recreation, and ski-in, ski-out lodging.
Breckenridge is a great ski town with plenty of lodging options. You can stay right next to the slopes, and you’ll find skiing for every level (including great private lesson options!). If you’re not a skier, there’s also dog sledding, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snow sculptures to admire.
In summer, you can hike, mountain bike, fish, or visit one of the craft breweries or distilleries that make delicious Breckenridge libations! Breckenridge is home to tons of the best things to do in Colorado. Check out our post on what to do in Breckenridge to get planning.
Mountain bike and ice climb in Telluride, home to so many cool things to do in Colorado.
Of course, Telluride has skiing and snowboarding in winter, but there are more unusual sports also, like fat tire snow biking, nordic skiing, sledding, and ice climbing. If you visit in summer, you can go hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. See our full list of the top Telluride activities.
While you’re there, check out the village mountain gondola, which offers free rides over Coonskin Ridge (in season) with views of the San Juan Mountains. It’s one of the truly unique things to do in Colorado!
Take in panoramic views while gliding across champagne powder.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 879-0880 | Website | Visitor Center Hours: 10 am – 3 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; Closed Sundays and Wednesdays | 👉 Browse Steamboat Springs Hotels on Booking
You’ll find lots of fun activities in Steamboat Springs year-round! In winter, you can ski and snowboard, go ice fishing, or try dog sledding. In summer, there’s plenty of hiking and mountain biking, as well as paddle boarding and fishing at Steamboat Lake.
For an only-in-Colorado adventure, try Steamboat Springs’ Brew Trail which takes you through downtown Steamboat Springs while you try local beer and distillery samples.
Museums & Culture
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Wander immersive exhibits on dinosaurs, mummies, and more.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is located in City Park, one of the best Denver neighborhoods. The attraction is among the coolest things to do in Denver with kids. You can learn about everything from dinosaurs to mummies to the human body here.
One of the most unique exhibits here, though, is the Gems & Minerals area where you can see aquamarines found in the mountains, along with Tom’s Baby — a 13 ½ pound gold piece found near Breckenridge.
Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center
Tour an indoor rainforest environment year-round, home to all types of colorful specimen.
Regardless of how cold it is outside, you can surround yourself with butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion! There’s actually a lot more here, however. You can also hold Rosie the Tarantula, see many bugs in the Crawl-A-See-Em, and watch underwater invertebrates in the tanks at Water’s Edge.
But the main attraction, of course, is the 7,200 square-foot tropical rainforest. There are daily butterfly releases and you may end up with a winged hitchhiker while you wander the area. They’re everywhere!
Denver Art Museum
Celebrate world-renowned and local artists at this top Denver museum.
The Denver Art Museum has pieces from all over the world, including paintings by Monet, van Gogh, Cézanne, and more.
However, what makes it one of the coolest attractions in Colorado is the collection of art by and about Colorado. The Western art featuring cowboys and scenes of the vast Wild West is an interesting, uniquely Colorado display. It’s definitely one of the best museums in Denver!
👉 Pro Tip: If visiting multiple attractions in town, save on admission by grabbing a Denver CityPASS.
Denver Performing Arts Complex
Visit the Mile High City’s hub for music, theater, and other performing arts.
Denver has a vibrant performing arts community and there are several theatres in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Here, you can see the orchestra, ballet, opera, musical theatre, and play performances.
With its vaulted skylight overhead, the complex itself is fun to walk through, and there are several popular Denver restaurants within walking distance if you want to grab a bite beforehand or a late snack after.
Denver Food Tour
Experience the city and some of its most celebrated restaurants.
🕧 Hours: 12 pm – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $75 per person | 👉 Browse Top Denver Food Tours
Though you’ll find incredible eateries all throughout Colorado, no place offers as wide of a selection as the Mile High City. When visiting, take this top-rated food tour to experience some of Denver’s best restaurants and dishes to try.
Some of the tour’s highlights include fry bread tacos at Dairy Block and ice cream at Union Station, both of which are great Denver neighborhoods. As you taste your way through some of the town’s trendiest spots, your local guide will point out other must-visit attractions. These include Coors Field, The Maven Hotel, and Wynkoop Brewery, one of the most famous breweries in Denver.
State & National Parks
Mesa Verde National Park
Hike to ancient homes including Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
Although Rocky Mountain National Park is the most visited National Park in Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is probably the most unique one. It definitely deserves a spot on your list of Colorado things to do.
The ancient cliff dwellings here are some of the best-preserved in North America, and it’s humbling to see the ingenious ways the Ancient Puebloans built their homes to stay warm in winter, cool in summer, preserve their food, and generally live comfortably together.
Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park is definitely worth seeing. You’ll need to book a ranger-guided tour to view Cliff Palace, and the impressive building contains 150 rooms where about 100 people lived together.
👉 Pro Tip: Drive the Mesa Top Loop Road at Mesa Verde National Park, stopping at markers along the way. You can even use a guided audio tour from the NPS.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Whether on the canyon rim or hiking within, see amazing views at this epic park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has some of the oldest rock in North America, and the canyon carved by two million years’ worth of the Gunnison River relentlessly hitting away at it is a sight to see. You can hike along the canyon rim, or hike the inner canyon to see the cliffs and amazing rock formations from a completely different angle.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Experience some of the tallest dunes in North America in an incredibly unique way.
When you think of Colorado, you probably don’t think of sand, but Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the largest sand dunes in North America.
One of the more unique activities at the park is sandboarding or sand sledding down the dunes. It’s definitely a unique thing to do in Colorado, in case you thought Colorado only offered skiing and snowboarding!
You can also cool off in Medano Creek during certain seasons (it does dry up in summer). Great Sand Dunes National Park is a truly unique landscape and is high on my list of the most interesting places to visit in Colorado.
Dinosaur National Monument
Step back in time as you admire fossils and petroglyphs at this educational park.
Dinosaur National Monument has lots of dinosaur fossils that you can still see embedded in rocks in the area, but there’s even more to see at the monument. Year-round, you can see petroglyphs, and you can learn about the outlaws and other characters that hid out in the area.
👉 Pro Tip: Dinosaur National Monument covers parts of both Colorado and Utah, but you’ll see the dinosaur fossils on the Utah side.
Colorado National Monument
Spot wildlife and western landscapes in this Colorado destination.
With dramatic rock formations jutting up into the sky, Colorado National Monument is a stunning western landscape. The scene makes for some incredible red sunsets.
The National Monument is in Fruita, right next to Grand Junction on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies. You can drive Rim Rock Drive to take in the natural beauty and watch for bighorn sheep and eagles in the area.
Staunton State Park
Explore miles of trails near Denver.
Staunton State Park is about a 45-minute drive from the Mile High City, but it feels like a whole other world. It’s home to some of the best hikes near Denver. Trails take you by streams and through meadows through the foothills. You can also go fishing in several of the ponds at the park.
Staunton also has a really cool track chair program, so people who use wheelchairs can get out on the trails, too!
Cherry Creek State Park
Enjoy fresh air and outdoor recreation at this expansive city park.
Cherry Creek State Park is just a short drive from downtown Denver, but it has tons of outdoor activities for visitors! You can swim, boat, horseback ride, and hike in warm weather months.
In winter, you can snowshoe and go sledding. The shooting range is open year-round, depending on the day’s weather conditions. You can also go birdwatching and search for Colorado wildlife (yes, even in the city!) at all times of the year.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Rock climb, hike, and enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation just outside Boulder.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is a fun Colorado attraction and a great day trip from Boulder. The sandstone rock varies in color, and there’s a creek at the bottom of this amazing Colorado canyon.
Rock climbing is popular here. It’s also a great place for families to hike, and for people to enjoy biking trails, fishing, or just watching the birds and other wildlife. It’s easy to fill a day in this area, as there are so many things to do in Boulder, too!
Sites & Attractions
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Climb to the top of a 14,000-foot peak by train — a must on your Colorado vacation!
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of the most fun tourist attractions, and a great way to make it to the summit of Pikes Peak. The railway recently reopened after being closed for four years for a $100 million overhaul.
It’s one of the only cog railways in the United States, and you can take it to the summit where you can visit the newly-redone Pikes Peak Visitor Center. It’s truly one of the most unique things to do in Colorado!
Colorado Springs Sunrise Balloon Tour
Take in mountain scenery and views of iconic destinations from above.
A hot air balloon ride is a truly unusual way to see Colorado, and it’s one of the best things to do in Colorado Springs! You’ll get gorgeous sunrise views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods on this hot air balloon tour in Colorado Springs.
You’ll also be involved in every aspect of the tour — the guides have you help inflate the balloon to start, before your flight through the air. Afterward, when you’re back on solid ground, you can end your amazing morning with a glass of sparkling wine and some breakfast.
📚Related Reading: If you’re spending a few days in Colorado Springs, check out our list of day trips from Colorado Springs to cool surrounding spots!
Visit one of Colorado’s most famous hiking destinations.
Hanging Lake is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions and it showcases a unique Colorado phenomenon. The lake is a clear bluish-green, thanks to travertine and minerals that dissolve in the water. To keep the lake’s gorgeous color, hikers are not allowed to swim or put anything in the lake.
The trail to get to the lake is short but steep — plan to take your time getting up there! But the effort is well worth it, as this is one of the best hikes in Colorado.
👉 Pro Tip: Be sure to reserve your Hanging Lake hiking permit well in advance!
San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and Million Dollar Highway
Admire breathtaking views on one of Colorado’s most famous road trips.
The San Juan Skyway is a drive through some of the most gorgeous scenery in southwestern Colorado. You’ll begin in Durango, and drive through Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and more beautiful areas in the mountains.
You can do the drive in one day, or take a more leisurely pace and stay in some of these mountain towns along the way.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Marvel at plant life from all across the globe.
Colorado doesn’t have many flowers and trees (other than evergreens!) in winter, but there’s still lots to see at the botanic gardens. The tropical conservatory is an indoor greenhouse that grows orchids and many tropical plants. In fact, it’s a great escape from the cold weather outdoors!
The rest of the year, you can see beautiful blooms throughout the gardens, along with a glass Dale Chihuly sculpture and other artwork.
If you’re visiting around Christmas, Blossoms of Light runs from mid-November until January, and the gardens are filled with Christmas light displays and shows set to music.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Drive the highest paved road in North America.
Drive on the highest paved road in Colorado… and, in fact, in North America when you drive to the summit of Mt. Blue Sky (formerly known as Mount Evans). The entire scenic byway drive takes about two hours and climbs more than 7,000 feet.
You’ll see all of the Front Range (that’s Denver and the area around it) spread out before you from the top, and you might also see Colorado wildlife like pikas, marmots, and bighorn sheep.
Clear Creek Tubing
Rent your raft and float right through downtown Golden.
Clear Creek in Golden is a popular place both for a leisurely float down the creek, and for some serious kayaking. If you want to keep things light, you can rent an inner tube in Golden, hop in the water, and float a short way down before getting out to do it again. Kayakers have their own area to do some more strenuous paddling.
Be sure to spend some time in Golden as well, looking at the shops and stopping for a bite to eat. It’s a quaint area just twenty minutes from Denver, perfect for a side trip!
Enjoy these family-friendly hot springs, home to Colorado’s largest natural mineral pool.
Glenwood Springs has three hot springs areas, but the best-known is the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. You can stay in rooms at the resort, but you can also pay a day fee to use the pool and you can purchase spa services without being an overnight guest.
There’s also a splash zone for kids that’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The pool is open year-round, however, and there’s nothing like the feeling of hopping into the hot springs while the snow is falling all around you and on the beautiful mountains of Colorado!
Choose between 25 hot spring pools, each varying in size and temperature.
Pagosa Springs is about an hour from Durango, and is a worthy southwest Colorado destination all on its own! The Springs Resort & Spa designed its pools to overlook the San Juan River, and the resort has the most geothermal hot spring-fed pools in Colorado.
You can get either a day pass or spend the night at the Pagosa Springs resort. Either way, you’ll be soaking in pools that range from 83-114°F so you can pick the temperature you’re comfortable with.
There are plenty of other fun things to do in Pagosa Springs, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and Treasure Falls (just outside of town, and a beautiful place to stop).
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort
Soak in creekside pools surrounded by nature.
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort is near Buena Vista and has a soaking pool and bathhouse along with creekside hot spring pools that feel more natural.
There are also some upper pools, and a waterslide, and everywhere you look there are views of the Rocky Mountains. Hands down, it’s one of the best hot springs in Colorado.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Relax in natural ambiance just outside Steamboat Springs.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is in the town of Steamboat Springs, which means you have those gorgeous Colorado mountain views while you soak in their hot springs.
When the hot springs pools were built, you can tell the owners tried to keep them as natural-looking as possible to blend in with the surrounding area. You can get a day-use pass or stay overnight at the resort.
FAQs About Colorado Things to Do
What are some of the best things to do in Colorado?
What are some of the most famous landmarks in Colorado?
What is the prettiest place in Colorado?
The prettiest place in Colorado is Aspen, in my opinion. It’s known for the iconic Maroon Bells, abundant wildlife, and cultural attractions in its luxurious downtown.
Now you know what to do in Colorado! What are your favorite fun things to do in Colorado? Scroll down and leave a comment.
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