Looking for activities and attractions you can’t miss in the Centennial State? Our guide to the best things to do in Colorado is just what you need!
Boasting jaw-dropping mountain terrain teeming with red rock formations, canyons, wildflower-covered prairies, and alpine lakes, Colorado is one of the most stunning and rewarding states to adventure in.
Home to four national parks, eleven national forests, and eight national monuments, Colorado is the perfect place to take part in recreational activities in the great outdoors, like fly fishing, skiing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and hiking. Nature lovers will be in heaven in Colorado!
For those of you who aren’t avid hikers or mountain bikers, Colorado has historic locations, interesting museums, art galleries, and more to check out.
Figuring out what to do in Colorado can be overwhelming, so we’ve concocted this top list of the most popular Colorado activities and attractions. Hopefully, this list will help you get started planning your trip to the state known as “Colorful Colorado.”
Table of Contents
- The 25 Best Things to Do in Colorado
- 1) Take On Miles Of Hiking Trails At Rocky Mountain National Park
- 2) Take The Scenic Drive Down Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
- 3) Race Down Towering Sand Dunes At Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
- 4) Have A Picnic At The John Denver Sanctuary
- 5) Buy Tickets To A Concert At Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- 6) Look For The Fastest Bird Alive At Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- 7) Walk Through Ancient Cliff Dwellings At Mesa Verde National Park
- 8) Trace The Steps Of Ancient History At The Dinosaur National Monument
- 9) Bask In The Views On Top Of Pikes Peak
- 10) Refresh On A Stroll Through The Exceptional Denver Botanic Gardens
- 11) Revel In Entertainment, Arts, & Culture At Boulder’s Chautauqua Park
- 12) Adventure The Grounds Of The Garden of the Gods
- 13) Soak Up The Benefits Of Strawberry Park Hot Springs
- 14) Enjoy A Charming Drive Along Mount Evans Scenic Byway
- 15) Tour the Molly Brown House Museum
- 16) Climb To The Top Of High Peaks In The San Juan Mountains
- 17) Ride On The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- 18) Bask In The Spectacular Scenery Of The Colorado National Monument
- 19) Go River Rafting
- 20) Relax at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
- 21) Go Skiing
- 22) Explore The Denver Museums
- 23) Learn More About The Famed Man At The Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
- 24) Explore The Highest Zoo In America At The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
- 25) Walk Through The Benson Park Sculpture Garden
The 25 Best Things to Do in Colorado
There are more than a few amazing attractions in Colorado, the land of natural beauty and awe-inspiring scenery.
Here are some of the best things to do in Colorado, from seeing ancient cliff dwellings such as Cliff Palace to rafting down the Arkansas River to seeing the dramatic rock formations at Garden of the Gods, there are so many unique things to do in Colorado!
1) Take On Miles Of Hiking Trails At Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most popular things to do in Colorado is definitely visiting Rocky Mountain National Park! This park boasts 350 miles of hiking trails, surrounded by the rewarding scenery of sparkling mountain lakes and thriving nature.
And there’s more to do in Rocky Mountain National Park other than hiking. As the fifth most visited park in the U.S., people travel from all over the world to drive one of the highest roads in the nation, Trail Ridge Road, a nationally designated All-American Road.
Other fond activities to take part in at the park include wildlife watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping.
This guided Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip from Denver takes you to see panoramic views of red sandstone formations at the Flatirons.
On the tour, you’ll visit the Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King’s film “The Shining” was filmed, and savor mouth-watering dishes with views of the Rocky Mountains stretching out before you.
2) Take The Scenic Drive Down Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Colorado’s first and oldest scenic byway, Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, is a worthwhile scenic drive you don’t want to miss!
There are more than a few points of interest along the route of Peak to Peak Scenic Byway to stop at. In Meeter Park, the White River Museum recounts the somber moment in the history of the Meeker Massacre of 1879.
Another rewarding stop is in Nederland, a lively mountain town with shops, cafes, restaurants, and the Mining Museum for anyone looking to mine for gold.
Or, for a stop to stretch your legs and scour the spectacular Colorado scenery, stop in Ward. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area offers dog-friendly hikes, like the Mitchell Lake and Long Lake trailheads.
Read Next: Don’t miss out on all of our favorite places to visit in Colorado!
3) Race Down Towering Sand Dunes At Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Famous for having the tallest sand dunes in North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is full of fun outdoor activities!
For a thrill, rent a sand sled and ride down the towering dunes. Other popular activities include horseback riding, hiking, camping, backpacking, picnicking, and four-wheel driving to encompass the impressive feats of the lofty sand dunes. Also check out the impressive Star Dune, which reaches 755 feet,
Stargazing is a fond activity here, thanks to the park’s rural location. From May-September, special astronomy programs are offered for visitors to take part in at this certified International Dark Sky Park.
A park with this certification meets the strict standards of optimal sky darkness and an exceptional quality of starry nights.
4) Have A Picnic At The John Denver Sanctuary
Near Rio Grande Park, the John Denver Sanctuary was named in honor of the internationally acclaimed songwriter who called Aspen home for most of his life. The Rocky Mountains inspired many of the songs which John Denver wrote.
The John Denver Sanctuary was established as a memorial and sanctuary that could reflect Denver’s love for nature. Fans, locals, and tourists come to revel, meditate in nature at the sanctuary, and look for the celebrated singer’s lyrics carved into boulders.
Then, stroll through one of the largest perennial flower gardens open to the public as they bloom, surrounded by nature’s delight.
- Address: 470 Rio Grande Pl, Aspen, CO 81611, United States
- Hours: 7 am – 7 pm
5) Buy Tickets To A Concert At Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The Red Rocks Amphitheater is an unrivaled outdoor musical attraction everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime, standing as one of the best things to do in Colorado.
The open-air amphitheater is constructed into the natural red sandstone formations of the Colorado mountainside west of Denver.
Considered one of the most stunning music venues in the nation, Red Rocks Amphitheater hosts plenty of top-class concerts, performances, and films that create an unworldly venture surrounded by outstanding acoustics. And every Saturday, yogis join in for their regular morning class for Yoga on the Rocks.
Check the website to see what’s playing when you’re visiting Colorado!
- Address: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
READ NEXT: Find more of the best things to do in Denver here!
6) Look For The Fastest Bird Alive At Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
At Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, golden eagles soar through over the Gunnison River, elk and mule deer prance through fields, and wildflowers bloom across meadows. And that’s not the only beauty of this national park!
Here you’ll be lucky if you catch a glance of the fastest bird in the world, the Peregrine falcon.
These speedy birds are estimated to reach more than 200 mph as they aerial dive. Some of the steepest cliffs in North America are found in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the perfect home for the Peregrine falcon.
Considered one of Colorado’s hidden gems, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is two million years old! Black Canyon received its name from the black-stained covered walls, some sections of its gorge only catching 33 minutes of sunlight a day.
Nevertheless, it is considered one of the most exceptional geologic features that inspire awe in all who look upon its steep ages-old stature.
7) Walk Through Ancient Cliff Dwellings At Mesa Verde National Park
Another one of the top things to do in Colorado is to visit Mesa Verde National Park.
Well-known for its preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings like the grand Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park is rich in history, culture, and geology.
The Mesa Verde National Park is a certified World Heritage Site and International Dark Sky Park, homing thousands of species, some of which are endemic to the area.
The Ancestral Pueblo people established prospering communities on the cliffs for more than 700 years.
The park protects and preserves the cultural heritage of 26 Pueblos and Tribes, featuring 600 cliff dwellings and 5,000 archaeological sites. Some of the dwellings are open to the public to illustrate the lifestyle of the Ancestral Puebloans.
8) Trace The Steps Of Ancient History At The Dinosaur National Monument
On the border of Colorado and Utah, the Dinosaur National Monument preserves the fossils of dinosaurs that once lived in the area. If you like history, paleontology, and archaeology, you’ll love the Dinosaur National Monument!
The Quarry Exhibit Hall is where visitors can peer in awe over 1,500 dinosaur fossils, some dating back a million years. Visitors can also eye petroglyphs of the Fremont people, who left traces etched in stone from when they made home to the area.
There are also hiking and river rafting opportunities available at the Dinosaur National Monument to traverse the wilderness where ancient people and dinosaurs thrived once.
- Address: 11625 E 1500 S, Jensen, UT 84035, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
9) Bask In The Views On Top Of Pikes Peak
The highest summit in the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak is a prominent landmark that draws people in from all over for its spectacular overlook views of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, and Woodland Park from up top.
Pikes Peak Highway, the scenic highway, travels up to Pikes Peak for chances to see some of the best scenery in the world. Some points of interest along the way up to Pikes Peak include hiking trails, three lakes popular for fishing, three gift shops to grab souvenirs, and picnic areas to stop for food surrounded by mountainside views.
This Pikes Peak jeep tour takes you up the historic highway with several stops at popular points of interest with intriguing educational facts provided by your guide while exploring the summit.
Or you can ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and see the gorgeous mountain scenery from the comfort of a cozy heritage train!
10) Refresh On A Stroll Through The Exceptional Denver Botanic Gardens
Featured as one of the top five botanic gardens in the United States, the Denver Botanic Gardens is one of a kind.
The gardens welcome guests with specially themed gardens, carefully crafted displays, reflecting ponds, and vibrant nature while strolling through the gardens.
With 43 exceptional gardens in a 23-acre area, it’s not hard to find solitude while taking in the various displays of nature’s art. Seven gardens are dedicated to plants sourced from Colorado and its neighboring states.
- Address: 1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 4 pm
11) Revel In Entertainment, Arts, & Culture At Boulder’s Chautauqua Park
Part of an iconic historic landmark, Chautauqua Park’s history dates back to when wildland preservation began more than a century ago. “Chautauqua” is an Iroquois word with various meanings, such as “two moccasins tied together.”
And Chautauqua became a cultural and social movement in the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States, becoming the largest event in the states and Canada at the time, full of entertainment, education, and arts. It is said to be the predecessor of today’s TED talks, modern journalism, and television.
Lying at the base of the famed Flatiron Mountains, the Colorado Chautauqua is a National Historic Landmark minutes from downtown Boulder. Chautauqua Park is the perfect destination for a picnic, a walk, or simply basking in the beauty of the surrounding scenery of the mountain and forest-touched backsplash.
And Colorado’s Chautauqua includes Chautauqua Park, the Chautauqua Trailhead with over 40 miles of hiking trails, and the Colorado Chautauqua historic district.
- Address: 900 Baseline Rd &, 9th St, Boulder, CO 80302, United States
- Hours: 5 am – 11 pm
Read Next: Use this guide to plan the perfect Colorado road trip!
12) Adventure The Grounds Of The Garden of the Gods
A registered National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods, is one of the most sought-after things to do in Colorado. Found at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, this popular land feature is well-known for its massive red rock formations that jut from the ground.
Voted the best city park in the country and second in the world, the Garden of the Gods is a prevalent park teeming with beauty and history.
A fossil of the Theiophytalia Kerri was found here in 1878, with a human history dating back 3,000 years. The grounds were considered neutral ground by Native Americans, deemed as sacred.
If you’re in Colorado Springs, this location is a must-visit! Book a guided jeep tour if you don’t have your own car and want an experienced local guide to show you the best spots.
- Address: Colorado Springs, CO 80904, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
For more ideas, check out our list of the best things to do in Colorado Springs!
13) Soak Up The Benefits Of Strawberry Park Hot Springs
More than a few natural springs have been discovered in the Rocky Mountains, but Strawberry Park Hot Springs is one of the most favored ones.
The mineral springs are created from geothermally-heated groundwater that rises to the surface to be enjoyed as a natural spa day treatment filled with relaxation and fresh air.
More than a few benefits are associated with soaking in mineral-rich hot springs, including boosting immunity, reduced inflammation, and improved blood circulation.
- Address: 44200 Co Rd 36, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 10 pm
14) Enjoy A Charming Drive Along Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Reaching elevation heights of over 7,000 feet, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway stretches 28 miles, beginning at Idaho Springs.
The highest paved road in North America, this scenic byway is guaranteed to cause some jaws to drop with its spectacular scenery of the Continental Divide and wildlife sightings, like bighorn sheep and mountain goats testing their footing at adrenaline-spiking heights.
The Mt. Evans Scenic Byway winds up to Mount Evans, featuring views of mountain lakes, glacier valleys, and cloud-touched mountain peaks for a rewarding trip.
15) Tour the Molly Brown House Museum
The former home of Margaret Brown, an iconic American socialite, philanthropist, and activist, the Molly Brown House Museum is a top attraction in Denver.
Famously referred to as the “Heroine of the Titanic” and later known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” Margaret Brown is one of the survivors of the RMS Titanic.
The museum shares the story of Margaret Brown and her impact on history through exhibits and education programs.
Brown helped nurse and raise funds for Titanic survivors, played a leading role in the national suffrage movement, and ran for Congress three times, going so far as to drive ambulances overseas during the war.
- Address: 1340 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203, United States
- Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
Check out our ultimate 3 Days In Denver Itinerary for more inspiration!
16) Climb To The Top Of High Peaks In The San Juan Mountains
Colorado’s largest area-encompassing mountain range, the San Juan Mountains, is home to 13 14ers, mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet, and 314 13ers, making the mountains a heavily sought-after site for those looking to accomplish climbing these impressive peaks.
The mountains are home to the Uncompahgre National Forest and the San Juan National Forest, abundantly thriving with rich nature and wilderness that many people travel from all over to explore.
But, of course, the mountains are rich in more than nature, with several abandoned mining towns now opened as historical tourist attractions.
Still, for those looking to refresh in nature’s beauty, popular activities in the San Juan Mountains include skiing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, and more.
If you want to see the beauty of the area without hiking or hopping on a mountain bike, you can drive along the Million Dollar Highway! This scenic, winding road trails right through the mountains so you can still see the dramatic scenery from the comfort of your car!
17) Ride On The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
A National Historic Landmark, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the best things to do in Colorado!
On this authentic historic train ride, guests can relive the “Golden Age” like it’s still 1882 as the historic engine chugs past the stunning San Juan National Forest.
Running for over 140 years now, the famous railroad is an affordable, family-friendly, unique experience that illustrates the powerful background history of Colorado, from pioneering to mining.
Get comfortable on this train ride as you travel past the San Juan National Forest, the historic mining town of Silverton, and the spectacular Cascade Canyon, for one of the most rewarding trips you’ll ever take!
18) Bask In The Spectacular Scenery Of The Colorado National Monument
Near Grand Junction, Colorado, the Colorado National Monument protects one of the most stunning and photographed landscapes in the United States.
Established in 1911, this preserved landscape features great red rock formations, twining canyons, and lofty monoliths. Drive the historic Rim Rock Drive, stretching 23 miles of stunning views of the Colorado National Monument.
There are 19 viewpoints and 14 hiking trails to stop at to stretch your legs, take photographs, and bask in the beauty of this awe-inspiring landscape. A few popular overlooks include Coke Ovens, Grand View, and Red Canyon Overlook.
And don’t forget to see Independence Monument, the famed monolith often pictured in magazines, at the Independence Monument View overlook!
- Address: Grand Junction, CO 81507, United States
- Hours: Visitor Center is open 9 am – 4:30 pm, the monument itself is open 24/7
19) Go River Rafting
Colorado is home to over 100,000 miles of rivers! The mighty rivers of Colorado wind through forests, mountains, and valleys, making them incredibly scenic.
If you’re an adventurous traveler, one of the most things to do in Colorado is going river rafting!
The Arkansas River is the longest river in the state. There are some epic locations for white water rafting along the Arkansas River!
Book a river rafting tour with a reputable local company to ensure you have the best gear and guidance.
You can also find river rafting trips closer to Denver if you head over to Clear Creek, which is a great rafting location for beginners.
20) Relax at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
Home to a world-famous hot springs pool, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has been the ultimate attraction of Glenwood Springs for over 130 years.
Featuring a 107-room lodge, the world’s largest hot springs pool, a boutique shop, a spa, miniature golf, a water slide, and a premier athletic club, this resort is a place of luxury, convenience, and enrichment.
The resort is between Vail and Aspen, within walking distance of historic downtown Glenwood Springs and spectacular views of the Colorado River.
Rising from the earth’s core for millions of years, the mineral-rich hot springs are highly therapeutic. The waters are termed “Yampah” or “Big Medicine” by Ute Native Americans, who were the first known visitors to the springs.
And to this day, the waters still act as a healing, rejuvenating, and therapeutic for visitors that travel from all over the world to experience its outstanding benefits.
- Address: 415 E 6th St, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, United States
21) Go Skiing
Easily one of the most fun things to do in Colorado is go skiing! With incredible surrounding mountains and an abundance of world-class ski resorts, there are endless options for skiing on a Colorado vacation.
Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Telluride, and Breckenridge are some of the most popular ski resort towns in the state.
All offer slopes for skiers of all skill levels, as well as lots of attractions in the small towns themselves. For example, Steamboat Springs has hot springs and Telluride has top-notch golf courses.
These ski resort towns are also great places to go snowboarding or even cross-country skiing! So hit the slopes, visit some charming mountain towns, and enjoy your time in the mountainous state of Colorado!
Related: Plan your time in Breckenridge with this post!
22) Explore The Denver Museums
Denver, also known as the Mile High City, is one of the most visited cities in the USA. Not only is Denver a great base for exploring the gorgeous scenery of the Rocky Mountains, but also it is home to some incredible museums!
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is one of the most fun tourist attractions in the city.
Visit the planetarium, see realistic wildlife dioramas, and explore the award-winning exhibits that are designed to educate visitors about the natural world.
Denver also has some fascinating art museums. Check out the Denver Art Museum, the American Museum of Western Art, and the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art to broaden your mind.
Another one of the most fun things to do in Denver for those who love to learn is to visit the History Colorado Center to learn about local history throughout the ages.
Consider getting a Citypass to save money on the top Denver attractions!
23) Learn More About The Famed Man At The Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
Paying tribute to the days of the Wild West, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is dedicated to the iconic man and inspiration, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was awarded the famous nickname for his skill as a buffalo hunter in the Old West. His life inspired many wild legends popularly sourced for inspiration in novels, movies, and newspapers.
Soon “Buffalo Bill” hit the stage in a drama called “Scouts of the Prairie,” which was a huge success and encouraged Cody to establish his troupe, the Buffalo Bill Combination.
The Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave welcomes millions of people as one of the most visited attractions in Golden, Colorado.
- Address: 987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd, Golden, CO 80401, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Closed Mondays)
24) Explore The Highest Zoo In America At The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the highest in America, at 6,714 feet in elevation.
Ranked among the top ten zoos in the United States, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo boasts award-winning exhibits for an unrivaled discovery experience.
With more than 30 endangered animals, the mountainside zoo is dedicated to conservation efforts to protect species such as the Amur tiger, the Black-footed ferret, and the Matschie’s tree kangaroo.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomes all ages to soar over animal exhibits on the Mountaineer Sky Ride with outstanding views of the city, hand-feed giraffes, and learn more about the many species that call Earth home.
- Address: 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
25) Walk Through The Benson Park Sculpture Garden
This enchanting outdoor attraction in Loveland, Colorado has been attracting visitors since 1985.
The Benson Park Sculpture Garden has 178 pieces of art on display in the midst of a peaceful city park. Each bronze sculpture tells a different story.
It is one of the top contemporary art sites in the country! Enjoy a stroll around the 10-acre gardens and take some time to admire this admirable display of public art and creativity.
- Address: 2908 Aspen Drive, Loveland, CO 80538, United States
- Hours: 6 am – 10:30 pm
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