Is a cruise through Colorado on your calendar? Save time on your vacation to check out all the great things to do in Pueblo, Colorado. Nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River, this often-overlooked gem claims a rich and colorful history – including its popularity with legendary characters like Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok.
Nicknamed “Steel City” in the early 1880s, Pueblo came to life as a manufacturing hub for the Mountain West region. Those steel mills have given way to a thriving urban setting that’s a must-see in the Centennial State. With a population of 110,000, Pueblo is a vibrant city that still exudes a Wild West charm just waiting to be discovered.
In Pueblo, you can explore museums that track this town’s fascinating history, take a stroll through the past on the picturesque Riverwalk, hit the slopes of the Rockies, and chow down on killer Tex-Mex cuisine.
What are you waiting for? Check out this guide to the best places to visit in Pueblo, CO – and saddle up!
Must-see places to visit in Pueblo, CO
If you’re looking for a family-friendly spot that combines loads of green space with up-close critter encounters, look no further than the Pueblo Zoo. Set in Pueblo’s beautiful City Park, the zoo spreads across 30 acres of woodlands and fields, replicating the natural habitats of over 420 animals that call this home.
Feast your eyes on fascinating creatures ranging from endearing penguins to graceful gazelles to majestic African lions. If you’re craving a more customized experience, line yourself up with one of the Pueblo Zoo’s experienced keepers to get the inside scoop on the resident wildlife. Get intriguing details on the care and feeding of African Painted Dogs, raptors, otters, and more.
Carve out quality time for the Pueblo Zoo’s Behind the Scene Experiences, and enjoy the rare opportunity to meet one of the zoo’s four endangered species: American Bison, African Painted Dogs, Red Pandas, and African Penguins.
Lake Pueblo State Park
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a great all-season getaway, make a beeline for Lake Pueblo State Park. Spread over 10,000 acres at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Lake Pueblo State Park is a bountiful playground. And the region’s mild climate makes for great outdoor action year-round.
During the cooler months, you’ll want to hike, mountain bike, or ride horseback through the gorgeous landscape of Lake Pueblo State Park. If you’re a wildlife lover, be sure to pack your binoculars for spotting the area’s feathered and four-legged residents. Feeling plucky? Try some winter camping!
As the temperatures rise, take to the 11-mile-long lake for a boatload of water-based options. Swim, kayak, wakeboard, ski, fish, and more. Phew! When you’re ready to recharge, unpack a picnic hamper, settle back, and savor a gorgeous lakeside sunset.
Historic Arkansas Riverwalk
Want to put some pep in your step? Head on down to the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk, a bustling waterfront promenade that is alive with sights and sounds. Set in the hub of the city’s historic downtown district, a stroll along the riverfront promenade offers up intriguing insights into Pueblo’s rich past and vibrant present.
Stretching 32 acres along the waterfront, the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk is a great destination for families. Hop on an excursion boat for a guided history tour, or slip into a pedal boat or gondola and do your own exploring.
Back on dry land, stroll or bike the beautiful riverside pathway and take in the site’s charming pocket gardens, eye-catching artwork (including the longest painting in the world), and intriguing historical plaques. Grab some refreshments at one of the Riverwalk restaurants, or spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic.
If you hit the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk on the weekend, dive into the spirit with festivals, outdoor movie screenings, and live entertainment that’ll keep you movin’.
El Pueblo History Museum
Intrigued by Pueblo and want to learn more about its past? Then you’ll want to plan a visit to El Pueblo History Museum.
This fascinating site brings Pueblo’s rich history to life in the form of a living museum. El Pueblo History Museum highlights the area’s vibrant cultural and ethnic diversity and offers intriguing insights into the past and present of its colorful community mosaic.
Immerse yourself in history at the archaeological excavation site of the city’s original 1842 trading post. Imagine the life of generations past in recreated adobe plazas. Take in innovative displays like Steel City and Borderlands of Southern Colorado that trace Pueblo’s past as a hub for Southwest settlement. Check out the museum’s abundant collection of photographs, artifacts, and interactive exhibits that bring the city’s legacy to life.
Heads up, Downton Abbey fans! If you’re someone who savors a glimpse into the splendors of an earlier era, put the sumptuous Rosemont Museum on your must-see list.
Built in 1893, this stunning 38-room Victorian mansion has been referred to as “Colorado’s Crown Jewel” – and it’s even played a starring role on the “American Castles” television series.
Step inside the Rosemont Museum, and you’ll see what all the buzz is about. Almost all the home’s paintings, furnishings, objets d’art, and custom woodwork have been faithfully preserved.
Take a guided tour to learn more about the Thatcher family, the history of Pueblo, and life in the Victorian-era Southwest.
Mineral Palace Park
If you want to discover an intriguing link to Pueblo’s past, book some browsing time at Mineral Palace Park. Set on Pueblo’s historic north side, this destination shines a light on a fascinating piece of Colorado’s history.
In the late 1800s, Colorado was one of the country’s crown jewels, thanks to the Pikes Peak Gold Rush and massive mineral and metal deposits. Newly-minted millionaires were keen to show off their wealth as conspicuously as possible. And voila – the Colorado Mineral Palace, complete with soaring domed ceilings, majestic pillars, and ornate gilded embellishments. (Well – it was the “Gilded Age” after all!)
Sadly, the structure is no longer standing – but you can still discover traces of that Golden Era mystique in Mineral Palace Park. Gaze up at the imposing iron arch that stretches over Main Street. Stroll the park’s picturesque sandstone pathways. Meander through the beautifully-kept flower gardens and savor the scent of pine trees.
Sit back in the open-air pavilion and take in the view of beautiful Lake Clara. Spread out a picnic blanket next to the historic bandshell, and picture the Cowboy Band of Silverton striking up the lively tunes that rang out over a century ago when the palace opened its doors.
Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
If you’re a military history or aviation buff, you’ll want to put the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in your sights. Constructed on what was once a Second World War Army dating back to 1943, this unique site offers fascinating insights into the history of flight in the Southwest.
Featuring over 40 antique planes along with tributes to World War Two veterans, the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum is a must-see for fans of flight. Meander through this amazing collection to view vintage military planes and vehicles, space travel artifacts, jets, helicopters, and exhibits highlighting the warcraft deployed in World Wars I and II and the Korean War. Be sure to get a good look at one of the museum’s prized possessions: a massive, intact B-29 bomber.
Pop into the gift shop on your way out and browse its collection of flight-themed souvenirs – including flight simulators!
Buell Children’s Museum
Got kids in your crew? The Buell Children’s Museum has to be on your list of places to visit in Pueblo. Set inside the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, it’s considered to be one of the top children’s museums in the United States.
Featuring interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, Buell Children’s Museum is a huge learning playground that will get a big thumbs-up from both kids and parents. Let the little ones loose to explore engaging exhibits showcasing history, science, and arts. Let them dive into onsite classes or take in live performances.
Discover a selection of themed galleries that let kids explore the world in a fun way. Get hands-on at Buell Children’s Museum in interactive areas like the Artrageous Studio, where visitors can unleash their inner artists. Parents can get in on the action too. Check out classes in pottery, photography, music, jewelry-making, and more.
If you’re in the mood to be entertained, tap into family-friendly options, including plays, ballets, and musicals. Never a dull moment at this museum!
On the hunt for a truly unique after-dark experience out on the town? You’ll find it in Pueblo’s Neon Alley. Set just off South Union Avenue in the city’s Historic District, this nocturnal hotspot bills itself as the best neon sign display outside of Vegas and Times Square. And that’s saying something!
Boasting over 40 fixtures that light up the nighttime sky, this collection of neon has been gathered from all across the US.
Neon Alley doesn’t just light up the night: with its amazing collection of vintage neon signage, it sheds a unique light on the past. Take a stroll along this brilliant pathway and check out decades-old displays that once graced everything from diners to police departments to discos.
Grab your camera, hit the pavement, and prepare to be dazzled!
Pueblo Railway Museum
If you’re a railway enthusiast (or even if you’re not), chug along to the Pueblo Railway Museum. Set on the Pueblo Union Depot in the Historic District, this outdoor site is home to an amazing collection of vintage engines, carriages, and rolling stock.
Take a trip through the Pueblo Railway Museum, and you’ll learn about the important role that steel-producing Pueblo played in bringing the Iron Horse to the US. Get on board for a ride on one of their vintage trains, and get a glimpse of other engines in action in the train yard.
The Pueblo Railway Museum plays host to plenty of entertaining events throughout the year, so check out the museum’s website for treats like the Colorado Rail Fair, the Father’s Day Train, and the Easter Bunny Express.
Union Avenue Historic District
Want to dig into one of Pueblo’s historic treasures? No gardening tools required: just head over to the Union Avenue Historic District and you’ll hit the motherlode.
Pueblo honors its roots, and you’ll see the evidence as you stroll the Union Avenue Historic District. Once home to saloons and gambling dens, much of the neighborhood has been preserved and revitalized in ways that pay tribute to the city’s rich history and cultural diversity. Dozens of the brick and sandstone buildings – dating back to Pueblo’s iconic Wild West days – are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Culture vultures will find their happy place here. The Union Avenue Historic District is part of what’s known as Pueblo’s ‘Creative Corridor’ – a delight for the senses that’s packed with galleries, museums, fountains, and sculptures.
Browse the sidewalks, and you’ll discover hip boutiques. Slide into one of the area’s cozy cafes, snag a window seat, and watch the passing parade.
Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center – River Campus
If beauty and a breath of fresh air are on your wish menu, dig into a heaping helping of both at the Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center – River Campus.
Nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River, the Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center is a multi-campus urban oasis and educational center that invites exploration. Check out the Center’s roster, and you’ll find an abundance of programs for kids and adults who want to finetune their connection with the natural world.
Hike, bike, or blade along the lovely riverside trails, cast a line from the fishing deck, or pull out the binoculars to take in the local flora and fauna.
Don’t miss one of the site’s star attractions: the Raptor Center, a rehabilitation facility that treats injured and orphaned birds of prey and preps them for release back into the wild. Drop in to get acquainted with the majestic residents – and take a guided raptor tour for a rare, close-up encounter with these amazing creatures.
Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center
Want to connect with Pueblo’s thriving arts scene? Then you’ll want to plug into the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center.
A hub for art enthusiasts, the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center is a multi-disciplinary venue that offers both hands-on learning experiences and fantastic display venues for creatives and aspiring artists of all skill levels.
Check out this popular downtown locale for its amazing showcases of creative work in visual art, music, and dance arts, and the award-winning Buell Children’s Museum. Browse superb gallery exhibits, and revel in dynamic live performances.
Make it a family-friendly learning opportunity. Let the kiddos dive into the center’s arts educational programming, including superb dance training for all ages and field trips that’ll open the eyes of adventurers of all artistic persuasions.
Pueblo Heritage Museum
If you’re ready to do a deep dive into Pueblo’s history, take a trip back in time at the Pueblo Heritage Museum. Set in the century-old Denver & Rio Grande Freight Station, this site is a treasure trove of Southwest Americana.
Exhibits at the Pueblo Heritage Museum highlight the region’s rich past. Explore the legacy of indigenous peoples. Trace the history of the Southwest’s vital railway industry. Learn about the devastating impact of the 1921 Arkansas River flood on Pueblo – and how locals fought their way back to create a thriving community.
Fun fact: Did you know that Pueblo was once the saddle-making capital of the world? Check out the museum’s display of rare handcrafted pieces, and you’ll see why!
Still keen to feed your curiosity? Stop by the Edward Broadhead Library, where you can take in exhibits featuring the history of Hispanic peoples in Pueblo and the intriguing findings of archaeological studies over the decades – including some stunning centuries-old pictographs found in the area.
Brues Alehouse Brewing Co.
Want to get those tastebuds dancing? Saunter over to the Brues Alehouse Brewing Co. – because delivering big on flavor is what this place is all about. Set on the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo, this hip brew-and-food haven has something to please just about every palate.
The Brues crew draw their inspiration from the German brewmasters in creating their libations, sourcing German malts and hops from around the world. Check out a generous selection of fresh India Pale Ales, European and continental lagers, and nuanced Belgian ales.
But Brues Alehouse Brewing Co. serves up much more than suds. Dig into locally-sourced delectables like bodacious burgers (including a made-for-kids size), tasty teriyaki bowls, and fresh vegan and vegetarian options. And don’t miss out on Sunday Brunch, when you can chow down on everything from buttermilk pancakes to “Brues Benedict.”
And it all comes with a toe-tapping side of live music. How’s that for a full meal?
Solar Roast Coffee
Looking for a welcoming spot to take a break from shopping and sightseeing? Slip into Solar Roast Coffee and chill out over a flavorful, solar-power-brewed cuppa joe. And this coffee is guaranteed fresh since the beans are roasted next door. (This is one fragrant coffee shop!)
Whether you want to keep it light or savor the depths of a dark roast, you’ll find something to tempt your tastebuds at Solar Roast Coffee. Be adventurous: how about a lavender white mocha? Or, for something a little more pungent, try a rum or bourbon brew. No matter your choice, you’ll savor the mellow quality that Solar Roast regulars rave about.
If you’re feeling peckish (or even if you’re not), check out their custom-made sandwiches, fresh-made bagels, warm fluffy croissants, or breakfast burritos.
And try to snag a spot with a window view. Directly across the street sits the Kress building. Built in 1929, it’s a Pueblo Art Deco treasure.
Whether you want to re-live your glory days or show your kids what they’ve been missing out on, you’ll want to make a pit stop or two at Pueblo’s Mesa Drive-In. One of the state’s longest-standing drive-ins, this landmark dates back to 1951 – a golden time for the silver screen.
One of the state’s last seven drive-ins, the Mesa Drive-In is part of a vanishing breed. So turn off the Netflix, get off the couch, round up your crew, and catch a one-of-a-kind experience before it’s gone.
Movie-goers will be able to choose from three different screens, each playing a double feature. Enjoy an extended menu selection that includes not just popcorn, but burgers, burritos, hot dogs, and more.
Savor a night of nostalgia at Mesa Drive-In as you sit back, chow down on burgers and funnel cake fries, and immerse yourself in an amazing silver screen experience.