Home to the Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers some of America’s finest outdoor pursuits. Whether you want to spend your days carving the slopes or traipsing hiking trails, there’s never a shortage of things to do in the Centennial State.
Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountains are a magnet for outdoor adventurers, offering unparalleled hiking, skiing, rafting, and other activities. In the summer, families flock to the mountains to escape the heat and enjoy a little fun on the trails or waterways.
In the cooler winter months, skiers set their sights on careening down the slopes. Famed ski resorts like Aspen Snowmass, Vail Mountain Resort, and Telluride Ski Resort draw thousands of winter sports enthusiasts every season.
Not into outdoor adventure? Colorado has many great cities, too. Bustling cities like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs all offer something unique for your trip, whether historic architecture, art galleries, trendy restaurants, or lively nightlife.
Not sure where to go in Colorado? Get some trip ideas using this handy Colorado travel guide.
Where to go in Colorado
Denver may be called “the Mile High City,” but it’s not all about altitude in Colorado’s capital city. With a metro population of almost 3 million, the bustling metropolis offers visitors a wide range of attractions, including museums, shopping districts, parks, and outdoor recreation areas.
Denver’s downtown area is a great place to start any visit to this lively city. Here, you’ll find the Colorado State Capitol building, the Denver Art Museum, and the History Colorado Center. Stroll down 16th Street, the downtown’s most popular pedestrian area, to browse boutique shops or grab a meal at one of its trendy restaurants.
As you’re wandering about Denver, save time to check out Lower Downtown (LoDo). Centered around Larimer Square, the eclectic LoDo area teems with art galleries, trendy shops, and delicious eateries.
No matter what time of year you’re visiting Denver, you can take advantage of the city’s many festivals, including the annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival.
Ready to plan your trip to Denver? Check out these travel resources:
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs fuses the best of Colorado’s urban charms with its reputation for outdoor excitement.
The high altitude of Colorado Springs gives it a unique climate. In winter, the city enjoys snowfall while in summer, temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Colorado Springs is known for its beautiful scenery, including Pikes Peak, where you’ll find the state’s highest summit. You can hike through the mountains, visit the nearby ghost towns or take advantage of all that the area has to offer.
There are also several museums worth checking out, including the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and the Ghost Town Museum.
Ready to plan your trip to Colorado Springs? Check out these travel resources:
Boulder is often labeled as “America’s Most Livable City.” And for good reason. Just 40 minutes northwest of Denver, this mountain town has it all: great outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, friendly people, affordable housing, and low crime rates.
Like many cities in Colorado, Boulder offers plenty of opportunities for adventure seekers. You can hike through the Rocky Mountains, bike across the Continental Divide, tube along Boulder Creek, or snowboard down the slopes nearby.
If you’re looking for a place to chill, Boulder’s got that, too. The city’s downtown area is filled with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants for a relaxing day in town.
Ready to plan your trip to Boulder? Check out these travel resources:
A Colorado ski town that doesn’t skimp on style, Breckenridge is all about the epic mountain views. The town sits nestled among five towering peaks in the Ten Mile Range of the Rocky Mountains.
After a hard day on the slopes, head to one of the many upscale eateries dotting downtown Breckenridge. You’ll find everything from high-end steak houses to casual cafés serving fresh fare.
If you’re looking for a little adventure, Breckenridge is surrounded by beautiful scenery. Head to the nearby Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve, home to several scenic hiking trails teeming with wildlife.
Ready to plan your trip to Breckenridge? Check out these travel resources:
Aspen has long been known as the place where celebrities go to escape the spotlight. And it’s easy to see why. With its stunning mountain views and cozy ski slopes, Aspen is a gorgeous spot to kick back.
Aspen’s downtown area is filled with trendy shops, art galleries, and upscale restaurants. You’ll find all this tucked away among the towering pines that surround the town.
If you’re looking for some serious skiing, head out to nearby Snowmass Village. This small village is home to one of the nation’s top ski resorts: Aspen Snowmass. Just 10 minutes from Aspen, it hosts the highest concentration of ski-in/ski-out resorts in the state.
With over 100 inches of snowfall each year, Vail boasts some of the finest ski slopes in North America. Vail has been a ski destination since the 1960s when Peter Seibert and Earl Eaton built a small Alpine-style village on the slopes. Today, Vail draws skiers from all over the globe and is North America’s busiest ski resort.
While skiing is the number one draw, Vail is also a great place to play in summer, too. There are several golf courses here, including the legendary Beaver Creek Golf Course, along with plenty of great hiking trails. And there’s no shortage of shopping, either. You’ll find everything from upscale boutiques to outlet malls.
If you’re looking for a quiet retreat after a day on the slopes, check out the town of Avon. Here, you’ll find a quaint downtown lined with shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants.
Other destinations in Colorado
- Glenwood Springs
- Grand Junction
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Cañon City
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
When to visit Colorado
The best time to visit Colorado is in spring between April and May and in autumn/early winter between October and mid-December. During these times of the year, you’ll enjoy mild temperatures and pleasant weather without the crowds of the summer and winter high seasons.
Although it’s one of the most popular times of the year to visit Colorado, July and August bring frequent thunderstorms to the Centennial State.
If you do decide to visit during the busy summer months or the winter ski season, be sure to book your Colorado accommodations well ahead of time. Expect to pay higher prices in the high tourist seasons.
How to get to Colorado
Colorado is home to one international airport and about a dozen smaller regional airports. Most travelers from out-of-state will enter Colorado via Denver International Airport (DEN), the state’s busiest airport.
Other options for entering Colorado by air include Aspen–Pitkin County Airport (ASE), Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), and Durango–La Plata County Airport (DRO).
Colorado is well-connected by road to the neighboring states of Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Kansas. Popular road routes to/from Colorado include:
- Cheyenne, WY, to Denver (1h41m)
- Omaha, NE, to Denver (7h41m)
- Salt Lake City, UT, to Denver (8h13m)
- Topeka, KS, to Denver (7h48m)
- Santa Fe, NM, to Colorado Springs (4h35m)