Colorado is a prime tourist destination for travelers who want to explore the Rocky Mountains. The Centennial State is infamous for its award-winning ski resorts, endless number of hiking trails, and its amazing National Parks.
Colorado is packed with charming mountain towns that are filled with things to do. Denver is the largest city in Colorado and is a hub for museums, nightlife, and more. Ouray is known as the 'Switzerland of America' thanks to its breathtaking mountain views. Steamboat Springs is filled with rivers and hot springs, making it a water lover’s paradise all year long. Buena Vista is renowned for its whitewater rafting and challenging hiking trails.
Vail is a skiing destination that is also home to the quaint Vail Village. Colorado Springs is another large city that is home to America's Mountain, also known as Pikes Peak. Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and is a mountain town filled with elk. Idaho Springs is a hub for gold mining and local hot springs. Glenwood Springs is also a destination packed with hot springs and even an amusement park. Aspen is one of Colorado’s most famous destinations, and this resort town definitely lives up to the hype.
Whatever you choose to stay, you will not be disappointed.
BEST LOCATED HOTELS IN COLORADO
Drury Inn & Suites Colorado Springs
RECOMMENDED / BEST VALUE
168€ - 183$
Lakeside Village by Keystone Resort
546€ - 595$
Club Wyndham Steamboat Springs
619€ - 675$
Gold Point Resort by Vacatia
649€ - 707$
The Ramble Hotel
429€ - 468$
New Sheridan Hotel
529€ - 577$
The Vail Collection at the Ritz Carlton Residences Vail
Outdoor Lifestyle / Craft Beer Culture / Cultural Attractions
Spend your vacation exploring the famous Mile High City! Denver, which is the capital of Colorado, offers a variety of exciting activities to fill your days.
Take a leisurely stroll down the lively 16th Street Mall, which is filled with shops and restaurants. You can also hop on the free trolley, which conveniently shuttles you across the city.
If you're a museum enthusiast, you're in for a treat. Denver boasts a diverse range of museums, including the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the Molly Brown House Museum. The Molly Brown Museum was once the home of the iconic Margaret Brown, known as the 'Heroine of the Titanic' for her heroic actions during the tragedy. As you can probably tell, there's a museum for every type of traveler.
During the summer months, relax at City Park, which has breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. For a unique experience, consider renting a fun swan boat when visiting.
Hiking / Million Dollar Highway / Box Canyon Falls Trail
Stay in the 'Switzerland of America' when visiting Colorado! Ouray is a charming town surrounded by towering mountains. You may not have heard much about Ouray because it's often overshadowed by its neighboring ski town, Telluride. However, Ouray has so much to offer.
Begin your adventure by driving the awe-inspiring but breathtaking Million Dollar Highway, connecting you from Ouray to Silverton. Along this route, you'll find campgrounds, hiking trails, and incredible viewpoints to stop and admire.
Afterward, spend your afternoon hiking the Box Canyon Falls Trail. This short 0.3-mile out-and-back trail will lead you to the top of the 285-foot falls, where you can witness the waterfall cascading into the gorge below. A visit to Ouray wouldn't be complete without a soothing soak in the healing Ouray Hot Springs. They even have a cold lap pool for those scorching summer days.
If you're visiting in winter, you can ski in Telluride, which is a 45-minute drive west of Ouray.
If you're in search of adventure and ultimate relaxation, look no further than the charming mountain town of Steamboat Springs. This picturesque town offers a wide range of activities for you to enjoy.
Start your day by unwinding at the Old Town Hot Springs, conveniently located in town. The natural hot spring pool contains healing minerals that aid in detoxification and muscle relief. Additionally, there's a large pool and a waterslide for the little ones to enjoy.
For a more secluded hot spring experience, book a reservation at Strawberry Hot Springs. It's the perfect place to soak while immersing yourself in Colorado's stunning natural surroundings.
If you're looking for family-friendly fun, go tubing down the Yampa River. This spot is known to be one of Colorado's top tubing destinations, and once you arrive, you'll understand why. If you are visiting in winter you have to hit the slopes at the Steamboat Ski Resort, which is famous for its champagne powder!
Colorado is recognized for its outdoor activities, with hiking being a top attraction. This is exactly why Buena Vista deserves a spot on our list. Nestled beside the stunning Collegiate Peaks, this small town has access to some of Colorado's most sought-after hiking trails.
If you prefer something less challenging than these challenging peaks, don’t worry. Buena Vista has hiking trails scattered throughout the town. Additionally, Buena Vista is a hub for white-water rafting, making it an excellent summer destination for adventure seekers.
After a day filled with outdoor excitement, take a stroll through the quaint downtown area. Here, you can have a delicious dinner or treat yourself to homemade gelato at one of the locally-owned ice cream shops. Farmers markets and events are also held in the park that is located downtown. A perfect activity for a summer day.
Buena Vista is a town that is sometimes overshadowed by expensive ski resorts, but it truly is a hidden gem!
Vail consistently ranks among the world's top skiing destinations, and the best part is that it's only a few hours from Denver.
This snowy mountain town offers much more than just skiing. Take a walk through the adorable Vail Village, which gets dolled up for both festivals and holidays. The village is lined with a collection of shops and restaurants.
Be sure to explore Booth Falls, a hike easy to access thanks to free shuttles to the trailhead during the summer months. This 3.9-mile out-and-back hike leads you to the large misty waterfall. A beautiful way to spend your day taking in all of Colorado’s nature around you.
And, of course, in winter, you can spend your day on the ski slopes. Vail is celebrated as one of the top ski resorts in the entire country. If you're into cross-country skiing, the Vail Nordic Center is a must-visit destination.
The second-largest city in Colorado, Colorado Springs, is located just over an hour south of Denver. This city is a must-visit destination in its own right and one of the best places to explore in Colorado.
The top attraction here is the Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark features stunning natural rock formations intertwined with hiking trails. Spend your day hiking through the park and enjoy a picnic at one of the designated areas.
For a thrilling day trip adventure, drive to the top of Pikes Peak. While the road is winding and curvy, the breathtaking views from the summit make it well worth the journey. At the summit of "America's Mountain," you'll find a gift shop and a visitor center where you can relax and take in the scenery.
Colorado Springs also has an abundance of nightlife, similar to Denver. You can spend the night downtown grabbing dinner, drinks, and a show.
Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park / Dream Lake hike
Located just minutes from the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, you'll find the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park. This town serves as the primary gateway to the national park and is where most visitors choose to stay. Estes Park is also famous for its abundant wildlife, including moose and elk, which you may even spot wandering around town.
Beyond its natural beauty, Estes Park served as the inspiration for Stephen King's novel "The Shining." It's said that King's stay at the eerie Stanley Hotel inspired the book. You can take a day tour of the hotel or even spend the night there if you're feeling brave!
Make the most of your day by exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, home to the stunning Dream Lake hike. Which is one of the most photographed hikes in Colorado. In the winter, you can enjoy activities like snow tubing or snowshoeing in the park.
Idaho Springs is a hidden gem located just a half-hour drive from Denver. This serene mountain town is celebrated for its breathtaking mountain views and rich history of gold mines.
During your visit, consider taking a gold mine tour, a fun activity for the entire family! You have three options, the Argo Mill and Tunnel, the Phoenix Gold Mine, and the Colorado School of Mines' Edgar Mine.
Next, take the drive up Mount Evans, home to the highest paved road in America! This route is one of the most scenic in the state, offering numerous hiking trails along the way, ranging from easy to challenging.
Don't miss a visit to Indian Hot Springs, a year-round hot spring right in Idaho Springs. The springs have a large hot spring pool for you to enjoy during your visit. You can even rent a private hot tub for a once-in-a-lifetime stargazing experience during your trip.
Ski Resort / Elevated Altitude / Mountain Town Atmosphere
Spend a weekend enjoying the magic of Breckenridge, one of Colorado's trendiest mountain towns. It's among the state’s most popular destinations, especially in winter, thanks to its outstanding ski resort and its proximity to Denver.
Breckenridge offers a bustling atmosphere year-round. If you plan to visit in the summer, you can explore one of the many hiking trails. Quandary Peak is a favorite among those wanting to hike a 14er, as it's considered one of the easier ones.
For a fun day hike, consider venturing on a quest to find Breckenridge's famous troll. This quarter-mile hike is a top activity for families and you'll be delighted when you spot the towering character.
Breckenridge is also one of the best places to spend the holidays, especially during Christmas and New Year's. The town lights up during these festivities, and there's even a Santa Run every December! You can spend a weekend skiing or snowshoeing before taking advantage of the town's vibrant nightlife.
Located in Western Colorado, Glenwood Springs is a breathtaking town renowned for its towering canyon and scenic mountain views.
Spend your day hiking at Hanging Lake, a geological wonder nestled in the heart of the mountains. This turquoise-blue lake is one of the most photographed in the state, thanks to its stunning beauty. The hike covers 1.2 miles with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet, providing a short but rewarding workout with spectacular views at the end.
Don't miss the chance to visit the town's famous Glenwood Springs hot spring pool. Alternatively, you can stop by Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which features one large pool and private smaller ones. These hot springs are also open at night, offering a perfect opportunity for a sunset soak.
Looking for a day of fun? Take the entire family to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. It is America's only mountaintop theme park and has plenty of rides for everyone to enjoy.
Ski Resorts / Après-Ski and Nightlife / Luxury Resorts
If skiing or snowboarding is your primary reason for visiting Colorado, Aspen is a must-visit destination. It's no wonder, considering that Buttermilk Ski Resort is home to the X-Games!
But did you know that Aspen is also a top location for foodies? This is thanks to its delectable top-rated restaurants, including Matsuhisa, a place where celebrities are often spotted. Additionally, Aspen hosts top events like the FOOD & WINE Classic, making it an excellent time to plan your visit.
Visiting in the summer is equally enjoyable since you can enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds the town. Don't miss the opportunity to drive Independence Pass, which offers hiking trails and spots for swimming or even cliff jumping.
Another top attraction in Aspen is the stunning Maroon Bells, a mountain range that is one of the most iconic and photographed locations in Colorado. Many visitors flock here in the fall when the golden aspen trees complement the snowy peaks of the mountains.
Leah Bilquist is a travel writer and outdoor enthusiast who has called Colorado, the Centennial State, home. She's conquered some of the tallest and most challenging mountains in the state, such as Mt Elbert and Mt Yale. When she's not hiking, you can find her soaking in healing hot springs that are nestled right in the heart of the scenic Rocky Mountains.