Happy Thursday everyone! I’m so so glad to have made it through this week… it’s been extremely busy balancing work and blogging, while keeping a personal life. I feel like this week had been in particularly busy considering the hubs, pup and I just came back from our wonderful weekend camping down at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, so it’s been a week of catch up, doing laundry, grocery shopping, blah blah blah. Since we had such a great time, I wanted to put together all the amazing Colorado experiences I have had so far and share with you!
And when my husband and I first moved to Denver in November, 2014, I came here site unseen. I was skeptical because I had never lived anywhere with seasons (Orange County, born & raised), didn’t have a job lined up (moved here for my husband’s job), and we didn’t have any friends with the exception of a couple we met while on our honeymoon. However, the amazing Colorado experiences I have had since living here has made me fall in love with this place. With over 300 days of sunshine, natural beauty and enough beer to sink a fleet of ships, Colorado has proven to be one hell of a place. And while there are an abundance of things to do here in the Centennial State, I’m happy to share my top 20 Colorado experiences that shouldn’t be missed!
20 Amazing Colorado Experiences in No Particular Order…
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#20: Union Station in Downtown Denver
After a massive remodel, it is apparent that Union Station located in downtown Denver, is becoming the city’s iconic landmark and rightfully so. Done with an old Hollywood flair and classic décor, this Union Station rivals those in LA and NYC. A popular place to come and hang out, grab drinks at the Terminal Bar, grab brunch at Snooze or dinner at Mercantile Dining & Provision. If you want to stay in style, plan your hotel stay at the gorgeous Crawford Hotel, a place loved by locals & travelers alike. With it’s central location in downtown, you won’t miss a beat.
#19: Great Sand Dunes National Park
Would you believe me if I told you there’s a place in Colorado that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to the sand dunes of Africa or the Middle East? And they’re surrounded by mountains? Such a thing does exist and it’s summed up in one word: amazing! Hop in your car (or rental) and head three hours south of Denver to check out the Great Sand Dune National Park. The park is both pet and family friendly and is wonderful anytime of the year. Bring or rent a sand board to slide down the dunes and be sure to bring goggles as it can get very windy! Also, bring tons of water or else your dry up and wither away…
#18: Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is hands down one of my favorite things in Colorado. It’s a beautiful park that basically looks like Mars on Earth. You can hike, horseback ride, dirt bike, or rock climb. If you just want to marvel at the natural beauty, no problem! Bring a picnic, some wine and watch the sunset for a cheap & romantic night out with someone you love.
Experience the beauty of Telluride year around, whether you want to hit the slopes, stargaze at celebrities at the Telluride Film Festival, take in the fall foliage or hit the hot springs at the incredible Dunton Hot Springs.
#16: Maroon Bells
Undoubtedly the most photographed location in all of Colorado and for good reason. The beautiful mountains, located in Aspen, are dramatic to say the least. They are gorgeous anytime of the year, but incredibly popular in the fall months. Aspen is repeatedly ranked in the top 10 Aspen fall foliage in the US and the Maroon Bells being the spot to experience it all. Aside from gorgeous fall leaves, the bells offer great fishing at the lake, hiking, biking, and even back country camping.
Come early to work out, run up the stairs or hike the Trading Post loop. Or come in the evening to catch a concert. Year around, Red Rocks also throw awesome events such as Movies at the Rocks and Yoga on the Rocks. Regardless of season, there is always something to do at Red Rocks.
#14: Hang Out In Denver’s Parks
One thing that I found to be synonymous with Denver is outdoor activity and how much the locals love to hang out at the gorgeous parks throughout the city. While it is popular year around, hanging out at local favorite’s such as Wash Park (Washington Park) & City Park are especially busy in the summer. Be like a local and grab your friends, a volleyball net, your dogs, some 3.2% beers and spend the day being active in the Colorado sunshine.
#13: Drink Beer
Ok, I know this may not seem like an experience, but in Denver (all of Colorado, really) it is. In the city of Denver, you can drink beer with an alcohol percentage of 3.2 or less in city parks. But let’s not stop at just drinking at parks, there are tons of great breweries throughout the Front Range, including Denver Beer Co in Denver, Miller Coors Brewery Tour in Golden, or Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder. If you like pairing beer with yummy food, like oh, let’s just say bacon, you can check out fun events such as Bacon & Beer Classic! If you’re a huge fan of lagers, just wait for it…Great American Beer Festival – a three-day event surrounding around the wonderful concept of beer.
#12: Picturesque Ski Towns at Christmas
There is something about Christmas lights and snow that is just magical. If you want to experience a scene reminiscent of a Thomas Kinkade painting, then step into a ski towns in the Rocky Mountains. Breckenridge, Vail, Estes Park and Aspen are my top choices to spend the day, or weekend, dreaming about a white Christmas.
#11: Larimer Square
Larimer Square is located in the heart of downtown, off of Larimer and 14th St and it just might have to be the most charming square, like ever. The mixture of hanging bistro lights, shops and delicious restaurants makes it an instant favorite in Denver. Perfect for a date night or a night out with your girlfriends. Highly recommend Cru Wine Bar for drinks to start the night and Parisian hot spot Bistro Vendome for dinner.
#10: Hit up a Sporting Event
Denver is full of pro sports and if you haven’t noticed, those who live here are die hard fans of their local teams. You can catch an Av’s NHL game, watch the NBA Nuggets, hangout at the Rock Pile and root for the Rockies, or cheer on the NFL Superbowl Champs, the Denver Broncos. There is always a game going on and if you can’t afford it, hit up the many of the bars off Blake Street in the Ball Park neighborhood to catch it on the big screen.
#9: Spend a Day (or weekend) at Rocky Mountain National Park
One of my most fondest experiences while living here in Colorado was spending a weekend in Estes Park, which is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Spend the day driving around the gorgeous park, hiking, searching for a herd of elk, fishing, or just admiring the serene beauty. If you decide to stay in Estes Park for the evening, choose the The Stanley Hotel, the location of which both The Shining and Dumb & Dumber were filmed.
#8: Enjoy the Hot Springs
Hot springs are plentiful throughout this gorgeous state. Detox and enjoy a warm soak that’s surely good for both the body and the soul! You can find them at the end of long hikes or simply, drive right up to them. Some individuals bring beers to enjoy, while others go completely in the nude (you’ve been warned!) Popular hot springs are in Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, (hence the springs) and Telluride.
#7: Hanging Lake
This beautiful hike is located just outside of Glenwood Springs. A relatively easy hike with a beautiful reward at the end. The lake itself is just stunning and looks like something out of the movie, Fern Gully. Tip: Highly, highly recommend going early in the morning because the parking lot fills up quickly.
#6 Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park
This gorgeous national park is a marvel in itself. The Black Canyon of Gunnison offers incredible vistas, death defying walks along the rim, and trails down to the river, way, way, way down below. Since it is in the middle of the state, I do recommend camping at this stunning location to really be one with nature!
#5 Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road Train
Ok, maybe I’m just a huge nerd, but I love anything vintage or classic so the idea of riding an old-fashioned train through the gorgeous mountains seems like a dream come true! The Narrow Gauge Train operates year around and even has additional add-ons like horseback riding in warmer seasons and snow mobiling in the colder ones. Perfect for a fun getaway or for some family fun!
#4 Ski or Snowboard
I bet you were waiting for me to get here, huh? Well, it is kinda an obvious that Colorado has some of the best resorts in the country, if not the world. Top notch resorts, lively villages and crazy parties at the “beaches”, a trip to Colorado wouldn’t be complete without making a trip to the mountains. With over 2 dozen resorts to choose from, it may make it hard to pick just one! My fave? I love Breckenridge because I’m a sucker for the whole town. However, if you want affordability, go with local favorites like Loveland, A-Basin (Arapahoe Basin), and Keystone.
#3 The Fall Leaves & Aspen Trees
I know, I’m a little obsessive about the fall leaves but hear me out. Growing up in Southern California, I never really experienced the change of fall like I have here in Colorado. And wow, it’s such a gorgeous site to see. If you really want to see the best of fall, head to Aspen, Vail, Estes Park, Kenosha Pass or Boulder for some amazing contrast, pops of color and insane amounts of natural beauty!
#2 Winter Activites Besides Hitting the Mountains
While snowboarding and skiing may be the most popular snow activities, Colorado offers way more than that. Try snowmobiling through Vail mountains or snuggle up to some huskies for some dogsledding in Winter Park. Looking for a romantic getaway? Book a spa day at the numerous ski resorts, like the Four Seasons Vail to relax while watching the snow fall. Want to be active? Try your hand at cross country skiing, snowshoeing or sledding. In the winters, the lakes get cold enough to freeze over, so try iceskating or ice fishing. Being outdoors during the winter doesn’t have to keep you indoors if you’re not a fan of hitting the mountains. Instead, take advantage of these other amazing activites!
#1 Take Advantage of the Outdoors in the Warmer Seasons
To really understand the heart of Colorado is to experience it year around. And while it may be a popular winter destination, it is incredible in the warmer seasons. Camping at places such as Maroon Bells, Rocky Mountain National Park and Salida to name a few are some of the best places in the country to spend a night in a tent or cabin. Try spending the day horseback riding through the mountains for a amazing experience. Hiking is extremely popular and even try climbing a 14-er (mountain over 14,000 ft). If you want to hit up water, spend a day on boat at the many lakes, go tubing, or even get your heart rate up by white water rafting at Colorado Whitewater River Rafting!
As you can see, there are tons of fun things to do in Colorado. The experiences here are full of beauty and adventure. Colorado is a hot spot all year around that everyone can enjoy. And might I mention, the vibe of the city is contagious. It’s buzzing with energy, happy people all looking to have a good time. If you have any suggestions to add on, please let me know! I am always looking for fun and great things to experience here in Colorado. Thanks for stopping by and we’ve almost made it to FRIDAY!!