Colorado definitely isn’t some hidden island out there in the ocean. But it is a vast American state which will constantly throw up surprises and you’ll always be finding off the beaten track things to do in Colorado. From its nature to its urban centres, this state could keep you occupied for a long time. And whether you’re looking for stuff to do with your family, a few romantic things to do with your partner, or if you just wanted to find a few kooky, weird things to do in Colorado, our guide has you covered with some pretty interesting activities. Make sure you set aside plenty of time, though!
The Denver Botanic Gardens' 24 acres feature a whopping 50 gardens for visitors to explore. This expansive facility in downtown Denver's Cheesman Park treats travelers to a variety of different environments, from a traditional Japanese garden (complete with bonsai trees) to the South African Plaza blooming with exotic plants like asparagus fern and torch lilies. Meanwhile, art aficionados will also appreciate the gardens thanks to the numerous sculptures that grace the grounds; the facility also plays host to touring exhibits that have included works by such artists as Stephen Talasnik and Dale Chihuly.
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After your afternoon of devouring basically everything in sight, chances are you’ll be thirsty. So why not balance out all that food with a beer or two? Denver boasts some of Colorado’s top breweries and is famous for its craft (and historic) beers. Check out Novel Stand Brewing Company in the Baker area for a tasting session, or head north for Belgian-style brews at hip taproom Bruz Beers.
Dating back to well to almost 1,000 years ago, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park represents some of the best-preserved of their kind. In fact, they’re the best preserved in all of North America. Who built them? The Puebloans did, indigenous people of this region of the Americas who constructed the stunning cliff-based buildings back in the 1190s AD. These have been given names like Balcony House, and Cliff Palace, which has 150 rooms. For one of the most interesting things to do in Colorado, ranger-led tours can (and should – trust us) be arranged before your visit.
You’ve been to a craft weed producer. You’ve learned all there is to know about how their gardens grow here. So now you should visit the International Church of Cannabis – and yes, that exists. Visiting this place has got to be one of the most unique things to do in Colorado. Unoccupied for a few years until 2017 when it was reopened as a church for so-called “Elevationism“.
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That’s right: the Georgetown Loop Railroad takes you out of the city on a narrow gauge railway, along and across Clear Creek, for some prime mountain views on a history-laden steam train, complete with vintage carriages to match. Any sort of person wanting to soak up the past of this area will enjoy this one, but if you’re a train fan… this day trip in Colorado is going to make your head explode. In a good way.
Yes, it sounds like something from Parks and Recreation, but disappointingly it actually isn’t. That said it’s only disappointing if you thought you were getting a tour of the office from Leslie. What the Pawnee National Grassland is, well, it’s a chance to hike in some pretty breathtaking, majestic scenery – but it’s not the sort of scenery you’d associate with Colorado.
Casa Bonita is possibly the most famous, most outrageous place to eat dinner in Denver, and is one of the very best things to do in Colorado at night. If you’ve never heard of it, get ready to really, really want to go: it’s a replica of a Mexican village in a strip mall. This crazy restaurant seats 1,000 people at a time, makes like you’re in a fiesta the whole time, features puppets, shoot-outs, and crazy characters, making it a pretty, um, special place to dine. There’s cliff diving and a haunted cave, but you probably remember South Park‘s Cartman telling you that.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by all the gardens have to offer, consider tagging along on a guided tour. Docent-led tours (which cost $14 for non-members) focus both on the flora and the art found throughout the facility. Recent visitors said the gardens are enjoyable no matter the season, describing them as "stunning" and "mesmerizing." They also highly recommend perusing the gift shop.
The Fireside Inn is our pick for the best hostel in Colorado. It is located just two blocks from Breckenridge’s main street and is in a fantastic location for enjoying the Colorado Rockies. This hostel has large rooms, plenty of amenities, and a hearty breakfast is available. It’s also considered one of the best hostels in Breckenridge, so you’re in for a real treat!
Ok, so maybe you’ve partaken in some of Colorado’s cannabis culture, maybe you haven’t, but trust us: you do not need to be high to experience this modern marvel. Fifty-Two 80’s is a shop that’s dedicated wholeheartedly to 1980s Saturday morning cartoon culture, amongst other things. It’s a place to come and relive childhood memories in a cave of ’80s memorabilia.
Speaking of couples, here’s an awesome thing for couples to do in Colorado: a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Yeah, yeah, we know, you have to get up super early to actually experience this, but honestly, it’s worth it. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see 100 miles in all directions as you watch the Rocky Mountains gradually light up as the sun rises. You’ll even be able to spot wildlife like deer and coyotes from the basket as you float on by. Awesome.
The International Church of Cannabis is one thing, but the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is another level entirely. Conceived in the mid-19th century and finished by 1911 and costing a cool half a million dollars, this impressive cathedral is a pretty impressive place to visit. It’s the kind of thing you might expect, well, not in the USA, but here it is in all its Catholic glory.
If the idea of floating in the air doesn’t exactly, um, float your boat, then we’ve got another awesome thing for couples to do in Colorado: hit up one of their many hot springs. One of the best is Desert Reef Hot Springs. This geothermically heated water flows from 1000 feet below ground and makes for a mineral-rich, relaxing soak with your partner.
A great way to get an adrenaline rush and a great vista without having to climb up the side of a sheer cliff face is ziplining. It’s one of our most favourite things. Colorado isn’t short of places to get your fill of this sport (is it a sport?). Pretty epic, and one of the best adventurous things to do in Colorado. Head on over to Manitou Springs for a collection (5 to be exact) of some awesome ziplines strung out over the foothills at the bottom of the famous Pike’s Peak. Some of these ziplines are over 600ft long, which is perfect for all you adrenaline junkies out there.
Why go? Tailgate on the stadium’s south side; stomp your feet to make “mile-high thunder”; join a chorus of 76,000 yelling “Incomplete!”: That’s the way to show your support for the Broncos. On a tour, you’ll learn such stats while visiting the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum and getting a player’s-eye view of the end zone—something even non-fans get a charge out of.
Denver's Union Station is a two for one: it's a working public transit station and a highly praised dining and shopping center. The station was a huge success when it first opened to the public in 1881, providing railroad service until the center of the building caught fire in 1894. The architecture from the 1917 redevelopment remains and today, it's home to an Amtrak hub and a bus concourse. Located in the hip Lower Downtown neighborhood (aka LoDo), with multiple dining options and boutiques, and The Crawford Hotel, Union Station is a newfound entertainment center.
Why go? In 1983, a little-known Irish band happened to film a performance at what you might call nature’s own music hall—and the rest, as U2 fans know, is rock history. Of course, it also serves as one of the world’s most breathtaking gyms, where runners get super-sweaty attempting to tackle the seemingly endless staircases and hikers hit the trails through the surrounding 868-acre park.
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