Outdoor adventurers, skiers, nature lovers and history buffs return to Colorado year after year for unforgettable vacations in spectacular scenery. Colorado is famous for its world-class ski resorts like Aspen, Telluride and Crested Butte and elegant cities full of cultural attractions like Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Estes Park. Get back to nature in beautiful state parks, where you can admire everything from towering sand dunes and waterfalls to gushing rapids and historic railroads. Here are the best places to visit in Colorado. Photo: Nelson Sirlin / Fotolia
Colorado Springs is located at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of more than 6.000 feet and is a springboard to some of Colorado's best hiking trails as well as many other outdoor activities. Just a few of the energetic activities you can try include whitewater rafting in the Royal Gorge, hiking in the beautiful Garden of the Gods Park or biking on the Barr Trail.
You can view wildlife in some of the nearby parks or enjoy historical and cultural attractions such as the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and the Cripple Creek Heritage Museum. Art lovers can enjoy exciting art walks or visit the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. Activities in Colorado Springs Photo: andreykr / Fotolia
Although Aspen is known as a winter sports destination, this pretty little town in the heart of the White River National Forest is an excellent destination for active adventurers, festival lovers and art enthusiasts. In addition to downhill skiing, you can also try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating and dog sledding before ending your day with apres-ski cocktails, local craft beers or a delicious meal.
In the summer you can ride the Aspen Mountain Gondola, go whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking, ballooning or fly fishing, or add some culture at the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet or Theatre Aspen. Foodies should visit the annual FOOD& Don't miss the WINE Classic in June. Activities in Aspen Photo: aiisha / Fotolia
The charming town of Boulder is surrounded by dramatic scenery, including the amazing Flatirons, acres of forest and snow-capped peaks – a perfect year-round playground. You can soak up the atmosphere on historic Pearl Street before diving deep into the Flatiron area from Open Space Mountain Park or strolling through town along the Boulder Creek Path.
Other outdoor activities abound, including hot air ballooning, rock climbing, kayaking and skiing at Eldora Mountain Resort. Boulder also has good museums, art galleries and theaters, and foodies are exceptionally well catered for – you can visit the Dushanbe Tea House, discover fresh produce on a farm trail, sample craft beers on a brewery tour, and visit the farmers market . Activities in Boulder Photo: Fotolia.com
Denver is the capital of Colorado and perfectly reflects the state's diversity, offering visitors of all ages virtually unlimited attractions for all interests. You can visit several art museums, including the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and there are several art districts with galleries that will delight and excite all art lovers.
The Golden Triangle Museum District features eight of the city's museums, and the Denver Performing Arts Complex offers plenty of entertainment. Outdoor activities include biking along the historic Greenway Trail, having fun at one of the many extreme sports parks, playing a round of golf, strolling through beautiful parks and gardens, or visiting the Denver Zoo. Activities in Denver Photo: knowlesgallery / Fotolia
Cities in Colorado: Crested Butte
Crested Butte is a fantastic ski resort and the wildflower capital of Colorado, attracting outdoor enthusiasts year-round. Before hitting the slopes or trails, learn more about the town's mining history on a walking tour of Crested Butte Historic District and meet some of the town's talented artists on a tour of the Crested Butte Creative District.
You can explore the beautiful countryside on a scenic drive to see spectacular fall or wildflowers, recharge your batteries on the many hiking and biking trails, play a round of golf or fly fish. In winter, the sprawling ski area offers an exciting variety of winter sports options. Things to do in Crested Butte Photo by SNEHIT / Fotolia
Make your way to Glenwood Springs for a fun-filled vacation in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by natural hot springs, exciting rivers and many other attractions. You can take the Iron Mountain Tramway to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park for thrilling rides or go deep underground for a walk through Glenwood Caverns.
Back on the first floor, you can paddle, kayak, fish, hike, or bike in the summer or enjoy a variety of winter sports in the winter. After a busy day, you can visit one of the hot springs to enjoy the healing properties of the natural hot springs or visit a few galleries or museums. Things to do in Glenwood Springs Photo: Carbonbrain / Fotolia
Best places to live in Colorado: Estes Park
Estes Park is a popular stepping stone to all the attractions of Rocky Mountain National Park. Although there's a focus on outdoor adventure activities, 26 impressive museums and galleries and three relaxing spas cater to sedentary visitors.
You can get maps and information at the Estes Park Visitors Center and take a free shuttle bus to most major attractions. Intrepid adventurers will find a nearly endless list of outdoor activities including mountain climbing at Longs Peak, exciting whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, walking, skiing and snowshoeing. Less daring visitors can enjoy the River Walk, take a scenic drive, play a round of golf or go wildlife watching. Activities in Estes Park Photo: marinzolich / Fotolia
Places to see in Colorado: Breckenridge
Breckenridge is rightfully known as one of the best ski resorts in the country, but spending a little time seeking out the town's off-piste charm can be very rewarding. You can explore the thriving arts and culture scene or learn about Breckenridge's history on a tour with a local expert – popular options include the Historical Tour, Haunted Tour and Gold Mining Tour. In the summer, visitors can hike, bike, fish, paddle and raft, while in the winter, everyone hits the slopes to enjoy winter sports and ride the highest ski lift in the country. Things to do in Breckenridge Photo by Evan Meyer / Fotolia
Places to visit in Colorado: Grand Junction
Grand Junction offers great opportunities for outdoor recreation combined with a good mix of cultural attractions and dozens of wineries. Art enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, the many public art installations and the monthly First Friday Art Tour.
The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, High Desert Opera, Mesa State College Theatre and Avalon Theatre offer a wide variety of entertainment. Nature lovers can explore the diverse landscape on many miles of hiking and biking trails, take an off-road adventure, climb the magnificent red rock formations or head to the rivers for rafting, kayaking and paddling. Leave plenty of time to indulge in the 22 wineries and tasting rooms. Activities in Grand Junction Photo by Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia
Once known as a gold-mining outpost, the modern town of Golden has diversified by leaps and bounds and now offers visitors a great mix of outdoor, cultural and historic attractions. Take a trip back in time to the days of the gold miners on a walking tour of historic downtown, where you'll find several museums such as the Golden History Centre and the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.
You can explore eight other designated historic neighborhoods before swapping history for nature as you hike or bike the numerous scenic trails. Families can enjoy Splash Water Park, while adults can try their hand at small craft brews and visit the largest American brewery on the Coors Tour. Read on for more points of interest in Colorado. Activities in Golden Photo: farbled_01 / Fotolia
Gunnison is an ideal vacation destination for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers. If you visit in the summer, you will find yourself in one of the most beautiful hiking and camping areas in the Rocky Mountains with extravagant wildflowers.
Explore many miles of biking and mountain biking trails or go whitewater rafting, paddling, windsurfing and kayaking. Mesa Lake is supposedly the best place in Colorado for trout fishing, and in the winter you can even go ice fishing. You can expect the full range of winter sports, including exciting snowmobile tours. If you need a break from the action, you can visit the Pioneer Museum or some of the local art galleries. Photo by Henryk Sadura / Fotolia
Places to visit in Colorado: Durango
Located in southwestern Colorado, near the Four Corners Monument where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. Durango is perfect for sightseeing and year-round outdoor activities. The city also has a vibrant arts scene and you can spend many happy hours visiting a fascinating selection of art galleries and theater attractions.
Nature lovers can go hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding or rock climbing in one of the surrounding national parks, or explore historic archaeological sites like Hovenweep, Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. The Durango& Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a highlight of any visit and you can combine various adventure sports packages with your scenic train ride. Read on for more points of interest in Colorado. Things to do in Durango Photo: oscity / Fotolia
Louisville is conveniently located between Denver and Boulder and offers visitors an attractive weekend destination with a distinctive American small-town feel. You can stroll through historic Old Town, where several historic buildings house modern stores, restaurants and businesses. Downtown is also home to the Louisville Art District, which is peppered with galleries, studios and a monthly First Friday Art Walk.
Live music and theater are popular, and you can catch a concert at Center Stage Theatre Company or Coal Creek Community Theater. Outdoor activities include hiking, walking, biking and ice skating, while nearby Boulder offers many additional cultural and outdoor attractions. Photo: arinahabich / Fotolia
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Cities in Colorado: Pagosa Springs
Pagosa Springs is a charming town in southwestern Colorado that offers year-round activities for all ages.You can swim, boat and fish at Navajo State Park, hike or backpack in the San Juan National Forest, or take a scenic drive up Wolf Creek Pass for sensational views of Treasure Falls.
Other interesting summer activities include guided tours to Chimney Rock National Monument, hot air balloon adventures and paddling, tubing or rafting on the San Juan River. In the winter, go dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snow tubing and more at Wolf Creek Ski Resort, relax with a brewery visit or simply unwind in the natural Pagosa Hot Springs. activities in Pagosa Springs Photo: tharathepptl / Fotolia
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Colorado Destinations: Manitou Springs
Located at the base of Pike's Peak, the historic town of Manitou Springs has welcomed you for more than a hundred years. Here you can take a scenic ride on the world's highest cog railroad, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, followed by whitewater rafting with one of the many adventure travel companies.
There are several scenic trails to hike and challenging bike trails to explore, as well as many other activities like zip lining and horseback riding. You can explore the history and architecture of historic sites like Miramont Castle and Manitou Cliff Dwellings, visit the Manitou Springs Heritage Centre or pamper yourself at a day spa before taking in a show at the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Theatre. Photo: Evan Meyer / Fotolia
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Colorado Cities: Fort Collins
Fort Collins is an ideal vacation spot that combines outdoor, cultural and culinary attractions. Learn some history while exploring Old Town on foot or taking a scenic drive along the historic Overland Trail.
Visiting several national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, is easy or take advantage of the many outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, golfing and horseback riding. There are several fascinating museums and more than 15 galleries on the First Friday Gallery Walk. Round out the day with a culinary tour or take in a Canyon Concert Ballet or the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra. Things to do in Fort Collins Photo: Marek / Fotolia
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Greeley is conveniently located just 50 miles from Denver in one of America's best agricultural regions, which is good news for foodies. You can visit several breweries, buy farm-fresh produce at the farmers market and enjoy farm-to-fork style dining at many restaurants in the bustling Greeley Creative District, home to several historic buildings that now house galleries, museums and entertainment venues.
Here you can take an art walk, attend a current event or festival, and learn all about Greeley history at the Centennial Village Museum. The Colorado Model Railroad Museum is another must-see attraction, or you can explore nature by hiking the Poudre River Trail or the Pawnee National Grasslands, or play a round of golf. Read on for more points of interest in Colorado. Photo: marek / Fotolia
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Places to visit in Colorado: Creede
Located in the heart of a former volcanic caldera in the San Juan Mountains, the small Colorado town of Creede will wow you with stunning natural splendor and small-town atmosphere. You can learn about Creede's mining history at the Creede Historical Museum and Underground Mining Museum and enjoy the annual Creede Repertory Festival.
Throw in a fishing trip to one of the best trout areas in the country, rafting or kayaking on the Rio Grande River, hiking, biking or wildlife viewing are just a few of the great summer activities available. In winter, explore cross-country ski trails, snowmobile or enjoy skiing and snowboarding at Wolf Creek Ski Area. Photo: Grizz / Fotolia
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Cripple Creek is best known as a historic mountain and gambling town, but in addition to the fun and entertainment of its nine modern casinos, Cripple Creek offers diverse activities for all ages. You can satisfy your thirst for adventure with whitewater rafting, river tubing, rock climbing, mountain biking and off-road racing, or explore the Trails of Gold network of hiking and biking trails through historic sites in Gold Camp.
If you prefer four wheels, you can take a scenic drive along the Gold Belt Tour or take a Jeep tour with High Country Excursions. No visit would be complete without exploring the depths of the gold mine, taking a scenic ride on the Cripple Creek Railroad or trying your luck at the casino. Activities in Cripple Creek Photo: Gino Santa Maria / Fotolia
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Historic Georgetown is just 45 minutes west of Denver and attracts hundreds of visitors each year to experience the history and pioneering spirit of this 1875 mining town. Soak up the atmosphere at museums like the Hamill House Museum, Georgetown Heritage Center and Hotel de Paris. Learn all about silver mining as you ride the historic Georgetown Loop Railway to Silver Plume – you can visit the Lebanon Silver Mine along the way.
Georgetown is surrounded by stunning Rocky Mountain scenery, which you can admire on a scenic drive along the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, or while hiking, biking or cross-country skiing on the many inviting trails. Other activities include whitewater rafting, ATV tours and fishing. Activities in Georgetown Photo: SNEHIT / Fotolia
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Places to visit in Colorado: Ouray
Ouray is one of the many historic mining towns that have reinvented themselves as playgrounds for adventure sports fans. The town is steeped in history, which you can explore at the Ouray County Historical Museum, the Ouray Alchemist Pharmaceutical Museum or tour the Old Hundred Mine before visiting one of the natural hot springs pools that have attracted visitors for more than 100 years .
The city has a vibrant arts and culture scene, reflected in several galleries and a lively theater program. Outdoors, the fun never stops; you can hike over 70 spectacular trails, have fun on a Jeep, snowmobile or OHV tour, ride the Ridgway Area Trail System or go rock climbing, canyoneering, fishing, skiing and hot air ballooning. Read on for more points of interest in Colorado. Activities in Ouray Photo: ricktravel / Fotolia
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Ski Colorado: Telluride
If you're looking for an ideal year-round vacation spot that offers a great mix of cultural and outdoor activities, Telluride has it all. Voted one of the top ski resorts in America, this city offers just about every snow activity you can imagine, set against a backdrop of dramatic mountain peaks covered in dazzling powder snow.
In the summer, trade hiking boots for hiking shoes and explore endless trails through the beautiful countryside or try biking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and backcountry camping. The Telluride Arts District is full of arts and cultural attractions, and the town was also named one of the top 20 foodie destinations in the country. Activities in Telluride Photo: gburba / Fotolia
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places to visit in Colorado: Trinidad
The city of Trinidad is not only a certified Colorado Creative District, there are also several historical and outdoor attractions to entertain visitors of all ages. Explore the city's history on the scenic Trinidad Trolley Tour, visit Baca House and Bloom Mansion, and see many other restored Victorian buildings.
The A.R. The Mitchell Museum of Western Art and the Creative District's many galleries delight art lovers, while the Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre offers live entertainment. Outdoor enthusiasts can camp, fish, hike and boat at Trinidad Lake State Park, look for dinosaur tracks in the Comanche National Grassland or trout fish on the Purgatoire River. Photo: Jdubsvideo / Fotolia
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Buena Vista is a historic mining and railroad town that lives up to its Spanish name, which means "good view.", does justice to. – They are surrounded by towering mountain peaks that provide a wonderful playground for adventure seekers year round. The area offers some of the best river rafting adventures in the country and you can also hike, bike, horseback ride, fish and zip-lining.
In winter, try cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails, and after an adventurous day, there's nothing better than a dip in one of the natural hot springs. You can visit the Buena Vista Heritage Museum or go on a ghost town adventure, visit several art studios and galleries, or quench your thirst at a local brewery. Activities in Buena Vista Photo: robert cicchetti / Fotolia
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Silverton is an old mining town in the San Juan Mountains that today offers a rugged setting for adventure sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. Most of downtown has been designated a National Historic District, where you can learn more about the area's history at various historic sites.
The rugged and elevated landscape and disused mining roads provide a challenging playground for mountain bikes and off-road vehicles, while fishermen can head to Molas Lake to cast a line. You can go hiking in the San Juan National Forest, take a four-wheel drive along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, or enjoy a scenic drive on the Durango& Enjoy Silverton Rail Road. Activities in Silverton Photo: eunikas / Fotolia
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