Colorado is the ideal summer destination with unparalleled hiking, camping, mountain biking, paddleboarding, scenic byways, seasonal festivals, and so much more.
Few destinations can boast 300 days of sunshine per year, and even fewer can claim to thrive in every season—but Colorado can do both. From crisp winters filled with après ski to warm, lush summers spent hiking and swimming, there is no bad time to visit Colorado.
Honestly though, Colorado is the ideal summer destination with unparalleled hiking, camping, mountain biking, paddleboarding, scenic byways, seasonal festivals, and so much more.
With a bevy of cities and towns, each with its own unique outdoor offerings, cultural attractions and general Colorado charm, it may be difficult to choose the best place for your next vacation. Colorado’s two most populous cities–Denver and Colorado Springs–are a great place to start.
Denver makes a great starting place for travellers venturing into the Rockies; those looking for a mountain experience can spend a day driving along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway or travel to a nearby zip line course. Although Denver definitely has a reputation as an outdoorsy town, there’s plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy.
Shop, Stroll, and Sip at Larimer Square
Known as one of the most beautiful places in the US, Larimer Square is full of sights, sounds, and stores that make it an absolute must-visit in downtown Denver.
Picture the prettiest street in any city: wide sidewalks, red brick buildings, and restaurant patios chock-full of fit Coloradans. Boutique storefronts dot the area, twinkle lights sparkle at night, and a pie shop hides a Prohibition-era “speakeasy” Green Russell , named for a Colorado gold miner. This is Larimer Square, the city’s first historic distric. You can’t say you’ve visited the Mile High City without at least stopping by Larimer Square.
Grab a Drink at Union Station
Denver’s so-called “living room” sits in the center of Lower Downtown. It’s a busy transit center with an outdoor play fountain, patio-filled restaurants, and boutiques.
A recent $54 million restoration and a dedicated train to the airport has returned the station to its glory days. Tourists and locals alike come to gawk at the historic architecture, linger over drinks, or enjoy community events, including a weekend farmer’s market. Grab a farm-to-table dinner at Mercantile Dining & Provision, then finish the night with cocktails at the Terminal Bar.
Take in the Scenery at Red Rocks
With its excellent views of the Rocky Mountains, miles of hiking trails and cinnamon-hued sandstone cliffs, Red Rocks Park is a big draw for outdoors enthusiasts. More than 700 acres, this park features spectacular scenery best viewed along the Trading Post Trail; a nearly 1 ½-mile-long path.
Another big draw is the expansive amphitheater, which has hosted such headliners as the Beatles, Tom Petty and John Denver. Bright red sandstone rocks jut out from either side of the stage to create a natural amphitheater with truly remarkable acoustics, and concert-goers are treated to views of downtown Denver and the surrounding foothills. Even if you can’t catch a concert, Red Rocks is worth visiting.
Enjoy a Meal at Annette
Located in a former aviation factory in Aurora, this contemporary American restaurant has received three James Beard nominations since its opening in 2017.
The restaurant offers sophisticated signature dishes like the grilled, sliced beef tongue with marrow toast and the roast chicken with PX Sherry vinegar and escarole. Book early for your best shot to dine at this well-reviewed spot.
Colorado Springs generally attracts two specific types of travellers: nature lovers and culture hounds. Throughout the year, thousands of people grab their hiking boots and cameras to explore natural sights, while others peruse the funky art galleries or tour the inspiring Air Force Academy. Whatever you’re into, don’t miss the outdoor spots and gorgeous hotel described below!
Take an Awe-Inspiring Stroll Through the Garden of the Gods
Start your time in Colorado Springs with a visit to Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark offers free admission to some of the most astonishing and memorable scenery in Colorado, featuring magnificent red rock formations up to 300 feet high silhouetted against the backdrop of Pikes Peak and the deep blue Colorado sky.
The sandstone pillars are the work of geological activity along a natural fault line, as well as rainfall over millennia. You can learn about the garden’s formations at the visitor and nature center, which houses numerous informative displays and hosts daily nature presentations.
Explore the entire park by car, Segway or vintage scooter via a paved loop, or o the hiking and walking trails, many of which are also paved-the park is considered one of the most accessible in America.
Test Your Limits at the Royal Gorge
Colorado Springs has plenty of nearby outdoor attractions, but if you’re looking for something further afield, you can’t go wrong with Royal Gorge. Sitting 50 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, Royal Gorge is 10 miles long and 1,200 feet deep, carved into the landscape by the Arkansas River. It’s here that you’ll find some of the state’s best whitewater rafting and zip line tours. But if you want something slightly more structured, you’ll have plenty of options.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park features a America’s highest pedestrian-only suspension bridge that spans across Royal Gorge, sitting more than 900 feet above the Arkansas River. You can take in more views from the gondolas or the zip line (there are also some independently run zip lines in the area). Alternatively, you can get up close to Royal Gorge with a climbing excursion hosted by Via Ferrata.
For another scenic excursion, enjoy a lunch or dinner ride in the glass-topped Vista Dome cars of the historic Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
Book a Room at The Broadmoor
Situated at the gateway to the Colorado Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor and its Wilderness Experience properties of The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Cloud Camp and Fly Fishing Camp encompass 5,000 acres.
The historic Broadmoor first opened in 1918, and has expanded to 784 rooms, suites and cottages. The property includes two championship golf courses, an award-winning spa and fitness center, nationally recognized tennis staff and program, 23 retail boutiques and ten restaurants, including Colorado’s only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant The Penrose Room, as well as ten additional cafes and lounges.
Fun fact: 36 American presidents have stayed at The Broadmoor during its storied history.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.