Does your family need a breath of fresh air? Colorado vacations deliver the best of natural beauty: mountains, forests, rivers, and state parks. This western state has earned its reputation as a top destination both in the summer and winter seasons. Whether you want to ski and snowboard, or hit the river for white-white rafting and fishing, Colorado is a perfect place to make some travel memories!

This Colorado travel guide will help you to discover which angle of the state is right for you. From rustic cabins in the mountains to lodges a bit closer to cosmopolitan cities and towns, there is a lot of Colorado to explore. If the mountain air and adventurous activities are enticing you out west, let show you the top self-catering options for an unforgettable Colorado vacation.

What to Do in Colorado

Colorado Outdoors

In the Summer

If you thought that Colorado vacations were only for the winter season, think again. Once the snow melts, a spectacular landscape is revealed. The Rocky Mountain meadows are full of wildflowers and the evergreen forests are ready for mountain bikers. Hit the trails for a hiking adventure or get the adrenaline pumping with a white-water rafting tour. From the waterfalls of Rocky Mountains National park to the steep trails of Bear Peak near Boulder, outdoor activities in Colorado combine nature and adventure.

With 10 National Parks and 13 National Forests, Colorado has an endless supply of outdoor adventure. Pack the fishing rods and try your luck in Colorado’s rivers and streams. If you weren’t an outdoor enthusiast before, Colorado might make a convert out of you! Try a new activity such as rock climbing, or make the entire family happy with the variety of activities available at Pike's Peak.

Any good Colorado travel guide will also reveal the culture and heritage available to visitors. Explore historic railroads and forts, or check out the art, music, and theater scene of Colorado’s cities and towns. Try your luck at one of Colorado’s casinos or watch your golf drive soar a greater distance in the thinner mountain air. Visit Breckenridge vacation rentals or Leadville to see how mining towns have developed and thrived.

colorado skiing

In the Winter

Colorado vacations deliver all of the inspiring scenery and fresh powder that travelers have come to expect from this premier ski destination. The Rocky Mountains are ideal for both skiing and snowboarding, and these resorts that developed around the mountains deliver excellent entertainment and dining. If you want to ski all day and dance the night away, book a cabin in Colorado!

A good Colorado travel guide will reveal that the Rocky Mountains are perfect for both expert skiers and beginners. Bring your kids for their first skiing lesson and then hit the slopes for an exhilarating run, knowing your kids are entertained and happy! From Telluride to Denver, Breckenridge to Beaver Creek, Colorado is full of skiing locations that are perfect for families, couples, or groups.

Annual Events

Colorado vacations can of course be planned around just skiing or hiking. However, Colorado offers an exciting schedule of annual events that could be fun to coincide with your outdoor getaway. From the Telluride Wine Festival in June & July to the Aspen Food & Wine Classic each June, Colorado vacations can be as delicious as they are active.

Beyond food and wine festivals, there are many annual events that celebrate art, music, film, and theater. Plan your Colorado trip around the Steamboat All Arts Festival in August, the Winter Park Jazz Festival in July, or the Telluride Film Festival in September.

No matter what time of year you plan Colorado vacations, there is bound to be an annual event. You may be surprised to learn upon arrival that a rodeo, beer festival, or series of concerts is planned for the same time as your trip. Annual events and festivals can help you enjoy more than one hobby during the same trip!

Colorado for Kids

What kid hasn’t dreamed of exploring a Colorado dude ranch? Grant your kids’ wishes this summer with all the outdoor activities of Colorado vacations. From soaring through the forests on a zip-line to hot-air balloon rides, there are many opportunities for thrills in Colorado. Have you always dreamed of skydiving? There's hardly a better place to see the scenery from thousands of feet.

Keep the entertainment going with a jeep tour of the backcountry or rent kayaks as a family and plan an afternoon picnic. From scenic horseback rides to a horse-drawn sleigh, any good Colorado travel guide will leave you convinced that enjoying nature’s beauty won’t be boring for one minute. Take your first hang-gliding lesson or improve your wakeboarding skills. And don't forget to stop over at Water World, located just 15 minutes from downtown Denver. This park boasts of 64 acres of attractions, making it one of the largest water parks in the country, and was rated one of the top 10 water parks in America by the Travel Channel. It’s all available in Colorado!

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What to See in Colorado

colorado travel guide

Historical Attractions

Exploring forts will bring history of the settlement of the western US to life. Bring your kids to see Bent’s Old Fort or Fort Garland during Colorado vacations. Mining is another important element of the history of Colorado, and today, you can take a train trip into the Bachelor Syracuse Mine. Kids will love exploring ghost towns and learning about the gold rush. Whether you explore independently or hire a guide, the fascinating history of these mountain towns will be revealed.

Natural Landmarks

Hit the open highway in Colorado to see some unexpected sights. Scenic and historic byways include Dinosaur Diamond, Alpine Loop, and San Juan Skyway. Don’t miss the Red Rocks Amphitheater or the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Both of these landscapes go far beyond the typical mountain scenery you would expect from a trip to Colorado.

Watch Wildlife

The state parks and forests are filled with wildlife. Bring your camera to capture big horn sheep, falcons, and even black bears. Head to the forests for some bird watching or the grasslands to see grazing herds.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Colorado

colorado restaurant

What does Colorado cuisine across the state have in common? It’s big on flavor, satisfying after an active day, and is sourced from local farms. You don’t have to be in the big city to find award-winning cuisine, but you’ll find it there too!

Dining in the City

Denver offers the urban excitement that can be missing from the mountain resorts. If you’re looking for a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe, spend a night or two exploring the eclectic restaurants of Denver. This city rests at over 5,000 feet above sea level, and offers great dining options whether you’re in the mood for Asian, BBQ, Mexican, or Italian. Try Cuba Cuba for delicious mojitos or Cherry Creek Grill for American classics.

Dining in the Mountains

Colorado vacations in the mountains have recently become even more sophisticated. Some of the best dining options in the state are now located near mountain resorts, which attract visitors in both the winter and summer. If you’re in Telluride, Allred’s is known for its culinary excellence. Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is a favorite in Aspen while Sweet Basil in Vail is constantly praised by critics and guests.

Wineries and Breweries

During a trip to Colorado, you will learn that the state has the perfect weather conditions for growing grapes for wine. Take a day away from more serious endeavors to explore the wineries and breweries of Colorado. The Colorado Wine Trail has 60 wineries from Grand Junction to Boulder. Colorado has been brewing beer since the 1800s and has more breweries per capita than any other state in the country. Stop in for a taste!

Shopping in the City

The Mile High city of Denver has plenty of outlets to get your shopping fix. You’ll find brand names at the Cherry Creek Mall while Colorado Mills offers the excellent discount prices of outlets and factory stores. Denver Pavilions is a combination of boutiques, bars, and brand-name stores.

Shopping in the Mountains

Any good Colorado travel guide will praise the state for a variety of shopping options. Whether visitors are looking for art, jewelry, antiques, or designer clothes, they will find it in Colorado. Vail and Beaver Creek are known for their eclectic shops and Aspen boasts everything from vintage shops to boutiques to jewelry stores. If you need a day off the slopes, shopping in the mountain resorts won’t disappoint.

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When to Visit Colorado

Any good Colorado travel guide will highlight the best aspects of each season. Colorado is known for having approximately 300 days of sunshine a year, so there is no bad time to visit. Winter remains the most popular time to visit, and ski conditions are excellent from December through March. Keep your eye on the snowfall each year; as early as November and late as April can also be ideal for skiing.

In spring, the snow melts and the national parks and forests are available for hiking, biking, and fishing. If you want to miss the crowds of the summer, the spring shoulder season is a great time to enjoy the fresh mountain air. Summer is also popular for Colorado vacations, and is a fun alternative to a traditional beach vacation. For some travelers though, their favorite time to visit Colorado is in the autumn, when the fall foliage turns the Rocky Mountains spectacular shades of orange, yellow, and red.

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What to Bring to Colorado

Pack for Colorado according to the season you travel. If you are traveling during the shoulder season of spring and fall, be sure to bring plenty of layers, warm clothes, and raingear. A trip to Colorado any time of year will require a good pair of hiking boots. In summer, remember your swimsuit and sunscreen. Insect repllent is also essential. In the winter, you can bring your own ski gear, or take advantage of the rentals available in the ski resorts. If you don’t have your own skis, don’t worry, there are plenty of rentals available at a range of prices.

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Local Services in Colorado

Colorado has developed around attracting travelers to the mountains, national parks, and cities. This means that local services for visitors are well-developed, including tourist offices, roadside facilities, and services within the mountain resorts. Stocking the kitchen of your vacation rental will be a cinch, and banks and ATMs will be widely available. If you rent a car, be sure to secure an emergency number to call in case you get stuck in the snow!

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What to Know About Colorado

Some travelers dismiss Colorado vacations as lacking a sophisticated side. However, this assumption is a big mistake. Colorado is home to award-winning restaurants, wineries, art festivals, and theaters throughout the state. Not many other destinations with such a variety of natural beauty also boast such a variety of culture. Take a look at the annual festival calendar and you might be able to combine a favorite hobby with an adventurous vacation.

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Getting to Colorado

Colorado has three main airports to choose from: Denver, Colorado Springs, and Telluride. Hundreds of domestic flights, and even some international flights, fly directly to Colorado. Denver International Airport is directly connected to over 130 domestic and international airports. Once you arrive, renting a car will help you to explore the many different sides of Colorado. Trains, buses, and shuttle services are also available if you don’t want to get behind the wheel.

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Why Colorado Vacation Rentals?

This Colorado travel guide has shown you all the different activities available to the outdoor enthusiast. After a long day on the slopes or hiking in the national parks, there’s nothing quite like returning to the space and privacy of your own vacation rental. Imagine sipping a hot chocolate while soaking in your own Jacuzzi or relaxing with a good book in the comfort of your own living space. Nothing makes hitting the trails as good as a peaceful night’s sleep, and renting your own cabin will ensure all you hear are the sounds of nature.

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