Denver, a bustling, modern metropolis, is at the heart of Colorado, a state known for majestic natural beauty. This division within a single state’s borders makes it no surprise that people want to vacation there. Since Colorado is larger than the smallest ten states combined, though, you’re not likely to see the whole thing in one visit, so we’ve put together a list of must-see destinations in the Centennial State.
Perhaps the best-known tourist destination in the state, Aspen’s ski resorts have attracted droves of people to the mountains to ski and to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views on the planet. Four main mountains are used for skiing, and several hotels and resorts line the bases of these mountains, which means it’s easy to find a place to stay. The more upscale resorts fill up fast, so be sure to call well in advance—you might even save money by doing so. Many of these resorts boast an authentic rustic feel and breathtaking views, so it’s worth the higher price tag.
If a luxury resort is out of your price range, there are dozens of other quality hotels to choose from. One such example is the Aspen Mountain Lodge, a three-star hotel with rooms starting at $101 a night. The views here are amazing. If skiing, snowboarding or beautiful scenery appeal to you, you’d do well to visit Aspen.
2. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs is nestled in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Colorado. This lesser-known ski resort town embodies the charm of a tiny village, with friendly townsfolk ready to greet you.
The town offers world-class skiing, but at a fraction of the cost and with much smaller crowds as some of the better known hot spots. If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing vacation, Steamboat Springs is the destination for you.
3. Garden of the Gods
For shutterbugs and hikers or anyone who appreciates nature’s beauty, a visit to the Garden of the Gods is a must. Near Colorado Springs, this 3,300-acre park houses a series of some of the strangest, most awe-inspiring red rock formations in the world, which were formed as a result of a major geological upheaval along a former fault line millions of years ago and the effects of eons of natural erosion.
Visitors can explore a huge network of trails throughout the park via any one of the dozens of daily tours. Named by Tripadvisor.com as the 3rd best park in the world in a 2013 survey, the park boasts a top-notch visitor and nature center, exhibits, shopping, rock climbing, hiking and a slew of other activities.
4.Coors Field: Denver
Home to Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, Coors Field in Denver is a sports fan’s dream destination. Offering baseball lovers amazing views of wide open vistas of the American West, this stadium also boasts an interesting culinary experience. Rocky Mountain Oysters, a Denver speciality made of deep fried bull calf testicles, are served in heaping helpings along with the classic ballpark staples of hot dogs and pizza.
Come to watch America’s favorite past time and enjoy the view and the culinary novelty. That’s a win-win-win for you.
5. The Buckhorn Exchange
The Buckhorn Exchange is the oldest restaurant in Denver and is the original Colorado steakhouse. Open since 1893, it has become so ingrained in America’s past that it was named a National Historic Landmark.
Now a restaurant doesn’t stay open for 121 years just because of its food. It has to have something extra. It needs to be an experience and The Buckhorn Exchange is definitely that. At The Buckhorn, you’re guaranteed a bit of history and a culinary experience reminiscent of the Wild West. Prime offerings include your standard rack of ribs and steak. More adventurous foodies can partake of Alligator tail, buffalo sausage, rattlesnake, elk, and perhaps any of the dozens of other animals mounted on the restaurant walls.
Read more about the culinary delicacies on The Buckhorn’s website.
6. Mesa Verde
Rounding out our list of can’t-miss Colorado hot spots is an incredible man-made marvel. Mesa Verde is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States, and includes the best-preserved cliff dwellings on earth. Built by the Anasazi tribe in the 1190s, these cliff dwellings housed entire villages carved into caves and cliffs. These structures are unique and illustrate the cultural heritage of Colorado.
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