Colorado Cities and Resorts
Colorado Resorts and Towns To Visit on Your Summer Vacation and Winter Vacation Getaway
Planning a weekend summer get away, a summer vacation or winter vacation in Colorado can be overwhelming. It would take a lifetime to do all the things there is to do in Colorado, but you can fit a lifetime of memories into a few days with some good planning. Whether you live here, or it’s your first Colorado vacation, here’s a little Colorado Summer and Winter Guide to help you find the Colorado destination that will satisfy your adventure, entertainment, leisure or family needs.
See Resorts and Cities by Region:
- Summit County: Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne, Georgetown, Idaho Springs
- South: Alamosa, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Crested Butte, Durango, Montrose, Pagosa Springs, Lake City, Cotez, Dolores, Silverton, Monte Vista, Saguache, South Fork, Crestone, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde Country, Cuchara
- Pikes Peak Area: Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Cripple Creek, Canon City, Manitou Springs, Colorado City
- Grand County: Winter Park, Granby, Grand Lake, Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs
- Front Range: Fort Collins, Boulder, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Trinidad
- North Central: Steamboat Springs, Craig, Meeker
- Central Colorado: Summit County, Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida, Monarch, Vail, Beaver Creek, Eagle, Bond, Fairplay, Alma, South Park
- Roaring Fork Valley: Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale
- Western Slope: Grand Junction, Delta County, Meeker, Parachute, Rifle, Fruita, Montrose, Delta County, Mesa Verde Country
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Estes Park, Grand Lake, Lyons
- Denver Area: Golden, Evergreen, Central City, Black Hawk, Broomfield, Parker, Aurora, Westminster, Littleton, Morrison, Highlands Ranch, Fort Lupton
- South East: La Junta, Lamar, Las Animas
Each Colorado resort and city destination has unique characteristics special to its location. In this Colorado vacation overview, I’ll point out what makes each of these Colorado areas unique including the lodging, activities, entertainment, festivals, culture, food, landscape and how to get there. So hold on, here's a quick Colorado tour and reasons to love it.
Just select the area where you want to see events, lodging, dining and things to do
Alamosa County - Alma - Arapahoe Basin - Aspen-Snowmass - Basalt - Beaver Creek - Berthoud - Boulder County - Breckenridge - Burlington - Canon City Royal Gorge - Carbondale - Castle Rock - Central City - Black Hawk - Chaffee County - Colorado Springs - Copper Mountain - Cortez - Creede - Crested Butte - Crestone - Cripple Creek - Delta - Denver - Dillon - Dumont - Durango - Eagle - Edwards - Erie - Estes Park - Evergreen - Fairplay - Fort Collins - Fort Lupton - Fort Morgan - Frisco - Fruita - Georgetown - Glenwood Springs - Golden - Granby - Grand Junction - Grand Lake - Greeley - Hot Sulphur Springs - Idaho Springs - Ignacio - Johnstown - Julesburg - Keystone - Kremmling - La Junta - Lafayette - Lake City - Lamar - Laporte - Larkspur - Leadville - Lone Tree - Longmont - Loveland - Loveland Ski Area - Mead - Meeker - Mesa Verde Country - Monte Vista - Montrose - Niwot - Norwood - Ouray County - Pagosa Springs - Paonia - Parachute - Pueblo - Rifle - Saguache - Silverthorne - Silverton - South Fork - South Park - Steamboat Springs - Summit County - Telluride - Trinidad - Vail - Westcliffe - Winter Park
- For this guide Denver is ground zero. It’s a good idea for some people to spend the first day of a Colorado vacation in Denver acclimating to the altitude before treking to higher points above sea level.
- The best way to enjoy Colorado in the summer, is to drive it or hire a driver and take in the sites.
- The Best way to enjoy Colorado in the winter is to find a resort (there's a wide range of amenities and costs) and stay there.
- The choices of things to do is unlimited, so prioritize the things that tickle your fancy for a Colorado summer or winter vacation vacation and aim your sights on them. Allow plenty of time for stops in between destinations and keep in mind – you can always come back.
Alamosa County is a Colorado summer vacation destination everyone needs to experience for events, festivals, concerts, adventure, beauty and history. Alamosa is home to the world's most spectacular sandbox: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. A stop at the visitor center before or after you dig your toes into the sand will explain how one of earth’s magnificent natural possessions was created. Other things to do around the park include, climbing to the top, sand skiing, sand sledding, hikes, free ranger programs and more. After you hit the Sand Dunes, stay in Alamosa where you can ride the Rio Grande Railroad on a scenic trip or on the weekends, the train will take you to the stage in the middle of nowhere where national touring acts like Michael Martin Murphey, Pure Prairie League, and Exile perform for the passengers. It’s an awesome family adventure and was recognized by USA Today as one of the “10 Best Outdoor Concert Venues You Shouldn’t Miss." Alamosa also hosts great rodeos, festivals, and free concerts throughout the summer and winter and if you still haven’t had your fill of eye candy check Zapata Falls, and the annual Monte Vista Crane Festival in March. Live history with a visit to the Luther Bean Museum or Ft. Garland. Take a historical walking tour in downtown Alamosa or enjoy a drive along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, catching a glimpse of the robust culture of the San Luis Valley. 3 hrs and 30 mins from Denver (get directions)
Meeker is nestled in the White River Valley at the doorstep to the flat tops Wilderness and White River national Forrest. Meeker is quiet and off the beaten path. Meeker attracts visitors from around the globe with its numerous amenities, annual sheepdog trials and charming downtown. Hike, bike, ATV, hunt, fish, horseback and enjoy lots of outdoor recreation. 3 hours and 41 minutes from Denver (get directions)
Located in the heart of Summit County along I70 and nestled between the 10 Mile Range and the Gore Range, Copper Mountain has established itself as a world-class winter ski resort and a premier Colorado summer vacation destination. Summer events include Copper Country, Genuine Wine and Jazz, Dirty Girl Mud Run, Guitar Town, The Cider Circus and a lot more! 1 hour and 22 minutes from Denver (get directions)
Featured Venues: Copper Mountain Resort, Burning Stones Plaza
A real Colorado Summer vacation wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Winter Park only 67 miles west of Denver. Hideaway Park on Main Street hosts free summer concerts, festivals and family events. There's also Winter Vacation activities taking place at Hideaway Park though most winter time fun can be found at Winter ark Ski Resort. In June Winter Park features The Blues From the Top festival that features the best blues bands in the world. In July, there’s The Winter Park Jazz festival, The Winter Park Wine Festival and The Winter Park Art Festival. In August there’s The Winter Park Beer festival, The Sol Shine festival and The Winter Park Music Festival. In between the music, a person can stay busy riding the Alpine slide at Winter Park ski Resort or rent a bike and visit Trestle Bike Park the best ranked downhill mountain bike park in North America. 1 hr and 18 mins from Denver (Get directions)
Crested Butte is best known for its “off the beaten Path” location, the most spectacular Wild Flower Festival, many free summer concerts, camping, rafting and multiple recreational opportunities. Home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Crested Butte Ski Resort, Crested Butte is known around the world as home to the oldest mountain bike club in America. You could just kick back and soak in the an awesome summer climate or get more active and enjoy whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, four wheeling and horseback riding. Crested Butte is a highly recommended stop on your Colorado Summer Vacation. 4hrs and 10 mins from Denver (Get directions)
If you’re looking for a bustling US metropolitan city and all the benefits that come with that, Denver is a must stop to make on your Colorado Summer Vacation or Colorado winter Vacation. Denver has everything you’d expect in a metropolitan US city including world class museums, fancy parks, an awesome zoo, world famous live music venues including Red Rocks, public transportation, a major US airport, professional sports teams, hotels, golf courses, swimming pools, themed amusement parks, top shelf shopping, premier restaurants, major US breweries and more. It’s also within hours of Colorado’s most popular National parks and mountain resort towns. On any given night, there could be 4 to 10 national touring concerts performing in the Denver area.
Home to the Colorado University, you may wonder “why would I stop in this college town during my Colorado summer vacation?” In many ways, Boulder is like most College towns but this one is located in the northern Front Range foothills and in view of the Flatirons. Close by is Eldorado State Park and Golden Gate Canyon Park. Boulder’s thick cultural artistic vibe can be cut with a knife and every night there’s a great show at one of the premier live music venues. Dead & Company play two shows at Folsom Field this summer – June 9-10. It may not be easy getting a hotel room in Boulder but it’s easy to get in and out. Communities like Loveland, Longmont and Louisville are close by. 39 minutes from Denver (get directions).
Fort Collins is home to picturesque Poudre Canyon and Cache la Poudre River, free Budweiser Brewery tours, Lincoln Center and has won numerous recreational, lifestyle and business awards. Home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins is truly an all American family town that happens to be home to some of the world’s finest breweries that could take distract you for weeks. Besides camping and fishing, there’s world class rafting close to Fort Collins. 1hour and 14 miunutes from Denver (get directions)
Located in Between Denver and Colorado Springs, Casle Rock has a reputation for small town hospitality, this charming community has received recognition by numerous national publications as one of the best towns to live, work and play. 35 minutes from Denver (get directions)
Colorado Springs (Manitou Springs, Woodland Park, Old Colorado City)
Colorado Springs is one of the most visited Colorado summer vacation destinations primarily because it’s home to the famous Pikes Peak and all the adventures that go with that. The mountain towers over the city and is home to the Pikes Peak international hill climb auto race in June, mulitple free concerts and festivals, athletic endurance costests and an abundance of summer things to do for families. Like any mountain, man must get to the top of it and there are several ways to summit Pikes Peak: train, car, or for those looking to test their endurance, you can ride your bike or hike. My favorite way to experience Pikes Peak is to take bike tour. It’s easy and fun as long as you know how to ride a bike. Take your bike to the top of the mountain by car, truck or van with the help of a friend, cousin or a local company that offers the service then take the ride down, but make sure your brakes are in good shape.
At the base of Pikes Peak is Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City. Both offer unique shopping, multiple free summer concerts, world famous tourism attractions, festivals and more. See my picks for Colorado Springs events, concerts, festivals, restaurants and lodging. 2hrs 14 mins from Denver (get directions)
Steamboat Springs (includes Craig)
Steamboat Springs is another Colorado resort community that is off the beaten path but well worth the trip for a Colorado Summer or Winter Vacation. When you spend time in Steamboat on your summer vacation you can float down the Yampa River through downtown on a tube, see top notch free concerts at Howelsen Hill, soak at one of Colorado’s most exclusive hot springs – Strawberry Park and spend a day in Steamboat’s downtown dining and shopping district. Steamboat ski resort of course provides the best champagne powder skiing the world, and offers summer festivals and activities on the mountain for the whole family including horseback riding, hiking and biking. 2hrs and 45 minutes from Denver (Get directions)
Summit County (Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne, A-Basin, Keystone) - When you put this group of vibrant communities together get ready for a good time
Summit County is Colorado’s most well-known area to take a summer or winter vacation. The communities Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Silverthorne and Dillon make up this winter ski and summer resort area. Each city has it’s own must see attractions, events, festivals and things to do. Summit County offers a visitor everything: world class skiing and riding, hikes for all abilities, mild to wild whitewater rafting, free concerts and festivals year around, all-inclusive sports competitions that challenge anyone’s athleticism and prowess as a runner, biker, skier, snowboarder, skater or hiker. 1hr and 27 mins from Denver (get directions)
The Citites and Unique Points of interest in Summit County
Breckenridge – Alpine Slide, Gold Run Roller Coaster, Octoberfest, guided historical town walks, Snow Sculpture Competition, Riverwalk Center
Dillon – The Lake Dillon Amphitheatre, The Lake Dillon Marina
Frisco – Adventure Fun Park (Tubing, Frisbee Golf, Norduc Skiing, Bike Park)
Keystone – Bacon Festival, Bluegrass festival, Snow Fort, Tubing, Outdoor ice skating
Silverthorne – Coming in 2017 Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Silverthorne Outlet Mall
Arapahoe Basin – Firemans Firehose Relay, Beer festival
Vail is prime Colorado for summer vacations or winter ski trip vacation vacations. Known as North American’s second largest ski resort, Vail’s European villages are prime for intimate festivals, high end shopping and an apres ski party that takes place every day during the ski season. In the summer, Vail is host to multiple free concerts at the Gerald R Ford Amphitheatre, great hiking and biking trails. The GoPro Mountain Games host amateur and adventure athletes from around the world as they compete in Gore Creek water sports, bouldering, trail running and more. It’s all topped off with great live music at night. 1hr and 39 mins from Denver (get directions)
Chaffee County (Salida, Monarch, Buena Vista)
Chaffee County is best known as a summer destination since it’s home to the Arkansas River Headwaters. This upper section of the Arkansas River is the most commercially rafted river the U.S. and during the summer it’s more affectionately referred to as the rubber highway. Whitewater adventurists, fishermen and summer vacationers converge to the Arkansas Valley to raft the whitewater, camp or enjoy America’s oldest and boldest whitewater festival, FIB ARK. Fibark is a 3 day festival focusing kayaking and rafting competitions, various races and a zaney parade. In the winter Chaffee County is best known as home to Monarch Ski Area. Monarch is a small family type ski area with some easy and expert terrain, but when closing weekend comes, the locals celebrate the upcoming rafting season with Kayaks on the snow races, down the slopes of Monarch Mountain.
As if that doesn’t make this area unique enough, Chaffee County is home to 12 14ers, and some beautifully set family friendly hot springs resorts. 3 hrs from Denver (get directions)
Roaring Fork Valley
Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale, Basalt and Glenwood Springs are part of the Roaring Fork Valley - a popular Colorado summer vacation and winter vacation getaway destination offering skiing, events, concerts, festivals, hiking, sports, scenic drives and more. Aspen is home to Maroon Bells (one of Colorado’s most photographed mountains) and the west side of Independence Pass, a popular Summer drive between Twin Lakes and Leadville that offers stunning views. Aspen is well known as host for events like the Ideas Institute, the X-Games, big time concerts and festivals, multiple ski and ride compeitions and more. Singer John Denver wrote two songs about Aspen after settling there. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson worked out of a downtown hotel and ran unsuccessfully for county sheriff in 1970. 15 miles separate Aspen and Snowmass Village. The Village is at the base of Snowmass mountain and is filled with restaurants, lodging, great views, concerts, ski and snowboard comps and festivals. Jazz Aspen Snowmass has taken place every Labor Day Weekend since 1991 and prides itself on featuring the best concert performers in the world. The Snowmass Rodeos has been taking place since 1973.
Also unique to the area is the Glenwood Springs pool, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Hanging Lakes. The Glenwood Springs Adventure Park takes thrill rides to another level as you’ll swing out over cliffs, ride on tracks that twist through mountain trails and tour caves that always leave visitors in awe. The Hanging Lakes hike isn’t easy, but the reward at the end is jaw dropping. There are a ton of events taking place all around multiple events but the Carbondale Mountain Fair is a must visit. 3hs 18 mins from Denver (get directions)
Southern Colorado Towns and Resorts
Leadville’s central location makes it an easy stop over to wherever you’re going on a Colorado getaway, summer vacation or winter vacation. There’s also plenty of things to do to keep you in Leadville for a few days. Overlooked by Colorado’s two highest peaks (Mt Massive – 14,428ft and Mt. Elbert – 14,400 ft), Leadville is the highest incorporated city and the second highest incorporated municipality in the United State. It has the most colorful history of any Colorado town and that history lives on through stories, architecture and museums. In fact, Leadville boasts more museums per capita than anywhere else. The Mineral Belt trail is the gem of the area. The 11.6 miles of paved trail is ADA accessible with numerous trailheads and access points. Approximately six miles of this trail meanders through the historic Leadville Mining District. It offers unsurpassed views of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges. In the winter time, the Mineral Belt Trail is groomed to transform into a path for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. Other winter things to do in Leadville include Ski Cooper, a small affordable and very family friendly ski resort. Two famous “can’t miss” Leadville events include the Ski Joring race that takes place the first weekend of March and Leadville Boom Days that takes place the first weekend of August. Other points of interest include the Leadville Colorado Scenic Railroad, four wheel drive trails, ghost towns, the majestic Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake. 1hr and 521 minutes from Denver (get directions)
Summer vacations in Colorado’s Royal Gorge region and Canon City have been taking place since the Bridge was built in 1929. The Royal Gorge region offers plenty of things to do for a family, group, or adventure seeker. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is 955 feet above and spans 880 feet across the Arkansas River and you see it by car, ATV, raft, helicopter, zip line, horseback, train, parachute, sky coaster swing, or just by walking if that’s your thing. Known as the lower part of the Arkansas River, rafting through the Royal Gorge is a great experience and you can expect big rapids in June and early July. After that, the river calms down a bit but it’s still the best whitewater adventure in the state of Colorado. The Royal Gorge region is uniquely known for it’s previous inhabitants, the dinosaurs, who have left their markings all over the area. This prehistoric Colorado history can be experienced and explored at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience Museum. 2hrs and 4 minutes from Denver (get directions)
Estes Park is Colorado’s best known summer vacation destination thanks to its location at Rocky Mountain National Park – American’s most visited National Park. In the summer, Rocky Mountain National Park comes alive with an abundance of beauty and activities. Trail Ridge Road guides vehicles through RMNP and connects Estes Park and Grand Lake, another Colorado destinations known for its spectacular summer. Several trail heads are found along Trail Ridge Road. It closes in the winter, but RMNP stays open to winter hikers and skiers. Estes Park is also home to the haunted Stanley Hotel, most famous for its role in the horror movie classic The Shining. Whether you’re staying there or not, you can always sign up to take a ghost tour of the hotel. 1hr and 25 mins from Denver (get directions)