We moved to Colorado in July 2019 and spent a couple of months off from work traveling and exploring our new state. Here is a guide of what first-time visitors should see and do while in this beautiful state: a Colorado Bucket List from a Local!
Since moving here, we have visited many of the popular tourist attractions, cities, parks, and restaurants.
This guide will provide an overview of the state, so plan accordingly depending on where you will be staying during your visit!
Within this guide, you will find links to additional posts that go further into detail about specific cities and areas in Colorado (Coming Soon!). As locals, we seek to provide you with the honest truth about this beautiful state!
Once you visit this state once, you are guaranteed to be hooked and will visit again soon! Continue reading for more on our Colorado Bucket List!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Top Colorado Cities to Explore
Longmont had to be first on our Colorado bucket list because we live here! This city was recently named the fastest-growing city in the US!
Surrounded by beautiful parks and open space, downtown Longmont is bustling with a Main Street of shops, delicious restaurants, and breweries.
Longmont is a small and fairly quiet town (although it is growing rapidly!), and is only 20-30 minutes from Boulder, and under an hour from Denver!
Boulder is another Colorado bucket list must! It is is a busy college town, and has so much to do! The Pearl Street Mall is a common place for both visitors and locals to hang out, as there are many shops and restaurants to explore here.
Boulder was previously named the happiest place in the US, and it is clear why, with the mountains always being your backdrop!
Denver is the Capital of Colorado, and provides a city feel amongst the mountains! Here, you can explore Union Station, a popular hangout spot, or enjoy the city life!
Denver has a population of only just over 600,000, so it is never too difficult to get around. Explore the many shops and restaurants, attend a concert, go to a club, or visit museums!
Read more about interesting things to do in Denver!
Here is a city in northern Colorado, whose downtown inspired Disneyland’s Main Street USA! Fort Collins has a bustling downtown, full of boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants, and breweries.
It is also home to the famous New Belgium Fat Tire beer. When you’re not eating, drinking, or shopping, there are plenty of beautiful parks and reservoirs to explore in the area!
Colorado Springs is the largest city by area in Colorado. Visit the infamous Pikes Peak, walk around the Garden of the Gods, and explore the downtown area full of lively nightlife, unique restaurants, and shopping! Colorado Springs has a small-town feel, with big city vibes!
Even if you are not a skier, you should still check out the ski towns! Breckenridge, Aspen, Buena Vista, & Vail are amongst the more popular ski towns.
Top Colorado Parks to visit
Rocky Mountain National Park is an absolute Colorado bucket list MUST. You will need to pay to enter; however, if you have a national park pass (around $80/year), you can get in for free!
This park is one of the most popular parks in Colorado. You will see Elk and other wildlife, especially in the town previous to the park, Estes Park! Elk roams all throughout the town, especially during rut season. Don’t go near them though as they can be dangerous.
There are plenty of hikes to do in here, for all skill levels. There are also plenty of roads to drive to certain viewpoints.
Cub Lake is an easy-moderate level hike, and the views are beautiful! You can also pack a picnic, or do some camping in the park as well!
If you can, try to see a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre! The outdoor venue is an amazing place to watch an artist, so see who is playing during your trip!
If not, there are plenty of easy hikes in the area with amazing views. Bring a picnic, go for a quick hike, or spend some time admiring the gorgeous huge red rocks!
An appropriately named park, due to its insane beauty. Over 1,300 acres of sandstone formations, some 300 feet high! The park is free, so you can visit whenever, and as many times as you like!
The park does not involve any intense hiking or hills, making it a great attraction for families and those of all ages. The geological formations are stunning, and is definitely worth a visit!
Parking can be a bit of a challenge during peak visit days/hours, so try to get there early to claim a good spot! Otherwise, you will need to park in the front lot, where you will need to walk into the park.
Among the great Rocky Mountains, you will find a vast open space of the tallest sand dunes in North America. Here, you can go for a drive through the park, take a tour with a ranger, or even go sledding down the sand dunes!
If you have a national park pass, you can use it here to get free entry into the park. Pack a picnic, go for the day, or get a campsite!
Mesa Verde has 5000+ archeological sites that spread across over 40 miles of roads! The cliff dwellings were home to Ancestral Pueblo people from 600 to 1300 CE. There are several panoramic canyon views and rock carvings, with plenty of history to learn!
Because this is a National Park, you can also use your park pass here for free entry! If not, tickets are about $15 per vehicle.
Other Activities to Try in Colorado
Colorado has many natural hot springs throughout the state. After a long day of hiking or skiing, or just a weekend of relaxation, take a trip to one of the many hot springs in the area. In some places, you can stay at a resort, giving you a night or a weekend of peace and rejuvenation!
Hike a 14er
While this might not be the smartest idea to do during a few day trip to Colorado, this is something we have found to be on most Coloradans bucket lists.
A 14er is a mountain with an elevation of 14,000 feet. There are 58 14ers in Colorado, so if you decide to try it out, there are plenty of difficulty levels to choose from. Make sure you do your research before trying this and get all the right equipment!
View some wildlife
While you can view wildlife like elk, bears, deer, bison, and bighorn sheep during hikes in the mountain, there are other places you can find wildlife.
From the comfort of your car, you can view Colorado wildlife at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Located near the airport, you can drive 11 miles through the park viewing different wildlife in their natural habitat. Go early in the morning or right before sunset and it is an almost guarantee you will see something!
If you want to see some more natural wildlife, simply take a drive up into the mountains!
Want to see elk? Go to Estes Park.
Want to see moose? Go to Brainard Lake.
Want to see bison? You might see some wild ones going into the mountains near the Golden, CO area.
Thank you for reading Colorado Bucket List from a Local! If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below- we would love to hear from you!