Things to do in Colorado in the Summer
Colorado may be most know for it's ski slopes, and towns like Aspen and Vail, but there is so much beauty to be discovered during its summer season! I lived there for a year, and these are my favorite places and experiences.
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Where to stay in Colorado
The Little Nell
At the base of Ajax Mountain, Aspen’s only ski-in/ski-out hotel is the spot for a lively après scene, top people watching and personalized service.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Hotel Jerome Aspen
An Aspen icon on Main Street, done up in a winning mix of Old West-style and modern amenities.
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Daily Full breakfast for two guests per bedroom
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Dunton Hot Springs
An alpine valley ghost town turned private resort, with a bathhouse and spa, and on-tap mountain adventures.
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Things to do in Colorado
Visit Dushanbe Tea House for lunch or afternoon tea
This beautiful building celebrates Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan, and the menu is inspired by destinations across the globe. Easily my favorite restaurant in all of Colorado!
Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)
Possibly my favorite place in Colorado. Take the drive up Trail Ridge Road and experience the Alpine Tundra. (Be sure to pack a warm jacket! It's very windy and chilly.) You’ll enjoy sweeping mountain views and keep your eye out for wildlife, you’re likely to spot Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn Antelope and many other little creatures. Allow at least a half a day for this 50 mile drive, which starts in Estes Park and ends in Grand Lake.
Stop at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park
Stop at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park on your way into RMNP and see where “The Shining” was filmed.
Hike Hanging Lake Hike outside of Glenwood Springs
This gorgeous spot is worth the (very steep!) climb to get there. There are two waterfalls feeding into one of the most beautiful lakes in Colorado.
Shop & Dine at Pearl St Mall in Downtown Boulder, CO
A fun a walkable outdoor mall, Pearl Street has a little something for everyone and there are great events happening on most days. Attend a free outdoor yoga class or enjoy some live music and your beverage of choice.
Take the train from Durango to Silverton
Take this train for a fun experience for the whole family! A little old fashioned entertainment with a view.
Visit a ghost town, and learn about Colorado’s gold mining heritage.
My favorite is St. Elmo!
Take a swim
If you’re getting a little overheated in the lower elevations, take a swim in one of the beautiful lakes. Grand Lake is my favorite, but Boulder Reservoir and Boyd Lake are also popular.
Sled down the sand dunes in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and stay late to watch for shooting stars
It’s one of the best dark sky viewing locations and the park frequently has starry-themed events overnight.
Drive through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park
Drive for awe-inspiring view of solid granite canyons. Be sure to stop at the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose, CO, too.
Head to Mesa Verde National Park
To see the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people. If you want to go inside the houses, you need to have a ticket for a ranger-led tour.
Places to eat & drink in Colorado
Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, CO for afternoon tea or an international lunch.
Lucky’s Bakehouse in Boulder, CO for gluten free treats.
Ceaira’s Sweet Shop in Grand Lake, CO for post-park ice cream and nostalgia.
Pigtrain Coffee Co in Union Station, Denver for classic coffees and teas in a beautiful and historic train station.
Yak & Yeti in Boulder, CO Indian-Nepalese fare with lots of vegetarian options.
River & Woods in Boulder, CO located in a cute cottage with a backyard, serving homestyle American food.
Osaka Ramen in Denver, CO for delicious ramen with gluten free options.
Hotel Colorado Restaurant & Bar in Glenwood Springs, CO for American food in a historic setting.
Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails in Vail, CO for mountain-style cuisine.
Treff Cafe in Vail, CO for amazing coffee and sweets in a European style cafe.
The Wild Fig in Aspen, CO for elegant Mediterranean fare.
Paradise Bakery & Cafe in Aspen, CO for sweets, ice cream and coffee.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Unveiling Paradise: A 7-Day Itinerary for Exploring Costa Rica's Natural Wonders.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colorado.