If you want to plan a trip to some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., Colorado should be at the top of your list. The Centennial State provides an endless amount of outdoor activities, mind-blowing views and great food for anyone who needs a change of pace in their daily routine.
Mountain ranges and sandy dunes mark must-see locations, while waterfalls and sparkling lakes offer a much-needed cool-down after a day of hiking. When it comes to visiting Colorado, your biggest obstacle is choosing what to do first. Book a vacation to this Western state and discover what natural marvels you can uncover during your stay.
Most Beautiful Vacation Spots in Colorado
Whether you’re a Colorado native or a vacationing tourist, there are plenty of amazing places to see in this expansive state. Charge your smartphones and digital cameras to ensure you get the best photos — you’ll be taking a lot during your stay. Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado:
1. Garden of the Gods
Colorado’s Garden of the Gods makes you marvel at how extraordinary Earth is. This 1,334-acre national landmark is home to magnificent rock formations, fossils of the dinosaur Theiophytalia kerri and a range of bird species. You’ll often see American crows and broad-tailed hummingbirds at specific points within the park, including many other familiar birds.
Swing by the Visitor and Nature Center to begin your group tour, or check out the numerous exhibits depicting the park’s flora and fauna. You’re also free to take a self-guided tour to trek through the park’s expansive trails. Don’t forget to look out for the park’s annual events, so you know when to schedule your next vacation.
2. Bridal Veil Falls
Head to the Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride to catch a glimpse of Colorado’s tallest waterfall. This astounding water feature is 365 feet high and requires a small hike if you plan on witnessing it in all its glory. On your way to the top, however, you can take a mountain bike or four-wheel drive to lighten the journey. With an elevation of 1,650 feet, this water feature is perfect for thrill-seekers who love walking among the clouds or adventurers who want a new experience.
3. Hanging Lake
The Hanging Lake appears to be something out of a fantasy or sci-fi movie — only it’s incredibly real and breath-taking. Water from the Bridal Veil Falls cascades into this green-hued water body, while the lake itself appears to hang on the edge of the rocks. This lake is a rare occurrence of a travertine geological formation. When you witness this otherwordly phenomenon in person, you won’t have to wonder why this spot earned a place among many other U.S. national landmarks.
Like Bridal Veil Falls, accessing the Hanging Lake requires a hike, though the exertion is well worth it. Resist the urge to take a dip in this water feature, though, to avoid disturbing the lake’s natural ecosystems. As one of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado, the beauty of these waters will make your tiredness melt away.
4. Mesa Verde National Park
Federal officials established this site in 1906 to protect the cultural heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people, who inhabited the area from 600 to 1300 A.D. before moving away. The park now preserves thousands of archaeological sites, which researchers protect and continually investigate. If you visit this rich historical location during your trip, stop by the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center to hop on a guided tour or explore the exhibits.
Although the park itself is always open, some events occurring at Mesa Verde only happen seasonally. Check the schedule ahead of time before departing on your adventure.
5. Pikes Peak
Who can go to Colorado without visiting Pikes Peak, one of the state’s well-known mountain ranges extending beyond 14,000 feet in elevation? Though this sounds like a monster to climb, you can cruise to the top by car or cog train. If you’re not afraid of the height, you can always hike on the Barr Trail to reach the summit — a 26-mile round trip.
There is virtually no limit to the activities you can do at Pikes Peak — you only need to pick the season. Visit the Cave of the Winds in the spring, or check out the Manitou Cliff dwellings in the fall. Additionally, this location’s proximity to Denver makes it a perfect stopping point on the way in or out of the city.
Most Beautiful Places to Stay in Colorado
You’ll need a place to stay during your journey, which calls for lodging in some of the prettiest towns in Colorado. Indulge in splendid views and get to know friendly citizens by shacking up in one of the most beautiful places to stay in Colorado. You’ll come back from your vacation well-rested and ready for the next adventure.
1. Frisco, Colorado
Frisco is a gateway town to some of Colorado’s most renowned ski resorts — and the magnificent Rocky Mountains — although it is certainly worth exploring on its own. Participate in events such as the Frisco Triathlon or Colorado BBQ Challenge or head down to Frisco Bay Marina for some fishing and kayaking. If you prefer to stay on land, you can always go to the Frisco Adventure Park for some fun activities.
2. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado, is a well-known spot for all the snowy fun you could ever dream of. Whether you’re into tubing or snowboarding, there’s something special for every person who loves the sight of powdery-white snow. Don’t forget the late-night entertainment, either — this city’s nightlife scene sparkles with excitement. Head over to a nearby club, lounge or tavern for a night of hitting the dance floor to your heart’s content.
If you’re more into the arts, visit places like the Wheeler Opera House or the Aspen Art Museum. This region’s range of diverse offerings, along with its snowy mountains, makes it one of the most beautiful places to stay in Colorado.
3. Telluride, Colorado
Telluride is a mining town known for its wealth of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowmobiling, rafting, rock climbing and much more. Make this city your go-to stop if you’re an outdoorsy person who loves being surrounded by nature. There’s an activity for everyone in the family — even the most nature-averse individual.
Explore this town’s rich arts and culture scene by attending a local concert or play. The Telluride Arts District operates as both an organization and a geographical location, featuring multiple galleries, theaters and art schools.
4. Boulder, Colorado
This colorful city sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains and provides gorgeous views of nearby sights, such as the Flatirons. Walk down Pearl Street and experience local charm among the shops and diners of this picturesque town. Zoom down the Peak to Peak Byway and witness its amazing scenery, or take the Eldorado and Creek Canyon Drive for a few hours of beautiful landscapes.
Boulder hosts a rich cultural scene, consisting of events like the Boulder Jewish Film Festival and the Boulder Comedy Show. There are also workshops and classes aplenty for those who like hands-on activity. Take a pottery class, create herbal salves or try your hand at cooking new dishes.
Best Beautiful and Unique Places in Colorado
Are you looking for attractions you can’t find anywhere else? If so, explore some of the best unique places in Colorado, characterized by their beauty and one-of-a-kind charm. No vacation is complete without visiting the region’s most unique spots:
1. The Million Dollar Highway
Load up your vehicle and coast along the Million Dollar Highway on an exciting road trip. Showcase your driving skills by handling the many curves of this winding road, which sits in the San Juan Mountains. You’ll see plenty of noteworthy points along the way, including naturally occurring hot springs and the Box Canyon waterfall.
Pull your phones out to snap photos of the San Juan National Forest as you drive by. Take note of the old cities you pass through, such as Durango and Silverton, and observe the ghost towns of the Red Mountain Mining District. This highway’s scenery can’t be understated — how often do you get such beautiful views for free?
2. The Broadmoor Seven Falls
Yet another location for water lovers, the Seven Falls is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Colorado. The Seven Falls is Colorado’s most famous waterfall, and it’s easy to see why. Sit back and observe the beauty of Mother Nature, or create some excitement by zip-lining or hiking on the property. The falls have a 181-foot drop and sit within steep box canyon, making for a lengthy but adventurous climb.
Walk along the Inspiration Point Trail for a longer hike, or stick to the Midnight Falls Trail for a shorter journey.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
There’s no shortage of activities to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. Your only problem is figuring out which to tackle first. This national park boasts over 300 miles of trails for you to explore, including Bear Lake, Twin Sisters and Glacier Gorge. If you love camping, you can reserve a spot in the park to get in early before the summer rush. Or, use the last weeks of winter to do some sledding and cross-country skiing before the snow melts.
Stop by the Grand Lake or Estes Park on your way in or out of Rocky Mountain to indulge in some modern amenities. Stay at either one of these cities for overnight lodging, or visit a locally owned store for a down-home shopping trip.
4. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Calling all music lovers — this location’s acoustics provide an out-of-this-world listening experience for musicians and concert-goers alike. Secure your tickets to the next concert at the amphitheater, or bring your hiking gear and work up a sweat in the Red Rocks Park. Take the Red Rocks Trail if you want to ride horseback, or follow Mt. Vernon Creek Trail for fantastic views of the nearby amphitheater.
You can also take up lodging at the Origin Red Rocks Hotel or rough it in the great outdoors by reserving a camping site.
5. Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry
Put on your thinking cap and become an archeologist at the Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry, home to fossils over 150 million years old. It may not be your idea of Jurassic Park, but it provides an equally fascinating adventure. This 55-acre location has contributed significantly to the discovery of previously unknown animals, painting a clearer picture of what Earth might’ve looked like so many years ago.
Its unique history only adds to its beauty. It has yielded fossils from dinosaurs such as the Torvosaurus and Ceratosaurus. Take a trip to this unique quarry in the Uncompahgre National Forest and see what discoveries you make. This location’s artifacts cement its rank among the best unique places in Colorado.
Most Photographed Beautiful Places in Colorado
Everyone loves an Instagram-worthy vacation, and those photos serve as an eternal reminder of your exciting trips. Though Colorado has hundreds of regions with eye-catching features, some are especially popular with photographers. See a few of Colorado’s most photographed areas, and remember to bring your camera along.
1. San Juan Skyway
Coast down the San Juan Skyway and feast your eyes upon views of the San Juan Mountains and nearby towns, like Ouray, Dolores and Telluride. This stretch of road includes the Million Dollar Highway, which sits between Ouray and Silverton. The San Juan Skyway’s 235-mile loop has no shortage of landmarks and historical sites to observe along the way. The entire trip takes seven hours to complete, so hook up the AUX cord if you plan to drive the whole route.
2. Zapata Falls
With its luxurious views and fascinating animals, this 25-foot waterfall is one of the best places to visit in Colorado. You can view the Great Sand Dunes from the parking lot, along with the San Juan Mountains and San Luis Valley. You’ll need to take a short hike to access the fall, so bring your best pair of mountain boots.
The falls freeze during the cold season, but they still provide an otherworldly view for visitors. Take a few photos of this water feature while it’s frozen in time. Keep your eyes open for the American black swift bird during your travels, as it prefers to make its nests in rocky areas like the Zapata Falls.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The San Luis Valley hosts a range of mountainous dunes, known as the tallest ones in North America. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado, along with being one of the most photographed regions. Take an inner tube onto the Medano Creek, or try a different type of sledding by zooming down the side of one of the massive dunes.
The park is open to guests year-round, though you may want to note particular events throughout the year. Check out the Great Sand Dunes Annual Astronomy Event for a chance to watch the stars.
4. Maroon Bells
This location earns the title of one of the best unique places in Colorado due to its snow-capped mountains and mirror-like reflective lake. The Maroon Bells reportedly hold the distinction of being the most photographed mountains in Colorado, and once you experience them in person, you’ll see why. This region features the Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, along with the stupefying Maroon Lake and an amphitheater. Various trails give you a chance to explore the wilderness on foot.
This site is close to Aspen, Colorado, so be sure to stop by for a look if you’re in the area.
Visit Giordano’s in Denver, CO
As you pass through Colorado, don’t forget the most essential part of your journey — food! Colorado offers a range of delicious cuisines, with Giordano’s in Denver topping the list for the best Chicago-style pizza. Luckily for you, you don’t have to drive up to Illinois to indulge in a delectable stuffed deep dish. Visit us at 1600 California Street or order online to sample everything from pizzas to salads to starters.
Our Denver location offers delivery and pickup, as well as a full wine and beer bar when you stop in for a bite. We’ve been serving Chicago’s best pizza since 1974, with our recipe originating from a small town near Torino, Italy. Come by and taste the excellence for yourself.