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Things to Do in Colorado

Phoenix’s fair skies and warm temps draw winter-weary travelers to this sun-drenched corner nicknamed the Valley of the Sun. The capital of Arizona, Phoenix serves as home to a variety of cultural institutions. Join a small-group or private tour to experience the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, and the unique Museum of Musical Instruments. Or follow your guide to the Desert Botanical Garden, which showcases the abundant flora of the Southwest, which thrives in the hot, arid climate. Check out plentiful golf courses and ballparks that serve as baseball spring training facilities and home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Foodies will find plenty to love: Book a culinary tour that tempts with Southwestern fare and wine and beer tastings. Beyond the metropolitan city, discover the dry, rugged desert landscape on an all-terrain vehicle tour, a hiking tour via one of the many trails, or on a horseback excursion. Or reach for the skies with a hot-air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert at sunrise or sunset, with just a splash of Champagne. Phoenix makes a great departure point for forays to see the Grand Canyon’s Painted Desert. Or venture to points north, such as Sedona for its magnificent Red Rocks and nearby American Indian ruins.
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Arkansas River
37 Tours and Activities

Flowing through four states, the Arkansas River is the sixth longest river in the United States. Its source basin and Arkansas River Canyon can be found in Colorado, where it is a popular spot to go whitewater rafting. It runs past the Rocky Mountains and drops extensively as it flows through the valley, creating the conditions that are good for rafting and kayaking. Depending on the section of the river there is everything from Class IV and V rapids to gentler II and III sections that are ideal for beginners. Waters weave scenically in and through canyons and gorges surrounded by thick forest and snow-capped peaks.

Aside from boating and fishing, visitors to the Arkansas River often utilize the facilities and the beautiful backdrop for activities such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, birding, and rock climbing. There is also great fly fishing in this part of the river, particularly for trout.

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Rocky Mountain National Park
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Colorado is synonymous with the Rocky Mountains, and the activities and beauty of the Rockies comes together at Rocky Mountain National Park.

More than 350 miles (563 km) of hiking trails wind through the park, with wildlife-spotting opportunities including elk, bighorn sheep and moose.

Alpine wildflowers fill the valleys in spring, and cross-country skiers hit the slopes here in winter. Cyclists follow Trail Ridge Road, while hikers can walk to lakes following the Bear Lake Trailhead, Fern Lake trail and easy walks to Calypso Cascades and Gem Lake.

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Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
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Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a music venue unlike any other—a sandstone stadium forged by the elements and blessed with natural acoustics. Many musicians have taken to this stage, and when shows are in town, Red Rocks can host over 9,500 concertgoers, all in for a treat beyond the music: stellar views of the natural Colorado landscape.
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Garden of the Gods
9 Tours and Activities

Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods is not an average city park with duck ponds and walking paths. Instead, this urban park—which is also a designated National Landmark—boasts 1,367 acres of unique wilderness, Great Plains grassland and juniper woodlands.

The most iconic section of the park is the towering ridge of sandstone formations that reveal 300 million years of geological history. Famous red rock formations include the Balanced Rock, the Gateway Rock and the Three Graces, and among the crags and overhangs, visitors can spot petroglyphs from the Native American Ute tribe that once roamed these lands. The park came to be in 1909 after landowner Charles Perkins requested that his property be donated to the city upon his death. In line with his final wishes, the park remains free and open to the public.

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Historic Downtown Durango
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The heart of Durango is a nationally registered historic district where visitors can walk in the footsteps of the miners and railroad workers who helped settle the Wild West, though today’s Durango is quite a bit more upscale that it was when William Jackson Palmer settled the area in the late 1800s. Historic attractions include the original Strater Hotel, built in 1887, and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which still carries passengers between the two towns along the Animas River. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Museum sits at the back of the railyard with exhibits describing the history of the town and the railway.

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Pikes Peak Highway
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The Pikes Peak Highway offers an easy, scenic route to the top of iconic Pikes Peak. The 19-mile, paved toll road was originally built in 1915, and the entrance begins at 7,400 feet before climbing all the way to the top of the 14,115-foot summit. One of the best views of the peak can be found at the pullout between mile markers seven and eight. Along the way you can make a pit stop at the historic Glen Cove Inn, a cabin-turned-rest stop area featuring a gift shop, restaurant and restrooms.
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Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
7 Tours and Activities
The final resting place of Wild West showman extraordinaire William “Buffalo Bill” Cody sits atop Lookout Mountain on the outskirts of Golden, Colorado, where grave marker itself overlooks a panoramic view of the Rock Mountains. Since Cody’s burial here in 1917, which had some 20,000 fans in attendance, the mountain attraction has also grown to include a museum devoted to his life.
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Colorado State Capitol Building
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Reminiscent of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Colorado State Capitol Building sitting high atop Denver is not just a 24 karat gold-domed meeting place for the Colorado General Assembly, but also an homage to the American governmental process, as well as a truly beautiful archeological wonder.

Built a mile high above sea level, as denoted by the markings inscribed upon its steps, the Colorado State Capital Building has incredible views of downtown Denver, and a history that tells of the days of the Gold Rush and the incredible use of the beautiful Colorado Rose Onyx used to build the interior of the capitol and the designs of dignitaries engraved therein. It is said that the entire known supply of this rare marble was exhausted in making of the Colorado State Capitol.

Tours will tell of early Colorado history, the Capitol construction, the origin of several stained glass windows, the Woman’s Gold Tapestry.

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More Things to Do in Colorado

Larimer Square

Larimer Square

12 Tours and Activities
Larimer Square is the oldest part of Denver, with Victorian-era buildings now home to many of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The foundation of Colorado’s capital, the 2-block district is popular with locals and tourists alike, strolling beneath strings of lights and state flags.
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Molly Brown House Museum

Molly Brown House Museum

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Visitors may know Margaret “Molly” Brown in association with the RMS Titanic, but there was much more to her life than the ill-fated voyage for which she became famous. An activist, suffragist, and philanthropist, Brown’s spirit lives on through educational tours, exhibits, and programming inside her restored historic Denver home.
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Mount Evans

Mount Evans

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Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo)

Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo)

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A lively district of restaurants, shops, and nightlife, Lower Downtown Denver (or LoDo) is a top destination for Denver culture. In addition to its vibrant scene, though, LoDo is also home to some of the city’s best-preserved historic architecture and more Victorian–era buildings than anywhere else in the United States.
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Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

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It’s just a short drive from downtown Denver, but Lookout Mountain feels like another world. Once used as a lookout for the Native American Ute tribe that called the area home, the 7,300-foot (2,225-meter) mountain has miles of hiking and mountain biking trails throughout, from easy walking paths to strenuous switchbacks. From the summit, you can see the Denver skyline 12 miles (19 kilometers) away.
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Browns Canyon National Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument

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The Browns Canyon National Monument is an area around the Arkansas River that's long been a popular recreational area. The nearly 22,000-acre area of the Arkansas River that is contained within the Browns Canyon National Monument is the United States' most popular place for whitewater rafting. It is also popular for its hiking and fishing opportunities. Prior to becoming a National Monument in 2015, the area had also been popular with hunters. With the designation, animals such as bighorn sheep, elk, and golden eagles are more protected.

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Denver 16th Street Mall

Denver 16th Street Mall

7 Tours and Activities

Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a beautiful tree-lined, pedestrian area at the heart of the city. This downtown promenade of red and gray granite is a bustling center, popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to an abundance of outdoor cafes, shops and restaurants among renovated historic buildings and modern glass skyscrapers.

The mall boasts more than 300 shops and more than 50 restaurants in a 16-block stretch of 16th Street. Some of the most popular spots include Niketown and Virgin Records’ Megastore, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe and Rock Bottom Brewery, where you can enjoy a hearty selection of draft craft beer. Along with great shopping and dining, the mall is also a hub for local street performers, with a delightful range folk and country singers performing amid dancers.

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Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

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Denver, Colorado is home to the United States’ largest nonprofit theater organization, and the city’s Center for the Performing Arts offers an incredible variety of live shows in its ten performance venues. From their own theater company to Broadway shows, Cabaret, and “Off-Center” plays, nearly every type of theater can be found here. As such the center has everything from a concert hall to an opera house, an auditorium, a ballroom, and four major theaters. The structure stretches across four city blocks and nearly 12 acres, with over 10,000 seats in front of its stages. Its impressive 80 foot glass roof tops it all off, making it the largest performing arts center in the country as well.
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Denver Mint

Denver Mint

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Reach into your pocket or change drawer and pull out a handful of U.S. pennies. Look carefully at their fronts—chances are most will have a small letter “D” just below the date. This is the mint mark for the Denver Mint, one of only a handful of facilities that produces U.S. currency. This particular location is a byproduct of the days when Denver was a gold-mining hub. When gold was found in Colorado in 1858, hundreds of merchants, miners and settlers moved in to claim their stake. A year later, Denver was founded, and several years after that, in 1863, the government decided to develop a mint facility here. In addition to producing money people use every day, the Denver Mint also stamps out a variety of not-in-circulation commemorative coins.

The grand architecture of the massive Renaissance-style 1904 mint building itself is worth checking out. To go inside, visitors must sign up for one of the free tours, which includes historical exhibits, vaults and gold bars.

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Denver Art Museum (DAM)

Denver Art Museum (DAM)

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The Denver Art Museum is recognized for its prized Native American collection, the country’s largest. Spanning the US and Canada, from prehistoric times to the present, the hugely varied collection ranges from basketry and beadwork to paintings and sculpture.

The art museum also has enviable Asian, European and US collections, and a comprehensive African gallery of paintings, sculptures and artifacts.

Iconic works by artists from the American west underscore Denver’s Rocky Mountains location and history, and the museum’s photography collection includes more than 7,000 images.

Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts a varied calendar of temporary traveling exhibitions.

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Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur Ridge

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Denver Civic Center Park

Denver Civic Center Park

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Denver Civic Center Park was created more than 100 years ago as the civic heart for the city of Denver. The urban green space is the site of the Colorado State Capitol, and arching footpaths across the park offer a chance to stroll among the gardens and marvel at the surrounding architecture, including the Denver City and County Building, the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Central Library. The park is also home to the Greek Theater and the historic Carnegie Library.
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Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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A premier education center in America’s Southwest, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science boasts a planetarium, an IMAX theater, and a wide range of exhibits that showcase the biological and geological history of Earth and the universe. Exhibits range from ancient artifacts to interactive virtual-reality zones the whole can family can explore.
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