With its relaxing hot springs, haunting ghost towns, breathtaking views, and hip hotels, Colorado is high on our list of top travel destinations. No matter what time of year you go or how many times you visit, a Colorado vacation offers an endless array of activities, from skiing to rafting to hiking. It's the ideal backdrop for a getaway with friends, romantic escape, or family trip. Check out some of the most breathtaking places to visit in the state (and the whole world, to be honest), and then start planning your Colorado vacation.
The Colorado Destination: Crested Butte, warm-weather edition
The Experience: Crested Butte is a beautiful destination that's full of potential adventures. In the summertime, you can paddleboard, fly fish, rock climb, hike, or simply laze around the river. If you prefer a little direction while exploring a new place, stay at the Sopris House or Scarp Ridge Lodge, both of which are run by Eleven Experiences, a company that marries upscale lodging, gourmet dining, and curated itineraries with hospitable experts guiding you throughout your stay.
The Colorado Destination: Crested Butte, cold-weather edition
The Experience: Located in an 1882 converted saloon, the Sopris House is an upscale lodge full of character. It's operated by the aforementioned Eleven Experiences, a company that's amazing at curating travel adventures. For skiers who love pristine powder and a challenge, you're in for a treat. Due to elevation, Crested Butte is known for its cat skiing (a term for superb, untouched-powder skiing) since it gets about 500 inches of snow each season, which is way above the average resort.
The Colorado Destination: Telluride
The Experience: Like Crested Butte, Telluride is a place that anyone will fall in love with no matter the season. Plus, it's a bit more down-to-earth than Aspen and Vail. Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the charming town is lined with authentic saloon-like bars, boutique gourmet eateries, and old-school chop houses. If you visit during the winter, hit the slopes or go helicopter skiing and dog sledding. In the summer, you can do anything from riding around the backcountry in an old Jeep to river rafting, fly fishing, and hiking. You can also check out any number of mountain springs, including Blue Lakes, Hope Lake, and Navajo Lake. Book a room at the Dunton Town House for an intimate stay.
The Colorado Destination: Manitou Springs
The Experience: Manitou Springs, located outside of Colorado Springs, is a true gem, complete with 1000-year-old Anasazi (the Ancestral Puebloans) cliff-dwelling ruins in the Mesa Verde National Park and a Victorian-era castle museum and tea room. You can also see a beautiful waterfall at Rainbow Falls and check out one of the eight natural mineral springs around town. Stay at the quaint Holden House for a charming bed-and-breakfast experience.
The Colorado Destination: Denver
The Experience: Denver is the perfect urban adventure for anyone who likes midsize cities. It's easy to navigate and doesn't feel claustrophobic while offering the endless cultural excursions, gourmet dining experiences, and fun nightlife that you'd expect from large cities. Make sure you visit the Denver Art Museum and check out the breweries in the RiNo neighborhood. Stay at the Crawford Hotel, which is in the old Denver Union Station, or at The Maven Hotel for a boutique experience.
The Colorado Destination: Dunton Springs, warm-weather edition
The Experience: Located in a Western ghost town in the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is the rustic escape for families that want to experience the great outdoors without compromising luxury or comfort. Dunton offers perma-tents, tepees, and cabins for lodging. This remote destination hotel will get you off the beaten path and out of your comfort zone in the most luxurious way possible.
The Colorado Destination: Dunton Springs, cold-weather edition
The Experience: Though the hot springs are a beautiful and relaxing place to soak in during the warmer months, they're arguably even better once winter rolls around. Relax your muscles in the warm mineral springs after a long day of snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and ice skating.
The Colorado Destination: Colorado Springs
The Experience: Super close to Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs is also in the Pikes Peak region. While you're there, you have to see the park known as the Garden of the Gods. As its title implies, it's pretty otherworldly. With incredible, oddly shaped sandstone rock formations, you'll want to spend all day there. You should also pay a visit to the Royal Gorge Bridge, an insanely high, dramatic bridge between the canyons. Then head to the upscale resort Broadmoor.
The Colorado Destination: Boulder
The Experience: This gorgeous crystal-blue mountain scene captures Loch Lake, which is in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a day trip here to see the national wonder and spend the rest of your vacation enjoying the charming college town of Boulder. Stay at the St. Julien and enjoy a spa treatment or book a room at the hip, adult-only Basecamp Hotel for a quintessential Colorado vibe.
The Colorado Destination: Aspen
The Experience: Everywhere you look in Aspen, the views will take your breath away, especially if you stay at the historic Hotel Jerome. It's the ultimate mountain resort town any time of year, with world-class shopping, delicious food spots, and gorgeous scenery. During the winter, you can ski in Snowmass or Highland Bowl. In the summer, try to plan your trip to attend the wine and food festival or the annual jazz festival. Catch a show at Belly Up, party on the mountain at Cloud Nine, eat at Matsuhisa, or cross-country ski to dinner at the remote Pine Creek Lodge.
The Colorado Destination: Glenwood Springs
The Experience: Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon is a summer dream (though it's also incredibly breathtaking in winter when the cascading water freezes). The Colorado River snakes through the center of town, and there's plenty to do outside of this park, making it a lovely destination on its own or a great day trip if you're staying in Aspen.
The Colorado Destination: Vail
The Experience: If Aspen isn't quite your scene, then head to Vail instead. It's equally idyllic (it was modeled after European mountain resorts), pedestrian-friendly, and lovely, offering a small collection of boutiques and restaurants for visitors. Ride up and down the gondolas for mountain views in every direction and ski the unique back bowls.