Colorado’s cities hum and buzz with activity all year long. This winter, screaming deals await at our hippest urban hotels, which makes them affordable home bases for exploring socially distanced attractions and holiday affairs.
Plus, there’s the feel-good enticement of supporting local restaurants and shops in town as a standalone getaway — or before hitting the high-country slopes. The Front Range’s mild winters also keep outdoor activities on the roster of attractions even in colder months.
Each city’s COVID limitations may vary and change over time, so be sure to check websites before heading out and be flexible with your plans. In the meantime, these trip ideas can fuel your winter-weekender dreams!
- Night Lights Denver: Each Tuesday–Sunday evening, just 30 minutes after sunset, colorful artistic displays are projected onto Daniels & Fisher Tower for hours.
- Street-art walking tour: Put a hat and scarf on, and hit the streets to take in the city’s biggest canvases. You’ll pass plenty of places to pick up a belly-warming coffee, tea or craft brew along the way.
Soak Up the Scenery:
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre: No concerts? No problem. You can still climb those famous steps and scurry around the park’s famous hiking trails.
- Zipline tours: Take to the skies at aerial and zipline parks just outside Denver in Conifer, Idaho Springs and Castle Rock.
- Lariat Loop: Explore this close-to-town scenic byway, which zooms you through the geologic marvels that surround the city.
- Hit a round: There’s never a season to pass up watching your ball fly farther in our thin air, not to mention some of the area’s most stunning vistas.
- Cherry Creek North: Denver’s 16 walkably delightful blocks of retailers, galleries and eateries are perfect for a day or night of strolling and shopping, with snacks and cocktails in between.
- Wild Animal Sanctuary: East of Denver, walk down the world’s longest footbridge while scouting large cats and bears soaking up the winter sun.
- Dinosaur Ridge: West of Denver, download the audio tour and hit a dinosaur tracksite, including the world’s first Stegosaurus discovery.
- Shoppin' and strollin': Holiday shopping is over (hooray!), so it's time to treat yourself. Head to open-air retail hot spots like Old Colorado City, downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
- Skate in the Park: Grab some old-timey winter fun at Acacia Park’s ice rink. Rentals, glow sticks and mountain views are all available.
- Pikes Peak Highway: Drive the windy road to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak, where you'll catch stunning vistas of surrounding mountain ranges blanketed in crisp snow.
Thrills & Chills:
- Royal Gorge Bridge & Park: In nearby Cañon City, walk across one of the world’s highest suspension bridges and sign up for other stomach-flopping affairs.
- Zipline and aerial parks: Three locales will host your trapeze dreams — Soaring Adventures, Adventures Out West and Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours.
- Off-road tours: Colorado Jeep Tours and Play Dirty ATV Tours are open for getting muddy all year long.
- Climbing lessons: Front Range Climbing Company gets you out on a ledge in Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space and other geologic highlights.
One with Nature:
- Find a guide: A private tour guide can help you prioritize your Colorado Springs nature wishlist and make getting there and around easy peasy.
- Famous parks and trails: From Garden of the Gods to the Paint Mines, find your winter stroll on these COS routes.
- Cheyenne Mountain State Park: From archery to mountain biking, hiking and geocaching, spend the day in this natural gem.
- Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center: Several tours introduce you to the elusive wolves, coyotes and foxes at this sanctuary in Divide.
- Pearl Street shopping: The lights, the music, the independent shops and the countless places to grab a sweet treat that line Pearl Street make shopping a charming affair.
- Cozy picnics with local yum factor: Boulder is home to a plethora of food halls, serving up everything from arepas and vegan cakes to bao and burgers. Grab it to-go for a post-hike car picnic with views of the Flatirons (extra napkins are a plus) or, in many cases, have it delivered straight to your hotel.
- Love the Local Gift Boxes: Curated boxes of Boulder goods for foodies, dog lovers and more mean you can support Boulder businesses without leaving your couch!
One with Nature:
- Eldora Mountain Resort: Just 21 miles from Boulder, spend the day on Eldora’s alpine slopes and in the Nordic center (reservations required for both activities and adaptive lessons are available through Ignite Adaptive Sports). Then make the easy trek back to your hotel to order in from Boulder’s amazing restaurants.
- Winter trails: Boulder’s sheer proximity to the mountains means getting some fresh air in your lungs on a hike can be undertaken in an afternoon.
- Go fish: Winter is one of the best fishing seasons in Colorado, and Boulder won't disappoint when it comes to waterways, experienced guides and solid catches.
- Fat biking: See what all the fuss is about by renting a fat bike (be sure to get trail advice from your outfitter of choice) and glide atop the snow for miles.
- Lock in Your Love: In nearby Loveland, celebrate your love or friendship on Valentine's Day — or any day of the year — with personalized locks that you can affix to the city's famous love sculptures.
- Dine Under the Lights: Feast your eyes on the twinkling lights of downtown and just plain feast with takeout and goodies from the area's many local eateries.
- Made in Fort Collins: Support the city’s local artisans and craftspeople by treating yourself to goods from these makers.
- Craft coffee: It’s not just beer the locals brag about (although there’s plenty of that). Several shops are experimenting with nitro cold brews, unique blends and more. And well, speaking of beer after all, be sure to look for dozens of seasonal brews to get you in the holiday spirit.
One with Nature:
- Rent snowshoes: From Horsetooth Reservoir Lory State Park and dozens of other trails, local shops can point you in the direction of the best snow on any given day.
- Fat biking: They’re not kidding about winter biking up north, either. Hook up with an outfitter to get all the gear and the skinny on the best place to try your wheels.
- Spot bald eagles: Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area is designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Winter’s an excellent time to see our national symbol, as well as other raptors, songbirds and waterfowl.
Fun in the Wintry Sun:
- Fill Up at Mango House: Savor authentic international fare — like to-go boba, curries, fish, falafels and more — while supporting these local businesses.
- Ice Skating & Shopping at Southlands: Sprinkle shopping with twirls around the ice at The Pond at Southlands. Tickets can be purchased in advance!
One With Nature:
- Wilderness in the City: Go for a snowshoe excursion or hike on Sand Creek Regional Greenway, a 14-mile trail and natural area that’ll invigorate the senses with crisp winter air.
- Aurora Reservoir: Another natural gem to make you feel miles from urban stresses, snowshoe or hike around this natural area. Pop into the Senac Creek Nature Center to learn about the ecosystems you’re seeing.
Photos: Courtesy Visit Denver; Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens; Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau; Denver Botanic Gardens; Stanley Marketplace; Downtown Boulder; The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Downtown Fort Collins, Denver Botanic Gardens, Royal Gorge Bridge & Park