5 Colorado Attractions You Can’t Afford to Miss

If you’re planning a trip to Colorado for the first time you may be wondering where to start. Like most, you probably only have a limited amount of time to explore. Where do you start? What should you see? Here are 5 attractions you can’t afford to miss.

1. Garden of the Gods

Do you enjoy geology and wacky rock formations? Ever wanted to see two rocks that look like camels kissing?

At the foot of Pikes Peak, you’ll find a tourist attraction like no other. Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center in Colorado Springs is known for views of spectacular rock formations. First-time visitors typically describe the park as nothing short of breathtaking.

The red rock formations look like vertically faulted “fins” that were caused by an uplift from the rocky mountains and Pikes Peak. Visitors can explore the park through scenic hikes and guided tours. Guests are also encouraged to stop by the Visitor and Nature Center to learn the history of the park and grab a few souvenirs.

2. The Manitou Incline

While you’re in Colorado Springs, plan a day to visit The Manitou Incline or as locals call it, “The Incline.” This popular landmark is found in Manitou Springs, which is only 20 minutes west of Garden of the Gods. Do you like steps? If so, you’re in the right place.

The Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry building materials to Pikes Peak. After a rock slide in 1990, it was shut down. Years later it reopened with the railroad ties intact, which formed a giant staircase.

Today, it serves as a training ground for first responders, military personnel, athletes, and a popular hike for locals. Regardless of motivations, The Incline is a right of passage for all Coloradans.

The trail takes anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours to complete and is the ultimate test of cardiovascular strength. During the climb, challengers gain up to 2,000 feet in elevation in less than a mile. Now that’s steep! Once at the top, hikers enjoy incredible views of Manitou Springs. In order to make your way back to the parking lot, hikers zigzag down the side of the mountain, which is known as Barr Trail.

3. Rocky Mountain National Park

If you plan to spend time in Northern Colorado make sure to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors enjoy 415 square miles of majestic views. Coloradans visit the park to hike, camp, bike, fish, and ride horseback.

Visitors can explore historic backcountry cabins, old roads, and trails that once served the Ute and Arapahoe tribes. Trudge through deep woods, open tundra, switchbacks, and valleys throughout the park. Experience an up-close look at wildlife, waterfalls, creeks, and lakes.

4. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Morrison, Colorado is home to the world famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. The amphitheater is a favorite venue to legendary musicians, such as John Denver, Sting, U2, and The Beetles.

The outdoor concert hall is a geological phenomenon made up of two 300-foot Ship Rocks and Creation Rocks. The structures form the amphitheater walls, which create natural acoustics for musical performances.

During the day, the venue often holds yoga classes, group exercise camps, and meditation sessions. Since the park is open to the public, you’ll find many locals enjoying the space.

The amphitheater is surrounded by 738 acres of land, known as Red Rock Park. The park is full of deer, pines, and prairie. Visitors are invited to explore through guided tours, hiking, and biking trails.

5. Casa Bonita

Casa Bonita is a local favorite to many Coloradans. You probably won’t find 5-star Yelp reviews for the food, but the theatrics are great. This local Mexican eatery is known for their exciting stage shows, musicians, amusement arcade, and gift shop.

Shows include staged gunfights, gorillas, pirates, flash mobs, and more. They’re always a hit with the kids. You’ll find Casa Bonita in Lakewood, Colorado. The restaurant is hard to miss with its 85-foot tall pink tower. Guests are welcomed by a large fountain, which was shipped over from Mexico in several pieces. Inside you’ll find a 22-karat gold leaf plated ceiling that features a statue of the Aztec emperor – Quahuatemec. With 52,000 square feet of room and seating for 1,000 guests, expect a show you won’t forget.

Whether you’re visiting Colorado for the first time or a returning guest, you can’t miss these unique attractions. Contact me today if you’re looking for more fun things to do near you!