Colorado is one of the most beautiful destinations in the country. From the beautiful slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the city life of Denver and Boulder, you won’t be bored visiting this part of the country. With more than 300 days of sunshine, four seasons, and plenty to do for every type of traveler—Colorado is a bucket list destination for every adventurer. One week isn’t enough fully take advantage of everything the state has to offer but here’s an insider’s guide to where to go and what to do in just seven days. This trip isn’t for the faint of heart or the unadventurous. Colorado has a lot to offer and we just challenged you to do it all in a week.
Pro Tip: Denver, and Colorado in general, is at a much higher altitude than most of the country. Make sure to prepare yourself for the possibility of altitude sickness—a serious condition that can ruin your trip if you’re not careful.
Start in Denver. Whether you fly or drive, starting in Denver gives you a central base camp to begin your Colorado adventure week.
Lower Downtown, or LoDo as locals call it, is full of everything from art galleries to Coors Field to some of Denver’s hippest places. Denver’s craft brewery and foodie culture are gaining popularity with those who live here and travelers from across the globe. Restaurants like El Five, AVANTI, Milk Market, and Howl at the Moon will give you a taste of Colorado’s capital like no other.
Everything flows through Denver. Within a 20-minute drive, you can venture to Red Rocks—one of the most beautiful outdoor amphitheaters on the planet. Featuring a summer concert series that brings some of the biggest musicians, comedians, and others to town, it’s worth planning a one week trip around, depending on who’s playing a given night.
Boulder is just a 45-minute trip north of Denver and offers a completely different take on Colorado. It’s a college town with plenty of open space and a hippie vibe, but the same great food and beer creativity you’ll find across the state.
Take a stroll down the historic Pearl Street Mall—reminiscent of open-air malls you’ll find on the West Coast. With art galleries, jewelers, odds and ends shops, and more, you’ll enjoy a leisurely day of shopping paired with a great meal during your trek through Boulder. Consider Blackbelly or Santo for some of the best green chile outside New Mexico; Il Pastaio for some of the best pasta this side of the world; or Sushi Zanmai, a zany disco ball-fueled experience. Street performers and musicians will keep you entertained all day long.
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Downtown Boulder are hiking destinations, skiing at Eldora during the season, scenic glider flights, and hot air balloon rides for the adventurous spirits visiting the town.
About an hour southwest of Boulder, Colorado, lies Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and a host of wilderness destinations that can't be properly experienced in just a day. If possible plan add a few extra days to your trip just to explore the area.
Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas are the ideal place for the outdoors lover: hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, UTVing, rock climbing, ice climbing, and more are all available. Trail Ridge Road is one of the most popular hiking trails and overlooks that even beginners can tackle in a day. More intrepid travelers can camp in the area, just make sure you're prepared for any temperature fluctuations.
Estes Park is home to the famous Stanley Hotel—a destination horror aficionados from across the globe visit thanks to Stephen King’s "The Shining." If you want to stay at this iconic hotel, book early. Rooms go quickly, as do restaurants in the area. If staying at this spooky locale isn’t your kind of thing, there’s bed and breakfasts, inns, and Airbnbs in the area that won’t keep you up at night.
Day 4: Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, and nearby Manitou Springs, is about a 2-hour drive south of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s Colorado’s second-largest city and is thriving with new developments, In-N-Out coming to town, and breweries popping up left and right.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the United States Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, and Pike’s Peak Scenic Byway are just some of the destinations to try and see while in town. We highly recommend visiting Cheyenne Mountain Zoo—a truly unique zoo built up the side of a mountain. Wear good sneakers because it’s quite the hike with a beautiful view of Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas.
Manitou Springs offers small-town shopping on Main Street, cliff dwellings to visit leftover from the early days in Colorado’s history, Cave of the Winds tours, and numerous small-town restaurants to enjoy after a long day.
You can’t mention staying in the Springs and Manitou area without bringing up The Broadmoor. Book as far in advance as you can if you want to stay at this historic hotel for a night.
I-70, a blessing and curse to Colorado residents, is one of the most beautiful drives in the state on a good day, especially during fall. Two hours northwest of Colorado Springs is Breckenridge in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Boasting one of the largest National Historic Districts in America, this is what small town mountain life is all about in the state. Main Street features galleries, shops, breweries, restaurants, and more to walk in and out of during a day trip. If it’s ski season, Breckenridge is a popular destination for timeshares, Airbnbs, and locals looking to get away from it all so book months in advance to ensure you have a room for the night. Breckenridge Brewery is a staple for craft brew lovers; Blue Moose and Kava Cafe are two local hot spots every visitor needs to check off their bucket list.
Hiking, mining tours, ghost tours, and other outdoor activities are abundant in Breck and the surrounding areas. Fall is a beautiful time to visit as the leaves change colors although it’s a busier time in the area.
Just under an hour west of Breckenridge lies Vail, the heart of Colorado’s mountain town life. Vail offers everything a ski resort should offer travelers: five-star restaurants, classy hotels, skiing right outside your door, and shopping galore.
Vail’s main village is pedestrian-only, an interesting change of pace for most adventurers. Surrounding the area are slopes for every skill level and hiking, rafting, fishing, biking, and more are at your fingertips. Summer and winter bring events big and small to the town, so book ahead of time especially if you're visiting in winter.
Tivoli Lodge is a Vail favorite, but there’s no shortage of places to stay or Airbnbs to book. Booking early or on shoulder seasons will save you the most money; this isn’t a budget-friendly stop for most of the year.
Day 7: Glenwood Springs
With one day left in your weeklong adventure in Colorado, Glenwood Springs is your final destination. On your way into town from Vail make a stop at Hanging Lake, one of the most iconic hikes in the country. Hanging Lake is a National Natural Landmark and looks to be “upside down” when traversing the trail. It’s a steep 1.2-mile trail, and while it's doable for most skills levels it's not necessarily the best hike to tackle as a beginner.
Hot springs are located all around Glenwood Springs, so take a dip after hiking to get some rest and relaxation. Hotel Colorado is an 1800s estate and is a perfect spot to end your trip and get some rest before heading back to Denver for the flight home. Bed and breakfasts dot the landscape for a quaint place to stay, too.