If you’re from Colorado, you don’t need to leave the state to have a fun staycation or weekend getaway! This beautiful state has countless fun opportunities everywhere you go.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the biggest and most popular attractions for a fun staycation in Colorado.
Staycation at the Colorado State Fair
If you’re looking for the perfect place for a fun staycation in Colorado, there’s no better place than the Colorado State Fair!
Every year in late August and early September, hundreds of thousands of Coloradans make the trip to Pueblo to attend this exciting 11-day event.
Some things you can expect at the Colorado State Fair include:
No trip to the fair would be complete without going on some fun carnival rides! The following are some of the most popular classic carnival rides that you can expect.
- Ferris Wheel – a classic ride that’s great for children and adults alike. There’s nothing like sitting next to a loved one on the Ferris Wheel and enjoying the beautiful view of the Fair from high above!
- Carousel – a timeless ride for kids, the carousel has never gone out of style. It’s one of the mildest rides in the fair, making it a great choice for young children who aren’t big enough yet for the more intense rides.
- Zipper – famous for being one of the scariest rides in the carnival, the Zipper combines various swinging and rotating motions that make it unpredictable and truly terrifying. Make sure you don’t get on this ride with a full stomach!
- Hammer – another terrifying carnival classic that could be considered the “sister” ride of the Zipper. True to its name, this ride resembles a massive hammer that swings around on a pendulum, eventually flipping you 360 degrees around and sending you into a recurring freefall.
- Drop Tower – being plunged into freefall from high in the air is pretty scary, which is why the drop tower is another ride that’ll send a chill down your spine and butterflies in your stomach. This ride slowly elevates you several hundred feet in the air and then suddenly plummets you toward the earth before catching you at the last second.
- Bumper cars – if the other rides gave you goosebumps, then consider this less terrifying (but equally fun) alternative. Both children and adults are fans of bumper cars, for a good reason. What other game allows you to safely ram a motorized vehicle into things with no consequences? Bumper cars are satisfying, competitive, and fun for all ages.
- Other rides – the above rides are just the most popular and timeless ones, but this list doesn’t come close to covering all the rides you might find at the Colorado State Fair. Other rides include the Scrambler, the Hi-Roller, the Pirate Ship, the Swing Ride, the Super Slide, and many more.
Fair & Carnival Food
Aside from the rides, the food is one of the biggest staycation attractions of the Colorado State Fair. You can try delicious, remarkable, and even wacky foods that you’d never get to experience in ordinary day-to-day life.
Some examples include:
- Giant turkey legs – a socially acceptable way to unleash your inner caveman or cavewoman. These giant hunks of smoked meat clock in at over 1,200 calories. They are one of the most popular foods at the fair.
- Sloppers – a local delicacy unique to Pueblo, the slopper is an open-face cheeseburger drenched in Pueblo green chili. A must-try if you’re from out of town and haven’t had one of these. (Also, don’t forget to check out our annual World Slopper Eating Championship to see world-class competitive eaters from around the country try to wolf down as many of these as they can!)
- Cotton candy – cotton candy is a favorite of every child because it’s a remarkable treat with a “magical” feel. There’s something so special about taking a bite out of this cloud-like treat and tasting the delicious tropical flavor as it melts in your mouth.
- Fried food – fair food is synonymous with fried food because practically everything here is fried (even foods that you would normally never fry — such as pickles, Twinkies, Oreos, and Snickers bars). It might not be “healthy,” but the fair is only around for 11 days a year, so you might as well indulge!
- Exotic fair food – if the above examples aren’t exotic enough for you, there’s even more “weird” food at the fair that you’re guaranteed to tell your friends and family about.
For a great staycation experience, the Colorado State Fair hosts a wide variety of exciting live events, including:
- Rodeo, where masterful cowboys from around Colorado show off their incredible skills in front of a live audience. Watch them lasso calves, wrestle steers to the ground, and ride bulls, among other things.
- Live music, where some of the biggest stars visit from around the country to perform on stage at the Colorado State Fair. Additionally, indie musicians from around Colorado give live performances for free!
- Toughest Monster Truck Tour, where these 5-ton metal machines perform wheelies, dive off ramps, and do incredible tricks.
- Demo Derby is a “last-man-standing” battle between scrap cars that ram into each other, causing total destruction. The last car that still runs properly (and isn’t totaled) wins.
- Livestock shows & sales, where farmers from around Colorado can show off their most impressive livestock in competition and enter them in an auction to be sold.
- Plus many other events, such as the High Dive Show (where skilled divers dive into a pool from dozens of yards in the air) to the Exotic Petting Zoo (where you can touch and pet kangaroos, lemurs, zebras, and more.) Past years have even included a surfing dog show, where masterfully trained dogs show off their surfing skills!
Camping is a popular staycation activity. What better way to get out of the house and have a fun trip than pitch a tent and go camping?
If you’re a participant in one of the events at the Colorado State Fair, you’ll be able to camp directly on the fairgrounds. If you’re a guest, you can also camp near the scenic Lake Minnequa, just a few miles south of the fair!
Top Tourist Attractions in Colorado for Your Staycation
While the Colorado State Fair is one of the most popular events in Colorado, there are many other attractions (particularly national parks and monuments) that make a great choice for a fun staycation. Examples include:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a great staycation destination when you want to experience the pure, pristine Rockies that Colorado is famous for.
Enjoy an incredible view from the comfort of your car by riding along Trail Ridge Road, which is a long driving route that runs throughout the park with an altitude of over 12,000 feet. Alternatively, pull over at one of the many stops along the way to take a beautiful nature hike.
As one of the most popular national parks in the US, Rocky Mountain National Park is a massive landscape with many mountain peaks, alpine meadows, lakes, and forests. Popular activities at the park include camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and more.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park
As the largest dune in North America, the Great Sand Dunes are a hugely popular tourist destination, and they make for an excellent day trip.
You’ll get plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. Children have a blast at the dunes, and they’re also a great place to take your dog.
Feeling the smooth sand shift beneath your bare feet while watching the endless expanse of dunes all around you is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Protip: hike to the top for a truly breathtaking view.
If you’re looking for a novel and unique staycation experience that is totally unlike any other outdoor attraction you’ll find in Colorado, give the Great Sand Dunes a visit!
Mesa Verde National Park
Famous for its cliff dwellings from the ancient Native American culture known as the Ancestral Puebloans, Mesa Verde National Park gives you a profound insight into the tribal cultures of the past.
The park’s main attraction, known as Cliff Palace, is an incredibly well-preserved dwelling. During the summer, rangers lead regular tours where tourists can visit this dwelling, even allowing you to climb ladders that lead straight into the dwellings. This is a great staycation activity where you can experience it up-close and personal.
For a fascinating peek into humanity’s ancient tribal past, there’s no better place than Mesa Verde National Park.
Pikes Peak is one of the most popular mountain ranges in the world, and it’s located right outside Colorado Springs.
Unlike most mountain peaks, getting to the summit of Pikes Peak is surprisingly easy. The Pikes Peak Highway allows you to drive all the way to the top in about 90 minutes, or alternatively, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway gives you a picturesque 3-hour ride to the top.
Once you’re at the summit, the view is breathtaking, with endless vistas stretching out as far as the eye can see. Make sure to check out the gift shop and pick up a souvenir to remember this amazing staycation destination in Colorado!
Garden of the Gods
No proper Colorado staycation would be complete without a visit to Garden of the Gods. Nestled right in the heart of Colorado Springs, this national landmark is known for its colorful red rock formations and amazing hiking.
With 15 miles of walking trails that surround the garden, you’re able to explore this magnificent landscape up close. You’ll see large rock spires shooting out of the ground and towering hundreds of feet in the air, giant boulders balancing precariously, and a scenic view of the mountains in the distance.
Thanks to its ideal location, Garden of the Gods is a great way to have a quick nature excursion without traveling too far out of the city.
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is located in the small town of Divide, and it’s a popular and highly acclaimed tourist attraction. This is a great place to spend part of your Colorado staycation.
At this wolf refuge, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals under the guidance and protection of expert wolf handlers. Highly recommended for animal lovers.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The closest thing to a real-life Hogwarts Express, the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, gives you a breathtaking scenic view through the mountains of Colorado. This beautiful railroad is a must-see for any staycation you want to take in Colorado.
Ticket options range from a 9-hour round-trip from Durango to Silverton or a 5-hour round-trip through the picturesque Cascade Canyon. Whichever you choose, you’ll get to see some of the most magnificent and pristine landscapes Colorado has to offer aboard a historic steam train — an experience you’ll never forget!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Arguably the scariest-looking canyon in the world, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is named because certain parts of the canyon only get up to 33 minutes of sunlight per day. The rest of the time, the sun is obscured by the wicked jagged peaks that block light from reaching the steep, narrow trenches below.
While it’s not as big or as well-known as the world-famous Grand Canyon, it’s still a popular tourist destination with over 300 thousand visitors every year. Add this to your staycation itinerary for a terrifying but awe-inspiring landmark that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Enjoy the Top Tourist Destinations in Colorado!
Colorado has a staggering number of incredible attractions everywhere you go, and this list only covers a fraction of the amazing staycation opportunities available in this incredible state.
Nonetheless, the above are some of the most popular and critically acclaimed top tourist attractions Colorado offers. If you’re looking for an incredible staycation experience, look no further than your own state. Visit the Colorado State Fair and the various other attractions listed above, and have an amazing time!
To learn more about the Colorado State Fair, visit our homepage or give us a call at 719-561-8484 — we look forward to hearing from you!