Situated at 9,600 feet above sea level in Colorado, the bustling town of Breckenridge suits those seeking luxury, as well as for the extreme outdoor adventurer. From cozy condos on the base of the ski resort to backcountry trails that are perfect for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and more, Breckenridge offers plenty for anyone looking for a quintessential Colorado trip. Main Street is lined with gear shops, ice cream shops, fine dining, gift shops, and bars that can fit any preference.
Photo Credit: bauhaus1000 (iStock).
Nestled in the lush Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen is renowned for its outdoor recreation and a high-end lifestyle. Kids play in the downtown area’s dancing fountain while paddleboarders and kayakers float through North Star Nature Preserve and occasional wildlife shows up at crosswalks. Professional winter sport athletes frequent the famous resort where the X-Games is held while oenophiles bask in Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic, which requires a $1,600 admission. Plus, where else can you shop high-end stores like Gucci and Ralph Lauren at 8,000 feet above sea level?
Photo Credit: aimintang (iStock).
Telluride is a former Victorian-era mining town tucked into the Rocky Mountains. The town sits in a box canyon with towering mountains on all sides, complete with a view of mountain waterfalls, from downtown. The town is crafty with art galleries, museums, and the historic Sheridan Opera House, a performing arts venue built in 1913. Telluride also features a bonus mountain town via a free gondola ride to Mountain Village, where more shops, restaurants, and mountain views can be found at 9,545 feet above sea level.
Photo Credit: danicachang (iStock).
4. Estes Park
Popular with Rocky Mountain National Park visitors, the mountain town of Estes Park is also known for its charming downtown. It features many artisan shops, locally owned restaurants, Lake Estes, and the infamous Stanley Hotel. Anglers can gear up at Kirk’s Flyshop, romantic weekend visitors can cozy up at one of the inns, and adventurers can seek the Open Air Adventure Park, all in downtown Estes Park.
Photo Credit: benedek (iStock).
5. Manitou Springs
The quirky Manitou Springs is situated against the bustling Colorado Springs in the foothills of Pikes Peak. Downtown offers unique gift shops, cafes, various types of restaurants, art galleries, community parks, mineral springs, and access to hiking trails like the Manitou Incline. Manitou Springs is also where visitors can load into the new Cog Railway that leads to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak or enjoy its iconic Penny Arcade full of nostalgic arcade games.
Photo Credit: Katie Rae Bode.
6. Crested Butte
Enter a mountain paradise filled with wildflowers in the summer, golden aspens in the fall, and powdery snow in the winter in Crested Butte. The main street, Elk Avenue, is lined with colorful buildings home to art galleries, a variety of restaurants, and gift shops. The ski mountain to the east and the aspen-filled hills to the west of downtown make Crested Butte glow in color year-round.
Photo Credit: Breanna Sneeringer, OutThere Colorado.
The historic mountain town of Salida is surrounded by peaks and hugged by the Arkansas River, making it a great destination for outdoor adventurers. The downtown is lined with locally owned shops, galleries, and restaurants where visitors always have something to see. Outdoorsy, artistic, and cultural events are planned year-round in downtown Salida.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall (Flickr).
Dubbed the “Switzerland of America,” downtown Ouray is situated between towing mountain walls in the San Juan range. Ouray features waterfalls that are walking distance from downtown, such as Cascade Falls and Box Canyon Falls. Find local breweries, an apothecary, hot springs, and much more in downtown Ouray.
Photo Credit: krblokhin (iStock).
Seventeen miles of recreation paths, special events such as an Oktoberfest and music festivals, botanical gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater give Vail a lively downtown. The ski resort, founded in 1962, spoil residents and visitors alike with access from town, as well as shops, restaurants, and breath-taking mountain views.
Photo Credit: Adventure_Photo (iStock).
10. Grand Lake
The cozy mountain town of Grand Lake features the town’s lake of the same name where visitors and locals swim, paddleboard, kayak, and more in the summer. Free concerts are held in the summer by Grand Lake Summer Concert series at the gazebo in the Town Park. There’s plenty to see and do in Grand Lake for those looking for a quiet mountain escape.
Photo Credit: Don Graham (flickr).
11. Buena Vista
Buena Vista offers shopping, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and more in its downtown area. Hit CKS Main Street for water sports needs, The Trailhead for outdoor gear, and plenty of other boutique shops for unique goods. Bikers can spend a day on the Buena Vista pumptrack and pet owners can let their pups run free at the dog park in town.
Silverton boasts the iconic characteristics of an old mining town. From historic buildings, railroad tracks, a ski mountain, and abandoned mining equipment scattering the town. The downtown features Harley Davidson’s highest elevation shop, historic saloons, boutiques, and a Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Photo Credit: Christian Murdock, The Gazette.
Leslie James is all about Colorado when it comes to writing features, sharing adventures, and creating colorful galleries. She loves camping, hiking, mountain biking and snowboarding. Leslie joined OutThere Colorado in November 2020.