1. Rocky Mountain National Park
To me, one of the best things about Colorado is the scenery and the natural beauty that surrounds you when you're there. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the U.S., and for good reason. I don't think there's any place like it. We had a lot of fun exploring in the mountains and taking in all of the breathtaking views this park has to offer. This is definitely a must-see if you visit Colorado.
2. Garden of the Gods Park
Another really cool place we visited is Garden of the Gods Park. The rock formations here are some of the most awe-inspiring things we've ever seen. With the contrast of these sharp, red rocks touching the blue of the sky, it's easy to see how it gets its name. It's a very inspiring place to visit, and we really enjoyed our time here.
Estes Park is a neat little city with tons to explore. It's home to Rocky Mountain National Park, but there's more than just the park here. There are also so many cool little shops and restaurants to experience. We liked the Taffy shops, and there are also souvenir shops galore. So don't forget to do a little shopping while you're here.
Some people choose to drive up to the top of Pike's Peak, also known as "America's Mountain." That's one option - we chose to take the Cog Railway train up to the top! It was a really great experience, and seemed to us like it would take the stress out of driving up and down the tall mountain. Either way you choose, it's a scenic ride up, and there's nothing like being at the very top looking down upon nature's beauty.
5. See a Game at Coors Field
If you're a baseball fan, Coors Field has so much to offer that you might not get to experience in other ballparks. We liked the really open outdoor area around the park. There are outdoor bars around the ball field with a ton of seating so you can have a different game-viewing experience than just sitting in your normal seats. You can also get a view of the game from the Mile high seats, and see the Rocky Mountains in the distance while you're at it.
6. Seven Falls
If you have some extra time while you're in the Colorado Springs area taking in Pike's Peak or Garden of the Gods, I highly suggest visiting The Broadmoor Seven Falls park. It's a nice little trek to get to the falls, but once you make it there, the sights are breath-taking. Seven cascading falls trickle down among these huge rock formations, and you can even climb the treacherous stairway to the top if you choose. We did, and the view along the way was totally worth it. A cool experience all around!
7. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
We drove the Peak to Peak Byway while we made our way north from the Colorado Springs area to Estes Park. It technically runs just outside of Golden, CO up to the town of Estes Park (or vice-versa). It was definitely one of the most scenic drives we've ever experienced. Being from the plains of Illinois, a nice change of scenery like this was definitely neat to see. This road takes you up through mountains, and you get to see real-life "babbling brooks" climbing the rocky paths alongside of you.
It was surreal for us, seeing this park and amphitheatre in person. We had seen it in photos and on TV, watching our favorite bands play here in concert. And to actually be here in the park and climbing the amphitheatre steps was so cool. You feel so tiny next to the giant red rocks in this park, and looking out into the huge landscape in front of you is really awe-inspiring.
9. Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
This was another must-do on our list, that was worth going just a little bit out of our way for. It's one of the highest suspension bridges in the country, and it is not for people who are deathly afraid of heights! Walking across this bridge, you feel a hint of awe, and a whole lot of terrifying. But just look at the view! Totally worth it.
Last but not least, if you're in Manitou Springs and have a couple of hours to kill, there's a really cool place within the rocks called the Manitou Cave Dwellings. These were actual homes for Native Americans settling in this area. You can walk through them and see what it was like for them living in these cave dwellings carved into the red rocks of Colorado. It was a pretty cool experience!