Over the past several decades, tourism in the state of Colorado has increased staggeringly with each passing year, and it’s estimated that 2021 will be no different, especially in the summer months. That being said, if you’re looking to make the most out of a summer trip to the Centennial State this season, then follow the lead of Travel + Leisure and check out these unforgettable Colorado towns that make for a perfect summer vacation destination.
Grand Lake, CO
The charming lakeside Colorado town of Grand Lake is known as the “Western Gateway” to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) as it serves as the western entrance to the famed park, thus making it perfect for anyone looking for outdoor adventure. If you plan on visiting the national park, then take advantage of the town’s quaint collection of cabins and summer homes that line the shores of the state’s largest natural lake. Summer is the perfect time to visit Grand Lake, as residents and tourists alike are often seen hiking, biking, and riding ATVs across the picturesque terrain.
If you’re in need of a knowledgeable guide to the National Park and its encompassing 415 square miles, then you should look no further than Kaiyote Tours, a company that specializes in leading travelers on both hiking and overnight backpacking trips in the summertime. These trips teach participants about the overall history of Rocky Mountain National Park with a particular focus on birding and wildlife. Also, you can rest assured that you’re in expert, knowledgeable hands as the company was founded by Kaiyote Snow, a self-taught naturalist, and award-winning photographer, and the artist and former instructor for the Rocky Mountain Conservatory.
Outside of the park, the town proper is equally as fulfilling with its historic boardwalk and its assembly of over 60 restaurants, shops, and galleries. Consider taking in a show at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre for memorable surveying of the arts. With excitement to be found all over the town of Grand Lake and with the RMNP in close, accessible proximity, this is one of the state’s best options for summer fun and relaxation.
Fort Collins, CO
Often overlooked by residents who ignore the Colorado town for the mass appeal of Denver, the town of Fort Collins stands out as one of the “best-kept secrets” in the state. Home to Colorado State University, this college town carries with it an alluring atmosphere of outdoor recreation, a vibrant music scene, and eclectic design.
In fact, the historic downtown area of Fort Collins was the literal inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street USA, making it an understandably magical location. The downtown area is called “Old Town” by the local residents, and it stands as the absolute nexus of nightlife with its attractive art scene, dining experiences, and unique storefronts and boutiques. Take for example the Colorado Shoe School where one can design and create their own custom shoes from repurposed leather that was once destined to be thrown in a landfill. The soles of the leather shoes are made up of recycled materials from discarded tennis balls and bike tires. Leave with a practical souvenir that embodies the adage, “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Classic Colorado town attractions in Fort Collins include the hiking and mountain biking trails to be found at Horsetooth Reservoir, the federally-designated Wild & Scenic River, and the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area. The entire town is connected through and through by over 285 miles of bike trails and lanes, which has resulted in a vibrant, friendly community of residents who tend to populate the area with post-work mountain bike rides throughout the summer. So, if you’re in search of a biking oasis of scenic views, fresh air, and clean spirits, then look no further than Fort Collins, or as the locals call it: “FoCo.”
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