Come to Colorado for the Great Outdoors, Stay for the Arts and Culture

From miles of hiking and biking trails to a vibrant arts and culture scene, the opportunities for discovery are endless in Colorado. Dance the night away under a canopy of stars at an outdoor music festival or walk in the footsteps of the area’s ancestral inhabitants at preserved cultural sites. Explore the creative districts of charming mountain towns or marvel at expansive collections in museums and galleries. In Colorado, you can have the best of all worlds as you pair your love of the outdoors with your passion for arts and culture.

Looking for some more specific ideas? Here are some ways to soak in Colorado’s arts and culture.

Presented by Visit Colorado

Bravo! Vail Music Festival. Image courtesy of

Attend Music Festivals and Concerts

Imagine listening to live music in one of Colorado’s many scenic amphitheaters or gorgeous music venues. It’d certainly be an experience to remember. From bluegrass to pop, there’s a music festival or concert on Colorado’s summer roster for everyone. 

For banjo vibes and spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains, check out the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June. Westcliffe’s High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival in July similarly offers beautiful sights of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Classical music lovers should mark their calendars for the Music in the Mountains Classical Music Festival in Durango (July 11-August 4) or, for an outdoor venue, check out the Bravo! Vail Music Festival (June 20-August 1). Jazz enthusiasts ought to make plans to attend the Keystone Wine & Jazz Festival, and reggae lovers will appreciate the Yampa River Reggae Festival in Craig—both in July.

For those who enjoy a little bit of everything, consider the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, the Elevation Music Festival in Alma, or the JAS Labor Day Experience in Snowmass, which encompasses a range of genres, such as rock, country, and pop. There’s also the Outside Festival (June 1-2) in Denver, featuring musical performances both days and tons of activities for outdoors lovers, like climbing walls and a dedicated space for cycling challenges.

With all of these options and so many more, it’s easy to enjoy music while surrounded by nature in Colorado.

Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park. Image courtesy of Visit Colorado

Visit Ancestral Indigenous Sites

Colorado is rich with important Indigenous history, and visitors have access to many incredibly preserved cultural sites throughout the state. Walk in the footsteps of Ancestral Puebloans, visiting ceremonial sites and cliff dwellings, or observe petroglyphs etched into rock formations and structures by Native peoples. 

From Chimney Rock National Monument in the west to Dinosaur National Monument in the north and Vogel Canyon in the east, the centuries-long history of the area lends a new perspective to every visitor of these treasured lands. When possible, consider going with a guide to glean the full experience.

At Mesa Verde National Park, take a ranger-led tour through the area’s incredible preserved cliff dwellings and ceremonial sites of the Ancestral Puebloan people. Plan to reserve a spot on the 45-minute Cliff Palace tour, which highlights the largest cliff dwelling in North America. For a more adventurous trek, the Balcony House tour takes visitors up the face of a cliff, through a narrow tunnel, and into passages used hundreds of years ago by Ancestral Puebloans.

Hovenweep National Monument is another show stopper, encompassing six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread out over 20 miles of stunning mesas and canyons.

Keep in mind that respecting rules and customs while visiting Indigenous sites like ceremonial structures and petroglyphs ensures a peaceful and positive experience for guests, rangers, and the original land owners alike.

Ancestral sites in places like Chimney Rock, Hovenweep, Mesa Verde, and beyond are deeply important to Indigenous peoples, who maintain deep and enduring connections to the land. When visiting, help preserve these sacred places by sticking to maintained paths and trails and by following the directions of guides and rangers at all times.  

RiNo Creative District
Image courtesy of RiNo, River North Art District

Explore Creative Districts

Whether you’re an artist looking for inspiration or just an art aficionado, you can’t go wrong exploring any of the state’s 30 certified creative districts displaying the imaginative work of locals. Visitors can find these creative communities scattered across Colorado’s four corners, offering opportunities to wander through galleries, connect with artists in their private studios, interact in community events, and more. 

For instance, Crested Butte offers ArtWalks and a year-round schedule of arts-related events, while Durango’s district focuses on cultural and historic heritage. With dozens of communities to choose from, there is always another creative district to explore in Colorado. 

Along the Front Range, the RiNo Art District north of downtown Denver is a crown jewel. It features art galleries and studio spaces, small-batch breweries and distilleries, furniture makers, performance artists, and much more. Visit a First Friday event in the RiNo District to take the pulse of the creative scene that’s ever-changing in Colorado’s capital city.

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Image courtesy of Visit Colorado

Experience Museums Dedicated to Art and Culture

Museum buffs also have options in Colorado, ranging from the Aspen Art Museum to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail and just about everything in between. The Denver Art Museum is a can’t-miss cultural attraction. It features world-class art and exhibitions, plus hands-on creative spaces—all in the heart of Denver. 

For something quirky and off the beaten path, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden showcases the life and death of the legendary William F. Cody (aka “Buffalo Bill”). Discover Black cowboy history at the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver, or ride a stagecoach and sit in a one-room schoolhouse at the Museum of the West in Grand Junction. 

Get a dose of science, history, and culture all rolled up in one at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. This interactive museum will engage and inspire the whole family.

Uncover the Magic of Arts and Culture in Colorado

Between outdoor adventures this summer in Colorado, experience some music, art, and culture in the state that has it all. There are more than enough options. The question is—how can one possibly choose?

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