From a hidden waterfall surrounded by graffiti to a museum dedicated solely to washing machines, here are top superfun things to do Colorado style.
Colorado is renowned for its stunning scenery and year-round adventure, but there’s much more to the state than meets the eye. Colorado has several quirky and unusual spots waiting to be discovered.
Colorado’s Top Quirky Spots
The Great Outdoors
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Alamosa
Tucked away beneath the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Despite being in a land-locked state, these are the tallest dunes in the United States – resulting from thousands of years of sand travelling from mountain streams and playa lakes on the San Luis Valley floor – which provide an unusual contrast to the snow-capped peaks. Visitors can hike the various trails, paddle in Medano Creek or try their hand at sandboarding or sand sledding down the dunes.
Rainbow Falls, El Paso County
Hidden below a busy highway bridge, Rainbow Falls is a tiny waterfall which flows from Fountain Creek in Manitou Springs. Its name results from the colourful graffiti which adorns the surrounding walls and bridge, presenting a unique contrast between a natural landscape and contemporary, urban art. Despite previous attempts to eradicate the graffiti, the waterfall is now recognised by the county as an historic site.
Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde
Comprising 5,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular insight into the history of southwest Colorado. Dating back to 7500BC, the Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings and is where around 100 Ancestral Pueblo people once called home. Visitors can take a guided tour which involves ascending 120 stone steps and five 8-10 ft ladders.
South Park City, Fairplay
Fans of hit TV show ‘South Park’ can head to the small town of Fairplay where they’ll find the real-life South Park City. An authentic restoration of an 1800s mining town, the open-air museum has a number of replica shops and bars and is one of the state’s most unusual ghost towns.
Weird and Wonderful Attractions
Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum, Eaton
Located in the north of Colorado, the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum is an extensive collection of over 1,400 antique washing machines. With models from across the world and dating back as far as 1840, the museum is a bizarre curation unlike anywhere else in the world.
Bishop Castle, Rye
The self-titled Bishop Castle is the creation of Jim Bishop, a local man who embarked on building a cosy cabin but instead created one of the most unique attractions in Colorado. Taking 40 years to complete, Bishop Castle is an impressive structure that stands at 160 feet and comes complete with turrets, stained glass windows and a large dragon head. Travellers can visit Bishop Castle all year round and couples can also get married there.
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
Founded in 1981, the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys houses more than 20,000 tiny objects. Through various exhibitions, the museum aims to provide educational and cultural services; previous exhibits have shown vintage Star Wars toys, artisan dolls houses and toy soldiers.
Unusual Places to Stay
- Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast, Antonito: Nestled in the tiny historical town of Antonito, the Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast featured as the childhood home of young Henry Jones Jr in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.’ Consisting of just four bedrooms, the hotel is an adventurous getaway for the whole family.
- UFO Watchtower, Saguache County: Those curious about the unknown can camp under the stars and look out for aliens at the UFO Watchtower. Owned and run by firm believer Judy Messoline, the site comes complete with a viewing platform and vortex garden.
- The Baldpate Inn, Estes Park: Welcoming guests since 1917, The Baldpate Inn is a family-run getaway adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. A tradition of guests bringing keys to the inn has resulted in the world’s largest key collection, with over 20,000 hanging from the ceiling, including copies of keys to unlock Westminster Abbey and Frankenstein’s castle.
Where to Eat
- Linger, Denver: One of Denver’s finest restaurants, Linger is a conversion of an old mortuary, which once housed the body of famed westerner Buffalo Bill. The hip restaurant embraces its funeral history – a church pew is used as the host’s stand – and is usually one of the busiest spots in the city.
- The Fort, Morrison: Modelled after Bent’s Old Fort in La Junta, The Fort is an authentic restaurant which takes inspiration from Colorado’s western past, serving traditional meals made with ingredients available in the 1830s. One of its signature and most unusual dishes is the Rocky Mountain Oysters, consisting of deep-fried bull or bison testicles.
Find out more things to do Colorado here.