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Colorado is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery and exciting cities, including the Rocky Mountains.
While many tourists and visitors travel to popular destinations like Vail, Breckenridge, and Colorado Springs, there are many other hidden gems.
The state is full of underrated small towns, hidden spots, and scenic getaways that are just waiting to be discovered and explored.
In no particular order, here is a local’s list of the most underrated towns in Colorado that are worth visiting this year!
1. Grand Lake
Grand Lake is one of Colorado’s greatest treasures thanks to its location as well as the beautiful scenery.
Nestled beside the state’s largest natural lake, the town of Grand Lake offers breathtaking views stretching as far as the eye can see.
Visitors and locals alike fall in love with the snow-capped mountains and evergreens that dot the landscape.
The quaint town itself is an ode to yesteryear, with local shops and restaurants with friendly patrons just waiting to welcome you in.
For those who prefer to take it easy, take a stroll through the locally-owned shops that offer unique goods or check out any of the events that are held year-round.
During the summer months, Grand Lake is a favorite destination for kids and families, providing a sandy beach to sit back and unwind.
For those who love adventure, the town and the lake is an ideal base camp as Rocky Mountain National Park is just a stone’s throw away.
The area also expertly showcases hundreds of acres of beautiful trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, and rock climbing.
Not to mention there’s plenty of bird watching, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and camping in the surrounding areas.
Once you visit Grand Lake, you’ll understand why it’s considered one of the most underrated towns in Colorado. And hopefully, you’ll want to come back to this beloved town again and again.
2. Manitou Springs
Manitou Springs is another one of the most underrated towns in Colorado known for its eclectic charm.
Located right outside Colorado Springs, some might even consider this small mountain town as a suburb of COS. In any case, Manitou Springs has everything to see and to enjoy for the indoor and outdoor lover.
Start off by exploring the historic red rock formations at the Garden of the Gods, where you can hike and rock climb among one of the nation’s most unique natural spaces.
Not to mention this gorgeous city park is completely free to visit all year long.
Then hike down to Cave of the Winds and make your way through the labyrinth of tunnels where the ancient Apache once roamed.
The Native Americans once treasured Manitou Springs for its healing waters, which run freely below the surface, creating mineral springs where you can go to soak and unwind.
Go on a free walking tour of the city and visit all of the natural mineral springs in the town.
Manitou Springs is home to some of the state’s most delicious restaurants, with world-class fare. Walk along the charming street and visit the local shops for an immersive experience you won’t soon forget.
Discover the beauty of this eclectic town that both locals and tourists enjoy visiting all year round.
For an adventure and outdoor retreat you will never forget, head down to Crestone, Colorado.
A personal gift from the King of Spain in the 1600s and later used as a mining town, Crestone now houses a multitude of religions and is known as the spiritual center of Colorado.
There are diverse communities of New Agers, a Tibetan center, a Hindu temple, and various other religious affiliations, which make Crestone a unique and impactful destination.
Due to the larger-than-average concentration of spiritualists, there are many spiritual retreat locations throughout the town.
But that’s not the only thing Crestone is known for! A short drive south of Crestone you’ll find the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This unique natural beauty is a desert of sand in the middle of the Colorado valley.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of the most incredible places we’ve visited in Colorado! And Crestone makes a great hub thanks to beautiful places to stay and quirky places to eat and shop.
If staying in town is more your thing, visitors and locals can enjoy the many festivals and events. And there is a wide variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, hiking, birding, hunting, and fishing.
For those who are up to the challenge, nearby Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak, which stand at an impressive 14,000 feet, offer scenic trails and abundant wildlife.
Crestone offers a plethora of underrated but incredible things to do in Colorado that offers an appeal for both nature lovers and city goers.
Located at the base of the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway is the perfect destination for relaxation and adventure.
No matter what time of year you visit, there is always something exciting happening in this southwestern Colorado town.
Ridgway boasts an impressive Creative Arts District, where visitors can wander through unique art galleries full of local pieces or enjoy some of the many events and festivals.
For those who prefer to spend their days outdoors, there are countless activities, including horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, and more.
Adventuring isn’t the only way to let off steam in Ridgway as the town is a hub for health and wellness resorts and activities that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and rested.
Even though this tiny town only has a population of around 1,200 residents, there are still many historic buildings and local eateries to check out.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy a delicious meal at any of the exceptional restaurants ranging from local eateries to world-class dining.
No matter what your taste, you will want to check out this beautiful Colorado town.
Silverton is a registered National Historic Landmark and definitely one of the most underrated towns in Colorado.
It’s a must-see destination for anyone visiting the square state and some even consider it one of the best mountain towns in Colorado!
As part of the San Juan Skyway, it is the top destination for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Hop aboard this historic steam engine and enjoy scenic views as you make your way through the majestic San Juan Mountains.
Upon your return, head to the city center, where you can enjoy strolling along the quaint streets and exploring the local shops and restaurants.
There are year-round festivals to enjoy along with some of the state’s most exciting outdoor activities. One of which is Jeeping, considered one of the top attractions that brings in visitors from across the globe.
If you prefer a more natural adventure, there is rafting, hiking, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, biking, hunting, and so much more.
There’s so much to do you’ll want to extend your visit to the underrated but historic town of Silverton, Colorado.
While you may already know about our love of Breckenridge, it’s sister town of Frisco, Colorado, is also one of our favorite destinations in the state.
Nestled between six towering mountains, it offers non-stop adventuring for outdoor enthusiasts who like to snowboard, snowshoe, and ski. It’s an ideal destination for all kinds of winter fun!
If winter sports aren’t your thing, there is plenty to do during the summer months when the snow melts and the nature trails open up.
Lace up your boots and enjoy spectacular hiking, biking, birding, fishing, and more in the vast natural spaces that surround this adorable town.
Visit the Frisco/Dillon Bay Marina for unforgettable water activities like kayaking, swimming, and paddleboarding in the crystal-clear waters.
When you’re looking for a more tame adventure, head into town and enjoy the beautiful old-world feel of this quintessential American small town.
There are locally owned shops and restaurants full of friendly locals just waiting to greet you with an interesting story or suggestion for your next outing.
Frisco, Colorado also offers events and festivals all year long, ensuring there’s always something new to discover.
On your visit, don’t forget to stop by the museums and Nordic Center for a look back in time at the rich history that makes Frisco so unique.
The town is only a short 90-minute drive from Denver, making it an excellent destination for day trips and weekend getaways the entire family will enjoy.
For non-stop excitement and unique things to do, you have to visit Durango, Colorado. As one of the most underrated towns in Colorado, there’s so much to do, and to see that every moment is better than the last.
Jump aboard the famous Durango & Silverton Railroad for a picturesque ride through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.
Or check out the rich art culture at the city’s bustling Art District. You will find unique pieces made by local and global artists that appeal to your senses and captivate your mind.
Durango is the go-to destination for a Colorado local who loves shopping locally or a visitor looking for a special keepsake, with many stores offering one-of-a-kind merchandise.
Of course, there is so much for the outdoor enthusiast to do, whether you love winter sports, summer sports, or both. It’s a great spot for road trips in the summer or scenic drives in the fall or winter seasons.
And we can’t mention Durango as an underrated Colorado town without mentioning Mesa Verde National Park. This mountain town makes a great hub for exploring this historic site as well as the surrounding area that’s full of history.
Durango’s vast natural spaces are filled with aromatic flowers in the warmer months, making it a beautiful and unforgettable destination.
8. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs is the premier ski resort destination you may have never heard of. It offers exceptional skiing and resort packages for those who want to kick back, relax, and unwind.
There are gondola rides, horseback riding, ice skating, night skiing, and numerous concerts, events, and festivals happening all year long.
Coming in December, North America’s largest and fastest 10-person gondola ride opens up, drawing excitement and anticipation.
During the summer months, people come from all around the world to enjoy the many outdoor activities this picturesque location offers.
In fact, Steamboat Springs is one of our favorite places to get away from the city and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. We loved our visit to the Vista Verde Ranch and have another trip planned for next summer.
One of the town’s greatest offerings is its natural hot springs, called Strawberry Park Hot Springs, which offer healing benefits and unmatched relaxation.
No matter what time of year you visit, Steamboat Springs is sure to be one of your favorite vacation destinations.
Known as the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado,” Ouray is one of the most underrated towns in Colorado that’s a perfect spot for your next getaway.
This alpine town sits at a breathtaking 7,800 feet in elevation and is shaped in a unique geographic bowl, making it one of the most friendly destinations in Colorado.
This cool geographic location is responsible for the town’s second nickname, “The Switzerland of America.” This is due to its remarkable formation and 12,000+ peaks surrounding it, making for unforgettable scenic views.
Visitors enjoy soaking in the rejuvenating hot springs, shopping on the eclectic main street, hiking the hundreds of miles of trails, and learning about the town’s rich history.
There’s something for every member of the family to enjoy with family-friendly activities that are sure to create lasting memories.
If you’re visiting Ouray, there are countless restaurants and historic lodgings that transport you back in time, making this one of the most interesting towns in Colorado.
10. Crested Butte
When you visit Crested Butte, Colorado, it’s like taking a step back in time. The timeless Main Street offers old-world charm, making it one of the coziest locations in the state.
There are no large brands, hotel skyscrapers or restaurant chains here. Everything is locally owned and operated by Colorado natives who have lived here for decades.
And yet, Crested Butte is still a popular destination for skiing and winter sports as well as for anyone seeking a fun-filled mountain vacation.
There is so much to do on your visit that you’ll want to stay the entire weekend or more, including fly fishing, biking, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and more.
Even though this is one of the most underrated towns in Colorado, there are always festivals and events happening, bringing the town together.
For the foodies, Crested Butte offers delicious fares prepared by locals eager to showcase their talents.
After filling your belly, enjoy shopping in the many interesting stores that offer unique items you can’t find anywhere else.
No matter what time of year you plan your visit, there is so much to do in Crested Butte that you’ll want to come back time and time again.
If you’re looking to travel back to the Wild West, then pack your bags and head out to Gunnison, Colorado.
Its remote location conjures pictures of John Wayne, a sentiment that the downtown area seems to embrace.
The town is surrounded by vast natural areas, including national parks like Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, national recreation areas, lakes, mesas, rivers, and mountains.
Outdoor lovers will find no shortage of activities, from biking and hiking to birding and boating.
One of the area’s most exciting attractions is the man-made whitewater park, which offers excitement for rafters and kayakers who aren’t afraid to take on the rapids.
Stargazers flock to Gunnison for its Gunnison Valley Observatory, which offers high-definition views of the night sky.
Don’t forget to stop in at the Gunnison Pioneer Museum to learn more about the meaningful history of this modern-day cattleman’s town.
12. Buena Vista
In just an hour or two from Denver, you can discover the laid-back mountain vibes that Buena Vista offers.
Situated at the base of the Collegiate Peaks, it boasts stunning views and non-stop adventure for the outdoorsman.
This underrated small town has loads of festivals and events happening all year long. Not to mention plenty of food trucks and local eateries to satisfy any craving.
The welcoming city center is home to shops, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques where you can get to know the locals.
Nearby, friends and families can unwind at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort and soak up the healing mineral waters.
In the summer, this resort features a rustic hot springs creek-side experience for adults, or a large family pool with water slide for kids.
Buena Vista offers a small town feel that’s conveniently located close to other relaxing and incredible destinations for all ages.
13. Glenwood Springs
Although last on my list, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is known for its famous hot Springs and offers unlimited access to the world’s most healing waters.
My family and I visit every year on our annual fall trip and it never ceases to be an excellent destination even if a bit underrated overall.
There is so much to do, including shopping, dining, golfing, and, of course, exploring the great outdoors.
Glenwood Springs is a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike, thanks to its world-renowned adventure park and stunning natural attractions.
Go for a ride atop the amazing Glenwood Gondola and enjoy sights of the entire valley below along with views of Mount Sopris.
At the top you’ll be able to explore the Glenwood Cavern Caves and the rest of the epic Adventure Park.
When you want to escape from the everyday, head over to the vibrant Colorado town of Glenwood Springs.
Take your vacation to the next level with a trip to one of the most underrated towns in Colorado.
As you plan your 2024 adventures to Colorado, I hope this list helps you craft the perfect itinerary while exploring some unique and underrated spots.