22 Best Things to do in Estes Park, Colorado
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There are so many fun things to do in Estes Park, Colorado! Whether you’re a Colorado native or a tourist visiting the state, Estes Park is most likely one of the places that you’ll be visiting. It’s commonly known as being the best home base for those exploring Rocky Mountain National Park and is truly a treat itself.
We are Denver locals and travel to Estes Park fairly often – though it is a bit touristy, it’s truly one of the most magical places in the Denver area.
With so many Estes Park activities available, it can be hard to choose exactly what’s worth doing, especially if you’re visiting on a time crunch. This article includes 22 of the top things to do, as vetted by a Denver local! Whether you choose just a few top things to do in Estes Park or all of them, you’ll truly have a fun time.
So, what are you waiting for? Read on to learn all about the best things to do in Estes Park!
Top Things to do in Estes Park
Ride the Estes Park Aerial Tramway
If you’re hoping to do some sightseeing in Estes Park, don’t overlook the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. This fun ride may only be 3.5 minutes long, but it’ll bring you up 1100 feet and the views are absolutely impeccable.
The tram was built by Robert Heron and officially opened to the public in 1955 and instantly became a local (and tourist) favorite because it brings guests right up to the top of Prospect Mountain. To this day, it’s still owned by Heron’s family!
One thing to be aware of is that unfortunately if you’re looking for things to do in Estes Park in winter, the tram will be closed. It’s open seasonally and usually opens around Memorial Day weekend. It costs about $16 per adult, $14 for seniors, and $10 for children aged 6-11. Those under 5 ride free!
Go on a Snowshoeing Tour
Yes, you read that right! One of the top Estes Park winter activities is to go on a snowshoeing tour. This is one of the most popular tours to do in the area and costs approximately $220 per person, but it’s very much worth it because it’ll give you a look at Rocky Mountain National Park in a way you wouldn’t have on your own.
For this tour, your guide will bring you to the Estes Park Mountain Shop where you’ll grab your snowshoe equipment, and then you’ll snowshoe with your guide for four hours. Ask questions, learn about the park, and escape the crowds! What’s not to love?
While the tour does include entry into Rocky Mountain National Park, you do have to provide your own transportation and rent equipment at the shop (or bring your own).
Click here to learn all about the snowshoeing tour!
Shop Locally Downtown
One of the things to do in downtown Estes Park is to go shopping! This is the perfect way to support the locals. In fact, 99% of the shops downtown are completely locally owned, besides a few chain stores.
Throughout the downtown area, you’ll find candy shops, an old movie theater, restaurants, and more. Plus, there are so many great souvenir shops, so even if you’re a picky souvenir shopper, you’ll be able to find just the perfect souvenir to take home.
On average, shopping downtown can take anywhere from one hour to an entire afternoon. It fully depends on how many shops you go into.
Wondering what shops to visit? Some can’t-miss stores included Earthwood Artisans, Patterson Glassworks, and Mocha Angelo’s.
Enjoy the Estes Park Riverwalk
If you’re looking for free things to do in Estes Park, then consider doing the Estes Park Riverwalk. There’s free parking right near Fall River, and then you can spend some time just walking all the way around the body of water.
The path itself is around 3.5 miles long, but the views are incredible, so it really won’t take that long to walk it. Plus, it’s fairly flat, making it very accessible and it’s also stroller-friendly. If you want to get out on the water, be sure to head to the Lake Estes Marina and rent a kayak!
Have a Drink at a Local Distillery
Head over to Elkins Distilling Co and try some of the first legally-made whiskies from Estes Park! There’s an amazing tasting room experience right near Lake Estes, where you can support this local shop that opened in 2016.
They have a wide variety of whiskies, including corn whisky, Elkins apple, Colorado whisky, and even fire whisky. The best way to try them and find which one you love most is by stopping by the tasting room, so be sure to do that during your trip!
Having some whisky at the Elkins Distilling Co tasting room is one of the best things to do in Estes Park for couples.
Learn at the Estes Park Museum
Interested in learning more about Estes Park and the surrounding area? Be sure to visit the Estes Park Museum. Though it may be small, it’s the perfect spot to visit on a rainy day and includes exhibits and artifacts dating back 100 years. The building itself was even built in the early 1900s.
One of the best parts about the museum is that it’s absolutely free, so there’s no harm at all in visiting. Plus, stopping by the museum is the perfect opportunity to ask the workers questions if you want to know anything else about the beautiful Estes Park during your trip.
Drive the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Have a bit more time on your hands? One of the most fun things to do around Estes Park is to drive the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. It’s 55 miles in total and goes between Estes Park and Central City, offering some of the best views that you can get in this area of Colorado.
Along the way, there are so many incredible places to stop at. Some popular pullover stops include Allenspark, Ward, Nederland, and Black Hawk (right near Central City). Once you’re done with the drive, you can even pop over to Idaho Springs and have one of the best pizzas in Colorado at Beau Jo’s.
If you’re really into history, then you’ll absolutely love the byway because there are tons of gold mines along the drive. You may even find people panning for gold along the way! Some of the different historic mines are also still open to the public.
See a Show at Park Theatre
Park Theatre is a historic movie theatre that is still in action today! Stop by to see a show inside a vintage theatre; you absolutely won’t regret it. Plus, it’s located right near downtown, so it’s impossible to miss and is very easy to get to.
They’re open seasonally, and their upcoming films can be seen online. They’re not your average movie theatre, as they often play older titles mixed with a few modern ones! No matter what you choose to see at the movie theatre, you’ll have an amazing time.
Go White Water Rafting
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, white water rafting is the perfect activity for you! The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the best white water rafting in the country, and Estes Park is a great place to start. There are several companies that offer rafting trips down the river, and they range from easy to challenging depending on your experience level.
No matter what time of year you visit, there’s bound to be a whitewater rafting trip that’s right for you. The spring and summer months offer the most options, but there are also trips available in the fall and winter. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and pack plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and water.
Rafting the river is a great way to see some of Colorado’s beautiful scenery, and you’ll get a workout at the same time!
Have a Blast at Fun City
There’s no shortage of things to do in Estes Park, Colorado. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, fishing, and horseback riding in the Rocky Mountains. History buffs can explore the many museums and historical sites in the area. And families can visit the nearby mini amusement park, Fun City, for a day of fun.
The amusement park is located on the edge of town and offers a variety of rides and attractions for kids of all ages. There’s gemstone panning, water walking balls, bumper cars, go-karts, bumper boats, and even mini golf.
If you’re looking for a fun day out with the family, be sure to check out the amusement park in Estes Park. You won’t be disappointed!
Stargaze at Night
Believe it or not, one of the things to see in Estes Park is the stars! Because Estes Park is further out from Denver, the night sky is so clear that it’s almost unbelievable. Plus, there are quite a few spots to go stargazing throughout the town.
The best spot, easily, is in Rocky Mountain National Park. Head into the park in the evening and find a great spot to sit. Many people will head up to Bear Lake area, but there are tons of private picnic areas throughout the park where you can watch the stars in the evening.
Be sure to set your camera settings to the correct ones so you can capture the moment!
Take a Class at Colorado Mountain School
Have you always wondered how to rock climb, or been interested in learning how to? Well, Colorado Mountain School is the place to go! Open since the 80s, this school offers a wide variety of different courses, no matter what your skill level is.
One of the most popular courses is Intro to Rock Climbing, which is just $199 per person. It’s a day-long course where you’ll get introduced to rock climbing as well as all of the basics. If you want to learn more, you can continue to take higher-level classes!
Make Art at Creativity Cabin Estes Park
One of the lesser-known attractions in Estes Park is Creativity Cabin. This fun place is run by a local family who wanted to design a place where people could just come and create. At the moment, their main feature is ceramics!
Reservations can be made online, but they also have walk-in hours that change depending on the time of year. This is such a fun activity if you’re visiting the area with children, planning a party, or even having a gathering with family.
Learn at the Estes Park Memorial Observatory
The Estes Park Memorial Observatory is a great place to check out in town that’s pretty underrated. This local establishment focuses on educating younger generations about astronomy and science and hosts many events throughout the year.
The best way to enjoy the observatory is by making a reservation ahead of time. While they don’t do online reservations, you can check out their website and make a call to hold your date. Be sure to check their calendar to see what dates are best for seeing the moon!
Spend the Night at The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel is one of the most historical spots to visit in Estes Park and absolutely should not be overlooked. It’s pretty hard to miss it with its bright maroon and white exterior! There’s a wide range of accommodation types here, so you can choose one that best suits your budget.
In addition, fans of Stephen King may know a bit about this hotel already! It’s said to have been King’s inspiration for The Shining.
Just one night in the hotel, and you may be able to find out why quickly!
Don’t forget to book well in advance, because this is one of the more popular and most well-known hotels in Estes Park.
Spend a Day in Rocky Mountain National Park
Yes, even just one day in Rocky Mountain National Park is perfect to see the highlights! This park is one of the most popularly visited in the United States, and with the incredible hikes, alpine lakes, and scenic roads, it’s easy to understand why.
One of the best things to do in RMNP is to hike up to Emerald Lake. It’s a fairly moderate hike, but the time passes quickly because you pass about four other lakes and even a waterfall on the way! In total, it takes about four hours.
For an even more fun time, add Lake Haiyaha to the Emerald Lake hike. This is one of the most beautiful bright blue lakes you’ll ever see, and it doesn’t add that much more length to the trek!
If you’re hiking in winter, be sure to bring metal spikes for the bottom of your shoes to make sure you don’t slip. I’ve done many winter hikes there, and people always try to hike with sneakers. Trust me; it’s not a pretty sight!
Visiting in the winter means you don’t have to get a timed entry permit. If you are visiting spring through fall, make sure you make a permit reservation well in advance.
Try a Sweet at Purple Mountain Taffy Company
There’s almost always a line outside Purple Mountain Taffy Company, and that’s because visiting there is one of the best things to do in Estes Park Colorado. This sweet shop has tons of taffy, and you’ll definitely want to fill up a bucket with your favorites!
Even though the line is long, just know that it’s very much worth it. Try to visit earlier in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds that come later in the day.
Ride the Estes Park Trolley
Get a beautiful tour of Estes Park by hopping on the Estes Park Trolley! This is a fun activity for families and couples especially visiting the area.
The most popular tour, as you may probably have guessed, is the Rocky Mountain National Park tour. This three-hour tour runs year-round (as long as the weather isn’t terrible) and offers a great tour of RMNP. It’s one of the most visited parks in the country for a reason!
Along the way, there are excellent stops to take photos, including at Sprague Lake. There’s also one small hike as well. Ticket prices are $75 for adults and $35 for children.
Have a Handcrafted Local Wine at Snowy Peaks Winery
Should you be visiting Estes Park for a girl’s weekend or you’re looking for a romantic evening out, look no further than Snowy Peaks Winery! This local winery may be small, but they have some of the best drinks in this area of Colorado.
They’re located right in Estes Park and even have a tasting room where you can try some of their wines, which have won awards. Plus, it’s fairly affordable to do sampling at just $9 for around five different wine tastings!
What’s even better is that Snowy Peaks Winery is open every day of the week all year. So, no matter what time of year you’re visiting, you’ll be able to enjoy this local spot!
Play a Round of Golf at Meadow Mini Golf Course
Who doesn’t love mini-golf? If you’re looking for something to do and you want to enjoy the great outdoors (as you should in Colorado), then consider paying a visit to Meadow Mini Golf. Here, you can take in the beautiful Estes Park views while having a bit of rivalry among friends!
Note that this is another of the more seasonal activities in Estes Park because it’s only open in the summer. However, it’s also one of the more historical attractions, dating back over 50 years!
While there, be sure to ask about some of the special holes. There are a few where if you get a hole in one, you’ll receive an entire free round on the house!
Attend the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival
Even though it’s one of the things to do near Estes Park, many people don’t even know that the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival even exists! However, it’s been going on for 46 years and counting as of 2022.
This event normally takes place in September over the course of a weekend. There are normally live bands, whiskey tastings, and more. Plus, it’s all right by some of the most beautiful views in the area! Tickets can be purchased online in advance.
Go to Aiden Sinclair’s Underground
If you’re looking for stuff to do in Estes Park, consider heading to Aidan Sinclair’s Underground. This is one of the more unique experiences that you can have in the town, and truthfully it’s still something that’s not as popular as you think it would be!
This is basically an immersive magic show in a speakeasy at The Stanley Hotel. There are exclusive seats available, so be sure to book your tickets in advance to make sure you’re able to go for your visit. Consider also staying right at the Stanley Hotel for your trip too!
Where to Stay in Estes Park
Wondering where to stay during your visit? Here is a map of some great places to stay in Estes Park!
This post was all about the best things to do in Estes Park. During your trip, be sure to check out Denver too; a beautiful city filled with affordable restaurants, history, and beautiful spots to take photos!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Estes Park worth visiting?
Yes, Estes Park is worth visiting, and most of the best attractions in the town can be seen within an afternoon!
What time do the shops open in Estes Park?
Most of the shops in downtown Estes Park open around 10 a.m.
How long is the Estes Park Aerial Tramway?
The Estes Park Aerial Tramway climbs 1100 feet in just under 4 minutes.
What county is Estes Park, Colorado in?
Estes Park is in Larimer County in Colorado.
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