Hot Spots in Colorado

A snapshot of a main street in Colorado. Snow is on the mountains in the background. (Pikest)

A snapshot of a main street in Colorado. (Pikest)

Colorado, known as the California of the Midwest, has many popular tourist destinations ranging from ski towns, the famous sand dunes, hikes going up to 14,000-feet in elevation, amusement parks, sports teams, concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and many more activities people can do in their spare time.

Now, a flight from John Wayne Airport (SNA) to Denver International Airport (DEN), known locally as DIA, takes about two and a half hours with the time zone changing from Pacific Standard Time (PST) to Mountain Time (MT). The average cost of a flight is around $100-$150 dollars depending on which day you choose to fly. If you choose to make the drive from Orange County, California to Colorado it will take you about 15-17 hours depending on how much you stop. A pro: it’s a very scenic drive, and you get to travel through many different states. So here are all the many activities the state has to offer.

Ski towns: There are hundreds of ski-mountain towns to go to in Colorado that offer great winter and summer activities. The majority of ski-mountain resorts in Colorado are under a three-hour drive west of Denver. According to the Vail Resorts, you can ski and snowboard ($130/day), hike, cycle, go on brewery tours (free to $20), go tubing ($5 for three runs), or get an adventure pass and try the mountain coaster and scene gondola ($75).

Colorado sand dunes: Believe it or not, Colorado actually is home to the tallest dunes in North America. The Great Colorado Sand Dunes are about a seven-hour drive south of Denver. According to the National Park Service, you can camp ($11-$20/night), hike, go tubing on the river or go sandboarding, and sand sledding (free to $15/rental).

14ers: Colorado is home to hundreds of hiking trails, known as 14ers, that go up to 14,000 feet in elevation and offer some amazing views. 14ers are ranked in difficulty by class ranging from one to five (one being easy hiking and five including technical, or rock, climbing). Like most hiking trails, 14ers are free, all you need to have is the right hiking and camping attire. Here are some 14er hikes in Colorado from classes one to four in difficulty. Per, you can hike the Class 1 Grays Peak (7.50 miles), Mt. Elbert (9.50 miles), and Pines Peak (24 miles); the Class 2 Castle Peak (13.50 miles), Mt. Bross (3.25 miles), and Mt. Yale (9.50 miles); the Class 3 Longs Peak (14.50 miles), Wilsons Peak (10 miles), Crestone Needle (12 miles); and the Class 4 North Maroon Peak (9.25 miles), Mt. Wilson (16 miles), and Little Bear Peak (14 miles).

Amusement Parks: There are also many amusement parks in Colorado that people of all ages can enjoy. Most of these amusement parks are located in Denver or just a short drive outside of Denver. Here is a list of some amusement parks in Colorado that you can enjoy: Elitch Gardens and Water Park (Denver, $70/person), Water World (Denver, $25/person), Great Wolf Lodge (Colorado Springs, four hours south of Denver, free entry).

Sporting events: Denver is home to some of the most talented and fun to watch sports teams out there. All these teams are located in Denver, Colorado. You can enjoy watching the Colorado Rockies (baseball) starting at an astoundingly low $10, the Denver Broncos (football) starting at $100, or the Denver Nuggets (basketball) for as low as $25.

Red Rocks: Finally, the Red Rocks Amphitheater is a world-renowned concert venue where people from all around the world come to see the best artists perform. The drive from Denver is only 30 minutes, and the average ticket to Red Rocks costs about $100 but varies on who is performing. Here are some of the most notable performers throughout the years: The Beatles (1964), The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968), John Denver (1974), The Grateful Dead (1978), U2 (1983), Radio Head (2003), and Daft Punk (2007).