Colorado's reputation as a premier outdoors destination precedes it, luring adventurous couples from across the U.S. who want to explore Rocky Mountain National Park and other natural areas. But if you and your partner rush out into the Rockies too soon, you'll miss out on everything Colorado's excellent cities and resorts have to offer.
To help you plan your trip, U.S. News scoured the state in search of the most romantic getaways in Colorado. Whether your dream vacation means skiing down a mountain, soaking in a hot spring, perusing a highly regarded museum or something else entirely, you'll find it all in the Centennial State.
Romantic Getaways in Colorado:
-- Rocky Mountain National Park
-- The Stanley Hotel
-- Sonnenalp Hotel
-- The Broadmoor
-- Garden of the Gods
-- Grays Peak and Torreys Peak
-- Strawberry Park Hot Springs
-- Lost Valley Ranch
-- St Julien Hotel & Spa
-- Dunton Hot Springs
-- Glenwood Springs
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park abounds with opportunities to take you and your significant other's breaths away. The national park provides a natural playground that's sure to delight outdoorsy duos. Offering everything from hiking and biking to climbing and horseback riding, Rocky Mountain National Park is an ideal date destination for all kinds of couples.
Those with warm enough sleeping bags and a taste for adventure can opt to camp in the more than 265,000-acre park; however, Estes Park and other nearby towns offer more traditional accommodation options if you and your beau don't want to rough it. A variety of tours of the national park, including private photo safaris, depart from Estes Park. Though formal restaurants are essentially absent from the park, its numerous scenic overlooks provide excellent impromptu spots for romantic picnics.
You'll want to put aside at least a half day for a drive down Trail Ridge Road. The iconic stretch of highway runs 48 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake and presents travelers with a sampling of all Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer, including tundra, forests and meadows. If you're not comfortable driving the mountain roads, book a Green Jeep Tour to learn about the park's history with an experienced guide at the wheel. Twosomes who enjoy more challenging scenic drives should consider taking the Old Fall River Road, a one-way, gravel road that travels 11 miles west before merging with the Trail Ridge Road. Keep in mind that many of the park's roads and other attractions close when the snowfall begins to accumulate, usually in late October.
The Stanley Hotel: Estes Park
Perched above the picturesque town, T he Stanley Hotel looms as both Estes Park's most famous attraction and an excellent place to bed down. The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909 and rapidly modernized the quiet valley. Since opening, the hotel has hosted numerous distinguished guests, including former President Theodore Roosevelt and former Japanese emperor Akihito. Still, the hotel's claim to fame comes from inspiring Stephen King's novel "The Shining," as well as starring in Stanley Kubrick's film adaption of the book. Couples who enjoy cuddling during a scary movie, or hearing ghost stories in general, will appreciate The Stanley Hotel's guided night tour. Alternatively, anyone interested in the hotel's broad history can opt for the day tour. After spending a few hours touring the property or exploring the area around it, guests can bed down in the hotel's impressive rooms, which are decorated in earth tones and provide standard amenities like Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs.
Known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park provides the perfect middle ground for nature-loving twosomes who still crave some creature comforts. Elkhorn and Moraine avenues, the town's main thoroughfares, are where you'll find several cozy, romantic restaurants. Consider grabbing a bite to eat at Bird & Jim, which features a variety of rustic dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. You and your partner can also peruse Estes Park's art galleries or test your own talent with an acrylic pour painting class. No visit would be complete without capturing panoramic views from the Estes Park Aerial Tramway, which whisks riders up almost 9,000 feet to the peak of Prospect Mountain. Estes Park sits about 70 miles northwest of Denver, making it easily accessible for most Colorado couples.
Breckenridge stands out from the bevy of ski towns in the Colorado Rockies thanks to its well-preserved Historic District. Main Street showcases Breckenridge's new and old Victorian buildings (new construction must blend with the Victorian theme), fostering a uniquely romantic environment. History-loving duos who want to learn more about the town's past should book a ghost tour. Still, Breckenridge's main attraction is Breckenridge Ski Resort, which offers a respectable 2,908 skiable acres. Couples don't need to stay at the resort to go skiing, though, so be sure to compare the Best Hotels in Breckenridge. Some options (think: One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort) provide amenities specifically for skiers and snowboarders, such as locker rooms and equipment storage.
However, there is much more to Breckenridge than skiing. Couples will find plenty of ways to entertain themselves year-round. Head to Carter Park, a beloved downtown spot, to try sledding down its large hill. Or, spend a few hours biking, skating or hiking the downhill, roughly 14-mile Vail Pass Path, which offers breathtaking panoramas on the way to Frisco from Breckenridge. For a slower ride, try a fat bike beer and distillery tour, a three-hour bike and beer tour where twosomes can slip into a beer jacket as they sip and peddle through snowy landscapes. Boreas Pass Road also provides an excellent scenic drive, attracting leaf peeping lovebirds during fall with stunning aspen trees.
[Read: The Best Ski Vacations in the USA.]
Sonnenalp Hotel: Vail
Vail's primary attraction is its unmatched powder snow, but even couples who struggle down the bunny slope will find something to love in this luxurious mountain town. Like many of the Best Hotels in Vail, the storied Sonnenalp Hotel, which has welcomed guests since 1979, mirrors Vail's versatility. The property sits at the base of Vail Ski Resort, satisfying the needs of powder hounds and relaxation seekers with its convenient location and variety of top-notch amenities, including multiple restaurants, a world-class golf course and a sumptuous spa.
For couples keen on skiing, the hotel's proximity to Vail Ski Resort makes it easy to maximize time on the resort's more than 145 miles of trails. Meanwhile, twosomes who'd rather lounge on-site can head to the Sonnenalp Spa to enjoy a treatment or a dip in one of several indoor-outdoor pools and whirlpools. The hotel also offers an 18-hole golf course for those who'd rather hit the links. After spending a few hours on or off the property, duos can sign up for a brewery and winery tour or sit for a meal at one of the Sonnenalp Hotel's quiet, romantic restaurants before retiring for the night.
All of the chalet-style hotel's accommodations are best described as cozy. Rooms are outfitted with exposed wood and plaid fabrics, which complement the custom-made Bavarian furniture and views of Gore Creek or Vail Village. What's more, all bathrooms boast heated floors, a satisfying luxury after a long day on the slopes. Couples who want to splurge for a bit of additional space can choose from a variety of suites, all of which include gas fireplaces fitting of the property's romantic ambiance.
The Broadmoor: Colorado Springs
The Broadmoor has impressed visitors and industry experts since it opened in 1918, earning it the title of the longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star awards. So, it's no surprise that it is one of Colorado's top romantic destinations. While The Broadmoor is a stellar resort by any measure, the Colorado Springs fixture stands out in two categories: food and activities.
A broad selection of on-site activities and amenities, including golf, tennis, pools and a luxurious spa, all help cement The Broadmoor as a destination in and of itself for active couples. Anyone looking for a romantic jaunt outside The Broadmoor's grounds will have their pick of adventures, ranging from a hike around stunning Seven Falls to a scenic ride on The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway to a zip line excursion across South Cheyenne Canyon. (Couples can also book zip lining tours in Seven Falls through third-party groups.) As for food, 10 restaurants and 10 cafes and lounges make up The Broadmoor's offerings. Couples can dine on Italian cuisine and split a bottle of wine at Ristorante Del Lago one night and tuck into a meal at the award-winning Penrose Room, a fine dining outpost serving seasonal European-inspired cuisine, the next evening.
The Broadmoor is a huge resort, offering 784 rooms, suites, cottages and brownstones, plus a full estate. All standard accommodations can be described as majestic thanks to their extravagant headboards and intricately patterned textiles, as well as standard amenities like Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs. Couples in search of additional privacy can partake in one of the resort's Wilderness Experiences, each of which includes a stay in one of 13 cabins and access to more outdoorsy offerings, such as fly-fishing and scenic hikes.
Garden of the Gods: Colorado Springs
Also located in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods earns its distinction as a National Natural Landmark with sandstone rock formations jutting 300 feet upward and scraping the sky. Couples can start their visits with a sunrise hot air balloon flight, which comes with a light breakfast and Champagne, before picking up maps from the visitor and nature center to use while spending almost a full day hiking around the red rock formations. Adventurous duos can also enjoy bike and electric bike rides, Jeep or Segway tours, and even climbing excursions. Once lovebirds have worked up an appetite, they can grab lunch at the Garden of the Gods Market and Cafe or bring a packed lunch to one of numerous secluded picnic areas.
While the previously mentioned Broadmoor is Colorado Springs' best-known hotel, it certainly isn't the only romantic lodging option worth considering in the sprawling area. Equally opulent alternatives located close to Garden of the Gods include The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa and Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort. Or, couples can head to the adjacent town of Manitou Springs to stay at The Cliff House at Pikes Peak, which features charming Victorian decor and lavish amenities like two-person spa tubs, steam showers and towel warmers.
Grays and Torreys Peaks
Colorado is home to countless mountains, but 58 of them hold the distinction of being "14ers," which means their peaks exceed 14,000 feet. Bagging a 14er, or summiting one of these extra-imposing mountains, has a special place in the heart of hikers. They're also pretty memorable spots to get down on one knee. Couples who enjoy a challenging trek will appreciate the stunning views and sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a 14er, but these difficult hikes are not to be taken lightly. Altitude, wind and hydration all present unique obstacles. Grays and Torreys peaks stand out as two challenging, achievable 14ers for adventurous duos to hike.
Both peaks sit about 80 miles west of Denver. Twosomes who are hoping to summit them should aim to arrive as early as possible. Past hikers suggest making sure your vehicle is a four-wheel-drive model capable of traversing the gravel road to the trailhead. The out and back hiking trail to Grays and Torreys peaks runs about 10 miles from the trailhead to the summit and is most easily accessible from spring through fall. Travelers should plan to hike up around 3,600 feet and pack sunscreen, windbreakers and plenty of water.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs: Steamboat Springs
While Colorado has no shortage of hot springs, the surrounding forest and elaborate stonework of Strawberry Park Hot Springs makes its springs stand out. Open year-round, the facilities include various pools for soaking, the coldest of which remains around 102 degrees. Massages and aquatic therapy sessions are available if you want to kick the relaxation up a notch. For those hoping for an even more romantic ambiance, arrive in winter when powder snow blankets the surrounding forest. (The facilities include a heated cabin for changing.)
Couples looking to spend multiple days at the hot springs can opt for accommodations that run the gamut from a converted train caboose to standard cabins to relatively primitive campsites. Alternatively, they can plan a daytrip from Steamboat Springs, which sits 7 miles south. Shuttle companies offer routes that connect the two destinations, so anyone iffy about the prospect of driving through snow can still make the trek. Travelers staying in Steamboat Springs can take advantage of the area's ski resort when they're not enjoying the hot springs. The Best Hotels in Steamboat Springs, such as the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, tout private pools and easy access to golf courses, among other amenities.
[Read: Top Cabin Rentals in the U.S.]
The natural beauty surrounding Aspen earns worldwide acclaim. What's more, the area's four ski mountains -- Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain -- all help cement the town's reputation as a world-class ski destination. While skiing and snowboarding are Aspen's main activities, the town also offers various food and shopping options and an assortment of warm-weather activities for spring, summer and fall visitors. Plus, those who want to learn a bit about Aspen's unique history can sign up for Aspen's off the beaten path tour or Aspen's dark side ghost tour.
A collection of luxurious hotels is available for any lovebirds looking to splurge. The Little Nell provides contemporary digs and mountain access, while the equally high-end Hotel Jerome leans on its history of welcoming visitors since 1889 with top-notch service and amenities. With everything Aspen offers, it's easy to blow through a budget. Multiple days of lift tickets add up, and many of the Best Hotels in Aspen charge high nightly rates. Additionally, many of the town's stellar dining venues, ranging from après-ski bars to romantic restaurants, are exceptionally expensive. Couples can offset some of the cost of visiting Aspen by seeking out free and cheap activities. A hike up the picturesque Maroon Bells or a scenic drive through Independence Pass won't cost you a dime.
Lost Valley Ranch: Sedalia
You'd be forgiven for thinking that a stay at Lost Valley Ranch would be akin to roughing it in the wilderness given the dude ranch's location amid roughly 26,000 acres of Pike National Forest. In reality, this all-inclusive property situated about 70 miles southwest of Denver leans closer to a luxury ranch retreat than a primitive campground. Couples can book a private cabin, which comes equipped with a porch for taking in the stunning views and a fireplace for cozy evening cuddling. (Firewood is delivered daily.) Much of the appeal of a stay at Lost Valley Ranch comes in the quiet moments, which are facilitated by the lack of internet access, TVs or telephones in the cabins.
Beyond their digs, couples can live out their homesteading fantasies with activities like horseback riding, cattle roundups, rodeos and fly-fishing. What's more, lodging rates include three meals a day, with options for meadow and mountaintop picnics. Past visitors loved Lost Valley Ranch's dedicated staff, saying that employees do everything in their power to make stays relaxing. Many even choose to return annually.
Often overlooked in favor of the Rocky Mountains to the northwest, Denver makes its own claim as a top romantic destination in Colorado. The Mile High City boasts an assortment of attractions, ranging from public parks to museums to an impressive collection of breweries. Couples can even book a brewery tour to learn more about Colorado's beer scene. For culinary-minded twosomes who would rather explore the city's dining scene, there are historic Larimer Square and Restaurant Row in the Uptown neighborhood, which offer enough eateries to keep foodies entertained for an entire trip. Alternatively, duos can sign up for a cooking class to learn how to make a dish they can recreate back home. The Denver Botanic Gardens and Washington Park provide adventurous lovebirds with a taste of the wilderness found in the rest of the Centennial State. And for a truly unique activity unavailable anywhere else, stop by the International Church of Cannabis for the BEYOND light show and meditation experience.
Located outside of downtown Denver, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre remains a bucket-list destination for nature and music lovers. The iconic amphitheater hosts concerts, as well as an assortment of events like yoga classes and film viewings. Whether you stop by for an event or to simply take in the stunning venue and peruse the visitor center, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre provides a memorable date destination.
Due to Denver's proximity to Denver International Airport, most couples will at least drive through Denver on their way to other parts of Colorado. Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton both offer outposts here to attract travelers, while The Crawford Hotel's location in Denver's Union Station and its train-inspired accommodations and public spaces make it a convenient home base for Amtrak riders and train enthusiasts. For more accommodation options, see the Best Hotels in Denver.
[Read: The Best Denver Tours.]
St Julien Hotel & Spa: Boulder
The soothing St Julien Hotel & Spa (one of Boulder's top hotels) immediately makes travelers feel at ease with its elegant and eco-conscious design. Accommodations at St Julien continue the hotel's calming aesthetic with slate flooring, granite colors and earth tones, which are complemented by views of the mountains or downtown Boulder. Recent visitors were particularly fond of the soaking tubs and complimentary bath salts, as well as the nightly turndown service. Romantic packages at St Julien include perks like Champagne paired with chocolate-covered strawberries, treatments at the Spa at St Julien and hotel credits. St Julien Hotel & Spa also treats guests to impressive cuisine at the Redgarden Terrace and Jill's Restaurant and Bistro, while the T-Zero Lounge provides the perfect place for a nightcap with live music and cocktails made with local Colorado liquor.
The hotel sits close to the popular Boulder Creek Path, a terrific option for hiking. Electric bike tours that weave visitors in and around Boulder are also available for duos who would rather explore on two wheels than their own two feet. For a bit more excitement and an excellent workout, couples can watch the sun rise over Boulder from the Royal Arch or the Flatirons, both of which require difficult hikes. Boulder hike and beer guided tours are available to transport travelers to the Flatirons, then back to a local taproom, handling all of the challenging aspects of planning. After an exhausting day exploring Boulder, traveling pairs can peruse Pearl Street Mall's quaint storefronts.
Dunton Hot Springs: Dunton
Dunton provides a secluded retreat for couples hoping to truly get off the grid during their time in Colorado. Dunton was established in 1885 and went from a mining town to a ghost town to a cattle ranch to a dude ranch before becoming the luxurious hideaway it is today. The current owners renovated the entire town, transforming ramshackle log cabins into the luxurious Dunton Hot Springs and setting a very high bar for romantic destinations in the West. The resort sits about 30 miles southwest of Telluride and consists of 13 distinct cabins (including one luxurious tent), which were all hand-built and mix historical elements with impressive amenities like fireplaces and plunge pools.
The town's primary attractions are its namesake hot springs, which range from 85 to 106 degrees and can be enjoyed in various spots on-site. Additionally, activities like horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking and rock climbing are available in summer, while outdoorsy pursuits like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing can be enjoyed every winter. A romance package, which includes privately guided activities, spa treatments, Champagne and more, is available for couples who want to dial up the romance.
Telluride's boisterous atmosphere appeals to couples who think of drinks and dancing when imagining their perfect date. Affectionately nicknamed "To-Hell-You-Ride" for its energetic social scene, the town is peppered with saloons, pubs and lounges, so you can be confident that the next round for you and your significant other is never too far away. That's not to say that Telluride lacks the staples of a typical Colorado ski town; Telluride Ski Resort offers more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. The resort also encompasses Mountain Village, which is accessible via a scenic gondola and offers a quaint selection of restaurants and bars along its cobblestone streets.
Couples visiting Telluride in summer are not at a loss for things to do, either. Numerous hiking trails crisscross the surrounding mountains, allowing visitors to picnic near abandoned mines or while enjoying stunning vistas. Town Park presents another option for scenic strolls, and it hosts many of Telluride's warm-weather festivals, which make for excellent dates. The San Juan Skyway satisfies anyone longing for a memorable car ride, as it travels through two national forests and numerous small towns. Meanwhile, Ophir Pass presents an excellent off-roading option for couples in search of a slightly more exhilarating ride. Following a busy day outdoors, duos can retreat to the Lumière with Inspirato, which sits in Mountain Village and houses chic accommodations that come complete with fireplaces, hardwood floors and a slew of additional luxurious amenities. See the Best Hotels in Telluride for more lodging options.
Don't overlook relatively unassuming Glenwood Springs when scouting out potential destinations for your next romantic trip. The town sits at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers in the scenic Roaring Fork Valley. The area houses two popular accommodation options, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and Iron Mountain Hot Springs, both of which boast hot springs for visitors to soak in. While multiple days marinating in warm water may sound like the perfect romantic vacation for some, Glenwood Springs' attractions are more diverse. The 3-mile Hanging Lake Trail offers a moderately challenging hike and a gratifying view of waterfalls and its namesake lake. (Note: Hanging Lake Trail is currently closed due to local forest fires.) Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies will enjoy the thrill rides and cave tours at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Couples can opt to stay in one of the relatively affordable B est Hotels in Glenwood Springs or splurge on an ultra-luxurious option within the nearby town of Aspen, which is located about 40 miles southeast. Anyone staying in Aspen can book a Glenwood hot springs tour, which includes transportation between the two towns and time to soak in the area's hot springs.
More ways to explore Colorado and beyond:
Zach Watson is an Editor for the Travel section at U.S. News, where he manages the Best Hotels product. He has also written and edited an assortment of travel-related content, including hotel profiles, destination guides and consumer advice content, since joining U.S. News in 2017.
A Chicago native who now calls D.C. home, Zach graduated from Northwestern University in 2017, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Zach primarily travels for outdoor recreation, whether it's backpacking in northern Minnesota or watching the horses on Assateague Island National Seashore. You can follow Zach on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn and at firstname.lastname@example.org.