Colorado is the home of the Rocky Mountains, the gateway to the West, filled with pioneer history, real life cowboys, hip towns, hot springs and some of the best hiking, biking, camping and climbing you’re ever likely to find – all only one direct flight away, with British Airways flying to Denver seven times per week.
Winter here is rightly famous, but the adventure lasts all year. In summer, wildflowers carpet the mountain slopes; in autumn, golden hues race through the forests. There are 300 days of sunshine a year, more 14ers (mountain summits over 14,000-feet) than any other state and a festival scene that doesn’t quit - from the spectacular Snowmass Hot Air Balloon Festival where hundreds of balloons fill the sky with colour, to the slightly mad Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (fancy chasing a steam train up a mountain anyone?), Colorado’s got you covered.
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European ski resorts might get all the airtime, but for true winter junkies a Rocky Mountain trip is a must. Powder here is drier, lighter and perfect for carving, plus the runs are empty and enormous. The amount of choice is superb too, from the wide-open bowls of Vail and Breckenridge to the fast lines of Aspen and Snowmass, as well as more than a dozen other world-class winter resorts within a short drive of each other.
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Colorado is home to 12 national parks and monuments, offering everything from backpacking and horseback riding to rafting, rock climbing and even, in Great Sand Dunes National Park, sand boarding among North America’s highest dunes. Most ski resorts stay open year-round, switching from pistes to downhill mountain biking trails and keeping the lifts running for high-elevation hiking and easy-to-reach panoramic views. The town of Grand Junction makes an excellent adventure base-camp, with some of the best outdoor activities in the state right in its back yard.
Some like it hot
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Combining the spectacular scenery of the Rockies with five of the hippest hot spring towns in the country, the 720-mile Historic Hot Springs Loop is the best way to soak up Colorado’s healing waters. With 30 natural thermal pools open year-round, highlights include the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world at Glenwood Springs, the soothing natural vapour caves of Ouray and the bubbling delights of Steamboat.
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Rocky Mountain National Park is legendary: a 415-square-mile wilderness of jagged peaks and high alpine lakes home to coyote, black bear and moose. The fun mountain town of Estes Park, a great base from which to explore it, is just 1.5 hours from Denver. There are lesser known national parks too such as Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a spectacular 2,000-foot gorge that rivals the Grand Canyon but draws a fraction of the crowds, and the cliff-dwellings of Mesa Verde, one of the best preserved examples of Native American culture in the country.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
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If you’re after something a little less strenuous, try Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre – by day it’s a free city park just 30 minutes west of Denver with hiking trials and giant rock formations, by night, an outdoor music venue that has hosted everyone from The Beatles to local jazz, rock and bluegrass artists.
The Wild West
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From ghost towns and vintage trains to working cowboy ranches and the largest rodeo in the world, Denver’s annual National Western Stock Show and Rodeo (as well as the first: the Deer Trail Rodeo which started in 1869) – the Wild West is alive and kicking in Colorado.
Saddle up or join a cattle drive, and you’ll feel the spirit of that old frontier still; footprints of dinosaurs embedded in stone, petroglyphs carved into cliffs, rivers where you can pan for gold.
Want to look the part? Head to Rockmount Ranch Wear in downtown Denver, where Western icon, Jack A. Weil, invented the first cowboy shirt with poppers instead of buttons and popularised Western wear into popular culture.
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With more craft breweries per capita than any other state, Colorado is heaven for hop heads. Denver’s Great American Beer Festival is the largest craft beer event in the country while the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is set in a spectacular valley. But, it’s the little-known gems that really catch the eye: The Grimm Brothers, serving fable-inspired brews in Loveland, and the mountain views from Avery’s enormous outdoor patio in Boulder, are two local favourites.
Get the true lowdown on a self-guided tour along the Denver Beer Trail and sample everything from stouts to lagers.
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Denver is Bronco’s country. When Colorado’s American Football team plays, the whole city dresses in orange to support. Catch games live at the Blake Street Tavern in the heart of downtown. But with seven premier sports teams in all, don’t stop there. On a warm summer night, hot dog in one hand, cold beer in the other, there’s no better place to be than Coors Field, home of The Rockies baseball team.
On the Rails
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The steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, built in 1882, cuts spectacularly through the canyons and remote mountains of the San Juan National Forest – a journey taken by Colorado’s first pioneers more than a century ago. While vintage train lovers will adore Pikes Peak Cog Railway, near Colorado Springs. The highest cog railway on the planet, it climbs to the 14,114-foot summit of Pike’s Peak, the view from here inspired the song America the Beautiful
From the pretty French Quarter to the hip Marigny district, each of New Orleans’ neighbourhoods jive to their own funky beat – learn all about them with our in-the-know guide.
The charming, walkable Quarter is full of step-back in-time architecture and venerable dining institutions that speak to its status as New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood, but it’s also home to exciting, new foodie spots…
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For more than a hundred years, Galatoire’s has been serving trout meuniere (trout with a flour-based sauce), soufflé potatoes and champagne to the New Orleans elite in its mirrored, tiled dining room. The French 75 bar at Arnaud’s, has an eccentric museum of vintage Mardi Gras costumes hidden upstairs.
Built in 1886, the Hotel Monteleone breathes old New Orleans character, from its elegant Beaux Arts architecture to its many reported ghost sightings.
Preservation Hall faithfully presents traditional jazz each night, just like when it was launched in 1961, with musicians who were there when the genre was born in the early twentieth century. Expect intimate, late-night concerts with contemporary artists like Elvis Costello and Angelique Kidjo.
Just downriver of the French Quarter, the bohemian Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have become a centre for hip, laid-back art, music and cuisine.
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Grab a bottle at tiny, jewel-like wine shop Bacchanal, then drink it in the expansive, magically lit garden where live bands provide the soundtrack. In New Orleans, there are gigs 365 nights of the year meaning your toes will always be kept tapping. A block from the Press Street train tracks in Bywater, the aptly named Junction features Louisana’s finest craft brews and gourmet burgers.
The cute Balcony Guest House oozes Creole charm with its pretty characterful rooms. Its eponymous balcony provides a wonderful vantage point to admire the area’s rainbow-coloured tiny ‘shotgun’ houses, and see Marigny’s creative types ambling through the streets.
At Euclid Records and the Louisiana Music Factory, stock up on sounds to remember your visit to the cradle of American music. Crescent Park runs for two miles on the edge of Marigny and Bywater, and has breathtaking river vistas, as well as running and biking paths.
A few blocks uptown of the French Quarter, this neighbourhood is packed with galleries, plus stylish hotels and restaurants.
The latest from celeb chef John Besh’s team is Willa Jean, an expansive, corner space specializing in delectable bakery items, and brunch accompanied by lemony frozen rosé. Grab a seat on the raw bar at the award-winning Peche, for the best seafood in the Gulf. In 2016, New Orleans had the most James Beard award nominees per capita over any American city, so come hungry.
The old Roosevelt Hotel epitomises grandeur, with a Guerlain spa and its historic Blue Room, where Louis Armstrong once performed.
Stop by the Ogden Museum and browse its collection of contemporary and classic Southern art. On Thursday nights, local musicians play in its soaring atrium. The National World War Two Museum houses an extraordinary multimedia collection dedicated to telling the story of the conflict that shaped the twentieth century.
UPTOWN AND THE GARDEN DISTRICT
Live oaks and magnolias provide lush natural canopies over some of the city’s most impressive architecture
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The relatively new Freret Street cultural district is home to a handful of laid-back, innovative bars and restaurants, from the home-style Southern cooking at High Hat Café to next-level cocktails at Cure. Hidden away on a residential street, Clancy’s where generations have enjoyed fried oysters with Brie and lemon icebox pie.
The Avenue Plaza Resort, is home to locals’ favourite Mr. John’s Steakhouse which serves up prime beef just steps away from oak-lined St. Charles Avenue, where streetcars rumble by.
Tipitina’s, founded in the 1970s to give rhythm-and-blues piano man Professor Longhair a place to play, brings in both major touring bands and local luminaries. Magazine Street offers brilliant shopping for miles, including handcrafted jewellery inspired by the history of South Louisiana at Mignon Faget’s
Colorado is well known for winter fun, but the adventure doesn’t stop when the snow melts. From world-class hiking to Wild West history, in Colorado the outdoors isn’t a destination; it’s a way of life.