We get quite sad when we think people miss out on all the wonderful things to do in Aurora because they visit Denver and don’t venture any further. Don’t be like them. We know you’re smarter than that. Beautiful Aurora is a city in the southeastern portion of Colorado and is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area. Despite the fact that Aurora is the third-largest city in Colorado, it is still classed as the largest ‘suburb’ of Denver. The city has a population of around 336,000 people and sits just 10 miles or so from the capital. Aurora is actually larger than Denver but a little less spread out than its neighbor. It’s well known for its food, cultural activities, and its expanses of gorgeous wide-open space. It’s a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts and has a quiet, relaxed pace of life.
So, let’s take you on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Aurora, CO on your visit.
Cherry Creek State Park
Even if this park was rubbish, doesn’t its name make you immediately want to go there? Don’t worry, though – it’s not rubbish at all. It’s actually 550 acres of wetland and natural prairie for swimming, boating, fishing, camping and picnicking. You can even take your furry bestie to the off-leash area and let them make new friends. There are 19 distinct trails within the park; all with different conditions, levels of difficulty, and lengths. Some are foot only; some are foot and bike, and some are foot, bike, and hoof. And we don’t mean the Devil does his workouts there, we mean you can take your horse. If you have one, obviously. Most of the trails are also dog-friendly. The park is a great thing to do in Aurora, CO for a day out with the kids. You can all splash around in the water, dry off in the sun, go for a bike ride, and then finish the day with a picnic.
Shopping in Aurora, CO must be done at some point during your vacation. We think it’s the law there, but don’t quote us on that. Anyway, when you get round to getting your shop on, head to Southlands to punish your purse in the best possible way. The shopping complex looks a bit like an old high street, and it’s got a great balance of popular brands and independent boutiques. Southlands is also home to a movie theater – which is a dine-in. I mean, you pig out on the sofa with snacks when you watch movies at home, so why not do it when you’re out? Just as a quick warning, though – they don’t like it when you take your pants off in the theater. That’s just a *touch* too relaxed, ya know? With a ton of stores, restaurants, and movies to choose from, a visit to Southlands is a really fun thing to do in Aurora for all the family.
Stanley Marketplace started life as an airplane factory but now provides shelter for dozens of independent local businesses. The majority of the vendors are food-related, and you can try out BBQ, empanadas, sushi, bagels, ice cream, donuts, and biscuits, to name a few. You will almost certainly come out heavier than when you went in. There’s also a beer hall (yay!), nail salons, creative spaces, and a cooking school. Did we mention there’s a beer hall? We did? OK, then, we’re all done here. Seriously, though, a trip to Stanley Marketplace is a really fun thing to do in Aurora, Co for food lovers and people who appreciate brilliantly named shops. They have a donut store called Glazed and Confused.
Arapahoe is the home of horse and greyhound racing in Aurora and hosts lots of events throughout the season (usually June through August). The breeds that race at Arapahoe are Arabian, Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and there are some pretty valuable purses being chased (quite literally). The highest-profile races – The Mile High Derby and The Mile High Futurity – have prize money of $100,000. There’s no word on whether the jockey and horses split this 50/50 or whether the horses keep most of it for doing all the leg work. If you can get a ticket for the track, it’s a fun thing to do in Aurora. The Arabian horses, in particular, are wonderful to watch. You don’t have to be a fan of racing to go. You’re on vacation; try something a little different!
Tickets required, available from the entrance, $1-$5 general admission.
The Colorado Freedom Memorial
The memorial is dedicated to Colorado natives who lost their lives fighting for their country. While it may not seem like the greatest thing to do in Aurora, you kinda need to see it to appreciate how beautiful it is. You should also definitely check out the backstory to how the memorial even came to be built because, man, is it an emotional rollercoaster. After almost 13 years of planning and fundraising, the memorial to honor veterans was completed in 2013. We won’t lie to you; it’s a pretty moving experience to be there. The craggy glass structure represents the mountainous landscape of the state, and there are 6,000 names inscribed on the memorial.
Aurora History Museum
This is a great community museum focusing on the history of Aurora. There’s a ton of old photographs, cultural exhibits, and military artifacts to see, and visiting helps you to gain perspective into the city’s background. The highlight of the permanent collection is a fully restored, original trolley bus from 1913. As well as the collection, the museum has special events throughout the year. The photo collection alone is worth the visit, and it’s a really lovely thing to do in Aurora with the family.
Great Plains Park
Great Plains is a great family park covering more than 54 acres of land in Aurora. It has lots of space for chilling out, hiking trails, sports fields, playgrounds and a seasonal ‘sprayground’ for kids to splash around in and cool down during the hot summers. The park is very popular with local people, which is generally a sign of quality. There’s so much to explore within Great Plains that you could easily spend a couple of days here undertaking a range of different activities. It’s a great thing to do in Aurora, CO with kids.
Off-beat things to do in Aurora
Head over to the Brew Hut and sign up for a beer sensory class. Obviously, this only applies to visitors over the age of 21. We’re sorry, youngsters, you’ll have to sit this one out we’re afraid. For legal drinkers, Aurora beer company, Dry Dock Brewing, will teach you how to identify 12 off-flavors in a range of beers. Yes, people; it’s educational beer drinking. AND you can do it during the day without being judged (much). What more do you need, we ask? It’s a really fun thing to do in Aurora, and you can go home and dazzle your friends with your newly acquired beer knowledge. Or, why not go the whole hog and call yourself Dr. after you’ve been? You’ve earned it, after all. Successfully completing beer sensory class should be a recognized Ph.D. anyway.
FAQs About Aurora
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Aurora. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this beautiful Colorado city.
What is Aurora CO known for?
Lots of things. It has an excellent reputation for brewing beers, is the most diverse city in the state of Colorado, and it has 11 championship golf courses. Aurora is also gaining ground as one of the most innovative hubs in the country. With world-class medical research facilities at Anschutz Medical and one of the best life-science centers in the US in Fitzsimmons Innovation Campus, Aurora is cementing its future as a leader in the healthcare industry.
What is there to do in Colorado?
There’s pretty much nothing you can’t do in Colorado. It’s one of the leading states for outdoor sports (think skiing in Vail and climbing in the Rockies), and has beautiful hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Across the state, there are wonderful cities to explore, and these are all surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States.
What is there to do indoors in Colorado Springs?
Go explore the Cave of the Winds. Yeah, we know, it’s a cave and that *technically* means it’s actually outdoors but, when you think about it, it’s really only outdoors until you go inside. After that, it’s indoors, right? Alternatively, if you prefer your indoor attractions to be…indoors, spend the day exploring the universe at Foundation Discovery Center.
Things to do in Aurora, Co when it’s raining?
Do some shopping at Southlands, or catch a movie at their drive-in theater. If you have kids who like to bounce around (and we don’t know any that have ever turned down this opportunity), you could let them burn off all that excess energy at Jumpoline Family Fun Center. If you only have big kids (i.e., you’re married), how about a relaxing spa day?
Aurora is considered to be ‘The Gateway to the Rockies’ due to its position in southeast Colorado. Although the city is just 10 or so miles from Denver, the difference in the cost of living in Aurora makes it the perfect base for people traveling to the city. It offers a short commute to the state capital, but all the amenities and surroundings of a much smaller and relaxed area. It’s the perfect big city with a small city feel. Rather surprisingly to those who don’t know the city, Aurora has a fantastic reputation for its food. It is the most diverse city in the state and its Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Australian fare is worth the visit alone. The city is served by Denver International Airport, which is only 12 miles away. There’s a great range of free things to do in Aurora to suit travelers on a budget, and its accommodation ranges from budget to all-out luxury (we’re looking at you, Gaylord Hotels Resort). We hope we’ve twisted your arm about all the wonderful things to do in Aurora, CO during your vacation.