Experiencing local culture is easy to do when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Festivals, art shows, eateries, theater, and concerts are just a few of the things to do. Since Colorado is so big and about every city has a place to check out, we did some legwork for you and came up with our list of must do's.
For an authentic Old West cultural experience, head about one-and-a-half hours north of Rocky Mountain National Park to Cheyenne, WY, which is rich in culture. The largest outdoor rodeo in the world, Cheyenne Frontier Days attracts big names from all over the country. In addition to the rodeo, enjoy a carnival, top-name entertainment concerts, Indian village and dancing, free parades, a free chili cook-off plus much more. The event takes place the last full week of July in Wyoming's capital city, Cheyenne. (http://www.cheyenne.org)
A few miles from the Park's east entrance, Estes Park is rich with local mountain culture. Local venues provide areas for concerts, art shows, and festivals. During the winter make sure to check out the Winter Concert Series at the Stanley Hotel Concert Hall. Another not-to-miss event is the Jazz Fest and Art Walk during the second weekend in May. Jazz from all reaches of the United States is played on variety of stages intermixed with local artists and craft booths. Also make sure to check out Autumn Gold - A Festival of Bands, Brats and Beers. Yeah, we know could it get any better? Under the quacking gold aspens sip some of Estes Park's best-brewed beer while catching local bands jamming music from bluegrass to country.
On the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake is another key place to soak in local culture and enjoy beer and food from across the mountain town. Two highlights not to be missed are Western Weekend and the Grand Lake Fall Festival. The Grand Lake Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre is a great venue to enjoy one of several local shows ranging from dramas to musicals. The theater usually always has something going on and is great for a family outing. Then there is one of the strangest yet impressive festivals in Colorado, the Grand Lake Regatta where boats race around Grand Lake attempting to win the prestigious Lipton Cup. Put on by the Grand Lake Yacht Club, this is consistently a favorite festival with locals and visitors.
Outside of Rocky Mountain National Park's close surrounding regions there is always something going on in Colorado. If you love art and healthy organic food then make sure to head down to Boulder for the Boulder Creek Festival, which takes place each Memorial Day. Several entertainment stages, 500 booths, local beer, and a crazy all-out rubber ducky race are part of the three-day festival, which routinely draws visitors from all over the Front Range.
Just north of Boulder in the small mountain town of Nederland is the infamous Dead Guy Days, which takes place during the first full weekend of March. The entire town and a large portion of Denver and Boulder get together to celebrate the towns only frozen resident. Coffin races, look-a-like contests, and a freezing polar bear swim are all part of the fun.
If you love beer then look no further, there is only one thing for you to do: head directly to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. There are no words that can describe the bliss beer lovers will have when walking through the doors at the Colorado convention center. In 2008 over 40,000 people drank, drank, and drank some more, while breweries from all over America compete for gold medals. Though not perfect for little kids this is a great place to unwind if you can talk your spouse into hanging back to watch the kids for a few hours.