Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Adams County, CO

  • Published 2023/06/10

It’s easy to get lost in the natural beauty of Adams County, Colorado, including its amazing recreational trails, protected area, and beautiful parks.

My first trip here was only to visit a friend, but I ended up driving around the county because I was mesmerized by its beauty and friendly people.

Then it was followed by another trip with my family in the fall to enjoy many of its wonderful outdoor recreations.

The county seat, Brighton, is gorgeous enough to drop by.

Adams County is a namesake for the head of the state Alva Adams, who served from 1887 to 1889, and was officially founded in 1901.

The county’s vibrant life and the great outdoors have drawn many people to live and work in the county, which quickly contributed to its growing population of 519,572 as of the 2020 census.

Whether you’re hiking the trails, playing in the water, or picking your own fruits and vegetables, your trip here will be a feat!

To help you out, I’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in Adams County, Colorado.

Get Closer to the Wildlife at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City

Bison at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Nina B / Shutterstock.com

Home to more than 300 species of native wildlife, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge offers 15,988 acres of beautiful wetlands, open lakes, woodlands, and prairie grasslands.

I’ve seen gorgeous birds of prey here, as well as songbirds, coyotes, bison, prairie dogs, waterfowl, deer, and many other native wildlife.

I recommend stopping by the visitor center first to see the interpretive exhibits and the history of the area.

Boardwalk at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Cathleen Blake / Shutterstock.com

We took the 11-mile Wildlife Drive auto tour to see lots of wildlife while listening to the podcast that talks about the refuge.

There’s also seasonal fishing available at two lakes; Lake Mary and Lake Ladora.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1992 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Doe at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Nina B / Shutterstock.com

Play in the Water at Water World in Federal Heights

It gets a little hotter in Adams County in the summer, but Water World got your back.

The 70-acre water park is one of the largest in the U.S. with about 50 attractions to see and try, which we all did in the summer.

There are water slides that kids and adults can enjoy, as well as a lazy river, inflatable tube and raft rides, and wave pools, which are popular among visitors.

It’s open in the summer, which is great for traveling families with little kids.

There are also private cabanas in different sizes for rental, and the concessions are extraordinary.

The burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, chicken tenders, smoothies, ice cream, and many other specialty beverages are delicious.

Water World is a perfect spot in the summer in the Federal Heights area and is worth the drive.

Pick Your Own Fruits at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton

If picking your own berries and vegetables sounds fun to you, head to Berry Patch Farms, which offers seasonal U-pick in the county.

Tim and Claudia Ferrell established the 40-acre farm in 1991 and is USDA-certified organic, and has been offering pick-your-own fruits and some vegetables and herbs since 1994.

If you’re in the Brighton area sometime between June and September, you get to enjoy picking your own strawberries, raspberries, pie cherries, and pickling cukes, among others.

The farm is a beauty with lots of flowers in bloom, which you can also pick in season, especially the gorgeous sunflowers in the summertime.

Berry Patch Farms is a working farm, so you’ll have to be mindful of your activities all the time, especially when supervising your kids.

Go Mexican at La Estrellita in Brighton

If you’re into Mexican cuisine, La Estrellita doesn’t disappoint.

I was lucky enough to bump into this charming restaurant in Brighton when I was exploring the city on one of my trips here.

The restaurant is popular for its housemade salsas, which have won the hearts of both locals and tourists.

Its mouthwatering pork green chile and menudo are all a must-try.

And since I was also here in the summer, I settled in the restaurant’s nice patio to enjoy my food and margarita.

Yes, don’t miss out on its tasty margaritas, especially the Black Raspberry.

Montoya Family started La Estrellita in 1955 and has been a staple in the Brighton area when it comes to delicious Mexican fare.

Explore Stanley Marketplace in Aurora

On a nice, fine afternoon during your break from checking out the great outdoors in Adams County, it’s a wonderful activity to do when you explore Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.

This charming and airy marketplace houses more than 50 businesses offering good times—from dining to shopping, and entertainment.

I’ve seen many locally grown and locally owned spots here, which is a testament to supporting local businesses.

I love that Stanley Marketplace has a bit of everything that you may need; may it be clothing, food and drinks, and more.

The Beer Hall though is my personal favorite, and I suggest you try it yourself.

Spend a Day At E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park in Northglenn

Enjoy a family day at E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park, which offers several outdoor activities perfect for families or groups of friends.

It’s a beautiful tranquil park with nice green spaces featuring sports fields, children’s play areas, and fun pedal boating or kayaking on the lake.

The 27-acre park in Northglenn offers kayak and pedal boat rentals, which we did for an hour.

For larger gatherings, the pavilions are also available for rental, but you can also use the picnic tables if you wish to share lunch or snacks together.

We were also here in the summer and had a chance to see a live concert at the park.

E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park puts on a great show at every event it hosts, including the 4th of July celebration.

It’s a great stop for every traveling family in Adams County!

Catch Live Performances at Armory Performing Arts Center in Brighton

One of the best places that keep Brighton buzzing is Armory Performing Arts Center, which features live music and plays.

I got to watch a Pearl Jam cover band at the theater and the experience was top notch with great acoustics and a lively atmosphere.

There are also live plays at the theater, which I hope to catch on my next visit.

The theater has its humble beginnings in 1921 when it used to be an armory and headquarters of the 157th Infantry of the Colorado National Guard.

When the National Guard moved from Brighton, the armory was transformed into an entertainment destination.

It’s now Brighton’s historic landmark for its colorful past and buzzing life.

Enjoy the Fall Fest at Maize in the City in Thornton

While there are many outdoor activities to do in the fall, the fall event at Maize in the City is one of my favorites.

During the season, the farm opens to the public offering lots of excursions to do for the whole family including pumpkin patches, corn maze, sand art, escape rooms, and many more.

I went here with my family and it was a great experience for us.

If you have kids, Maize in the City in Thornton is a wonderful spot to keep them entertained.

They can ride the ponies, play in the bouncing houses, or have face painting.

And of course, the food at the concessions is delicious!

Also, don’t miss out to have a photo op because the kids will love it!

Bask in Nature at Barr Lake State Park in Brighton

View of the Barr Lake State Park in Brighton

Rexjaymes / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re traveling solo or with your family, Barr Lake State Park is a great spot to spend a day basking in nature and relaxing.

The 2,715-acre state park offers hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing with more than 350 species of birds to see, as well as deer, and pelicans, among others.

Eagle at the Barr Lake State Park in Brighton

Nina B / Shutterstock.com

I was lucky enough that I saw some bald eagles up in the trees when I was taking nature walks on the well-kept trails.

Fishing and archery are also popular at Barr Lake State Park.

Established in 1977, the park was named for a railroad official called Mr. Barr.

Trees lined up at the Barr Lake State Park in Brighton

vagabond54 / Shutterstock.com

Step Back in Time at the Adams County Historical Society in Brighton

History buffs can take a glimpse of the past at the Adams County Historical Society, which will take you back in time and see how life was in the early days.

There are nine buildings to see at the museum, and one of the historic structures that I liked is the 1887 Victorian-era house.

The museum’s Hoffman Hall also features the saddle that then-U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt used, as well as the second-oldest printing press in the state.

There’s a historic schoolhouse, a firehouse, a blacksmith shop, a gas station, and more to see and explore.

All these you can do by doing a guided tour, which I did during my visit.

The Adams County Historical Society was established in 1972 and opened to the public in 1987.

Get Caffeinated at Zoe’s Coffee in Westminster

Start your day with a cup of your favorite coffee at Zoe’s Coffee in Westminster, which serves handcrafted coffee and specialty drinks.

The coffee shop makes a great latte that hits home and is the reason why I kept coming back here during my visits.

But I bet you’ll also love its breakfast and lunch offerings, including its delicious breakfast burrito.

I loved the homey vibe that Zoe’s Coffee brings with warm smiles from the friendly staff.

It’s got a great atmosphere to start your day to explore the area.

Have a Good Read at Anythink Wright Farms in Thornton

Books are special for traveling bookworms, and I feel you.

This is why I’m always on the lookout for nice libraries in every place I visit, and Thornton doesn’t disappoint.

At Anythink Wright Farms, I was able to find a good read.

The library’s comfortable reading nooks made me stay here for three hours, and I had fun browsing the printed materials and lots of other resources.

Anythink Wright Farms has a nice collection of resources for all ages for reading, study, and research.

Find Unique Treasures at Homestead Antique Mall in Arvada

Located in Fairlanes Shopping Center, Homestead Antique Mall is where you can find unique items to bring back home.

If you’re in the Arvada area, the mall is a great stop to browse its huge collection of antiques, including collectibles, jewelry, home decor, and many more.

The mall is loaded with vintage and antique items, which I enjoyed browsing.

The prices are fair, and I loved the antique coffee tin that I bought here to add to my mom’s collection.

Drop by Homestead Antique Mall in Arvada and feast your eyes on old but good treasures!

Bring a Picnic to Westminster Center Park in Westminster

On a fine day, take a picnic at Westminster Center Park to share with your family while enjoying the park’s relaxing atmosphere.

The 10-acre park offers plenty of picnic tables and benches to use, as well as picnic shelters for large gatherings.

We had a great picnic day here, especially since there’s a small splash pad open in the summer, and a playground for the little ones.

I loved the grassy area at Westminster Center Park, where you can just lay a blanket to sit on.

There’s also an amphitheater, which holds many community events and programs.

Hang Out at Brewski’s Pub and Grill in Thornton

After a long day of exploring Adams County, cap the night at Brewski’s Pub and Grill in Thornton.

The bar features lots of TVs to watch sports, pool tables, and beer pong, which you can do while enjoying some good food and drinks.

I hang out at the bar’s outdoor patio while listening to the live band on a Friday night.

Brewski’s Pub and Grill is a perfect spot to chill out whether you’re alone or with friends and family.

It’s also a wonderful destination to strike up conversations and make some friends!

Final Thoughts

Adams County is filled with endless possibilities to explore and discover its magical beauty.

It’s one of Colorado’s crowning jewels and is worth the drive.

Hurry, and don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience Adams County, Colorado!

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