25 Best Things to Do in Aurora, CO

 Aurora, CO
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Aurora is Colorado's third-largest city in terms of population.

Being one of the most vibrant cities in the state, Aurora offers many unique attractions and exciting activities for tourists to enjoy.

From laid-back parks to beautiful museums, Aurora is chock-full of places that will surely make it right to your box of memories.

The city is full of life, art, culture, and good food, which makes it a perfect combination of what an ideal vacation should look like.

These are the best things to do in Aurora, Colorado:

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Cherry Creek State Park

Scenic view of Cherry Creek State Park's water
Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock.com

Cherry Creek State Park is designed in such a manner that it surrounds a reservoir spread over an area of more than 880 acres.

Popularly known as "Denver's Spacious Backyard Playground," this park is the perfect place to enjoy fresh air and the beautiful outdoors.

The park is spread in such a large area that there is so much for visitors to see and enjoy.

Kayaker on Cherry Creek State Park's water
Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock.com

The vibe here is always energetic during the summer season and calm and peaceful during the fall.

If you visit this park, do not forget to spend some time enjoying such as camping, horseback riding, hiking, picnicking, flying airplane models, and target practicing at a shooting range.

Cherry Creek State Park also has additional facilities such as a specially designed picnic area, a ramp for boats, natural walking trails, and well-maintained grounds for camping.

Shop till You Drop at Southlands

Shops along Southlands
Mountain Mike Johans…, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It would not be wrong to say that Southlands is the fanciest and most modern place in Aurora's central area.

This outdoor shopping center is a hub for almost all the entertaining and fashionable activities that can come to one's mind.

The place is an excellent destination for people who love charming and warm environments.

Southlands is a one-stop place where you will find everything, from a fancy restaurant and theater to fashion stores like American Eagle and H&M, an aesthetic state-of-the-art health club, and retail stores.

The whole area is surrounded by many attractions such as a Main Street, a community plaza, restaurants, entertainment venues, independent street performers, and more.

Go Fishing at Aurora Reservoir

Fishing in Aurora reservoir
Jim Lambert / Shutterstock.com

Aurora Reservoir is a recreational area with stunning open and lush green spaces spread over more than 31,000 acres.

The reservoir also has three coastal inlets whose names are Senac, Lone Tree, and Marina.

It provides a great location for a number of recreational activities such as cycling, hiking, jogging, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, and boating.

Signage of Aurora Reservoir
photo-denver / Shutterstock.com

You can also find a great variety of fish in the area,  including catfish, trout, and walleye.

An additional boat dock can also be found here.

The equipment for all these activities can be rented from the reservoir property itself.

Aerial view of Aurora Reservoir
denver_flyer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the Exhibits at the Aurora History Museum

The Aurora History Museum was established in the year 1979 as a part of Colorado's Library and Cultural Services Department.

It moved to a new location in 1990 and reopened a year later.

The museum displays an extensive collection of documents and artifacts that depict the events that shaped the history of Aurora and Colorado.

It also showcases the history of how Aurora's people and culture evolved since the city's inception.

The museum exhibits a number of rotating displays as well, which represent the different parts of the city.

For example, one of the rotating exhibits called Drink Local represents ultimately showcases the history of beer crafting in Aurora.

The best part about the museum is that, along with depicting the city's cultural history, it also invites new companies and sponsors to participate in Aurora's business activities.

Catch a Live Performance at Vintage Theatre

The story behind Vintage Theatre's inception in Aurora is nothing less than a fairy tale.

It was a dream of a group of friends who were ardent art lovers in the year 2002.

Dedicated as they were, it took them only a few years to bring their dream into reality in the form of Vintage Theatre.

The theater was built with three separate performance spaces with soundproof walls, controlled temperatures, and seating capacities of 145, 67, and 60, respectively.

It continued to grow as it provided a haven for the community of artists as well as people who enjoyed classic theatre.

The services they provide are staged readings, workshops, classes, and more.

Vintage Theater also offers bar services in all its performance spaces.

You can enjoy a performance at any time of the year as the theater is open all year round.

Pay a Visit to Plains Conservation Center

Daytime view of Plains conservation center
Zenhaus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1949, the Plains Conservation Center in Aurora is covered with a natural vibe.

This place was designated by the state authorities to function as an outdoor facility.

It is a place that anyone interested in environmental protection must visit.

The objective behind the creation of the park was to provide a place where people could learn about all the efforts that have been put in place to conserve Colorado's ecological history.

A yurt on the grounds of Plains Conservation Center
Zenhaus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The center has two major sites: the Aurora Site and the West Bijou Site.

The Aurora Site has a historic barn, blacksmith shops, a schoolhouse, and a camp.

Meanwhile, the West Bijou Site is where the event leading to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction took place.

Apart from the two sites, visitors can also enjoy lush green grasslands while learning more about ecology and sustainable development in Colorado.

Pronghorns in Plains Conservation Center
Zenhaus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch an Exciting Horse Race at Bally's Arapahoe Park

Bally's Arapahoe Park is one of the liveliest places in the city of Aurora from May to August.

During the summer months, the park hosts various horse racing events such as Arabian horse races, paint horse racing, quarter horse racing, and the like.

Famous horse races such as Mile High Derby are also organized at this park's race tracks.

This place is ideal for people who enjoy getting an adrenaline rush to keep them excited and joyful.

Bally's Arapahoe Park also offers free parking spaces, bars, food stalls, concession stands, and other amenities on the third and fourth floors.

It is an ideal place to spend time with friends and family.

Remember Fallen Heroes at the Colorado Freedom Memorial

Night view of The Freedom Memorial
Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock.com

The Colorado Freedom Memorial is a structure made entirely of glass and granite.

It is 12 feet tall and 95 feet wide.

It is believed that 6,000 people were killed and went missing during various state services and wars.

This memorial was built to pay tribute and respect to the sacrifice of all those people.

It is also a fascinating fact that the Colorado Freedom Memorial was the very first memorial that was built in the United States in remembrance of war heroes and their sacrifices.

The memorial has the names of all 6,000 people inscribed and grouped as per their services.

The names are, however, not arranged in any alphabetical order, which denotes the chaos and confusion that war brings to the lives of all.

Get Tickets to a Show at the Aurora Fox Arts Center

Exterior of the Aurora Fox Arts Center
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Originally built as a movie theater in the year 1946, the Aurora Fox Arts Center is situated right in the heart of the Aurora Cultural Arts District.

This is the place to visit when you want to shift to a more professional and sophisticated setting.

The theater underwent a renovation to improve its design and seating.

It reopened in the year 1985 with a maximum seating capacity of 245 and an arts facility.

There is also an adjacent space for rehearsals and a few shops.

The place has a wonderful atmosphere and vibe around it and is a perfect setting for a romantic date or a family outing.

The Aurora Fox Arts Center showcases intimate and professional acts by learned artists, and watching a performance here will truly make for a fun evening.

Experience the Best of Aurora's Shopping and Eating on Havana Street

On Havana Street is a stairway to heaven.

This place was established in the year 2007, with the major objective of enriching the lives of Aurora's residents and drawing in regional visitors.

Since then, On Havana Street has come to be known as the most unique and culturally diverse district in Aurora, Colorado.

The district showcases more than 20 events every year, including barbeque festivals, car shows, fairs, art shows, as well as live music performances and concerts.

The district is full of different lines of business.

Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy family karaoke sessions here.

Along with that, you can also discover your favorite things in the district by renting bikes and exploring the lanes for yourself.

A wide variety of food from different parts of the globe is also available in the district.

If you are a fashion buff, you can also discover some thrift stores selling good quality yet affordable clothes.

Pour Your Own Beer at Stanley Beer Hall

Stanley Beer Hall is one of Aurora's must-visit places.

You can pour your own beer using the unique IPourit self-serve system.

The place also offers unique and tasty dishes that include creative burgers and sandwich options.

You can also have a barbeque or Pan Asian-inspired options such as curry seasoned with vegetables.

Explore the Trails at Quincy Reservoir

The waters of Quincy Reservoir
Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock.com

Quincy Reservoir is a body of water that is spread over an area of more than 160 acres.

It is famous for being a great place to have a fun time with your friends or family during the summer.

You'll often see people coming here to fish, but keep in mind that fishing is only allowed in the artificial parts of the reservoir.

Quincy Reservoir also has some designated places near the shoreline specifically for picnics and family days out.

There is also a nature trail, which is a great place to take a walk in the lap of nature.

The reservoir also has a fishing dock and a boat rental company.

Savor Authentic Indian Dishes at Monsoon Cuisine of India

This place comes as a surprise to most of the visitors to Aurora.

Monsoon Cuisine of India is a restaurant that serves Indian food as well as many other flavors all under one roof.

The place is unique as it has not changed its old cooking techniques, adding a different dimension to the dishes.

The restaurant also uses a Tandoor oven, which is a very famous type of kitchen equipment that produces wonderful results.

They also add charcoal frames to the dishes, which makes them smokier and more distinctive than others.

Monsoon Cuisine of India is very popular for its roasted chicken, salmon, and naan, which is a type of flatbread that is famous in India.

Since the restaurant uses Indian spices and herbs, the fragrances of the dishes are also mouth-watering.

Garlic and onions, along with ginger and other Indian spices, are some major ingredients that are used in this kitchen.

Visiting this restaurant in Aurora will not only add to your aesthetic impression of the city but will give you an Indian vibe as well.

Have German Food and Beer at Helga's Haus & Bier Garden

Exterior of Helga’s German Restaurant
photo-denver / Shutterstock.com

This restaurant was opened by a mother and her daughter in the year 1989 and has been growing ever since.

As its name suggests, Helga's Haus & Bier Garden is a place that serves authentic homemade German food and drinks.

The restaurant has a dynamic menu for lunch and dinner.

It also offers gluten-free meals as well as a special kid's meal.

The atmosphere of this restaurant is quite cozy and romantic, making it a perfect place for a romantic date.

Enjoy a "Scratch-to-Table" Dining Experience at Annette

Annette is a famous restaurant that was opened by a sous chef in the year 2016.

This gastropub offers a "scatch-to-table" menu, along with global fusion plates.

Annette provides diners with the opportunity to enjoy a high-quality meal that includes some surprisingly tasty combinations.

Grab a Drink at Sam's No. 3

Are you looking to grab a bite to eat and replenish your energy after a long day?

Sam's No. 3 has been serving its customers delectable meals and refreshing drinks since 1927.

The menu at Sam's No. 3 restaurant is not just extensive but also unquestionably tasty.

They provide a generous menu for breakfast, lunch, and supper for everyone and offer more than your standard restaurant.

Sometimes, all you need is a fresh cold beverage to unwind—and Sam's No. 3 has got everything you need, from milkshakes to cool beers.

Ride a Horse at 12 Miles Stables

At 12 Miles Stables, you may go horseback riding, take lessons, board horses, go to day camp, and have birthday parties.

They also provide year-round hayrides, with each wagon holding 20 to 25 passengers.

A small or big party can be accommodated for horseback rides at Cherry Creek State Park's 12 Miles Stables.

About 3,300 acres, including 27 miles of riding paths, are available for your family's exciting experience.

This is undoubtedly a must-see location for outdoor adventures in Aurora.

Stroll around or Play a Round of Gold at Aurora Hills Golf Course

Aurora Hills Golf Course debuted in 1969 and was created by the famous Henry B. Hughes.

There are 6,600 yards on the par-72 Aurora Hills Golf Course, which is supposed to provide excellent, picturesque scenery.

Spacious, tree-lined fairways with water hazards are included on certain holes of the golf course.

Aurora Hills Golf Course's fairways and greens are both made of Bermuda grass.

It is easily accessible to walk, plus the lovely lakes foster a peaceful atmosphere ideal for a leisurely stroll.

Try Ted's Montana Grill's Bison Menu

Ted's Montana Grill takes great delight in making sure every visitor has a friendly, enjoyable experience that leaves them smiling.

They have reintroduced bison to American cuisine, creating a market for this meat's high protein and vitamin content.

Ted's Montana Grill is proud to serve more bison than every restaurant in the city since it is the centerpiece of their menu.

Their special menu includes a bison meatloaf sandwich, bison short ribs, bison brisket, and bison meatloaf.

You can also select between freshly ground certified Angus beef, grilled chicken breast, all-natural bison, or fresh-cut fries as a side.

Spend the Night at Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver

Located close to downtown Denver and the Aurora Cultural Art District, Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver allows its guests to take advantage of easy access to a range of parks and outdoor recreation.

Kick start your Colorado adventure by staying at one of their 249 rooms, including five suites with workstations and open seating areas.

Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver offers accommodations with a 55" flat-screen TV, coffeemaker, minifridge, and other amenities.

The hotel features a pool, gym, 24-hour business center, free Internet access, an on-site restaurant, room service, and 36,000 square feet of conference space.

Book a stay at Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver and have a wonderful time.

Meander Around Aurora’s Scenic Bike Trails

A bike trail at Aurora
k7m7v7 / Shutterstock.com

You’ll discover more beautiful sites and natural landscapes via Aurora’s Biking Trails.

The paved 8-mile Aurora Reservoir Trail is an easy path even your kids can enjoy; it’s the perfect spot for relaxing sunset views and has pavilions where you can have a picnic with the family.

Cruise the Smoky Hill to Parker Road Trail Loop inside the Cherry Creek State Park.

This 4.7-mile paved trail leads you to scenic views of the stunning Rocky Mountains and areas for bird viewing.

Another trail inside Cherry Creek State Park is the 8.8-mile Reservoir Loop Trail which suits casual bikers and beginners; the flat trail offers you fantastic locations to spot hawks and bald eagles, watch the waters at the reservoir and enjoy mountain views.

You can also bike your way along Sand Creek Greenway Trail hidden within the Star K Ranch Park.

This 12.4-mile mostly paved trail lets you pass through prairie grass areas, small marshes, and lots of open space plus connects you to the more challenging South Platte Trail, which runs more than 28 miles.

The Toll Gate Creek Trail is another hidden gem that lets you in on different facets of Aurora.

The paved 6.3-mile trail which begins at the edge of Quincy Reservoir is popular among bikers, hikers, and even dog walkers; you’ll expect lots of wooded terrains and wildlife along the way.

For moderate and longer biking trails, you can try the Cherry Creek Trail to Expo Park which spans 14.8 miles, or the 20.5-mile High Line Canal - Cherry Creek Spillway loop trail; both trails are great for road biking, birding, and walking.

Have Fun with the Family at AMF Aurora Lanes

Bring the whole family for a day of recreational fun at AMF Aurora Lanes.

Located on East Mississippi Avenue, this 40-lane bowling and amusement center offers a cool and hip venue you’ll enjoy.

Play hours of classic bowling with modern Kegel Kustodian lane machines and Xtreme bowling packages you can choose from.

Get a grip on the controls and enjoy rows of video games from old-school to new releases.

You can also have a friendly billiards competition, practice trick shots or play like a pro at the pool tables.

If you’re into bowling as a sport, drop by the Pro Shop and check out the wide selection of bowling gear like shoes, bags, balls, and other equipment.

Hang out at the Sports Bar and grab some craft beers, wines, or signature cocktails while watching the big games on the flat-screen TVs.

And there’s also lots of food to enjoy on their menu from delicious juicy burgers, classic wings, tasty sandwiches and so much more.

Your family is sure to have loads of fun at AMF Aurora Lanes.

Experience the Attractions at the Arapahoe County Fair

Held every last weekend of July, the Arapahoe County Fair offers visitors plenty of wholesome family fun.

The Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and Park on East Quincy Avenue come alive with the fair highlighting the county’s agricultural and western heritage.

Starting way back in 1906 the fair become one of the county’s longest-running community traditions.

Catch several 4-H programs, learn some traditional agricultural activities, and enjoy the entertainment, too.

With a minimal admission fee, you can enjoy attractions like motor sports competitions, carnival rides, dog shows, petting farms, and a whole lot more.

Learn from demonstrations or get hands-on with activities at The Heritage Hall like meeting animals like alpacas and emus, milking June the “Cow”, knowing about bee-keeping, sewing quilts, or making rope and Make and Take crafts.

Likewise, you can join fun contests like the Fastest Fingers in the West in knitting and crochet, the Longest Potato Peel, or team Jigsaw Puzzles.

Of course, there are lines of food and commercial vendors you can check out at the event.

Arapahoe County Fair also features aerial and acrobatic shows, rodeos, and live music along with the Craft Brew Festival so it’s definitely an event you wouldn’t want to miss.

Explore the Morrison Nature Center and Star K Ranch

The Morrison Nature Center and Star K Ranch located on Smith Road welcome you to a great nature experience.

The property spans 250 acres of beautiful riparian woodland that’s home to abundant plant and animal species.

Take time to see the exhibits, learn about the history of the site and meet the resident box turtle, bullsnake, and tiger salamander at the Nature Center.

You can also get comfortable on the chairs and couches and grab books and materials to read; likewise, view the changing interpretive exhibits featuring local plants and animals.

Kids can also role-play with animal costumes and puppet shows and play with wooden puzzles.

Outside, you can wander around the dog-friendly trails or stay at the wetland observation area; likewise, you can have a self-guided history tour or have a relaxing lunch picnic after.

There’s plenty of wildlife in the area including mule deer, coyotes, painted and snapping turtles along with different bird species like red-tailed hawks, blue jays, western meadowlarks, great horned owls, and American kestrels.

Get immersed in the beauty of nature at the Morrison Nature Center and Star K Ranch.

Tour Aurora’s Historical Landmarks

Exterior of William Smith House
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can discover more about the city’s rich historical roots with Aurora’s historic landmarks.

Most of these 32 landmarks are admission-free and you can also get an audio tour resource and map at the Historic Sites & Preservation Office.

Six of these sites are listed in the National Register of Historic Places including the William Smith House, the residence of the pioneer William Smith built in 1910, the 1913 Robidoux House on Galena Street, along with the Melvin School built in 1922.

In addition, you can also visit the John Gully Homestead House built in the late 1800s and is the city’s oldest surviving home, and the 1890 Centennial House, a Queen Anne Victorian-style home which is also one of the oldest Fletcher homes.

Exterior of the Centennial House
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lowry Building 880 constructed in 1942 is also listed as a historic place and now serves as the city’s intergenerational center.

Other notable local landmarks include the Historic William Smith School, the American War Mothers National Memorial Home, and early 1900 structures like the Thomas F. Gilligan House, the Guardhouses at Fitzsimons General's Park, and McMillan House.

You can also view former establishments and businesses like the Aurora Fox Arts Center, Italian Villa, DeLaney Round Barn, The Stanley Aviation, and Strait Lumber which are now part of the city’s significant landmarks.

Find and drop by several other historical landmarks in Aurora, and for sure you’ll be fascinated with the pieces of local history you’ll discover.

Exterior of DeLaney Round Barn
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Discover Aurora's various attractions, including its parks, museums, restaurants, theaters, and other tourist attractions.

Many travelers come here for a holiday and to have a good time with their loved ones.

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