During Labor Day weekend, Colorado experiences a transition from summer pool weather to chilly temperatures that welcome the ski season. The three-day Labor Day break is the perfect time to bring out the backyard barbecue grill; take in an afternoon baseball game at Coors Field; head to the mountains as the foliage begins to change; or attend a lively concert or festival. As for accommodations, there are plenty of Colorado vacation rentals to choose from. Check out the most popular cities and towns in Colorado.

1. Pueblo

rodeo cowboy
Source: Flickr/Dustin Cox

The annual Colorado State Fair offers visitors a wide range of events and entertainment, including rodeo and livestock competitions, musical concerts, and more than 45 carnival rides. If bull riding isn’t your thing, take the kids to the Buell Children’s Museum for some hands-on exhibits or head for the popular Pueblo Zoo. Stroll or jog along the historic Arkansas river before lunch or dinner at the Cactus Flower Mexican Restaurant or Bingo Burger.

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2. Colorado Springs

balloons water
Source: Flickr/Mark Gallagher

Start your Labor Day weekend off with a bang at Colorado’s largest air show, the Colorado Balloon Classic at Memorial Park. Each day hundreds of colorful balloons float across the sky against the breathtaking backdrop of Pikes Peak while you groove to live music and participate in competitions. Don’t miss a ride through the Garden of the Gods, or take a hike up the infamous Manitou Incline. Be sure to sample the breakfast fare at the Marigold Cafe and Bakery, or stop for a meal at the Mountain Shadows Restaurant.

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3. Aspen Snowmass

rocks lake

This beautiful high-mountain valley attracts some of the nation’s best jazz, country, and R&B musicians to the annual outdoor Labor Day jazz festival. Headliners such as Keith Urban, Jason Mraz, and Journey have entertained at this three-day event and the scenery is delightful as colors begin to change. The Motherlode Volleyball Classic is a pro-am, three-day tournament that you can join or just watch. Take a two-plus hour hike up Ajax mountain, have lunch on the sundeck at the top, and enjoy the free gondola ride down to town. The Pyramid Bistro has wonderful fare for the health-conscious following a day of fun.

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4. Steamboat Springs

meadow mountains
Source: Flickr/jgagnon

If you admire vintage aircraft such as the 1944 Beechcraft D-17S or a WWII Navy bomber, then the Wild West Air Fest in Steamboat is the place to spend Labor Day weekend. Sit back and enjoy the excitement of thrilling acrobatics and formation flying. You can also join rodeo aficionados as they cheer on 40 of the world’s top professional bull riders at the Rocky Mountain PBR Bull Rush competition. There’s plenty of shopping at the Downtown Sidewalk Sale and First Friday Artwalk, and there’s an intense chili challenge where you can eat, dance, and keep the youngsters busy.

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5. Greeley

rainbow meadow
Source: Flickr/Michael Kirsh

Colorado is known for its snowy mountain vistas and spectacular sandstone canyons, but the Pawnee National Grasslands has several hiking trails which lead to popular formations such as the twin rocks, Pawnee Buttes. There’s plenty of opportunities for bird watching and photography in this protected grassy terrain. Head back to your vacation rental in Greeley for a miniature golf challenge or a lazy-river walk. Lucky Fins Seafood Grill has great seafood and barbecue, while vegetarians rave about the fresh fare at Cheba Hut.

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6. Frisco

gulch mountains
Source: Flickr/Zach Dischner

Country music lovers flock to Copper Mountain for the free Copper Country gala, which features live entertainment throughout the weekend. The annual arts festival is an excellent place to begin holiday shopping, and the kids can keep busy at their own arts and crafts festival. Watch the final competition of aspiring country music performers as they attempt to launch their professional careers. The Butterhorn Bakery makes breakfast special, or you can enjoy rustic southwestern fare at Vinny’s farm-to-table fusion restaurant.

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7. Alamosa

sky mountains
Source: Flickr/Larry Lamsa

The Great Sand Dunes are 35 miles northeast of Alamosa. These gigantic dunes cover most of the 150,000 acres in the San Luis Valley, and you can hike the top of Star Dune, the tallest dune in America at 750 feet. While you’re in the area, explore Zapata Falls and Medano Creek for some special hiking and sightseeing. In town, the Early Iron Festival celebrates its 37th year and showcases more than 600 vintage vehicles. As an added bonus, join these cars on a slow cruise through downtown Alamosa on Saturday night. Good choices for lunch or dinner are the San Luis Valley Pizza Company or Nino’s Mexican Restaurant.

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8. Pine

mountains trees
Source: Flickr/Jeffrey Beall

You’ll find Staunton State Park 95 miles southwest of Fort Collins near Conifer. You can photograph a variety of wildlife such as elk, hawks, falcons, and mountain lions on a terrain that ranges from 8,100-feet high grassy meadows to 10,000-feet granite cliffs. The well-maintained trails take you hither and yon through softly whispering aspen and Ponderosa pine forests. Be sure to take in the stunning view of the 100-foot Elk Creek Falls from the overlook. Before returning to your snug vacation rental in Pine, have a meal at Crossroads Pizza and Wings or Brooks Place Tavern.

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9. Denver

downtown denver

With beautiful views of the Front Range and numerous vacation rental options, Denver lets residents and visitors choose from a number of activities. A Taste of Colorado kicks of Friday night with spectacular fireworks at Civic Center and continues with live music, arts and crafts booths, and fare from area restaurants through the weekend. Locals flock to the Big Wonderful Blues and Brews Fest that offers not only great beer, but awesome music, art, fashion, and food.

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10. Fruita

canyon monument
Source: Flickr/guido da rozze

You can cycle, hike, or drive the 23-mile scenic Rim Rock Drive for breathtaking views of the Colorado National Monument. This canyon has steep rock cliffs that shoot dramatically upwards from a flat, sandy, and tree-lined area. As you explore the fascinating landscape, you can spot red-tailed hawks, coyotes, and desert bighorn sheep. Start your day off with breakfast at Camilla’s and finish with a hearty dinner at Rib City.

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