Colorado offers more than just winter sports and breathtaking scenery — its vibrant cities and towns are known for hosting exciting Thanksgiving festivities and fare. Start creating unforgettable holiday memories in one of the healthiest and most active states in the country. Find a Colorado vacation rental in these popular cities to make the most of your Thanksgiving getaway.

1. Colorado Springs

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The Seven Falls are spectacular at any time. During the holidays, more than 100,000 lights illuminate the cascading water and line the path leading to the Falls, creating a photographer’s dream locale for family holiday portraits. Join the Thanksgiving morning group howl at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center for the annual Turkey Toss. Feed the wolf, fox, and coyote families, and watch them eat their dinners as you refresh yourself with cocoa, apple cider, and pumpkin treats. Learn about the turn-of-the-century railroad wars and oil tycoons on a fascinating Black Friday Glen Eyrie Castle tour before heading to the Broadmoor Hotel or the Mountain View Restaurant for a special Thanksgiving meal.

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2. Denver

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The 4-mile Turkey Trot runs along tree-lined, paved paths in Washington Park. Enjoy a post-race party with live music, artisan booths, and a beer garden following your run. Pick up unusual gifts and tempt your taste buds with traditional German food at the Christkindl Market in Lower Downtown. Find gifts like hand-carved wooden figurines from Germany and the Ukraine, as well as local artisan offerings such as handmade candles and ornaments. Meet up with Santa and illuminated animal sculptures at the Denver Zoo Lights celebration, or head over to the Denver Botanic Gardens where more than a million elegantly draped lights highlight the Gardens’ winter beauty. Go shopping at the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall.

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3. Estes Park

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Black Friday in Estes Park is more than just a shopping day. Holiday music fills downtown, and strolling animals interact with the kids. Santa appears at Bond Park, and you can jump on a hayride to tour the town. Bands play seasonal favorites, dancers caper in the streets, and colorful floats tell of Christmas legends and solstice dreams when the Catch the Glow parade starts at dusk. For a memorable Thanksgiving feast, check out the Cascades Restaurant at the Stanley Hotel, site of the classic film “The Shining.”

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4. Breckenridge

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Ski, snowboard, or snowmobile on the pristine slopes at Breckenridge Resort. Change into hiking boots for a historical walking tour, followed by a cozy fireside dinner. The boutiques and shops on Breckenridge’s historic Main Street offer only-in-Colorado gifts, and on Black Friday you can snag some great deals with special sales. Try Thanksgiving fare at the Motherloaded or Briar Rose for a kid- and budget-friendly traditional meal. Challenge your taste buds at Sevens Rest in the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 with gourmet butternut squash bisque and roasted brined turkey with hazelnut stuffing.

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5. Glenwood Springs

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When Glenwood Springs is your vacation destination, count on a relaxing respite. Walk the dog or ride a bike on the Glenwood Canyon path before slipping into the smooth, soothing hot springs to ease your aches, pains, and worries. Enjoy a traditional turkey dinner at the historic Hotel Colorado or River’s Rest, then rest up for a day of Black Friday shopping in Downtown Glenwood at shops such as the Dancing Bear Trading Post or Candlestick Maker. Don’t miss the spectacular lighting ceremonies on Friday that kick off the holiday season. The Hotel Colorado has one of the most spectacular displays on the Western Slope, and the giant Christmas musical light show at Glenwood Caverns Winter on the Mountain is delightful.

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6. Aspen

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Aspen and Snowmass Mountains open on Thanksgiving Day. Ski and snowboard before sitting down to a hearty farm-to-table community meal at the Jerome Hotel Ballroom or a traditional spread at the Ajax Tavern. On Friday, join spectators at the annual Thanksgibbing, where they cheer for invite-only, cash-purse rail jam for skiers and snowboarders at Snowmass Base Village. There’s plenty of family activities at Thanksgibbing, including a bouncy castle and Turkey Bowling for the kids, and a restaurant leftover challenge for adults.

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7. Durango

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Pack up the family and bring your camera for spectacular photography as you ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This 26-mile journey takes you through the San Juan Mountains’ Cascade Canyon and past the river-cut spaces created by the Animas River. Head up to Purgatory Mountain for a day of skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling, then eat Thanksgiving fare at the 1887 Strater Hotel in Downtown Durango. Get into the holiday spirit as you stroll through downtown and pick up some treasures at shops such as A Shared Blanket, bend an elbow at the Wild Horse saloon, or catch a classic vaudeville show at the historic Henry Strater Theater.

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8. Steamboat Springs

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For superb skiing and healing hot springs, head to world-famous Steamboat Springs. Ski to your heart’s content on trails across the Mount Warner Park Range. At Grizzle-T Dog Sledding, drive your own team of Alaskan huskies or ride as a passenger in a guide-driven sled. Runners have a blast at the annual 5K Turkey Trot. If the weather is mild, a trek along the Yampa River Core Trail and a dip in the pool at Strawberry Park appeal to hikers. Head to the community center for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, or go rogue and enjoy the margaritas at Vaqueros or a steak at E3 Chophouse.

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9. Boulder

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At the heart of Boulder is Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall whose pulse beats a bit stronger as holiday kick-off time arrives. Following a Thanksgiving feast at the Millennium Harvest House or the Greenbriar Inn, join a holiday sing-along, then tap your feet to live music as you anticipate a visit from jolly St. Nick. When evening falls, a fantastic lighting ceremony illuminates Pearl Street, the courthouse, and the Flagstaff Mountain star. Support local shops on Small Business Saturday, then stop by the Visitor Information Center for pictures with Santa.

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