The 10 Most Unique Places in Northern Colorado
There are a lot of reasons to love living in Northern Colorado. However, some of the most memorable are the many quirky things to do in Northern Colorado that you simply can’t find elsewhere in the state. From nostalgic date nights under the stars to washing machine and key collections, here’s what you simply shouldn’t miss.
Great Stupa of Dharmakaya
Standing at 108-feet fall, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is the largest Buddhist stupa in North America. Located in a meadow at the Shambhala Mountain Center’s main valley in Red Feather Lakes, the stupa was built in honor of the center’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The impressive spiritual structure took 13 years to construct and is built from a special concrete mixture said to last over 1,000 years!
Its bright and colorful facade is an exclamation point against the serene mountain backdrop and welcomes visitors daily between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm. Unlike most stupas, which are sealed, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is open and contains three levels (although visitors are only permitted on the first level). Inside, you’ll find flourishes, a large golden Buddha statue and a spire containing 13 discs representing the levels of enlightenment.
Whether you’re searching for inner peace or something out of the ordinary to do in Northern Colorado, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya won’t disappoint.
Totally 80’s Pizza
Hop in your Dolorean and travel back to the 1980’s with a trip to Totally 80’s Pizza. This restaurant and museum boast the world’s largest collection of 1980s memorabilia, which took owners Alex & L’aura Morgan over 10 years to collect. With vintage cereal boxes, original hand-written song lyrics and classic arcade games, this place has it all!
The rad memorabilia isn’t the only reason to stop by. The restaurant’s mouth-watering pizza, extensive salad bar, crispy chicken wings and ice-cold beer are equally impressive. Our favorite thing on the menu? The garlic parmesan twists, which are out of this world!
While you’re there, you never know who might stop by. The restaurant has been visited by 80’s icons including Corey Feldman (Goonies, Stand By Me), Ernest Cline (author of Ready Player One), Robin Shelby (Slimer in Ghostbusters) and more!
Holiday Twin Drive-In
The last drive-in movie theater in Northern Colorado, the Holiday Twin Drive-In screens double features every Friday and Saturday night during the summer. Opening as The Starlight in 1968, the Holiday Twin Drive-In has delighted moviegoers for decades thanks to its late owner, Wes Webb. With shows starting right after sunset, visitors can cozy up in their cars or lawn chairs to enjoy theatrical feats on one of the theater’s two towering screens.
Talk about a perfect date-night idea!
If you’re in the mood for something to munch on during the show, then head over to the snack bar. The menu includes burgers, bratwurst, nachos, loaded fries and, of course, popcorn and soda, perfect refreshments for a night under the stars. Pack your lawn chairs and make sure to get there early to avoid long lines on Overland Trail as showtime draws near.
Hidden deep under the waters of Horsetooth Reservoir is the abandoned mining town of Stout, Colorado. The 1880s town mined sandstone that was used throughout the sidewalks of Denver, Omaha and Lincoln. Even the Chicago World’s Fair buildings from 1893 were built using sandstone from the small Colorado town. However, forty years ago Stout was abandoned. It then crumbled into ruin over the next 25 years until it was eventually swallowed up by the manmade reservoir.
Some of Stout’s ruins were briefly visible in the early 2000s when a combination of drought and dam work led to unusually shallow waters. However, today adventure seekers have to dive into the murky waters to find the elusive ghost town.
Loveland Love Lock Sculpture
The largest love locks sculpture in the country is in, you guessed it, Loveland. While you’re there, you can purchase love locks in a variety of colors for only $20. Then, use a free permanent marker or engraving pen to write your initials on it before adhering it to the sculpture. You can keep the key as a souvenir of your time in this unique Northern Colorado destination.
Don‘t forget to tag #visitloveland and #lovelandlovelocks in your photos for the chance to be featured on Loveland’s social media posts and maybe even some marketing materials!
Miller Farm’s Antique Alley
There’s more popping up than corn and beets at Miller Farm. Home to Antique Alley, the farm features a plethora of antique farm equipment and unique oddities sure to delight visitors of all ages.
You’ll even find a few noteworthy vehicles such as the Ghostbusters station wagon, a lunar lander and a variety of characters from Disney’s Cars. It sounds like a perfect photo opportunity to us!
Baldpate Inn Key Collection
One of the quirkiest things to see in Northern Colorado is the world’s largest key collection, housed in the century-old Baldpate Inn. Here, visitors can marvel at over 20,000 keys including one to Frankenstein’s castle, Hitler’s desk, Mozart’s wine cellar and Westminster Abbey.
The collection started with the hotel’s tradition of giving guests their own key. They did so as a nod to the hotel’s namesake – Earl Derr Biggers’ novel Seven Keys To Baldpate. However, due to metal prices increasing during World War I, the inn was unable to continue giving keys away. Consequently, guests started bringing their own keys to leave at the inn. Soon, an intense competition ensued to see who could bring the most unusual and ornate.
Those keys now form the impressive Key Collection at Baldpate Inn. A true marvel, it’s a must for any Estes Park itinerary.
The Stanley Hotel
Perched atop a hill as you enter Estes Park, the Stanley Hotel‘s white facade is enchanting against the rugged mountain landscape. The 138-room Georgian hotel has seen many famous guests over the years. Those include Teddy Roosevelt, The Emperor of Japan, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and, most notably, Stephen King.
It’s here that King was inspired to write his classic novel The Shining. The hotel has embraced the horror classic by playing the original film adaptation on a continuous loop in every room. However, the spooky atmosphere isn’t just in the pages of a book. The hotel is said to be home to a number of benign spirits that haunt its grounds to this day.
Don’t believe us? Then check out one of the Stanley Hotel’s haunted tours and decide for yourself!
Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum
For an extremely unique place in Northern Colorado, head to the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum. Setting the Guinness World Record for the largest washing machine collection in the world, the museum has over 1,400 antique pieces dating back as far as 1840.
The owner, Lee Maxwell, is the foremost expert on washing machines. He even wrote a book about them called “Save Women’s Lives: History of Washing Machines.” He believes their historical significance has been overlooked and that they are a major contributor to the women’s rights movement.
Guided tours can be scheduled around 9:30 am or 1:30 pm for only $7.50 per person.
One of the quirkiest places in Fort Collins is the Swetville Zoo. Home to a number of whimsical welded creatures, the zoo’s owner has been crafting the collection since 1985. From a towering T-rex to impressive wildflowers and shiny spaceships, this roadside attraction has it all.
While you’re there, don’t miss the leggy Volkswagen bug down by the river. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a bite at the adjacent picnic table.
Whether you’re looking for a blast from the past, a spooky experience or a touch of the romantic, these unique places in Northern Colorado have you covered! Learn more about entertaining things to do in Northern Colorado here.