20 Things To Do In Buena Vista

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Buena Vista, Colorado, is a quaint little town tucked away in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. With a local population of under 3000 residents and miles away from the nearest big city, Buena Vista offers a perfect retreat for those looking to escape the rush of urban life.

Overlooked by majestic Collegiate Peaks, settled on the banks of the Arkansas River, and surrounded by swathes of national forest, there’s tons of stunning scenery to explore. So whether you’re into hiking and biking or heading out on the water for fishing and rafting, this small town is big on things to do.

Established in the late 19th century as a hub for mining and railroad operations, Buena Vista has had plenty of time to grow into a charming modern community. Today, its vibrant downtown area boasts museums, breweries, and restaurants galore, showcasing the town’s distinctive Western flair. Find the best things to do in Buena Vista, from conquering the local wilderness to indulging in hospitality.

Buena Vista, Colorado

20 Things To Do In Buena Vista

1- Enjoy Vintage Entertainment At Comanche Drive-In Theatre

Drive In Movie Theater In Buena Vista CO
A traditional American drive-in cinema in Buena Vista, Colorado that still shows movies several nights a week.

Outside the main town, you’ll find the Comanche Theatre, an authentically vintage drive-in that has been in business since 1966.

Throughout the summer, Comanche Drive-In shows various movies, including new-release blockbusters.

No need to worry if you don’t have a car, you can bring chairs and blankets to set up a spot.

Typically open from May through September, a night at the Comanche Drive-In is perfect when you’re looking for a bit of retro nostalgia.

Drive into 27784 Co Rd 339, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

2- Start Your Adventure At Buena Vista Whitewater Park

Expert Stand Up Paddleboarder
Going stand-up paddle boarding is one of the things to do in Buena Vista in Colorado.

Buena Vista Whitewater Park should be your first port of call when you want to take advantage of the natural adventures in the town.

Located near the town centre, it’s super convenient to get to.

The park has several artificial rafting obstacles suitable for various skill levels, so take to the waves on a raft, kayak or paddleboard.

If you’re travelling with friends less interested in water-based activities, they can keep busy at the various land sports amenities around the park.

There’s a dirt-bike park, volleyball and baseball fields, and even a disc-golf course.

Go to 715 E Main St, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

3- Hike Along The Barbara Whipple Trail

The Barbara Whipple Trail begins next to Buena Vista Whitewater Park, leading to the hills overlooking the town.

The route runs for about 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometres) with varied terrain, making it an exciting and moderately challenging hike.

Easy to get to from the town centre, the trail lets you escape into the tranquillity of nature in minutes.

You can enjoy stunning views across Buena Vista and over to the surrounding mountains from further up the trail.

Start from Barbara Whipple Trail, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

4- Take In The View From Midland Hill

distant view of town and mountains in the background
It may be small but you will find plenty of things to do in Buena Vista and the surrounding area.

If you’re not entirely up for trekking a mountain, maybe start with Midland Hill instead.

The trek to the top and back is only two hours, so it’s perfect for beginner hikers.

From up on the hill, you can enjoy panoramic views across Buena Vista, the valley, and all the surrounding mountains.

Head up Colorado 81211, United States.

5- Trek The Harvard Lakes Trailhead

The Harvard Lakes Trailhead is an entry point onto the Colorado Trail that leads through the forest to the aforementioned Harvard Lakes.

The trek up to the lakes is just a few miles over the foothills.

It’s a reasonably forgiving route, perfect for when you don’t have the energy for intense inclines.

Take the path from Colorado Trail, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

6- Conquer Mt Yale

Chalk Cliffs Of Mt Princeton Colorado shortly after sunrise as the sun first lights the mountainside.
Mount Princeton is another mountain to climb and visiting it is one of the things to do near Buena Vista in Colorado.

Mt Yale is one of the closest mountains to Buena Vista town, making it the most convenient choice to climb first.

The summit trek is around 9 miles (14 kilometres) for the round trip, providing a decent day’s hiking.

The route is classified as non-technical, making it popular with hobby hikers and dedicated climbers.

Bring plenty of water and snacks to enjoy the stunning views and wildlife properly.

Head up Colorado 81211, United States.

7- Admire The Natural Beauty Of Agnes Vaille Waterfall

You can discover many natural wonders among Buena Vista’s hills and the Agnes Vaille waterfall is certainly one to seek out.

Located along a moderately difficult, rocky route, the 40-foot-tall cascade of water is a charming reward for hikers who take on the trail.

Hike out to Nathrop, CO 81236, United States.

8- Gaze Out From The Collegiate Peaks Overlook

If you’re more interested in gazing at the Collegiate Peaks than climbing them, heading up to Collegiate Peaks Overlook might be up your alley.

Located just to the east of Buena Vista, just a short way up Midland Hill, it’s a much more forgiving trek – or drive – with stunning views as your reward.

Along with the mountains, you can also enjoy looking out over the town, Arkansas River, and surrounding forests.

Several picnic tables are available if you want to head up for an alfresco lunch break.

Climb up to US-24, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

9- Take In The Living History Of Turner Farm

Farmyard and old horse pulled cart with US flag with Mount Princeton near Buena Vista Colorado.
Looking for things to do in Buena Vista? Check out our top 20.

Visiting Turner Farm is a must if you want to get to grips with the town’s history and learn more about its founding days.

The whole farm has been lovingly restored to the condition it would have been in during the late 19th century.

Costumed tour guides create a truly immersive experience, providing various insights into how people of the time lived and worked the land.

Visitors can meet friendly farm animals and wander through a butterfly garden, see historic buildings and period farm equipment.

Head to 829 W Main St, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

10- Sample The Wares Of Deerhammer Distillery

Supporting local producers is always good, so why not spend an afternoon at a local distillery?

A small-batch whiskey distillery located at the heart of Buena Vista town centre, Deerhammer is dedicated to using only high-quality, locally sourced grains and mountain spring water.

It’s a great way to get a real taste of the town and sample the various drinks.

You can also tour the distillery to learn more about the whiskey-making process while enjoying guided tastings to discover exactly how each specially selected ingredient impacts the final flavour.

Pop into 321 E Main St, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

11- Drink Like A Local At Eddyline Brewery

Cropped close up of two men clinking beer glasses together
Tasting craft beer is one of the things to do in Buena Vista.

If whiskey’s not your drink, sip on some excellent craft beers at Eddyline Brewery instead.

Eddyline creates a wide variety of drinks that are sure to whet the whistle of any thirsty guest.

Visitors can also tour the facility to learn more about how the various beers are all made and enjoy a guided tasting.

Along with beer, the brewery is also known for excellent wood-fired pizzas and an extensive menu of tasty bar food. With its cosy beer terrace, it’s the perfect spot to stop for lunch.

Go to 102 Linderman Ave, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

12- Cross Beaver Falls Bridge

Beaver Falls Bridge is a cute little historical landmark worth taking a few minutes to admire.

Crossing the Arkansas River, the bridge provides an excellent viewing point for the river’s rapids.

The pretty wooden bridge is only usable on foot or by bicycle, so you won’t have to worry about dodging cars.

It blends right into the natural landscape, making it a particularly aesthetic spot for photography.

Find it at 112 River Run Dr, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

13- Take A Break In Columbine Park

Columbine Park is ideal when you want to take a break and relax in the fresh air without having to trek up any mountains.

The little park at the town centre offers plenty of space for locals and visitors alike to relax along Cottonwood Creek.

If you’re looking for a convenient picnic spot, Columbine Park has several tables available for those who prefer not to sit on the grass.

14- Relax In Mc Phelemy Park

Mc Phelemy Park is just across the street from Columbine, offering an alternative option for an open-air break without heading outside town.

The park sits around a widening in Cottonwood Creek, creating a large pond for visitors to gather around.

With plenty of shady trees and maintained lawns, the park is perfect for a relaxing afternoon by the water.

15- Spot The Buena Vista Depot

At the southwest corner of Mc Phelemy Park, you’ll find the Buena Vista Depot.

Built in 1908 and in operation until 1937, the historic train station has been preserved and converted into a little museum dedicated to the railroad’s contribution to the founding days of Buena Vista.

Visitors can learn about the town’s past through a collection of photographs and artefacts.

Even if you don’t feel like browsing the museum, it’s worth walking by to spot the historic train car on display outside.

Look for it at Mc Phelemy Park, U S. 24, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

16- Play A Round At Collegiate Peaks Golf Course

With nine holes to beat, a driving range, and a putting green, there’s plenty to keep players of all levels busy at Collegiate Peaks Golf Course.

Whether you’re a seasoned putter or taking to the green for the first time, it’s a lovely way to spend a spare afternoon.

When you need a break, you can head into the bar and restaurant and enjoy lunch and drinks, taking in the view of the mountains.

The terrace area is charming in the summer.

Drive to 28775 Fairway Dr, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

17- Venture Through The Midland Tunnels

While most of the roads around Buena Vista opt to go around the mountains and cliffsides, the Midland Tunnels take a more direct route.

Heading north out of Buena Vista, the Midland Tunnels bore straight through the rocks that dared to stand in the way of the road.

They were built in the 19th century for the local railroad, although the modern rail line runs parallel to the road, avoiding the tunnels.

Whether you’re coming or going, the tunnels add a little extra intrigue to your journey and a small glimpse into the town’s heritage.

Head along Co Rd 371, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

18- Meet The Makers At Jumpin Good Goat Dairy

At the Jumpin Good Goat Dairy, you can see every step of the cheese-making process from grass to udder to shelf.

Meet the friendly goats, observe farm workers going about various tasks, and purchase some delicious dairy products to take away with you.

Along with a range of cheeses, you can also purchase goat-milk-based soaps and lotions and even decadent fudge.

Go to 31700 US-24, Buena Vista, CO 81211, United States.

19- Get An Adrenalin Rush 

Expert Kayaker In White Water Buena Vista
Going white water kayaking is one of the adventurous things to do in Buena Vista in the rapids of River Arkansas.

If you’re not confident tackling all the adventurous activities around Buena Vista by yourself – or want to try something new with the support of expert guides – then plan a daring adventure.

There are all kinds of activities, from conquering the river by raft or kayak to soaring through the air on a zipline or scaling the local mountains.

Activities cater to all skill levels, perfect for getting you out of your comfort zone.

20- Go Horseback Riding 

One of the loveliest ways to explore the local trails is by horseback, letting you get in touch with nature.

The friendly and experienced guides of Hot Springs Stables are experts at guiding both beginner and experienced riders around the local landscape.

Along with appreciating the landscape, there’s also plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for. Your place up high on your horse provides an excellent vantage point for spotting all the other mountain critters.

Ride to 14582 Co Rd 162, Nathrop, CO 81236, United States. 

buena vista
Old courthouse and museum in Buena Vista.
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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.