15 of the Best (and Most Offbeat) Attractions in Colorado!
Colorado’s unique attractions surely are unusual, one-of-a-kind and you won’t find anything quite like them anywhere else. Check out indoor cliff-diving in Denver, alligators in the San Luis Valley and the largest fork in the San Juan Mountains. Many of the attractions are very much modern art marvels. Whether it's built from trash or built with precision, the unusual architecture on this list is sure to wow any roadside attraction junkie. Explore more of Colorado than the ski resorts or hiking trails. These 15 unusual attractions in Colorado are wacky and weird places that are sure to deliver a special experience.
There is no question why Casa Bonita has been named one of the top 10 roadside attractions in the nation. This Mexican restaurant in Denver is far from your average dining experience. Casa Bonita is over 52,000 square-feet, can seat a whopping 1,000 guests, and has a 30-foot high waterfall ending in a pool that is 14 feet deep. With over 30 attractions, such as indoor cliff divers, a mariachi band, puppet shows and arcade games, this 40-year-old establishment is a unique Colorado treasure.
Located in an old women’s correctional facility, the Museum of Colorado Prisons features more than 140 years of Colorado State Prison history. View inmate cells, a gas chamber (last used in 1967), and the noose used for the last legal hanging in 1933. The museum’s mission is to preserve the heritage of the prison while also hoping to deter others from criminal activity. Since its opening in 1988, 200,000 visitors ‘did time’ in the Museum of Colorado Prisons.
3. Largest Fork in the U.S.
Visit the largest fork in America in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. In the small town of Creede, Ted Yund created the 40-foot long aluminum fork as an art display and gift to a bar and grill in town.
4. Cano’s Castle, Antonito, CO
Cano’s Castle is a treasure of trash in Antonito, a few miles north of the New Mexico border. The “castle” is built from scrap aluminum, like beer cans, hubcaps, wire, screens and plenty more oddities. The four-story castle was created in the 80’s and has been expanding since then.
Located in Pueblo, the Bishop Castle is a gorgeous stone and iron structure with tall towers and unique architecture. Jim Bishop built the castle with three stories, a grand ballroom and even a fire-breathing dragon. The view from the Bishop’s iconic bridge is truly a unique and unforgettable experience.
6. Junkrassic Park, Cheraw, CO
Made from recycled metal around his farm, Johnnie Allen started creating works of art by welding the scraps together. Junkrassic Park is his 80-piece collection in Cheraw, Colorado. Junkrassic Park’s most famous attraction is definitely the “Awful Tower,” a 40-foot tall oil tower installment with a punny name hinting at the Parisian landmark. The four-acre space has other metal installations and artworks with pun-filled names, like “Jon Way-In” and “John L. Weight.”
Over 1,000 vintage washing machines are on display at the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum in Eaton, near Fort Collins. Maxwell, the man behind the collection, has a machine from every state and many from various parts of the world. Maxwell is a Guinness World Record holder, winning the title of “Largest Washing Machine Collection” in 2000. To view this unusual attraction, an appointment is necessary by phone or email.
The UFO Watchtower in the San Luis Valley is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of a UFO. The UFO Watchtower is an observation platform, a gift shop and a campground. There have been 67 reported sightings, mostly blinking, moving or streaking lights. This unusual Colorado attraction is truly “out of this world.”
This unique restaurant located in Colorado Springs is made from a fully intact Boeing KC-97 tanker. Known as Solo’s, this restaurant has pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia on aviation history. Customers can even sit in this 1953 plane. The “Airplane Restaurant” is a local favorite that is sure to a be first class experience.
10. Swetsville Zoo, Timnath, CO
This unusual attraction known as Swetsville Zoo features animal sculptures made from car parts, scrap metal and various farm machinery. Created by Bill Swets in Timnath, near Fort Collins, the Zoo features more than 150 sculptures created from 1985 to 1995. The sculptures are truly impressive. Find a spider made out of a VW car and metal dinosaurs playing instruments.
Simply known as “The Bug Museum” by locals, the May Natural History Museum features an impressive bug collection, with approximately 100,000 bugs from various parts of the world. For 80 years, the founder of the museum James May searched the world for the most interesting and unique bug specimens. Located in Colorado Springs this museum features specimens all behind glass. Explore all the different species of butterflies, beetles, and other bugs, such as a nine-inch scorpion from Africa and the world’s largest purple tarantulas.
Located in Alamosa in the San Luis Valley, the Colorado Gators Reptile Park is one of the most unlikely of places for reptiles and alligators. Getting its start as a tilapia farm, the owners of the park used alligators to eat the leftover fish. After gaining attention from locals, the reptile park was born. Although Colorado can be a cold place, the alligators live in geothermal pools that naturally stay 87 degrees year-round. Visit this unusual attraction to view not only alligators but also other reptiles such as tortoises, iguanas and pythons. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park has become both a unique attraction and a wildlife rescue for abandoned reptiles.
Once you’re finished checking out the massive collection of bugs at the May Natural History Museum, drive by the world’s largest beetle. Located along Highway 115 just south of Colorado Springs, “Herkimer” is a large replica of a West Indian Hercules Beetle. Built in the 1950s, this roadside beetle was created to attract attention to the May Museum of Natural History.
14. Petrified Wood Gas Station, Lamar, CO
Built in 1932 as a gas station, this structure in Lamar was made of petrified wood, which is fossilized lumber or wood that has “turned to stone.” Although it doesn’t act as a gas station anymore, rather offices for a car dealership, you can still visit this unusual place that was literally made of materials more than 175 million years old.
This one-of-a-kind motel is connected to a historic drive-in movie theater. Guests staying at the Best Western Movie Manor can actually watch the movie from most rooms, even complete with in-room sound. Enjoy a movie and a room at this unique motel in Monte Vista every May through September.