12 Things To Do in Loveland, Colorado

Nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Loveland is a charming city in Northern Colorado. Known for its public art sculptures scattered around town, rich pioneering history, and abundance of outdoor recreation, Loveland has something for everyone. Whether you’re an art aficionado, history buff, nature lover, or thrill seeker, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do during your visit.

From exploring over 300 pieces of art at the Benson Sculpture Garden to racing down rivers on a whitewater rafting trip, Loveland offers unique and memorable experiences. The historic Foundry provides a glimpse into the city’s past, while the lakes and trails around the area provide the perfect outdoor playground for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. The city also serves as a great base for day trips to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park and other Northern Colorado destinations.

To help you make the most of your time in Loveland, here are 12 can’t-miss things to do on your next visit.

Explore the Vibrant Public Art Scene

With over 300 pieces of art scattered throughout the city, Loveland contains one of the country’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibitions. The sculptures transform the city into a free open-air art museum, creating a vibrant cultural scene.

One of the top places to view this beloved sculpture collection is at Benson Sculpture Garden. This garden displays over 100 sculptures from bronze figures to abstract pieces. Wander along the walking paths as you admire these artistic sculptures against the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Don’t miss the iconic sculpture “Allow Me” by Seward Johnson. This sculpture depicts a gentleman carrying a giant metal spoon with a cherry on top. It’s one of the most photographed sculptures in town!

As you explore downtown Loveland, discover even more imaginative art installations. The pieces range from 14-foot bronze wildlife sculptures to colorful mosaic walls and whimsical paintings on alley doors. Many of the sculptures tell stories about Loveland’s history and culture.

In addition to viewing art, Loveland also offers plenty of opportunities to create it. Participate in hands-on art classes at Clay Continuum Pottery Studio, one of several ceramics studios housed in a former historic flour mill. Or flex your creative muscles during the monthly Loveland Art Studio Tour which provides behind-the-scenes access to working artist studios.

With interactive public art around every corner, creative workshops, and galleries galore, Loveland is truly an art lover’s paradise. The city embraces art as part of its identity and a visit here isn’t complete without appreciating this one-of-a-kind aspect.

Admire Historic Architecture in Downtown Loveland

In between viewing artwork, take time to admire Loveland’s historic buildings and architecture in the charming downtown area. Many of the buildings here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, providing a window into what life was like for Loveland’s early residents.

Start your exploration at the Loveland Museum, housed in a historic 1903 building that once served as Loveland’s first public library. Exhibits here spotlight Loveland’s pioneers and the early development of important industries like sugar beet farming and canning.

Next, head to the Foundry portion of town. This area contains 27 restored buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s when Loveland first established itself as a trading post. Wander along 4th Street as you take in the original architecture details like the Romanesque arches on the Delsol Building and the intricate tin ceilings inside Emma’s Nook Diner.

Other impressive structures downtown include the 1909 Rialto Theater with its bright neon marquee, the Richardson’s Feed Mill silos that stand like sentinels, and the 1916 Pulliam Building capped by castle-like turrets.

For a thorough look Loveland’s past, schedule a guided walking tour with the Loveland Historical Society. Knowledgeable guides will share captivating stories behind these historic buildings as you explore the downtown area. By getting to know Loveland’s old buildings, you’ll gain fascinating insight this Northern Colorado town.

Hike Beautiful Trails Around Lake Loveland

Lake Loveland offers the perfect nature escape right on the edge of town. Encompassing over 400 acres, the glacial lake provides visitors panoramic Rocky Mountain views coupled with a variety of outdoor recreation. One of the top things to do here is to hit the hiking trails encircling the lake.

For an easy hike, head out on Shoreline Trail. This paved 3.6-mile loop follows the north shoreline, providing superb vistas across glistening waters to the rugged mountains beyond. Interpretive signs describe the diverse wetland ecosystem that lines the lakeshore. Keep your eyes peeled for birds like red-winged blackbirds and waterfowl floating among the cattails.

On the south side, Seven Lakes Trail offers a delightful wooded walk past multiple alpine lakes. Dense pine forests surround the steep 1.6-mile path leading to secluded backcountry ponds.

For a longer hike, tackle the Lake Loveland Trail. This scenic 6-mile route loops completely around the lake, alternating between pine forest terrain to windswept plains. Stop at one of the many picnic spots along the way to relax take in the tranquil setting.

Thanks to the network of trails encircling this mountain lake, you can easily spend hours exercising in the beauty of nature just minutes from downtown Loveland.

Go Whitewater Rafting on the Big Thompson River

For high-adrenaline adventure, raft the rushing rapids of the Big Thompson River. Flowing east from Rocky Mountain National Park, the scenic waterway carves dramatically through a rugged 1500-foot canyon filled with sheer vertical granite walls. Experienced outfitters like Raft Masters offer guided tours along these lively waters near Loveland.

Launching from Narrows Park just west of Loveland, the Upper Big Thompson River trip revels in 10 miles Class III-IV rapids with names like “Moustache” and “Zumwalt’s Anniversary” to pique your interest. Expert river guides navigate rollercoaster waves and hydraulic drops with names like “Grizzly” and “The Chute” to get your heart pumping. Between raging white water stretches, soak up tranquil scenes like Eagles Nest with its towering 800-foot cliffs or the gentle pools at Sleepy Hollow.

Prefer calmer rides? Opt for half-day floats along the scenic Mid-Canyon section which still includes some moderate rapids for fun. Families with kids ages 7 and up can ride together aboard large paddle rafts for an exciting yet less turbulent experience.

However you choose to ride these lively waters, rafting the Big Thompson River promises an awesome paddling adventure near Loveland. Just be sure to bring sunscreen, secured shoes, and an adventurous spirit!

Visit the Foundry to Learn About Loveland’s History

The historic Foundry portion of downtown provides an intriguing glimpse into Loveland’s pioneering past. Back when Loveland first sprouted up in the 1860s, the Big Thompson River was key to development. Settlers tapped into the waterway to generate power for a gristmill, sawmill, and other early industry essentials. This little industrial center soon became known simply as “The Foundry”.

Today, visitors can step back in time at The Foundry portion of downtown centered near 1st and Cleveland Streets. Here you’ll discover 27 restored buildings colorfully painted in their original red, yellow and blue colors.

Must-see landmarks include the 1886 Van’s Machine Shop with displays of early inventions plus the Johnson Building marked by soaring Queen Anne architecture and decorative turrets. Grab lunch nearby at the quaint Emma’s Nook Diner dishing up homemade pies inside a former tin shop built in 1907.

For enlightening historic displays and artifacts, venture next door to the Loveland Museum. Fascinating exhibits spotlight key snippets of Loveland’s past like the pioneers who settled this river valley to the rise of the region’s booming sugar beet industry decades ago. Don’t miss perusing nostalgic black and white photographs capturing Victorian-era life as sleepy downtown transformed into a bustling railroad hub.

By exploring The Foundry area, you’ll come away captivated by stories of Loveland’s tenacious founders who tap into gritty perseverance and resourcefulness to carve out a thriving community here in Northern Colorado.

See Wildlife at the Rocky Mountain National Park

Looking for epic outdoor adventure in spectacular alpine scenery? Luckily, Loveland’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park makes enjoying this rugged jewel a breeze. Located just 45 miles away, Rocky Mountain National Park ranks among the country’s most popular national parks thanks to its soaring mountain peaks and abundance of wildlife.

Designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, the ecosystems found within the park span lush forests, crystalline lakes, thundering waterfalls and alpine tundra habitat. Iconic features include 14,259-foot Longs Peak and serene Bear Lake surrounded by dramatic peaks.

One of the best parts of exploring Rocky Mountain National Park is spotting wild residents along the way. Commonly seen large mammals here include elk, bighorn sheep, moose and black bears. You may also catch sight regal bighorn sheep grazing hillsides or glimpse pikas and yellow-bellied marmots darting among rocky debris. Lucky visitors might spot coveted animals like mountain lions, bobcats or river otters hidden through the park’s forests.

With over 60 peaks soaring above 12,000 feet in elevation, Rocky Mountain National Park also offers Heaven for hikers. Crisscrossing trails range from easy lakeside loops to multi-day treks scaling lofty summits. Popular routes include the 3-mile hike around sparkling Emerald Lake or the steep 8-mile climb up Flattop Mountain rewarded by 360-degree vistas.

Thanks to the park’s stunning scenery coupled with amazing wildlife watching opportunities, Rocky Mountain National Park makes an alluring easy day trip destination to pair with your Loveland getaway. Just be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds!

Tour the Local Breweries and Distilleries

What better way to sip into Loveland’s vibrant spirit than by sampling drinks crafted by homegrown breweries and distilleries?

Loveland Aleworks laid claim as the city’s first craft brewery back in 2015 and has kept pint glasses filled ever since. Swing by their downtown outpost to sip flagship brews like Amber’Sweetheart red ale or Rocky Mountain MVP IPA alongside rotating seasonal options. Located right along the recreation trail, their outdoor patio dishes up the perfect place to kick back after a day outdoors.

For bold bourbon and whiskey, don’t miss Telling Tales Distillery. Their lineup ranges from sweet apple pie moonshine to oaky single malt and rye whiskey aged in charred new oak barrels. Free tours and tastings are offered daily within their historic downtown building.

Verboten Brewing also whip ups specialty small-batch beers like their smoked cherry ale and their popular Dark Apparition bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout. Join one of their free guided tours before bellying up to the bar to sample a few favorites.

In quaint downtown Berthoud just 20 minutes south, little City Star Brewing ranks as one of Colorado’s top craft breweries. Accolades include medals for their Bandit brown ale, Mule Kick strong ale and more. Beyond their stellar brews, you can soak in gorgeous mountain panoramas from their outdoor beer garden.

Thanks to Loveland’s sterling selection of breweries, wineries and distilleries, you can happily sip your way through several tasty establishments during your visit. Cheers to that!

Picnic at North Lake Park

When it’s time for a picnic break, make your way over to North Lake Park on the shores of Loveland Reservoir. This scenic green space offers 81 acres of open grasslands dotted with shady trees that make an idyllic picnic spot.

Stake your claim at one of the many picnic table clusters overlooking the sparkling water. Let the kids roam free across sprawling lawns while you lay back and soak up the peaceful vibes.

Pack snacks from Loveland’s delectable markets like attributes from Savory Spice Shop or artisan sandwiches from Snackz Deli downtown. Don’t forget dessert – pick up sweet treats like handmade truffles from Lasso Del Rio Chocolates or fruity wine slushies from Fawn Brook Inn Winery to complete the meal.

After you finish eating, walk off calories along the easy 1-mile Shoreline Trail encircling the reservoir. Signs detail the journey of water across Colorado’s Continental Divide into this Front Range storage facility.

For sweeping high plains panoramas in every direction, make the moderate 1-mile hike up to Vista Point. From this elevated viewpoint, the waters of North Lake reservoir shimmer below while the snow-dusted peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park dominate the horizon.

Whether you stick close to the picnic grounds or venture onto nearby trails, North Lake Park allows easy, energizing escapes into nature just 5 miles north of Loveland’s downtown district.

Bike the Scenic Paved Recreation Paths

Cruising Loveland’s paved recreation paths promises refreshing adventures on two wheels. Well-maintained trails let you pedal for miles enjoying spectacular scenery along the way.

For lakeside riding with mountain views, follow the gentle 6.5 Big Thompson Trail east from downtown alongside the Big Thompson River. This paved route eventually leads to expansive views at the canyon rim overlook.

Along the way, riverside vistas showcase the waterway’s nature sanctuary filled with birdlife like white pelicans, kingfishers and great blue herons. In winter months, bald eagles flock here to fish the open waters.

West of town, the 7-mile FLEX trail parallels majestically through wide open ranch lands dotted with cacti and yucca plants with the Rocky Mountains hovering in the distance. Plentiful benches allow spots to pause and absorb endless skies meeting rumpled ridges on the horizon.

Nearby recreation paths like the 8-mile trail around Lake Loveland or the Colorado Front Range Trail allow ambitious riders chances to log even more miles while relishing incredible scenery. Rent bikes from downtown’s Chain Reaction Cycles to tool around town hassle-free.

From leisurely afternoon jaunts to vigorous day-long rides, Loveland serves up supreme cycling thanks to an ever-expanding network of paved recreation paths just waiting to be rolled across.

Experience the Lakes at Boyd Lake State Park

Sprawling over 1,700 acres just east of Loveland, Boyd Lake State Park offers boating, watersports and fishing galore. As the largest reservoir in Loveland, it also serves as an important area for migrating and wintering birds.

Paddle, sail or motor across scenic waters inside the park’s nearly 350 surface acres. Rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, sailboats and powerboats from the marina to explore on your own. No boat? No problem! Hop aboard the Loveland Lake cruise for on-the-water guided tours showcasing area wildlife.

Anglers can cast lines for catches like crappie, channel catfish and wiper salmon found in the lake’s depths. Six miles of trails encircle the shoreline for hikers and bikers, while picnickers will love spreading out at scenic lakeside tables.

As a birding hotspot, keep binoculars handy while visiting Boyd Lake State Park. Over 300 species have been spotted here so far. The best viewing unfolds from early spring through fall when the lake serves as an essential stopover habitat for migrating birds. Expect to see waterfowl like Canada geese and wood ducks joined by herons, raptors and more winged visitors.

With a mix of land and water-based recreation coupled with exceptional bird watching, Boyd Lake State Pack promises something for everyone to enjoy.

Shop Local at the Farmers Market and Art Galleries

Between adventures outdoors, take time for some retail therapy in Loveland’s charming downtown district. From open-air farmers markets to colorful walkable art districts, you’ll discover plenty of places to shop for locally-made goods.

Every Saturday from June through October, Loveland High Plains Farmers Market takes over Fairgrounds Park. Here 60+ vendors sell seasonal produce like heirloom tomatoes and Palisade peaches alongside artisan baked goods, fresh flowers and more. Grab breakfast to-go from regional food trucks or stay for cooking demos and live music.

Wander downtown along 4th Street to peruse the town’s “Gallery Row”. More than 20 art galleries and studios display artwork spanning every medium – from vibrant paintings to handblown glass, metal sculpture, pottery and beyond. Meet resident artists busy at work during ArtWalks on the last Friday of each month.

Just north of downtown, The Artisans Gallery exhibits fine arts and crafts from over 100 Colorado artists. Housed within a former historic flour mill, this expansive 12,000 square foot gallery offers arts perfectly suited for souvenirs like woodcarvings, nature photography, ceramics and handwoven accessories.

Between bites of juicy Palisade peaches, perusing the galleries, and snagging some quality souvenirs, shopping local gems helps fuel Loveland’s creative community and vibrant culture.

Learn About the Arapaho Culture

Long before settlers carved out the town of Loveland, nomadic Native American tribes like the Arapaho traveled across this land they called “turtle island”. Although the Arapaho people no longer live in this region, Loveland provides enlightening opportunities to honor and learn about this indigenous culture that shaped the terrain for centuries.

Start by browsing exhibits at the Loveland Museum highlighting artifacts plus displays depicting Native American life along the Front Range. The “By Names Unknown” art installation found downtown also memorializes the Arapaho and other tribes who once lived in Northern Colorado.

Next, journey 25 minutes west to Benson Sculpture Garden. Here you’ll find the powerful bronze tribute “Circle of Life” honoring the Arapaho tribe. Created by artists Circle of Chiefs, pivotal Native American leaders like Chief Niwot and Chief Left Hand stand immortalized in this stunning circular display recognizing the injustices inflicted upon these early residents.

To experience Arapaho dance and music first-hand, attend the tribe’s annual Spring Powwow held each May. Watch the hypnotizing sight of traditional dances featuring vivid regalia with feathers, beads and fringes swaying in synchrony to drum beats. When not dancing, peruse vendor booths stocked with handmade crafts and authentic frybread.

Thanks to various cultural tributes plus annual events, Loveland offers memorable ways to celebrate the legacy of the Arapaho within this region’s history. By learning about their customs and connection with the land, you’ll gain poignant insight into the area’s past.


With its vibrant public artworks, historic downtown buildings, wealth of outdoor recreation and proximity to stunning Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland serves up small-town vibes bundled with big adventures. Alongside all the area’s natural and cultural attractions, you’ll find charming local shops, restaurants, breweries and more that invite you to slow down and engage with authentic community character.

Whether you spend a few hours or a few days exploring Loveland and the surrounding areas, you’re guaranteed to collect meaningful experiences plus lasting memories along the way. From heart-pumping whitewater rafting excursions to leisurely downtown gallery strolls, Loveland’s diversity shines through in the many ways to connect with this Northern Colorado gem.

So set your sights on Loveland for your next Rockies region getaway! With a lively arts scene, past and present history melding perfectly, and a picture-perfect outdoor playground right outside town, adventures await in Loveland.

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