Located in south-central Colorado’s Las Animas County, Trinidad is a town of about 10,000 residents that lies along the course of the historic Santa Fe Trail.
Trinidad is just off Interstate 25, not far from the border with New Mexico to the south. It’s in a particularly rural part of the state that’s most well-known for its national parks and forests and abundant historic sites.
From Denver, Trinidad is about a four-hour drive. It’s a popular destination for backpackers and all-around lovers of the great outdoors.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Trinidad, Colorado.
1. Trinidad History Museum
For first time visitors to Trinidad interested in getting up to speed quickly on the town’s history, the Trinidad History Museum would be a great place to spend an hour.
The museum is located on East Main Street downtown and features several attractions in the historic district of Trinidad , like the Bloom Mansion and the Santa Fe Trail Museum.
The museum’s exhibits include historic weapons, photographs, clothes, and first-hand accounts of those who lived in the area when it was even more rough and rugged than it is today.
There are also Native American artifacts, and most guests choose to visit the attractions mentioned above in the same day.
2. Corazon Gallery
Though it was once relatively regional in scope, Western art has become popular across the country.
Especially for art lovers unfamiliar with the area and its culture, spending some time in a local gallery or two is a great way to get unique insight quickly.
Corazon Gallery is located on East Main Street and is a cooperative of local artists who create everything from oil paintings and ceramics to handcrafted jewelry and contemporary photography.
Artists are often working on-site, and due to the gallery’s overall chill vibe, they’re easy to talk to, so don’t be shy when it comes to asking them about their work.
3. Trinidad Trolley
Due to its rural, small-town ambiance, exploring Trinidad is easy by car, foot, and bike, but there’s a more unique and romantic way of doing it for those interested in something a little different.
The Trinidad Trolley is a fun and inexpensive way to get a look at the town, and it’s largely focused on historic buildings with interesting architecture.
Trolley tours are available in a number of options, and they all depart from the station on Nevada Avenue.
Depending on which option you choose, your tour may stop at the Ava Maria Shrine, an impressive and historic hospital, and a massive mural created by a local nun.
4. Perkatory Coffee House
Coffee shops are essential components of many people’s daily routines. For those who rise early to make the most of their limited vacation time, they’re perfect places to get caffeinated before heading out.
Like many of Trinidad’s top attractions, Perkatory Coffee House is located on East Main Street and has been described as cool, quirky, and inviting.
Their menu includes a full selection of hot and cold drinks that run the gamut from nitro brew and espresso to tea and juice.
According to their regulars, they’ve got amazing baked goods like pastry, muffins, and carrot cake topped with homemade cream cheese icing.
5. Louden-Henritze Archaeology Museum
Much of Colorado’s vast landscape is dotted with significant archaeological sites; many of them date back thousands of years to when the area was the exclusive domain of several Native American cultures.
The Louden-Henritze Archaeology Museum was originally an offshoot of a local college with a thriving archaeology department. Since then, it’s amassed an impressive collection of artifacts.
The museum’s exhibits include remnants of both human and animal habitation, like pottery, baskets, and fossilized dinosaur bones.
Louden-Henritze is located inside the Freudenthal Library and is open Monday through Thursday, from 10 AM to 3 PM.
6. Tutti Scoops
Though historic sites, museums, and majestic natural attractions are worthy vacation destinations, sometimes weary travelers would just rather sit and relax with a massive ice cream cone.
Tutti Scoops is located on North Commercial Street and features nearly 20 flavors of homemade ice cream in both traditional and new-fangled flavors.
Previous diners have noted that Tutti Scoops is a pleasant mix of the past and present and that it resembles the ice cream parlors that were so abundant in years past.
Their chocolate chip cookie dough and butter pecan are among their perennial favorites, and there’s ample parking for bikes and cars along the street out front.
7. Trinidad Lake State Park
Trinidad Lake State Park is the perfect option for those who want to experience wild Colorado without traveling hours to state and national parks.
The park’s lake is particularly popular with anglers due to its variety of game fish, including large and smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, and trout.
Up to date fishing reports are available online. Though many visitors choose to fish when the weather is warm and sunny, the fish are often most active during windy, cold, and overcast days, especially when the barometer is falling.
Remember to pick up a fishing license before heading out.
8. Purple Toad Social Tap & Grill
The Purple Toad Social Tap & Grill is conveniently located just off Interstate 25 on North Chestnut Street in town.
The bar and restaurant combo features both indoor and outdoor seating – the latter of which is a dog-friendly environment that’s especially popular during the summer months.
They’re well-known for their hearty bar fare that’s reasonably priced and comes in ample portion sizes.
Quesadillas, fish and chips, mac ‘n cheese, and juicy burgers are among their best sellers. Many bar patrons choose to have a few drinks and catch up with friends while enjoying appetizers like sliders, potato skins, and soft pretzel bites.
9. Simpson’s Rest
Though nobody in the history of the world has ever mistaken Trinidad, Colorado, for Hollywood, California, the two cities share similar iconic signs on mountains overlooking their respective downtown areas.
The Trinidad sign is perched atop a craggy bluff in a residential area. For those who’d like to get to the top, there’s an accessible road that isn’t paved, but it’s easily passable by if taken slowly.
From the lofty vantage point, visitors will have amazingly panoramic views of the town and countryside, but the road is only open during daylight hours and is gated from sunset to sunrise.
10. Sita’s Kitchen
Sita’s Kitchen is located on East Main Street, and though it’s only been open since 2018, it’s already attracted a loyal following among lovers of vibrant and healthy vegan food.
The restaurant is consistently described as relaxed and inviting, and they specialize in utilizing non-meat ingredients in unique ways to offer diners an experience that they won’t find anywhere else in the area.
Some of their most popular menu items include meatballs made from quinoa and noodles made from vegetables. Though many of their ingredients are locally sourced, others are more exotic, like aromatic jackfruit that’s indigenous to Southeast Asia.
11. Rino’s Italian Restaurant and Steakhouse
For such a small town, Trinidad has a surprising number of dining options available for locals and visitors with empty stomachs.
Rino’s Italian Restaurant and Steakhouse is located downtown and is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 5 and 9 PM.
Rino’s features a variety of steak options and lots of traditional Italian favorites, like ravioli, pasta, and gnocchi. They’ve got one of the most extensive wine selections in the area as well.
The restaurant is definitely a bit more upscale than many area eateries, but it’s comfortable and relaxed, and the prices are reasonable considering the quality and portion sizes.
12. Mitchell Museum of Western Art
Since 1981, the Mitchell Museum of Western Art on Main Street has been a mainstay of Trinidad’s art scene.
The museum’s collection includes both Native American art and artifacts as well as old and contemporary works by local artists done in a number of mediums, and western themes like cowboys, cattle, and majestic, snow-covered mountains.
Many of the works display the area’s rich Hispanic influences as well. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum hosts several special events throughout the year. Consider checking their website to see what’s on their calendar before making a special trip.
13. San Isabel National Forest
The San Isabel National Forest is comprised of more than one million acres that are spread over some diverse landscapes, offering visitors a variety of year-round activity options.
The forest is big with campers and backcountry backpackers intent on spending a few nights in the wild, and there are more than 40 individual campgrounds to accommodate them.
San Isabel includes more than 700 miles of trails and more than a dozen mountains that tower 14,000 feet over the ground below.
There are two lakes that are popular warm-weather attractions for swimmers, kayakers, and anglers as well.
14. Comanche National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland is a 430,000-acre tract of undisturbed prairie that lies about an hour east of Trinidad along the borders of Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
During the Dust Bowl days of the early 20th century, much of the region’s topsoil blew away due to drought and unsustainable farming practices, but since then, it’s been restored to near-pristine condition.
The area is home to one of the largest concentrations of dinosaur tracks in the American west; many of them date back to more than 100 million years ago.
Due to the grassland’s vastness, many visitors start their exploration at the welcome center and museum.