Basking in the sun, Pueblo lies on the banks of the Arkansas River and used to be known primarily as a mining town in the days of old. For this reason Pueblo had something of a murky reputation and was filled with cowboys and ruffians looking to make their fortunes during the gold rush.
Famous, or rather infamous, characters frequented the town such as the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickcock. Nowadays however, things have changed somewhat, and while Pueblo retains a lot of its old charm, it is now better known for its friendly locals and delicious green chili dishes that are unique to the region.
Lets explore the best things to do in Pueblo:
1. Union Avenue Historic District
Union Avenue Historic District is a great place to begin a tour of the city as this was once the town’s city center in the days of old. This district would have been lined with old fashioned saloons and even brothels in the days of old, but now the area is filled with brick and sandstone buildings that date from the period. 70 of these buildings are listed as part of the National Register of Historic Places and are now used as small boutiques, art galleries, and cafes. As such you can easily spend the morning walking around this area and taking in the feeling of Pueblo. This area is also part of what is known as Pueblo’s ‘Creative Corridor’ which is an arts and culture section of the city that is filled with galleries, museums, and pretty touches such as delightful fountains and sculptures.
2. Pueblo Historic Arkansas Riverwalk
This waterfront plaza area in Pueblo stretches for 32 acres and has the claim to fame of housing the longest painting in the world. The colorful mural here stretches for miles and was a collaborative piece that features the work of artists from around the United States and the rest of the world. The riverwalk here is perfect for a morning or late afternoon stroll and there are also biking trails that stretch along the waterfront if you want something a little more active. The trails also lead to the Lake Pueblo State Park if you want to explore a little further.
3. Lake Pueblo State Park
Lake Pueblo is famous in the city for being the place to come if you love fishing. If you venture here then you will find 4,600 acres of water that stretches along 60 miles of shoreline. Within the park you will also find 10,000 acres of land and you can spend the day boating on the lake, fishing, or even camping in the park. Many visitors say that one day here is definitely not enough, so the park’s campsite may be a welcome amenity if you want to stay longer. There is also a huge amount of flora and fauna in the park so wildlife spotting and bird watching are also popular here.
4. Whitewater Park
If you want to experience the Arkansas River up close rather than simply walking alongside it then you need to head to the Whitewater Park which allows you to get wet and have some fun. Activities that you can enjoy here include kayaking on the river as well as body boarding and even surfing. The park is known for having drops into the water and is half a mile in length. Each drop is essentially a man made dam where you can drop down into the river in a safe environment which makes it perfect for beginners.
5. Buell Children’s Museum
The Buell Children’s Museum is located inside the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center and is known for being voted one of the top children’s museums in all of the United States. There are a range of different galleries spread across the museum that are all themed such as the Sensations gallery which is dedicated to teaching little ones all about the senses. There are also interactive sections such as the Artrageous Studio where younger guests can make their own masterpieces.
6. Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
The Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum is built on the site of a former Second World War Army base that dates from 1943. Nowadays this amazing museum has over 30 antique planes and is a must-visit if you want to know about the history of flight in the area. The museum also pays homage to veterans and those who lost their lives in World War Two. Highlights to look out for here also include a huge B-29 bomber.
7. Songbird Cellars
If you are looking for something to do in Pueblo in the evening then consider checking out Songbird Cellars, a musical event space and tasting room in the center of the city. The tasting room is famous for its house blends and the fruit wines here are all handcrafted. After you check out the beverages on offer you can enjoy a drink with some music as there are live events held here regularly that feature performances from local and regional talent.
8. El Pueblo History Museum
The El Pueblo History Museum is a replica of an adobe traditional trading post and is also an important archeological excavation site. The museum aims to showcase the history of this city and to provide visitors with an overview of the cultural and ethnic makeup of this area of the United States. You can wander around the reconstruction of the trading post and plaza as well as the excavation site of the original trading post that dates from 1842.
9. City Park
Considering the fact that Pueblo is a relatively small city, the City Park is absolutely huge, and is one of the most comprehensive parks in all of Colorado. The park was established in 1904 and is known for being the site of the Pueblo zoo. In addition to the zoo however, the park has a range of other activities for visitors to enjoy such as amusement park rides and even a historical old fashioned antique carousel. There are sports facilities including a disc golf course and idyllic picnic areas dotted all over the area.
10. Steelworks Museum
The Steelworks Museum has won accolades for being one of the top five industrial museums in the United States. The museum tells the story of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company which was known for being the first steel mill west of the Mississippi River and dated from 1872. Here you can learn all about the importance of this industry in the area as well as take a trip back in time through period photographs and memorabilia.
11. Pueblo Zoo
Pueblo Zoo is nestled within the City Park and if you are looking for some greenery in the city then this is the place for you. Here you will find the zoo spread over 30 acres and there are over 420 animals housed here. Some local species to look out for include cute critters such as naked mole rats, but there are also animals from further afield such as African lions. The zoo tries to mimic the natural habitats of the animals so you can expect lush fields and woodlands throughout the park.
12. Arkansas River
There are a number of places where you can take in the beauty of the Arkansas River, but if you want to get up close to it at sunset then you need to take a gondola cruise. There are fifteen minute trips that will whizz you around the waterway or you can go for an hour long trip that also includes drinks and snacks for an even more romantic ride. If you prefer to do it yourself then you can also rent a pedal boat and explore the river that way while getting in some exercise at the same time.
13. Old Town
If you are feeling hungry in Pueblo then you need to head to Old Town where you will find a plethora of restaurants that include cuisines such as Italian, Greek, Polish, Irish, and German. Pueblo has long been known as a place of cultural diversity although perfect the biggest food related influence here are the Mexican flavors that are found thanks to the mascot of Pueblo, the green chili pepper. The pepper is usually roasted and made into a stew to top various dishes so try the green pork chili or the Slopper, a hamburger heaped with the famous spicy green sauce.
14. Steel City Theatre
The Steel City Theatre is named as a nod to the industrial roots of Pueblo and is the perfect place to check out some of the local theatrical talent in these parts. Shows are held throughout the year so make sure to check out the local listings to see what is on when you are in town. The company here aims to switch things up so you can expect musicals, Broadway shows, and even concerts and musical performances.
15. Grupo Folklórico
For something fun and different in Pueblo look no further than Grupo Folklórico, which is a local dance company. You can either come here and take a class which will teach you all about the local styles of the area, or you can come and check out the many dance recitals and shows that this lively group of talented locals put on throughout the year. Shows are often held on a monthly basis and food is also provided as you take in the spectacle. Certainly if you are looking for a little bit of local flavor then this dance troupe will not disappoint.