Lamar is the seat of and most populous county in Colorado’s Prowers County, which is located in the state’s southeast portion, not from the border with Kansas.
For many visitors arriving from the east, Lamar is the first stop in The Rocky Mountain State. Its quaint and historic charm gives travelers unique insights into life on the Great Plains.
For such a small town, Lamar has a number of historical attractions, as well as multiple dining and lodging options. The countryside just outside municipal limits is popular with sportsmen and bird watchers.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Lamar, Colorado.
1. Colorado Welcome Center
Welcome centers are great first-stops for those visiting an area with which they’re not familiar.
The Colorado Welcome Center is located just a few blocks off US Routes 50 and 385 on East Beech Street, and it’s full of valuable and free resources that make it a worthwhile stop.
The center is open during regular business hours and staffed with knowledgeable locals, whose job is to point guests toward things to see and do while in the area.
There are also history and culture exhibits, as well as maps and travel brochures, many of which include deals on things like dining, lodging, and local attractions.
2. Big Timbers Museum
Big Timbers Museum is located on US Route 50 in Lamar and features a unique and diverse collection of items that touch on a number of different aspects of the town’s past.
The items on display range from historic cars and memorabilia from World Wars I and II to old medical tools and horse carriages.
Admission for the whole family is less than you’d pay for a meal at a burger joint, and most guests spend about an hour looking around before heading off to their next adventure.
Those who’d like to donate a few extra dollars to help with the museum’s upkeep are encouraged to do so.
3. Brew Unto Others Coffee Shop
Proprietors of independent coffee shops seem to have a knack for coming up with catchy and memorable names, and Brew Unto Others is no exception.
Located on South Main Street, Brew Unto Others was founded in 2013. Though great coffee has always been the cornerstone of their mission, they’re also dedicated to making a difference in the community by donating a portion of all proceeds to worthy local charities.
They’re open every day, and in addition to hot and cold coffee, tea, and juices, they served fresh baked goods, fruit, yogurt, and lunch items like Panini sandwiches and wraps.
4. Bj’s Super Burger
For those who prefer classic burger restaurants to those that are part of national chains with thousands of locations across the country, Bj’s Super Burger would be a great place to dine while in Lamar.
Bj’s is located on South Main Street and features an impressive menu of burgers that range from basic with minimal condiments to loaded masterpieces that include things like jalapeno peppers, cheese, and bacon.
They’re also known for their tasty sides like fries and coleslaw, and previous guests have mentioned that the service is often just as fast as it is at fast-food restaurants.
5. 3rd Street Nest Bed & Breakfast
Those staying in Lamar have many lodging options at their disposal; though many of them are reasonably priced and comfortable, they’re not all full of charm and character.
The 3rd Street Nest Bed & Breakfast was established in 2004 and is located in a home that was originally built more than a century ago.
There are only a few rooms, and though the house is historic, it features all the modern-day amenities visitors expect, like air conditioning and heat, televisions, and private bathrooms.
A gourmet breakfast is included for each guest, and there’s an interesting collection of birdhouses that’s worth checking out as well.
6. Petrified Wood Gas Station
Gas stations constructed from petrified wood are exceedingly rare, to say the least, but for lovers of quirky Americana who find themselves in Lamar, there’s one that warrants a look.
The Petrified Wood Gas Station is billed as the oldest structure on the planet, which is an odd claim considering America is such a young country.
It was built in the ’30s using slabs of petrified wood that are purportedly nearly 200 million years old. Now, the historic gas station is the office of a car dealership. It’s located on North Main Street in town and is free to visit.
7. Happy Garden
Featuring fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, ample portion sizes, and reasonable prices, Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant is a popular stop for those looking to get the most value from their limited vacation dollars.
Happy Garden is located on South Main Street and has a broad array of Chinese favorites, like cashew chicken, lo mein, fried rice, and orange beef.
Guests consistently rank Happy Garden among the best Chinese restaurants at which they’ve ever eaten. The interior is comfortable, decorated in traditional artwork, and often has relaxing Asian music playing in the background, which adds to the already exotic atmosphere.
8. John Martin Reservoir State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park offers nature lovers and outdoorsy types an abundance of year-round activity options.
The park’s reservoir is one of the state’s largest and is popular with anglers, kayakers, swimmers, and sunbathers during the summer months.
According to avid bird watchers, there are more than 300 species of birds commonly found in the park’s diverse environments, of which bald eagles, plovers, and migratory birds are among the most popular.
The park includes a network of multi-use trails as well, so getting away from the crowds that tend to congregate around the reservoir’s beach won’t be a problem.
9. High Plains Snow Goose Festival
For nearly two decades, Lamar has been hosting the popular High Plains Snow Goose Festival.
The event takes place in early January and attracts bird lovers from all over the country.
Many of the festival’s activities are based on education and include guest speakers and guided, narrated tours led by ornithologists and experienced snow goose enthusiasts.
Dress warmly as the weather in January can be harsh. With so much to see and do, plan on spending more than just an hour.
There are also locally made arts and crafts, tons of food and drink options, and family activities that are appropriate for most ages.
10. Two Buttes Trail
Hiking is a much-loved activity that’s enjoyed by Colorado natives and visitors year-round. For those interested in stretching their legs and experiencing the great outdoors without wasting valuable time driving across the state, Two Buttes Trail would be a great option.
The trail winds its way through a number of environments, including prairies, forested areas, ranches, and streams.
Birding is popular along the nearly 30 miles of trails, and hundreds of species of birds are commonly seen, some of which are quite rare and only in the area at certain times of the year.
There are several access points around Lamar, and detailed trail maps are easily found online.
11. Camp Amache National Historic Landmark
During World War II, a now-infamous executive order made it possible for thousands of people of Japanese descent to be incarcerated due to the fear that they may be providing intelligence assistance to the Japanese military.
Camp Amache National Historic Landmark is one of the state’s most unique and historically significant attractions and lies near the town of Granada near Colorado’s border with Kansas.
The camp has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service and includes interpretive exhibits, informative plaques, and first-hand accounts that give visitors unique insights into the lives of those imprisoned there.
12. Arkansas Riverwalk
The Arkansas River runs through downtown Pueblo, and the Arkansas Riverwalk is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
The promenade features lots of grand vistas that include human-made and natural elements. There are informative signs along the way that include interesting snippets of local history like the epic flood of 1921.
You’ll also find gardens, seating areas, and local art projects, and in the warm months, the Riverwalk hosts outdoor fairs, festivals, live entertainment, and movies.
There are lots of great bars and restaurants in the area that tend to come alive in the afternoon and early evening hours.
13. Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
For aviation and history buffs, a visit to the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum would be a great way to spend a few hours.
It’s located on Magnuson Avenue in Pueblo and includes an impressive collection of vintage military and commercial aircraft that have been restored to near original condition.
In addition to its collection of aircraft, the museum features other military vehicles and paraphernalia, like uniforms, weapons, and equipment from most of the 20th-century wars and conflicts in which America has been involved.
The museum is open daily from 10 AM until 4 PM, with reduced hours on Sundays only.
14. Rosemount Museum
Pueblo’s Rosemount Mansion is located on West 14th Street and was originally built in the 1890s; it was the height of opulence by the standards of the day.
The mansion had nearly 40 rooms and was the home of a prominent local family for almost 75 years.
It’s full of original-era furniture, art, and housewares, and had many amenities that wouldn’t become common in most homes until decades later.
Regular guided tours are offered at multiple times daily, and for those who visit during the holiday season, there are times when visitors have the option of giving themselves self-guided tours.
15. Pueblo Heritage Museum
The Pueblo Heritage Museum is located on West B Street in town and is dedicated to preserving and promoting the area’s cultural heritage and history.
The museum’s exhibits touch on both settler and Native American cultures. They include art, artifacts, and historically significant memorabilia that tell a remarkably complete story that stretches back hundreds of years.
There’s also a second-floor library managed by the local historical society that often gets overlooked by harried visitors; it contains a diverse collection of historical documents and family lineage information that’s definitely worth a look for those with roots in the area.