15 Best Things to Do in Sterling (CO)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Sterling is a town of about 15,000 residents that’s tucked into the northeast corner of Colorado, near the neighboring States of Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

It’s the most populous town in Logan County, which says something about the vastness and rural nature of the region that’s part of the Great Plains.

During the Dust Bowl days in the early part of the 20th century, most of the area’s farms went bust when the fertile soil was blown away in billowing masses that often stretched thousands of feet into the sky.

Below are 15 fun and educational things to do in and around Sterling, Colorado.

1. North Sterling Reservoir State Park

North Sterling Reservoir State ParkSource: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
North Sterling Reservoir State Park

The North Sterling Reservoir is a humanmade impoundment along the South Platte River that’s just a few minutes north of town.

With 3,000 acres of surface area, it is particularly popular with anglers, who come to try their luck against its abundant game fish, including bass, perch, catfish, and walleye.

There’s also a campground that’s open all year, and for those who prefer land-based activities, mountain biking, hiking, and trail running are big in the summer months.

Due to its variety of activity options, the reservoir can get busy during the summer months, so consider a weekday visit if you’d like to avoid the masses.

2. Riverview Golf Course

Riverview Golf CourseSource: Riverview Sterling / Facebook
Riverview Golf Course

Many of Colorado’s golf courses offer unrivaled vistas and idyllic natural environments that many out of state visitors find alluring.

Riverview Golf Course has been around for almost four decades and has been consistently ranked as the best course in the northeast portion of the state for a number of consecutive years over the past two decades.

Riverview is a par-71, championship level course that plays about 6,500 yards from the longest tees.

Due to its traditional layout, well-manicured fairways and greens, and surprisingly reasonable greens fees, it’s a popular place, so book your tee time in advance if possible.

3. City of Living Trees Walk

Living Trees SculptureSource: Judy Voris Fuglestad / Facebook
Living Trees Sculpture

Sterling is often referred to as the City of Living Trees, mainly because pioneering local artists transformed the trunks of nearly 20 dying cottonwood trees into magnificent sculptures.

Of course, the city has lots of living trees – and an abundance of parks too. For those who like to explore by foot, breathe the mountain air, and burn a few calories in the process, there’s no better way to do it than by self-guided tree walks.

Stop and pick up a free map at the tourist information center, which is located at the Sterling Rest Area; it’ll show you the locations of the city’s parks, as well as the aforementioned tree sculptures.

4. Parts & Labor Brewing Company

Parts & Labor Brewing CompanySource: Parts & Labor Brewing Company / Facebook
Parts & Labor Brewing Company

Parts & Labor Brewing Company is located in a historic building that once housed Sterling’s Cadillac dealership. Though it’s been renovated in recent years, it still retains much of its original charm.

The staff at Parts & Labor pride themselves on producing some of the best brews in the area, and they come in a variety of flavor profiles to tempt most palates.

They serve lots of tasty pub grub as well, and previous guests have described the atmosphere as a pleasant mix of the contemporary and traditional – and an all-around chill place to relax and catch up with friends.

5. Overland Trail Museum

Overland Trail MuseumSource: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
Overland Trail Museum

The Overland Trail Museum has been open since the mid-‘30s, and since then, it’s been dedicated to preserving the area’s rich pioneer-era history that goes back to the early 1800s.

The exhibits and historic buildings on-site give history aficionados unique insights into the lives of those who explored, settled, farmed, and mined in the area when it was hostile, harsh, and dangerous.

In large part, the museum focuses on the great westward migration of people searching for new opportunities. The staff offer tours and special programs periodically as well.

Tours must be arranged in advance, so give them a call to let them know when you’ll be visiting.

6. Brew Grit Coffee

Brew Grit CoffeeSource: Brew Grit Coffee Shop / Facebook
Brew Grit Coffee

Many of Colorado’s independent brew houses and coffee shops have unique and catchy names, and Brew Grit Coffee is no exception.

Brew Grit has been open since 2016 and is a family operation that’s committed to providing their guests with quality, reasonably priced food and drinks, and a comfortable environment in which to enjoy them.

In addition to hot coffee and tea, they offer cold drinks like fraps, smoothies, and juice.

For those who need solid sustenance, they offer sandwiches and wraps, and according to certified sweet lovers, some of the best cinnamon rolls they’ve ever had.

There’s a convenient covered drive-thru for those on the go too.

7. J&L Café

J&L CaféSource: J&L Cafe / Facebook
J&L Café

Located on North 3rd Street in Sterling, J&L Café has been serving hungry visitors hearty fare since it was established in the mid-1930s.

According to loyal customers, the keys to their success and longevity are their home-style comfort food, attentive servers, and comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere.

Reasonable prices and ample portion sizes are big hits as well, and they offer a variety of food options that range from traditional American to Tex-Mex for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Chicken fried steak, burritos, and pancakes are a few perennial favorites, and there are kids’ meals that feature reduced prices and smaller portion sizes.

8. Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park, SterlingSource: Pioneer Park Disc Golf Course / Facebook
Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park is one of nearly 20 parks located within Sterling; many of them are so close that it’s possible to visit quite a few by walking in just a few minutes.

One of Pioneer Park’s main attractions is its disc golf course, offering a nice alternative to traditional golf, which is more expensive and governed by lots of annoying rules.

Pioneer Park also gives walkers access to a variety of trails, including the Pioneer Park, Columbine Park, and Wisdom Park trails.

There are also covered seating areas, plenty of shade trees, and open grassy areas that are perfect for picnics.

9. Sugar Beet Days Festival

Sugar Beet Days FestivalSource: Sugar Beet Days / Facebook
Sugar Beet Days Festival

Colorado is big sugar beet country, and many farms in the northeast portion of the state have hundreds of acres of sugar beets that end up supplying vast quantities of sugar to all parts of the country.

The Sugar Beet Days Festival is held in historic downtown Sterling every year over the third week in September when the weather is usually perfect for being outdoors.

The event includes tons of great food, arts and crafts, prepared food items, live entertainment, and plenty of kids’ activities.

Previous guests have likened its family-friendly atmosphere to that of a state or county fair.

10. Fort Morgan Museum

Fort Morgan MuseumSource: cityoffortmorgan.com
Fort Morgan Museum

Fort Morgan is a great day-trip option for those who don’t mind hitting the open road, and the Fort Morgan Museum is a popular attraction for history lovers who’ve got an hour to spare.

The museum is located on Main Street downtown and is full of interesting and engaging exhibits, including farm tools, clothing, housewares, and first-hand accounts of those who settled in the area more than a century ago.

It also includes an exhibit on music legend Glenn Miller, who spent much of his young life in Fort Morgan.

Guests usually spend no more than an hour on-site, and the museum is located close to other attractions that are worth checking out too.

11. Pawnee National Grassland

Pawnee National GrasslandSource: Arina P Habich / shutterstock
Pawnee National Grassland

Pawnee National Grassland sprawls across nearly 200,000 acres of rolling prairie land in northeast Colorado.

During the Dust Bowl days in the early part of the 20th century, the natural prairie grasses were largely plowed under to make way for agriculture; the resulting catastrophic loss of fertile soil made much of the area a virtual wasteland.

Now, the area has been replanted with native grasses and restored to near pristine condition, and the sea of grass is a natural wonder that’s often one of the highlights of visitor’s trips to the state.

The grasslands aren’t as frequently visited as other state attractions, so crowds shouldn’t be an issue.

12. Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures

Global Village Museum Of Arts And CulturesSource: Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures / Facebook
Global Village Museum Of Arts And Cultures

The Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures is one of Fort Collins most unique attractions, and its collection is centered on American and international folk art.

African, Southeast Asian, and European examples of folk art are well-represented. They are done in a variety of mediums and span many eras.

The museum’s miniature exhibit is among the most popular and includes dolls, dollhouses, and other pint-sized toys and works of art that are especially popular with children.

Group tours are available if prior arrangements are made. For kids, there are storytimes and other fun and educational activities.

13. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

Cheyenne Botanic GardensSource: ljguitar / Flickr
Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

The historic frontier town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is just a few hours from Sterling, and it offers lovers of the old west a variety of historical, artistic, and cultural attractions.

The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens are located on Lions Park Drive and include a number of cultivated areas with distinct themes.

The rose, herb, fruit, and cactus gardens are among the favorites, and no matter when you visit, there will usually be something in bloom.

Much of the work at the gardens is done by volunteers. There’s a massive arboretum in the works as well that will span dozens of acres when it’s completed.

14. Historic Downtown Cheyenne

Historic Downtown CheyenneSource: littlenySTOCK / shutterstock
Historic Downtown Cheyenne

Though it’s still full of old west charm and historic buildings, downtown Cheyenne is a vibrant district that’s also known for its contemporary art galleries, abundant dining options, museums, and live entertainment venues.

For those who don’t mind exploring on foot, the downtown area is easily walkable. It tends to come alive in the afternoon and evening hours, when restaurants and bars are offering food and drink specials to locals and tourists.

Art walks and several fairs and festivals are held here as well. It tends to draw an eclectic crowd, ranging from lawyers and college professors to cowboys and artists.

15. The Wyoming State Museum

Wyoming State MuseumSource: Wyoming State Museum / Facebook
Wyoming State Museum

The Wyoming State Museum is located on Central Avenue, and its exhibits touch on history, ecology, wildlife, mining, and the Native Americans who called the area home for countless generations before it was officially settled.

Many of the exhibits are interactive and specifically designed with children in mind, which means they’re encouraged to get active and engaged instead of just passively viewing from a distance.

In the dedicated kid’s portion of the museum, little ones can try on historic clothes and enjoy a scavenger hunt, while adults can enjoy guest speakers and temporary exhibits from other institutions and private collections.

15 Best Things to Do in Sterling (CO):

  • North Sterling Reservoir State Park
  • Riverview Golf Course
  • City of Living Trees Walk
  • Parts & Labor Brewing Company
  • Overland Trail Museum
  • Brew Grit Coffee
  • J&L Café
  • Pioneer Park
  • Sugar Beet Days Festival
  • Fort Morgan Museum
  • Pawnee National Grassland
  • Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures
  • Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
  • Historic Downtown Cheyenne
  • The Wyoming State Museum