Loveland, Colorado, is one of the most underrated treasures in the state. The small town offers fantastic opportunities for art lovers, nature lovers, and travelers of all stripes to enjoy.
Explore the best things to do in Loveland and experience the best the sweetheart city offers.
Loveland: Your Gateway to the Rocky Mountains
Loveland’s biggest claim to fame is its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. Loveland features the closest Marriot and Hilton hotels to the park and, at only a 35-minute drive from the entrance, serves as a perfect base camp for all your mountain adventures.
The Best Things To Do in Loveland, Colorado
Loveland offers an abundance of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. While planning your Rocky Mountain trip, pack some time to explore your base camp.
Here are the best things to do in Loveland, Colorado, for a fantastic stay.
Lock Your Love
Loveland leans into the Love part of its name. It has two of the largest love lock sculptures in the United States, allowing visitors to lock their love in Loveland.
Grab your sweetheart and head to the massive statue spelling out L-O-V-E at the Visitor’s Center. Bolt your lock to the back of the statue, locking your love in forever.
For a more romantic view, head to the giant heart statues at Lake Loveland to lock in your love with an iconic view of the Rocky Mountains.
Then, Shop the Visitor’s Center
The larger Love Lock Statue is located right outside the Visitor’s Center, where you can find all the information you need for your stay and load up with Loveland goodies, including souvenirs, gifts, and locally crafted treats.
If you didn’t bring your own lock, you’re in luck; you can purchase one that says, “I locked my Love in Loveland, CO,” inside the Visitors Center. They also have a Dremel, which lets you engrave your love message onto your lock before placing it on the statue. Don’t worry – they provide a practice lock to let you get the hang of it before carving it permanently into yours.
Visit Loveland Museum
Small-town museums provide so much more history and culture than their big city rivals, and Loveland’s museum is no different.
The main gallery showcases the current traveling exhibit, which could be anything from works by famous artists to programs highlighting critical historical events. When we visited, the main gallery featured works by famed photographer Ansel Adams and a special exhibit focused on art from the Japanese internment camps during World War II, providing both a lesson in history and a look at the gorgeous works that came from the horrific event.
Loveland’s permanent gallery features many exhibits focused on the region’s history. The general store display and historic Loveland Hotel exhibit offer a glimpse into the town’s early days, and the way the exhibit is set up makes visitors feel like they’re strolling through Loveland in the 1800s. It’s a must-see experience for anyone who enjoys art or history.
Benson Park Sculpture Garden
The 10-acre park features over 170 works on permanent display, from the solemn to the whimsical. Park on Aspen Drive near the gazebo and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the scenic lake to spot the sculptures hidden among the trees. Don’t forget to cross 29th Street to view the sculptures displayed in the expanded North Lake Park area.
The Biggest Outdoor Juried Sculpture Show
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Loveland in August, you must check out the Sculpture in the Park Festival.
Sculpture in the Park is the country’s largest outdoor juried sculpture show. It attracts artists from around the world seeking notoriety for their works and is one of the most crucial art events in the United States.
Sculpture in the Park takes place the second week of August.
Chapungu Sculpture Park
The sculpture fun in Loveland doesn’t end with Benson Park. Head over to Chapungu Sculpture Park on the East side of town for a one-of-a-kind exhibit of stone sculptures showcasing Zimbabwean village life.
The park is home to 82 statues that combine to share the stories and culture of Zimbabwe. The works highlight village life, the role of women, and the natural environment while paying homage to the spiritual customs and practices of the artisans who contributed to the park.
Bronze Foundry Tour
For a behind-the-scenes look at how sculptures are made, consider visiting one of Loveland’s foundries for a tour. As an epicenter for sculpture, Loveland is home to numerous foundries where the magic happens.
Although most are private due to the dangers of pouring bronze, some still offer tours or allow guests to mail in their own kits so they can have a bronze sculpture they designed themselves. Art Castings of Colorado offers tours twice weekly (reservations required!), and Western Heritage allows patrons to make their own design and mail it in for a real bronze cast!
Find all The Heart Sculptures
Local artists created an array of heart sculptures to show off their lovely city. Currently, there are 36 heart sculptures scattered around Loveland, with more being added every year.
Take a drive through Loveland on an epic heart scavenger hunt to see if you can find all the hearts. Notice the unique design that showcases each artist’s flavor.
Here’s where you can find them all.
Enjoy the Public Art
Loveland abounds with pubic art. The underrated art city bursts with color and decorations. Everywhere you look, you’ll find murals, sculptures, and decorated utility boxes showcasing the artistic talent of the locals and the community’s commitment to embracing the arts.
Wander through the downtown region to glimpse some of the 17 spectacular murals, or take yourself on a scavenger hunt to find the 72-painted transformer boxes scattered throughout the city.
Find Something Cool at Dickens Alley
Dickens Alley is a wonderful antique shop/art store/book shop combination. The store features shelves upon shelves of treasures awaiting discovery.
Wander through the aisles and marvel at the cool knickknacks and impressive artworks for sale. You never know what you’ll find in this eclectic store’s numerous nooks and crannies.
See a Show at the Rialto Theater
Loveland supports all kinds of arts, as showcased in their stunning Rialto Theater. The venue opened in the 1920s, making it a hotspot for the arts showcasing the city’s history.
The performing arts centers features shows from all genres and artistic styles. From comedies to live music, Gregorian chants to light shows, the theater truly showcases that vast spectacle of performance arts.
Unleash your inner Viking while hitting your target at Axe To Grind, Northern Colorado’s premier axe-throwing pub. Axe to Grind offers a wide selection of beers to enjoy while getting into the country’s trendiest new sport.
The company also earned Northern Colorado’s first spot in the World Knife Throwing League (WKTL) and offers coaching sessions to help you learn how to throw like a pro.
Savor Locally Crafted Mead
Axe throwing isn’t the only way to celebrate Viking heritage in Loveland. Head to Meadkreiger to sample a flight of delicious Colorado meads. Meadkreiger makes and serves its own meads, but it also partners with other meaderies in the area to create a robust menu full of flavor variety.
The mazers (mead-making experts) on duty are happy to discuss their process and give you the scoop on the wonderful rediscovery of this ancient drink.
Time Travel to the 80s at the Flipside
Travel back in time to when pinball reigned supreme! The Flipside offers over 30 arcade-style games to help you unleash your inner child and return to a simpler time when arcades reign supreme.
Play a wide selection of arcade-style games like pinball, air hockey, Pacman, ski ball, and more while enjoying delicious craft cocktails and mocktails. The robust drink menu includes everything from the tasty thin mint slushie to a wide variety of old fashioneds. Although the Flipside provides complimentary snacks, they don’t have a food menu, so grab a bite before heading over.
Boyd Lake State Park
Boyd Lake State Park is a boating paradise right in Loveland. The park offers 1700 surface acres of water for boating, fishing, and swimming. There’s also a sandy beach and pavilion for relaxing on a warm summer’s day.
Though the park shines in the summer with all the boating, hiking, and biking available, there’s ample opportunity for winter fun. Boyd Lake State Park offers skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking in the winter months.
Explore the Devil’s Backbone
Just West of Loveland, you’ll find a stunning natural space perfect for enjoying the area’s beauty.
Devil’s Backbone offers over 3000 acres to explore via hiking, biking, or horseback riding. The stunning scenery provides epic views for photographers and landscape artists, while the preserved area offers abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Rivers Edge Natural Area
Rivers Edge Natural Area provides easy access to trails and fishing for those who don’t want to venture far outside the city.
The park features nearly 4 miles of natural surface trails perfect for a leisurely stroll with the dogs or an easy bike ride. It also has five ponds, providing ample space for fishing or enjoying a gorgeous lake-view picnic.
Cuddle a Kitty
What better way to relax after a long day sightseeing than with a warm kitty in your lap?
The Noco Cat Café is open 12-5 every day except Monday and gives patrons a warm respite with their cuddle crew of cats available for a snuggle or adoption. Enjoy a cup of coffee while playing with a kitty as a perfect break to your day.
Savor All the Local Brews
Before all the cool kids got on board, Colorado breweries perfected the art of craft brewing. Loveland is home to numerous local breweries offering flights and tastings in a laid-back atmosphere, allowing you to enjoy the flavors at your leisure.
Visit the German-inspired Grimm Brothers for a taste of the oldest brewery in Loveland, or visit the taproom at Loveland Ale House to sample their fine selection of craft ale on tap. You won’t go wrong in tasting a local brew!
What To Eat in Loveland
The small town packs a delicious and unexpected foodie punch. There are tons of great local options for all your meals in Loveland.
Here’s where you should go.
Head to Doug’s Day Diner, across the street from the Loveland Museum, for breakfast. When you step inside, you’ll be greeted by all the locals, letting you know this is the spot!
Dougs offers a variety of breakfast foods, but you can’t go wrong with the papas – a hashbrown dish loaded with goodies. We didn’t expect such large chunks of hearty bacon and sausage, but Dougs don’t skimp on the fillings. You also have to try their homemade biscuits and jam, unlike any other we’ve ever tasted. We’re not sure, but it tastes like they mix a bit of cornmeal with their flour, giving a delicious texture and perfectly crisp edges.
If you don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast, consider trying one of the many local coffee shops offering fresh brews. Colorado Coffee Company has freshly made cinnamon rolls and a robust menu of coffee drinks, making it a perfect start to your day.
For lunch, head over to AKA Kitchen, a cozy joint that locals voted the top brunch in Loveland. You’ll see why with just one taste – AKA Kitchen uses primarily fresh ingredients in all their offerings, giving guests a divine experience with everything they order.
AKA Kitchen also makes its own chips. As a chip connoisseur, I was impressed by the perfect crispiness and robust flavor that most homemade chip makers cannot accomplish. They typically only offer one flavor at a time, but it’s constantly rotating, so ask your server what they have!
To cap off your stay in Loveland, head to Door 222 for a fine dining experience at casual prices. The menu offers a large variety of options for every palate and budget, from burgers and pizza to seared salmon and quinoa cakes.
Try the heirloom tomato mozzarella ravioli for a delicious feast loaded with fresh vegetables – you won’t regret it.
Where To Stay in Loveland
Loveland features the closest Marriot and Hilton hotels to the Rocky Mountains. The TownePlace Suites by Marriot is the best place to stay for its ideal location in the heart of downtown. You can walk to the local restaurants, Loveland Museum, the Flipside, and a wide array of bars and coffee shops.
Numerous other hotel options are located on 25 near the Visitors Center and Chapunga Sculpture Park, including a Courtyard, Hampton Inn, and tons of budget hotels and motels. You’ll find budget chains like Quality Inn and Best Western and locally owned motels like the King’s Court.
Campers can find spots at Boyd Lake State Park in the city or venture closer to the Rockies for more camping options.
Getting to Loveland
Loveland is only 60 miles North of Denver airport, making it an easy drive from the region’s biggest airport. Those who don’t want to make the drive can take a Shuttle, but be sure to book your reservation in advance.
If you don’t want the hassle on the road, you can book a flight directly to Northern Colorado Regional Airport, which has 11 flights to Denver per day on United.
Send Love from Loveland
Don’t just drive by Loveland on your next trip to the Rocky Mountains. Stop in and explore to uncover all the wonderous arts and culture in this hidden gem nestled in the foothills.