Sterling is a town of approximately 15,000 residents located in the northeastern corner of Colorado, near the neighboring states of Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.
It is the most populous town in Logan County, and it speaks to the vast and rural nature of the Great Plains.
During the dust storms of the early 20th century, most of the region’s farms went bankrupt, as the fertile soil was blown away by billowing clumps of water that often stretched thousands of feet into the sky.
Here are 15 fun and educational activities in and around Sterling, Colorado.
1. North Stirling Reservoir State Park
North Stirling Reservoir is a man-made reservoir along the South Platte River just minutes north of town.
With 3,000 acres of surface area, it is especially popular with anglers who come here to try their luck and catch an abundance of game fish including bass, bass, catfish and walleye.
There is also a year-round campground, and for those who prefer land-based activities, mountain biking, hiking and trail running are very popular in summer.
The reservoir can be busy during the summer due to the variety of activities, so consider visiting on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds.
2. Riverview Golf Course
Colorado’s many golf courses offer unparalleled vistas and idyllic natural settings that many out-of-state visitors find appealing.
Riverview Golf Course has been around for nearly four years and has been voted the best course in the northeast of the state for many of the past two decades.
Riverview is a par 71 championship course approximately 6,500 yards from the longest tee.
It’s a popular spot due to its traditional layout, well-manicured fairways and greens, and surprisingly reasonable green fees, so book your tee time in advance if possible.
3. Walking in the City of Living Trees
Sterling is often referred to as the City of Living Trees, mainly because the trunks of nearly 20 dying aspen trees were transformed into magnificent sculptures by pioneering local artists.
Of course, the city has plenty of living trees—and plenty of parks. For those who enjoy exploring on foot, breathing the mountain air, and burning some calories in the process, there’s no better way than a self-guided tree walk.
Park and pick up a free map at the Tourist Information Centre in the Sterling Rest Area; it will show you the location of the city park, as well as the aforementioned tree sculpture.
4. Parts & Labor Brewing Company
The Parts & Labor Brewing Company is located in a historic building that was once home to Sterling’s Cadillac dealership. Although it has 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 beers in the region, with a variety of flavors to appeal to most palates.
They also offer a lot of delicious pub food, and previous guests describe the atmosphere as a pleasant mix of modern and traditional – and an all-around chill place to relax and meet friends.
5. Overland Museum
Since its opening in the mid-30s, the Overland Trail Museum has been dedicated to preserving the area’s rich Pioneer-era history dating back to the early 1800s.
Exhibits and historic buildings on site give history buffs a unique insight into the lives of the people who explored, settled, farmed and mined at a time when the area was hostile, harsh and dangerous.
For the most part, the museum is focused on the westward migration of people looking for new opportunities. Staff also regularly offer tours and special programs.
Tours must be arranged in advance, so give them a call and let them know when you’re going.
6. Brew sand coffee
Many independent breweries and coffee shops in Colorado have unique and striking names, and Brew Grit Coffee is no exception.
Opened in 2016, Brew Grit is a family-owned business dedicated to providing guests with quality, affordable food and beverages, as well as a comfortable dining environment.
Besides hot coffee and tea, they also serve cold drinks like smoothies, smoothies and juices.
For those in need of solid food, they offer sandwiches and wraps, and according to certified sweet tooth lovers, they serve up some of the best cinnamon rolls they’ve ever eaten.
There’s also a convenient covered drive-thru for those on the go.
7. J&L Cafe
Located on North 3rd Street in Sterling, J&L Café has been serving hearty meals to hungry travelers since its establishment in the mid-1930s.
According to loyal customers, the key to their success and longevity is their home-cooked comfort food, attentive servers and a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere.
Reasonable prices and ample portions are also popular, and they offer a variety of food options from traditional American to Tex-Mex for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Chicken steaks, burritos, and pancakes are some perennial favorites, as well as kids’ meals for lower prices and smaller portions.
8. Pioneer Park
Pioneer Park is one of nearly 20 parks located in Sterling; many of them are close enough to be visited within a few minutes’ walk.
One of Pioneer Park’s main attractions is its disc golf course, which offers a great alternative to traditional golf courses, which are more expensive and subject to many annoying rules.
Pioneer Park also gives walkers access to a variety of trails, including the Pioneer Park, Columbine Park, and Wisdom Park trails.
There is also a covered seating area, plenty of shade trees and open grass perfect for a picnic.
9. Beet Festival
Colorado is a sugar beet nation, and many farms in the northeastern part of the state hold hundreds of acres of sugar beets that end up supplying large amounts of sugar across the country.
The Beet Festival takes place every year in the third week of September in historic Stirling city centre, when the weather is usually perfect for the outdoors.
The event includes plenty of food, arts and crafts, prepared meals, live entertainment and plenty of activities for kids.
Previous guests likened its family-friendly vibe to that of a state or county fair.
10. Fort Morgan Museum
For those who don’t mind driving on the open road, Fort Morgan is a good day trip option, and the Fort Morgan Museum is a popular attraction for history buffs who have an hour to spare.
Located on Main Street in the city center, the museum is filled with interesting and engaging exhibits, including farm tools, clothing, household items, and first-hand accounts of the people who settled in the area more than a century ago.
It also includes an exhibition of music legend Glenn Miller, who spent most of his youth in Fort Morgan.
Guests typically stay on site for no more than an hour, and the museum is close to other attractions worth visiting.
11. Pawnee National Prairie
Pawnee National Prairie is spread over nearly 200,000 acres of rolling grassland in northeastern Colorado.
During the dust storms of the early 20th century, natural grassland grasses were heavily tilled to make room for agriculture. The resulting catastrophic loss of fertile soil turned much of the region into a wasteland.
Now that the area has been replanted with native grasses and restored to a near pristine state, the Sea of Grass is a natural wonder and often one of the highlights of a visit to the state.
The Prairie isn’t as frequently visited as attractions in other states, so crowds shouldn’t be an issue.
12. Global Village Art and Culture Museum
The Global Village Museum of Art and Culture is one of Fort Collins’ most unique attractions, with a collection centered on American and international folk art.
Examples of African, Southeast Asian and European folk art are well represented. They are done in a variety of mediums, spanning many eras.
The museum’s miniature exhibits are among the most popular, including dolls, dollhouses, and other small toys and artworks that are especially popular with children.
Group tours are available by prior arrangement. For kids, there are story times and other fun educational activities.
13. Cheyenne Botanical Gardens
The historic border town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, just a few hours from Sterling, offers a variety of historical, artistic and cultural attractions for Old West lovers.
The Cheyenne Arboretum is located on Lions Park Avenue and includes many cultivated fields with different themes.
Rose gardens, herb gardens, fruit gardens, and cacti gardens are the most popular, and no matter when you visit, there’s usually something in bloom.
Most of the work in the garden is done by volunteers. There is also a huge botanical garden in the works, which will cover dozens of acres when completed.
14. Historic Downtown Cheyenne
While it’s still full of Old West charm and historic architecture, downtown Cheyenne is a vibrant area also known for its contemporary art galleries, extensive dining options, museums, and live entertainment.
Downtown is easily walkable for those who don’t mind exploring on foot. It tends to come alive in the afternoons and evenings, when restaurants and bars serve locals and tourists with specialty food and drinks.
Art walks and several fairs and festivals are also held here. It tends to attract an eclectic crowd, from lawyers and college professors to cowboys and artists.
15. Wyoming Museum
Located on Central Avenue, the Wyoming Museum’s exhibits touch on the history, ecology, wildlife, mining, and the Native Americans who called the area home for countless generations before official settlement.
Many of the exhibits are interactive and designed specifically for children, which means they are encouraged to actively participate rather than passively watch from a distance.
In the museum’s kids-only section, little ones can try on historic costumes and enjoy scavenger hunts, while adults can enjoy guest lectures and temporary exhibits from other institutions and private collections.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Sterling, CO
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