What To Do in Aurora, Colorado

Coming to GEOINT 2022? If you get a minute to explore the town, here are a few local attractions.

With a population of roughly 387,000 residents, Aurora, Colo., is the third largest city in the state, just behind Colorado Springs and Denver, which holds the No. 1 spot.

Nestled against the Rocky Mountains, Aurora boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Once a burgeoning town of farmers and ranchers, the city’s 163 square miles now feature more than 450 unique neighborhoods, five golf courses, two reservoirs and almost 100 parks. Aurora is also home to Buckley Space Force Base, a military base since 1938, and the city’s largest public employer.

If you’ll be in town for GEOINT 2022, we’ve rounded up some sightseeing suggestions for you—along with some not-to-miss events sponsored by USGIF and its partners.

Cherry Creek State Park

The state of Colorado is filled with natural beauty, and Aurora is no exception. When you want to get outside for a bit, the Cherry Creek State Park is an excellent option. Explore the park’s 880-acre grounds, where you can picnic, hike, bike, swim, camp, fish, jet ski and more. For all activities other than camping, the park is open 5am to 10pm every day.

Colorado Freedom Memorial

The Colorado Freedom Memorial near Buckley Space Force Base was erected to honor the nearly 6,000 soldiers who were killed in action since Colorado became a state in 1876. The monument is constructed of glass panels that reflect Colorado’s beautiful blue skies and mountains. Visitors to the memorial may need some extra time to locate a loved one’s name, however. Memorial creators shuffled the names of lost soldiers—from all branches—rather than listing them alphabetically to symbolize the chaos of war.

Plains Conservation Center

Take a trip back in time at the Plains Conservation Center—a state-designated natural area and outdoor education facility created in 1949. The 1,100-acre nature center features replicas of a homestead village and tipi camp that showcase pioneer and plains Native Americans’ life in the late 1800s. Visitors can browse the historic barn, blacksmith shop and schoolhouse—and maybe get a glance of a bald eagle, coyote or red-tailed hawk—while they’re there.

Aurora Fox Arts Center

Settled in the quaint Aurora Cultural Arts District, the Aurora Fox Center opened in 1946 as a movie theater. The original building, a modified quonset hut, was first used for military purposes at the nearby Lowry Army Air Force Base and is now a beloved performing arts center. The center’s original 61-foot neon sign still beckons theater lovers, who are treated to a season of six fully produced shows, a summer children’s theater program, various classes and other special programming.

Aurora Reservoir

The 800-acre manmade lake has become a local favorite for fishing, sailing, windsurfing and swimming. Visitors can grab a sunbathing spot on the beach or dive into the designated SCUBA area where a Cessna 310 was purposely sunk as a diving attraction—only visible from 30 feet below the surface. Fun fact: In 2019, an Aurora man caught a 35-pound catfish in the reservoir, one of the heaviest on the state’s record.

Featured image: The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, the site of the 2022 GEOINT Symposium

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