Every year on August 1st, Colorado celebrates its birthday, the day this state was added to the union. On this date in 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant officially signed the proclamation that gave Colorado statehood. While this isn’t a public holiday and the day pretty much only has meaning within this state, this is a great excuse to remember your roots if you’re a native, or get a bit more familiar with the state you moved to if you’re a recent transplant.

And the really awesome thing is, because of the unorganized and symbolic nature of this date, you can pretty much celebrate however you see fit. Whether you plan to spend Colorado Day toking up in honor of our unique freedoms and hanging out downtown enjoying local food, climbing to the top of a 14er to look out on this great state or visiting some local historic sites, just make sure you are doing something that is uniquely Colorado.

1. Go to a museum for free.

For the most part this holiday is only symbolic, since it’s not national and you won’t get the day off from work or school. But one thing you can count on is that museum admission in certain places around the state will be free. So if you’re lucky enough to have the day off, check your local listings to see if any museums in the area are letting people in with no cover. One museum that will for sure have its doors open for Colorado Day is the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. This museum houses art that is mainly from Colorado or made by people who hail from this state, and strives to celebrate the special and unique place in art history that our state holds.

According to its website, “Colorado’s place in American art ranks very high among the fifty states, probably in the top 10, not only because of the important artists who made this state their home, but because of the famous artists who visited and worked here. Kirkland Museum displays a major survey of Colorado art and some regional art with over 650 works by more than 200 artists shown at any one time. The museum also features a retrospective of Colorado’s distinguished painter Vance Kirkland (1904–1981), and one of the most important public displays of international decorative art in North America from arts and crafts to Postmodern.”

This year, anyone over the age of 13 with a valid Colorado ID will get in to the museum for free, so be sure to check this out if you are interested in learning more about the rich art history in this great state.

2. Educate yourself on Colorado history.

Speaking of history, this state has some awesome historical sites above and beyond art. If you’re a recent transplant I’m willing to bet that the first place you headed was a dispensary, night club or mountain trail, not a historical site, especially if you come from the East Coast where it’s hard to escape the lore of the Civil War and Colonial America. And if you are a native, local history might remind you of grade school and drudge up some unpleasant memories.

But our history is rich and varied, and there are all kinds of awesome places you should definitely visit to get a good historical perspective. Buffalo Bill’s grave site, just west of Denver by Lookout Mountain, will teach you about one of the men who helped settle the state. Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs is full of historical sites and monuments, and boasts the title of the first capitol of the state, back when being a one-street town made it the biggest city for miles around. If you’ve been putting off the historic site-seeing in this great state, now may be a great time to get around to it.

3. Enjoy the great outdoors.

It goes totally without saying that Colorado is best known for its awesome nature and wildlife. 303 has done countless articles dedicated to the greatness of our vast mountain expanses, so there’s not much to be said on this front that hasn’t been already. But there are countless ways to enjoy nature here, whether you are fit enough to hike a 14-er and camp out at the top with your snow gear in the middle of summer, or if a relaxed day hike through Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is more your speed. And if you moved to Denver for the city life and still haven’t gotten  out into the wild, stop putting it off. After all, being colorful and natural is what Colorado is truly about.

4. Visit a part of Colorado you’ve never been or aren’t familiar with.

If you call Colorado home, chances are you have special stomping grounds that you like to stick to. Maybe you never leave the urban confines of Denver or even your neighborhood in the Mile High City. Maybe you’re a mountain-dweller or suburbanite, or perhaps you’ve never been south of Colorado Springs or North of Fort Collins. Whatever the case, find a corner of the state you are never in and spend Colorado Day getting to know it. You may only be able to visit a part of Denver you’ve never been to, or you may have the funds and time to drive down south or up north for the day and see how the other half lives. Whatever the case, get out there and discover.

5. Enjoy something that only Colorado has to offer.

Finally, the best way to celebrate this holiday, especially if you are stuck working or fulfilling obligations on the 1st and don’t have the means to make a full day of it, is to just enjoy something you could only relish in Colorado. If you smoke, visit a dispensary and revel in the fact that you can buy cannabis with no legal repercussions and get the kind of quality you can only find in-state.

If you don’t smoke, visit an awesome local spot like Sweet Action Ice Cream or Little India in Denver, or just go out and look at the glorious mountains if you don’t have time for a hike. At any rate, even if it’s only for a few minutes, take some time out to pause and revel in the fact that you live in such a unique and interesting place.

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