Denver area travel guide


IN AND AROUND DENVER

The Denver area offers a great opportunity for the enjoyment of nature and the quiet life. Within an hour’s drive you can reach hikes, walks, ski hills, fishing, quaint small towns, and much more. Below are some options listed by interest.

ACTIVE ENJOYMENT

  1. Apex Trail (1-4 hours): offering numerous trails snaking up the hill and rewarding views of downtown Denver to the East and the mountains to the West.
  2. Green Mountain (~2 hours): Perfect for a short hike after work, or a morning workout. While the hike is short it is steep and unrelenting – particularly noticeable while wearing snowshoes and having to heave each foot that much higher J
  3. Table Mountain (~1 hour): Resting peacefully above Golden, this short hike is also steep and a great way to get the heart pumping. Climb the steps at the top for a 360 panorama of the surrounding area, including the famous Coors Brewery at your feet.
  4. Meyer’s Ranch Homestead Trail (2-5 hours): A relatively flat walk across a plateau with lots of wildlife and wildflowers.
  5. Boulder Flatirons (1-2 hours): The Royal Arch trail here is my favorite; an extremely cool eroded rock arch rests at the top and gives most one most impressive views of Boulder spreading out below.
  6. Golden Gate Canyon State Park: Many trails of different lengths and difficulties are available. Head to the check-in office and grab a map!
  7. Chimney Gulch (Lookout Mountain, 1-2 hours): A relatively steep climb to the top of Lookout Mountain.
  8. CITY WALK: Wash Park and South Pearl neighborhoods are great areas to wander, taking in the quaint houses, open city parks, and enjoy the sunshine.

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Cross Country Skiing in Breckenridge

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Table Mountain rising above Golden.

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Meyer’s Homestead Trail

A STEP BACK IN TIME

  1. Idaho Springs – this town, roughly a 45 minute drive from downtown Denver, is the definition of quaint. Small-town shops in old historical buildings line the main street
  2. Golden – while Golden could have been swallowed up by the suburban sprawl of Lakewood, thankfully it maintained its unique individual flavor. People here just seem friendlier and more relaxed in general. Stop into Table Mountain Inn for a night, and you will get a room decorated in pseudo-New Mexican style, a charming ambiance, and a New Mexican restaurant right downstairs with a great happy hour 🙂

FOR THE BEER LOVER

Colorado has the largest number of breweries per capita compared to any other state in America. Below are a few of my favorites.

  1. New Belgium Brewery (Fort Collins): Join in on the annual Tour de Fat, a lazy version of a bike race around the town, in which everyone dresses up in a ridiculous costume, and finishes with live music and a gigantic outdoor beer festival (September).
  2. Golden City Brewery (Golden): Truly a downhome and unique experience, the “second largest Brewery in Golden” is really a small white house with some picnic tables set up in the side yard. Order at the back door and take your brews out into the sunshine. It is guaranteed to be busy and overrun with CSM students, even on frigid winter days. Free pretzels with hot mustard are always available, and on chilly days there is limited seating inside. I highly recommend the sampler (6 tasters for $9), allowing you to try several of the great beers offered here.
  3. Coors Brewery (Golden): The quintessential brewery tour here is not to be missed. See large-scale factory brewing at its finest, of course made with the trademark glacier fresh water. At the end of the tour, three free beers are included 🙂
  4. Rock Bottom Brewery (Denver)
  5. Tommyknockers (Idaho Springs): Of all the breweries in Colorado, I must say I favor the flavor of the beers at Tommyknockers over anyone else. Perhaps it’s also the atmosphere; a constantly busy cozy bar/restaurant with open views of the brewery at work, set on an adorable street in small town Colorado at the edge of the mountains.
  6. Breckenridge Brewery (Breck)
  7. Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery (Nederland): Perfect for an après-ski cold thrist quencher and killer BBQ. Highly recommended are the sliders, allowing you to sample several meats and one of the six unique housemade BBQ sauces. I can tell you, after a particularly frigid day of cross-country skiing in Eldora, this was the most welcome thing I had tasted in a while!

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Beer sampler at Tommyknockers. . .

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A few Colorado Favorites. . .

FOR THE ART LOVER

The Denver Art Museum has a decent collection of permanent pieces, but it’s the visiting exhibitions it hosts which really stand out. Past exhibitions I loved included Becoming Van Gogh, Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, and Ed Ruscha: On the Road.

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FOR THE SHOPPER

Of course, Denver has the usual suspects: shopping malls where you will find your typical chain stores. If you want something a little different, check out Common Threads on South Pearl Street – a consignment shop with a GREAT selection of unique finds.

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FOR THE SKIER

Obviously, Denver is a hub for skiing enthusiasts. With many many world-class ski hills within a 1-2 hour drive, it’s an ideal place to jump off from.

Categories: Sand & Sunshine

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