The 6 Best Weekend Trips I Took While Living in Denver
Originally published on HelloLanding.
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., especially with its never-ending options for outdoor activities all year round. Its capital city, Denver, is just one of the many attractions this state has to offer.
If you’re living in Denver, I definitely recommend venturing out to see some of the other wonderful cities in the Centennial State while you’re in town. Whether you’re looking for a mini national park vacation, a foodie-themed getaway, or jumping-off points for some incredible hikes, this area has plenty of ways to enjoy a weekend outside of the city.
Here are six of the best weekend getaways I took while spending time living in Denver, Colorado:
1. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 2 hours and 45 minutes
From floating down the Yampa Valley River to skiing down Mount Werner to soaking in the natural hot springs, there are so many fantastic things to do in Steamboat Springs during a weekend getaway.
You can easily spend a day shopping downtown on South Lincoln Avenue. The streets are lined with all sorts of businesses, including jewelry and clothing boutiques, ski shops, and candy stores. There is also a wonderfully overwhelming number of restaurants, cafes, and pubs for you to dine at.
Best of all, nestled just 20 minutes north of Steamboat Springs in the Colorado mountains is Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs features several connected hot springs that are naturally heated from the Earth’s crust. The natural hot springs are said to help detox your skin and strengthen your bones, so you can swim and relax for as long as you wish.
The park also offers campsites and rustic cabins for those who want to stay the night. Guests of all ages are welcome throughout the day, but kiddos are not allowed past dark. Rumor has it that clothing is optional once the sun goes down! Regardless of what you’re wearing, you’re sure to see incredible views of the stars in this quiet, remote area.
2. Fort Collins, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 1 hour and 10 minutes
If you love beer, you’ll definitely want to visit Fort Collins for at least one weekend getaway. The trip here is super easy—just head straight up 25 North for about one hour, and you’ll arrive right in the heart of downtown.
You can easily spend a weekend drinking your way through Fort Collins, which is home to over 20 craft breweries—including big names like Anheuser-Busch, New Belgium, and Odell Brewing. Several of these breweries are located around the Old Town Historic District, which means you can walk from one to another while admiring the old 19th-century brick buildings and new water fountains.
During the summer months, bring your pup along with you to enjoy the many outdoor seating options at the city’s dog-friendly restaurants and breweries.
After a few beers, you can easily explore the downtown area thanks to Fort Collins’ walking paths, bike paths, streetcars, and buses. Use any of these to catch a show at the historic Aggie Theatre, enjoy the Fort Collins Foodie Walk, get lost at the Museum of Discovery, or venture out of town and go for a hike at Horsetooth Falls.
3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 1 hour
After you head north to Fort Collins, try heading south for a weekend getaway in Colorado Springs! This city is a nature lover’s paradise, with the Rocky Mountains and Pike National Forest just a stone’s throw away.
You can also spend an entire day exploring Colorado Springs’ very own Garden of the Gods. This 1,367-acre park is home to 21 miles of trails, with six different hiking trail options and 13 natural rock formations that you won’t want to miss. Plus, entrance to the park is free, and dogs are welcome to join your hike!
Colorado Springs is also home to Old Colorado City (OCC), a charming little town filled with history, shops, and outdoor events. From June to October, enjoy the local Farmers Market, and on every first Friday from April to December, experience the lovely ArtWalks.
Other fun outdoor activities in Colorado Springs include hot air balloon rides, ziplining, and whitewater rafting. Just be careful—you may never want to leave this city after spending just one weekend there!
4. Idaho Springs, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 30 minutes
Idaho Springs is the definition of a hidden gem. It’s the perfect road trip stop along I-70 when you’re on your way to or from the mountains or to explore as part of a weekend getaway.
The walkable downtown area has plenty of great spots to grab a bite. Try the famous “Colorado-Style Pizza” at Beau Jo’s, or order anything on the menu at Tommyknocker Brewery (I recommend the Jalapeño Popper Burger with a crock of Tomato Artichoke Soup, along with a craft root beer.
After you’ve had your fill, wander down Miner Street to stock up on local soaps, clothes, and other homemade knick-knacks.
Most notably known for its history of gold mining, Idaho Springs embraces its history by offering year-round tours of its old Argo Mill & Tunnel. Get to experience what gold mining was truly like back in the 1800s, where the Colorado Gold Rush began.
And, before you head out, make sure you visit the Charlie Tayler Waterwheel, a wheel that was used to power a stamp mill back in 1893. There’s a short trail from downtown that leads right to it!
5. Breckenridge, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Breckenridge feels like a town that’s straight out of a Christmas movie. Oh wait, that’s because it is!
Hallmark’s “Welcome to Christmas” was filmed in this mountain town because of its perfect winter wonderland ambiance. On top of being a real-life movie set, the sprawling downtown area offers a variety of spots to eat, drink, and shop all day while you’re surrounded by gorgeous, snow-capped mountains.
During the winter, Breckenridge is a huge tourist destination for skiers. Visitors to the Breckenridge Ski Resort (which is one of the most visited ski resorts in the western hemisphere) can enjoy perfect ski terrain, including four terrain parks, two half-pipes, and 187 trails across five peaks. After hitting the slopes all day, make sure to grab a pint from Breckenridge Brewery or Broken Compass, both of which are located right downtown.
Throughout the rest of the year, there’s plenty more to do in Breckenridge. Visitors can appreciate lots of great outdoor activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. And, for one of the best views of the town, take the free gondola ride that goes from downtown to Peak 8 Base Area.
6. Estes Park, Colorado
Distance from Denver: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Estes Park needs to be on your Colorado bucket list. The beautiful drive here through winding forests and peaks should be enough to inspire your journey. If not, then read Stephen King’s “The Shining” or watch “Dumb & Dumber,” and you’ll be racing to visit The Stanley Hotel.
The historic Stanley Hotel, built in 1903, is the top vacation attraction in Estes Park. It has a long and eerie history, which you can learn all about on one of their many tours. Most famously, Stephen King was inspired to write his novel “The Shining” after spending just one night in the most haunted room (217).
A common misconception is that Stanley Kubrick’s famous movie adaption was filmed here, but in fact, it was not. However, the 1994 comedy “Dumb & Dumber” starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels filmed a few scenes here, which many folks proudly reenact at the bar.
Apart from touring The Stanley Hotel, there are lots of fun things to do in Estes Park. Visitors can explore the Rocky Mountain National Park, watch for wildlife, go swimming and kayaking in Lake Estes, and go skiing and snowshoeing.
Stay with Landing
That’s it for my favorite weekend trips near Denver!
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