Exploring Colorado: Day Trips from Denver

After hosting quite a few visitors since moving to this wonderful city, we’ve had many inquiries about what our favorite day trips are from Denver. I thought it might be helpful to put a list together with our top picks. This is by no means an extensive list, just a few of the places we  find ourselves recommending over and over! I hope this gives you a few new ideas for your next visit to beautiful Colorado!

 

1. Boulder:

No trip is complete without visiting this fun city! It’s only about a 45 minute drive from Denver depending on where you’re staying. They have TONS of trails in Boulder, but one of our faves is Mt. Sanitas. It’s a moderate hike with great views of the city. It’s about 3.3 mile loop trail. Parking lot is limited, however people park all along the street near the trail. There are restrooms in the parking lot if you need those before/after the hike. Royal Arch is another awesome one, it’s relatively short, however it’s a VERY steep incline with a quick and large elevation gain, so make sure to bring extra water! If you’re not into hiking (or possibly need a retail therapy break) downtown Boulder is a must see! Pearl street is a pedestrian only shopping area with quite a few boutiques and fun restaurants.

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View from Royal Arch Trail

2. Colorado Springs

This could be a full day to day and a half trip depending on your availability and preference.  Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and 7 Falls are all great options. Colorado Springs is about 1 1/2 hours from Denver, but if you have the time it’s totally worth it! You can drive or take a cog train up to the top of Pikes Peak (depending on the time of year). The train ride is about a 3 hour trip, however if you take your own car you can get out at any of the many pull offs on the way up for spectacular views . On top there is a little gift shop with restrooms and coffee/snacks and such. Definitely check on their website before you go because driving options are limited during parts of the year due to  all the snow, however the cog train will take you all the way up. Plan for about half a day to see it. I would recommend leaving early morning due to mid afternoon storms and clouds. Garden of the Gods is just a few exits from where you turn to go to Pikes Peak but is totally different scenery. You can drive, bike, or walk through the park. There are quite a few shorter trails about 1-2 miles throughout the park. It does get warm in the later part of the day though, so keep that in mind. 7 falls hike is also on the way. The free shuttle picks you up from downtown and takes you to the park entrance. You can take a tram or walk the paved path to the falls. There is a steep staircase with quite a few stairs (with railings of course) that leads you up to see all the falls and then there are two quick and easy hikes along the top.

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Pikes Peak in June

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Garden of the Gods

3. Fort Collins

Another great option is Fort Collins. It’s about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Denver. We really like Horsetooth Mountain Park. There are quite a few trails you can choose from there as well. After your hike/sight seeing I suggest dropping into New Belgium Brewery to hydrate! The brewery is dog friendly and they often have live music and food trucks. The brewery tours are excellent, however I recommend booking online in advance as times slots (especially weekends) fill up weeks in advance!

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Horsetooth Mountain

4. Red Rocks

Personally, I think Red Rocks is a must see whether or not you’re an avid music fan or not. It’s a quick 30-40 minute drive from Denver to Morrison. The amphitheater is open daily just to walk around and check out (make sure to go inside to see some of the artists who have performed at this iconic spot!) or get a workout in (stairs, anyone?) Or, if you’re a music fan I hear the concerts are quite the experience! We’re actually attending our first concert there later this summer, so I’ll be sure to report back after that!

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5. Breckendridge

Last, but certainly not least is Breckenridge. It’s a great choice all year round, whether you’re an avid skier, just want a great view of the mountains, or want to check out a few boutiques! It’s about an hour and a half to 2 hour drive from Denver up I-70, so make sure to plan for a full day. Of course, you can’t go wrong with skiing there in the winter, however there is great hiking in the off seasons. Take a ride up the gondola (it’s free!) to check out some spectacular views or grab a bite to eat from one of the many mountain side restaurants and just enjoy the scenery. It’s much quieter in the off season (fall/spring) which makes for easier exploring of the town. It’s very festive in the winter as the streets and trees are decorated with lights for the Holiday season. I definitely suggest hitting up Crepes a la Cart (plan on a wait) for some of the best crepes you’ll ever taste!

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Peak 6

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Our engagement on Peak 8 in 2014

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Worked up quite the appetite while waiting in line for 2 hours on a chilly evening!

Are you planning a visit to Denver soon? What are your favorite day trips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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