Mile High City stands on its own as a top U.S. destination, but can function as the perfect command center for a sampler of the entire centennial state as well. Start with distinctly Denver experiences from food to athletics before embarking on excursions to the Springs, Fort Collins, and Vail for more outdoor offerings.
Center Yourself in Capital City
Denver has everything for anyone with professional athletics, performing arts, distinct dining, and even theme parks, all condensed downtown. In the summer catch a Rockies game at Coors Field, in the fall tackle a Broncos game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and in the winter watch Avalanche hockey or Nuggets basketball.
Foodies can indulge in the famous Snooze for a brunch as groovy as it is guilt ridden, Buckhorn Exchange for a hearty wild game dinner where past presidents have dined, and Pints Pub where the largest selection of whiskey outside of Scotland offers a very unique nightcap. Expect a line at Snooze during regular breakfast and lunch hours and explore the history of Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant with liquor license No. 1 after prohibition, through the newspaper styled menu.
Find entertainment in between with Elitch Gardens Theme Park and Water World right off the interstate, Denver Center for the Performing Arts nearby, or the famed Red Rocks amphitheater right outside the city. Red Rocks hosts world famous musicians year round and a movie series weekly in the summer.
Spring to the South or West
An hour south Colorado Springs makes for the perfect day trip with gorgeous natural beauty creating iconic attractions and outdoor recreation. Tour the Air Force Academy for a patriotic and educational experience before reaching Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak, two of America’s natural wonders. Visitors can hike trails, climb, or drive through Garden of the Gods’ preserved red rock formations, then take a train or drive to the 14,115-foot summit of the country’s most popular mountain.
An alternate or additional day trip, Glenwood Springs hosts its trademark hot springs and both summer and winter recreation two hours west of Denver. Soak up the world’s largest hot springs pool, tour enchanting caverns, brave thrill rides with the whole family, or find adventure white water rafting. In the winter enjoy skiing and snowboarding in our 2011 Most Fun Small Town in America.
Head Up to Guzzle Down
On day four of your Colorado sampler, drive an hour north to historic Fort Collins where Colorado State University can be found. Schedule a tour and tasting at New Belgium Brewery, the first American brewery to run entirely on wind power. The makers of Fat Tire share a variety of additional environmental measures taken in production and conclude in their gift shop and bar.
Pair your tasting with dining downtown at one of Fort Collins’ local hot spots like El Rio Mexican or XYZ sushi. The downtown strip also offers plenty of shopping, entertainment, and history. Find outdoor recreation along the Cache La Poudre River and education at the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center.
Hop, Skip, and Jump to Snow
In the winter, getaway to Vail an hour west again or round out your visit in Aspen, three hours west. Vail boasts skiing and snowboarding on the continent’s second largest ski mountain, plus golf, zip lining, white water rafting, and more in the summer. Enjoy tours, shopping, and spas in both Vail and Beaver Creek as well.
Aspen offers a broader variety with four different mountains accommodating all skill levels and group types. The town additionally features an array of dining, art, entertainment, and recreation options including climbing, hiking, fishing, golf, ice skating, paragliding, and plenty of other options. Museums, dance, music, theatre, and shopping abound for less active visitors.
Best of the Road features town and place reviews for more ideas as you plan your Colorado trip.