One of the great things about living in the Denver-Metro area is easy access to plenty of spots to enjoy the fresh mountain air and Colorado sunshine. Here are 8 perfect places to visit if you’re looking for a weekend getaway.
While Colorado Springs is only 1 hour outside of Denver, it’s a great city to spend a weekend away. A stay at The Broadmoor will provide you with a truly luxury experience. The hotel and resort has eight restaurants and bars, as well as a spa and world-class golf course. And it is the host site for the 2018 U.S. Senior Open.
For some outdoor fun, the Garden of the Gods is a must. You can hike or horseback ride through the gigantic red rock formations any time of the year. The visitor center has all kinds of interactive exhibits for the whole family to enjoy.
Best of all? Entrance to the park is free.
Another perfect place to take the family is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It’s a blast to wander around the exhibits as you climb up the side of a mountain. You can also feed the giraffes, ride a chair-lift over the zoo, and have plenty of animal encounters.
Estes Park is also close by, just a 1.5-hour drive from Denver. It’s a charming mountain town worth visiting throughout the year. You can book a room at the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. While it might have a haunted history, the Stanley Hotel is actually a nice place to stay with scenic views and several enjoyable restaurants.
Downtown Estes Park has many restaurants to check out, as well as art galleries and local shops. You’ll enjoy a stroll along the Riverwalk. Be sure to stop at one of several ice cream parlors for an especially delicious treat.
Perhaps the best reason to spend the weekend in Estes Park is to experience Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a scenic drive over Trail Ridge Road or enjoy a whopping 300 miles of hiking trails. There’s also plenty of adventure activities for both summer and winter, including camping, fishing, and plenty of wildlife viewing.
Plan a trip to Glenwood Springs, a 3 hour drive from Denver, and take a dip in the largest hot springs pool in the world. You can buy a pool pass for the day or book a room at the adjoining hotel. The whole family will love it.
For a more luxury experience, book a massage or facial at Spa of the Rockies. If you want something just for the adults, check out the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves and relax in the underground hot mineral water steam baths.
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, visit the Glenwood Canyons Adventure Park. The park offers underground cave tours and mountain thrill rides, including an alpine roller coaster.
For a great hiking spot, take Hanging Lake Trail off Interstate 70, just 10-miles east of Glenwood Springs. Hanging Lake is truly picture perfect. The hike is just a little over a mile, but it gets pretty rocky and steep in places.
In the winter, Steamboat Springs, 3.5 hours from Denver, makes for an excellent ski weekend. You can stay in several luxury resort hotels and enjoy the world famous Champagne Powder on 3,000 skiable acres and 165 trails.
Be sure to visit the Old Town Hot Springs or Strawberry Park Hot Springs for a relaxing soak any time of the year. You can also get into the town’s western heritage with a historic building tour or a trip to one of several western-themed shops.
In the summer, you’ll want to take advantage of the many bike trails around the Steamboat’s three state parks. You can also enjoy rafting and fishing on the Elk River, as well as hiking and horseback riding. There are also many campgrounds in the area for a totally off-the-grid weekend.
For the golfers out there, play 1 of 3 18-hole golf courses that offer a scenic and challenging round of golf. For the kids, enjoy mini golf or a trip to the Adventure Zone. The thrill-seekers in the group will want to check out the high-flying zipline on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa, a 4 hour drive from Denver, is one of those must-see spots in Colorado.
There’s really nothing like it.
The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest dune field in the country and the whole family will love sliding down the dunes on sand boards or sleds, always available to rent. There’s also plenty of hiking and camping throughout the park, as well as horseback riding trails.
In the summer months, you’ll want to visit Medano Creek, where you can wade and splash, as well as try your hand at tubing or even skim-boarding. The kids will love to build sand castles along the banks.
The Sand Dunes also offer incredible night sky viewing so bring your telescope or just sit out under the stars for a romantic evening.
If you’re looking for a real adventure, Medano Pass is a 4WD road open in the summer months that offers stunning views as well as soft sand driving for about 4 miles and 9 creek crossings. It’s a bumpy but fun ride!
You can stay in one of several lodges within the park, or in nearby Alamosa.
Western Slope Wine Country
You might not know it, but Colorado actually has its own wine country outside of Grand Junction, about 5 hours from Denver. This area is known as Grand Valley and there are 20 wineries and vineyards you can discover.
Most of the wineries have tasting rooms and offer tours so you can find your new favorite Colorado wine. For a more active day, consider taking a bike tour through the vineyards. There are also orchards growing peaches, pears, and cherries, all available for purchase, as well as fields of wildflowers and lavender.
You might consider one of a few wine country inns where you can stay right in the vineyards. There are also plenty of lodging options in Grand Junction and Palisade. Grand Junction also offers some of the best biking trails in the state, as well as guided rafting and float trips down the Green River, Gunnison River or Colorado River.
If you visit the city of Grand Junction, enjoy the downtown area full of local shops. You can also visit the Museum of the West or take the kids to Bananas Fun Park.
If you’re up for a longer drive, Durango is 6 hours southwest of Denver. Durango has a lot of wonderful outdoor activities to offer all year round. You’ll love spending time in the nearby San Juan Mountains, where you can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and camping. In the winter, you’ll enjoy excellent skiing at Purgatory Resort.
The kids will love a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which takes you on a mountain journey through the San Juan National Forest. You can ride the train all year-round.
Downtown Durango is a beautiful, historic area and you can enjoy several walking tours to learn about the history of the buildings and city. You’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants to grab a bite to eat. There are also several art galleries and small museums worth exploring.
For lodging, consider staying in one of many alpine lodges and cabins around Durango for a truly picturesque weekend.
Mesa Verde National Park is located southwest near Cortez, about 6.5 hours from Denver. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an impressive archaeological wonder.
The park’s main draw is definitely the Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, incredible cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages. You can wander through the cliff dwellings and hear from park rangers who will teach you all about the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who once lived here. You can also hike to a petroglyph panel, as well as a few other interesting trails.
Many folks decide to camp at Mesa Verde. Campers can enjoy Morefield Village, where you can use complimentary showers, or visit the gift shop, grocery store, or the Knife Edge Café. There is also the Far View Lodge about 15 miles outside the park.
Outside of the park, be sure to visit the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum or book a place to stay in Cortez. The Cortez Cultural Center is another excellent place to learn about the native history in the area. You can also enjoy plenty of parks and trails, as well as a golf course. Be sure to take a drive to the Four Corners as well.