We Californians like to joke that the only state we love as much as California is Colorado. I say joke, but we’re being totally serious. And yes, California definitely has a lot in common with our landlocked friend-state, like legal weed (hayyy), glorious snow-capped mountains, and an unofficial state-wide obsession with rock climbing. But something else our states both share is an endless number of towns, villages, cities, and parks to explore on a weekend getaway!
When people think of Colorado, their mind usually jumps to long hikes in the Rocky Mountains, hipster types doing yoga in Boulder, or laid-back city life in Denver. And of course, these amazing destinations are worth the hype! But there are also tons of OTHER fun, beautiful, and downright weird places to explore on a weekend getaway in Colorado. So we partnered with some of our favorite travel bloggers and Travelocity to create this list of the best weekend getaways in Colorado.
Planning a trip to Colorado? Check out these other posts to help you plan your next trip to the Centennial State!
- 8 Amazing Day Trips from Boulder, Colorado
- The 8 Best Day Hikes Near Denver, Colorado (That Nobody Knows About)
- The 8 Best Places to Camp in Colorado
Looking for more USA inspiration? We have a MASSIVE travel guide for all our favorite places in the US and handy advice, packing tips and travel guides. Click the link below to download!
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Contributed by Lance and Laura from Travel Addicts.
Glenwood Springs is a place that confuses and confounds many travelers. Yes, everyone knows about the world-famous swimming pool, but there’s so much more to this town than that.
Historically, Glenwood Springs has always been a tourist destination. It was never a mining town or filled with industry. Rather, the chiseled men of the frontier would come to Glenwood to resupply and frequent the brothels and prostitutes that populated the town. This colorful history makes Glenwood mostly unique in the history of Colorado mountain towns.
Glenwood Springs also sits at the western end of the Glenwood Canyon – one of the deepest and most impressive natural canyons in the United States. The main east-west highway and railroad in the United States travel through the canyon, which makes arrival in Glenwood quite dramatic.
There are many amazing things to do in Glenwood Springs. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Take a dip in the Glenwood Hot Springs: Whatever brings you to Glenwood Springs, most people end up at the swimming pool at least once. The Glenwood Hot Springs is the largest hot springs mineral pool in the world. Visitors have been coming here and soaking in the waters for over a hundred years.
- Visit Glenwood Canyon: In the canyon, visitors should take a short hike up to Hanging Lake. The trailhead is located 7 miles east of Glenwood. From there, the hike up is another 1.2 miles.
- Enjoy Glenwood’s outdoor activities: Situated at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, Glenwood also offers incredible outdoor activities. Anglers come from all over the world to fish in the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River offers amazing whitewater rafting.
- Enjoy the thrills of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: This is America’s only mountaintop amusement park. America’s first alpine coaster was built here, but Glenwood Caverns is most known for the Giant Canyon Swing. The swing takes visitors out over a 1,300-foot vertical drop. It has been featured on numerous TV shows and viral videos.
- Stuff your face at a local restaurant: Glenwood Springs has become a bedroom community for people priced out of the market in uber-expensive Aspen. That means that there are a ton of incredible restaurants here – far more than you’d expect in a town of 10,000 people (including nearly every kind of ethnic cuisine you can possibly imagine). The Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company is an excellent all-around pub option. For meat lovers, Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse is a temple to all that is good in the world. For ethnic food, the Nepal Restaurant services up sub-continental and pan-Asian cuisine that is to die for.
Where to Stay in Glenwood Springs
We love the charming European look of the Silver Spruce Inn! The reviews are fantastic and the price is wonderfully reasonable. Plus, breakfast is included and you’re only a 10-minute walk from the Hot Springs.
Vacation Rentals in Glenwood Springs are generally very charming with a lot of mountain cabins on offer. We love this modern and airy apartment with fabulous city street-views and the ability to walk to several different hot springs!
Ouray, Colorado: The Switzerland of America
Contributed by Leigh from Campfires & Concierges
I have yet to meet a Colorado town that I don’t love, but crowds are taking over many front range towns, and the ski towns are getting more and more boujie. So to stay ahead of the pack, I keep moving further and further west searching for that ideal Colorado mountain town.
Last summer, I spent a week in Ouray, a tiny town in Southwest Colorado. The lack of ski resorts makes Ouray still feel like the wild west, and people in town regaled me with stories of big, mean bears strolling through the alleys at night. Even driving to Ouray is an adventure, over winding mountain roads.
Like much of Colorado, visiting Ouray is all about the outdoors. I found the perfect amount of activity to balance out some much-needed downtime. If you’re heading to Ouray in the summer, here are my suggestions for the top three things to do.
- Go Off-Roading: The mountains around Ouray have some of the best 4WD trails in the state, with old mining camps and structures dotted around the landscape. After getting my Subaru scratched up in a dicey situation I shouldn’t have been in, I opted for a tour with Colorado West Jeep Tours. We had an amazing day climbing to 13,000 feet at Imogene Pass.
- Ouray Hot Springs: There’s nothing as good as a hot spring soak after a day of outdoor adventure. Ouray has five developed hot springs pools, including the Ouray Hot Springs Pool right in town. They are open late so you can enjoy the dark skies while you relax. Several resorts in the area have private hot springs, too!
- Hiking: There are tons of hiking trails around Ouray, and Cascade Falls Park is a great place to start. Loads of trails leading to gorgeous waterfalls, and it’s right in town.
Where to Stay in Ouray
The historic Beaumont Hotel & Spa is the perfect place to stay in Ouray for a romantic weekend getaway. From the full-service spa to the luxurious Victorian decor, you couldn’t find a better place to snuggle up after a dip in the hot springs.
For an alternative try VRBO’s in Ouray, you can really go all out with some rural options like this Rustic Cabin in the Woods for blissful solitude and the sound of the birds or this fabulous home with amazing views of San Juan Mountain.
We recommend booking directly through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
Carbondale, Colorado: The Adventure Town
Contributed by The Wandering Wheatleys Located in the heart of the central Rocky Mountains, Carbondale is a darling town that is full of hip, young, adventurous, outdoorsy types. And since it is perfectly situated at the base of Mt. Sopris and at the confluence of the Colorado and Crystal Rivers, it is an ideal place to spend a week (or more!) enjoying the spectacular nature right in its backyard. Rock climbing, cross-country skiing, hiking, hot springs, mountaineering, kayaking, and camping are just a few of the countless activities offered in the area surrounding Carbondale. And with an average of 295 days of sunshine a year, you’re bound to have the perfect weather to do it all.
It might be tempting to do only the outdoor activities, but be sure to spend some time exploring the actual town of Carbondale, too! After all, it was voted one of America’s Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic. There are countless delicious restaurants, lively bars, and breweries, centrally located in the pedestrian-friendly downtown area.
- Go for a swim: Penny Hot Springs is a hot pool that has been sectioned off from the Crystal River about 13 miles south of Carbondale along Highway 133. The hot water bubbles up from the ground here and mixes with the frigid river water to create the perfect relaxing temperature. It is a popular spot for locals to convene after a day of adventuring nearby so make some room for new friends!
- Tackle the Crystal Mill hike: The hike to Crystal Mill is one of the most famous in all of Colorado. The trailhead is about 40 minutes east of Carbondale on Highway 133. Although the old, abandoned mill is the prize at the end of the hike, the views of Lizard Lake and the surrounding mountains make the entire 10-mile out-and-back hike perfectly picturesque. If you choose to drive you’ll need 4×4 and if you visit in the winter you should rent some snowshoes in Carbondale as the trail is not maintained.
- Go white water rafting: Snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains feeds the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers to create adrenaline-pumping white water rafting conditions. From easy to extreme and everything in-between, all experience levels can enjoy this springtime activity.
- Enjoy the laid-back city hangouts: If you visit on a weekend, be sure to catch some live music at Steve’s Guitars. It’s a small but popular venue and gets some great talent. And be sure to grab a slice at White House Pizza, one of the most popular restaurants in town!
Where to Stay in Carbondale
There are plenty of box hotels in downtown Carbondale, but when we think of a Colorado getaway, we think rustic lodge. So instead of staying within Carbondale itself, head about 20 minutes down the road to the teeny tiny town of Redstone and book a room at The Historic Redstone Inn. Built-in 1902, you’ll be staying in a classic, rustic Colorado-style lodge, complete with an epic antler chandelier (where can we get one of those for our apartment?!), a pool, and plenty of pine trees and mountain air. It’s the perfect spot for a quintessential Colorado retreat!
If you are looking for VRBOs in Carbondale, there is a mix of options but if you want something modern but mountain-ey check out this Tiny House that is super cozy and adorable. It has a great outdoor space and is just steps away from Crystal River and hiking at Mushroom Rock!
Loveland, Colorado: The Sweetheart City
Contributed by Chantel from Earth Nomads
The nick-name of this fun little town speaks for itself. A gathering place for artists while still within a reasonable commuting distance of Denver as well as the mountains, Loveland has become an eclectic mix of urban professionals, crunchy hippy moms, and outdoor fanatics. What’s not to love? Get it?! LOVE!?
On Valentine’s Day, you will find Loveland – true to its name – decorated with more bells, whistles, and hearts than Disneyland at Christmas. Here are few of the other rad things to do in Loveland:
- Hiking: Since blue skies are usual in Colorado, get out for a hike at Devil’s Backbone. The trail is only a short drive from downtown and offers a beautiful view. You can bring your dog and head up to the keyhole to have a peek at the other side of the backbone. More of a mountain biker? Take this trail all the way up to Horsetooth Mountain near Fort Collins.
- Coffee: If you haven’t picked up a cup at Jamoka Joe’s yet on your way out of the backbone, a coffee is best had at The Coffee Tree where you find a special and well-loved kid’s corner, or at LoCo Artisan Coffee, with live music several times a month.
- Food: For lovers of southern food, check out Mo’Betta Gumbo. Door 222 features fancy dishes, but still for an affordable price. Depending on how much wine you drink, that is. We love their desserts, but another option is Starlight Dessert Bar just around the corner.
- Festivals: Towards the end of summer there is the old fashioned Corn Roast Festival with a corn shucking contest, a parade and of course music and food. In winter, there’s the Fire and Ice Festival with its ice sculpture contest, fireworks, and live music, which takes place right around Valentine’s Day. Love sculptures? Loveland offers two unique sculpture gardens and a large sculpture festival in August.
Where to Stay in Loveland
There are some really sweet VRBOs in Loveland ranging from modern to cozy, including this Chic Cottage in Historic Downtown Loveland. And we love this Colorful Historic Home with a great outdoor space, including an adorable little cottage house perfect for taking a nap or spending the afternoon reading!
Breckenridge, Colorado: The Winter Wonderland
Contributed by Mary Beth from MB Sees
It probably goes without saying that Breckenridge, like most of Colorado, is a great place to ski. But there are a ton of other ways to feel the cold winter wind in your hair. If you feel the need… the need for speed… check out these activities:
- Do some night skiing. Yes, technically still skiing, but a novel experience since only a handful of Colorado resorts offer it. It’s not in Breck proper, but your Breckenridge Ski Resort lift ticket gets you onto the nighttime slopes at Keystone Resort, about 13 miles away, at a mega discount ($10). Note: Bundle up extra… night skiing is cold AF.
- Find a snowmobile. There’s nothing like zooming over snow drifts, Bond-girl style! But for novices, there’s places like Good Times Adventures, that’ll hook you up with a guide for a small group tour. Over the river trail and through the woods, they’ll take you on a fast and fun ride up to the Continental Divide, complete with kick-ass views of the mountainside. The 2-hour tour will run you $120.
- Mush, mush, mush! If you’re interested in trying your hand at dogsledding, no need to leave Good Times – they offer that, too! You’ll pay $90 for an hour run, where you’ll take turns with other Iditarod hopefuls mushing your own team of Siberian Huskies.
- Don’t go fast at all. For those on the slower end of the speed spectrum, there’s the less adrenaline-pumping horse drawn sleigh ride with Breckenridge Stables. In an open meadow at the golf course, you’ll essentially just ride around in a figure eight-esque pattern, soaking in more of the mountain views that rise up around you. A 45-minute ride runs $59, and they also offer rides at Breck Ski Resort’s Peak 9. Sneak a little champagne split in your coat pocket, and you’ll be all set. For those ready to take that next step, this is a pretty good setting for poppin’ the question — it worked for my now-husband!
Where to Stay in Breckenridge
Breckenridge is a ski getaway, so the best place to stay in Breckenridge is a ski resort like the Mountain Thunder Lodge. The lodge itself is rustic and beautiful, with stunning mountain peaks all around. Rather than a hotel room, you’ll be booking a studio, condo, or townhouse with a crackling fireplace and killer views, so grab a few friends and go in on your rental together! The lodge is located just 5 minutes from a gondola up the mountain, and you can take the Four O’Clock run to ski right back to your room! In addition, you’ll be super close to downtown Breckenridge for dinner after a long day on the slopes.
For a budget friendly alternative without sacrificing comfort The Bivvi is a fantastic cabin style hostel in Breckenridge with incredible mountain views and a cozy log fire in the main room.
If you are looking for vacation homes in Breckenridge there are some great ski lodges and condos right next to the slopes. We love this bright and cozy Condo with the most stunning Rocky Mountain views, and it has amenities like pools, hot tubs, and a ski lift right out the back door!
Durango, Colorado: The Wild West Gateway
Contributed by Sharon from DailyDream360.com
Located along the Animas River Valley in the four corners region of Colorado, Durango has myriad opportunities for outdoor adventures, Old West themed attractions, and a downtown historic district filled with arts, culture and amazing culinary experiences.
Here are a few things to do in Durango:
- Explore Historic Downtown Durango: Explore the city’s main street to discover the local galleries, like the Toh-Atin Gallery which is filled with authentic Navajo weavings and other Native art. Be sure to stop into the historic Strater Hotel for a drink at their Dimond Belle Saloon. The bar will take you back to the days of the Old West with its mahogany wood walls and ragtime piano players. If you’re lucky the hotel staff might even show you some of the hotel’s secret passageways and hiding places.
- Go on an adventure: There is no shortage of adventure in Durango! The Animas River is filled with water sport enthusiasts rafting, kayaking, tube riding and more. For those who prefer land hop on a jeep and be taken up the Palata Mountains for an exciting jeep tour with Mild2Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours. Be sure to bring a jacket – it gets cold up in the mountains!
- Ski or Hike the trails at Purgatory Resort: You don’t have to be a guest at the resort to take in all the fun, but the rooms are quite lovely. For winter lovers, the resort has 1,605 acres of skiable terrain, with 99 ski trails and five parks. In summer, the resort has plenty of summer activities including hiking and the new Inferno Mountain coaster ride which takes you on an exhilarating ride through the trees down the mountainside. You’ll also find plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to lounge in at the resort after a long day of outdoor activities.
- Take the Durango Silverton Train: Colorado and trains have a long, fascinating history! This historic railroad train has been in continuous operation between Durango and Silverton since 1882. A ride on the train will take you past wildlife, waterfalls, and majestic peaks on the same tracks miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago! So take a ride back in time to our next amazing Colorado weekend getaway…
Where to Stay in Durango
Smack dab in the middle of historic downtown Durango you’ll find the Historic Strater Hotel, a Durango landmark dating back to 1887. You’ll be transported back to Durango’s mining heyday, when silver made the area rich and prosperous with a thriving future. The opulent old hotel has seen Durango’s entire history and serves as a museum to its story. And the location can’t be beaten: you’ll be walking distance from all of downtown Durango!
For VRBOs in Durango, you should check out this carriage house apartment on historic 3rd Avenue. It is newly built, charmingly modern, and has it’s own private balcony!
Silverton, Colorado: The Million Dollar Town
Contributed by Marissa from Little Things Travel Blog
There’s a stretch of highway in Colorado called US 550 that is nicknamed the “Million Dollar Highway” for its beautiful views. Just off this road is Silverton, a small western town with a colorful mining history that’s a paradise for outdoor lovers.
- Touring the Old Hundred Gold Mine will teach you all about Silverton’s mining history. The last major mining operation in the area shut down in 1991, but you can still experience what the mine was like when it was active. The tour will take you a third of a mile into the 13,000-foot Galena Mountain on a vintage electric-powered mine train. The temperature underground is always a cool and damp 48°F (8°C), regardless of the time of year. If you’re feeling inspired, you can even pan for gold and silver afterward!
- To explore Silverton’s outdoor paradise, hike up to Ice Lakes. It’s challenging but is one of the best hikes in Colorado. You’ll be rewarded with a spread of beautiful wildflowers along the way and the bright blue waters of Ice Lake surrounded by towering mountain peaks.
- Grab a beer at Avalanche Brewing, and enjoy it on their patio if it’s nice outside! They serve up to six of their own craft brews, my favorite being the white-out wit. Plus, they are located in a quirky, colorful building which makes enjoying a beer there even more fun.
Where to Stay in Silverton
Located right downtown, the historic Teller House is a cozy little inn with 8 gorgeous guestrooms. Throw on a cozy bathrobe and settle into the Victorian-inspired rooms, which have been beautifully updated since the hotel was first built in 1896. It’s the perfect balance of old-world charm and new-world comfort, all within walking distance of Silverton’s main attractions.
There are several adorable VRBOs in Silverton, but we love this charming studio Downton. It is cozy yet spacious, lots of old-world charm and the kind of great bedding that makes it hard to get up in the morning!
We’ve also got a campground suggestion not too far Silverton – read more about South Mineral Campground in our roundup of the best places to go camping in Colorado!
Manitou Springs, Colorado: The Hippie Hideaway
Contributed by Lauren from The Down Lo
Locally known as Colorado Springs’s quirky neighbor, Manitou Springs is everything Boulder used to be before it became more trustafarian than Rastafarian. People flock there for their alleged mineral healing waters, which really just make it one of the last true artsy, hippie enclaves in the state. Here are the top things to do while exploring Manitou Springs:
- Check out the Manitou Cliff Dwellings: Comprised of reconstructed ruins that were moved from Southern Colorado, this old pueblo village is an ode to the original Indian settlers.
- Count Coins at the Penny Arcade: Take a walk down memory lane at the vintage multi-room arcade that’s an ode to your (or your parent’s) childhood. There is skeeball, pinball, and every other type of ball (wink wink)…or game you could possibly want.
- Climb the Incline: 2,744 steps of pure dread, the Incline is one of those self-imposed torture workouts. A challenge meant for the most elite athletes, it’s 2,000 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile. But hey, at least you can say you did it!
- Play in Cave of the Winds: Cave of the Winds is basically an adrenaline junkie’s dream and the nightmare of anyone afraid of heights… or claustrophobic. They have a laundry list of activities from underground spelunking to the Terror-dactyl, a ride that will launch you over the cliff at 100 miles per hour. #Yolo?
- Graffiti Hunt at Rainbow Falls: While it sucks when people vandalize nature, “Graffiti Falls” is one spot where the art actually adds to the attraction.
Where to Stay in Manitou Springs
The historic Cliff House at Pike’s Peak is the perfect place to stay in Manitou Springs, located right in the historic downtown, across the street from Soda Springs, and just a 10-minute drive from Garden of the Gods. Built in the winter of 1873, the hotel has been open to guests longer than Colorado has been a state, and famous guests have included everyone from Theodore Roosevelt to PT Barnum to Thomas Edison. Rooms are elegantly appointed with updated Victorian decor, so you can pretend it’s still the turn of the century and you’re a fabulously wealthy miner too.
There are tons of cabins in Manitou Springs on VRBO, but we are totally obsessed with this little gem: The Nest. Located in downtown Manitou this cozy cottage has compact features, a potbellied fireplace and is in the middle of a gorgeous grotto garden. Sounds pretty perfect!”
Vail, Colorado: The Ski Resort Town
Contributed by Dan from Honeymoon Always
When you think of visiting Vail, 5-star expensive resorts may come to mind as a place for the rich to vacation. While this is one version of Vail, there are plenty of things to do and see for everyone. If you make the trip in the summer you will find hotel prices half the price of the winter rates and tons of things to do. It is up to you to decide how luxurious or practical you want you time in Vail to be spent.
- Stop and smell the roses: Visit The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest botanical gardens in the world. Situated at 8,200’ you will find a large variety of plants from all around. Since Vail is such a small town, you can likely hike or bike to the gardens with ease. If you plan your trip right, you might even be able to catch a concert next door at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
- Ride a bike: Go for a bike ride on the Vail Recreation Path. This 15-mile long path is paved, going through the town and following a stream most of the time, its a fun way to see the city.
- Get your adrenaline on: If you do go when it is not ski season, you can get your adrenaline rushing with a day at Epic Discovery. Here you can go down a zip line and alpine slide to fulfill your need for speed.
- Pretend you’re German: For a fun meal, head to the Swiss Chalet to fill up on authentic German food and the best fondue in town.
Where to Stay in Vail
Vail is a luxury ski resort kind of town, but you don’t have to pay ridiculous prices to get a taste of the good life. Book a room at the European-lodge inspired Christiania at Vail and enjoy a ski-in ski-out Bavarian style lodge located right in the heart of Vail village at a reasonable – dare we say, affordable – price! Don’t forget to bring your bathing suits to enjoy the outdoor pool, even in the winter.
A lot of the vacation rentals in Vail are part of larger resorts but you can still find a great private condos and houses. We love this new, bright Condo right on Gore Creek in West Vail. The bus stops right outside so within a few minutes you can be in the middle of the village, and it’s just a 15-minute walk to the Cascade Village ski lift.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado: The Town With the Cutest Name
Contributed by Chantal from Earth Nomads
One of the best getaways in Colorado is the adorably named Steamboat Springs. Whether you’re the type to risk breaking a leg on one of the coolest slopes in Colorado on skis or mountain bike, or you’d rather relax in a hot spring and then hit darling downtown Steamboat for an iced coffee, there is something to do for everyone.
- Warm up in the Strawberry Hot Springs: In the middle of the winter nothing is better than making your way up to Strawberry Park Hot Springs at night. Important note: between November and May, your car will either need chains or you’ll want to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires. But it’s totally worth the trek! Nothing is more refreshing for your body than to step from “Champagne Powder” snow into a hot pool (get it, like, champagne & strawberries?! Steamboat Springs, you’re killing us!), and it makes you feel uber alive. Not to mention the fairly unique entertainment of interesting hairdo’s created by steam and freezing temperatures!
- Go for a challenging hike at Rabbit’s Ears Pass: Aside from the slopes with probably the most reliable snow in the state, you can get your exercise in by hitting the trails or open meadows for a hike or a run during the summer, or on cross country skis or snowshoes when it’s white and slick. For the thrill of going off-trail, head to Rabbit Ears Pass. It’s not entirely without challenge, especially at this altitude, but the views are breathtaking. You will feel like the only one on earth who’s ever made it up there, even if you don’t go further than the first meadow.
- Go for a stroll on the Spring Creek Trail: Here you make your way through a small canyon along a creek, pretty much in the town’s center. It’s out and back, so you decide how far you go. Watch out for moose.
- Hang out in a cute bookstore/coffee shop: Hit up the bookstore and coffee shop Off The Beaten Path to warm up with coffee or hot chocolate, and indulge in a new or used book or two. Watch your time, or you could easily spend your whole afternoon here.
Where to Stay in Steamboat Springs
Imagine yourself relaxing in a hot tub overlooking a river, surrounded by lush mountain scenery. Welcome to The Steamboat Mountain Lodge, located just 2 miles from downtown Steamboat Springs and only a mile from the base of the Steamboat Ski area. You’ll spend the day enjoying Steamboat Springs before heading back to relax in your rustic, Western-themed room (all for incredibly reasonable rates, of course).
For VRBOs in Steamboat Springs there is a big selection of condos to choose from, but we like this Winsome Mountain Condo with views over Steamboat Springs! It’s cute with lots of windows, and the wrap around porch is the perfect place to relax after a long day. It’s also just a short walk to the free bus!
Golden, Colorado: The Brewery Town
Contributed by Melissa from The Family Voyage
Are you ready to crush so hard on an adorable Colorado town that it makes you whip out your Redfin app about five minutes after you park your car? Because that’s how we felt when we got to lovely little Golden! If something about “Golden, Colorado” sounds vaguely familiar, it probably means you’re a fan of cheap domestic beer (nothing wrong with that) but it’s time to find out just how much more there is to this little hamlet on the front range.
- Stroll down Washington Ave: No visit to Golden is complete without a stroll down its main street, Washington Avenue. First and foremost, you’ll spot the town’s iconic welcome arch. But if you look more closely you’ll spot plenty of public art, including both murals and sculptures, that will give you a glimpse into Golden’s storied 19th century history as a beer-brewing, gold-mining, Wild-Westing kind of town. Today you’ll find the charming-but-rugged street lined with a mix of boutiques and outdoor stores and boutique outdoor stores, along with restaurants serving up great food that matches the mountain scenery and local beverage selections. Join with hundreds of locals and tourists that descend on Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza for their all-day every-day buffet – $13.95 for pizza, salad and beer cheese soup. Pro tip: dip your crust in the honey they provide or, my preference, directly in the soup. Because beer and melted cheese are meant to go with bread!
- Drink some beer: Golden is synonymous with beer, so you might as well lean into it! If you’re visiting on the right day of the week, at the right time of day, in the right season and during the correct phase of the moon, you can hop on over to the enormous Coors factory that borders town and take a tour (complete with tasting, of course). The Coors factory is the biggest brewery in the world!
- … And then some more beer: Instead of just sticking to the behemoth in town, you might as well hop over to one of the small, friendly microbreweries that have sprung up on Golden’s every corner. We love the fun, laid-back and quirky vibe at Golden City Brewery. They’re serving up not just brews, but also their very own wines and ciders. So grab a giant pretzel and a board game from their shelf and park yourself in the beer garden out back for the afternoon – you might even get lucky with a food truck visit! Check their insta for the latest updates.
- Go on a hike: If you haven’t yet earned all that beer, work up to it by strolling the ever-so-lovely Clear Creek Trail. Why can’t every town have an inviting public space like this? You’ll join plenty of local families, couples and dog-walkers enjoying the serene sounds of the babbling brook as you momentarily forget that you’re just steps from the main street. The trail also offers a chance to get a glimpse into Golden’s history as you peek into some of the town’s original buildings and read about their history along the path. Even the picture-perfect bridge is loaded with informational placards (seriously, on both sides!) perfect for mavens.
Where to Stay in Golden
The Origin Hotel Red Rocks is one of the coolest, hippest hotels we’ve ever seen. Plus, it’s just a few minutes away from the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, making it the perfect Golden getaway spot – especially if you’re turning a concert into a weekend mini-vacation. You’ll be a few minutes out of town, but the ultra-hip decor and amenities more than make up for it!
Keeping on the theme of cool and hip when hunting for VRBOs in Golden, we found this charming historic VRBO Carriage House in Downtown Golden, which means you can walk to wherever you would like to go including Colorado School of Mines, the Coors Brewery, restaurants and local brewpubs.
Idaho Springs, Colorado: The Charming Mining Town
Contributed by Nicky from That Anxious Traveller
Idaho Springs is a perfect day-trip from Denver. It’s a small mining town, with a main street so old-fashioned and cute, you’ll just want to scoop it up and take it home. Oh, and it also happens to be in the shadow of one of the highest summits of the Rocky Mountains!
- Hike at Mount Evans: For hiking fans, Mount Evans has it all. There’s numerous trails in the area of easy, moderate, and hard difficulties – these include trails up to the summit, or to the lovely pine-fringed Echo Lake, where you can pause for a scenic photo amid all that wild beauty. Mount Evans is also the home of North America’s highest road, allowing you to drive up to near the summit, and walk the remainder! This gives you loads of energy for taking in the stunning views of the Continental Divide, striding up to the peak’s top, and springing around like you’re in The Sound Of Music before you run out of oxygen (just me? Okay).
- Explore the Phoenix Gold Mine: Descend back into town, and head underground at this awesome historic mining site. Your guide will give you a tour through the frozen-in-time mine, and give you an in-depth sense of the history of the gold mines, and the local area. Even better, you get to pan for gold at the end of the tour, and keep any flakes you may find! Riches await!
- Grab a drink at the Bouck Brothers Distillery: Descend back into town, and make your way to this small batch distillery and tasting room… yes, tasting room! You can sample all those lovely and unique spirits, from coffee-flavoured whiskey, to pink hibiscus-infused gin. Pretend it’s for someone back home, and stock up on a few bottles!
- Eat some mouth-watering pizza at Beau Jo’s Mountain Pizza: Beau Jo’s is a local institution, thanks to the way they make their pies. They braid the crust, allowing it to hold a massive amount of toppings; each slice absolutely drips with gooey pizza goodness. Order a Mountain Pie, load it up, and remember that there’s zero shame in taking your leftovers home with you. Or in having to be rolled out of the restaurant because you’re so full, which totally didn’t happen to me. *cry*
Where to Stay in Idaho Springs
The Miner’s Pick Bed & Breakfast is a quaint, gold-rush themed b&b located in the heart of Idaho Springs. Be sure to enjoy the filling breakfast, and keep an eye out for bighorn sheep wandering nearby.
For VRBOs in Idaho Springs you should check out this super Cozy Cabin on Fall River with a private deck and views into the wild. It is a 4-minute drive to the restaurants and shops in the center of Idaho Springs and is also close to the Indian Hot Springs. It is a little out the center but the peace and the wild is totally worth the short distance to amenities.
Estes Park: The Outdoor-Lover’s Paradise
Contributed by Lia & Jeremy from Practical Wanderlust. Oh hey, that’s us!
You can’t have a list of the best weekend getaways in Colorado without mentioning Rocky Mountain National Park and the town just outside of the park’s entrance, Estes Park. This incredible national park is one of the most beautiful in the United States, which is saying something because this country is filled with stunning national parks.
In just one day trip from Boulder to Rocky Mountain National Park, I was treated to an abundance of awe-inspiring natural wonders: from big-horn sheep and elk to a sunny valley dotted with glistening lakes, to a blizzard-topped mountain peak – all just in a few hours of casually driving around. Most of the park wasn’t even open. We didn’t even go hiking, although there are roughly a zillion excellent hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park (here’s a comprehensive list). We literally just drove around, and it was incredible.
Rocky Mountain National Park is well worth a trip even if you won’t be back-country camping or mountain climbing or anything else particularly active or rugged. Spending the day driving around and gawking at the majesty of this stunning park is a fantastic way to explore!
Travel Tip: If you’re planning to visit multiple parks this year, we recommend picking up an America is Beautiful National Parks Pass. The pass is valid at over 2,000 National Parks and 10% of the sale proceeds are donated to the National Park Foundation, helping to keep our parks beautiful! The average cost of admission to a National Park is $35, which means that the pass quickly pays for itself after just a few visits. AND you are supporting the National Park Foundation. Win/win! You can pick up a pass online at REI or in person at any National Park.
Besides hiking, here are a few more must-do activities in the Rocky Mountain National Park Area:
- Explore Estes Park: This town at the entrance of the park is the perfect spot to base yourself for a weekend getaway, but even if you aren’t planning on staying overnight, it’s a great place to walk around and explore. Check out this excellent guide to things to do in Estes Park on Pages of Travel!
- Tour the Stanley Hotel: Ever heard of a little book or movie called The Shining? It’s based on this stunning hotel, located in Estes with a stunning view of the snowy peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. You can take a tour of the hotel to learn about its history and its ties to pop culture – not only was Stephen King inspired by the hotel, but Dumb and Dumber was filmed there too, which is … an interesting combination. But let’s be real – what you REALLY want is to be scared out of your mind by some haunted a** little kids, so you should skip the fluff and head straight for the good stuff: the creepy Night Spirit tour. Ghost encounters are not guaranteed, but you’re bound to get the heebie-jeebies anyway.
- Refuel at Bird & Jim: Located a little way out of Estes Park, you might drive right by this understated bar without noticing. But we recommend stopping and getting some farm-to-table food and some a fancy cocktail! With stunning views of the snowy peaks, this is a great place to unwind after a day of exploring and before your drive back to Boulder. We recommend trying the Bird & Jim poutine, topped with pork green chili and cheese curds, and the Baller Bologna Bites, which are like little grilled cheese sandwich bites made with salami, raclette cheese, and bechamel sauce. Yummmm!
Where to Stay in Estes Park
The obvious place to stay in Estes Park is also one of its attractions: The Stanely Hotel. But it’s certainly not the cheapest, so we’ve found a significantly more affordable option to recommend: Nicky’s Resort. With a modern Western theme and tons of beautiful natural light, the interior of the hotel is beautiful – and some rooms even feature fireplaces and riverfront views.
The VRBOs in Estes Park are a roll call of dream mountain cabins to share with friends. We are particularly obsessed with this Charming Hilltop Cottage with 3 bedrooms and that’s under a half mile walk to downtown Estes Park. It’s the perfect spot to hang out with your friends and be close to the action!
Denver: A Foodie’s Wonderland
Contributed by Marissa from Darling Escapes
Denver has charm and quirk hidden in the streets lined with skyscrapers. While there are tons of fun things to do in Denver, let’s just be real with ourselves and focus on the city’s amazing food. Because after all that exploring you’ve been doing in Colorado, chances are you’ve worked up an appetite by the time you get back to the airport.
Finding something delicious in Denver is going to be far from the hardest thing you’ll do on any given day. Check out some of the places to eat in Denver that need to be on your list:
- Scream for ice cream: Ice cream lovers absolutely need to check out Sweet Action Ice Cream. You’ll find delicious and unique flavors like honey jalapeno pickle and black sesame.
- Hang out at a brewery: No trip to Denver is complete without stopping by a brewery, and there are plenty of them in Denver! The Black Shirt Brewing Co in Rino is a true gem. With the perfect blend of in-house craft brews, scrumptious pizza, and great music, it’s a great place to spend time people-watching.
- Share some finger foods: By far, one of the funkiest places to visit in Denver, Hop Alley, needs to be on every foodie’s list. Asian fusion with mouthwatering dishes, a great craft beer selection from a generous bar, and the option to get shared plates means that you might come back here more than once (with friends!).
- Eat like you’re in the South: There’s nothing more delicious than Southern-style comfort food…except when it’s made with sustainable, locally- sourced ingredients! Only open for breakfast and lunch, Sassafras American Eatery mixes Colorado-sourced ingredients with Southern-fried recipes. Try a milkshake in flavors like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Vanilla Chai. It pairs excellently with the biscuits & gravy (there are THREE gravy options, bless).
- Go Vegan … for one meal: Denver is home to a sizeable vegan population, and it shows in the vegan restaurants that can make even the most carnivorous of meat-lovers drool. City, O’ City is one of Denver’s best restaurants that also happens to be vegan, with insanely delicious dishes like vegan tempeh bacon hash and “chicken” and waffles.
Where to Stay in Denver
The Ramble Hotel is an absolutely stunning hotel, expertly decorated with gorgeous modern touches – think floor to ceiling windows and jet black cabinets, dotted with verdant green plants. If it sounds like I’m drooling while writing this, I am. I want to live here. Other than being jaw-droppingly stunning, the hotel is affordable and conveniently located just a mile from Union Station in the heart of downtown Denver!
As a decent-sized city, Denver has a huge selection of VRBOs, so there is something to suit every taste. But we totally recommend this super stylish private suite. Modern and cozy, it’s the perfect place to base yourself as you explore downtown Denver and the Rino district with its craft breweries and restaurants. It feels tucked away but is close to all the action!
Looking for more USA inspiration? We have a MASSIVE travel guide for all our favorite places in the US and handy advice, packing tips and travel guides. Click the link below to download!
Are you ready to put your hair in dreadlocks, throw your snowboard in your Jeep, and head to one of these awesome weekend getaways in Colorado? (Note: dreadlocks are neither required nor encouraged for anyone visiting Colorado.) Which of the rad destinations on our list are you most eager to explore?
Need a few more suggestions? We’ve got a whole other post about the best day trips from Boulder, Colorado! And surprisingly, there’s very little overlap with this post (OK, maybe we’re the only ones who were surprised). Here are a few of our other posts about Colorado and its neighbors to help you plan your next trip to the Centennial State!
- 8 Amazing Day Trips from Boulder, Colorado
- The 8 Best Day Hikes Near Denver, Colorado (That Nobody Knows About)
- The Best Camping in Colorado
Did you find this post inspiring? Save it for later on Pinterest!
Disclaimer: Note that our feature image is Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs, which is closest to Manitou Springs on our list.
Our Top Travel Tips & Resources
- Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they've got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we're not fans of Airbnb's unethical track record. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com. We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers!
- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it - visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
- Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor's office or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local's perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever we're checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we're running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you're connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!
Honestly though, a lot of Coloradans don’t like California or Californians.
It’s a general-consensus.
Lia Garcia says
How funny, I had no idea Colorado felt that way about us! That sounds like San Francisco’s relationship with LA! LA loves SF … SF generally can’t stand LA/LA people.
nice sharing. I had been here several times in my whole life to explore the beauty of this charming place and every time had huge fun there.
Practical Wanderlust says
Thanks Kameron! Colorado is truly a fun and charming place!
Tanya Raedeke says
We just wrapped up an uh-mazing whirlwind road trip through southwest Colorado including sledding the Great Sand Dunes (NP), soaking in Pagosa Springs, climbing ladders in centuries old Mesa Verde NP, descending on Telluride via the FREE gondola, jeep riding in Ouray, sticking our toes in the Gunnison in Black Canyon of the Gunnison (NP), hiking in Crested Butte – wildflower capital of Colorado, and devouring the best burger in Colorado (IMO) at the the Buena Viking food truck in Buena Vista – my personal favorite nearby mountain town. Loved your list – we’ve seen half and plan to explore the others as well!
Lia Garcia says
Oh, wow! You’ve done it all! Sounds like an amazing trip 🙂
Glad I enjoyed the post!
congrats for all your travels, your work, and pictures !!!!
Beautiful photos! I has no idea there was this much to do in Colorado! (And all I did was go snowboarding)!! Thanks for sharing.
Danielle Farideh says
I need to be honest- I’m browsing flights to Colorado after reading your article!! This will be the PERFECT weekend getaway with my husband!
My friend just moved to Denver, and I will definitely be visiting soon. Looks so beautiful there.
I haven’t had much time in Denver, so definitely need to come back, especially for the hiking.
When I first saw the photo of Vail, I could have easily mistaken for a Swiss alpine village! What a gorgeous place to visit. This is a great round up of getaways in Colorado. Breckenridge looks like a winter wonderland, too! I’ll have to add a few of these places to my never-ending list of destinations I must get to in the US. Thanks for sharing!
This is a killer guide! I wish I could drop everything and book a flight to Denver now. Wish I had this guide when I was there last year!
Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists says
Wow this is amazing! I spent a little over a week in Denver on a whim in November, and I only got to hit up a couple of these places! Definitely saving this for my next trip over!
Gorgeous photos! That mineral pool looks amazing! Had no idea the largest mineral pool was in the States!
Lia Garcia says
Yep! When you hear Americans chanting WE’RE #1 that mineral pool is actually what we’re referring to.
(In case my dry, sarcastic humor doesn’t come across… that was sarcasm.)