It’s hard to tire of Denver’s delicious and multi-faceted food scene, but from time to time, Denverites need to explore and seek to satisfy their taste buds outside of the big city. Venturing out to sample the flavors of Denver’s surrounding cities can provide just the right change of pace. Here are 5 restaurants outside of the Mile High to get you started:
1. Over Easy, A Daytime Eatery in Colorado Springs
Just an hour outside of Denver is Colorado Springs, a busy city at the base of Pike’s Peak. With so many year-round activities at Pike’s Peak, you could easily spend the morning outside before enjoying a delicious brunch. Check out Over Easy in one of its three popular locations in Colorado Springs, and see why people often wait in line to savor their delectable plates. The downtown location on 28 South Tejon Street has a trendy atmosphere with brick and modern art to contribute to the intimate feel. On a warm day, grab a seat at an outdoor patio table, and choose from one of their brunch specialties including their Peace, Love & Pancakes Flight or their popular Huevos Rancheros all made from locally-sourced ingredients. Pair one with a $5 Bloody Mary, and you’re set for a relaxing afternoon.
2. Adam’s Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs
Another exceptional cafe worth the drive is tucked away in Manitou Springs, a quaint, historic mountain town just west of Colorado Springs. Here you’ll find cliff dwellings to explore, art galleries to visit, and Adam’s Mountain Cafe — a delicious restaurant located outside of the more touristy part of Manitou Springs. The cuisine here is globally diverse and reflects the Slow Food principles of organic and local ingredients. While they’re not a vegetarian restaurant, they do offer many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you won’t be disappointed. Their Southwestern Harvest Crepes, filled with roasted butternut squash, carmelized onions, corn, mixed calico greens, and white cheddar, topped with red chili, spiced pepitas, fresh tomatoes and sour cream are a popular favorite. Depending on which of their antique tables you sit at, check the letter drawer for some notes left by previous diners.
3. Bread + Salt in Frisco
Only about an hour’s drive from Denver, you’ll find the charming town of Frisco, an outdoor-lover’s heaven. Located near premium ski mountains at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, there’s plenty to do outside. When you find yourself getting hungry, head to Bread + Salt for breakfast or lunch. Open daily until 2pm, this is a great spot to grab a locally-sourced breakfast before exploring Frisco or to settle in for a filling lunch after a morning on the trails. Their name comes from the concept that offering bread and salt is a welcome greeting ceremony in several European countries — bread symbolizing prosperity, so one never goes hungry, and salt so that your life is filled with spice. What to order? Try their Challah French Toast, made with a vanilla cinnamon batter, topped with palisade peaches, powdered sugar, and creme anglaise.
4. Black Cat Bistro in Boulder
For an upscale occasion, look no further than a day trip to Boulder and a reservation at Black Cat Bistro. This bistro is sure to satisfy your farm-to-table dinner needs. It’s a family-owned restaurant that sources it’s unique seasonal ingredients from Black Cat Farm. The bistro is an upscale yet cozy place to sit back and relax as you sample the excellent, creative dishes served up daily. If you decide to try the chef’s tasting menu, you won’t be disappointed as you take a journey through all the flavors they have to offer. Their menu changes daily and includes dishes like Colorado Striped Bass over winter squash hash, with fennel, mushrooms, and beurre blanc.
5. The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant in Grand Lake
A two-hour drive northwest from Denver leads you to Grand Lake, a stunning area of Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake itself is the largest natural body of water in Colorado, and it provides visitors with plenty of outdoor activities year-round. A day trip to Grand Lake wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant, which serves up gourmet dishes and stunning riverside views of the rapids. On a sunny day, you can eat your lunch outside while overlooking the water. The indoor ambiance is cozy, complete with an original stone fireplace. One of the most delicious dishes on the menu is the Chicken Ala Orange, a bacon-wrapped roasted chicken breast served with a blood orange sauce. When you have an entire weekend to spend at Grand Lake, book one of their charming rooms at the lodge.
Although the city of Denver is filled with exceptional cuisine, driving an hour or two can allow you to explore even more mouth-watering options. These cities surrounding the Mile High make for entertaining day trips, so make the most by planning a whole day, including a delicious meal.
Living in Denver has many perks — this vast city has so much to offer in terms of events, activities, cuisine, and a number of neighborhoods. Even with all the excitement, sometimes you want to escape the big city and explore a bit more. Luckily, some of the best surrounding mountain towns that Colorado has to offer are just a short drive from Denver. Here are the top five towns to visit the next time you’re ready for a day trip out of the city:
In the midst of Summit County, Frisco has a lot of charm. Though this town is often overlooked when compared to the surrounding ski towns, Frisco is a gem located only about an hour from Denver. This spot is an outdoor paradise for visitors who want to adventure. In the winter, you can avoid the resort-town chaos and head to Frisco Adventure Park. Not only can you can tube, cross-country ski, and snowshoe here, but you can also take a beginner ski or snowboard lesson in a low-key environment. Best of all, they offer enchanting sleigh rides where they lead you on a cozy sleigh through a magical forest landscape and treat you to live music under the stars. You can choose between a scenic hot cocoa ride with fresh cookies or a longer dinner sleigh ride with three courses. Looking for something a bit warmer? The Gathering House glassblowing studio and gallery in town offers free glass demonstrations on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons from 2-6pm, as well as hands-on classes that you can sign up for.
While known as a premier alpine getaway with one of the largest ski resorts in the U.S., this authentic mountain town has even more to offer. In about an an hour and a half from the Mile High City, you could spend the early part of the day skiing the pristine slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort, locally known as Breck. After you finish your ski session, you can explore Main Street which is lined with all kinds of great shops and restaurants. If you’re not looking to ski, but still want some outdoor time, sign up for a dog sledding tour from Good Times Adventures. On the trails of the Swan River Valley, you’ll get a firsthand look at how dog sledding works while experiencing the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Located just about an hour south of Denver at the base of Pikes Peak is the exciting city of Colorado Springs. This city is the second most populated in Colorado (second to Denver). With both nature and culture to offer visitors, this city has many options to keep you entertained for a day. One must-see is the stunning Garden of the Gods landmark, made up of majestic red rock formations. After a day of exploring, check out Edelweiss Restaurant, a lovely restaurant serving up authentic German plates. Just a few minutes outside of downtown Colorado Springs, you can cozy up to a crackling fireplace and enjoy one of their delicious old-world German dishes like Schnitzel, Bratwurst, and Sauerbraten.
4. Estes Park
If you’re looking to get out of Denver for a day, journey northwest up to Estes Park, a nature lover’s heaven. Less than an hour and a half from Denver, the town of Estes Park is the headquarters for the Rocky Mountain National Park. Want to summit, but not up for a strenuous hike? You’re in luck. The Estes Park Aerial Tramway offers daily tram rides up to the summit of Prospect Mountain where you can enjoy views of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Continental Divide, and the village of Estes Park below. Another place to check out in Estes Park is Elkins Distilling Co., makers of genuine Colorado whisky. The distillery has a unique character and carefully crafted cocktails to enjoy after a mountain adventure.
If you’re a Denver local, then you’ve likely ventured the half hour drive up to Boulder, an eco-conscious, outdoor-loving city. One quintessential outdoor landmark in Boulder is the famed Flatirons, where your hiking is rewarded with gorgeous views of the city below and a stunning mountainscape. Once you’ve gotten your fresh air for the day, consider spending your evening at Fox Theatre. Known for being one of the best rock venues in the country, it’s the perfect spot to catch one of the many great bands rolling through town.
The next time you find yourself wanting to get out of the Mile High City bustle, cure your restlessness by venturing to one of the many unique surrounding towns and experience a different side of Colorado. From the beautiful drive to the towns themselves, these trips make a perfect weekend adventure.
Denver is full of exciting things to see and do in all seasons. Especially in the winter, the bustling city seems to sparkle with freshly fallen snow, and it’s hard to remain bored in a place with so much excitement. With all of this activity comes a need to rest, recuperate, and venture outside the city occasionally. Luckily, there are many nearby options for you to explore and enjoy in the chilliest of months. Here are a few day trips just a short drive from Denver to help you rest and relax this winter:
For many people, Colorado is associated with craft beer. If you’re looking for a brewery to make a day trip out of, Avery Brewing Company should be on your list. At only a 40- minute drive from the Mile High City, this great brewery is located in Boulder, CO. Here, you can relax and sample some of the best craft brews around while getting an inside look at the process. Reserve a spot at one of their free daily tours and learn firsthand about the art of creating unique craft brews. Though they have a lovely patio for warmer months, on a chilly winter’s day you can cozy up in their huge indoor space with some delicious food and a vast selection of beers. Two favorites for the winter months are Chai High and Old Jubilation Ale. Both ales are brewed with chai spices, hazelnut, and toffee flavors that’ll delight your senses.
Looking to stimulate your senses with some visual entertainment? Foothills Art Center is one of those hidden gems of a museum that’s well worth a visit. With seven different rotating exhibits year-round, each visit is bound to inspire. The museum itself is gorgeous, housed in a historic, Gothic-style church, and is filled with an excellent variety of both 2D and 3D art. At under a half hour from Denver, Foothills Art Center rests in the charming downtown area of Golden. As the museum is on the smaller size, you could spend an hour or two absorbing the exhibits and spend the rest of your day exploring Golden’s many shops and restaurants. However, if you’re looking to get your hands dirty and delve into your own creativity, the center offers occasional art workshops and classes. Check out their Cloudscapes pastel workshop led by Kathy Beekman in February or one of their future workshops, like watercolor painting workshop, and embrace your creative side.
Maybe you’re not looking for a strenuous hike, but you still want the incredible views. Plan a day to take a ride on one of the many scenic byways in the area, specifically the serene Peak to Peak scenic byway. This lovely drive can be accessed in less than an hour from Denver. It begins in Central City and winds north for almost 60 miles, all the way to the beautiful Estes Park. This drive was designated in 1918 and is the state’s oldest scenic byway. As you cruise down the roads, you’ll pass through Arapaho National Forest, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, as well as Rocky Mountain National Park. Be sure to pull off at Panorama Point to enjoy the majestic views of Mount Evans, Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Roosevelt National Forest. You’ll want to leave at least 2 hours to complete the drive, depending on how much you stop off. Some towns make fun detours along the way, and, of course, Central City and Black Hawk, where you’ll begin your journey, can be fun to explore as well.
4. SunWater Spa
Just over an hour from Denver lies a slice of paradise in Manitou Springs. At SunWater Spa you can absorb the tranquil atmosphere by booking a day of relaxation treatments like their aromatic “Tree of Life” massage which encapsulates the senses with aromas of cedar, fir, and pine. They also offer more unique services in Thai Yoga Therapy, rooted in ancient healing practices of Yoga, Ayurvedic Medicine, and Buddhist spiritual practices, as well as Watsu and Aqua Cranial water therapy treatments. Follow one of these therapeutic sessions with an immersive soak in one of their cedar pools, all filled with the healing mineral waters directly from the famed Seven Minute Spring. If you’re looking for something with a bit more movement or spiritual practice, they also regularly offer yoga, movement, and meditation classes and events. Come renew yourself for a day at this beautiufl spa and leave rejuvenated.
Maybe you’re looking to unwind after the holiday bustle, or maybe you simply need to escape your house in the midst of a long winter. Regardless of your reason, take a day to get out and explore while still treating yourself to some relaxation. It’s easy to hunker down in Denver for the winter, but the surrounding areas have a great deal to offer all year round.
Denver’s surrounding areas are a winter paradise for the adventurous. The Mile High City is lovely in itself in the winter season, but venture a bit outside of city limits and you have access to multitudes of exciting outdoor, heart-pounding activities. Whether a seasoned adventurer or just starting to explore, there’s something for every skill level to enjoy. Make sure you layer up properly, grab your gear, slather on some sunscreen, and get out there! Here are a few of the best winter day trip activities from Denver:
Of course, if you’re in Denver during the winter, you’ll know to take advantage of some of the best skiing and boarding. For one of the most quintessential Colorado winter adventures, get your skis or board tuned up, and hit the slopes at the Arapahoe Basin. At just a 1.5 hour drive from Denver, A-Basin continues to keep its devoted fans happy. This place offers a frills-free experience focused on the sport itself and the absolutely stunning scenery and elevation of 13,050 feet. This height allows the mountain to stay open until June, and is therefore popular for spring skiing as well. What you won’t find here is a crowded, commercial resort, but instead, skiers who are immersed in the culture and come for the old-school, relaxed vibe. At a competitive value, you can pick up an adult day pass for $95.
One of the best winter hiking spots close to Denver is in Roxborough Park. At under an hour’s drive from the city, this hike is located at 4751 North Roxborough Drive in Littleton, CO. The park itself has some beautiful geological red rock formations to gaze at along the trails. This natural setting is the perfect place to stretch your legs and gain some elevation at your own pace. With trails to suite all levels, the most challenging path is Carpenter’s Peak. The wide trails offer views of downtown Denver as well as the stunning red rock cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the wildlife to be found here, including mule deer and red fox.
If you’re not quite up for a strenuous hike, strap on your snowshoes for a more leisurely walk on the Lost Lake Trail. Located at the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, you can get to the trailhead in about an hour and 15 minutes from Denver. By accessing this 4-mile loop trail from the Hessie Trailhead, you can get beautiful views of the northwest side of Eldora. There are also a couple of old mines and cabins to check out south of Lost Lake to make your snowshoeing adventure even more exciting.
After a day of exertion and adventures, it’s a godsend to soak in a mineral hot spring and soothe those aching muscles. Though there are many high-end hot springs closer to Denver, if you’re looking for a more natural experience, it’s worth the 3 hour drive to to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Located in Steamboat Springs, you can explore their rustic mineral springs and relax and unwind from your day’s adventures. If you’re looking to treat yourself, sign up for their watsu treatment, a bodywork massage that takes place in their geothermal waters. Make a whole day of it in this area and take a hike at Fish Creek Falls in the Routt National Forest. There you can easily access the lower falls view in a .25 mile walk, or take the longer hike up to gorgeous views at Upper Fish Creek Falls and Long Lake.
It’s easy to stay hunkered down in the winter season and hibernate at home; but even when the snow is piling up, there are plenty of ways to get out and avoid cabin fever. Driving just a short distance from Denver can lead you to some of the best hidden gems just waiting to be explored.
The Mile High City draws visitors from near and far in its sun-filled summer months, but many would also agree that Denver is one of the most magical places to be around the winter holidays as well. From the stunning snow-capped mountainscape to the spectacular red and green light display of the famed clocktower, its residents and visitors can’t help but enjoy its enchanting atmosphere. As you travel through the city, don’t miss some of these favorite activities to help get you in the holiday spirit:
In the central business district of downtown Denver stands the Denver Pavilions Holiday Carousel which is back for its fourth year. Perfect for the whole family, it offers a beautiful light display and costs only $3 a ride. The best part? A portion of the funds goes straight to the Food Bank for the Rockies. Head down between 11am and 9pm daily from now through New Year’s Eve (open until 1am on NYE!).
If you need an evening to laugh a little during this busy time of year, head to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to see the Santaland Diaries. This comedy show, written by David Sedaris, is the perfect antidote to the chaos of the holiday season. Decompress while enjoying the stories of Sedaris’ time as a Macy’s elf in NYC. Directed by Steven Weitz and adapted by Joe Mantello, this one runs from Nov 24 through Dec 24. If you decide to take the whole family, there are a few great kid-friendly shows, like ELF The Musical and the classic A Christmas Carol.
One family holiday attraction you won’t want to miss is the Polar Express train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Located in Golden, this magical experience is designed to feel just like the classic tale, complete with dancing chefs serving up cookies and hot cocoa on the ride. Each child receives their very own “First Gift of Christmas” bell to take home to remember the magical journey.
Stop into this superb brewery just 10 miles south of Denver, and grab a pint of their Christmas Ale. The rich, malty brew has caramel and chocolate overtones and has been around for 25 years. Stop in and try one or take some home to enjoy cozied up by the fireplace.
Looking to sip something warm? Head to Steuben’s, and sample their Rock & Rye Toddy, a twist on the more traditional Rock & Rye cocktail. They start with Rittenhouse Bonded Rye and infuse it with cassia bark, clove, lemon and orange zest, horehound, and their own personal addition, liqueur-infused rock candy. These warm cocktails were once thought to be the best cure for a sore throat, so there’s your excuse to head down and try one for yourself.
Whether you come to Denver for the first-rate skiing nearby or to visit the city, make sure you catch some of the most spirit-warming festivities both in and around the Denver. The best way to beat the winter blues and cabin fever is to get out and about in this wonderful city and take part in all it has to offer.