Where do we start?
June 19, 2010 4:31 PM   Subscribe

My friend and I want to take a weekend trip to Colorado to escape the heat (not our husbands--no seriously) and have a fun, relaxing girls' weekend. We think the mountains of Colorado might be nice, but neither of us has ever been there so we have no clue where to start. Any suggestions as to which town might be best? Great hotel recommendations? Help!

Here are some more criteria...

Preferably not too far from Denver airport...we know there will be a drive but we would like to keep it reasonable given the short duration of our trip.

We would like comfortable (nicer) accommodations--a balcony with a view to admire while sipping wine is a big plus.

We're not really night life types, but we do appreciate better restaurants.

A nearby place to hike would be nice, but nothing too strenuous.

A nearby spa for a massage perhaps?

Shopping is definitely NOT on our list.

posted by murrey to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Rocky Mountain National Park, and the town of Estes Park.

It is one of the most beautiful Nat'l parks. And Estes Park is a hip, quaint town with everything you might want.
posted by Flood at 5:05 PM on June 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding Estes Park. Silverthorne or Breckenridge are a bit further, more expensive, but more mountainous. They also have better restaurants and spa options.
posted by freshwater at 5:17 PM on June 19, 2010

Another vote for Estes Park. Love the Stanley Hotel. You can sip your drink in a rocker on the wide veranda overlooking the lake.
posted by cecic at 5:42 PM on June 19, 2010

If you go to Estes, get some salt water taffy.

If you go to Breck, it's 1hr30m from DIA, assuming no traffic (I don't know when you're going so I don't know how likely that is). Breck is quite mountainous but accordingly it is higher altitude-- you'll notice that wine pretty quickly. Breck also lets you take the chairlifts up in the summer and hike back down the ski hills-- or you can rent mountain bikes, or do the alpine slide (kinda dorky but I did adore it as a kid).

If shopping isn't on the list I wouldnt' recommend Silverthorne, I feel like the outlets there give the place a certain feel.
posted by nat at 5:45 PM on June 19, 2010

One of my favorite places in Colorado is Glenwood Springs, but it might be too far from DIA for your purposes. It has a lovely hot springs and great old hotels (I stayed here on my last visit, although there are also plenty of perfectly suitable, less expensive places to stay as well). My mother loved to take the train to Glenwood from Denver; I believe Amtrak stops right in town.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:13 PM on June 19, 2010

I know you said you want to be near DIA, but what about Aspen? There's regular service from DIA to Aspen, and the hiking around Aspen is great. Plenty of good restaurants in town, too.
posted by zippy at 8:36 PM on June 19, 2010

I grew up in Boulder, which is about an hour from DIA (there's nothing really actually near DIA except industrial parks and outer Denver). It's really nice this time of year and in the downtown/Pearl Street area there are a lot of nice restaurants, including Jax Fishhouse, where one of the past "Top Chef" winners is (I had my birthday dinner there a couple of years ago before the finale of that season aired--the food was quite excellent). I believe the St. Julien hotel has a day spa, and it's a really nice place and in the heart of everything. The concierge there can probably plan a great weekend for you. When I visit, my mom and I go there for their Friday happy hours, which are a lot of fun and have interesting crowds and live music. There's some varying levels of hiking at the nearby Chatauqua park and Mt. Sanitas, and you could take a day to drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes if you wanted to (although they're kind of sleepy areas, if you were looking for anything open past 10 p.m.).

Anyway, I think Boulder is the kind of place you'd want. If you want to splurge on a really nice dinner in the mountains with great views, go to the Flagstaff House. And just about every place on Pearl Street will have a patio with people-watching and such where you can sip your wine and chat.

Sigh, this is making me want to visit soon. I think I'll look and see if there are some cheap tickets in July or August! Thanks for the inspiration.
posted by Fuego at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2010

i <3>
that said it is probably too far from denver for your use
posted by knockoutking at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2010

Oops...should say I <3 steamboat springs
posted by knockoutking at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2010

Consider Crested Butte, especially via the summer-access only Cottonwood Pass Road from Buena Vista to Altmont. Not sure how far you're willing to drive, but otherwise Crested Butte meets your requirements. The drive itself is absolutely unforgettable scenery and is, IMHO, well worth the time. I believe the town prohibits all "big box" chain stores entirely. When you see a postcard or picture of Colorado summer wildflowers surrounded by mountains, chances are pretty darn good it was taken around Crested Butte. Very cool place where it's very easy to relax.
posted by webhund at 9:25 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Boulder is more fun and cooler than Estes. Estes is much more relaxing and beautiful than boulder. You win either way. I was underwhelmed by the restaurants in and around Estes, but the hiking and wild animals EVERYWHERE was amazing!!!
posted by 2legit2quit at 11:39 PM on June 19, 2010

Also, google the boulder zip code man. He is on Pearl street right now and should not be missed!!
posted by 2legit2quit at 11:40 PM on June 19, 2010

My wife lived in Estes for ten years and loved it - it's a great place.

Check out this thread for accommodation recommendations.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:56 AM on June 20, 2010

Yup, I was going to come here and suggest Estes and Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. So I will just n'th it instead.
posted by icebourg at 8:13 AM on June 20, 2010

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