Two Days in Denver-ish
August 8, 2016 8:55 AM   Subscribe

How would you spend 2.5 days in and/or around Denver?

I have never been to Colorado. I have two nights to book in hotels, a rental car to get around, and I love city stuff and nature stuff in equal measure. Can you suggest an itinerary that maximizes my time there? I'm overwhelmed by too many good options.

I've seen this question about Denver and this one about Denver-ish, but I welcome advice about a hybrid.

posted by trixie119 to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
When will you be here?
posted by Clustercuss at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2016

I live in Denver. If you like nature stuff, you'll need to get out of Denver, and in order to do so, you will need a car. For a good bang for your buck, I suggest going on a short hike in Boulder.

Go to Chataqua Park and pick a trailhead from there. Royal Arch is a popular path with a good view, and not too challenging. From there, you can head into Boulder to eat afterwards. Try Southern Sun, great view of the mountains, reasonable food, good beer. Cash only but there's an ATM by the bathrooms. Check out Pearl St and walk downtown Boulder. You really gotta see Boulder and the mountains around it if you're only here for a little bit.

If you need MOAR MOUNTAINS, drive to Estes Park and go to Rocky Mountain National Park. Yep, it's crowded, and yep, it's amazing. If you like Pinball, check out Lyons Pinball in Lyons on the way back, which is yes next door to Oskar Blues.

I'll defer to other threads about Denver proper. Enjoy your trip.
posted by rachelpapers at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

When is your trip?
posted by craven_morhead at 9:28 AM on August 8, 2016

The city bikes in Denver are all over the place. Rent one and ride here for tacos.
posted by trbrts at 10:13 AM on August 8, 2016

I don't know where you are from but if you are a fan of good beer, note that Colorado is a huge producer of good stuff, much of which never gets distributed far from Colorado.
posted by mmascolino at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2016

Response by poster: Trip is Labor Day Weekend.
posted by trixie119 at 11:03 AM on August 8, 2016

The big Labor Day Weekend event in Denver is A Taste of Colorado, a big free festival downtown with lots of food and free concerts. It can be a bit of a mob scene but it is still fun to check out.
posted by Clustercuss at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2016

It'll still be summer in the high country; I'd consider booking one of your hotel (or AirBnB or VRBO or whatever) nights up in one of the resort towns -- Copper, Breck, Keystone, Vail, or even Dillon/Frisco. Lots of events and the like going on up there, and it's blissfully cool in the evenings. Different vibe than the crazy winter crowds, though avoid driving back to Denver on Sunday night (or even Monday night that weekend) since that's when other people with the same idea will be driving back and the traffic can be bad. MeMail me if you're interested in staying in Keystone for a night or two; I know a guy... Lots of pretty hiking and biking to do up that way as well.

Union station is worth checking out if you want to go somewhere downtown for food or drinks. As mentioned above, beer tourism is a good reason to get you exploring certain neighborhoods. I like Banded Oak, Trve, Beryl, Gravity, and Strange, but there are lots of other good ones.

If you're looking for other city things to do, the Denver Art Museum is very good. Lots of the downtown area is pretty walkable -- it's not real big. Check out Red Rocks to see if there's anything going on there that interests you (and still has tickets available). Denver on the whole has a pretty good music scene, since it's where you want your band to stop if you're going to stop in the mountain west at all.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:01 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got home Friday from spending two days in Denver-ish...

You state that you want a hybrid of city and nature. Just beware of how far everything is. We did one evening in Denver (SE 'burbs), and it took THREE hours to get to the mountains outside of rush hour (Mt. Evans), and I drove like a bat out of hell because I had out of state plates and didn't want to look like a tourist. It took another 3.5 hours to get to Estes Park even though we were already in the mountains.

Driving US 34 from west to east through Rocky Mountain National Park takes a loooooooong time, especially when you are driving along the cliff of the mountains. Beware of Trail Ridge Road if you do not like driving along pavement with a sudden 600-1000+ foot drop-off for ~19 miles (the road to Mt. Evans is supposed to be "scary," too, but it's a piece of cake compared to Trail Ridge)...

Rocky Mountain National Park IS busy, but completely tolerable. The snow is almost gone, though, and not sure if it starts snowing again up that high by Labor Day weekend.

Oh, and if you do any mountain driving, downshift your car instead of riding the brakes. I can't believe how many idiots I saw with overheated brakes at the bottom of mountains, even with signs all over the place telling you to not use your brakes!

Just some things to think about.
posted by TinWhistle at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got home Friday from spending two days in Denver-ish...

You state that you want a hybrid of city and nature. Just beware of how far everything is.

Ditto, and ditto. What I did:
Day 1: Colorado Springs as I really wanted to do Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. I couldn't do Pikes Peak in the end because of the altitude but Garden was stunning. I had 7 more hours of the rental car and just came through the Rockies on the Zephyr so rather than RMNP, I went to Wyoming. o:)
Day 2: no car, so downtown Denver. Coors Field (tour is amazing if you're an MLB fan), Colorado History Museum, 16th St. Mall shopping before redeye home.

I'm already planning a trip back to include what I didn't get to see, including most of the Civic Center cultural complex (home of above mentioned Taste of Co., which also eats hotels so book now if you haven't already.
posted by TravellingCari at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2016

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