1. Arrive in Denver
Whether you arrive by interstate or by land at Denver International Airport, the best place to base yourself is downtown, where you can see all of the attractions on foot and by public transportation. Forgo the rental car (and parking costs) and take a taxi or shuttle to a downtown hotel. Get acquainted with the lay of the land by walking the 16th Street Mall and wandering down Wynkoop Street in LoDo. Have dinner at one of the many top dining spots in the area, such as the Wynkoop Brewing Company or Rioja.
2–3. Explore Denver
From your room downtown, start the morning at Larimer Square, Denver’s birthplace, with a self-guided walking tour of the historic sites. Then stroll the 16th Street pedestrian mall and head toward the State Capitol, just across Broadway. En route, take a 1-block detour for an early lunch or a cup of tea at the Brown Palace Hotel. After seeing the capitol, explore other Civic Center sites, especially the Denver Art Museum. On your third day, explore more of Denver. The city has numerous historic homes, beautiful parks, attractive shopping centers, and several highly touted museums (for example, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Botanic Gardens, and the Black American West Museum. Take your pick of the many activities, and run with it.
From Denver, rent a car and make the 30-minute trip to Boulder. Split your time between the Pearl Street Mall and an attraction or two: I’m particularly fond of the Celestial Seasonings tour and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Explore a bit of the Boulder Creek Path by foot or bike (if time allows) before dinner and a show at one of the many venues--Boulder is renowned for its music.
5. Explore Rocky Mountain National Park
Boulder is about an hour’s drive from Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Stop for lunch in Lyons, if the time is right, and then explore the park by car, parking to take a hike. Stay in Estes Park for the night.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park to Golden
Drive over Trail Ridge Road and south to Berthoud Pass to get back to I-70. This scenic drive gives you the option to further hike in the park, or else high-tail it back south to Golden for a tour of the Coors Brewing Company or just some time to stroll around the pleasant downtown. Either way, it’s an ideal overnight stop that lets you avoid the bulk of the traffic in central Denver.
7. Colorado Springs
Leave for the 70-mile trip in the morning and you can easily make it to downtown Colorado Springs for lunch. Spend the afternoon in Manitou Springs, or drive or take the train up to the summit of Pikes Peak. In the evening, if your pocketbook allows, head to the Broadmoor for a fitting dinner to cap the trip.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.