Taking 2 weeks to explore these cities and surrounding areas provides time for a more in-depth examination of their attractions, and to spend more time in the mountains.

Days 1: Denver

Whether you arrive by car or by air, the best place to base yourself is downtown, where you can see all of the attractions on foot and by public transportation. 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.

Days 2 & 3: Explore Denver

Start the next 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 and Science, the Botanic Gardens, and the Black American West Museum.

Day 4: Denver

Take an extra day in Denver to explore a neighborhood by bike and foot. Get a rental and a map from Campus Cycles, then hop on one of the in-city trails that converges on Confluence Park for lunch in the vicinity. After lunch, get your rental car and head to one of the attractions farther afield, or if the schedule allows, take in a Rockies game at Coors Field, or another sporting event in this sports-crazy city.

Days 5, 6 & 7: Boulder

Explore the Pearl Street Mall and a museum on your first day, but take the second day to hike some of the trails in the area, packing a lunch before descending for dinner. On your third day in Boulder, visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research or the Redstone Meadery, and take time to do more hiking, biking, or Pearl Street Mall people-watching.

Days 8 & 9: Rocky Mountain National Park

Use Estes Park as a base on the first night and camp in the park (or else stay in Grand Lake, the park's western gateway) on the second. Spending 2 full days in the area allows for the second day to be centered on a significant day hike, like the Mills Lake Trail or the Bierstadt Lake Trail.

Day 10: 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 hike in the park, or else hightail it back south to Golden for a tour of the Coors Brewery or a 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.

Days 11, 12, 13 & 14: Colorado Springs

Take your time to explore the Pikes Peak region over 3 unhurried days. Spend your entire first day and night exploring downtown and its attractions, namely the Fine Art Center and the Pioneers Museum. On the second day, head to Manitou Springs before ascending Pikes Peak by rail or car, then descend for an overnight in Manitou Springs or Old Colorado City. The last full day's foci: Garden of the Gods and The Broadmoor for a final farewell dinner. From Colorado Springs it's about an hour and a half back to Denver International Airport.

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.