- Hitting Lower Downtown and Larimer Square (Denver): Once neglected and even a bit dangerous, Lower Downtown (LoDo) and Larimer Square are now well-preserved historic gems, heavy with redbricks and activity of all kinds. LoDo is where you’ll find Coors Field (home of baseball’s Colorado Rockies), plus galleries, nightspots, restaurants, and Mayor (and, at press time, state gubernatorial candidate) John Hickenlooper’s long-standing microbrewery, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, right across from Union Station. Larimer Square is abuzz with commercial activity and has more good restaurants than any other block in Denver.
- Visiting the Denver Art Museum (Denver): With a striking recent expansion doubling its size, the Denver Art Museum now has one of the country’s top collections of Western art, ranging from 19th-century to contemporary works, as well as an excellent American Indian collection. The expansion features a jagged, avant-garde design by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.
- Shopping for Duds at Rockmount Ranch Wear (Denver): The inventors of the Western snap shirt have gone into the retail business after sticking strictly to manufacturing and wholesale since 1946. Browsing the racks at their downtown store is something of an education on the history of Western wear. Rock stars stop by while in Denver; in fact, Bob Dylan regularly wears Rockmount's dusters onstage.
- People-Watching on Pearl Street Mall (Boulder): This 4-block-long, tree-lined pedestrian mall marks Boulder’s downtown core and its center for dining, shopping, strolling, and loafing in the sun. It’s also the best spot in Colorado for observing your fellow humans. Here you’ll see students, local businesspeople, panhandlers, and tourists as they watch the musicians, mimes, jugglers, and other street entertainers who hold court on the landscaped mall day and night, year-round.
- Touring Celestial Seasonings (Boulder): The nation’s leading producer of herbal teas offers a tour that excites the senses as it takes you behind the scenes into the world of tea. The company, which began in a Boulder garage in the 1970s, now produces more than 50 varieties of tea from more than 75 different herbs and spices, imported from 35 countries. Guided tours move from a consumer taste test in the lobby to marketing displays, and finally into the production plant, where the overpowering “Mint Room” is a highlight.
- Watching the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (Boulder): Among the top Shakespearean festivals in the United States, this 2-month event offers more than a dozen performances of each of four of the Bard’s plays each summer. Actors, directors, designers, and everyone associated with the productions are fully schooled Shakespearean professionals. During the festival, company members conduct 1-hour backstage tours before each show.
- Hiking the Mills Lake Trail (Rocky Mountain National Park): Although it’s packed at first, this moderately rated trail usually becomes much less crowded after you’ve logged a few miles. At trail’s end (elevation 10,000 ft.), towering peaks surround a gorgeous mountain lake. The lake is an excellent spot for photographing dramatic Longs Peak, especially in late afternoon or early evening, and it’s the perfect place for a picnic.
- Taking in Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs): There’s nothing like sunrise at Garden of the Gods, with its fantastic and sometimes fanciful red-sandstone formations sculpted by wind and water over hundreds of thousands of years. Although you can see a great deal from the marked view points, it’s worth spending some time and energy to get away from the crowds on one of the park’s many trails, to listen to the wind, and to imagine the gods cavorting among the formations.
- Riding Pikes Peak Cog Railway (Colorado Springs): Perhaps no view in Colorado equals the 360-degree panorama from the summit of Pikes Peak. For those who enjoy rail travel, spectacular scenery, and the thrill of mountain climbing without all the work, this is the trip to take. The 9-mile route, with grades of up to 25%, takes 75 minutes to reach the top of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak. The journey is exciting from the start, but passengers really begin to ooh and aah when the track leaves the forest, creeping above timberline at about 11,500 feet.
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.