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Colorado Gems: A Perfect Day in the Denver Area (and Beyond!)

  National Parks, Trip Ideas & Guides

May 15, 2024 Colorado Gems: A Perfect Day in the Denver Area (and Beyond!)

By Allison FItts & Lillian Robinson

Denver, Colorado. If you have only one day in the area, here are some recommendations from us, Mile High City locals, on how to get the most out of your time here!

But First, Coffee

Whether you’re picking up your campervan from the Denver rental location or just driving through, start your day by grabbing a steaming hot Americano from Black Eye Coffee Roasters in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. After you’ve been properly caffeinated, hit the road on I-70 West towards the mountains to the best morning hike around, St. Mary’s Glacier. No matter what time of year, St. Mary’s is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle. Nothing like breaking a quick sweat and then chilling out in a hammock with a great book. Plus, the views from the top are incomparable.

Relaxing in a hammock at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Idaho Springs

After your morning hike, treat yourself to lunch down in the town of Idaho Springs. Bop over Smokin’ Yard’s BBQ for some fantastic burnt ends (get the spicy slaw, too!) or hit up Beau Jo’s for some Colorado-style pizza. Next, walk through the main street and check out some great vintage shops. Also, be sure to grab a post-lunch cocktail at one of the hidden gems in the area – Bread Bar in Silver Plume. The atmosphere is to die for (it’s in an 1800’s era bakery- hello?!), and the drinks are crafted well.

Voodoo Comedy Club Denver Colorado

River North Arts District

That afternoon, head back to Denver to walk about the River North Arts District to see some of the best street art in the area. Hang out in one of many local microbreweries or bars (Our Mutual Friend, C2, or Finn’s Manor top the list for us!) before grabbing dinner at Work and Class. Then, cap off the night with Japanese style karaoke at Voicebox, catch an improv show at Voodoo Comedy, or win big at Drag Queen Bingo down at Ignite Kitchen.

With so many amazing things to do and fun places to explore in Denver and the surrounding area, you’re never at a loss for the next awesome activity down the road.

And Beyond…

If you’re doing a longer road trip through Colorado, here are some key towns and nature spots we can’t recommend enough, no matter which way you’re heading!

Red Rocks Amphitheater Concert Colorado

Within an hour of Denver:

  • Chautauqua Park: Boulder, CO
  • Mary’s Glacier: Idaho Springs, CO
  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre: Morrison, CO
  • North Table Mountain Trail: Golden, CO

Routt National Forest Steamboat Colorado

Within 2-3 hours of Denver:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: Estes Park, CO
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Steamboat Springs, CO – make sure to go tubing on the Yampa River in the summertime and Strawberry Park Hot Springs in the winter

Hiking in Southwest Colorado

3 or more hours from Denver:

  • Maroon Bells: Aspen, CO
  • Glenwood Springs, CO – Stop in at Hanging Lake and soak in some of the amazing hot springs
  • Telluride, CO
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park: near Alamosa, CO
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: near Montrose, CO

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