I’ve been wanting to visit Boulder, Colorado for quite sometime. The food scene, the hiking trails, and it’s bike-frienly atmosphere have all been calling me, but I hadn’t realized how much fun there is to be had outside of Boulder too, until my recent whirlwind girl’s trip exploring Colorado’s front range.
Sponsored by Colorado’s Front Range Breweries, I was paired up with three other bloggers (Colorful Foodie, A Taste Of Koko, Chelsea Bird) to spend a long weekend fly-fishing, horseback riding, sipping craft brews and pretty much breaking the mold when it comes to a typical girl’s getaway. We traveled to six cities in five days, sampling just a taste of what Northern Colorado has to offer, and I can’t wait to go back with Pete and spend even more time enjoying the food, brews, and outdoor life! Here are some highlights from Colorado’s Front Range you can add to your next trip.
5 Must-Do Colorado Experiences Around Boulder
Boulder – Breakfast With A View
Drive Time From Denver Airport: 46 Minutes
Where To Stay: Hotel Boulderado
Boulder’s 1st luxury hotel and walking distance to just about everything.
- Breakfast With A View – Boulder might be known for the Flatirons, and I definitely recommend a hike at the Chautauqua Trailhead, but one of our most memorable moments was grabbing bagels to-go at Moe’s Bagel and then driving up to Lost Gulch to sit outside and have breakfast with a view. Seems a shame to spend the best part of the morning inside a cafe or a restaurant, so when in Boulder, you take your breakfast to the top of a mountain.
- Explore Downtown – Right in downtown Boulder is a 7 mile paved bike and walking path along Boulder Creek. We happened to spot some kayakers playing in the small rapids while there, so you really can enjoy the outdoors here without even leaving downtown. On Wednesdays, there’s a really fun Farmer’s Market with a beer garden and live music. We walked around a bit, indulged in some insanely delicious fresh baked pretzels, but ended up escaping the rain and fighting off jet-lag with a few tasty “potions” made with herbs, juices, and positive vibes at the wellness-focused Shine Restaurant.
- Dinner At Oak – There’s no shortage of fabulous places to eat, but I highly recommend treating yourself to dinner at OAK. The menu is focused around their oak fired oven and grill and offers selections from Colorado’s abundant agricultural landscape. The menu is not only delicious, but it also has a health-focused appeal to athletes with hand crafted mock-tails that are just as flavorful as their spirit-filled drinks.
Estes Park – Drive The Highest Road In The USA
Drive Time From Boulder: 1 hour
Where To Stay: YMCA of the Rockies
Yes, you can stay at the YMCA. Think family mountain resort reminiscent of the lodge featured in the movie Dirty Dancing.
- Drive The Highest Road In The USA – Trail Ridge Road in Estes Park is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. If you’ve ever looked at snow-capped mountains and thought, “man, I’d love to see the view from the top but I’m not a skilled enough climber/hiker to try it…” then this road is for you. You’ll be right on top of the snow-covered tundra (even in the summertime). I highly recommend going on a sunset tour with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to learn about the landscape and to get the best pictures of the sunset. Just don’t be surprised if you’re a little out of breath as it’s almost three miles
- Learn To Fly Fish – I never thought I’d like fishing, and ended up loving it! The sound of the rolling river, the meditative-like focus on the bobber, and then the thrill of catching rainbow trout. It’s definitely something I’d do again. In the town center area of Estes Park is Kirk’s Flyshop, a family-owned outfitter that will set you up with all the gear you need and take you out on a guided fly fishing experience. Afterward, we celebrated our catch with a flight at Rock Cut Brewing.
- Beer And Pizza Pairing – A day of outdoor play should definitly be follow up with a hearty feast. The hospitality we experienced at the family-owned Poppy’s Pizza & Grill is like no other. Owner, Rob Pieper, is also a beer officionado and will expertly pair any local or international brew with your meal.
Loveland – Cowboy Up At Sylvan Dale Horse Ranch
Drive Time From Boulder: 47 minutes
Where To Stay: Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
Remember the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal? This is it. Think luxury cabins with cattle drives and trail rides with well trained horses.
- Channel Your Inner Cowboy – Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch hosted us for one of the best horseback riding experiences I’ve ever had. We rode up into the mountains surrounding the ranch for an outdoor camp-like lunch of grilled steak, potatoes, smoky beans, and hand-cranked ice cream … all with incredible views. There’s also some great hiking nearby at Devil’s Backbone (I wish we would have had more time!), so Loveland is definitely a place for travelers who love the outdoors.
- Loveland Aleworks – After a fun trail ride, we chilled at a local downtown brewery called Loveland Aleworks. It’s a great place to spend time with friends and order a flight of beer.
- Order Up A Latin Lover – Loveland’s food scene definitely made this small town feel more like a big city. We indulged in a feast of adventurous tapas at Door 222, then I ordered a sweet and spicy “Latin Lover” latte at The Coffee Tree next door. I joked on social media that I “got Lucky in Loveland” because my horse at Sylvan Dale Ranch was named Lucky. Then, I posted about this “Latin Lover” latte. Loveland certainly won over my heart with their hospitality, great food, and hilarious innuendos.
Greeley – Try Rocky Mountain Oysters At a Famous Biker Bar
Drive Time From Loveland: 30 minutes
Drive Time From Boulder: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Where To Stay: Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
- Try Rocky Mountain Oysters – Bruce’s Bar was already well known among locals, and then it was made famous by The Travel Channel. This biker bar serves up Rocky Mountain Oysters, Black Hills Oysters, and Lamb Fries (otherwise known as testicles … bull, buffalo, and lamb.) There’s some fun artwork outside of the restaurant of bulls protesting. Try them if you dare.
- Greeley Stampede – We were visiting during the legendary Greeley Stampede, a nearly two-week long event including fair rides, a rodeo, and big named concerts like Lady Antebellum. When you’re planning a trip, definitely check the local event listings as it was a lot of fun to spend an evening playing carnival games (I won a stuffed emoji!), riding the ferris wheel, and finishing the night at a concert.
- Fly-In For The Day – One of my favorite highlights in Greeley was breakfast at the Barnstormer Restaurant located in Greeley Weld County Airport. The stack of pancakes there were as giant as a plane propellor, and it was fun to watch the planes take off during breakfast. The locals didn’t quite know what to think of all of us girls taking fifty photos of our food, but they welcomed us like family anyway and even invited us out on the tarmac to take pictures of vintage planes.
Fort Collins – Tour New Belgium Brewery
Drive Time From Loveland: 26 minutes
Drive Time From Boulder: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Where To Stay: Fort Collins Bed & Breakfasts
Fort Collins has so much to-do, I definitely need to come back and spend a long weekend here. We didn’t spend the night, but it is pretty close to Sylvan Dale Ranch and their Bed & Breakfasts look adorable.
- Tour New Belgium Brewery – If there is one thing I know you might recognize from Fort Collins, it’s the bicycle logo of New Belgium Beers. The New Belgium Brewery is like a mecca for bike and beer lovers, with well-manicured grounds that seem almost festival-like on a daily basis. Tours are available seven days a week and on Thursdays (Yoga Thirstdays) they offer free yoga classes and beer on their lawn. After the tour, I was ready to move here!
- Jessup Farms Artisan Village – If there was a place I could move to that had all of my favorite things, it would be Jessup Farms. A local family has preserved the farmstead of one of Fort Collins’ first settlers by restoring the historic buildings and turning it into an artisan village. From craft coffee drinks like a Cold Brew Mint Julep at Brindle Coffee, to fresh coop-to-kitchen scrambled eggs at The Farmhouse restaurant, you can shop, dine, and play to your heart’s content all day long here in a perfectly pastoral setting.
- Explore Downtown – Downtown Fort Collins is pretty charming, and we found no shortage of great food and shopping to keep us entertained for an afternoon. There’s a fun Locavore Tour by Magic Bus Tours that will give you a great overview of the food scene, but I also recommend visiting a few local favorites, like ice cream at Walrus Ice Cream and margaritas and Queso Del Mar at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.
Longmont – Learn To Make Cheese
Drive Time From Boulder: 25 Minutes
Where To Stay: Visit Longmont
An artsy suburb of Boulder, we stopped here briefly to explore the food scene as we made our way back toward the airport.
- Learn To Make Cheese – Of all the cooking classes I’ve done, this was my first time learning to make cheese. It was surprisingly more simple than I had thought … and delicious too! We spent a morning at Stonebridge Farm with Kate Johnson from The Art Of Cheese learning how to make fresh goat cheese and pairing it with local wines. The cheese was amazing, but the baby goats Kate had with her really stole the show.
- Crazy For French Fries – For our last dinner in Colorado, we sipped cocktails on the rooftop deck of The Roost while indulging in several of their unique French fry combinations, like sweet potato fries with marshmallow dip and cinnamon-coco dusted mole fries with chipotle ketchup. SO good!
- Brunch At Lucile’s Creole Cafe – A must-do in Colorado is brunch at Luciles. This locally-owned authentic creole cafe has several locations throughout Colorado’s front range, so we spent a leisurely morning sharing beignets, cafe au lait, and ettoufee to celebrate the end of our long weekend in Colorado. It’s definitely a must-visit for any special occasion or girl’s getaway as the Bloody Mary’s are practically a meal … shrimp included!
This post and trip were sponsored by Colorado Front Range. Of course, as always, all opinions and enthusiasm for food and travel are entirely my own.
Want to see more photos? I have TONS! Scroll through to get more of a peek at what our Front Range Colorado experiences was like. You’re going to think all we did was eat. Well, basically, we did. LOL! And played with baby goats.
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