This summer I flew to Colorado for the week to explore six cities in five days. It was my first time in Colorado with an ambitious travel itinerary but I had so much fun! The weather was refreshingly cool (an average of 80 with no humidity), the landscapes were beautiful, and the food was delicious.
I traveled with The Travel Bite, Colorful Foodie, and Chelsea Bird with Colorado Front Range to Boulder, Estes Park, Loveland, Greeley, Fort Collins, and Longmont. Here’s my travel guide on where to stay, things to do, and what to eat in each city!
DAY 1: BOULDER
Just 45 minutes from Denver International Airport, Boulder was a short drive and our first city in Colorado. Boulder is located where the mountains meet the plains at Chautauqua Trailhead. With 18,000 hectares of open space – it’s no wonder why Bouldrites love spending their time outdoors biking, hiking and outdoor yoga. I would too!
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Boulderado
Hotel Boulderado is Boulder’s first luxury hotel that opened on New Year’s Day in 1909. The hotel is conveniently located in walking distance to the Boulder Farmers Market and local restaurants like Oak, and just a short drive to Chautauqua Trailhead. Sections of the hotel has since been renovated so be sure to note with the front desk if you want to stay in the original rooms or the newly renovated.
WHAT TO DO: Hike Chautauqua Trailhead
Chautauqua Trailhead is a must if you’re visiting Boulder – home to fields of lush grasses, giant dandelions, and Boulder’s iconic Flatirons.
WHAT TO DO: Lost Gulch Lookout
8000 ft elevation at Lost Gulch Lookout – grab breakfast at one of the local restaurants and enjoy it with an incredible view of Boulder.
WHERE TO EAT: Boulder Farmers Market
WHERE TO EAT: Oak at fourteenth
Locally sourced New American cuisine is served at Oak with Colorado’s rustic backdrop. Loved the hamachi crudo with passion fruit vinaigrette, spring pea & burrata cheese toast, and wild porcini mushroom risotto.
DAY 2: ESTES PARK
Estes Park is the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. This small mountain town that serves as a jumping-off point for many Rocky Mountain adventures offers myriad opportunities to enjoy sights, sounds, and suds. The bustling downtown offers hundreds of shops and restaurants packed to the brim with art pieces, souvenirs, and restaurants. Estes Park is on Rocky Mountain National Park’s doorstep, providing great opportunities to explore the forests and mountains of Colorado.
WHERE TO STAY: YMCA of the Rockies
This isn’t your ordinary YMCA. YMCA of the Rockies is bordered by three sides of Rocky Mountain National Park, which makes the views amazing, miles of trailer and tons of family friendly activities. Affordable lodging options include large retreat cabins and hotel-style lodge rooms.
WHAT TO DO: Ride the Aerial Tramway
See an incredible view of Estes Park with a whisk ride up the Aerial Tramway to the summit of Prospect Mountain. Since 1955, the Aerial Tramway has carried more than 3 million people to the summit.
WHAT TO DO: Fly fishing with Kirks Flyshop
Never been fishing? Here’s yours chance! Learn how to fly fish with a guided tour with Kirks Flyshop.
WHAT TO DO: Sunset Tour with Rocky Mountain Conservancy
WHERE TO DRINK: Rocky Cut Brewing Company and Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company
Thirsty? Grab a craft beer at Rocky Cut Breweing Company – Estes Park’s newest brewery featuring a variety of hand-craft beers personally made by two owners who opened after meeting in a local homebrewer’s club. Lumpy Ride Brewing Company serves beer in an old gas station with a fun beer garden.
WHERE TO EAT: Donut Haus
Local donut shop in Estes Park for a morning pick-me-up.
WHERE TO EAT: Poppy’s Pizza and Grill
Burgers, pizza, salad bar, sandwiches, and homemade soups right on Estes Park’s Riverwalk with a wide selection of beers from Estes Park Brewery.
WHAT TO EAT: Baldpate Inn
Built in 1917, Baldpate Inn is a bed and breakfast next to Rocky Mountain National Park with the world’s largest key collection and great spot for lunch.
DAY 3: LOVELAND
Loveland has something for everyone – over 180 restaurants, 8 breweries, 2 distilleries, 18 miles of hiking and biking trails, 4 lakes, and Devil’s Backbone (named ‘Heaven on Earth’).
WHAT TO DO: Horseback riding at Sylvan Dale Ranch
One of the highlights of my Colorado trip was a 2-hour horseback ride at Sylvan Dale Ranch. Nestled in the Big Thompson River Valley, Sylvan Dale Ranch takes you on a guided ride through on Alexander Mountain to an outdoor campfire-style steak lunch. We even churned ice cream the old-fashioned way! Sylvan Dale Ranch also a bed and breakfast.
WHAT TO DO: Chapungu Sculpture Park
The Chapungu Sculpture Park is only permanent Zimbabwe Sculpture Park is one of its kind in the U.S. It’s the only outdoor exhibit in the world displaying 82 monumental works of art across 26-acres of natural and landscaped gardens.
WHERE TO DRINK: Loveland Aleworks
Small batch handcrafted beers at independent, family-owned Loveland Aleworks. We toured the brewery and enjoyed tastings in their tap room.
WHERE TO EAT: Door 222
One of my favorite meals in Colorado. The smoked salmon poutine and local 6-minute egg with shaved Brussel sprouts and bacon is to die for. Door 222 serves handcrafted tapas, lunch, dinner and desserts in downtown Loveland.
DAY 4: GREELEY
50 miles from the Rocky Mountains, Greeley in Weld County is filled with lush green fields thanks to sunny days, low humidity, cool summer nights and an average of 315 golfing days per year. Since 1964, Greeley has ranked in top 10 counties nationally for agriculture with the top three crops being corn, hay, and wheat.
WHERE TO EAT: Bruce’s Bar
Rocky mountain oysters, aka beef balls. Open since 1957, Bruce’s Bar is a popular hangout for locals, celebs, and tourists.
WHERE TO EAT: Barnstormer Restaurant
World’s biggest pancakes (not officially) at Barnstormer Restaurant at the Greeley Weld County Airport. Watch the planes and helicopters fly off with a hearty breakfast.
WHAT TO DO: Greeley Stampede
The Greeley Stampede is the biggest event in Greeley that takes place during the summer since the late 1800’s. We got to see Lady Antebellum!
DAY 5: FORT COLLINS
Fort Collins and Loveland boost more than 30 unique craft breweries that produce more than 70% of Colorado’s craft beer. Fort Collins is home to Colorado’s only nationally-designated “Wild 7 Scenic River,” with hundreds of miles of biking, hiking, and walking paths, a thriving arts and music scene, diverse shops and restaurants, craft beer, craft coffee and craft spirits.
WHERE TO EAT: Bindle Coffee at Jessup Farms
Jessup Farms is artisan village in Fort Collins with Bindle Coffee (family-owned micro-roastery & cafe open in a originally a 19th century mechanics shop), The Farmhouse restaurant, HeyDay shop, Jessup Farm Barrel House, Vortic Watches and more. The community grows it’s own produce to be self sustaining.
WHERE TO EAT: The Farmhouse at Jessup Farms
Elevated country and healthy farm fare is served at The Farmhouse. The restaurant has a chicken coop in the back that produces eggs for the restaurant and in return, scraps from the restaurant feeds the chickens.
WHERE TO SHOP: Heyday
Super cute shop in Jessup Farms with a curated collection of women’s clothing, apothecary, and home goods.
WHAT TO DO: Locavore Tour
Explore the shops on foot and/or catch a ride on the Magic Bus, essentially Fort Collins’ museum on wheels.
WHAT TO DO: New Belgium Tour
New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire – Amber Ale and other Belgium – inspired beers are the third largest craft brewer in the U.S. and they’re based in Fort Collins! Tours are free, 90-minute strolls around the brewery that incorporate beer sampling. Make a reservation here.
DAY 6: LONGMONT
Our last stop in Colorado was Longmont, located just 35 miles from Denver.
WHERE TO EAT: The Roost
Rooftop dinner at Longmont’s newest restaurant, The Roost serves New American food and cocktails with local ingredients.
WHERE TO EAT: Breakfast at Lucile’s
Enjoy a NOLA-inspired breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Café with beignets, cafe au lait, eggs pontchartrain, eggs rockefeller, and more.
WHAT TO DO: Cheesemaking 101
We learned how to make goat cheese with The Art of Cheese! She breeds her own goats for goats milk that she uses to make goat cheese in Longmont. We had so much fun playing with her baby goats!
WHAT TO DO: Stonebridge Farm and Vineyard
Stonebridge Farm represents the best of Community Support Agriculture (CSA) – they grow a variety of organic vegetables and grapes for wine.
This post is sponsored by Colorado Front Range, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make A Taste of Koko possible!