Plan My Trip: Denver and Boulder!

IT Editor Janelle Nanos is still putting the finishing touches on her posts from her West Coast trip (more SF tips await!), but she’s getting ready to go on the road again. This time, she’s off to Colorado and looking for your suggestions for what to do this weekend.

Photo: Cowboy boot

I have to admit that I’ve only just finally unpacked my bags from my West Coast adventure (I’m terrible about that) but I’m getting ready to lug them back to the airport this weekend to check out Colorado. This will be my first time visiting the area, and I’m looking forward to making the most of the hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities that Denver and Boulder are known for. But since I’m a Colorado newbie, I’d love to get some reader suggestions on where I should go.

Here’s my plan: I’ll be flying into Denver and spending the evening in the city, then heading down to Boulder for the rest of the weekend. This smaller city about 30 miles outside of Denver has been called the smartest and the thinnest city in America, the best place for runners and singles, and the number one green and clean and “dream” city in United States. You’re tempted to wonder: what is this perfect place? I’m looking forward to finding out (and getting your help).

So please give me your suggestions for your favorite restaurants, hikes, and things to do in the comments, and if you’re up for showing me around (as Pam did so well in West Seattle) let me know there as well. Thanks!

Photo: A boot display at Rockmount Ranch Wear in downtown Denver, by Joanna B. Pinneo


Subscribe to this blog’s feed


  1. Adi
    June 12, 2012, 8:36 am

    I live in Denver for 6months and I want to go back there. I want to go out and experience again the happy moments when I was their.

  2. Christa
    March 11, 2010, 6:03 pm

    If you’re visiting denver go to the stock car races in erie, colorado.visit the down town library in denver.go to steve’s hotdogs and get chicago style, ny stylem, etc
    Weekend Getaways in California

  3. CharlyMiller
    February 9, 2010, 9:22 am

    A don’t miss for a trip to Denver is the short but beautiful Boulder Hills hike. A very short, well maintained (easy) trail but it leads to a nice waterfall–sparkling clear water. At the start is a collection of historical photos and information.

  4. Jody Reale
    August 31, 2009, 6:05 pm

    Hi Janelle, and good for you for coming to our big, square state. (If you’ve already come and gone, I hope you enjoyed it.) I love both Denver and Boulder–they’re totally different, true, but they’re both good. In Boulder: Hike the Sanitas trail to get a great view of town. Stroll down the Pearl Street Mall for a bit, and catch a show at one of the theaters. If you want to take a scenic drive, take one of the canyons. Boulder Canyon is my favorite; you can see Boulder Falls at about mile 8. Chautauqua’s beautiful–good hiking, too. If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll find lots of good stuff, including the I.M. Pei-designed National Center for Atmospheric Research.
    In any event, I hope you enjoy your stay.
    Jody Reale for Denver and Boulder homes

  5. Sugi
    August 10, 2008, 12:54 am

    Hello, Janelle. My cousin, Joni, forwarded your blog earlier this week, but I’ve been out of town and just catching up on emails. I hope you are enjoying this weekend to the fullest – in fact I know you are if you’ve been able to try even 1/2 of the good ideas already suggested to you. What I’d add for possible just-in-time late reference for this trip or another future one are – The Kitchen in Boulder for an incredible everchanging menu based on fresh and local offerings, Chatauqua Park for hike or picnic with the music of an outdoor concert in the background (Chris Issak this weekend!), and driving up Canyon Avenue into the mountains for a variety of great stopovers (Red Lion Inn, Boulder Falls, Barker Reservoir and the veritable Pioneer Inn for a burger in Nederland). Hope you had a great visit here and let me know if/when you return!

  6. Jason Steele
    August 8, 2008, 9:48 am

    While two days isn’t nearly enough time to do all there is in town, visit my PlanetEye “Expert Guide” for some great suggestions for places to go in Denver:
    As for hiking around Boulder, Chautauqua Park is the place to go to capture the beauty of the Flatirons, the iconic mountains that loom over Boulder. If you have more time, and can handle a little altitude, I would forgo the hordes of tourists idling their SUVs at Rocky Mountain National park, and go to the Indian Peaks Wilderness area.
    My two favorite spots are the 4th of July trailhead:
    And Brainard lake.
    Both are about an hour (scenic) drive from Boulder and offer comparable mountain scenery without the crowds and park fees.

  7. Robert Miller
    August 7, 2008, 6:52 pm

    I am a blog writer too, chronicling hiking, biking, and camping in Colorado and I recommend that you hike in Eldorado Canyon ( because it is a beautiful hike that doesn’t take too long and, thus, will leave you time to explore other places on your short visit. If you have kids or pets check out child carrier backpacks ( and/or dog backpacks (

  8. Sarah
    August 7, 2008, 4:06 pm

    Hi again,
    Just wanted to say you shouldn’t be scared off by the negative comments on Boulder from many Denver-ites. It’s like a Boston vs. NYC rivalry around here. For a weekend, to see and experience a unique and beautiful place, you’ll love Boulder. And there’s so much more to see in CO that you’ll be back!

  9. MD
    August 7, 2008, 3:20 pm

    RMNP is definitely your best bet for hiking although it can get busy on weekends but its only about a 30-45 min drive from Boulder. If you can get there before sunrise head to Sprague Lake first, then head to Glacier Gorge Jct or Bear lake and just start hiking. The hike to Sky Pond is amazing. Just my two cents.

  10. Brooke
    August 7, 2008, 2:03 pm

    I live in Denver… love it here! Vesta Dipping Grill is a must eat, it is SO good, and a great location right smack downtown in LoDo. You can have an early dinner at Vesta, and people watch with some coffee or a treat (ice cream) on the 16th street mall. There are definitely lots of interesting people, especially during the summer.
    Like some of the other comments, I’m not a huge fan of Boulder. But there is a killer pizza place called The Sink. Beware, it’s a college hangout and the atmosphere definitely reflects that, but it’s fun and the food is good. The Celestial Seasonings factory (tea) is near Boulder, that’s fun to do, especially the mint room. Boulder Falls is pretty, near Eldora, a ski resort that is fairly close to the city without going completely into the mountains.
    Rocky Mountain National Park is probably going to be your best bet for hiking. There is a TON of wildlife, and even MOOSE on the West side of the park! (Sorry, I love moose!) Here is a website from the park service with all of the hiking trails at RMNP: . If you’re into beautiful drives, Trail Ridge Road is about 12,000 feet altitude, and is an absolutely gorgeous drive! You climb pretty quickly though, so if you’re not used to altitude, be prepared with plenty of water. :) Here is the site for the drive on Trail Ridge:
    Boulder is okay, but definitely full of hippies. If that’s your style you’ll love it, if not you might want to spend more time in RMNP. It’s not far from Boulder, and Estes Park – which is another great town.

  11. Sarah
    August 7, 2008, 12:22 pm

    I’ve been in CO for 7 years and know Denver and Boulder well. I like to mix my travel weekends so that I get in some must-see’s and some off-the-beaten path’s.
    Denver – I agree with Catie who posted Vesta Dipping Grill for dinner. It’s on the edge of LoDo (Lower Downtown) which is the historic section. If you had more time in Denver, it’s worthwhile to explore the neighborhoods (like Highlands or Wash Park), but with one night you can save those for next time.
    Boulder hike – You can’t miss the Flatirons/ Chatauqua ( and my personal favorite is the Royal Arch trail.
    Boulder food – Go to the Mountain Sun ( a cool, local favorite with fresh food. It’s also a brewery with great beers. For a fine-dining experience go to Frasca (, hands down.
    Have fun. Looking forward to reading about your trip.

  12. Jason
    August 6, 2008, 8:49 pm

    In Denver I recommend grabbing a bite to eat the Goosetown, at the intersection of Colfax and Adams, and then seeing a show across the street at the Bluebird Theater. It gets you out of the touristy part of downtown and all of the cliche restaurants and into what keeps Denver going…and that’s East Colfax. It’s a dirtier part of town, if you will, but it always hustling and bustling.
    If you’d like to contact me, I’d be happy to be your tour guide while in Denver. As a self respecting person though, I don’t do Boulder. :P …I just bypass it and go right on up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

  13. Terry Lucas
    August 6, 2008, 8:26 pm

    Go to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and see a show if you can. It is an amazing place.

  14. Chas
    August 6, 2008, 6:28 pm

    Stop at Chautauqua park and hike up to the Flatirons!
    Rent a tube and float through town on the creek (west end of town).

  15. Emma
    August 6, 2008, 6:27 pm

    I live in Boulder and well, it’s all true, all the good stuff at least. I would second the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, also there are always good shows at the Boulder Theater and the Fox Theater. I also really enjoy the ‘Upstairs’ a bar above the kitchen restaurant on Pearl Street.

  16. Emily
    August 6, 2008, 5:55 pm

    I haven’t been to Boulder for six years, but I used to visit the place all the time. My all-time favorite is the happy hour at Jax Fish House. Martini’s and oysters are dirt cheap!

  17. Catie Baumer
    August 6, 2008, 2:44 pm

    I was in graduate school in Denver for 3 years. The three places I miss the most are:
    Vesta Dipping Grill, amazing innovative restaurant in LoDo section of Denver.
    Boulder Tea House ( a full intricate tea house given to the city of Boulder from Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Beautiful to see and wonderful teas and food.
    Nederland, CO. A small perfect mountain town about 25 mins from Boulder. At the end of Main Street (there’s really only one street) lies the Acoustic Cafe that hosts a weekly blue grass jam on sunday afternoons that is like nothing I’ve ever heard.

  18. Mark Schoneveld
    August 6, 2008, 2:37 pm

    Too bad you’re not going to the mountains! ;) Be sure to hang out on Pearl St. and watch the hippies…