By Bailey G
Happy June! Where did the time go? Since Anne is off traversing the streets of England and Vietnam for a month, you’re stuck with me and various guests until she returns. If you’re like me you probably have a super busy summer ahead, but there’s still time to pack in a few mini-trips here and there. This week, I wanted to share a few weekend getaways that I’m hoping to get under my belt for this summer. I’ve shared my top staycation destinations below for those of you in the Colorado area.
I believe the richest people in the world are those who are rich in experiences, and there is nothing like a summer packed full of memories to make you feel like the wealthiest person in the world!
1. Summit County, Colorado
Now, being that my family has a condo up in Dillon, Colorado, I may be a bit biased due to the ease of access to the beautiful mountain towns in Summit County. Known for the winter skiing, not as many people know the value of Summit County in the summer. Endless hiking trails, beautiful bike paths, and various summer festivals make this a great 2-hour drive from the Denver metro area. I was just up here this past weekend with my family, and we went to the light festival in Breckenridge.
Summit County is filled with cute little mountain towns, shopping, great restaurants, and endless pleasures for the outdoor enthusiast’s delight. Some of my favorite spots? Biking around Lake Dillon and up through Swan Mountain is always a fun challenge. I also recommend Michael’s Italian in Breckenridge for a great bite to eat, and the Breckenridge Crepe stand for dessert. For breakfast in Dillon or Silverthorne, our favorites are always the Sunshine Café or the Arapahoe Café. Finally, I recommend checking out Keystone or Breckenridge plaza as there is usually festivities going on during the summer weekends. From wine festivals to music events; there’s never a dull moment.
2. The Grand Sand Dunes National Park
I mentioned this one briefly in my top National Parks blog, and me and my boyfriend are hoping to make it down in the coming week to the beautiful sand dunes. They are the biggest dunes in North America, and make for a great escape for those who would like a change of scenery from the typical mountains. These are best for hiking, camping, and sand sledding. It’s truly breathtaking, and I went as a child but I can’t wait to take Tomas back as adults. The Dunes are about a 4 hour drive from Denver, which is probably the farthest of all the weekend trip we’ll be doing this summer.
3. Red Feather Campground
Red Feather is our friend group’s go-to destination for a yearly camping trip. Located about an hour north of Fort Collins, it’s a nice little hideaway where it’s much easier to claim a camping spot then some of the more crowded camping destinations in Colorado. With great lakes, hiking, and drive up access; it’s a nice little getaway for those who aren’t super hardcore campers. We’ll be going with our friends in late June, and if it’s anything like last year, it will be a blast!
4. Steamboat Springs
Another fond childhood memory of mine belongs to the heart of Steamboat Springs. My family used to own a condo up in the cozy mountain town, and it’s where I first learned to ski. But summertime is also a grand time be up in the boat! My boyfriend and I went last year, and we tubed down the Yampa River, hiked some of their beautiful mountains, and dipped in the Strawberry Hot Springs; which are a sweet hideaway all their own.
I recommend the Steamboat bike path into town, as it cuts right by the Botanical Gardens which make for a beautiful stop along the way. Old Town Steamboat is also a fun walk, with cute restaurants and shops lining the main street. My favorite stop, Lyon’s Drugstore, where you can get the BEST ice cream sundae you’ve ever had.
5. Glenwood Springs
Glenwood is another trip that we took a few years ago, but it’s another can’t miss mountain town with gorgeous hot springsto relax in. Other than the shops and food, Glenwood is also home to one of the most beautiful day hikes I’ve ever experienced, Hanging Lake. It’s a gorgeous, 1 mile steady climb to a turquoise lake high in the mountains. Please keep in mind that this trail is super popular and gets crowded quickly, so I would go around 6am if I were you. Please also remember to respect the trail and landscape, taking only photos and leaving only footprints.
I used to live in Boulder, and it’s only a 30 minute drive for me now, but it still makes a great day trip for those on the Front Range of Colorado. Home to the Flatirons, an iconic set of jagged boulders that make for a beautiful (but packed hike); Boulder also a variety of night life, shops, and events. We went there for their Creek Festival a few weekends ago, and their Labor Day Festival and Duck Race is a can’t miss event.
After hiking the Flatties or biking the Boulder Creek, you can roam around Pearl Streetshops and restaurants and watch the street performers. I also recommend stopping at Sweet Cow or Boulder Baked for a sweet treat while you’re in the area.
7. Estes Park
Estes Park is another fun day trip, though it’s gotten quite tourist-y lately. Located next to Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s a prime spot for outdoor enthusiasts. As a child, we used to bike around Lake Estes all the time, and the walk into downtown for treat at one of the local taffy or ice cream shops. Estes also a fun Pika-spotting challenge that can be fun to do with friends while you’re there. There’s also mini-golf, boating, and various other attractions that make this mountain town a draw.
8. Fort Collins
Last but not least, I couldn’t forget my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. I still visit quite frequently since my family and many of our friends are still located there, and in recent years it’s become quite the bustling location for young people. With tons of breweries, hip new restaurants like Union and the Exchange, and fun bars like Social; you can’t go wrong when it comes to finding a good drink.
There’s also a beautiful bike path that goes all around town, Horsetooth Reservoir for kayaking and boating, and Horsetooth Rock if you’re interested in a hike with a great view. Fort Collins also has one of the last local drive-in movie theaters which is always a classic way to spend a Friday night.