Rocky Mountains, Denver
Nothing but you, a few friends, a family of elk, and a bald eagle. That—plus a lot of fresh air in a series of jaw-dropping locations—is the general idea of this trip. While MT Sobek offers excursions and hikes and adventure travel all over the world, not much can beat a view of the Rocky Mountains from 10,000 feet. You’ll hike up to a dozen miles a day and raft for about eleven miles—but this isn’t the kind of Outward Bound–style trip where you have to pitch your own tent and kill your own dinner. (You stay in a hotel every night.) After a week, you’ll come home a stronger, fitter, more well-adjusted human.
Wheeler Opera House
320 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen
The redbrick-fronted Wheeler Opera House is an icon in Aspen. It’s been around since 1889 and was the first building in Aspen to earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it’s an all-purpose entertainment center and hosts a full series of events, like film and comedy festivals, magic shows, and every kind of musical act you can think of.
S. Downing St. & E. Louisiana Ave., Wash Park
Washington Park (known affectionately as Wash Park by Denverites) is one of those places that seems to be busy no matter when you visit. The 155-acre space centers on a lake, complete with a boathouse and swans, and surrounded by well-manicured gardens and plenty of green space where you'll find neighbors throwing the ball for their dogs or picnicking on warm summer nights. The entire park is encircled by a 2.5-mile dirt running path that's always packed with runners, parents with strollers, and power walkers, plus an inner, paved loop that's perfect for roller-bladers and cyclists. There are basketball courts, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and grills on site.
The Mount Sanitas Trail
1777 Broadway, Boulder
Mount Sanitas is a classic Boulder hike, in part because it's located walking distance from the center of Pearl Street. The trail itself is a brutal climb, but making it to the top, where you can see the entire town to the east and Long's Peak to the west, is more than worth it. This is a popular route for locals around lunchtime, and don't be surprised if you see people running the entire loop (comfort your wounded pride by reminding yourself that they're likely professionals). Photos: Victoria Garcia, Mario Lurig
18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Golden
This natural amphitheater is surrounded by dramatic red rocks that, in addition to being stunningly beautiful, reflect sound back onto the stage, giving it the best acoustics of any outdoor arena in the states. Red Rocks is famously a bucket list venue for many performers, so the lineup is a little of everything—everyone from The Beatles to Daft Punk to the Grateful Dead—and, for a few nights in the summer, the Colorado Symphony—has played the stage. Arrive early so you can tailgate in the parking lot and admire the sunset, then head into the venue where you'll be able to see every single star above the performers' lights. If you can't catch a concert, it's worth stopping by during the day to admire the rocks—you'll find plenty of locals here around sunrise running the stairs.
The Mayan Theatre
110 Broadway, Speer
This Art Deco movie theater, which is a short walk (and even shorter Uber) from the shopping and food on South Broadway, first opened in 1930 and is on Denver's list of historic landmarks. They're always screening hard-to-find shows, and the fact that they're one of the few theaters in town with a liquor license also makes it a great place for date night. Check out their schedule during the Denver Film Festival, when the local film society brings in a slew of interesting indie movies you can't find any other time of year. A warning to the long-legged: The vintage rows are pretty close together.
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York St., Cheesman Park
Located adjacent to (and really a part of) Cheesman Park, the botanic gardens are nestled into one of Denver's nicest and most historic neighborhoods. The gardens themselves are a perfect combination of locally inspired (the Gardens of the West are inspired by Colorado's arid landscape and the hardy plants that evolved to thrive here) and lusher, more ornamental gardens that typify classic gardens anywhere. There are plenty of magical little pockets to explore, and it's particularly beautiful to visit at night. In the summer, they host a live concert series in the round on their largest lawn—arrive a bit early so you can set up a picnic and a lawn chair near the stage.
Bluebell Rd., Chautauqua
In addition to hosting the Chautauqua Organization's lectures, films, and musical performances, this little enclave of summer homes (many of which can still be rented) is home-base for some of the best hiking in Boulder. The classic trail here is the Royal Arch, a two-mile out-and-back that climbs several switchbacks to a section of the flatirons that forms a golden, natural arch and offers sweeping views of the plains, with the city of Boulder laid out below you. From this trailhead, you can also link up with the Mesa Trail, a 7-mile stretch that crawls along the base of the mountains and runs the entire length of the city from North to South. Sure, it's a Boulder pilgrimage to complete the entire thing (down-and-back) in one day, but you can also access it in small pieces.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Rd., Boulder
Located on the Southern edge of Boulder along the road you'd take if you were going skiing, Eldorado Canyon is one of the most challenging rock climbing destinations in the world. Within the canyon, you'll find a cozy little town with a few small homes cluttered along the creek and a public swimming pool with a slide, diving board, and a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Non-climbers can get in on the action by walking along the hiking trails at the edge of the canyon, where you can catch people hanging from the rocks high above you—we like the Eldorado Canyon trail for beginners. For a hike with more dramatic views, stop at the Doudy Draw trailhead on the way in and do the Spring Brook Loop, which offers sweeping panoramas of the flatirons and the mesas below them (it's particularly perfect around sunset).
While it's the farthest from Aspen proper, Snowmass is actually the largest of Aspen's four mountains, with more than 150 miles worth of skiable trails—Longshot alone is famously more than two miles long. Snowmass also offers the most diverse mix of terrain, as you're just as likely to find classic bowls and steeps as you are groomers. From the top, there are stunning views of the Maroon Bells (and just about everything else in the valley). Starting in December, the mountain is also home to a packed-out tubing hill. Go during the daytime with littles for a pleasantly fun ride or with grown-ups in the evening, when the ice freezes, for something a little more adventurous.
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