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5 Colorado Mountain Towns to Visit for an Outdoor Escape

5 Colorado Mountain Towns to Visit for an Outdoor Escape

Are you craving a weekend getaway? Want to get out in nature or have a weekend with family in a fun destination? Look no further than the historic mountain towns of Colorado! 

From amazing nature you can explore to charming small towns with delicious restaurants, shopping, and unique activities, Colorado has some amazing destinations within a couple of hours of Denver

Choose one of these Colorado mountain towns in any season for an unforgettable trip out west!

1. Breckenridge

This might be the most popular Colorado mountain town and it’s for good reason! With a historic and buzzing downtown, famous ski slopes, and the iconic mountain range as a backdrop behind the town, “Breck” is one Colorado mountain town not to miss out on. 

colorado mountain towns

No matter what time of year you visit Colorado, Breckenridge has something great to offer. In the spring and summer, Breckenridge boasts amazing hikes and a fun atmosphere downtown and it’s located just an hour and a half drive from Denver on I-70 and Highway 9.

In the fall you’ll find amazing yellow aspen leaves and cozy restaurants to find a delicious meal after a day chasing down the stunning fall colors. Breck becomes a popular ski town in the winter where you’ll find plenty of fun events for skiers and non-skiers alike.

For skiers, Breckenridge Ski Resort is a popular place to get their skiing fix. With over 180 trails to choose from and a wide range of difficulty, this is a great resort for any level skier. 

Part of the charm is how close the slopes are to downtown and the ease at which you can hop on the slopes. If you want to ski, Breckenridge is the perfect place to go!

Things to Do in Breckenridge

  • Take a stroll down Main Street to take in the historic downtown and mountain views. Main Street is an excellent place for shopping and finding some good eats while in Breck. 
  • Book a tour to learn a little about the history of Breckenridge or take a ghost tour for a spooky history lesson. 
  • Try the Gold Mine Outdoor Escape Room
  • Enjoy the summer sunshine by choosing one of the hundreds of hiking or biking trails to enjoy. 
  • The town is bustling with community events so check out the community event calendar to find out what’s on during your stay!
  • Hit the slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort with runs for all abilities. 
  • Visit the Rocky Mountains National Park

Where to Stay in Breckenridge 

2. Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs is a quintessential Colorado mining town. With a charming downtown area, accessible nearby trails, a rich history, and some of the best hot springs near Denver, this is a great location to visit in all seasons. 

Located right off of I-70 less than an hour from Denver, Idaho Springs makes for the perfect day or weekend trip if you’re staying in Mile High City. 

For one of the most simple but rewarding hikes in all of Colorado, head to Saint Mary’s Glacier which is just a short drive from Idaho Springs. This hike is great for all abilities and ages and provides amazing views of the Rocky Mountains

Hike up to the lake (about an hour for beginners) and have a picnic there. If you want to go further, hike up to the glacier and check out the amazing views from this unforgettable viewpoint!

If you’re looking for some good food afterward, don’t miss out on the famous Colorado-style pizza from Beau Jo’s Pizza right on the main street of downtown Idaho Springs or head to El Azteca for some delicious Mexican food. Alternatively, hit up Main Street Restaurant for one of the local’s favorite restaurants.

Things to Do in Idaho Springs 

From shopping on downtown Main Street to finding outdoor activities nearby, Idaho Springs has plenty to fill a day trip or a weekend. 

Where to Stay in Idaho Springs

  • Silver Lake Lodge – Adults-only mountain lodge with beautiful rustic decor
  • Countyrock Cabin – Cozy, modern, fully equipped cabin with space for up to 4 people
  • Columbine Inn – Affordable motel with family rooms and mountain views

3. Frisco

Don’t want to choose between mountain life or lake life? In Frisco, you don’t have to choose! This classic mountain town is the perfect weekend getaway in the Rocky Mountains just an hour and a half drive from Denver. 

From its charming downtown to its stunning lake views and hiking trails, Frisco is a Colorado mountain town you won’t want to miss! With trails fitting for all experience levels, Frisco is a perfect hiking destination in the spring, summer, or fall, so check out all the best hiking/walking trails in Frisco here

Head downtown to find cafes, restaurants, and shops. At the far end of downtown, you will come to Dillon Reservoir where you can dip your toes into the alpine waters or choose from a variety of water activities at Frisco Bay Marina.

Things to Do in Frisco 

Up for something different? There are plenty of new things to try in Frisco. 

  • Rent snowshoes for a day to get out in the snow in a fun way. 
  • Head to Frisco Adventure Park for a variety of family-friendly activities like snow tubing, biking, skateboarding, and disc golf. 
  • Kayak on Dillon Reservoir for a fun afternoon
  • Want to see the views or fall colors from the comfort of your car? Take a scenic drive around Frisco!
  • Go hiking – Rainbow Lake Trail is a favorite walk for locals and visitors alike, and Lily Pad Lake is a great moderate-difficult hiking trail with beautiful nature and great views. 

Where to Stay in Frisco

  • Frisco Inn on Galena – Fun boutique hotel with free bike rental, fitness center, and a garden.
  • Heart of Frisco Condo – Fully equipped apartment with space for up to 6 people. 
  • Frisco Lodge – Charming lodge with outdoor hot tub and fireplace for a cozy stay.
  • New Summit Inn – Budget hotel with a great location between Lake Dillon and Copper Mountain.

4. Vail

From a world-class ski resort to countless hiking trails to a downtown filled with fine dining and classy shops, Vail is one of the most well-known Colorado mountain towns for those who love the fine things in life. 

In the fall, the aspen leaves in Vail will be the highlight of your trip but beautiful in any season, Vail is a place where everyone can find something to do just 1 hour and 40 mins from Denver!

Make sure to enjoy the amazing culinary scene at Vail with a variety of options spanning from hometown grub to gourmet food experiences. In town, you’ll find cafes, ice cream shops, breweries, and restaurants for a range of palettes.

Things to Do in Vail

  • Find a scenic hike and take in the colorful yellow aspen groves as you make your way to the summit! 
  • In the winter, hit the slopes at Vail Ski Resort to experience a world-class ski resort. 
  • Book a tee time at Vail Golf Club to work on your game in the middle of the amazing Rocky Mountains
  • Try mountain biking in Vail
  • Go fly fishing with an expert who will provide all the equipment

Where to Stay in Vail

5. Golden

Some might say I’ve saved the best for last. With its absolutely charming main street, countless activities in every season, and convenient location, Golden is a favorite mountain town of both locals and visitors. 

Source: Wikipedia

Located just 25 minutes from Denver, this historic town is known as the “last flat land” right on the edge of the Rocky Mountains

Downtown Main Street is full of shops, cafes, breweries, and restaurants that will charm your socks right off. One of my favorite things to do is grab a coffee and walk toward the north end of town toward the river. 

Take a slow walk along the water or find a rock to take a seat, people watch and enjoy the views of the mountains so close to you.

If you’re looking for a little more adventure, around here there are plenty of great places to go camping in Colorado

Things to Do in Golden, Colorado

  • Coors Brewery is the most well-known activity in the area, hosting daily tours and tasting the biggest single-site brewery in the world
  • Learn a little about the history of the Western Railroad and take a train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. (In the holiday season, the working railroad here turns into a Polar Express train to get you in the holiday spirit!) 
  • Take a Wild West Walking Tour or Pub Crawl through the town
  • Just a short drive away is the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Check out the concert schedule to catch a show underneath the stars or head there for the day for a free visit!
  • Lookout Mountain is a must-see view. Not only is the view over the town of Golden absolutely stunning, the winding drive up through the mountains will be an unforgettable part of your trip.

Where to Stay in Golden

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