Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs areas

Old Apr 18th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs areas

Hello. A friend and myself in our 60's have rented a vacation house close to City Park (Denver) for a week starting May 9. We thought that would be a central place to see Denver as well as travel to CO Springs, & Boulder. We are good with day trips but want to return to the cottage at the end of the day. We would like to get a sampling of the mountains up close, but are not hikers - just average walkers. We enjoy eating at local breakfast places and cafes, and inexpensive-moderately priced restaurants, but with good food. We are all about casual comfort.

What are the must see and must do places and things in Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder that would fit into a week? Please mention any particularly interesting neighborhoods that are good to drive thru, or not-to-challenging mountain drive that will give us a scenic ride. And please mention places to eat!

We are not the most adventure- some people, we've got a few bumps and grinds, but we enjoy getting around and exploring new places and meeting new people.

Thank you..
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Old Apr 18th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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A good local breakfast place in Boulder is Turleys:

Actually it's OK for any meal but for lunch / dinner you'd much rather be on the Pearl Street Mall. Wandering around there is great fun on an evening with nice weather.

Check out The Med for dinner, but it can get VERY crowded so you might want to go early.

Definitely stroll around Chautauqua Park in Boulder for an up close view of the Flatirons, a classic Colorado Front Range vista.

In Colorado Springs of course visit the Garden of The Gods. At least go there if nowhere else in the Springs. For a great meal consider Adams Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs

If you want to see the Continental Divide closer than from down on the plains you can drive up the Mount Evens road, or even better (IMHO) is to go up to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. This about a 2 hour drive from Denver, but it's a scenic drive and there are options to turn part of it into a loop. Trail Ridge Road will still be closed in early May, most likely.

Road construction at Bear lake road is going on this year, which could be disruptive, but even if you stopped at Moraine Park it's still pretty darn nice.

You should get some more ideas from other Fodorites.

Have a great trip!
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 04:18 AM
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We spent some time in Colorado Springs in May 2010 for a family reunion/graduation. We started out in Golden and took a small loop to the west, ending up back in Manitou Springs one night, then went on to Colorado Springs.

West of Manitou Springs on Rte 24 we stopped for about an hour at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument which is very interesting. I was fascinated to learn that this area once had huge redwoods.

In Manitou Springs my husband and I walked around town, sampled some of the mineral water springs and had a good dinner at the Adams Mountain Cafe in the historic spa building.

The next morning we spent several hours at Garden of the Gods which is a really beautiful spot.

A trip up Pike's Peak is another popular outing in the area. It is a rather frightening drive IMO but you can go up by cog rail instead.

Our main tourist outing in Colorado Springs during the family reunion was to the Cheyenne Mt zoo and Will Rogers shrine (combined ticket). I usually don't like zoos, but this is a good one. The shrine has great views and quite a lot of interesting information about Will Rogers and the Penrose family who built the shrine and many other buildings in Colorado Springs.

We also enjoyed walking around the grounds of the Broadmoor resort which is very near the zoo.

we had good lunches in Colorado Springs at the Blue Star Cafe, the Edelweiss restaurant and the Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 04:31 AM
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For your location you ought to have great possibilities for breakfasts--actually a lot of meals. It's been a while since our kids lived in that area so I'll leave it to the resident locals.
For Denver be sure to go to the Denver Art Museum and for a really lovely lunch, eat at its restaurant, Pallettes. The Botanical Gardens are not far from you also and definitely worth a good visit.
For shopping in Denver that is fun and different, go to Five Green Boxes--can't remember the street. There are two shops--one for clothing and accessories (wonderful handmade whimsical jewelry) and the other for "giftie" type things, but SO different. The street where it is is filled with nice interesting restaurants. I would call it a not to miss.
The Tattered Cover Bookstore is an institution in Denver that is really fun. I think there is still one at Cherry Creek which is not far from you.
Garden of the Gods is certainly worth a day trip to drive through. I am not a big fan of Manitou Springs. Boulder is fun, of course, AND be sure to take the Celestial Seasonings tour--it is a LOT of fun, particularly the room where they keep the mint!! Stand back!!
Since you are in a house, go stock up on some goodies at the Whole Foods. There is one sort of near you at Cherry Creek area==maybe 1st and University?
Rocky Mountain National Park is actually not out of the question for a day trip. You can go up to Estes Park. Trail Ridge Road will still be closed I'm sure but you could see the area.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 05:37 AM
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Here are some websites and suggestions--

The Tattered Cover (a fabulous bookstore) is no longer in Cherry Creek but is located at 2526 E Colfax Avenue (which is actually closer to where you will be staying)

And it has a very good, not expensive, restaurant Encore

Here are the websites of some Denver Museums etc

Denver Art Museum-- the exhibit of Yves St Laurent clothing will still be up when you are here (the only place it will be in the U.S.)--in fact, we're going to see it today--and I second Gretchen--Palettes is great for lunch

Clyfford Still Museum beautiful new museum dedicated to the work of the great abtract expressionist painter and it's right next to the Denver Art Museum

Denver Botanic Gardens everything is beginning to bloom

Molly Brown House You can tour the unsinkable Molly Brown's home

A suggeston for a nice day trip would begin with a visit to Red Rocks Park west of Denver then a drive up Bear Creek Canyon on highway 74 (it's about 10 miles) beginning at the little town of Morrison to Evergreen. You would pass through the little village of Idledale and Kittredge before reaching Evergreen. Have lunch at Willow Creek Restaurant, overlooking Evergreen Lake (call them for directions). The food is excellent.

A great drive from the restaurant is up Upper Bear Creek Road--gorgeous houses and compounds along the creek--some old some newer. Drive until the scenery opens up and you'll get a magnificent view of Mt. Evans (the snow-covered peak visible from Denver)-then turn around and come back to Evergreen.

Here is a website about the neighborhoods of Denver

My favorites are -- Capitol Hill/Congress Park (walk down 7th Avenue from York to past Cheesman Park--lots of beautiful old homes), Uptown (where you will be staying), Cherry Creek North, Old South Gaylord, Old South Pearl, Highlands

Denver and Boulder have lots of restaurants that have really good food and are not expensive -- when I have time I'll try to send you a list.

BTW--the road to the summit of Mt Evans probably will not be open in early May--you might be able to drive as far as Summit Lake.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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Last summer we did a similar trip, except we stayed in Denver AND Manitou Springs. You must plan your visit to Boulder around the farmers market. It is so cool, really good street food, too. It is on Saturdays and one week day (can't remember which one). Chautauqua Park in Boulder is a must for hiking. In the springs we drove up Pike's Peak. Make sure you purchase the CD guide to listen to on the way up. The donuts at the top are delicious, but you will definitely be out of breath!! Garden of the Gods was amazing, however, when we were there is was very crowded and we couldn't even find a parking spot! Manitou Springs is a cute town to walk around, yummy ice cream, too.
Have fun!! It sounds like a great trip!
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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Great information from all of the above posters! I would add eating lunch in Boulder at the Dushanbe Tea House- lovely building and has outside seating and tasty food.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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You getting a lot of good recommendations BUT there is a big caveat - WEATHER. Some are overlooking your dates. On average May is a wettest month which generally means rain but early May can be snow. The first year we lived here, the only snow day for the school distract that year was May 9th. So prepare for a wide range of weather. So far we have had a very atypical spring so who knows what May will bring. Second, any venture into the mountain along trails will encounter snow or mud. Peak Pike is out. It can be cold and brutal in July and worse in May and probably snow covered.

If you want it simple and easy. An hours drive to Georgetown, west I-80, would give you a good view of the mountain. A more adventuresome loop would be I-80 to Frisco, SR 9 through Breckenridge over Hooiser pass, and US 285 back to Denver. About a four to five hour drive plus stop times. And, again, weather dependent.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 09:44 AM
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Joseph and I want to thank all of you for your attentive and interesting suggestions. Your willingness to share ideas will make this a memorable time for sure! Dana
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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If you are near city park, you are probably close to 17th avenue, which has several good restaurants: Strings (expensive) , Avenue Grill (great value meals and romantic setting), Pasquini's (casual Italian), Hamburger Mary's (a wild scene).

Lots of good recommendations above. Especially the Tea House in Boulder, for a very unique experience. The restaurant at Chautauqua Park is also outstanding.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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I have to disagree with the rec to stock up at Whole Foods. People around here call it "Whole Paycheck" for good reason. Very expensive. Good prepared meals, but not a place to grocery shop in general unless you don't mind paying through the nose.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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Yep, on Whole Paycheck. BUT when one is on vacation sometimes it is fun to really act like it. We don't have a WF yet, but when I go to Denver, I love to get cheese and crackers that are not available--even at the most upscale King Soopers near DS's. If they already know WF, then they can take it with a grain of salt also, but it will be relatively nearby--and although I don't know exactly where the house is, there aren't a lot of supermarkets near there. Maybe over to Colorado Blvd.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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If you do go to Georgetown, there is an interesting historic section to explore. Also a railroad but it has a limited schedule in May. we had a good meal there at the Euro Grill
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 09:11 PM
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There are better small markets, probably closer to city park, also. In Park Hill, at 23rd and Dexter. I forget its name. Great deli, small neighborhood place.

Also a new market just went in at Colfax near Dahlia, I think. Name begins with an M.

Another store is slated for Colorado and Colfax. I think it's called Sprouts.

All are close to city park.

Rumors of a Trader Joe's coming to the neighborhood are exciting, but nothing is known yet.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 09:13 PM
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Posted too soon:

The Cheese Company, at 3rd and Holly, is a great little store. Not cheap, but great sandwiches and fresh made entrees.

And next door to it, is a nice little neighborhoof upscale Italian restaurant.
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Old Apr 20th, 2012, 04:55 AM
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We have gotten 2 Trader Joe's since WF first announced their coming!! Our WF opens this summer. TJ's is great and I hope it's coming. It's the colorado liquor/wine sale law that is keeping them out as I understand it, because of their wine sales being so much a large part of per store sales.
I really don't dislike WF that much!! YOu can shop their loss leaders. Their cheese selection really can't be matched this side of Paris (or maybe Murray's in NYC), in my opinion.
BUT OH my, the BEST cheese shop in Denver is St. Killian's in the Higlands. You can definitely say not cheap, but absolutely wonderful. NOT close to City Park, but....
A trip to the Highlands would be a terrifically fun time--shopping and eating. Someone will have to give the location. I think St. Killian's is on 32nd. the little "main" street of the area is full of good stuff.
And don't forget Little Man Ice Cream.
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Old Apr 20th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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You could be sweltering in sun or snowed on, so be ready for some indoor things as listed here.
Springtime in the Rockies? Do as much outside as you can, and don't forget your sunscreen. With luck, you will need it.
sylvia3 is online now  
Old Apr 20th, 2012, 11:22 AM
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Here is the restaurant list I promised--we've eaten at all of them--

in Boulder

the first two have already been recommended
Dushanbe Tea House
Chautauqua Dining Hall

Q’s they do a wonderful brunch on Sat and Sun--(and be sure to check out the ceiling in the Hotel Boulderado lobby)
Radda wonderful, authentic, inexpensive Italian food--also have a nice happy hour
the Kitchen also has a location in Denver Lodo--locally sourced ingredients--very Boulder
Pizzeria Locale good pizza from the owners of one of Boulder's top restaurant located next door--Frasca
Salt -- does a nice lunch--wonderful cocktails

in Denver

Steuben’s comfort food--inexpensive
Bones noodle bowls from one of Denver's top chefs--Frank Bonanno
Charcoal lunch is fantastic and inexpensive--the bincho boxes are a real deal
Pinche Tacos close to the City Park neighborhood--the tacos are fantastic--
Deluxe --one of our favorite places for dinner--small-intimate--good prices for the high quality of food
snooze --the Lodo location is our favorite place for breakfast--the breakfast pot pie and the crab benedict are a couple of our favorites--go early--
Osteria Marco Larimer Square--good pizza--yummy fresh mozerella--another restaurant from Frank Bonanno
Marco’s Coal Fired pizzeria another good place for pizza--I love the one with fresh arugula on top

And here is the website for the Boulder Farmer's Market--
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Old Apr 20th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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another BIG rec for Marco's Coal Fired Pizza. The coal fired is for their out of sight good wings (marinated in limoncello) and their pizzas are all brick oven. Their antipasto plate is TDF. It is not an ordinary pizzeria by any means.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:43 AM
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Great suggestions -- I'm off to Boulder on Thursday for a long weekend with my college age niece and you've given me lots of ideas!
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