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Three days to explore Denver & Boulder - where to stay?

Three days to explore Denver & Boulder - where to stay?

Apr 29th, 2013, 03:05 PM
  #1  
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Three days to explore Denver & Boulder - where to stay?

Hi,

I'll be flying into Denver in September and want to explore both Denver and Boulder. I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations on whether it would be better to stay in Denver or Boulder? I only have three days before I head south to New Mexico so it will be a short trip. I'm also on a limited budget -- a hotel for less than $120 per night is desired -- and I will have a rental car, if that helps.

Right now, I'm leaning toward Boulder so I'm closer to some hiking areas, but I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks!
Heidi
travel_addict is offline  
Apr 30th, 2013, 03:11 AM
  #2  
 
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Get a hotel on Priceline.
Gretchen is offline  
Apr 30th, 2013, 03:28 AM
  #3  
 
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If hiking is a priority, I'd stay in Boulder. Depending on the days you're going to be there, a CU football game could impact hotel prices. Here's a link to the schedule. http://tinyurl.com/buazcfv
martym is offline  
Apr 30th, 2013, 04:03 AM
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If you want to get up to RMNP, then Boulder or Estes Park.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 30th, 2013, 05:43 AM
  #5  
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Thank you for the replies!

Do you have any favorite hiking spots near Boulder that you wouldn't mind sharing, too?

I've just started to research this trip so any hotel or restaurant suggestions would be appreciated as well. I was originally only going to New Mexico, but found a great deal on a flight into Denver so I decided to stay a few days and explore.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 06:56 AM
  #6  
 
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I'd vote for Boulder.

For hiking right in Boulder look into the trail system along the base of the Flatirons at Chautauqua Park. Easy hiking with the steep rock faces of the Flatirons towering above you.

For high alpine hiking, which should be great any time in September the best place close to Boulder is the Brainard Lake trailhead, in the Indian Peaks. The Blue Lake or Lake Isabelle trails are fantastic. The only negatives are it's crowded and the trailhead is at 10,000 feet so you'll feel the altitude if you're coming from lower elevation. Save it for your last day perhaps, except then you'll really want to go back.

I can give you more details but this site mentions these and other options to get you started:
http://www.visitingboulder.com/hiking-in-boulder.php

The Med and The Rio are two Boulder restaurants that are within a block of each other and have a lot of Boulder energy.
http://www.themedboulder.com/
http://www.riograndemexican.com/boulder

If you go to the Rio and like their margaritas then it would be best if you are walking when you leave!

Have a great trip.
Nelson is online now  
Apr 30th, 2013, 07:22 AM
  #7  
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Thanks, Nelson! So, basically what you're saying is that I should find a hotel very close to Rio then? I do love a good margarita - especially post hiking. Thanks for the hiking recs, too.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 09:06 AM
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We love Chautauqua Park, too. Gorgeous setting, good trails, amazing restaurant. $120/night could be tough in Boulder, though, unless you find a great deal or a hostel. Maybe check the CU site for recommended places to stay.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 10:26 AM
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It's been 20 years since I stayed there, but there used to be a decent hostel on the hill in Boulder, near campus.

I think if you check the Best Western Golden Buff on 28th and Canyon you'll see it come in around $120. This is about a mile and half from your Rio margs.

There may be others around the outskirts of town. Good luck.
Nelson is online now  
Apr 30th, 2013, 10:35 AM
  #10  
 
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Chautauqua Park does have little cabins for rent, and in September maybe you could get one. Unless they are only reserved for University faculty.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 11:33 AM
  #11  
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I was able to find a room at the Boulder Quality Inn (sort of near the Pearl Street Mall) for $123 a night. That will work! If I were staying longer or traveling with someone, I'd check VRBO or somewhere like that, but this is a quick 3-day trip so I'm not going to be that picky. I rented a really nice condo in Santa Fe for the rest of the trip -- that's my trade off.

I've been checking out Chautauqua Park online. I'll definitely visit one of the days I'm there.

Thanks again!
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Apr 30th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Personally I would be a little cautious around Boulder in Sept simply because it is a college town with the start of the new year and lots of activities. Parents, students all trying settle into a groove. It is sleepier in early August. There were be football games on a couple of the weekends and it is packed on Saturday, less so on Sunday.

If the three days are to see Denver and Boulder it would be easier to stay in Denver and drive up for one day. But if the emphasis is on hiking and access to the mountains, then the Boulder area makes more sense.

Probably need more clarity on your objectives for the trip.
fmpden is offline  
Apr 30th, 2013, 02:49 PM
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travel_addict, you are smart to grab that room now, because fmpden is right about Boulder getting active again in September.

Depending on your age, that could be a good thing. You might be interested in activities for the early-20 crowd.

For hiking, definitely stay in Boulder. It also has a 'hiking vibe' in general.
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May 1st, 2013, 05:08 AM
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There's much more variety and availability in Boulder now; however, if you don't mind driving 10 minutes, Louisville is 5 miles from Boulder, has a cool historic downtown, and is overbuilt with chain hotels near the turnpike; you could stay for 1/2 of your budget.
sylvia3 is online now  
May 1st, 2013, 08:11 AM
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It's true you could stay elsewhere, but I'm not sure you'll find a better deal than $123/night.

Besides, it's the same question that people ask about staying IN NYC or Venice. If you travel all the way there, stay there! Or you don't get the full benefit of being there, when you have to commute in and out.
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May 1st, 2013, 08:20 AM
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BTW, the drive between Louisville and Boulder is very easy (and very scenic). And if you do a little looking on hotels.com or similar websites, you'll see a very dramatic price reduction in exchange for 5 miles.
You could also stay midway between Denver and Boulder, in one of the myriad new hotels built right off the turnpike.
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May 1st, 2013, 08:20 PM
  #17  
 
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Agree with other posts that where you decide to stay depends on what you wish to do while visiting. If hiking is the priority then Boulder is your best bet. Staying a little way out towards Denver may or may not save you money depending on if its a weekday or weekend and may not be worth the extra drive time depending on the time of day and direction you are heading. Rush hour on Us 36 (aka the turnpike) is opposite of what you might think as going into boulder in the morning and leaving in the afternoon is worse than the same drives to/from Denver. I second Chataqua and the trails there as well as up the mountain from there. Great overlook just up the road to Chataqua with a wonderful view of Boulder. If you get a chance, check out Red Rocks ampitheater. There is some hiking in that area as well.
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May 2nd, 2013, 05:56 AM
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Nothing wrong with Red Rocks, but in September you should really try to get up into the alpine high country. Spend a day either in RMNP or at the Brainard Lake area of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The drive to Brainard is about the same amount of time as driving to Red Rocks.
Nelson is online now  
May 2nd, 2013, 08:17 AM
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I see you've already booked, but I stay in Louisville when I visit Boulder - it's just 10 minutes away, quieter, less crowded and less expensive, yet provides easy access. I was there last week - the Hampton Inn in Lousiville was $125 during the week and $73 from Friday-Sunday.
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May 2nd, 2013, 09:28 AM
  #20  
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Thanks again for all the advice. I appreciate all of it and I am taking notes!

To answer some of your questions/comments: I'm in my mid-40s, but being around college students or near a college doesn't bother me in the least. In fact, I returned to college three years ago and just graduated in December. I've heard great things about the University of Colorado so I wanted to check it out anyhow.

The purpose of the trip is to celebrate graduating and have some fun, but also to explore Boulder/Denver with the possibility of moving there in the next few years. I'm also exploring Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque for the same reason. I've been to those three cities many times, but have only been to Denver once and it was a quick trip for work. I didn't see much outside the hotel.

When I look online for jobs, Denver and ABQ seem to have an abundance in my field, but I'm more of an outdoorsy / artsy person instead of a big city girl so I'd much rather stay / live near mountains and trails than skyscrapers.

Thanks for the info on Louisville - a friend recommended I visit there too so I will, but I'd rather stay near downtown Boulder. I want to walk around the city to get a good feel for it so I'm hoping not to use my car much.

It sounds like there are more than enough hiking trails out there so I'll look into everything you all have suggested and pick one or two places to visit. As with every trip, I'm already wishing I had more time!

Thanks again!
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