Denver makes for an ideal base of operations during a Colorado vacation. A number of other cities within easy reach offer up the state's local flavor.Less
Start your day in Boulder along its burbling creek at the No. 1 farmers' market in the country by readers of USA Today, the Boulder Farmers' Market is the perfect way to experience Boulder like a local. Shoppers are guaranteed the best selection of locally grown, seasonal produce, eggs, cheeses, meats, herbs, flowers, wines and gourmet food products available in Boulder County.
The food hall trend is strong in the Denver metro area, and neighbor Aurora has taken it seriously with this community hub. Stanley Marketplace, which overhauled the 1954 Stanley Aviation hangar, embraces the spirit of Bob Stanley, local aviation innovator and the first American to fly a jet plane. The marketplace keeps it fresh with tours, art shows, interactive comedy, and vendors for everything from bagels and coffee to yoga classes.
Fort Collins is one of Colorado's major craft-brewing hubs. Start your tasting tour here, one of the city's best known. Reserve your spot online for tours of the Liquid Center, where you’ll get a first-hand view of some of the magic that makes New Belgium an industry leader and the first wind-powered brewery in the United States. Then head into the Old Town Historic District, with its fine bookstores, galleries, shops, local eateries and a calendar of fun annual events.
Gold Rush-era small towns pack a big art punch. The 1878 sandstone Central City Opera House, constructed by hard-rock miners from Wales and Cornwall, reflects the harmonious appearance of the surrounding terrain. As a fully functioning performing arts venue, patrons will be amazed at the sustained sound quality during today’s operatic performances, as well as the caliber of internationally known directors, performers and conductors.
Breathe in that pure Rocky Mountain air a short drive away in the charming town of Evergreen, which boasts an eclectic community and a rich cultural existence — local theater, arts, music and fine dining. For recreation, jog up to Evergreen Lake. This pristine jewel offers boating, paddleboarding and picnicking in the summer, ice-skating in the winter and fishing year-round.
Point your compass west to Loveland, a community committed to the arts. Spend time at Benson Sculpture Garden, featuring more than 150 sculptures. Colorado's Sweetheart City has become famous for its Valentine's Day love-stamp program, but its bronze foundries, numerous galleries and local art program are equally impressive. Head downtown, where charming blocks showcase historic buildings, shops and restaurants, and the beautiful art the city is known for.
In the northeast reaches of Denver sits an area that has been drawing birds like a magnet for decades. Wildlife-viewing records from the area’s three habitats — open water, shoreline woodlands and grassland — date back more than 100 years, and the number of recorded species exceeds 300. Take the trail that circles the lake to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle if the timing's right. Afterward, head into downtown Brighton to explore the small town's galleries, shops, breweries and cafes.
Throughout Greeley, you’ll find more than 50 pieces of public art, as well as lovely parks that feature lakes, small streams, bridges, waterfalls and islands. The city’s Creative District, which encompasses the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, is perfect for a mural hunt and sponsors year-round events and activities to inspire locals, including flash mobs, First Friday Night of Art and Concert Under the Stars performances.