Labor Day weekend is approaching, which means that kids are back to school and for the rest of us to get back into the dreaded routine. It seems like the older we get the faster summer passes by, not leaving much time to take a vacation. It can be hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules to accommodate a vacation, so an easy solution is to take a day trip.
A day trip doesn’t have to be an intense excursion, but can allow you to explore the surrounding areas. There are many excursions within an hour or so of Denver that serve as the perfect filler for a vacation without spending all this time and money.
Here are five Colorado day trips worth taking before the end of the summer:
1. Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, Boulder
Tea fanatics rejoice, as Celestial Seasonings is the perfect place for you. Nestled in Boulder, the Celestial Seasonings tea factory is the only one in the entire country, making and manufacturing teas for both its national and international consumers. Visitors can learn the history of the company, its international partners (the ingredients come from over 40 countries) and see where the magic happens. Along the way, you get to experience the famous “Mint Room,” a room filled to the brim with peppermint, spearmint and catnip. And that’s not all – before and after the tour, visitors can sample any one of the teas. Find something you like? Visit the Tea Shop and pick up a box to take home. And guess what? The tour’s free.
Make a day out of it by stopping for lunch and shopping at Pearl Street. With Boulder being at the base of the Flatirons, you feel like you’ve been transported to another place, while only being not even an hour outside of Denver.
2. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Colorado is home to some pretty spectacular natural monuments, like Garden of the Gods. Located an hour south of Denver, Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs. The red sandstone rocks make up a perfectly preserved national park that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Visitors can walk the paths through the different rock structures or hike on specified trails. During the summer, Garden of the Gods is open late into the night, so you can go in the evening and watch the sunset if you so desire.
Once you’ve explored the park, take some time to explore the rest of the Springs. Colorado Springs is home to the Olympic Training Center, the Air Force Academy Chapel and Pikes Peak. Many think the Springs is boring but from a tourist perspective, there is plenty to see.
3. Budweiser Factory, Fort Collins
Budweiser is one of the many breweries in Fort Collins and is one of the many beers in the Anheuser-Busch family. Visitors of legal drinking age can take a tour of the factory, taste beer and even get to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Budweiser’s not your favorite? There are many other, smaller microbreweries you can tour such as Odell and New Belgium. Or, for those feeling adventurous, you can go on a Beer Tour and experience them all. This tour is certainly the perfect thing for any beer lover or anyone looking to celebrate their 21st birthday.
Only an hour north of Denver, Fort Collins is also home to Horsetooth, a recreational area that includes hiking and the reservoir, perfect for swimming, boating or fishing. Other attractions include Old Town, the place Walt Disney used to inspire Main Street at Disneyland and of course, CSU, with its picturesque Oval.
4. Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
Though it’s a little farther away from Denver, the Stanley Hotel is the perfect mountain day trip. The hotel is rumored to be haunted, and one of the oldest in the state (it’s also the setting for Stephen King’s “The Shining”). Visitors can take explore the hotel and enjoy and afternoon treat in one of its many cafes. Those daring enough can spend the night at the hotel and see if there are truly any supernatural happenings.
Estes Park has all the makings of a mountain town without driving hours into the Rocky Mountains. It’s at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park, which is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast who wants to hike, camp or fish. If anything, Estes Park is just a neat place to explore with it’s mountainous beauty (and abundance of elk).
5. Royal Gorge, Cañon City
If you are willing to travel a little further south, then you can visit the Royal Gorge Bridge. The Royal Gorge is one of the deepest canyons in Colorado and draws visitors every year to explore the canyon and the park. The Royal Gorge park includes the bridge, gondola, zip line, train, theater and visitor’s center, all which is included in the pass you can purchase. It is the perfect place for a family outing, as you can learn about the geological history of the canyon while exploring it.
Visitors can also raft in the Arkansas River’s Class IV rapids and hike around the surrounding areas. It’s a spectacular place to visit to take in based on its sheer magnitude.
It’s not too late to go anywhere this Labor Day. There are plenty of places to go to in Colorado that offer variety for anyone you are trying to accommodate. From an urban setting to the outdoors, there is something for everyone to see. So get out there and explore before Fall arrives.
*Editor’s note (July 31, 2015, at 10:45 a.m.): We removed the statement that Fat Tire is a microbrewery.