DENVER — East of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s Front Range region has adventure, culture and a whole lot of craft beer.
The Front Range, or the land at the mountain range’s base, is often the first destination visitors experience when flying to Colorado via Denver, and visitors flying from low elevations are encouraged to spend a day or two there to adjust to the elevation before traveling onto the higher-elevation mountain towns.
However, the Front Range is a destination itself and could be an adventure-filled road trip from Fort Collins south to Colorado Springs.
Whether you plan to stay on the Front Range to adjust to the elevation or to explore the region as your vacation, The Sentinel has outlined four cities worth adding to your Colorado itinerary.
The biggest city in Colorado and the state capital, Denver is the cultural hub of the Rocky Mountain State. The Mile-High City is full of activity — professional sports, art galleries and museums, public art and gardens, bicycle shares and bike lanes and paths for cycling, shopping, nightlife and breweries galore.
Brewing more beer than any other U.S. metropolitan area, Denver also hosts a multitude of beer-drinking festivals and events. Craft beer connoisseurs may want to visit Wynkoop, Great Divide or Denver Beer Company for tours and tastings, while the casual beer drinker can still order a local brew on tap at one of the ballpark neighborhood’s rooftop bars while taking in the scenic Denver skyline.
For arts and culture, visitors should head to the Golden Triangle Museum District. The Denver Art Museum houses more than 68,000 pieces, including artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and a revamped Native American gallery representing more than 100 tribes. Other nearby attractions include the Clyfford Still Museum, Civic Center Park, the U.S. Mint and free tours of the Colorado State Capitol.
Colorado’s second largest city sits in view of Pikes Peak and is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Olympic Training Center and Garden of the Gods.
With 15 miles of trails around sandstone formations, Garden of the Gods is a must-visit destination. It’s ranked No. 2 among parks in the United States on TripAdvisor, and visitors can rock climb, hike, bike, horseback ride or just take a scenic drive to see the red rocks with a Rocky Mountain backdrop.
Another must-visit attraction is Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain, which inspired the poem-turned-patriotic-anthem “America the Beautiful.”
Like Denver, Colorado Springs is a craft-beer drinker’s haven. Bristol Brewings settled into a new home at the Ivywild School, an elementary school revamped as a community marketplace. In downtown, brewpubs and breweries are both culinary and beer destinations. Try the cheesy tater tots and new flatbread sandwiches at Brewer’s Republic, where there are always 20 craft beers on tap, and the smoky-flavored blonde-lager-and-Gouda soup at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company!
Home to the University of Colorado Boulder, Celestial Seasonings, the Flatirons, thriving art and culinary scenes, an authentic and ornate tea house, miles of bike trails, and an outdoor promenade bustling with shoppers, diners and street performers, Boulder was recently named the happiest city in America.
Downtown Boulder, anchored by the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, is full of shops, public art and restaurants. Hailed as one of America’s foodiest cities, dining options include the original The Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant that locally sources its ingredients, has opened locations in other Colorado cities and will expand to Chicago this fall.
Another college town, Fort Collins is also another beer capital and ideal destination for outdoor adventurers. Home of Colorado State University, Fort Collins sits at the edge of the prairie along the Cache la Poudre River at the base of the Rockies.
For active travelers, golf the two public 18-hole and one nine-hole courses open year-round, snowshoe or cross-country ski in nearby Red Feather Lakes or Cameron Pass, cycle 200 miles of wide bike lanes, go mountain biking on trails just minutes from downtown, boat the picturesque Horsetooth Reservoir, camp, fish, white-water raft, kayak, rock climb or go hot-air ballooning.
Outside of Colorado, Fort Collins may best be known for its breweries. The city is home to 14 craft beer breweries — including New Belgium Brewing Company, the brewery behind Fat Tire — as well as craft cideries, distilleries and a craft winery. The Budweiser brewery also offers free tours, and visitors may get to see the company’s iconic Clydesdale horses.