I’m so excited to finally share with you all the details of my recent trip to Colorado! Denver and the state itself has been on my list of places that I have been meaning to visit for quite some time and I’m happy that we finally pulled the trigger over the 4th of July weekend. We turned our long weekend into a mini-road trip so that I can bring you the Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide just in case you want to check out this beautiful state for yourself!
We had five days for our trip so if you have less time you might want to trim it back just a bit. We also did a lot of driving so that we could check out Aspen and Vail but you can certainly skip the extra driving if you’d like to spend additional time in any of the other cities that I’m going to mention. If you’re a lover of outdoor adventure or food, you’ll want to read through this post!
Our trip started by flying into Denver International Airport which is pretty accessible from most other cities. We rented a car and headed north to Boulder, which is only about 35 minutes north from the airport. Our plans for Boulder included a one-night stay and a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking.
Rocky Mountain National Park Hike
We chose an easier trail for our first day hiking and started at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This location is rather accessible and offers a hike with smoother trails and lower elevations. I don’t hike often and found this trail easy to navigate and would say it was an easy-moderate hike. We took the Emerald Lake Trail which is around 3.5 miles roundtrip. You’ll pass by two smaller lakes on your hike before approaching beautiful Emerald Lake which features a gorgeous waterfall in the background.
Where to Stay
Given the price of traveling over a holiday weekend, we ended up at the Residence Inn in Boulder because of the affordable rate. The hotel itself was nice, newly remodeled and very clean. Since we were only there for one night we didn’t have any plans to cook in our hotel room, but it’s always nice to have a more spacious room as to not feel cramped. The room was comparable to a nicely sized studio apartment and it even had a fireplace, which would have been nice in the middle of winter. They also served complimentary breakfast which was a nice feature so that we could quickly grab a light breakfast before hitting the road the next morning and a few extra pieces of fruit for the car.
Where to Eat
With our limited time in Boulder we only really had time for breakfast before we headed out for our hike on the first day and dinner that evening. If you’re looking for a full-menu breakfast location then check out Snooze. They feature a wide variety of breakfast items from eggs to pancakes and some fun dishes like Breakfast Pot Pie.
West End Tavern
A great place to check out at night is Pearl Street because it is filled with entertainers, restaurants and cute shops. This is where we went at night to enjoy dinner at West End Tavern. This hot spot specializes in craft beers and BBQ and did not disappoint. You can stop in for a pint of one of their craft beers on the main level bar or have a seat on their rooftop patio for a great view of the mountains.
We started our meal with a local brew and an order of their Kansas City-style Burnt Ends. Without a doubt these were the best burnt ends that I have ever tried. They were tender and flavorful and the sauce was definitely the boss. Given that we went with the BBQ option for our appetizer I had a difficult time choosing my entree. Their menu features chicken and waffles, which is hard to resist, and I watched some tasty burgers pass my table as I sat there debating over what sounded the best. Ultimately I decided to stick with BBQ since that is their specialty. I ordered the pulled pork, which was a solid choice, and my husband went with the half rack of ribs. We ordered sides of Tots and Bourbon Bacon Brussels Sprouts to accompany our meals.
Let me break down both of these sides quickly. If there are ‘tots on a menu there is no way that I’m passing them up. These ‘tots were house-made and served with pickled ramp aioli. Pickled ramps? Yep, it was delicious. And then there were the brussels sprouts. If you think you’re not a fan then you have not had them prepared correctly. These were roasted perfectly and served with caramelized onions and then sprinkled with bourbon bacon. BACON PEOPLE! Never pass up anything with bacon.
I really wish I had not filled up on as much BBQ as I did because I would have ordered the Bourbon Pecan Pie to top everything off. I passed on dessert but I’m sure it would have been nothing short of amazing. If you’re wandering around Pearl Street in Boulder then I suggest stopping at West End Tavern for dinner.
Other Things to do in Boulder
Pearl Street Mall – This is a stretch of blocks in Boulder that features dozens of boutiques, restaurants and street performers that will keep entertained for the evening.
Flatirons – These are beautiful rock walls that flank Green Mountain and are a symbol of the city. These rock walls are perfect for climbing and feature a hiking trail for those not interested in climbing.
Chautauqua Park – This is an extension of the Boulder Mountain Park and is considered a national landmark. Community events like festivals and concerts are often held here and it is a great place for hiking.
Breweries – Boulder offers over 20 breweries throughout the city and you can take a bike ride on the Boulder Beer Trail if you’re looking for a way to fill your Saturday!
Stay tuned for more details from my trip and tips to help you plan your visit to Colorado!
Special thanks to West End Tavern for their amazing hospitality and our delicious meal!