On the Road Trip

Three-Day Weekends from Denver

by Becky Cheang
Strawberry It's always sunny at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Photo by James Sturz.

Catch the symphony, rumble at a rodeo, take a dip in a mineral spring. When the Rocky Mountains are in your backyard, it's easy to justify playing hooky from work. 

DENVER – With the Rocky Mountains as your backyard, you have no excuse to wait till one of those pesky public holidays roll around, take a Friday off work, pack your bags, and head out now. Even if you're not an outdoorsy-type (why are you in Denver, again?), there's plenty nearby to make the most of your long weekend.

Sonnenalp Hotel

Not hard to imagine you're spending the weekend in the Alps. Photo courtesy of Sonnenalp Hotel.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Talk about nosebleed seats. Photo courtesy of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.

VAIL

If you're in the mood for: Reenacting that mountain scene from The Sound of Music, but locally.

Route to take: Take I-70 West for two hours.

Your agenda: Check in to , owned by the same family that opened the original in Germany right after WWI. Be it summer or winter, a morning stroll along Gore Creek makes for great exercise. Load up on jäger schnitzel with späetzle and red cabbage at and end with local ales from mountain-fed waters at  Skiiers know to hit Back Bowls for the best trails. Après ski should happen from town's largest outdoor deck at  in Lionshead. In summer, drop by the for picnic provisions before your morning hike, and spend the evening checking out the incredible programming at . No matter the season, have a night cap at .

Avoid the Sunday blues: On the way home, stop by the stunning just outside of Denver for an entirely different point of view. The ambitious can take a stunning (and windy!) detour off I-70 to America's highest paved road: Mount Evans Scenic Byway.


Steamboat Springs Ski Runs

All 3,000 acres of fluffy snow is waiting for you. Photo by James Sturz.

Low Country Kitchen

Bottom's up! Photo courtesy of Low Country Kitchen.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

If you're in the mood for: Old-school ski town vibes and Champagne Powder conditions.

Route to take: Instead of continuing on I-70 to the popular Breckenridge and Vail take a right up on CO-9/Blue River Parkway. It's about a three-hour drive from Denver.

Your agenda: Skip the crazy crowds (and prices) in Aspen and head to one of the state's oldest ski towns. Some 3,000 acres covered in the trademark super fine and fluffy snow means you're spoiled for choice on the slopes at . When the weather's warm, take a hike to Fish Creek Falls (go early to avoid the crowds) or visit the just outside of town. Head downtown to visit the museum in a Victorian-style house, pick up gifts from , and watch out for the that rolls through town on summer weekends. End the night with dinner along the river at  and drinks at .

Avoid the Sunday blues: Ease into the workweek with a stop at  for a deep Watsu massage and a refreshing dip in the 104-degree mineral springs.


Hotel St. Francis

Meditative vibes start in the lobby. Photo courtesy of Hotel St. Francis.

Skull

Expect to see much more of these around town. Photo by Kate Donnelly.

SANTA FE

If you're in the mood for: Georgia O'Keeffe landscapes and Southwestern Zen.

Route to take: An hour flight, and a 30-minute drive, will get you to town, but if you feel like a road trip, it'll take six hours — here are some photos to get you started.

Your agenda: Check in to the historic  a few blocks from the main plaza. All good weekends ought to start with huevos rancheros at and end with modern New Mexican fare at . On balmy summer nights, make time for a frozen margarita at . In between eating, pay homage to dear ol' O'Keeffe at her or a day trip to . Then shop for vintage Navajo rugs at . Before you leave, drop by for the galleries and indie shops. Read more on Popupla's Santa Fe guide.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Book ahead for the legendary .


BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE

Popupla's Aspen Guide
Summer in Mile-High City
Rocky Mountain Biking High

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