Drive time from Boulder: 35 minutes
Drive time from Cherry Creek: 30 minutes
On the way:
You may know Morrison as the home of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, but take a peek around this tiny town and you’ll see it has even more to offer. Take the direct route from Boulder and make a pit stop at Red Rocks to get in an early morning hike and tour the iconic venue. Alternatively, make a stop at Dinosaur Ridge for the chance see more than 300 dinosaur tracks. Add 45 minutes to your drive and take the scenic route to Morrison by turning onto 19th Street in Golden and cruising the “Lariat Loop,” which offers serious views by taking you from Golden to Evergreen and Kittredge and eventually down to Morrison.
Stop at Lair o' the Bear Park for prime picnicking and family-friendly hikes. Dive in to a variety of water sports at Bear Creek Lake Park, where you can paddle board, kayak, canoe and more.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Morrison’s charming main street, Bear Creek Ave., and feast on Italian nachos while taking in the views from the rooftop bar of the aptly named Rooftop Tavern, or grab a table at the Morrison Inn for large margaritas and the popular petite chile relleno appetizer. Top it all off with soft-serve ice cream or a sundae from The Cow.
Bring it home:
Bring Morrison home with you in the form of a treasure from one of the many charming shops along Bear Creek Ave. Morrison Mercantile offers a cleverly curated selection of gifts and home goods. Across the street, The Moxi Poppy boasts a wide variety of one-of-a-kind finds from more than 50 small artisans and makers.
Drive time from Boulder: 1 hour
Drive time from Cherry Creek: 1 hour
Often the pit stop for treks across I-70, Idaho Springs deserves a revisit as a day-trip destination. Drive the highest paved road in North America straight to the top of Mount Evans via a 28-mile cruise up the scenic byway. Alternatively, hit the trails on foot with one of the area’s many popular hikes like Loch Lomond and St. Mary’s Glacier, or take an easy stroll from town on the Charlie Taylor Waterwheel Trail to observe Bridal Veil Falls. Experience one of the state's most popular rivers, Clear Creek, by booking a rafting trip with one of the many Idaho Springs-based outfitters. Take a trip back in time to the first discovery of gold in Colorado in 1859 with a mine tour of the Phoenix Gold Mine or Argo Mill and Tunnel, among several others. Hop aboard the Georgetown Loop Railroad, which journeys through a scenic canyon between the nearby towns of Silver Plume and Georgetown.
Whether by train or car, head over to the equally charming town of Silver Plume for an expertly crafted cocktail at Bread Bar. For a bite to eat and cold beer to drink back in Idaho Springs, head to Westbound & Down, a local favorite that’s one-part brewpub, one-part coffee shop and one-part general store.
Drive time from Boulder: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Drive time from Cherry Creek: 1 hour, 5 minutes
On the way:
Hit the road early and reward yourself with a stop at Mountain Shadows restaurant for a mountain-sized cinnamon roll along the way.
Head to Garden of the Gods park to gawk at some of Colorado’s most breathtaking sandstone formations set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Drive through town and up to The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway to take a 3.5-hour round-trip journey on the cog train to the top of one of Colorado’s most iconic mountains, Pikes Peak, where you can take in unbelievable views from the brand-new summit house. Work up a sweat and test your legs on the Manitou Incline, which ascends more than 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile via 2,744 steps. (Note: reservations are required, but free.) When it’s time to relax, experience the magic of the mineral springs the area is named for by soaking in cedar tubs at the holistic-minded SunWater Spa.
Refuel with a local brew and hearty pub grub at Manitou Brewing Co., or for the wine lovers, head to Swirl, an artsy wine bar boasting enchanting patio dining and a made-from-scratch menu.
Bring it home:
For a souvenir, the tiny-but-mighty main street, Manitou Ave., boasts tons of galleries and gift shops where you can pick up a memento as creative and colorful as the town.