View of the Eldorado Canyon, one of the best day trips from Boulder Colorado

25 Fun Day Trips from Boulder, Colorado (for 2023)

I’m a Colorado local who can guide you to the absolute best day trips from Boulder, Colorado!

Boulder‘s central location makes it easy to reach several iconic Colorado destinations. I overview many of the most popular area attractions in this guide, like Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park.

But I also share a few lesser-known sites where you can break away from the crowds and engage in unique activities — no matter the time of the year!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

25 Best Boulder Day Trips

Denver

Experience Colorado’s capital, full of endless entertainment.

View of the Colorado State Capitol Building from the outside

Distance from Boulder: 40 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Denver Visitor’s Guide | 👉 Browse Top Denver Area Tours on Viator

It may be an obvious one, but the Mile High City is definitely one of the most fun day trips from Boulder, CO! There are so many things to do in Denver that you could make several day trips to the city and still have more to do. 

Visit the Colorado State Capitol Building, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Botanic Gardens, or the Denver Art Museum. Then grab a handcrafted cocktail and dinner at Dairy Block or Larimer Square.

Also, Denver is one of the best weekend trips from Boulder. Check out our guide on where to stay and our epic list of the top Denver hotels if you’re looking for a city getaway.

Nederland

Take a charming day trip to this mountain town, offering year-round outdoor recreation.

View of the sunrise on Lost Lake in Nederland

Distance from Boulder: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Nederland Visitor’s Guide

Nederland sits along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway that runs from I-70 to Estes Park, so you can take a drive for amazing mountain views! Its frequented in the winter due to Eldora Ski Resort, one of the ski resorts nearest Denver.

Nederland is also popular in summer, as it’s home to many of the best hiking trails near Boulder. One of the prettiest is a 1.4-mile hike to Lost Lake, pictured above. After a day of outdoor adventures, treat yourself at The Train Cars Coffee, a coffee shop inside a train car that’s over 100 years old!

Estes Park

Visit the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, where you’ll find Lake Estes and the Stanley Hotel.

View of the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain in the background

Distance from Boulder: One hour | 📍 Google Maps | Estes Park Website | 👉 Browse Estes Park Tours In Viator

Estes Park is a small town best known for being the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there’s a lot to do in Estes Park also! 

Visit the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. There are plenty of shops and restaurants downtown, and hiking and fishing nearby. You can even try whitewater rafting, or golfing while you’re there. 

So definitely visit Rocky Mountain National Park, but plan to spend some time in Estes Park as well (you could even consider staying in Estes Park overnight). It’s one of the best Colorado weekend getaways, and makes for a great day trip from Boulder, Colorado as well!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Explore Colorado’s most popular national park.

View of the author's kids from Rocky Mountain National Park
My kids standing at over 12,000 feet above sea level!

Distance from Boulder: One hour | 📍 Google Maps | Rocky Mountain National Park Website | 👉 Discover Rocky Mountain National Park from Boulder

One of the best day trips from Denver is also a great getaway from Boulder, located just an hour away.

Rocky Mountain National Park has everything from easy trails for kids to serious mountain climbing to the top of Longs Peak. The Sprague Lake Loop takes you on an easy walk around a lake that perfectly reflects the mountains. 

The Moraine Park Discovery Center has exhibits for young kids to explore, and the drive up Trail Ridge Road takes you above 12,000 feet and gives you the best overview of Rocky Mountain National Park. Hands down, it’s one of the best Colorado road trips!

Brainard Lake

Hike and fish here in summer, or enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

View of the Brainard Lake and a snowy mountain range from the background

Distance from Boulder: 48 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Brainard Lake Recreation Area Website

Brainard Lake is a great Boulder day trip, which ranks highly on our list of the best things to do in Boulder! It offers hiking trails, places to fish, and places for mountain biking as well. The lake is also well-known for being a great place to snowshoe and cross-country ski in winter and there are several trails people use for winter activities.

Frisco

Enjoy water activities on Lake Dillon, or visit in the winter for snow tubing.

View of the kayak rentals  docked at the Frisco Bay Marina
Kayak rentals at the Frisco Bay Marina (photo: Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock)

Distance from Boulder: 90 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Frisco Visitor’s Guide

Frisco is definitely one of the most fun day trips from Boulder! It’s nestled in the Rocky Mountains next to Lake Dillon, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in Frisco.

Check out the Frisco Adventure Park where you can go biking, hiking, skateboarding, or play disc golf. In winter, the park offers snow tubing, along with some beginner skiing and snowboarding.

You can also hike in the area, or boat on the lake. Downtown Frisco has quaint shops and restaurants so you can make a day of it. Or for one of the best weekend trips from Boulder, book a night at one of the many quaint places to stay in Frisco!

Keystone

Shred the slopes at Keystone Resort or visit in summer for lakeside recreation.

Travel Lemming editor Abigail Bliss and her friend on a full gear for snowboarding
Travel Lemming editor Abigail and her friend
A snowboarder enjoying the slopes at Keystone Resort
Enjoying the slopes at Keystone Resort

Distance from Boulder Colorado: Two hours | 📍 Google Maps | Keystone Website 

Keystone Resort is a prime attraction in winter with plenty of trails for snowboarding or skiing. But there’s lots to do in summer as well! You can bike or hike, or take part in a yoga class at the top of the mountain.

Among the many things to do in Keystone, there’s a golf course, mountain bike park, stables, and a lakeside village. If you want to stay overnight, check out our guide to where to stay in Keystone.

Breckenridge

Discover what makes this iconic mountain town a year-round destination.

View of Travel Lemming's founder enjoying the view in Breckenridge
Travel Lemming’s founder Nate in Breckenridge

Distance from Boulder: 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Breckenridge Visitor’s Guide | 👉 Browse Breckenridge Tours on Viator

Breckenridge is one of the best mountain towns in Colorado, nestled high in the Rocky Mountains’ Summit County.

Breckenridge is home to one of Colorado’s world-class ski resorts, as well as charming horse-drawn sleigh rides in winter. In summer, you can go mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and enjoy many other things to do in Breckenridge.

This ski resort town also offers plenty of shopping and restaurants. You can walk through the historic downtown area and take the informative, fun tour at Breckenridge Distillery. 

Fort Collins

Visit this charming college town known for its downtown district and craft beer scene.

View of the splash fountain in Old Town Square
(marekuliasz / Shutterstock)

Distance from Boulder: one hour and 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Fort Collins Visitor’s Guide | 👉 Browse Fort Collins Tours On Viator

Downtown Fort Collins was the inspiration for the creator of Disneyland’s Main Street USA, and you can definitely see similarities when you wander the area! 

Along with shopping and great restaurants, Fort Collins is home to the main campus of the Colorado State University system, and it’s well-known for the New Belgium Brewing Company. There’s plenty of hiking and lots of water sports on the Horsetooth Reservoir also.

Check out our guide to what to do in Fort Collins for more inspiration.

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Take in breathtaking views and partake in a bit of bird watching.

View of water running on rocks in Castlewood Canyon

Distance from Boulder: One hour and twenty minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Castlewood Canyon State Park Website 

Castlewood Canyon has a variety of hikes. Paved trails at the top give you views of the canyon, or you can take the dirt trails down to the creek at the bottom where you can cool off.

You can also hike to see the remains of the Castlewood Dam, which burst in 1933 and sent a huge wave into Denver. There are several rock climbing areas at the park also. 

Oh, and Castlewood Canyon is home to one of the largest turkey vulture populations in all of Colorado during the summer, in case you want to do a little bird-watching!

Red Feather Lakes

Kayak and camp in a quieter part of northern Colorado.

View of the Red Feather Lakes on a sunny day

Distance from Boulder two hours and ten minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Red Feather Lakes Visitor’s Info

The Red Feather Lakes are a quieter, less popular area (most people seem to congregate farther south), but that’s the exact reason why they’re one of the best places to visit near Boulder, Colorado!

The area is surrounded by the Roosevelt National Forest and the Cache La Poudre River is nearby with fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. The Shambhala Mountain Center is a nice place to retreat and meditate on the beauty all around.

Golden

Learn Wild West history, enjoy outdoor recreation, and wander a quaint downtown.

View of the street and the welcoming sign in the Town of Golden

Distance from Boulder: 30 to 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Golden Visitor’s Guide 

Golden is a historic town that’s just twenty minutes from Denver and half an hour from Boulder. Browse the shops and restaurants along the main street, or take a brewery tour at the Coors Brewery, one of the best things to do in Golden.

You can also go tubing on Clear Creek River during the summer. Consider visiting the excellent Colorado Railroad Museum, or the Mines Geology Museum. For a real treat, head up Lookout Mountain for some sweeping panoramic views of the Front Range.

Eldorado Springs

Hike a scenic state park, offering stunning canyon views.

View of the Eldorado Canyon during a hike

Distance from Boulder: 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Eldorado Springs Visitor’s Guide

Eldorado Springs is home to Eldorado Canyon State Park, one of the best state parks in Colorado. Here, you can go hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and take amazing nature photographs. Eldorado Canyon is also well-known for its rock climbing. 

Not far from the park is the historic Eldorado Springs Swimming Pool, which opened in 1905. The pool is fed from an artesian spring and is a popular swimming spot more than a century later.

👉 Pro Tip: The Eldorado Swimming Pool is currently closed for renovations. Be sure to check their website for the latest. 

Red Rocks & Morrison

See a concert at one of the country’s most iconic live music venues.

View of the author in Red Rocks Park
Me at Red Rocks

Distance from Boulder: 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Red Rocks Website

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an iconic spot to visit if you’re near Boulder or Denver! Seeing a concert here is one of the best things to do in Colorado.

But Red Rocks is a great spot during the day as well. There are hiking trails throughout the park, and you can check out the Colorado Music Hall of Fame and the Visitor Center to learn more about the famous musicians who played there.

At less than an hour drive from Boulder, Red Rocks makes for an easy, fun day trip from Boulder.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Take a scenic hike at one of the best places to visit near Boulder.

Scenic view of the mountains in Colorado

Distance from Boulder: 35 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Golden Gate Canyon Website

Golden Gate Canyon is a beautiful park in Golden that’s popular with locals for hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and rock climbing. The park allows dogs on leashes, so it’s a great place to hike with your furry pal as an easy excursion from Boulder.

Lookout Mountain

Admire views of Denver and the Continental Divide.

Aerial view of the Lookout Mountain at daytime
Views are stunning in both the daytime…
Aerial view of Lookout Mountain at nighttime
and evening hours

Distance from Boulder: 45 minutes to one hour | 📍 Google Maps | Lookout Mountain Website

Part of the fun of this day trip from Boulder is the stops along the way. Take a few minutes to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, and stop off in Genesee Park to see the bison herd that grazes alongside I-70. 

When you get to Lookout Mountain, there are several trails for all levels of hikers. The nature center has lots of information on wildlife at the park, and kids will love the special area just for them! The Arts & Crafts style Boettcher Mansion next to the nature center is fun to walk through also.

👉 Read Next: The Perfect Colorado Road Trip Itinerary

Wild Animal Sanctuary

Watch rehabilitated wildlife lounge and play at this spacious haven.

View of the lions in an elevated walkway in Wild Animal Sanctuary
View lions and many more species from an elevated walkway

Distance from Boulder: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Wild Animal Sanctuary Website 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg encompasses thousands of acres on the Colorado plains, where animals including lions and tigers and, yes, bears, have been rescued from terrible experiences in captivity. 

They’re rehabilitated and they roam natural habitats at the sanctuary. Visitors can watch the animals from a catwalk high above the enclosures and can learn about the work the animal sanctuary does to help them.

This unique attraction placed first on Travel Lemming’s list of the best things to do in the USA this summer!

Lyons

Explore the outdoors, sip craft beer, and play pinball at a classic arcade.

View of the Button Rock Preserve River in Lyons

Distance from Boulder: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Lyons Visitor’s Guide

Lyons makes a fun day trip from Boulder, and it’s also a good spot to stop off on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. There are parks and open space areas where you can go hiking, biking, and fishing. Downtown Lyons is small, but with some fun places to visit like the original Oskar Blues Grill and Brew. 

Be sure to check out Lyons Classic Pinball, which boasts they have Colorado’s largest public collection of pinball games. It’s worth the trip all on its own!

Evergreen

Ice skate or paddle board on this mountain town’s key attraction, Evergreen Lake.

Panoramic view of the Evergreen Lake from the viewpoint on a sunny day
A summer day at Evergreen Lake

Distance from Boulder: One hour | 📍 Google Maps | Evergreen Visitor’s Guide

Evergreen is a quaint little town in the foothills of the Rockies, with a lake and a downtown area. In summer, you can paddleboard or rent a pedal boat to ride on the lake. 

In winter, you can ice skate or ice fish. Wander downtown for the shops and restaurants like the Wildflower Cafe and Revival Brews.

See my guide to what to do in Evergreen for more ideas, and consider staying in Evergreen overnight if you’re looking for a peaceful weekend getaway to the mountains.

Mt. Blue Sky (aka “Mount Evans”)

Drive the highest paved road in North America.

View of the Summit sign and some rock formation behind it
Mount Evans has been renamed Mount Blue Sky (Paul Higley / Shutterstock)

Distance from Boulder: Two hours | 📍 Google Maps | Visit Mt. Evans Website | 👉 Browse Mt. Evans Tours on Viator

Mt. Blue Sky is one of only two Colorado “fourteeners” (mountains over 14,000 ft high) where you can drive to the summit. The drive makes a great day trip from Boulder — just be sure to take your time and pull off frequently. At a little over 10,000 feet up, you’ll reach Echo Lake which is a great spot for a picnic before you reach the summit.

Because of weather conditions, the road to the top of Mt. Blue Sky is generally open Memorial Day to Labor Day, so be sure to check its current status to be sure before planning a trip. 

♨️ Don’t Miss: Mt. Blue Sky is near Idaho Springs, where you’ll find one of the best hot springs near Boulder!

Colorado Springs

Explore Garden of the Gods, hike the Manitou Incline, and enjoy other outdoor recreation.

Scenic view of the Garden of the Gods from afar

Distance from Boulder: 90 minutes to two hours | 📍 Google Maps | Colorado Springs Visitor’s Guide | 👉 Browse Colorado Springs Tours on Viator

The top attraction here is Garden of the Gods Park, a fantastic place to spend the day. You can also test your athleticism on the Manitou Incline (yes, we all wheeze like that, you’re not alone), or hike the Broadmoor Seven Falls.

Reward yourself afterward with ice cream in the nearby town of Manitou Springs, one of the best day trips from Colorado Springs!

Pikes Peak

Drive the winding road to the top of “America’s Mountain,” offering panoramic views.

View of Pikes Peak from afar

Distance from Boulder: Three hours | 📍 Google Maps | Pikes Peak Website | 👉 Browse Pikes Peak Tours On Viator

Pikes Peak is a bit of a drive, but it’s an unforgettable day trip from Boulder! You can drive to the top of the peak or take The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, newly rebuilt and offering a fun ride.

There are lots of places to stop and admire the scenery along the way, and nearby towns where you can grab ice cream or coffee before heading back to Boulder. 

Along with Rocky Mountain National Park, Pikes Peak is easily one of the most famous places to visit in the Colorado mountains.

Central City/Black Hawk

Gamble at casinos, take a scenic drive and even explore a Wild West ghost town.

View of the Central City Downtown and some small shops in it
Central City in summer! (Jim Lambert / Shutterstock)

Distance from Boulder: One hour | 📍 Google Maps | Central City Website 

Central City and Black Hawk are one and a half miles apart, so you can even walk from one mountain town to the other! The towns are each home to several casinos and you could easily spend your day hitting the slots. 

As with most Colorado mountain towns, there’s also plenty of hiking and mountain biking. The towns are along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway if you want to take a scenic drive. 

Central City also has a historic area, and nearby Nevadaville is one of the Colorado ghost towns you can explore.

Georgetown

Wander a historic downtown and climb aboard one of Colorado’s most scenic train rides.

Mountain from Georgetown Loop Railroad

Distance from Boulder: One hour and 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Georgetown Website

Georgetown is striking because the little town sits right under these huge mountain cliffs that seem to just up on all sides. You definitely know you’re in Colorado here! The historic downtown area has shops, restaurants, and ice cream. 

Kids (and anyone who loves trains) will enjoy the Georgetown Loop Railroad, which is a narrow-gauge train and among the best train rides in Colorado. For even more scenery, take the drive over Guanella Pass for breathtaking views.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Watch an exciting rodeo and Western skits in Gunslinger Square.

View of a big boots in the historic downtown of Cheyenne Wyoming
(littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock)

Distance from Boulder: Ninety minutes to two hours | 📍 Google Maps | Cheyenne Website

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how close Boulder is to Wyoming! If you want to put another pin in your “States I’ve Visited” map, or just want to really get out of town for the day, head up to Cheyenne. 

In summer, you can see Western skits and gunfights in Gunslinger Square, or check out a local rodeo. There’s plenty of hiking, boating, fishing, and cross-country skiing or iceboating in winter. 

FAQs About Places to Visit Near Boulder

What is the closest national park to Boulder, Colorado?

The closest national park to Boulder, Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. It offers an abundance of year-round outdoor recreation and is near the charming mountain town of Estes Park.

What is there to do between Denver and Boulder?

Things to do between Denver and Boulder include exploring Eldorado Canyon State Park, wandering downtown Golden, and driving up the scenic Lookout Mountain.

***

Hopefully, these suggestions have given you several ideas for fun day trips from Boulder, Colorado. For more area suggestions, see my guide on where to stay in Boulder!

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One Comment

  1. Hey thanks so much! Me and my son are going to be near Boulder but I didn’t know what there was to do when we got there! Great shares! 😊

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