Boulder’s neighbor to the northeast, Longmont, has an eclectic, cool vibe that’s definitely worth the drive up Highway 119. Thanks to abundant trails and open space, a top-notch food and beverage scene, a walkable downtown, great local shops and a thriving arts community, Longmont offers a little something for everyone.
Not familiar with this Boulder County city? Here are nine things to know about Longmont.
1. The city has a long and storied history.
In 2021, Longmont celebrated its 150th anniversary. That’s a long — and impressive — time for a Western city to thrive when you stop and think about it. Longmont was established in 1871 by a group of people from Chicago, who decided to head west and build a town from scratch. Originally called the “Chicago-Colorado Colony,” Longmont’s founders sold memberships to help pay for the 60,000 acres of land in northern Colorado where the city sits today.
2. The name comes from a nearby mountain.
Longmont’s earliest settlers could see the towering, 14,000-foot mountain called Longs Peak — named for explorer Stephen H. Long — off in the distance from their burgeoning town. They were so inspired by this awe-inspiring peak that they decided to name their city “Longmont” in its honor.
3. Longmont has been the home of some prominent people.
Over the years, a handful of impressive celebrities, changemakers, athletes and other influential people have called Longmont home. Vance Brand, who had a prosperous career as a NASA astronaut, was born here in 1931 (and is now honored in the name of Longmont’s Vance Brand Municipal Airport!). Comedian and actress Kristen Schaal grew up here, and former NFL football player and coach Greg Biekert attended middle and high school in Longmont. More recently, Longmont Silver Creek High grad Valarie Allman won a gold medal in the discus at the 2020 summer Olympics.
4. It was the site of the first public library in Colorado.
Reading has long been a part of Longmont’s history. Members of the original Chicago-Colorado Colony founded the Centennial State’s first public library in 1871. It was called Library Hall and had around 300 books. Today, Longmont has a thriving public library system, plus several beloved local bookstores, including Barbed Wire Books and Used Book Emporium.
5. It helped give rise to JCPenney.
JCPenney, one of the more well-known department stores around, has roots in Longmont. James Cash Penney (J.C.) left his hometown in Missouri and moved to Denver in 1897 upon the advice of his doctor, who suggested he take advantage of Colorado’s dry air. From there, he made his way north to Longmont, which better suited his propensity for small-town living. In Longmont, he used his $300 life’s savings to buy partial ownership in a butcher shop on Main Street. A few years later, he bought out his partner and changed the name to James C. Penney Meat Market. The store closed and, in December 1898, Penney got a job at the dry goods store The Golden Rule, where owner Tom Callahan took note of his strong work ethic. Callahan offered Penney a one-third ownership share for a new store in Evanston, Wyoming. Penney moved to Wyoming, eventually taking over ownership of the new chain, which he renamed JCPenney. And the rest, as they say, is history.
6. Longmont has some of the fastest internet in the country.
In 2014, the city embarked on an ambitious plan to bring lightning-fast, fiber-optic internet to its residents and businesses. Today, Longmont’s NextLight gigabit broadband system continues to earn awards and accolades for its speed and reliability. It’s also helped make Longmont a hub for tech companies and remote workers.
7. The breweries here are worth a road trip.
Some of the biggest names in craft brewing are in Longmont, including Oscar Blues and Left Hand. Other must-visit breweries include 300 Suns, Wibby, Grossen Bart, Bootstrap, Collision, Outworld, Primitive, Pumphouse, and Shoes & Brews. Though it’s not currently open for public rides because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Longmont’s BrewHop Trolley is a great way to hop from one brewery to the next (plus a few cideries and distilleries) with your private party.
8. The city is home to some seriously delicious cheese.
Yes, you read that right, cheese. Longmont’s Cheese Importers store and bistro regularly draws visitors from miles around, thanks to its mega, walk-in cheese refrigerator, adorable home goods and European-inspired fare. Plus, Longmont is also the headquarters of Haystack Mountain Cheese, which is well-known for its creamy, tangy goat cheese.
9. Longmont is close to the action when it comes to agriculture.
Within minutes of downtown, you’ll find family-owned farms and ranches like Buckner Family Farm, Aspen Moon Farm, Ollin Farms, Ya Ya Farm & Orchard, Sunflower Farm and many others. Plus, the Longmont farmers market, part of Boulder County Farmers Market, is a weekly community gathering held every Saturday during the summer at the Boulder County Fairgrounds.
How to Spend The Perfect Day in Longmont
Breakfast: Grab a cup of coffee or a latte from Cafe Luna, located inside a charming little yellow house downtown. Walk across Coffman Street and stroll around Roosevelt Park, stopping for a look at the rose garden in summer or the holiday lights and ice skating rink in winter.
Lunch: Grab a few tacos (and maybe a marg if you’re feeling sassy!) from Jefes Tacos and Tequila.
Afternoon: If you’re feeling artsy, spend a few hours painting a ceramic masterpiece of your own at Crackpots downtown. If you’d rather get a breath of fresh air, ride your bike along the St. Vrain Greenway or head to McIntosh Lake for walking, jogging, standup paddleboarding or just some rest and relaxing. Grab a beer afterward at one of Longmont’s many standout craft breweries, distilleries and cideries.
Dinner: There are so many good dinner options in Longmont, it can be hard to pick just one. If a cocktail sounds tasty, head to Martinis for upscale drinks and entrees. If you’re in the mood to dine al fresco, hit the rooftop at The Roost. Want to watch the game? Grab a burger and a beer at Red Zone. Craving authentic Caribbean-style seafood? Make a reservation at Tortugas.
Evening: Pop in for a nightcap at Dry Land Distillers, which recently opened a gorgeous new tasting room on Main Street. And no matter where you’re at, always look up — Longmont gets some seriously amazing sunsets.