The storm clouds have finally passed and the sun is shining – literally and figuratively – as we dance into the early days of summer. After the dreary (and rainy) (and hail-y) beginning to summer break, we’ve got some fun to make up. Luckily, there’s plenty of adventure just a short drive from home.
You don’t have to fly overseas for an incredible vacation; there’s a reason so many people come to Colorado for holiday.
Take advantage of the wonder right in your own backyard. Here are a few staycation inspirations to help you make this summer a memorable one.
30 Minutes Away
If you only have a weekend or even just an overnight, a no-fail option is to stay-cay in D-Town. Location is critical for your home base, so stay in the heart of it all at either the Magnolia Hotel or the Curtis Hotel. Both options are a win for different reasons.
The Magnolia has the history. This Denver landmark dates back to 1910, and you can enjoy some of the original architecture and details; don’t miss the exterior clock. The Magnolia recently underwent a big renovation, though, which added more comfort and freshness, while still protecting the history.
A big selling point here is the Magnolia’s location right on 17th Street, so you can walk to all the hotspots in town without having to deal with the traffic. Don’t miss the summer concert lineup, featuring live music every week at Harry’s. Dinner is offered late here, until 11 p.m. every night. So you can sleep in, enjoy breakfast in bed, play billiards in the hotel lounge, wander the 16th Street Mall all afternoon and rock out to live music for a late dinner.
Best of all for the animal-loving Boulderites (pretty sure that’s all of you), the Magnolia is super pet-friendly and welcomes furry babies of all sizes and breeds – with no pet deposit.
Or head to The Curtis – also right downtown – for a totally different vibe. Instead of the history, The Curtis is a colorful, pop-culture-infused, artsy hotel completely adorned with Instagram-worthy vignettes throughout. In the lobby, take pics by a retro RV or on the ski lift.
Make sure you book one of the unique hyper-themed rooms, including the scary movie floor, Barbie room, KISS rockstar suite and a superhero room. If you’re lucky, pair the theme of your room with a movie of the same theme showing at the nearby Pavilions movie theater.
The Pavilions are only a few minutes away and also packed with shopping, bowling and an arcade and a brand-new, interactive experience called Distortions Monster World. This otherworldly, experiential adventure brings you to a world of ghouls and goblins and aliens, oh my.
2 Hours Away
If you don’t mind a slightly longer drive with more-than-slightly-better natural attractions, head up I-70 to Vail. Whereas a trek up the mountain is a nightmare in ski season, it can be a lovely, scenic drive in the summer. This is the year to visit Vail, because the charming, elegant mountain town is celebrating its big 6-0 birthday this year.
Celebrate at a hotel that showcases Vail’s history, The Hythe, a Luxury Collection Resort. The Hythe offers an upscale, alpine paradise, complete with incredible dining, a spa, and plenty of activities and adventures – all centered around luxurious accommodations. It recently reopened after a full, $40-million renovation. Weaving Vail’s connection to WWII’s 10th Mountain Division was a huge part of the redesign. See historical photos and artifacts on the walls; tip back a cocktail at the 10th Mountain Bar in the lobby (it donates a portion of the proceeds to Vail veterans); grab a snack from Mountain Ration (named after the soldiers’ rations); and see design details throughout inspired by Vail’s natural attractions – a ski lodge feel with a touch of elegance and unique 1960s vibes.
Wake up with breakfast at Margie’s Haas, a tribute to the World War II local home cook. And wrap up your day with a hand-crafted cocktail and locally inspired dishes at Revel Lounge. In between filling up your belly on fine dining, make sure you book a massage and experience the only Himalayan salt inhalation lounge in town at the peaceful Well & Being Spa. The spa is all about recovery, so you can even find massage guns, decompression sleeves for your legs, and (shh) a bonus hot tub outside the fitness center that few people seem to know about.
The Hythe, cozied up inside Lionshead Village, also partners with Adventure IO to organize curated activities led by pro athletes and local experts. You can go heli-skiing with an Olympian or fly fishing with a guide. The resort offers a free shuttle on demand, and the free town bus stops right outside the resort.
While in Vail, don’t miss the views from the Eagle Bahn Gondola – yes, it’s open in the summer.
More than 2 Hours Away
Just a short journey will bring you to one of the most jaw-dropping destinations on Earth. Not NYC. Not LA. Not even Jackson. If you want to leave the state without hopping on a plane – and you want to head somewhere absolutely out of this world – head north to Douglas, Wyoming, to arguably the most exclusive ranch getaway possible: Reid Creek Lodge.
This is still a hidden gem, as it only opened to the public last year. Reid Creek is an all-inclusive, family-friendly property situated on a 300,000-acre cattle ranch. It’s so remote it takes 45 minutes to drive from one barn to the next. Luxury travelers looking for the ultimate cowboy getaway can enjoy home-cooked meals by a private chef, personalized Western-inspired activities, and an 8,000-square-foot cabin, complete with staff, to themselves.
Ride award-winning horses and feed the foals. Get personalized instruction on clay pigeon shooting. Throw out a line in a private lake. There’s so much to do: stargazing, archery, hiking, e-biking, wildlife viewing, stand-up paddleboarding, lawn games, rock scrambling, 4×4 off-roading, yoga, picnics, landscape painting classes, birdwatching – and it’s all just for you. No lines, no crowds.
Now, such exclusive, star treatment comes at a cost: $15,000 a night. But before you kick off your boots, that’s for the entire, spacious, multi-floor cabin that can sleep 22 guests. So if you want to plan an epic family reunion, company excursion, bachelor or bachelorette party, friend-cation, or wedding party where everything is taken care of and you can fully immerse yourself in nature and the Western world, Reid Creek is waiting just a few hours north of Boulder.
A Stop Along the Way
If you are headed to the Denver International Airport and want to bookend your travels with more fun, spend a night at the Gaylord Rockies Resort. The Gaylord is rolling out a new Wellness Suite in August. And over the summer, this family-friendly resort has an on-site water park, spa, and various activities for kids, like “animal encounters” to meet live animals up close; scavenger hunts across the property; and a new Colorado-themed escape room.