By Jenny Peters
Exploring Colorado’s two major cities where the Great Plains transform into the Rocky Mountains might just be one of the most surprising trips you’ll ever take. Did you know that sunny days in both Denver and Colorado Springs outnumber rain and snow by over two to one, and temperatures in both cities average 45F or above, even during the coldest winter months?
Having so many lovely, temperate days every year means visitors get the chance to experience all the outdoor activities that make this part of America such a popular spot for sports lovers as well as the place where many U.S. Olympic athletes train. Add cutting-edge dining, countless craft breweries, and plenty of arts, music, and cultural attractions into the mix and it’s no surprise why Colorado’s Rocky Mountain gateway cities are the place to be.
DENVER | the mile high city
Take the airport train from DEN straight into the classic 1914-built Union Station (the original went up in 1881) and book into The Crawford Hotel that’s nestled inside — from there much of Denver’s downtown is within easy walking distance.
Sports fans can stroll to Coors Field to take in a Colorado Rockies baseball game, or head in the opposite direction to catch a Denver Broncos football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Foodies will find excellent choices at Larimer Square, a classic old Victorian neighborhood. Check out Tag Restaurant for convivial world fusion dining or dig into steak frites, escargot, and other French bistro comfort foods at Bistro Vendome nearby. Craft breweries are everywhere in Denver — 150 and counting — so seek out Woods Boss Brewing, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, or Bruz Beers for unique beer tastings.
Be certain to take a ride out to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, where the whole family will find a place that delights and amazes. The impressive sandstone amphitheater was formed naturally, creating perfect sound quality. The venue plays host to big-time musical artists. See a show, hike and bike the trails, or take the kids to Dinosaur Ridge nearby for a look at the many dinosaur bones and fossils found here.
COLORADO SPRINGS | olympic city u.s.a.
Colorado Springs was founded as a resort city in 1871, and remains a destination that leaves one feeling at ease. Bring the whole family and start your visit with a VIP tour of the U.S. Olympic Training Center to see where our Olympic athletes train, then get out and do some exercise of your own. Begin at the Garden of the Gods, just northwest of the town center, where red rock formations, plains grasslands, and juniper-pinyon forests collide to create a unique geological wonder that has been a protected free public area since 1909. Hike, bike, ride horses, or rock climb — the choice is yours.
Then it’s on to Pikes Peak, the massive 14,115-foot natural edifice known as “America’s Mountain.” Drive, hike, or bike up to the very top — whatever suits your fitness level — and once you reach the summit, catch your breath in that high-altitude air while drinking in wilderness views.
For the ultimate Colorado Springs experience, book a stay at The Broadmoor, the venerable resort that opened here in 1918. These days, it boasts two famous golf courses, a luxurious spa, and plenty of adventure opportunities including ziplining, fly fishing, and even a hike to Seven Falls — its own iconic waterfall. It’s a perfect home base for all that this spectacular part of America’s West has to offer.
Fly to Denver International Airport (DEN) nonstop on United, Spirit, or Frontier from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or on Southwest from Midway International Airport (MDW). If you are flying into Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Frontier will take you there nonstop from ORD.