You’re not truly a Denverite until you’ve uttered some version of “I-70 traffic is the worst!” Thankfully, in recent years, the towns between Denver and Summit County have added to their offerings, giving frustrated drivers (and whining kids and dogs) more places to stretch their legs, grab some caffeine, or pass the time while traffic (hopefully) eases. Here are seven of our favorite places to take a break from your I-70 frustration.
If Spot is giving you that “I gotta go” look even though you just left the house… Cross your fingers that he can make it a few minutes longer. Lakewood’s Forsberg–Iron Spring Dog Park is a short, three-mile detour off I-70 (take exit 260 toward Alameda Parkway). Pups will have access to 2.5 acres of off-leash roaming space and a doggie water fountain. Even better: It’s open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. so no matter how early you leave—or how slow traffic is on your way back—you’ll almost always have a place to go to prevent an accident.
If you’re looking for a caffeine boost… Kaffehuset‘s cozy cabin vibe will cure morning grogginess. Whether we need a latte to-go or want to settle into a couch for a few minutes (and hop on the Wi-Fi for a quick work check-in—shame on us), this year-old Georgetown coffee house is worth the detour. The one downside: The coffeeshop doesn’t open until 9 a.m., so early risers will have to get their buzz elsewhere.
If you just want to ski already… Consider exiting the highway at Evergreen Parkway and pointing your car toward Echo Mountain. The often-overlooked ski hill is just an hour from downtown Denver, and lift tickets are only $49 for adults ($39 for kids age six to 15; free for five and younger) so you won’t feel too guilty about leaving your Vail ski pass in the car.
If you’re in need of a drink… (Just one, of course! You’re driving after all.) Since opening last summer, Bread Bar (pictured) has quickly become a favorite pit stop—and a destination in its own right. The Silver Plume watering hole’s concise menu was crafted with the help of the talented team behind the Way Back. Watch the venue’s social media accounts for monthly concert announcements plus other pop-up events. Bonus: We haven’t made it to Bouck Brothers Distilling in Idaho Springs yet, but the whiskey house offers 30-minute tours—plus tastings—on the hour from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
If the kids didn’t quite get all their energy out on the ski hill… Head 10 minutes west of Idaho Springs to Lawson Adventure Park. The venue is open until 7 p.m. every day, so you can easily make it there after a half day on the slopes. Winter activities include Zorbing (basically, rolling down a hill in a giant ball) and tubing. If the kids aren’t zonked after all that, well, we’re out of suggestions. Reservations are encouraged.
If you decide you need dinner now and not three hours from now… Try carbo-loading at Sauce on the Blue. Situated on the banks of the Blue River, this six-month-old restaurant is bringing some refinement and darn good food to Silverthorne. The menu is classic Italian, and the pizza dough and sauce are both made in-house. Whatever you order, pair it with a perfectly made Hudson Rye Manhattan.