For some, the extended Labor Day weekend is an opportunity for a mini vacation. But if you chose to skip the travel hassle for just one extra day out of the office—DIA, it turns out, is one of the busiest airports in the nation during Labor Day weekend—there is plenty going on in Denver and throughout Colorado (just avoid camping in State Parks, which are reported to be close to capacity). Here are 11 ways to enjoy the long weekend in the Mile High City or throughout the Centennial State.
See Some Art
Stay near Denver: First Friday Art Walks or Free First Saturday at the DAM
Details: Santa Fe Art Walk (September 1, 5:30–9:30 p.m.), RiNo First Friday: (September 1, 6–9 p.m.), Free First Saturday (September 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
This weekend is also the first Friday of September—a great time to explore Denver’s art districts or the Denver Art Museum. On Friday, both the Arts District on Santa Fe and the River North Arts District host their monthly events, during which you can explore workshops, galleries, and dozens of artsy establishments. On Santa Fe, explore more than 100 galleries, and in RiNo, many of the studios, breweries, and local businesses will feature live music. If you don’t get enough art on Friday night, enjoy free admission at the Denver Art Museum on Saturday and check out exhibits with photography, furniture, and more.
Take a Drive: Commonwheel Arts Festival
Details: September 2–4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Memorial Park, Manitou Springs
Distance from Denver: About 75 miles
This arts festival for the whole family features fine arts for the fanatics, contemporary crafts for the funky, as well as live (and local) music, and speciality food. In the festival’s 43rd year, you can shop a variety of mediums and meet artists from the Pikes Peak region and neighboring states. For the kids, the festival has a Kid’s Art Activities Booth with hands-on arts and crafting, face painting, and more activities to keep them entertained.
Eat Some Food (And Enjoy an Adult Beverage)
Stay near Denver: The Rocky Mountain Pizza & Pints Festival
Details: September 4, 1–6 p.m., Boulder Creek Hometown Festival, 13th Street, Boulder; $35
As part of the weekend-long Boulder Creek Hometown Festival, the 2nd annual Rocky Mountain Pizza & Pints Festival is the perfect way to spend an evening this weekend. Your ticket gets you access to live music, local pizza, and unlimited beer tastings from more than a dozen breweries. A share of the proceeds will benefit the Colorado Ocean Coalition.
Take a Drive: Salida Winefest
Details: Wine Dinner (September 1, 6 p.m., Shallots Restaurant, 137 E. 1st St., Salida; $100) Winefest (September 2, 1–6 p.m., Riverside Park, Salida;$10 to $25)
Distance from Denver: About 142 miles
The night before Winefest, you can enjoy a six-course dinner (spots are still available, but limited) with wine pairings. Enjoy five Colorado wines that will be at the festival, in addition to gourmet dishes from seafood to elk. The next day, bring your blanket and listen to music while you enjoy wines from 18 Colorado Wineries paired food and snacks. After all that wine, you won’t be driving home, so book a room at the Palace Hotel located in historic downtown Salida.
Have an Adventure
Stay near Denver: Tour De Fat Fort Collins
Details: September 2; parade launch (corner of Meldrum and Maple) at 10 a.m.; festival runs from 3–9 p.m.; Tickets are $25 (12 and under are free), New Belgium Brewing Company, 500 Linden St., Fort Collins
Even though Denver’s Tour De Fat was cancelled, you can trek to Fort Collins for a day of brews, bikes, and music. Don your craziest outfit and ride through Fort Collins before heading to the New Belgium Brewing Company for a night of music (featuring the All American Rejects and X Ambassadors), circus-infused entertainment, magicians, dance contests, and of course, beer and food.
At this festival, enjoy a number of formation-flying performances and aerobatics. Watch WWII Navy planes perform a bombing simulation, see air show pilots fly their Trojan T-228 Warbirds, get your picture taken in a fighter jet, and much more. And while you’re in Steamboat, you can enjoy a host of adventurous activities from a PBR Bull Bash, a 10K over Rabbit Ears, a crane festival, and more.