Head for the Hills
You don't have to drive far to get away. Here, our 10 picks for off-the-beaten-path adventures in the foothills.
A Brewery Tour of the Front Range
I'm a different kind of Colorado gal. On a beautiful Saturday I don't grab my hiking boots or my padded bike shorts. Instead, I prefer to partake in a different Rocky Mountain tradition: imbibing at some of the nation's best breweries—ones hidden right here in our own foothills.
My love for Colorado beer is rooted in its approachability. Sure, we may have some complex craft beers, but they all originate from a blue-collar culture. As such, the first stop on this tour is the homey Golden City Brewery (920 12th St., Golden, 303-279-8092, www.gcbrewery.com), where the no-frills presentation makes everything taste better somehow. Inside the tiny tasting room (a carriage house), be sure to grab a pint of the crisp and bitter Evolution IPA and head to the backyard to enjoy it while sitting on a plastic lawn chair.
While rocking back on those plastic legs, you should contemplate Colorado beer's rich 30-year history—as well as the next stop on the tour, Boulder Beer (2880 Wilderness Place, Boulder, 303-444-8448). This brewery has the distinction of being Colorado's first microbrewery; it was founded in 1979, in a goat shed no less. Today, it's a sprawling brewpub serving up lunch and dinner. But I suggest heading to the outdoor beer garden so you can sunburn your nose with a pint of one of Boulder Beer's best, the Sweaty Betty Blonde—an unfiltered Bavarian-style wheat brew.
There's a good chance all this daytime drinking will give you the sleepies—especially after basking outside at the last two breweries. So the next stop, Avery Brewing (5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, 303-440-4324, www.averybrewing.com), is full of high-octane beer and a high-energy staff. As soon as you walk into the tasting room, you'll be greeted with an enthusiastic beer pourer, and by the time he's described all the brews you'll be ready for a pint of each. Don't miss the Ellie's Brown Ale, named after owner Adam Avery's late chocolate Lab.
Our last stop represents the overflowing innovation of Colorado's brewing scene. Oskar Blues (303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685, www.oskarblues.com), home of locals' fave Dale's Pale Ale (yes, it comes in a can), offers yummy grub upstairs (can't miss the chicken-fried steak) and blues music downstairs—where you can dance off your buzz before the drive home. Jennie Dorris