Layovers and lost luggage—who needs ’em? Opt for traveling to one of these five vacation-worthy spots instead, all of which are new(ish) additions to Denver International Airport’s long roster of direct destinations. Plus: Denver-based Frontier Airlines just introduced the “Friends Fly Free” program, which offers a free round trip for your best travel bud when you buy a round-trip ticket to select spots.
California’s Redwood Coast
Airline: United (airport code: ACV)
Although towering trees are the obvious attraction, the Redwood coast is more than a gateway to one of the world’s oldest forests. Your three-hour flight will land you in Eureka, a small-town arts haven packed with galleries and fine cuisine. Check out the Morris Graves Museum of Art, which hosts events every Sunday, like art classes for kids and jazz shows. To catch the world-class sunset over the ocean, reserve a table at the coast-side Moonstone Grill, which has a 180-degree view of the water.
California Wine Country
Airline: United (airport code: STS)
Take a vacation from brew-happy Denver and dip your toes into the world of Sonoma County wine. The direct, daily flight will have you landing midday in Santa Rosa’s Sonoma County/Charles M. Schulz Airport. From there, unpack your bags at one of the quaint bed and breakfasts, like the cozy Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn, and then unwind with a glass of wine and warm plate of pasta at the Brass Rabbit (squid ink linguine or braised lamb shank ravioli, anyone?). Country fans, look out for the Country Summer festival this June, which boasts big-time headliners like Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, and Jake Owen. Of course, you’d be remiss if you didn’t stop by a vineyard or two. The sustainable, solar-energy powered Cline Family Cellars hosts tours three times a day, where you’ll tour the estate and learn more about the history of the vineyard, or book a $20 private tasting session, where you can sip on Rhone Varietals and Zinfandels.
Airline: Cayman Airways (airport code: GCM)
If you’re in an international mindset, Cayman Airways’ new nonstop service out of Denver is worth consideration. The flight can be up to 11 hours with connections, but this direct route will take under five. The island destination is perfect for scuba divers (landlocked Colorado is home to the sixth-largest population of scuba divers in the U.S.) and margarita-in-hand beach enthusiasts alike. The Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa is a luxurious ocean-front lodge, including rooms with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water.
Airline: Frontier (airport code: MYR)
For an East Coast getaway, Frontier’s non-stop route will jettison you to South Carolina’s famous Myrtle Beach. Book a hotel close to the 60-mile coastline, and soon you’ll be collecting shark teeth, snorkeling, and surfing. For waterfront digs, check out the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes. Once there, book your tickets at the Myrtle Beach Safari, which will have you feeling like you’re on another continent, not just another coast. (Reminder: Don’t forget to book through Frontier’s “Friends Fly Free” program!)
Airline: United (airport code: FLG)
Yes, northern Arizona is within driving distance, but a quick weekend getaway doesn’t always allow for the lengthy—though scenic—route. Enjoy the warm weather and hike the 50,000-year-old Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, or drive the hour-and-a-half to the Grand Canyon to enjoy one of the world’s natural wonders. If you’re feeling homesick at the end of the day, pop into one of the Flagstaff’s plentiful breweries. Check out our guide to the sun-soaked destination for more ideas.