Too often, we coast through Glenwood Springs en route to Aspen or another far-flung locale without a second thought. But stop and spend a weekend there, and you’ll likely make it a regular getaway.

The Odometer: 157 miles, one-way

If You Do One Thing…: Hit the pool. Yes, Glenwood Hot Springs is a tourist trap, but who cares when you’re soaking your muscles in soothing 90-degree water (entrance fee information is here). Arrive early in the morning, and nab a coveted spot under a tree in the grassy area for all-day shade between swims.

Local Secret: Next to the rail station, which still handles Amtrak trains, is a picnic table that overlooks the Colorado River. Stop here to watch the sunset—sans crowds. After the light fades, grab a pint of Vapor Cave India Pale Ale—the brew won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2008—from Glenwood Canyon Brewpub.

Where to Nosh: Foodies should head directly to Mark Fisher’s the Pullman, a low-key eatery with decidedly upscale food (think: roasted bone marrow and curried lamb shoulder). Families should head to Slope & Hatch for gourmet hot dogs and addicting tacos.

Get Outside: While not technically in Glenwood Springs (it’s about 10 miles away), the trek to Hanging Lake should be a mandatory pilgrimage while in the area. The 1.2-mile (one-way) hike is steep, but remember: You can soothe your aches in the hot springs later. Not that you’ll even remember you’re sore when you reach the surreal turquoise-blue lake at the top. Bonus: To get there, you’ll have to drive through parts of Glenwood Canyon, which provides some of the most scenic views on I-70. The massive cliffs—as tall as 1,300 feet—were cut long ago by the Colorado River. Geologists will be able to pick out the sandstone (near the top) and Cambrian rock (closer to the river) layers.

Stay: The rooms at the historic Hotel Colorado—built in 1893—need an update, but the main areas, including a lovely courtyard, are divine for whiling away a few hours.

Stroll: When you aren’t at the hot springs, explore Grand Avenue. Sip on a latte at Sacred Grounds Coffee and pick up some poolside reading at Book Train.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.