Colorado is full of quaint towns even outside of the Rockies, and Louisville may be one of the most charming ones. Louisville itself dates back to the coal mining era in 1877 when the Welch Mine started producing coal. The town was actually founded in 1882 by Louis Nawatny, after he bought land and named it after himself. Now, Louisville is equal parts suburb and intimate getaway, sitting just east of Boulder County’s foothills. With its bike paths, boutique shops, and solid dining options, Louisville makes for a delightful day trip or pitstop en route to the Rockies. Here’s how to spend a day exploring this endearing town.

The odometer: 22 miles, one-way

Get Outside

Photo by Victoria Carodine

If a morning walk or quick bike ride is all you’re after, the Davidson Mesa Open Space is 10 minutes from downtown Louisville. The area includes the Davidson Mesa Loop Trail, a 3.3-mile trek that offers views of Boulder’s Flatirons. Bring Fido along for the adventure—the open space is dog friendly (on leash), plus it features a dog park near the trailhead. For a longer excursion, hop on the Coal Creek Trail. The 14-mile path starts in Lafayette and runs through Louisville and Broomfield. Dogs are permitted but must be leashed.

From mid-May through mid-October, the Louisville Farmers Market sells locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, wines, breads, honey, flowers, and artisan goods. The market runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Front Street.

Eat & Drink

Moxie Bakery’s avocado toast and vegan banana chocolate muffin. Photo by Victoria Carodine

If you wander along Louisville’s Main Street, you’ll most likely see a line snaking out the door at Moxie Bread Co. The cozy bakery offers seasonal coffee drinks and delectable baked goods made with organic heirloom flours, which are easier to digest. Down the street, Waterloo, a beloved local watering hole, cooks up comfort food—bison burgers, barbecued tofu steaks, and key lime pie—for lunch. The two-story restaurant also features live music, trivia nights, and brunch every week. If you still have room for dessert, Sweet Cow scoops locally sourced ice cream in daily rotating flavors.


Photo by Victoria Carodine

Although it’s small, Louisville’s shopping scene shouldn’t be missed. Stop by the Chance Shoppe to find candles, mugs, jewelry, and an assortment of locally made gifts. The Singing Cook has unique and essential bakeware, utensils, cookware, and gadgets that you might need in your kitchen. If your credit card is burning a hole in your wallet, head to Eleanor and Hobbs—an upscale, curated women’s clothing boutique featuring jewelry and a miniature apothecary. Or get lost in a world of books at The Book Cellar, an independent bookstore that sells used and new books in addition to gifts, games, art supplies, and greeting cards.

If You Do One Thing

Louisville’s Historical Museum explores the city’s past in three buildings constructed between 1903 and 1908. The museum’s main building, formerly the Jacoe Store, displays coal mining artifacts and historic photographs of Louisville’s Main Street. The second building, the Tomeo House, represents a coal miner’s house, including a kitchen, bedroom, and sitting room. A replica of the original layout of downtown Louisville resides in the last building, the Jordinelli House. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and admission is free.

Bonus: Getting Around

To make exploring easy, e-bike of Colorado rents out electric bikes at hourly rates in downtown Louisville. Rental rates start at $29 for two hours. Feel like getting away for the night? The Hotel Boulderado is a historic, yet swanky hotel just 10 miles from downtown Louisville (rooms start at $127 a night). You can also find an assortment of cozy homes to rent on Airbnb, so you can truly experience what it’s like to live in this historic hamlet.

Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.