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Drive Time: A little over an hour
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Who It’s For: Families, Adventurers, First-Time Visitors
The Classic Stops: Pioneer Inn, Kathmandu Restaurant, Carousel of Happiness, Fourth of July Trail, Barker Reservoir, Boulder Falls
Feed your caffeine addiction inside the quirky Train Cars Coffee and Yoghurt Company, inside, yes, a train car, where the owner recently moved his roasting operation from Gilpin. Pair your expertly pulled Americano with one—or six—freshly fried baby doughnuts. 101 S. Peak to Peak Hwy, 303-258-2455
Nederland’s proximity to the Indian Peaks Wilderness opens up all kinds of peak-bagging options (like the wildflower-rich trek to the top of Mt. Audubon). But out-of-towners (and out-of-shapers) will appreciate the myriad of less hard-core options nearby as well, like the three-mile (round-trip) trek to Lost Lake. You’ll climb from 9,000 to 9,800 feet on a well-traveled path through aspens to end up at the edge of this pretty alpine lake (pictured above)—one that’s still dotted with remnants of Colorado’s mining history. Trail directions and a map are available here.
Fuel With A View…
Housed in a former Army barrack, the Sundance Lodge and Cafe boasts hearty mountain favorites (many made from the cafe’s 30-something-year-old recipes) like steak and eggs, a nearly-big-as-your-face buffalo burger, and smoked—not fried—chicken wings served with gravy-thick homemade bleu cheese. But the best thing about this cozy restaurant just outside of Nederland isn’t what’s on the menu: It’s the postcard-worthy views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness served up on its large outdoor patio. 23942 Colorado 119, 303-258-3797
After you’ve meandered through the historic old town shops on East 1st Street, where the friendly staff at Dandelion Fine Art and Gifts will happily advise you on where to eat, drink, and play along the Peak-to-Peak Highway, stop in at Blue Owl Books. The eclectic boutique (which holds much more than just books) sits just across from Nederland’s Caribou Village Shopping Center and is easy to ignore. That’d be a mistake. Doing so means you’ll miss out on a scoop of heat-beating Nederland Snow sorbet: This all-in-one store contains what might be the state’s tiniest ice creamery, which serves up small batch flavors from Louisville’s Magill’s World of Ice Cream. 176 Colorado 119, 303-258-3695
See Spot Sip…
Jeffrey and Susan Green’s year-and-a-half old Very Nice Brewing Company holds something for everyone, even four-legged friends. The laid-back spot in the bottom of the Caribou Shopping Center allows well behaved canine customers inside the roll-up door, although they’re not allowed to sample any of Very Nice’s six taps, for good reason. These brewers aren’t messing around: Of the five flagship beers, only one weighs in at less than 6 percent ABV (and just barely). If you’re feeling generous on the way out (and after a pint of the 8.4 percent Monk’s Phunk strong ale, you likely are), buy a friend a beer in advance with the Ale it Forward program. Your buddy’s name goes on the board, along with yours, until he collects his gift. 20 Lakeview Drive, #112, 303-258-3770
Get a virtual day trip tour with our slide show above.
Follow senior editor Kasey Cordell on Twitter @KaseyCordell.