In our quest to squeeze every drop of sunshine-soaked Colorado goodness out of July and August, we’ve put together a summertime spin on dinner and a flick. Bring a date, your kids, or just take yourself out—these pairings are the perfect end to a warm-weather day.

Destination: Buena Vista

Dinner: Simple Eatery

Chicken tacos with a salad and a beer.
Simple Eatery’s blackened chicken tacos. Photo courtesy of Simple Eatery

Hit the walk-up counter for local, scratch-made bites and then head out to the glowing patio to people-watch and smell the flowers. This casual downtown artisan bakery collects awards for its burgers and stone-baked goodies. Fall in love with the puffy, salt-dotted Bavarian pretzel plate and its beer cheese and honey mustard dipping sauces before moving on to the spinach and arugula salad with mango and fig and Simple’s signature citrus sage cream ravioli.

Movie: The Comanche Drive-In Theatre

A vintage car in front of a large movie screen.
The Comanche Drive-In Theatre. Photo by Daniel Groy

Just far enough out of town to feel like a secret, the family-run Comanche Drive-In sits in a field flanked by the Collegiate Peaks three miles west of Buena Vista. At 8,000 feet in elevation, the Comanche is the highest drive-in in the United States and one of just seven remaining Colorado drive-in theaters. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, catch classics and box office hits such as Inside Out 2 and The Fall Guy nightly Fridays through Tuesdays.

Destination: Edwards

Dinner: The Drunken Goat

Let the cheesemonger and wine experts at this buzzing happy hour favorite set you up with a summery meal you’ll tell friends about all season. Begin with a beautiful spread of meats and cheeses, order $2 oysters and $8 wines at happy hour (daily, 3 to 5 p.m.) and kick back on the patio while local musicians serenade summer crowds. The lamb meatballs and shaved New York strip pimento cheesesteak are legendary.

Movie: Riverwalk Theater

A family enjoys a movie at Riverwalk Theater.
Riverwalk Theater. Photo courtesy of Riverwalk Theater

If you can pull yourself away from the sun-baked scene at the Drunken Goat, head across Highway 6 to the Riverwalk Theater for a scoop of ice cream and a movie (recent options have included A Quiet Place: Day One and Horizon: An American Saga). A community gathering spot, the Riverwalk Theater keeps the menu nostalgic with dreamy soft-serve, hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn (add the truffle oil) inside a cool, dark, comfy movie theater.

Destination: Fort Collins

Dinner: The Exchange

High-up view of the Exchange plaza.
The Exchange in Fort Collins. Photo courtesy of the Exchange

This open-air plaza has been the Old Town summer spot for food, drink, and fun since opening in 2017. Visit Vato’s for pork belly and fried chicken street tacos and wash them down with jalapeño-cucumber margaritas on the shipping container restaurant’s patio. Then squeeze in a round of mini golf next door at Old Town Putt.

Movie: Holiday Twin Drive-In

Cars parked in front of a movie screen with a sunset sky.
Holiday Twin Drive-In. Photo courtesy of Holiday Twin

Pack the blankets and pillows and catch a double feature from your car Friday and Saturday nights on Holiday Twin’s two screens. Shows begin at dusk and summer blockbusters like If, The Garfield Movie, Deadpool & Wolverine, and Beetlejuice Beetlejuice are all on the schedule. Tip: Kids age five and under enjoy free admission, and adults are just $10.

Destination: Telluride

Dinner: La Piazza del Villaggio

A patio during sunset.
La Piazza’s patio. Photo courtesy of La Piazza del Villaggio

Telluride answers cravings for upscale, elegant patio dining with full-course, à la carte Italian fare at La Piazza del Villaggio. Treat yourself to time-honored family recipes like speck (smoked prosciutto) affumicato, veal scaloppine, and Margherita pizza. Request a table on the patio facing Mountain Village’s grassy green ski runs and watch the Bronco orange sunset light up the peaks as you finish final spoonfuls of lemon and pistachio gelato.

Movie: Movies Under the Stars in Mountain Village

Wrap yourselves in blankets and embrace the cool nighttime air while you snuggle into provided seating at Reflection Plaza in Mountain Village. Free movies—think: family classics like E.T. and Homeward Bound—roll on the projection screen Saturdays at sundown all summer.

Destination: Dillon

Dinner: Red Mountain Grill

A burger with a steak knife through it with fries and a beer.
Red Mountain Grill’s Double R burger. Photo courtesy of Red Mountain Grill

There are plenty of places to dine near Dillon Amphitheater, including this American grill with Southwest flair, which satisfies with chopped wedge steak salads, blackened shrimp fajitas, and signature Colorado Angus beef burgers. Snag a table on the petite patio, sip a marg made with fresh-squeezed juice, and dig into a Double R burger topped with smoked pulled pork and thick applewood-smoked bacon.

Movie: Dillon Amphitheater Sunday Movies on the Water

Dillon Amphitheater. Photo by Jenise Jensen

Stretch out on the manicured lawn and watch the sun dip behind the Gore Range as you watch flicks such as Barbie and Wonka. The state-of-the-art sound system at Dillon Amphitheater anchors a real-deal cinematic experience the last Sunday of the month all summer long.

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.