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Sure, Front Range campsites will probably fill up by Friday evening, and flights to get out of dodge will cost you the proverbial arm and leg. But there’s no need to fear missing out on the fun this Memorial Day weekend. Instead, consider these six ways to have an enjoyable, extra-long weekend in the Mile High City and throughout Colorado.
Stay Near Denver
When: Monday, May 27, 6:50 a.m.
Where: Race begins in Boulder at the corner of Walnut and 30th streets
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You don’t have to be a high-caliber athlete to enjoy this historic and highly acclaimed race. You can register the morning of and lace up for the 10k run—unless you prefer walking. The race finishes in a packed Folsom Field at the University of Colorado, where you can stick around to watch professional athletes (like Margaret Wangari Muriuki, Kayoko Fukushi, and Taylor Ward) from around the world race at superhuman speeds.
Denver Day of Rock
When: Saturday, May 25, 2:30–9:30 p.m.
Where: 16th Street Mall between Lawrence and Welton streets
This day-long musical festival, now in its 14th year, transforms the 16th Street Mall into a giant outdoor rock venue. Listen to Colorado bands like Silver & Gold and Hello, Mountain and bounce from stage to stage to catch the headliners—country Eli Young Band and afropunk brother-sister duo Wild Belle Band, to name a few. And of course, what’s a music festival in Denver without a beer garden? Sip on libations from the likes of Colorado Native, Hop Valley, and Henry’s Hard Soda, and taste summer-style fare from one of 18 vendors.
Denver Arts Festival
When: Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Conservatory Green in Stapleton
Denver’s art scene is flourishing, and this annual arts festival will highlight the best the city has to offer. Wander through booths filled with cutting-edge works from Colorado artists, such as painter Brian Billow and Conifer-based glass artist Terry Romanin, among dozens of others. Take a break from the art to see the Berkeley Avenue Jazz Band and string ensemble Spinphony, and then cool off with a Tivoli brew or Sangria made with wine from Boulder’s Decadent Saint Winery.
Take a Drive
When: All weekend
Where: Buena Vista (About 120 miles, or two hours from Denver)
Experienced kayakers and paddleboarders can race down the Arkansas River or practice their river-riding skills with a variety of workshops. For those new to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or surfing, take a beginner course and float down Buena Vista’s glistening streams. And if you don’t feel like getting wet, there’s still plenty of activity pulsing through this vibrant mountain town—drink some crisp Colorado beer, do some discount shopping along Main Street, and check out live music with performances by the BV Social Club, among others.
Bluegrass on the Arkansas
When: Saturday and Sunday, May 25–26
Where: Riverside Park in Salida (About 140 miles, or 2.5 hours from Denver)
Colorado’s bluegrass scene comes to life at this twangy weekend festival near the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Bands like Ragged Mountain take the stage Saturday night, and on Sunday you can scope out Salida’s local folk-roots Americana group Pint and a Half. We recommend making a day trip and hiking Hunts Lake Trail (2.4 miles) in the morning before hitting up the festival at Riverside Park. Sip some local beer and settle in.
Odell Small Batch Festival
When: Saturday, May 25, from 1–6 p.m.
Where: Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins (About 60 miles, or 75 minutes from Denver)
Sip Odell’s vintage bottled beers, like the 2015 Friek, an American Wild Ale, or their tart Zard-Alu Sour Apricot Ale, or try barrel-aged beers like the Jolly Russian, a rum barrel-aged imperial stout, and Lugene, a whiskey barrel-aged milk stout. Local bands will supply the tunes, including blues rock group Dragondeer, which has crafted a small experimental brew of their own—a hazy IPA called Dragondeer Haze—while you enjoy eats from Mac’n and Taco Stop. Relax on Odell’s spacious outdoor patio and bask in the long weekend. What a way to start the summer season.
Additional research by Meredith Sell