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As part of a new series, Travel + Leisure is exploring America one three-day weekend at a time. Here’s what to do on a short trip to the Rocky Mountain town. 

August 22, 2016

For a long weekend getaway in the mountains, head to the mecca of craft brews, beautiful views, artisan eats and sunny days—Boulder. Here’s an itinerary to experience the town’s best attractions and achieve the ultimate Rocky Mountain high.

Day One

If you’re looking for a luxury stay, The St. Julien Hotel offers swank rooms and modern amenities in the heart of downtown. For a more rustic experience, cottage rentals are available in Chautauqua Park with easy access to hiking and postcard-worthy views of the iconic Flatiron rock formations.

Get your farm-to-table fix at The Kitchen, a community bistro famed for its locally sourced dishes, before you head out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Drive up and over Flagstaff Mountain to Gross Reservoir, about 15 miles outside the city. The alpine lake is motorboat-free, making it a tranquil place to spend an afternoon kayaking, hiking, and taking in panoramic Indian Peaks scenery.

Spend your evening visiting Boulder’s best breweries. Start your night at Mountain Sun Pub. Order a specialty beer and a burger (vegetarian and vegan options available) while you enjoy the pub’s stash of board games. After dinner, visit two more breweries within walking distance—West Flanders and Walnut. To continue your brewery-hop beyond downtown, plan ahead and arrange a private custom tour. With 47 breweries in Boulder County, your route possibilities are endless.

Day Two

No trip to Boulder is complete without a hike. Head out early to beat the crowds to Chautauqua Park, the town’s best-known hiking destination. Get coffee and breakfast at Alpine Modern Café on your way up to the trailhead. There are many trails from the park to suit every skill level. For a challenge, climb the switchbacks up to Royal Arch and enjoy views of the town below.

If your visit falls on a Saturday, stop by the Boulder Farmers Market and peruse the dozens of local vendors offering fresh produce and homemade goods Grab a creative lunch from urban taqueria T/aco, then head to the Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall, the town’s main retail drag. Watch street performers and browse the eclectic mix of shops, like kitchen-supply mecca Peppercorn, whimsical kite shop Into the Wind, and Cured West, the downtown outpost of Boulder’s gourmet grocer and cheese shop.

Enjoy an upscale dinner at the Flagstaff House. Request a table by the windows or on the terrace overlooking Boulder and the surrounding mountains.

For drinks after dinner, grab some artisanal libations at Bitter Bar or snag a table on the roof of Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant for one of its legendary margaritas. 

Day Three

Go to brunch at The Buff, a local staple for indulgent breakfast food. For 99 cents, add a Mimosa or Bloody Mary to your meal.

Next, rent a bike and take advantage of Boulder’s 300 miles of designated cycling routes. For an easy ride, take the Boulder Creek Path. On this trail running adjacent to its eponymous waterway, you’ll cruise through local parks and the scenic University of Colorado campus. If you’re a seasoned cyclist, ditch the bike paths and tackle 3,000 feet of elevation gain in 10 miles on the winding roads of Sunshine Canyon up to Gold Hill.

Close out your trip with some innovative cuisine from Oak at Fourteenth. Sit at the chef’s counter for cozy vibes—the crackling oak-fired oven in the kitchen will remind you of a fireplace.

For more long-weekend itineraries in America's best vacation destinations, click here.

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