Ahhh, Denver. It’s an amazing city with so much to offer. But, despite the beautiful street art, coffee shops, distilleries, and other entertainment, sometimes you need a brief respite from the urban jungle. Luckily, plenty of amazing places where you can take a day trip and breathe in nature’s fresh air surround Denver. Here are four perfect day trips from Denver, good for winter or summer alike, within a few hours’ drive.

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Best One Day Trips from Denver in Winter or Summer

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: North

Distance: 70 Miles (about 1 hour 15 minutes)

About & What to Do:

From meadows to mountains, there’s so much to see at Rocky Mountain National Park. Watch the abundant elk herd (about 800 strong), or keep your eyes peeled for the small moose population hanging around. Check out all five visitor centers, multiple scenic drive routes, picnic areas, various lakes, and over 300 miles of trails. Not only that, but you can also go climbing, fishing, horseback riding (BYOH: bring your own horse), bicycling, and more.

A one-day vehicle pass (for up to 16 people, in case you have a clown car) is only $30. Seven-day passes are $35, so you can take multiple-day trips up here or camp for the weekend. Keep in mind that they require timed entry passes from May to October. The park gets busy during the summer and fall, so getting in early or coming later in the afternoon tends to work out better. Check the weather and park road status before you visit to ensure the perfect trip.

What to Eat, Drink, & See Along the Way:


Location: West of Denver

Distance: 97 Miles (about 1 hour 45 minutes)

About & What to Do:

Many people hear the name Vail and think, “Skiing!” And, while Vail is a fantastic place to play in some powder, this little town can suit every taste for a day trip. First and foremost, of course, is skiing. Vail Resort is one of the largest in the world, with 5,317 acres of skiable land. With everything from easy bunny hills to black diamond trails, they offer a slope here for everyone.

For those who don’t ski or want some other type of adventure, you’ll find plenty of exciting alternatives. The Vail Golf Club is a public course available for 9-hole, 18-hole, twilight, and junior golfing. If you prefer relaxing, try one of the many spas, with offerings such as yoga (with goats!), forest bathing, and meditation alongside traditional spa services. Top your day off with dinner at one of Vail’s top restaurants or some live music at one of the bars. 

What to Eat, Drink, & See Along the Way:

  • Dillon Dam Brewery: Drop by and visit the largest brewpub in the Rockies.
  • Greco’s Pastaria: A little ways further is Frisco, a town with numerous restaurants, including this pizzeria and wine bar.
  • Broken Compass Brewing: Hit up Breckenridge on your way to Vail for a cozy brewery experience.
  • Dillon Reservoir: Visit the largest reservoir in Denver for some outdoor recreation along the way.


Location: West of Denver

Distance: 80 Miles (about 1 hour 30 minutes)

About & What to Do:

Visitors consider this former mining town to be one of the prettiest in the country, with over 200 businesses and restaurants packed into a small space. The Breckenridge welcome center offers maps to take self-guided tours, or you can book an adventure, such as a mining tour, ghost tour, or historic tour. Just make reservations ahead of time because this town gets busy.

Outside of the town, opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation abound. Ski or snowboard Breckenridge’s iconic mountain in winter. Go snowshoeing on the backcountry trails, or head out for some dog sledding. In the summer, hiking and biking the mountain are also popular activities.

What to Eat, Drink, & See Along the Way:

Manitou Springs

Location: South

Distance: 75 Miles (about 1 hour 15 minutes)

About & What to Do:

This self-proclaimed “chock-full of charm” town is the perfect escape for a day trip from Denver. At Manitou Springs, you can climb Pike’s Peak (the inspiration for “America the Beautiful”), make a stop at all eight springs (serving up naturally carbonated water), and dive into history with a visit to the Manitou cliff dwellings (Puebloan structures dating back over 1000 years).

What to Eat, Drink, & See Along the Way:

Pegasus Restaurant: A wonderful stopping place for breakfast or lunch.

Golf Club at Bear Dance: Rated as Colorado’s most-challenging course, this public golf club is a great place to stop by for a quick game.

Garden of the Gods: Nature lovers rejoice and take a quick jaunt to this unique place.

Outlets at Castle Rock: Stop off for some discount shopping.

Need Help with Your Denver Move?

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About the Author
Jeanette Smith

Jeanette Smith is a writer, editor, and freelancer based in Dallas, Texas. Find out more at JeanettetheWriter.com.