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5) Tube a River
My advisors recommended tubing over its wilder cousin, whitewater rafting. Maybe that's because you can drink a beer while tubing, maybe because the sport doesn't require a safety helmet. Tubing Boulder Creek, a frequent suggestion, does include rapids, though; for an easier trip, you can set sail on the St. Vrain and float through Lyons. Tubes generally rent for $11-$16; for more info on tubing Boulder Creek or the St. Vrain, go to www.whitewatertubing.com or, after June 15, call 720-379-6055.
6) Sample the Suds in Fort Collins
Visit four breweries in one day — on a bike. Only in Colorado. Specifically, in Fort Collins. Start at the big boy, Anheuser-Busch (2351 Busch Drive, www.budweisertours.com/home.htm, 970-490-4691), then head to Fort Collins Brewery (1900 East Lincoln Avenue, www.fortcollinsbrewery.com, 970-472-1499), Odell's (800 East Lincoln Avenue, http://odellbrewing.com, 970-498-9070) and New Belgium (500 Linden Street, www.newbelgium.com, 970-221-0524). But you'll need to plan ahead: Fort Collins Brewery only has tours on Saturdays, and New Belgium requires reservations (summer's filling up). Cheers!
7) Sleep in a Yurt
There's no telling how the traditional homes of Mongolian nomads became fixtures in Colorado, where these structures resemble their East Asian counterparts in name and shape only. Colorado's yurts are basically round cabins, typically without indoor plumbing. Still, it's much more fun to tell your friends back east that you're staying in a yurt than in a cabin. A few of the recommendations I received: Never Summer Nordic in Walden, which rents its remote yurts for $60-$80 a night in the summer (www.neversummernordic.com or 970-723-4070), and Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, which cost $80-105, are a little more cushy and have hot springs, which means you can cross another activity off your top-ten list here (www.joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com or 719-256-4328).
8) Eat Colorado Peaches
Turns out peaches come from more places than Georgia. Who knew? A friend back in Minnesota clued me in to Colorado's crop, even reporting that the revered Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul will be getting peaches from Palisade's Rocky Mountain Peach Company and Durango's Kokopelli Peach Farm sometime in early August. That's when I'll be heading to the Western Slope, where many of the state's peach orchards are located, and Palisade even hosts an annual peach festival. This year's is August 19-22; for more information, go to www.palisadepeachfest.com.
9) Watch a Double Feature at the Drive-in
There aren't many drive-ins left across the country, and just a handful still operate in Colorado. Still, there aren't many better ways to spend a warm summer evening than kicking back in a lawn chair with some Twizzlers and brews, watching a B-list movie or two. You can do it in Denver at the Rosemary 88, but one former Colorado resident insisted that the Holiday Twin Drive-in in Fort Collins is a can't-miss locale. "Watch the sunset from the back of a truck and then watch a double feature," she advised. "Cheap! Especially if you bring your own provisions!" Tickets are only $6; for more information, go to www.holidaytwindrivein.com or call 970-221-1244.
10) Enjoy a Ski Town in the Off-Season
Helloooo, mountains. Colorado's ski towns don't pack up when the skiers do. In the summer, these spots have charms all their own. Breckenridge, an old mining area turned ski giant, still has some of its quaint, gingerbready, small-town charms; in the summer, it feels sleepy but at the same time vibrant. Rent mountain bikes and try out the local trails or cruise through town; you'll feel like you own the place. And you can, if you camp for free on nearby Bureau of Land Management property. Watch out for beavers! Find more info at www.townofbreckenridge.com.
Top 10 Things for a Native to Do in Colorado
There's so much to do in Colorado in the summer, you could spend ten years just picking the low-hanging fruit. But after you've lived here a long time, a lifetime, you want to tackle some superlatives. See the biggest mammal. Canoe the biggest lake. Drive the highest road. For that, you need the native's guide.
1) Drive Trail Ridge Road
Open only from late May through September, depending on weather conditions, Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic, most elegant drives in the nation. It's also the highest continuous road in America, reaching 12,183 feet at one point and connecting the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. Learn more at www.nps.gov/room/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm.
2) Travel to Coney Island
No summer road trip along U.S. 285 is complete without a stop at Coney Island Colorado, the 1960s-era diner shaped like a hot dog (with mustard and relish on top). Although it has been moved a couple of times (and is now located on Old Stagecoach Road in Bailey), the giant wiener does Colorado proud. Dig in.
3) Climb a Trio of Fourteeners in One Day
By now, you've surely conquered one of Colorado's fourteeners. So try summiting three in one day — and then tell your friends about it. In Park County, mounts Democrat (elevation 14,148), Lincoln (14,286) and Bross (14,172) can all be reached in a single hike...if you have the lungs.
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