You could use some space.

Denver is packed with things too do, eat, and drink. And usually when someone says “suburbs” it means that malls are filled with chain stores and restaurants, and houses are being made that all look the same. But not all suburbs are created equal, and Denver is fortunate to have some nearby cities that make the neighborhoods look great. Really good. These eight cities near Denver are enticing enough to make you forget all about the Mile High (well, for a little bit anyway).

Golden

About 25 minutes west of Denver, Golden is known as the home of Coors Brewery, the largest single-site brewery in the world. Well, the brewery tours are still closed due to COVID, but there are tons of other reasons to visit Golden starting with a ride upstairs Panoramic mountain Here you can get an expansive view of the Front Range and a visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Tomb where the old west comes to life. Back in town, take a stroll along Clear Creek, which runs through Golden and is a popular tubing spot in the warmer months. And if you have an appetite, the town has some great restaurants such as Bob’s atomic burger that boasts one of the best burgers in the state, and D’Deli Where sandwiches are loaded with … basically anything and everything, from homemade smoked and corned buffalo and moose to marshmallows and bananas.

Aurora

Denver’s eastern neighbor sometimes gets a bad rap, but if you don’t spend time here, you’re missing something pretty important: some of the Front Range’s best international dishes. Let’s talk about the epic festivals that are waiting for you Seoul Korean BBQ & Hot Pot where you should definitely bring friends and choose one of the combos. Or Uncle Zoe In addition to soup dumplings and mapo tofu, you will also find Chinese-style cakes or rou bing, a round pastry that is filled with fillings such as shrimp and pork or beef and celery. Then there is the Ropa Vieja at Cuba Bakery & Cafeand Colorado’s first Burmese restaurant Urban Burmaand $ 1.50 tacos at Selene tacosand tajines Cafe peppersand … you understand what it’s about. Now start eating. BoulderingMatt Koffel / Unsplash

Boulder

A 30-minute drive northwest of Mile High City brings you to this city known as an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The nearby Flatirons, sloping sandstone formations protruding from the landscape, are a landmark and a popular destination for hiking and climbing. In fact, the entire area is full of hiking and climbing phenomena for all skill levels, from hard but rewarding climbs Mount Sanitas to beginner-friendly trails like this Bobolink Trail along South Boulder Creek. The only thing that can rival Boulder’s outdoor recreational game is the culinary scene. The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the state, including award-winning ones Frasca food & wine, To run which offers views of the roof of the Rocky Mountains, and Steakhouse # 316 Old-school hospitality lives on here with Caesar salads at the table, first-class cuts of meat and plenty of flowing wine. And did we mention that? Breweries? Or Shopping on Pearl Street? Or the must Farmers market? Yeah, just go to Boulder.

Fort Collins

Sure, it’s an hour north of Denver and maybe not exactly a “suburb,” but we can’t talk about cool cities near Denver without including this one known as Fort Fun. How did this nickname come about? Let’s start with Old Town, the name of the downtown area, which is full of bars and restaurants (and a popular destination for Colorado State University students looking to take a break from studying). And then there’s the brewery scene, which is home to well-known Colorado favorites Odell and New Belgium. It also has all of the hiking, biking, and climbing opportunities you would expect in a town on the edge of the Rockies Horsetooth Reservoir, a must for water adventures like paddling, boating, water skiing, and swimming. Basically it has everything. Fort fun indeed.Cliff House LodgeCliff House Lodge

Morrison

Why is this little foothills community 20 minutes west of Denver a must see? Two words: Red Rocks, also known as one of the best music venues in the world which also happens to be a free public park run by the city of Denver. Sure, it’s a fantastic place to see live music, but if the schedule is clear you can also spend time wandering among the giant red sandstone formations and even standing on the famous stage which some of the best Musicians in the world have played. Would you like to make a little break out of your Morrison adventure? Check Cliff House Lodge Here you can stay in a cottage with its own hot tub (bonus: they even bring a free breakfast to your room).

Farm House Restaurant in the Breckenridge Brewery

Littleton

Just 20 minutes south of downtown Denver is this suburb with a historic, small-town vibe and lots independent shops. Littleton has preserved many of its historic buildings that you can see on one Hike That takes you to attractions like the Columbine Mill, the Coors Building, and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad depot. While you could spend most of the day exploring Main Street, Littleton’s also has a few hidden gems outside of downtown, including this one Greenway Foundation Path that runs along the South Platte River, Hudson Gardens Here you can enjoy the free hiking trails around sights such as the rose garden, the turtle pond and the honey bee apiary Breckenridge BreweryThe spacious outdoor beer garden.

Idaho Springs

A 40-minute drive west on I-70 brings you to Denver’s closest mountain town vacation. Founded in 1859 at the start of the gold rush, Idaho Springs still has that old west feel with historic buildings like this Argo gold mineThis is open to tours where you can try gold panning for yourself. It is also home to two Colorado culinary icons: Tommyknocker brewerywhich has been a craft beer favorite since 1994, and the OG location of Beau Jo’swho specializes in a unique style of mountain pizzas made from a braided crust and served by the pound. Don’t forget to drizzle honey on this crust before eating. And for some serious relaxation, make a pit stop at Indian hot springs Here you can swim in the pool or opt for geothermal caves or private indoor baths.

Unsplash / Aidana Khabdesh

Evergreen

Evergreen is a quiet mountain town about 40 minutes from Denver, where many Mile High commuters live. Located near the main drag, Evergreen Lake is one of the most scenic spots for ice skating in the state during the winter months. In summer, you can run the 1.4 lap around the lake or try paddle boarding and boating (rentals available). A short drive from the main road is Alderfer / Three Sisters Park, with 1,127 acres of wilderness and over 15 miles of hiking trails. The town is also a hub for artists and is home to five galleries, including the Shadow Mountain Gallery, which collectively belongs to over 40 artists and has rotating exhibits throughout the year.

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Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more information on food, fun and life on Mile High.