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Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

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282 posts
39 reviews
Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

We got back from our Colorado trip a few days ago and I want to thank you all for your great advice. Babalax, CBrand, fv1989 you all contributed to making this trip special so thank you!

The purpose of this trip was to tour Univ. Denver and CU Boulder with my 17 y/o son. It was a quick 5 night trip to check things out. Things changed since my initial planning and my daughter and other son ended up joining us. We opted to stay 4 nights in Boulder and then the last night in Denver.

Day 1 - arrived DEN, got our car rental and drove to Bacon Social House for breakfast. Kids loved the bacon flight! It was a great place to hang out and relax after our flight. Headed over to Univ. Denver for our 1pm tour. School was a big hit all around. Had a nice drive to Boulder and checked into Basecamp Boulder for one night. I didn't tell the kids but I booked the special camp themed room. There are 4 beds inset into the floor to look like sleeping bags. Carpet is astro turf. I booked the room as a joke but we had a blast and everyone loved it. Made me miss having little kids again.

It was a Wednesday night so we walked over to Pearl Street to check out Band on the Bricks. What a beautiful night. We all loved walking around. We had dinner at Sun Mountain Brewery. I enjoyed sampling the craft beer. Burgers and atmosphere were great.

We walked back to the hotel where they had fire pits with smores and a nice social atmosphere. Lots of couples and families were hanging around outside, everyone was so friendly. I would give the day 5 stars.

Day 2 - Slept in a bit and then walked to the Buf for breakfast. We lucked out and got the last table before a line formed. By the time we left there were about 20 people waiting for a table. Another hit all around. Coffee was good and I needed it. Back to Basecamp Boulder to check out and the we all headed over the CU Boulder for our tour. Gosh, I wish I could go back to college!

After the tour we transferred over to the Marriott. I could only get 3 nights here because the hotel was fully booked but in retrospect it worked out great that we got to have one night of "camping". We had Marriott points so we stay there frequently and the hotels are always nice but I miss having the character of an independent hotel. The Marriott also has a fire pit on an outside deck and a bar so there were always people hanging out there in the evenings but everyone stayed to themselves. At Basecamp it was more communal.

Forecast for the next day was 100-degrees so we decided to head up to RMNP. We did some research and decided on Mills Lake, which is 5-6 miles r-t. We set our alarms for 6:30am (that's as early as I could get my teens to get out of bed on "vacation".) We walked over to Sprout grocery store and got plenty of water and snacks and called it an early night.

Day 3 - Everyone got up!!!! Quick breakfast at the Marriott and we were on the road by 7:15am. Not as early as I would have liked but still not bad. We had a nice drive the RMNP. I have a fear of falling off a cliff so we took Rt 36, which is not as scenic as other roads but not scary either! We got to Bear Lake Trailhead by 8:30am and were lucky to get a spot at the shuttle stop. There was a huge line to board the bus but the busses came quickly and the wait was short. We got off the bus at the Glacier Gorge stop, which I think was the 2nd stop? Wow! What a great hike! We all loved it and stopped frequently for pictures. There were a lot of people on the trail up to the Alberta Falls but after the falls the crowd thinned out. Even when the trail was crowded people were great about stepping aside to let others pass. There were several stretches with no other hikers where we were able to get some nice family shots.

We decided to hike a ways past Mills Lake but didn't want to do the additional 1.2 miles to Black Lake. I'm not sure how far we got past Mills, maybe 0.5 miles? If I was there on my own I would have gone all the way, it was so pretty. In all the hike was probably a little over 6 miles round trip. It took us about 4.5 hours with lots of stops. I'm so glad we did this!

To be continued.

9 replies to this topic
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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22,288 posts
58 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

I had not heard of Basecamp Boulder, sounds fun! Thanks for sharing your trip. I hope your kid picks CU Boulder! Go Buffs!

Level Contributor
13,039 posts
16 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Thanks for an excellent trip report. So glad you had a good trip and that I helped in some way!

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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33,179 posts
6,438 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Nice trip.

Thanks for your trip report.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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13,038 posts
139 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful trip report. You are very welcome for any help I provided.

Level Contributor
282 posts
39 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

One of the worst things about my trip being over is that I will miss the friendly nature of the Boulder travel forum. On the other hand, I know I'll be back!

Day 3 con'd: After our hike we got back to a crowded shuttle stop to catch the bus back to our car. Again, I was surprised at how efficient the bus system was. We waited less than 10 minutes and everyone got on the bus. This is probably the only time I ever saw people insisting on NOT taking a seat. With many people standing no one wanted to take 5+ empty seats, they kept saying, oh no, I'll leave it for someone who needs it. I've never been around so many considerate people! Is it the mountain air? Hiker camaraderie? It was fun talking to others on the bus, some local and others from far away. It left us with a warm and happy feeling.

On our way home we stopped at Estes Park for food and exploring. It was such a cute little mountain town. I can't remember the name of the restaurant we chose but the people were charming and the food... not so great. It didn't matter because tired hikers aren't picky eaters. We all ate enough to not have room for ice cream, which was a shame because there must be more ice cream shops than anything else in town. My son found a nice t-shirt to memorialize our day.

I have no good explanation for the last part of the day. We chose to go home via Fort Collins, which tacked on an additional 1 hour to our drive. I think we were loving Colorado so much we wanted to explore the state a little more. The drive was pretty and very diverse. We saw a lot of people fly fishing in the rivers along the road. We enjoyed the small towns on the way back to Boulder. When we got back to the hotel we were exhausted. My sons wanted to spend the night in the room so we got some take-out pizza from Cosmo's, which is supposed to be a place where students go. After pizza my daughter and I walked down to Pearl Street and ended up having a beer at Full Cycle. This place catches the Boulder vibe! I got a sour apricot beer that was delicious. We continued walking down Pearl, past the bricks and then turned around and went back to the Marriott. Another great night and my sons were happy to have had some time to reconnect with friends back home.

Day 4 - No one wanted to go near the car today so we slept in, had the free hotel breakfast and decided to walk over to the Saturday Boulders Farmers Market. This was great!!! We spent a good amount of time walking around to all the booths and then split up on a quest for the perfect lunch - and perfect it was sitting out in the sunshine, listening to the live music and soaking it all in.

We spent the next few hours walking around Pearl Street. It was the first time we had been there during the day so we decided to check out some of the shops. My son spotted a second hand shop and we had a lot of fun looking around. All 3 kids found some cool stuff.

That evening we decided to have dinner at the Chautauqua Dining Hall. It was really hot during our trip so we didn't get to hike here, as I had hoped, so we decided to go for dinner and explore a bit. It was really nice to get away from burgers and pizza! We split a s'mores brownie at the end of the meal that was to die for! Next time I'm in Boulder I'd like to spend more time here on the trails. Another beautiful place!

My sons friend kept telling him about Insomnia Cookies and we hadn't had a chance to check it out. After dinner my sons hung out at the hotel and my daughter and I took a long walk over to Insomnia to get some cookies to bring to our Red Rocks concert the next day. It was fun to be on a street that was obviously for the college students. I saw the Sink and knew my sons would love it there. It's too bad we didn't make it this trip. We loved the guy at Insomnia, he was really funny and helped us make some very difficult selections. The walk back was nice in the warm evening air.

Day 5 - We checked out of our Boulder hotel and set off for Denver. The drive Boulder to Denver is not as pretty as the reverse but I always love driving toward a city. I enjoy torturing my teens so today I told them I scheduled a "tour of Denver". This was met with untold grumpiness as they all hate tours. What I didn't tell them was that it was the Remote Denver tour, which was billed as an "immersive theater experience." We were instructed to meet at 1pm at Lincoln Park and upon check-in were given headphones. There were about 40 people on the tour. Heather, a robotic voice over the head sets, was our guide. The tour was really fun. We walked by a public swimming pool, thru Union Station, rode the light rail, saw a hidden tennis court all while listening to the musings of Heather. At times I felt like we were part of a flash mob as we had to do certain things, like dance, as a group. We weren't given any history lessons but we were asked to contemplate life. It was really fun and very different. The tour ended at 2:30 at the Denver Center for Performing Arts and we went from there directly to Red Rocks. Drive was about 35 minutes, no traffic, easy driving on a Sunday.

Red Rocks was fantastic! We were there just after 3pm for a 5:30pm concert and I think that was about right because we had GA seats. We were able to get seats toward the front which was awesome. Avett Brothers were playing and they were fantastic. It was really good music for the setting. Crowd was friendly and it was a special night. We also enjoyed our Insomnia Cookies!

I'm not sure how this happened but we got out without any traffic!

Day 6 - I had to drive my 17 y/o son and daughter to DEN the next morning to pick up a car rental at 7am. After DEN they were going on a 3-day road trip to Iowa so my daughter could visit her college roommate. My son went for the drive (WY, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands etc..) and then flew home from Des Moines and my daughter stayed. My other son & I flew home from Denver.

Colorado, we loved you and we can't wait to return! Thank you once again for all the great advice!

Destination Expert
for Colorado
Level Contributor
11,493 posts
178 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Thanks for taking the time for this great trip report!

Dublin, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Mexico City
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1,190 posts
125 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Totally enjoyed your report!

North Mankato...
2 posts
1 review
8. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens


Enjoyed reading this as I am also headed there with my two teenage children in early August. We have reservations in Breck starting on Saturday. Driving from MN and wanted to spend Thursday and Friday evening somewhere East but not IN Denver. I am looking at CO Springs but was also considering Boulder so that we could hit RMNP. Can I ask specifically which Marriott in Boulder you stayed? We are also Marriott points members and prefer to stay at their properties. Thanks!

Level Contributor
282 posts
39 reviews
9. Re: Trip Report - 4 nights in Boulder with Teens

Douglas, my response is probably too late - sorry, I just saw your question. The 2 Marriott properties are next door to each other. We stayed at the Residence Inn because it had mini suites, which fit our family.

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