Home » The Ultimate Summer Guide to a week in Idaho Springs, CO

The Ultimate Summer Guide to a week in Idaho Springs, CO

As the summer season approached, Austin and I searched for a vacation destination that would be the perfect place for our family to come together and relax. We knew we wanted to head to the Rocky Mountains, but where?!

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After some intense searching, we landed on Idaho Springs! A town, honestly, I’d never heard of. It was established as a mining town in 1859, at the beginning of the Colorado Gold Rush. Idaho Springs is about an hour west of Denver and is the perfect place to enjoy the mountains without feeling like you’re in a commercialized mountain town. It was the perfect place for a quiet family retreat!

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Idaho Springs, CO

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Transportation

We took an early flight out of DFW directly to Denver. We landed in Denver at 7am GMT! After quickly orienting ourselves with one of the largest airports in the US, we found our way to the correct parking lot and picked up our rental car for the week. We chose a new route for car rental and went with TURO, instead of a traditional renting company. 

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TURO is essentially Airbnb for cars. Through the app, we were able to search by location, set filters on what we were looking for, add listed cars to favorites lists for later comparison, set our pickup location for the Denver airport, and easily book through the app.

It’s a real person who owns the car and depending on pickup/drop off directions, you may even get to meet them! It was a much less stressful experience than booking through a rental company and this process ensured we actually got the car we booked. It was cheaper, too! We booked a Lexus GX 2020 for about $170/day. We’ll definitely be utilizing TURO on future trips!

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Groceries:

Safeway- it’s the only grocery store in town! Of course, you could head to Denver for larger stores, but this grocery store had everything on our list and an expansive pharmacy section. You’ll be more than set to purchase all of your groceries once you get to town. Pro tip: Make a rough grocery list before you even get on the plane! It made being in a new environment and shopping in a new store a lot more streamlined and kept us on track, so we could get in and out.

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Places to Eat:

Beau Jo’s– This was the top restaurant recommended to me before travel. We actually dined there twice! They’re famous for their Mountain Pies, which feature a large twisted crust. After you’ve finished a slice of pizza, drizzle honey on this magic crust and it’s beyond delicious!

Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery– The perfect place for lunch or dinner if you have a family that loves burgers. Although their menu is large, the burgers are what drew us in. Absolutely delicious! Definitely get the chicharones with queso as an appetizer and the cider flight. We had a blast tasting ciders!

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Main Street Restaurant– We visited for breakfast and we’re blown away by the quality. With an expansive menu of pancake options and egg dishes, there’s something uniquely perfect for everyone.

The Frothy Cup– Amazing coffee any time of day. I had a traditional hot cappuccino (it was a cold day), while everyone else enjoyed iced coffees. They have a great selection of pastries too!

Edelweiss Pastry Shop– You need to make a stop here! The ladies that run the shop are having the time of their lives making delicious pastries! Chances are they’ll offer you free sugared almonds while you’re there. We stopped in on Thursday afternoon and loaded up on pastries for Friday’s breakfast. Heads Up: they’re only open Thurs-Sun!

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Things to Do:

Hike St. Mary’s Glacier – This hike is rated at a moderate level and is a total distance of 2.4 miles. Get there early because it gets crowded. Don’t sleep on this trail. The views are incredible! Heads up: there is a $5 parking fee.

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Drive State Highway 119 to Boulder – You can spend the majority of a day driving this highway. Gorgeous views in every direction! This route will take you through Roosevelt National Forest. This is truly one of those experiences where the journey is greater than the destination. Stop at Ozo Coffee in Boulder before turning around and driving back. On the way back, stop in the quaint town of Nederland before completing your drive. It’s a completely different experience driving the same road in the opposite direction. I was in awe!

ARGO gold mining tour – Save this one for a rainy day! This is a great way to spend the afternoon learning more about local and American history. The tour starts in the tunnel remains of the mine and walks you through the milling process in the building that still stands today. It is such a cool pieces of preserved history!

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White Water Rafting down Clear Creek – Idaho Springs is well known for large Clear Creek that runs through town! People from many surrounding areas, as well as tourists, come for the water sports. If you’re looking to ~get your feet wet~ with rafting, check out this booking! Designed for beginners, this experience is also perfect for families with children!

Fly Fishing Lesson on Clear Creek – Interested in fly fishing like Austin?! This half day lesson and fishing experience is essentially all-inclusive. With a prime location on Clear Creek and an expert angler leading your lesson, you’ll learn the best techniques!

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Nearby Parks and Forests:

Roosevelt National Forest – Whether you like the more frequented or less frequented parts of parks, Roosevelt has something to attract everyone!

Arapaho National Forest – Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests combine to make up 1.3 million acres of forest.

Rocky Mountain National Park – Rocky Mountain National Park spans 415 square miles! There are over 300 miles of hiking trails for optimal wildlife viewing.

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What I read:

I packed ten books for this trip. Hey, no judgement. We are a family of avid readers. You know we weren’t about to spend a week anywhere without plenty of reading options! These were the top ten books I wanted to read this summer, so go ahead and use this as a list for your next reads! While there, I read and LOVED Breathless by Amy McCulloch, The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon, and The Bodyguard by Katherine Center.

Here’s what I brought:

  1. The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon

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2. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

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3. The Bridesmaids Union by Jonathan Vatner

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4. It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler

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5. The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

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6. The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

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7. The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead

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8. The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

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9. Take My Hand by Dolen-Perkins-Valdez

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10. Breathless by Amy McCulloch

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You can check out these books and more of my favorite things at my Amazon Storefront!

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Here’s the Breakdown of Our Trip:

Day 1: We picked up our rental car, explored downtown Idaho Springs, CO, got coffee from The Frothy Cup, ate lunch at Beau Jo’s, picked up pastries from Edelweiss Pastry Shop, shopped for groceries, and then headed to our Airbnb for the evening.

Day 2: We hiked around the Alpine Lakes in our neighborhood, spent the day leisurely reading, fishing at the cabin, and enjoying the scenery. W canoed around the lake and ate dinner at the cabin.

Day 3: We woke up early and hiked St. Mary’s Glacier. We drove to town for lunch at Beau Jo’s. Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying our time at the cabin.

Day 4: Austin and I drove State Highway 119 to Boulder. We stopped for coffee at Ozo Coffee and of course the Boulder Bookstore. On our drive back, we stopped for lunch at Busey Brews in Nederland. We spent the evening enjoying our time together at the cabin.

Day 5: We spent a rainy and VERY windy morning at the cabin. Once the weather cleared, we headed to the ARGO gold mining tour. We dined at Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery for dinner.

Day 6: We stopped downtown one more time for breakfast at Main Street Restaurant. We did a little shopping along Miner Street before heading back to DEN airport.

So, there you have it! My guide to a lowkey summer mountain week in Idaho Springs! It was peaceful and restoring. There is so much to do in each season that make this destination one you’ll want to visit again!

Where should we go next?!

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