Dating in Colorado is all about experiences. The standard dinner-and-a-movie-date is too boring for most active Coloradoans, with skiing, hiking and parkour dates climbing to the top of the list of ideas. Not to worry, you don’t need great health insurance just to date in Colorado, but you may want to at least put on some sunscreen and stretch a little first. Here are five date ideas that are truly, uniquely Colorado.
The Lyons Time Traveller
Lyons is a picturesque small town of about 2,000 people located just east of Rocky Mountain National Park. Whether you’re driving in from Denver or you’re staying overnight, a date in Lyons is like taking a trip back in time. Start off with brunch at the Lyons Fork. This funky little hot spot focuses on local foods and produce grown about a half-mile from the kitchen itself. Kick off the day with some traditional biscuits and gravy with chorizo sausage and a bloody Mary or enjoy a veggie omelet with gruyere cheese and a fresh mimosa.
Once you’ve filled up, it’s time to stretch your legs a little — Lyons has several spots with thousands of acres just waiting to be explored. Check out Hall Ranch, which has about 13 miles worth of moderate trails to hike with views of rolling grasslands and sandstone buttes. Or try the easier trails at Heil Valley Ranch for some stunning vistas. Of course, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen, as you want to make sure you get to continue this fun date well into the evening hours.
After your hike, you’ve earned a treat, and you’ll fall in love with the Lyons Soda Fountain, one of Colorado’s oldest and most well-preserved American soda fountains. Take a seat at the counter and sip on old-fashioned malts, phosphates, sodas and shakes. You can pair them with traditional burgers, hot dogs and fries or just enjoy the sweet treats on their own.
Now that you’re refueled, it’s time for some fun, and the city of Lyons happens to be home to Lyons Classic Pinball, where you and your date can play more than 35 different pinball games dating back to the 1960s. From AC/DC to the Addams Family to Goldeneye and KISS, there are so many fun pinball machines ready to flap and flip your quarters away.
When you and your date are ready to move on, head next door to wind down for the evening. Grab a bite at Oskar Blues, where you can enjoy some uniquely Colorado craft beer and live music as you dance the rest of the night away and savor the memories of your packed date.
Lyons Fork: 450 Main St, Lyons, CO 80540; 303.823.5014; www.lyonsfork.com
Hall Ranch: 31635 CO-7, Lyons, CO 80540; 303.678.6200; www.bouldercounty.org
Heil Valley Ranch: Red Gulch Road, Lyons, CO 80540; 303.678.6200; www.bouldercounty.org
Lyons Soda Fountain: 400 Main St. Lyons, CO 80540; 303.823.5393; www.lyonssodafountain.com
Lyons Classic Pinball: 399-A Main St. Lyons, CO 80540; 303.823.6100; www.lyonspinball.com
Oskar Blues Brewery: 303 Main St. Lyons, CO 80540; 303.823.6685; www.oskarbluesfooderies.com
Fine Art, Fine Dining
An artistic exploration of Boulder would be perfect for you and your special someone. Kick the whole thing off with a visit to the 15th Street Gallery, to peruse stunning works from local and national professional emerging artists. Exhibitions here are always changing, but you’ll love the wide range of oil paintings, collages, sculptures, woodcuttings and more.
When you’re ready for a bite to eat, stop by The Kitchen on Pearl Street for an elegant, finely crafted meal. Try the tasting menu, which offers a full assortment of tastes of the season, all served up family style so you can share plates (and forks). The tasting menu runs $48 per person and changes seasonally. Right now it includes cabbage salad, steamed mussels, house-made tagliatelle, Koberstein Ranch steak and olive oil cake with a pistachio anglaise.
As evening falls, it’s time to check out some live theater, and Boulder is home to the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (BETC), one of the premiere regional theater companies in Colorado. BETC always offers cutting edge, contemporary works that are compelling, fascinating and truly well produced. With the Dairy Center for the Arts going through some upgrades, BETC has also recently taken its shows on the road so, depending on which show you set out to see, you’ll also find a unique theater-going experience.
Finish your date night with a glass (or two) of wine at PMG. This new wine bar is an elegant place to enjoy a finely crafted glass of wine, but you won’t find any snooty pretension here. Instead, you’ll find knowledgeable wine experts ready to geek out with you over a shared appreciation of the fermented grape.
15th Street Gallery: 1708 15th St, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.447.2841; www.15thstreetgalleryboulder.com
The Kitchen: 1039 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.544.5973; www.thekitchen.com
BETC: Multiple venues; 303.351.2382; www.betc.org
PMG Wine Bar: 2018 10th St, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.786.8585; www.pmgwine.com
Dining & Dancing
If you and your sweetheart enjoy dance and movement, then why not try one of the drop-in classes offered at Frequent Flyers Productions? You can take a beginning or intermediate Aerial Fitness class which will help you learn a few aerial dance techniques while you also enjoy a great work out. Spend a few hours enjoying some fitness and aerial movement while you work up an appetite for a tasty lunch.
From there, head over to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, one of the area’s most popular and beautiful places for delicious tea and romantic atmosphere. The entire Teahouse was built completely by hand in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and then gifted to Boulder, where it was reassembled as a symbol of friendship and cultural exploration. Weekend teatime is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., so that’s when you’ll want to make your reservations. You’ll enjoy an assortment of pastries and scones along with your English-style white linens and lots of amazingly flavorful teas.
From tea to beer, your next stop on this great date is a tour of one of the biggest and most well-known craft breweries in the city. Avery Brewing Company was established in 1993 and has quickly become a very popular spot in Boulder. You’ll find a huge variety of artisanal beers, including the award-winning White Rascal Belgian-Style White Ale and the popular Out of Bounds Stout. Your tour of the facility provides a look at the brewery and bottling process, so you’ll see how the beer is made while you sample some of the tasty products. Finish up your date with a few cold glasses of your favorite locally crafted brews and you’ll have had a truly memorable date in Boulder.
Frequent Flyers Productions: 3022 Sterling Circle, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.245.8272;
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse: 1770 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.442.4993; www.boulderteahouse.com
Avery Brewing Company: 4910 Nautilus Ct, Boulder, CO 80301; 303.440.4324; www.averybrewing.com
The History Buff
If your sweetheart loves history, then you’re in luck. Opportunities abound all over Boulder County to soak up some local history and to get lost in the stories of those who helped to settle this area of the country. A historical tour also makes for a wonderful date; spark up your own conversations as you get to know each other and enjoy one and other’s company. Plan ahead and you’ll fall in love with Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour of Boulder. This 90-minute bus tour includes lots of fascinating anecdotes of Boulder County, and your guide will regale you with the story of the first meeting of Chief Niwot and Captain Tomas Aikens and the true stories of the flamboyant owner of Boulder’s most expensive home. The Boulder History Tour is offered regularly and runs $14.70 to $23.10 per person.
After you’ve enjoyed your tour with Banjo Billy, head over to the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and walk hand-in-hand through the halls of history. This massive museum is home to one of the most expansive collections of natural history artifacts and specimens in the Rocky Mountain region and is also one of the top natural sciences museums in America. You’ll find an extensive collection of exhibits and displays on entomology, anthropology, zoology, botany, paleontology and more. In addition, the building itself is a historic spot, founded in 1902.
End your tour of Boulder with dinner at the Spruce Restaurant at the historic Hotel Boulderado. Be sure to arrive with extra time to browse around this beautiful hotel, founded in 1909. Check out the stained-glass ceiling and the Victorian décor before you head over to the Spruce for an amazing meal. Spruce focuses on sustainable oyster farms and fisheries, with fresh seafood flown in from all over the world. Enjoy some oysters on the half shell, Pei mussels or Maine lobster pasta as you reflect on everything you learned during your historical and educational date.
Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour: 1890 Telluride Lane, Boulder, CO 80305; 720.938.8885; www.banjobilly.com
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History: 1030 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80309; 303.492.6892; www.cumuseum.colorado.edu
Spruce Restaurant: 2115 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302; 303.442.4880; www.spruceboulderado.com
The Classic Picnic
Colorado is known for its natural beauty, so you can’t go wrong with a romantic picnic in the park for two. Make some plans ahead of time and grab your picnic lunch at Cured on Pearl Street in Boulder. This amazingly delicious cheese shop has created picnic specials that take all the work out of planning the perfect picnic in the park. Try “The Stolen Hour” which includes a cured lunch box with three pieces of cheese, two chunks of salami, fig jam, crackers and a bar of Poco Dolce Chocolate. Or go big and get “The Proper Picnic” which comes with a returnable vintage picnic basket filled with three cheeses, three meats, a baguette, Cured’s house olives, Marcona almonds and much more.
Once you’ve got your picnic basket full and ready to go, it’s time to head over to the park to spread out your blanket and enjoy a romantic meal together. There are lots of beautiful parks to enjoy in the area, but there is a secret spot that comes recommended by the experts at Cured. The spot is known locally as Lovers’ Lane, and it’s a small area near downtown that is secluded and perfect for your romantic picnic. Simply walk up 22nd Street until you cross Bluff. Go up the steps and you’ll find your picnic spot right there, waiting for you and your sweetheart.
When the weather cools off and it’s time to head indoors, keep your date going and enjoy a live show at The Laughing Goat. This local coffee shop has live music or another type of performance nearly every night. Enjoy poetry readings Mondays or live jazz on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. A variety of bands and local musicians fill up the place every weekend as well, so there’s always a great show to check out while you sip on some carefully crafted coffee drinks and gaze into each other’s eyes.
Cured:1825 B Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302; 720.389.8096; www.curedboulder.com
Laughing Goat:1709 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302; www.thelaughinggoat.com