Devil's Thumb Ranch. Courtesy photo

3 Summer Day Trips Close to Boulder


Summertime is vacation time. But a summer vacation can be much more than a typical beach getaway. In fact, tons of adventure, luxury and memories await in Colorado. Whether you are a Boulder resident looking for a nearby staycation or you are visiting Colorado and want to plan a few exciting stops, here are three of our favorite ways to do Colorado in the summer: luxury, family-friendly and western style.

The Arrabelle chalet in summertime. Photo courtesy of Cuvee.

Cuvée in Vail

Vail, about two hours from Boulder, is always a favorite weekend getaway for Boulderites. Walking past the Swiss-style architecture feels like you’re in another country, except you don’t have to leave Colorado’s beautiful mountains. And if you’re craving a luxurious escape not far from home, Vail has it all: tender Wagyu steaks, fine cocktails with jaw-dropping views, reputable restaurants, five-star hotels and spas and always five-star hospitality.

The best way to make a Vail-cation even better than it already is: Book your trip through Cuvée. This locally-based luxury travel company will hook you up with ultra-ultra-luxe estates that you might otherwise not be able to access, like the West Wing of the Ritz-Carlton in nearby Beaver Creek (complete with a grand piano played by Justin Timberlake), or a top-floor penthouse chalet at the Arrabelle at Vail Square.

This elegant, 4,000-square-foot penthouse is our top pick. The Arrabelle resort is right in the center of Lionshead Square, steps from the mountain and shops. The five-bedroom penthouse brings ultimate luxury, with a huge, wrap-around deck overlooking the central plaza, crystal chandeliers, a marble kitchen, stone fireplaces, a liquor cabinet stocked with alcohol (included in your stay), a fridge stocked with refreshments (included in your stay), a built-in sound system (perfect for entertaining), an oversized, sunken tub and so much more.

Cuvée elevates the experience even more by offering personalized, curated experiences. When you arrive, you will be greeted by a gourmet cheese and snack tray that puts all other cheese boards to shame (and can be adjusted for any dietary restrictions). You can book a variety of different options, such as an in-room massage and champagne bubble bath and dinner prepared in your kitchen by a private chef; you pick the menu, sit back and enjoy as an elegant meal is prepared before your eyes. And cleaned up. All you have to do is eat up.

Cuvée takes the concept of vacation rentals and blends it with luxury resorts made private, so you get the best parts of both: privacy, exclusive access, hospitality, five-star service and curated experiences.

In addition to the Arrabelle, Cuvée offers other Vail properties, as well as places to stay in Beaver Creek, Colorado Springs and Aspen.

A suite at the Great Wolf Lodge. Courtesy photo

Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs

If you’re looking for a way to entertain your kiddos over summer break or you have the itch for a family vacation but don’t have the time or resources to fly to Mexico for two weeks, head just two hours away to Colorado Springs. The Great Wolf Lodge has a “Summer Camp-In escape” packed with fun.

The highlight of the lodge is its 105,000-square-foot indoor water park for kids of all ages, from mini slides and splash parks for toddlers to a wave pool to a six-story water slide for older thrill-seekers. Beyond the water, there’s also the indoor Great Wolf Adventure Park featuring a ropes course, mini bowling alley, arcade, climbing wall, mini-golf, a Build-A-Bear shop and candy store and a mock mining adventure where kids can “pan” for rocks.

There’s also a scavenger hunt-type game called MagiQuest, plus creative activities throughout the day and a dance party every night. After dinner (there are several different restaurants, plus a character breakfast with the Great Wolf furry crew) kids can roast marshmallows and put together creative s’mores with the “S’morelier.”

Families can start every day together with a yoga class and wrap up the day with nightly storytime. Bottom line: Great Wolf has all the entertainment covered, so the adults can kick back (with a beer or marg; there are several bars on site) and relax, too.

Tip: Book a suite, like the Wolf Den or KidCabin, which include a bunk bed alcove and adorable decorations.

The Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Courtesy photo

Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash

If you want a western-style staycation in Colorado, head an hour and a half from Boulder to Tabernash, home of Devil’s Thumb Ranch. This ranch not far from Winter Park provides a rustic experience with a pioneering spirit, but with modern amenities, such as a spa, quality restaurants and beautiful accommodations.

In the western spirit, you can ride horses and learn how to drive cattle, go fly-fishing, hike and explore the wilderness and even go Nordic skiing in the winter.

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