72 hours in Denver (and other quick getaways from Asheville).

Flying over Asheville.

Mary here. 👋I moved from my home state of Colorado almost 3 years ago now, and have been piecing together trips home from Charlotte, Atlanta, and other cities a few times a year. I have a perpetual Google Alert set for Denver for all the regional airports (we’ve all been there, right?)

So, you can imagine my excitement when Asheville Regional Airport announced direct flights from Asheville to Denver through Allegiant Air, making the trip twice a week. Earlier this month, I flew to Denver for a wedding for about half of what I normally spend to go home, with about half the travel time. Now, I’m trying to convince all my hometown friends to come visit (are y’all reading?😏).

In the spirit of all those weekend warriors out there, here are some pro-tips for booking the Peak-to-Peak flight to Denver, plus a 72-hour itinerary once you get there.

If mountains aren’t your thing, we’ve rounded up all the direct flights from Asheville, including Chicago, Orlando, NYC, Baltimore, plus beach destinations like Vero Beach, Punta Gorda, and more.

Fly a mile high (literally, the elevation for one row of seats at the Mile High Stadium where the Broncos play is 1 mile in elevation) here.

Flying high with Asheville Regional Airport

The Peak-to-Peak flights run on Wednesday and Saturday. Both days leave mid-day from #FlyAVL, and return in the evenings. Full schedules + prices here.

Pro-tip: You can book about 3 months out, and the longer in advance you book, the cheaper it is (we found one flight in September for $49 each way). July prices ranged from $120 – 160 one-way when browsing in mid-June. As always, flight prices are subject to change.

And because what’s better than a long weekend getaway? Having a virtual tour guide along for the ride. I always have friends asking me what to do in Colorado, so since I figure loads of Ashevillians will be flying peak to peak in the coming years, it was time to publish my recommended itinerary. 

Once you get to Denver –

Saturday –

Take the RTD rail train from Denver International Airport to the 100-year-old landmark of Union Station. The newly renovated building has high-vaulted ceilings, old-world charm, and so much to do. It serves as a food hall, event space, and public living room. Plus, it’s right in the heart of Denver.

Have a drink and dinner at one of the 10 bars and restaurants in Union Station. My pick for a drink is the Terminal Bar, which is located in the original ticketing office and the Mercantile Dining & Provision restaurant, which has handmade pasta and a mean charcuterie offering.

Next, walk across the plaza to Taverna, for classic Italian dessert and wine.

If you’re up for something more casual, opt for dinner at a Colorado classic – Rio Grande for world-famous margaritas, tex-mex food, and my favorite queso on the planet.

If there’s a Rockies game happening, walk to Coors Field and you can get seats for about $10. Or, plan ahead and go to a show at the nearby Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Want something more low-key? Walk to the nearby 1Up, a classic, old-school arcade bar.

If you’re looking for live music, you’re in luck. Check out Cervantes’ Masterpiece & The Other Side and Lost Lake for great neighborhood venues. Swallow Hill brings intimate performances in an old church building. If you’re looking for a more club-scene, try Beta Nightclub and Tracks (Denver’s biggest gay club) for dancing.

Bonus: Before you plan your trip, see if you can organize it around a concert of choice at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. It’s the most magical music venue, nestled between huge tilted rocks that provides a natural, outdoor amphitheater. It is a musical mecca. If you don’t see a show there, you can still hike around the rocks during the day for free. Worth it. 

Sunday

Snooze: an AM eatery is a long-time go-to. Their pancakes are to die for, as is their breakfast sandwich (with hollandaise sauce). There are several Denver locations, so take your pick.  

Want to avoid the wait? Here’s a guide of Denver’s coffee shops.

If you’re into art, Denver has an incredible art museum, which is in a super modern, triangular shaped building. It’s open 10-5 on Sundays (and everyday). The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is a hidden gem. It’s only $8, and holds currently has a “failure lab” exhibition. Pro-tip: Head up to the roof of the MCA to take a picture of Denver’s skyline.

Head over to the Highlands neighborhood to grab dinner at Linger, a rooftop lounge and restaurant in an old mortuary. Go for the views, stay for the food.

Finish off the meal at Little Man Ice Cream, which is in a building that looks like a giant 28-foot milk can. (Likely the most Instagramed ice cream shot in the city).  

Take it easy and grab a movie at the Sie Film Center, an independent movie theatre operated by the non-profit Denver Film Society.

Monday

A little known Denver attraction is the Lakeside Amusement park has been open since 1907, and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the U.S.

Today it feels like a nostalgic relic of the past, with a wooden white roller coaster called the “Wild Chipmunk”, the original carousel, and a Derby Racer coaster from 1940, and more. Even if you’re not into roller coasters, you can enter the park for only $4, which is worth just walking around in.

Two other favorite spots in Denver of mine are Twist and Shout record store, and the Tattered Cover Bookstore. You can spend an afternoon browsing both.

Tuesday

Rent a car or grab a car share and go on a road trip.

My recommendations:

  • Breckenridge (2 hours) – Take a gondola ride up to the summit of the mountain, where there is an adventure park during the summer, complete with hiking, mountain biking, alpine slide, ziplining, and more.    
  • Estes Park (1.5 hours) – Stroll on the riverwalk, stop at Antonio’s Pizza, and treat yo’ self to some salt water taffy (which is abundant at local downtown shops). Then, head up to the YMCA of the Rockies and stop in at the welcome center for hiking recommendations and for some serious mountain vibes. My parents met here while working at the camp during college, and later married at the local chapel.
  • Boulder (30 mins) – Walk along Pearl St. Mall, grab a burger at the locally-beloved Sink restaurant, and hike the Flatirons.
  • Fort Collins (1 hour) – Take a tour of the original New Belgium brewery, see Colorado State University’s (#GoRams) tree-lined campus, and drive up the Mishawaka, a 100-year-old music venue in the middle of the Roosevelt National Park (I was a cocktail waitress here during college).

 

Wednesday

Stop at Torchy’s Tacos for the best tacos of your life, before flying out. (Remember, any edibles you may have picked up during the weekend cannot come home with you. 😉)

Direct flights from Asheville Regional Airport* (full list here)

Newark, Punta Gorda / Fort Meyers, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Vero Beach, Chicago + more. Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa flights, via Spirit Airlines will start in September.

https://flyavl.com/

We’ll see you in the Rockies, Asheville.

What go-to spots are missing? Let us know in the comments below. ⬇