Outside Rocky Mountain National Park, cool off in a lively riverside town
A common drive-by for those heading to Rocky Mountain National Park (20 miles west), Lyons has natural and edible charms of its own.
Set at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain Rivers, about an hour northwest of Denver, the town's riverfront parks lure thrill-seeking kayakers, while quiet pools beckon waders.
Troll the downtown shops for antiques and curios, then quench your thirst at a different kind of watering hole.
From Denver, take I-25 north about 40 miles to State 66 west (exit 243), which becomes U.S. 36 and Lyons's Main Street. From Boulder, take U.S. 36 north about 15 miles.
Meadow Park Picnic in the shadow of Lyons's red rock cliffs. INFO: Free Mon–Fri, $5 parking Sat–Sun and holidays; State 7/Fifth Ave. at Railroad Ave.
Bohn Park Catch a ball game at the lit fields, or cast a line in the St. Vrain River. INFO: Second Ave., just south of Park St.
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew Quaff an award-winning Dale's Pale Ale or Old Chubb Scottish Ale microbrew alongside Southern-food favorites like seafood gumbo and Cajun catfish. Rock with live blues and zydeco (Thu–Sun) or bluegrass (Tue). INFO: $$; 303 Main St.; 303/823-6685.
Cilantro Mary Housed in an 1881 saloon, the family favorite serves Mexican fare, including six made-from-scratch salsas. INFO: $$; closed Wed and Sun; 450 Main St.; 303/823-5014.
The Stone Cup Kick back on the sun-dappled patio with the best java in town. INFO: $; 442 High St.; 303/823-2345.
Treasures Garage Sale A semi-permanent bargain fest, stuffed with vintage dishes, cast-iron cookware, and oddball seasonal items. INFO: Fri–Sun, weather permitting; free; 343 Broadway St.
Rabbit Mountain Cottage Furnishings Brightly painted items that borrow from traditional Shaker lines, plus cheerful quilts, rugs, and pottery. INFO: Closed Mon–Tue; 602 Fifth Ave.; 303/823-6445.
Meander for an hour or two along the Sculpture Trail, a delightful series of interactive artwork that's part goofy treasure hunt, part inspirational journey. The Sculpture Trail Guidebook ($3) is available at local coffee shops and the Lyons Visitor Center (350 Broadway). Jun 7–Oct 20; free; start at corner of High and Fifth Avenues.
The entire community turns out for Lyons Good Old Days, now in its 31st year (Jun 22–24). Enjoy a classic small-town vibe with the wood-bat softball tourney, anything-goes parade, live music, kids' performances, carnival, and more. Events in various locations; 303/823-8250.