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The Nature Lovers Itinerary

Nature Lovers (Two-Day) Itinerary

DAY ONE

Start your Longmont adventure at Cheese Importers, a locally owned café, marketplace and cheese shop for breakfast. Enjoy a French-inspired meal of pastries, breakfast sandwiches, quiches, soups, salads, and sandwiches then wander around the quaint European market and famous cheese cooler for souvenirs to take home.

Enjoy Cheese Importers for breakfast – try their quiche and cafe au lait!

Pro Tip: Make sure to stop by the Visit Longmont office in downtown Longmont to pick up a Bike Map. This handy map will not only give you an overview of our trails, parks, greenways and the 16-mile Longmont loop, but it also lists the nearly 70 permanent Art in Public Places pieces and their locations. Another great stop while you’re downtown, is Old Town Outfitters, a locally owned outdoor apparel and gear shop. Their friendly staff can give you tips on great places to hike, bike and explore in the Longmont area, or you can pick up one of their many guides that will help along the way. Next, head to Longmont’s Golden Ponds. This land was donated to the City of Longmont by the Golden family and opened to the public in 1990. With a magnificent view of Longs Peak and the Front Range, this park features 88 acres including 56 acres of water surface in four ponds. The nature area is a trail head to the western end of the St. Vrain Greenway, and offers 2.6 miles of trails, an ADA-accessible fishing pier, two restrooms and nine picnic shelters. Wildlife of all kinds, especially waterfowl like great blue herons and cormorants, are easily viewed in the park. Enjoy walking, fishing, biking, taking photographs or simply appreciating the scenery at this beautiful nature area.

Bike or stroll along the scenic St. Vrain Greenway. Photo: Blake Hendricks

Golden Ponds is on the western end of the 8-mile scenic St. Vrain Greenway that winds along the St. Vrain River in south Longmont. Grab a bike from one of ten citywide Zagster stations, our bike share program. Ride along the greenway and enjoy three city parks and stop by Left Hand Brewing Company or Shoes & Brews, two of our craft brewers located along the trail. On the eastern end of the Greenway, Sandstone Ranch offers 313 acres of historic, cultural and natural resources. Hike or bike the nature area along the St. Vrain Greenway and be on the lookout for wildlife and pack a picnic to enjoy the serenity and scenery in the park. Please note: The St. Vrain Greenway trail is closed adjacent to Sandstone Ranch due to the 2013 flood. The Longmont Bike Map (available at Visit Longmont) will give the latest updates on trail construction.

Sandstone Ranch Nature Area 

For lunch, enjoy an authentic Thai meal at the Prospect New Town neighborhood eatery, Urban Thai. Executive Chef Miguel prepares dishes from ingredients that are hand-selected with the highest quality to offer the best taste of Thai cuisine. After your meal, wander around the eclectic Prospect New Town neighborhood, Colorado’s first New Urbanist community. Located on a former 80-acre tree farm, Prospect was designed for people who want the best of city living with a small town attitude. The neighborhood includes restaurants, shops, breweries, yoga and workout facilities, and businesses mingled with all types of unique, picturesque housing. After lunch, wander the 50-acre Sunflower Farm in southeast Longmont and explore the farm’s animals, huge shade trees with tire swings, hammocks, treehouses and a zipline. In the winter, toast marshmallows over the bonfire or grab a sled for the farm’s sledding hill. The farm is open throughout the year (hours vary), and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Feeding the animals at Sunflower Farm. Photo: Suzanne Tadros, 5280 Magazine

End your day with a visit to Next Door American Eatery. Kimbal Musk, the equally ambitious brother to Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, is the proprietor of this new-to-Longmont eatery (and 5th Colorado location). The Next Door restaurants spotlight real food ingredients sourced from local and domestic farmers, with an eye towards sustainability. Dine on the outdoor patio that offers breathtaking mountain views. Spend your night relaxing in the comfort of Longmont’s newest hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites (opening February 2018). As part of the Marriott family, the Fairfield has a 100% Guarantee where they promise you will be satisfied with your stay, or they will make it right. The Fairfield is conveniently located within minutes of all the activities and restaurants listed for our Nature Lovers.

DAY TWO

Sunset Pond at Pella Crossing

Head off the beaten path to the little town of Hygiene, just west of Longmont. Eat breakfast at Crane Hollow Café, a spot popular with locals and bicyclists out for a weekend ride. Homemade and hearty meals will fill you up for a day of outdoor activity. While you’re in Hygiene, make sure to pop into the Rabbit Brush Gallery next door to the Crane Hollow Café. The gallery features work by local and regional artists and fair trade artwork. After a bit of shopping, wander over to Pella Crossing. This Recreation Area is managed by Boulder County and offers two, easy hiking trails, fishing and viewing the numerous birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals that call these wetlands home. After your morning in Hygiene, head to the Boulder County Agricultural Heritage Center (open Friday-Sunday April 1 through October 31 and the first Saturday of the month November 1 through March 31). Admission is free and daily tours are offered at 11 a.m. Learn about the agricultural history of Boulder County by exploring the historic barns and farmhouse and enjoy seeing farm animals (onsite April through October).

The trail at McIntosh Lake offers spectacular views of Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker. Photo: Sherri O’Hara

After the Agricultural Heritage Center, take a short drive to McIntosh Lake. The lake offers two parks with playground areas, a 3.5 mile path around the lake to walk, snowshoe, or cross-country ski and enjoy the local wildlife and some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains in Longmont. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite stop at Jefe’s Tacos & Tequila for lunch. Jefe’s offers lunch specials every day of the week from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and a $5 Kids’ Menu. Save room for dessert and try the fried ice cream.

Learn how to Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) on Longmont’s Union Reservoir. Photo: Rocky Mountain Paddleboard

During the warmer months, visit Union Reservoir a 736-acre body of water providing many outdoor recreational activities. Rent a kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), fish, swim, camp or picnic. During the winter, spend the afternoon perfecting your toe loops, salchows and spins at the Longmont Ice Pavilion (open November through mid-March). For dinner, refuel at Caprese Trattoria. This restaurant serves authentic, Italian cuisine prepared by internationally acclaimed chef Marco Monnanni. The menu features Chef Marco’s famous house-made mozzarellas, a variety of traditional Italian antipastis and homemade pastas. Visit Longmont recommends these additional ideas for your trip: Take in Longmont’s scenery at one of three, beautiful public golf courses in town. Enjoy nine holes at the historic Sunset Golf Course, breathtaking views from Twin Peaks Golf Course or take in the panoramic sight of the Front Range from the Robert Trent Jones II designed Ute Creek Golf Course. Each course offers challenging and interesting layouts for golfers of all skill levels. Their professional staff will take care of your every golfing need including instruction, golf car rentals, golf club rentals, pro shops, and tournaments.

Watch the skydivers come in for a landing at Vance Brand Airport. Photo: James “Bo” Insogna

Looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience that you will never forget? Experience Longmont 18,000 feet above sea level by parachuting with the majestic Rocky Mountains as your backdrop at Mile-Hi Skydiving. Freefall at 130 MPH and then slow down as your parachute deploys, allowing you to take in the serene landscape as you soar through the air. Reservations are recommended. Not up for such a thrill ride? Visit Longmont’s Vance Brand Airport and watch airplanes take off and land, as well as the skydivers coming in for their landing. Grab a bite to eat at the Flight Deck Grill (open May — October, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday). This mobile cafe offers grilled favorites with fun aviation-themed names.

Cover Photo: Biking along McIntosh Lake in Longmont, Sherri O’Hara

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