Erie, Colorado, is a town of about 19,000 residents that’s experienced double-digit population growth over the past few decades.
It’s located in Weld and Boulder Counties north of Denver and just east of the city of Boulder a few miles from Interstate 25.
Unlike many area municipalities that have succumbed to development and hordes of rather characterless national chain stores, Erie has largely clung to its Old West roots. For many, it’s the perfect place to stay while visiting the Rocky Mountain State.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Erie that should appeal to visitors of a variety of ages and interests.
1. 24 Carrot Bistro
24 Carrot Bistro is located on Briggs Street in Erie and is a favorite dining destination for those who value fresh ingredients, a relaxed ambiance, and reasonably priced entrees.
Previous visitors have described 24 Carrot as simple, refined, and inviting. In addition to their great grub, they’re particularly well-known for their cocktails, many of which feature locally distilled spirits.
A few of their favorite entrees include duck, scallops, and steaks, and according to those with certified sweet teeth, their desserts are to die for as well.
Not surprisingly considering their name, carrot cake is a big hit, as are chocolate brownies and vanilla ice cream with a bourbon and caramel sauce.
2. Cristos Coffee
For those with deep dark addictions to coffee in all its wonderful forms, Cristos Coffee is a place that deserves a visit or two when in the area.
Cristos Coffee is also located on Briggs Street and opens earlier than many of its competitors, making it a perfect first stop for those who’ve risen with the sun intent on exploring the state’s wonders.
In addition to their hot coffee classics, they offer several cold options, many of which are topped with tasty additions like whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
If you’re looking for a hearty, meat-based meal, it’s probably not the place for you because their menu leans heavily toward vegan fare.
3. Erie Biscuit Day
Even though it’s not abundantly clear why biscuits warrant their own special day in Erie, for those who’ll be in the area in the middle of September, the annual Erie Biscuit Day celebration is worth checking out.
It takes place on Saturday from 8:00 AM to noon in the town’s historic downtown area.
The event has been going strong for nearly two decades. Since its inception, it has been run by the local historical society as a way to generate funds, while serving the local population a hearty, gut-filling meal that’s been known to keep the wolves at bay until dinner time.
4. Boulder Reservoir Regional Park
At more than 700 acres, Boulder Reservoir is one of the Denver area’s largest water sources. It also offers outdoorsy locals and visitors an abundance of activity options.
One of the park’s most used amenities is the five-mile loop trail that winds its way through a variety of natural environments.
The trail is relatively easy, and appropriate for those of most ages and levels of physical ability, though during cold and wet weather, it can get slick in areas.
The forests and wetlands are home to a variety of animals that are commonly seen, and there are varied species of birds as well, including woodpeckers, raptors, and waterfowl.
5. Colorado National Golf Club
The good news is that Colorado National Golf Club is one of north-central Colorado’s best courses.
The bad news, however, is that even avid golfers with low handicaps will need to play as the guest of a member or purchase their own membership.
The course was formerly known as Vista Ridge. It’s such a standout facility that it’s the official home of some of the area’s most elite college golf teams.
In addition to the stunning 18-hole course, there are plenty of putting and chipping practice areas, a pro shop, and a restaurant that serves tasty and surprisingly reasonable fare.
6. Industrial Revolution Brewing Company
For lovers of micro and craft brews, Colorado offers an astonishing number of choices, but for those visiting Erie who’d rather not waste valuable vacation time traveling far and wide, Industrial Revolution Brewing Company would be a perfect fit.
Featuring tons of beer options with a variety of flavor profiles that range from dark and malty to light and hoppy, there’s probably a brew for nearly everyone you’re traveling with.
It’s even a family-friendly establishment for those with kids. Like many brewing companies, Industrial Revolution’s lot is usually filled with food trucks serving a variety of delicious street-style food.
7. The Dougherty Museum
Located on North 107th Street in nearby Longmont, the Dougherty Museum is one of those local gems that doesn’t make it onto many visitor’s itineraries, but for those who decide to visit, it’s inexpensive, educational, and entertaining.
The museum is only open on weekends between June and August. Since its founding in 1977, it has housed one of the area’s most complete collections of vintage cars.
The collection totals more than three dozen examples of automobiles from yesteryear that were powered by gasoline, steam, and electric engines and motors.
There are farm implements, tools, and housewares on display from the 19th century as well.
8. Longmont Museum and Cultural Center
The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center is located on Quail Road and is the city’s official history museum.
Though it traces its route back to 1940, it’s changed quite a bit over the years and has amassed an impressive collection of items relating to the city’s history, culture, and economy.
For history-loving travelers, it’s a convenient place to visit that’s easy on the wallet. In addition to its permanent exhibits, rotating ones are presented throughout the year.
Many of them are interactive and include lots of artifacts, photographs, and historical memorabilia, and there’s an annual Dia de los Muertos celebration that’s a perennial favorite.
9. Fiske Planetarium
Located on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, the Fiske Planetarium is a popular destination for those who love gazing into the heavens.
The planetarium features world-class sound and optics as well as comfy seats from which visitors can take in the cosmos without laying on the ground and crooking their necks.
Each virtual tour and presentation includes expert narration, so newbies will learn about the things they’re seeing. For those who prefer more eye-catching events, there are regularly scheduled laser shows that are big hits – especially with little ones.
10. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMOCA)
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art was founded in the early-‘70s and houses one of the region’s most complete collections of contemporary art from around the country and world.
The museum is located on 13th Street, and in addition to its permanent exhibits, offers a variety of instructional and educational events on a regular basis, including guided tours, artists’ workshops, and fun activities designed with kids in mind.
They also host permanent exhibits from private collections and other institutions. Most previous guests consider the cost of admission reasonable considering the museum’s activities and collection of one-of-a-kind art.
11. St. Vrain Cidery
Though beer is the Rocky Mountain State’s most abundant and well-loved adult beverage, both spirits and cider are catching on with those who like to mix things up once in a while.
St. Vrain Cidery was founded by a husband and wife team in 2015. Since then, they’ve been offering a unique variety of hard ciders, many of which are infused with fruit, making them refreshing as well as intoxicating.
The cidery’s taproom is open from Wednesday to Sunday during the afternoon and early evening hours. They typically have more than two dozen ciders from a variety of producers on-tap at any one time.
12. Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO)
Though the Boulder Chamber Orchestra has only been around since 2004, it’s already solidified its position as a premier group of musicians, whose performances typically sell out throughout the year.
Boulder isn’t as large a city as many others with top-notch symphony orchestras, but music aficionados agree that’s it’s every bit as good as its big-city competitors.
In addition to its concerts, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra presents a variety of annual programs for those of nearly all ages and levels of musical ability.
They’re located on Walnut Street in town, and it’s wise to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid a heartbreaking sold-out situation.
13. The Agricultural Heritage Center
Longmont’s Agricultural Heritage Center is located on Ute Highway and is dedicated to preserving and promoting the area’s rich farming history.
The center is located in the former home of a farmer who lived just outside town in the 1800s; its attractions include a blacksmith shop, barns, and even animals from April to October.
It’s free to visit, making it a good fit for those traveling on a budget, and it’s just a short drive from Erie.
During the summer, the center is open every day except Sunday, but during the winter months, it’s only open a few days a month.
14. Boulder County Farmers Market
In and around most small towns, even in rural parts of the country, you’re likely to find a farmers market if you look hard enough.
Boulder County Farmers Market was founded on the principle that it’s beneficial for both parties when local farmers sell their produce directly to consumers.
Of course, fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables are the stars of the show, but there are also other non-produce items for sale, including arts and crafts, prepared food, and baked goods.
The market is located on 13th Street and is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays year-round.
15. UCAR Center for Science Education
UCAR Center for Science and Education is located on Center Green Drive in Boulder and was founded to foster an environment that’s fun and educational for the young and old alike.
Many of the center’s exhibits promote hands-on engagement as opposed to just viewing from afar; they touch on a variety of topics, including technology, nature, chemistry, community activism, and workforce skills.
Visiting the UCAR Center for Science and Education is an especially popular activity for those traveling with children. With so much going on, it’s a good idea to check out their website before making a special trip.