Lafayette is a city of about 25,000 residents that’s located in the northwest corner of the Denver metropolitan area.
It’s just east of Boulder and west of Interstate 25, which is the state’s largest north-south highway that runs from Wyoming to the north to New Mexico to the south.
The area has become quite a technology hot spot in recent years, largely because it’s so close to the University of Colorado, which is a prolific and well-respected research institution.
Visitors to Lafayette have a variety of recreation options at their disposal, including natural, historical, and cultural attractions, and a number of annual festivals and fairs.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Lafayette, Colorado.
1. Indian Peaks Golf Course
Indian Peaks Golf Course is an 18-hole, par-72 facility that was designed by golf legend Hale Irwin and has been open since the early-‘90s.
It plays just more than 7,000 yards from the longest tees, but there are options that accommodate seniors, kids, and women who’d rather not play from the men’s tees.
Previous guests have noted that the course features stunning mountain views, changes in elevation, a good mix of sand and water hazards, and wide fairways that make it challenging but not overly so.
Consider booking your tee time in advance if you’ll be playing during peak times.
2. Pho Café
Though most visitors are surprised to find a quaint Vietnamese restaurant in a small Colorado town, those who stop for a bite generally agree that Pho Café serves authentic and vibrant dishes that are reasonably priced.
For those not familiar with pho, it’s often referred to as Vietnam’s national dish.
It’s a clear broth soup that comes with rice noodles and includes sliced beef, bean sprouts, and onion, to name just a few ingredients. It’s both healthy and filling.
Pho Café is located on South Public Road in Lafayette and serves other Southeast Asian dishes like spring rolls and fried noodles.
3. Waneka Lake Park
Colorado is full of local, state, and national parks, and for lovers of the great outdoors, the choices can be overwhelming.
Located just outside city limits, Waneka State Park is the perfect destination for those who want to experience natural Colorado without driving hours into the mountains to do it.
The park includes a large lake that’s popular with kayakers and paddle boarders, and pedal-powered boats are available to rent for a small charge.
There’s a path that leads around the lake that’s just over a mile long, and it’s an ideal spot for bird watchers in search of unique Colorado species.
4. Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Kitchen
Lafayette’s proximity to The University of Colorado means there are lots of students and faculty from all over the world; many of them enjoy hitting eclectic restaurants and trying new cuisines when they’ve got free time.
Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Kitchen is located on South Public Road and is considered by many to be one of the area’s most underrated culinary gems.
Most of the items on their menu feature exotic spices and vegetables, though entrees with meat are available as well.
Their Ethiopian injera bread is always a big hit, and lentils and peas are often the dish’s main ingredients.
5. Lafayette Peach Festival
Though Colorado’s climate, soil, and growing season couldn’t be more different than Georgia’s, the Rocky Mountain State produces its fair share of the delectable fruit, and Lafayette is home to an annual festival to celebrate them in all their glory.
The festival is held in mid-August and according to some estimates, visitors consume tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit, as well as salads, smoothies, pies, and ice cream.
Antiques, arts and crafts, contests, and lots of food and drink choices make it a big hit, and there are lots of activities dedicated to little ones as well.
6. Lafayette Brew Fest
Though it’s only been in existence for six years, the Lafayette Brew Festival is quickly becoming one of the area’s most anticipated annual events. It’s held in mid-September at Festival Plaza near the downtown area.
The brew fest’s vendors now include more than 20 local microbreweries, all of which are located within about an hour of Lafayette.
Admission to the festival is free, and visitors can expect to be overwhelmed by the abundance of beer choices that have a wide variety of flavor profiles and ingredients.
There’s always plenty of live entertainment and great food too.
7. Romero’s K9 Club & Tap House
For the most part, Colorado residents love their beer and their dogs. For those who have affinities for both, there’s one destination in Lafayette that’s head and shoulders above all others.
Romero’s K9 Club & Tap House features a vast selection of locally brewed beers and lots of wide-open spaces for letting four-legged friends roam freely.
Locals and out of town visitors appreciate the reasonably priced beer, covered outdoor seating areas, and chill vibe, where it’s easy to meet and chat with likeminded folks in a decidedly un-bar-like atmosphere.
Romero’s doesn’t serve food, but there are usually food trucks in the lot serving up hot and tasty grub.
8. Lafayette Oatmeal Festival
According to researchers and dieticians, oatmeal is a natural super-food full of vitamins and fiber.
For nearly a quarter of a century, the city of Lafayette has been holding an annual festival that’s dedicated to the humble oat, and it all kicks off in mid-January with an oatmeal breakfast.
The event features a family-friendly 5K run. For those who aren’t in tip-top shape, walking is okay too.
There are plenty of kid’s events as well, and it’s held at Pioneer Elementary School and lasts from 7:30 AM until about noon. It’s an inexpensive, fun, and healthy way to spend a few morning hours.
9. Downtown Aquarium
Located on Water Street in Denver, Downtown Aquarium opens daily at 10 AM and closes at 9:00 from Sunday to Thursday. It has slightly extended hours until 9:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
The aquarium’s aquatic critters are the stars of the show; they’re housed in a mind-boggling array of aquariums that supposedly contain more than a million gallons of fresh and saltwater.
Many of the exhibits promote interaction, which is perfect for young minds in need of stimulation. For travelers with kids, their hours spent at the aquarium are often among the most memorable of their trip to Colorado.
There’s a great restaurant on-site too for those with empty stomachs.
10. Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights
With endless expanses of blue skies, towering mountains, and mild weather in the summer, Colorado was built for hot air ballooning.
Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon is located just a few minutes from both Denver and Lafayette in Estes Park, and they’re one of the region’s premier providers of hot air balloon tours.
Their season generally lasts from May until November. Daily flights are offered in varying lengths and with a number of popular options for those interested in getting the most bang for their bucks.
Check their website for seasonal specials, and once you’ve decided on which package you prefer, it’s possible to book online.
11. History Colorado Center
History Colorado Center has been open to the public since April of 2012, and it’s dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich history of the Rocky Mountain State.
The state-of-the-art facility cost more than $100 million and took more than three years to complete. Most visitors agree that it’s a world-class facility, and one they’re glad they didn’t pass up.
The museum’s exhibits touch on the pre-pioneer era when the state was inhabited by various Native American people. There’s plenty of recent and contemporary history mixed in as well.
The museum is run by the city’s historical society, and admission is relatively cheap by big-city standards.
12. Pearl Street Mall
As a university town, Boulder is particularly well-known for its eclectic shops, restaurants, and galleries. For those craving a little retail therapy, the Pearl Street Mall is a popular attraction.
It’s the kind of place where visitors generally spend more time than they’d planned, and there are a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options that suit a wide array of ages and tastes.
During the warm summer months, there’s often live entertainment in the courtyard outside the bars and restaurants. Drink and food specials are usually offered to lure in weary shoppers, especially during lunchtime and happy hour.
13. Boulder Chamber Orchestra
The Boulder Chamber Orchestra has been around since 2004. Since then, it’s garnered quite a reputation for world-class performances that rival those usually only found in much larger cities.
The orchestra offers year-round performances and events. Due to their popularity, many sell-out quickly, so it’s wise to book your tickets in advance of your visit.
An evening at the Boulder Chamber Orchestra may just be the perfect yin to a day in nature’s yang, and for those who’ve never experienced an orchestral performance, they’re quite dramatic and memorable.
BCO is located on Walnut Street and they offer many community-centered programs throughout the year as well.
14. Fiske Planetarium
Like many western states, Colorado has a low population density, and the views into the night sky in most of the state aren’t hindered by light from large cities like they are elsewhere.
Though viewing the heavens on your own is a fun activity, most travelers don’t have access to telescopes or even know what to look for; that’s where the Fiske Planetarium comes in.
The planetarium features regularly scheduled virtual tours of the heavens in one of North America’s most state-of-the-art facilities that boasts a massive dome-shaped screen nearly 70 feet in diameter.
Laser shows, outdoor events, and other family-friendly activities are available as well, so check their website before making a special trip.
15. Eldorado Canyon State Park
The area around Boulder, Denver, and Lafayette is full of amazing natural scenery that’s among the most dramatic to be found anywhere in the American West.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the region’s premier outdoor attractions; it’s chock-full of activity options like hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
No camping is allowed in the park, but it’s open year-round and features a variety of relatively easy trails and open spaces that are perfect for frolicking kids who’ve had more than their share of museums and malls.
The park is open from dusk to dawn, and the cost of admission is very inexpensive.