Louisville is a small municipality of about 20,000 residents that’s located in the far northwest corner of the Denver Metropolitan area, between Boulder to the west and Interstate 25 to the east.
Louisville has the distinction of repeatedly being named one of the top 100 places to live in the United States. It’s characterized by abundant attractions and activity options that appeal to a wide range of ages and interests.
For much of its existence, Louisville was a mining town, but when the mines closed in the middle of the 20th century, the town took on a more quiet and residential nature.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Louisville, Colorado.
1. Historic Downtown
Downtown Louisville is quaint and historic and offers first-time visitors the perfect opportunity to stretch their legs while getting an overview of the town’s layout and attractions.
The downtown area is full of locally-owned restaurants, galleries, shops, and museums; in recent years, it’s experienced quite a revitalization.
Many of the buildings are more than a hundred years old, and the area is the venue for a number of annual events, including holiday celebrations, art walks, and even live entertainment during the warm summer months.
The area tends to come alive during the afternoon and evening hours, especially on weekends.
2. Downtown Carriage Rides
Carriage rides aren’t easy things to come by in our mechanized world, but for those staying in Louisville, they’re not only available but free.
The ornate carriages are pulled by majestic Clydesdale horses, which are supplied by a local ranch and the town’s business association.
Rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays in December, as well as select dates in November.
For those who’ve never experienced a carriage ride through a historic town, it’s an amazing experience. Previous guests have noted that the horses were massive, regal, and surprisingly even-tempered.
The rides depart from the local skating rink near the downtown area.
3. Lulu’s Barbecue
With its abundance of cattle ranches and hearty, outdoorsy residents, Colorado has always been big on barbecue.
Lulu’s Barbecue is located on Main Street in Louisville and offers a wide variety of meat and sauce options to tempt even the most finicky taste buds.
Pulled pork, ribs, and burnt ends are among a few of their most popular items, and they offer tasty sides like fries, coleslaw, beans, and fried okra.
Their sampler platters are great choices for those who want to try a variety of items. Due to their popularity, Lulu’s can draw crowds, so consider dining earlier or later than most hungry visitors if you’d like to avoid the masses.
4. Louisville Downtown Street Faire
Street fairs are free, family-friendly events that are held in cities and small towns all over the country.
The Louisville Downtown Street Faire is one such event that includes a little something for everyone in the family regardless of age.
It’s an annual attraction that takes place in the downtown area over two months in the summer.
There are several free shuttles that take revelers to and from the event, and it’s convenient for those who prefer to ride their bikes and lock them up at the racks along the street.
The event includes food, games, arts and crafts, and lots of children’s activities as well.
5. Indian Peaks Golf Course
Though it’s technically just over the municipal line in nearby Lafayette, Indian Peaks Golf Course is just a few minutes from downtown Louisville. It’s considered by many to be one of the area’s best value golfing facilities.
An 18-hole, par-72 course that was designed by golf legend Hale Irwin, it’s been open for nearly two decades.
At more than 7,000 yards from the blue tees, it’s longer than most courses and is particularly well-known for its mountain views, well-manicured fairways and greens, and off-course amenities.
Tee times go quickly during peak times, so book yours in advance if you’ll be playing on a weekend in the spring or summer.
6. Winter Skate
During the fall and winter months, most of Colorado is a winter wonderland that offers outdoor recreation lovers a variety of exhilarating options to choose from.
Winter Skate is an annual Louisville event that’s been going strong for 15 years, and it’s open from Thanksgiving until the end of February.
The facility is located in the Steinbaugh Pavilion on Front Street, and parking is free.
Expect plenty of food options, a heated room for frozen skaters, and nearly 7,000 square feet of ice.
The Winter Skate venue is the meeting point for the free carriage rides mentioned above as well.
7. Louisville’s Open Space and Trails
Hikers visiting Denver, Boulder, and Louisville have a staggering number of convenient hiking options at their disposal, and Louisville’s Open Space and Trails are among the most popular.
They’re spread over nearly 2,000 acres and wind their way for more than 30 miles through the area’s stunning and diverse environments.
The trails are open to walkers, hikers, runners, and bikers. Dogs are allowed as well, as long as they’re leashed and cleaned up after.
Many trails follow the shoreline of Harper Lake, and though some are paved and appropriate for strollers and wheelchairs, others are best left to fit trail junkies.
8. Louisville Community Park
For those interested in enjoying quality time in the great outdoors without leaving town limits, Louisville Community Park would be a great place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours.
The park and its many amenities are among the town’s newest attractions and include a dedicated area for dogs and their owners, and a spray pad that’s a popular destination in the summer when the Colorado sun can be downright oppressive.
Basketball and bocce courts, horseshoe pits, and a trail for dirt bikers make the park a favorite with a variety of age groups; it’s a popular place for a relaxing picnic as well.
9. First Fridays Art Walks
Put on by the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, First Fridays Art Walks are free events that generally start at about five in the evening, when tired and thirsty residents are ready to let loose after a long week at work.
The events include lots of great art, live performances, and tons of food and drink specials offered by bars and restaurants along the route.
Though the art walk portion of the event officially ends at 6:30, that’s by no means the end of the night for many visitors; it’s common for large groups to meet at nearby establishments for more fun, food, and drink.
10. Crystal Springs Brewing Company
With so many small brewing companies around the state, you might think they’d become old hat, but they continually draw the beer-loving crowd that prefers their laidback environments and fantastic selections of locally made brews.
Crystal Springs Brewing Company has two locations in Louisville. Their much-loved beers come in a diverse array of flavor profiles, ranging from refreshing ales and hoppy IPAs to mild ambers and dark stouts.
Crystal Springs features indoor and outdoor seating and fun games like corn hole. Though there’s no on-site kitchen, it’s possible to have tasty grub delivered from nearby restaurants.
11. Fiske Planetarium
Colorado’s night skies have less humanmade light than most other states, and for amateur stargazers, they’re perfect for looking into the heavens.
The Fiske Planetarium is the ideal indoor alternative for those who’d rather not brave the elements. Their presentations are led by knowledgeable astronomers who continually wow visitors with many things they’ve never seen.
The planetarium is a state-of-the-art facility that features one of the highest resolution screens in the country, spanning nearly 70 feet from end to end.
In addition, the planetarium staff offer laser shows and outdoor events. It’s open year-round and located on the campus of The University of Colorado in Boulder.
12. Flatiron Crossing
Most visitors to the Rocky Mountain State come for its unparalleled natural beauty, but for many, shopping is an essential element in the whole vacation experience.
Flatiron Crossing is an indoor shopping center located in nearby Broomfield. It features more than 200 stores and restaurants, and a multi-screen movie theater as well.
Popular national brands like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Crate & Barrel are a few of the anchor stores, and there are dozens of restaurants serving everything from Asian cuisine and pizza to burgers, subs, and Mexican food.
Close to other area attractions, it’s the perfect place to escape the elements for a few hours.
13. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art was founded nearly four decades ago, and its collection of art from around the world is one of the region’s most impressive.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts temporary ones throughout the year from other institutions and private collections. The staff offer a variety of instructional courses aimed at local artists of all levels of ability.
The museum is located on 13th Street. For young visitors, there are a number of interactive exhibits that engage and entertain, as well as special yearly events, including game days and live performances.
14. Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is often described as one of the area’s most impressive natural attractions, and it draws locals and visitors year-round.
The park’s most prominent features include impressive stratified rock cliffs, an idyllic creek, and a network of trails that are generally appropriate for most visitors.
Fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography are popular park pastimes. In the winter, cross-country skiing is a big draw as well.
For those with rock-climbing experience, there are hundreds of routes of varying levels of difficulty.
There’s a nominal entrance fee, and the park is open daily from dawn until dusk.
15. Boulder County Farmers Markets
Boulder County Farmers Markets are comprised of two markets in Boulder and nearby Longmont. They were established to bring locals into direct contact with area farmers, who provide much of their food.
Though both markets had humble beginnings, they’ve grown over the years to include not only farmers, but craftsmen, artists, and entrepreneurs selling everything from prepared food items and art to baked goods and housewares.
The markets are open year-round on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For those new to the area, they’re great places to meet locals, who are excellent resources for learning about unique things to see and do on your trip.