Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in Colorado Springs by embarking on a weekend getaway to other fantastic cities and towns in Colorado. Take advantage of an extended holiday weekend by making a Colorado Springs vacation rental your home base, then venture out to these exciting nearby areas. Here are a few vibrant places in proximity to Colorado Springs perfect for a short weekend trip.

1. Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs is four hours from Colorado Springs. You can travel to Glenwood over breathtaking switchback roads on Independence Pass or take the interstate through Leadville and Glenwood Canyon. Glenwood is popular year round, so if you’re searching for relaxation as well as peace and quiet, book your vacation rental near the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves. First used by Native Americans for the water’s healing powers, these caves have three naturally formed rooms filled with steam that contains 34 minerals to help you release stress from your body. Take a hike on the one-mile-long Hanging Lake Trail, suspended along the dramatic cliffs of Glenwood Canyon. The walk is worth it because at the end of the trail you find a gorgeous hidden lake with a sparkling waterfall. You’re welcome to take a cooling dip or simply sit on the banks and soak in sunshine.

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2. Steamboat Springs

You can motor the 207 miles to Steamboat Springs in four hours via US Highway 40E and CO Highway 9S. Steamboat has a laid-back Western vibe and lacks the showiness of typical ski towns. For a more quiet and restful getaway, bypass Steamboat Springs proper and stay at Strawberry Hot Springs Park just outside of town. These naturally fed, 104-degree mineral springs soothe your soul and wash away your cares. There are some remarkable vacation rentals available on site, including an old train caboose or covered wagon.

Steamboat Springs is the original home of downhill skiing, and every January the Cowboy Downhill event draws gauchos from around the country. The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in July is a blast too. Located in a beautiful Queen Anne-style Victorian home, the Tread of Pioneers Museum tells Steamboat’s story, and if you want some fantastic photography opportunities, take a ride on the scenic gondola up the slopes of Mount Werner.

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3. Palisade

A five-hour drive from the Springs brings you to Colorado’s Western Slope where wine country and peach cobbler meet. Peaches put Palisade on the map, but there are more than 20 small-batch wineries in this area as well as the Peach Street Distillers. You can spend a day following the trail from fruit orchards to wineries learning about this area’s micro climate that makes it perfect for growing. The scenery is picturesque, and cozy rentals are plentiful. Visitors from around the world flock to Palisade in late summer for the Palisade Peach Festival that celebrates the harvesting of thousands of the juiciest, sweetest, and most succulent peaches in the world. Be sure to stop at Alida’s Fruit Stand for chocolate-covered fruit, goodies like raspberry and jalapeno jelly, and real fruit jelly beans. Check out the super-cute Brix Cider Bistro or Diorio’s for lunch or dinner.

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4. Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes are just under three hours from Colorado Springs, and an awesome sight they are to behold. The majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains set the perfect backdrop for the ever-changing dune landscape. Take the six-hour trek up the 755-foot tall Summit Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America, and bring along your camera to capture the spectacular views of the entire park. Sledding on the sand is great fun, and you can rent sandboards and sleds appropriate for sand at Great Sand Dunes Oasis just outside the park entrance. The park is open 24 hours, so do some stargazing. Away from the city and light pollution, it’s easy to see the constellations. If you visit during a full moon, let the light guide your walk over the dunes.

There are plenty of forested and alpine trails to give you respite from the sun, but the biggest surprise is a beach that appears in late May when the snow melts and the waters are cool. Walk a half-mile through chilly water — or balance on a log bridge — and discover the hidden falls. After a busy day on the sand, head over to the Great Sand Dunes Oasis for some down-home diner-style grub, or check out Calvillo’s, the local favorite for authentic Mexican fare.

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5. Minturn

Situated at the confluence of the Eagle River and Gore Creek between Vail and Beaver Creek is the tiny mountain town of Minturn. Surrounded on three sides by the White River National Forest and the Holy Cross Wilderness areas, Minturn is the perfect place to get away from it all. Located just 3.5 hours from Colorado Springs, the Meadow Mountain Trail is perfect for hiking with its gentle upslope. Beautiful wildflowers brush against your legs, and the views are remarkable. Before you set out, stop by the Sticky Fingers Cafe and Bakery for an on-the-go breakfast. After a fulfilling day in the fresh air, dine on wild game birds or ribs at the historic Vail Valley Minturn Saloon.

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6. Durango

This small town is about five hours away from the city but so worth the trip. Durango is situated on the Animas River and surrounded by majestic mountains where you can whitewater raft, kayak, ski, snowboard, ride a mountain bike through the terrain, or just hike along the stony trails. Take the kids to the Powerhouse Science Center for some hands-on exhibits and activities that focus on energy. Take an eco-tour over the San Juan mountains and along 15 miles of the Animas River on the longest zipline in the country at Soaring Tree Top Adventures. Explore the vintage locomotive exhibits, miniature trains, and nostalgic memorabilia at the free Durango Silverton Train Museum, then hop aboard the real thing. The Durango and Silverton heritage railroad takes you over 45 miles of rails that were originally laid in 1882 between the two mining towns.

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7. Ouray

Five hours on the road brings you to some of the most breathtaking scenery Colorado has to offer. Nestled between the towering peaks of the San Juan mountains where old Hollywood westerns were filmed, Ouray was once a booming mining town. Ouray has amazing jeep roads that are carved from the old wagon trails, so you can take on a variety of high-mountain terrains, passes, and rugged winding roads that open up to wide, flower-laden meadows. Pick up some breakfast at the Backstreet Bistro that offers healthy alternatives to fast foods, or sit down to a hearty beef Wellington or plate of made-from-scratch burritos. The Bon Ton offers fresh seafood and pasta with upscale, casual ambiance, and they have a great wine selection and an extensive martini menu.

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8. Pagosa Springs

Far away from the crowds, Pagosa Springs is the perfect place to refresh your spirit on a weekend getaway. Four hours from Colorado Springs, Pagosa Springs has a small-town atmosphere and offers you simplicity on a grand scale. Surrounded by three-million acres of national forests and wilderness areas, there’s plenty of fun to be had exploring nature’s playground. Take the kids to the February WinterFest, and let them compete in the Fat Bike Fun Race or downhill sled race. You might be tempted to join the locals in the Penguin Plunge, and everyone can enjoy the gorgeous ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons over downtown. In April, the Pagosa Springs Resort and Spa welcomes visitors to the annual Pints and Pool Craft Beer Festival. You can indulge in food and drinks while soaking in one of the 23 pools and listening to live music.

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