It can be hard to break out of the “Boulder bubble.” That’s the invisible fortress that surrounds the city of Boulder and draws people close to the Flatiron Mountains.
But every once in awhile, it’s worth breaking free. The next closest city of substantial size located in Boulder County is Longmont, just 12 miles northeast.
Longmont used to be unspectacular, more of a stop between Boulder and the interstate. But the city has grown and changed a lot in the past few years, and today, Longmont is a destination in and of itself. It boasts more than 150 restaurants, 15 hotels, 11 breweries, more than 50 locally owned shops, four distilleries and even a cidery.
Here are the top 10 things to do when you are visiting Longmont:
1. Go on a Beer Tour
You could visit Longmont’s 11 craft breweries on your own or try to pick a favorite. Or you could hop on the inexpensive and fun Brewhop Trolley, which offers tours of Longmonts breweries, distilleries and cidery.
The quirky green trolley takes you through the city and drops you off at different tasting rooms, so you can try different creations without worrying about who’s going to drive you safely home. At the stops, you can take guided tours, try beer and fill growlers of your favorites.
The full loop takes the driver about an hour, so that’s how long you’ll have at each stop. It’s a “hop-on, hop-off” service, so pace yourself and know the trolley will be back around hourly. Spend time shopping downtown or divert for a bite to eat at one of Longmont’s best restaurants, such as The Roost or Jefe’s tacos downtown.
The Brewhop Trolley runs from noon-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A few of the highlights along the way: well-known Left Hand Brewery and Oskar Blues Brewery, with 43 craft beers on tap and an excellent menu. This isn’t your ordinary brewery with greasy bar food. It’s one of the best craft restaurants in town.
2. Distillery Hop
In addition to the breweries, the trolley will take you to some of Longmont’s distilleries, but there are few not on the path that you should check out on your own.
The newest micro-distillery in town is Longtucky Spirits (that’s a spoof of Longmont’s nickname, since it has strong agricultural/cowboy roots). If you want a two-for-one, next to Longtucky Spirits (actually, in the same building) is the St. Vrain Cidery. Then there’s Still Cellars, one of the coolest nightlife options in Longmont; Still Cellars has a great event calendar with live music, book readings, performances and more.
Black Canyon and Anvil distilleries round out Longmont’s growing spirits scene.
3. Enjoy Union Reservoir
Union Reservoir is no small body of water. It spans 736 acres and is actually one of Colorado’s few natural lakes.
Union Res is often host to special events, from full mood stand-up paddleboard events to triathlons.
In warm seasons, go boating (non-motorized boats only), sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, swimming and windsurfing. There’s even a designated dog beach.
You can also book a campsite at Union, for both RVs and tents. In the summer, it can be hard to score a camp spot, but you can always just bring a picnic and hang out in designated picnic sites. Union Reservoir is a popular place for parties, reunions and gatherings.
No boating, fishing or camping in the winter, but you can still visit the reservoir, walk around it and enjoy the scenery year-round.
4. Fill Up at the Cheese Importers
This one’s for the foodies. Cheese Importers is our favorite place to eat and shop in Longmont. The coffee is excellent and the atmosphere is adorable; it’s located inside a historic building (the former power plant). In the summer, check out the flower-filled patio tucked away in the back.
Grab a sandwich, soup, quiche or pastry, sip an espresso and then shop for the perfect charcuterie spread to take home. Cheese Importers is a French bistro with Colorado’s biggest walk-in meat and cheese cooler. Cheese. Everywhere. So much cheese.
The shop also features all kinds of kitchen and food goods, as well as tons of home decorations, wall hangings, linens, oils, spices, chocolate, clothes and gifts, both vintage and new.
The Cheese Importers also offers cheesemaking classes led by a local dairy goat farmer.
5. Have a Farm-to-Table Meal
Immerse yourself in Longmont’s agricultural heritage at Ollin Farms. This family farm offers tours (teaching about their sustainable agriculture practices that have minimal impact on the environment) and a charming farm-to-table dinner series. The meals, served right on the farm itself, are made out of local ingredients.
You can also find Ollin Farms produce, as well as other local goods, at the Longmont Farmers Market, April through November. Also shop its farmstand in the spring and early fall.
6. Explore Longmont’s Art
Art is big in Longmont. The city has 10 different art galleries, a symphony and a dinner theater. Walk around town and find more than 75 pieces of art in public places. It’s no surprise that the downtown Longmont area is an official “Certified Creative District” by the state of Colorado.
Longmont’s creative district spans its galleries, music venues, entertainment, theaters and more. The biggest regular event is the Second Friday art programs, where local galleries open their doors and offer special activities and deals. Meet local artists, get special deals on food and shop.
Longmont’s Brewhop Trolley offers special Second Friday rides for extra cheap (just a buck for all-night access).
7. Be a Ninja
Want to be a ninja? Love “American Ninja Warrior?” Longmont is home to one of Colorado’s best ninja obstacle courses. It offers a full-scale, outdoor “American Ninja Warrior” course and training facility for adults and kids. You may find actual Ninja Warrior contestants practicing or teaching here. It’s the real deal.
This is a super fun way to test your skills, get fit and have fun. You can rent it out for parties or private events, sign up for a class or come during open play hours for a personalized fitness challenge.
8. Go for a Walk
Longmont doesn’t have the foothills, but it does boast more than 42 miles of trails and greenways. A highlight is the St. Vrain Greenway, following the beautiful St. Vrain Creek. Walk between various parks and ponds, such as Golden Ponds, stretched across nearly 100 acres.
Another popular place to play is at Sandstone Ranch Park, on 313 acres. This park and nature preserve even has a ball field. Don’t miss McIntosh Lake, too. Stroll along the 3.5 miles of flat walking trails around this lake area and look for wildlife.
9. Go Skating
Here’s something many people may not realize. Longmont is home to five different skateparks. Each is a little different, with its own rules, obstacles (for different abilities) and open hours, but the best thing: They’re all free and open to the public.
Longmont’s skate parks are Blue Skies, Quail Campus, Rough and Ready, Sandstone Ranch and Stephen Day.
10. Go Skydiving
Longmont is one of the best places to go skydiving in the country. In fact, Longmont-based Mile-Hi Skydiving is Colorado’s biggest and top-ranked skydiving facility. It does more than 35,000 jumps every year from the biggest fleet of twin-engine, jet-prop aircraft in Colorado (and beyond). It’s the only full-time skydiving operation within 100 miles of the Denver-Boulder area.
Mile-Hi Skydiving is based out of Longmont’s Vance Brand Airport.