Highlands Ranch, CO
Lying 20 miles south of Denver, Highlands Ranch was first settled in 1860 by the Potato King of Colorado, Rufus Clark. The Highlands Mansion and Ranch are among the top attractions in Highlands Ranch and have been the icon of the town for over a century. The grounds’ previous owners have included politicians, ranchers and oil men, and the property has been known as Castle Isabelle, Sunland Ranch and Diamond K Ranch throughout the years. Those visiting Highlands Ranch over the holiday season get jolly with Santa, ride hayrides and enjoy free tours of the manor.
The city is crisscrossed by nearly 60 miles of trails that connect tourists to 19 parks including four that have Fido-friendly, off-leash areas. Daniels Park, six miles south of Highlands Ranch, has magnificent views of the Front Range, from Pike’s Peak to Long’s Peak. While at the park, hikers often see grazing Bison and fascinating sites like a historic 1920s ranch, the Tall Bull Memorial Grounds and a monument to frontiersman Kit Carson’s last campfire.
Highlands Ranch hosts a long list of outstanding eateries like the organic hotspot Pierre Michel’s. Breakfast and lunch at the small bakery can be a crowded affair with large portions of outstanding crepes and sandwiches inspiring long lines. Rugby fans visiting Highlands Ranch lunch on the Dubliner at the Irish pub Lansdowne Arms, named for the famous stadium in Dublin.
To get the evening started right, wine lovers sip at Indulge Bistro and Wine Bar where happy hour pairs fabulous wines and Tapas dishes like Cozumel Shrimp with a tequila and jalapeno cocktail sauce.
Another great dinner option is Old Blinking Light on Dorchester Street, where the Southwestern-American menu is chock full of delicious concoctions like bacon-wrapped buffalo meatloaf and New Mexico red chili crusted salmon.
Day trips from Highlands Ranch are varied, with exciting cities like Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder all within 120 miles. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders journey 90 miles west to Breckenridge where four peaks provide 2,358 acres of powder, and the picturesque town boasts over 250 historic buildings.
Tourists searching for summer day trips from Highlands Ranch head 60 miles south to the National Natural Landmark, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The park is home to over 15 miles of trails for walking, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The park’s steep rock formations also draw avid rock climbers and are available for climbing with a pass obtained from the park’s visitor center.
Twenty-six miles to the northwest of Highlands Ranch, golfers snag a tee time at one of the best public golf courses in Colorado, Fossil Trace Golf Club. Located in Golden, Fossil Trace is an 18-hole, par-72 championship course designed by Jim Engh. On the way back to Highlands Ranch, ditch the cleats and don the dancing shoes for a stop at El Chapultepec in Denver. Since 1934, the historic Jazz club has hosted the best local and national artists including stars like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.