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What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Queensland
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What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Hi, Just wondering if anyone has suggestions on what we could do with our time before we fly out of Denver?

We are staying over night in Estes Park after visiting the RMNP. We fly out of Denver airport at 3pm (it'll be a Saturday). So if you have any suggestions on what we could do between leaving Estes in the morning to arriving at the airport at about 2pm in Denver it'd be much appreciated! Are there any interesting places we could visit etc?

Westminster...
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1. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

If your flight is at 3pm you should get to the airport at 1pm. Airlines recommend 2 hours prior. You never know with the security lines at DIA.

Anyways, Pearl St. Mall in Boulder is right inbetween the two. I'm not sure what time the shops open up, but they should be by 11am at least so that would give you 1 or 1.5 hours to stroll the mall. Parking is free on the weekends (and meters on evenings after 7pm, otherwise $1.25/hour for meters). You could eat lunch there as well as one of the many different restaurants and get an ice cream. Hopefully your trip is during a warmer month making walking around better as it's all outside and there may be some street performers then as well.

Arvada, Colorado
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2. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

I would agree to not cut it that close on getting to the airport - especially on the weekend. It will also take you a bit to get out there, so if you are in Boulder hanging out, which I would recommend as well, you will want to leave by 12 - 12:15. I would have brunch somewhere like Chautauqua Dining Hall, or Lucille's, Antica Roma has a wonderful brunch as well.

Estes Park, Colorado
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3. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

I would stay in Estes Park/RMNP up until you "had to" leave. There is no where more beautiful. Get up early and drive back into the park for one last look before heading to the airport. If it is a Sunday, go to Mary's Lake Lodge for the Sunday Brunch. On weekdays, The Egg & I, is the best breakfast.

If this is not in your plans, then choose to drive a different route than you came. If you came in Hwy 34 through the Big Thompson Canyon, drive back on Hwy 36 to Lyons, then take Hwy 66 over to I-25. Beautiful scenery. Or visa-versa drive through the canyon and out through Loveland. Take a nice stroll along the lake, and have lunch in Loveland before heading south to DIA.

I agree with the previous poster, about not being too late getting to the airport. The security lines at DIA can sometimes be long. Be prepared with your shoes, belt, etc. in hand. We've noticed those who look prepared usually get moved to the faster line.

If you find you've made it to the airport area and not had lunch, there are several nice restaurants along 32 Hwy (Tower Road) near DIA.

Golden, Colorado
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4. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Actually, if your are returning a rental car, I would try to do that about 12:30 so you can be at the terminal building at 1:00. I agree with Khawnee, have breakfast in Estes and take your time with the scenery.

Queensland
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5. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Thanks everyone. We are staying at a B&B in Estes so we might have a sleep in and enjoy estes for a few hours before heading back to Denver. I'm so glad i asked this question because i had no idea i'd have to get to the airport so early. Are all domestic airports that busy in America? We are flying from LAX to Denver, Denver to Nashville and then Wichita to Las Vegas.

Golden, Colorado
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6. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

The rather large variable here is the security. It's a mystery how long it takes to go through security on a given day or even hour. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a web sit that can give an idea of wait times at an airport. http://waittime.tsa.dhs.gov/index.html

Even though I know people who have missed their flight because of security delays, for me it seems that when I arrive early, the lines are not that long and I end up waiting in the airport for a while; but when traffic or weather has made me late and I'm short on time, the lines will be really long. Some permutation of Murph's Law, I think.

At DIA, if I don't need a beer by the time I get to the gate, sometimes I'll stop in the overpass between the Main terminal and Concourse A. there are seats and quiet and one can watch the Frontier planes come and go.

Golden, Colorado
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7. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

I forgot to mention: when everything goes well, the average time it typically takes me at DIA from walking in the door of the terminal, checking my bags, going through security, catching the train to the terminal, and walking to the Gate has been about 45 minutes.

Given that your 3:00 flight boards at 2:30, the last chance time you want to walk in the terminal door is 1:45. So arriving at DIA at 1PM is only 45 minutes early, and allows time for delays.

The other airports you listed are smaller, and probably don't need as much lead time. however, many of the airlines will not let you check your bags 45 minutes or less for domestic flights before departure time, and if the bag check line is long, I have been in line when people were not allowed to check their bags for a flight.

Arvada, Colorado
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8. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Without a doubt, since you are staying at a B&B there in Estes, there is no reason to do anything else.

We live in Longmont and to get out to the airport going around and not taking the toll way is at least 45 minutes if traffic isn't bad. The tollway does shave off time.

Coming from Estes, weekend traffic (although you will be heading down when most are heading up), but still, take on another 45 minutes I would think. At least.

I would rather wait at the gate than panicking at security. And yes, if you are on top of that, returning a rental car....you have to return it, get on a shuttle, etc.

Always better to be safe than sorry.

Queensland
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9. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Thank you!

NJ
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10. Re: What to do for half a day between Estes Park and Denver?

Re travelling thru Nashville - generally security there is not too long, but on one trip they pulled middle-aged Mom (me) out for a complete check while the rest of my family was told to "move along." It was a bit unnerving. We did make the flight, but it was close. So, when in the US, allow plenty of time for security!