As we emerge from the unpredictable Colorado spring to mark the unofficial beginning of Denver’s summer season on Memorial Day each year, there’s nothing more local than hitting the beach.
Wait, the beach?
Yep, even in a landlocked state, near a city that doesn’t even allow swimming in any of the lakes within city limits, there are ample opportunities to get a beach fix in.
Throw down a blanket, set up an umbrella, crack open a cold drink from the cooler or we guess you can even go swimming, at one of these spots that will make you forget you’re nowhere near the ocean:
Cherry Creek State Park
With a drive less that 10 minutes from the Denver Tech Center, you can work on your tan during your lunch break.
Cherry Creek State Park offers a swimming beach that’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year, featuring a sandy beach and roped off swimming area for water play and summer picnicking.
Just remember that there are no lifeguards on duty, and always pack out whatever you pack in. Young kids (under 12) must have an adult with them, ideally in the form of splashing them when they’re not looking.
Want to truly forget you’re in Colorado?
Check out what may be the biggest sandy beach in the state at Aurora Reservoir. Not only can you spend time pretending to be Frankie & Annette at the swimming beach (open Memorial Day to September 30), but there’s even an entire area dedicated to scuba diving.
If you’re up for more than just laying around on a blanket all day (what’s wrong with you?), the trail surrounding the reservoir runs 8.5 miles. Plenty to get in training for that fall marathon you regrettably signed up for, or to just cruise around and take in the waterfront view.
From Ken Caryl, it will take you about 20 minutes from your front door to Chatfield’s summer swimming beach.
Chatfield is also one of the best places to for any kind of boating activity, including waterskiing, fishing or paddling around on the boating apparatus of your choice.
The only downside is that due to construction, the swimming beach won’t be open again until 2019. Sad face. But once the construction is completed, Chatfield is one of the best places to spend a summer day in the Denver Metro area.
You can’t swim in any Denver lakes, but you can definitely splash around off the sandy banks of Confluence Park in downtown.
A small man-made beach, picnic tables and umbrellas wait for you at Confluence, and as it’s the meeting point of two of Denver’s most popular biking and running trails (Cherry Creek and South Platte), you can even roll up on your bike before kicking back and relaxing.
Bathrooms, snacks and coffee are just across the bridge at REI, and from here you can head nearly any direction to explore more of Denver, whether on two wheels, two legs or hopping back in the car.
Just watch out for those rainy days — if there’s overflow, the small man-made beach tends to get flooded easily.
Random spots along the Cherry Creek Trail
Head south from Cherry Creek Trail, keep going until you’re past the mall.
For a few miles there are several sandy banks off the trail where you can pull over, let the kids or dog splash around, and generally enjoy some nature in the middle of the city. If you’re up for a little urban hiking, there are some trails on either side of the trail that offer extra shade and an escape from the traffic noise above.
And keep an eye out for wildlife. Deer, eagles and hawks have been known to make appearances along this same stretch of trail.
If you’re up for a longer ride, keep going all the way to Cherry Creek Reservoir, where the trail loops back around, and hit the swim beach there. Hitting multiple beaches in one day in the Denver Metro? Seems like anything is possible, doesn’t it?
Wherever you choose to get in your much-needed beach time, just remember to be safe, always clean up after yourself and leave the surfboard at home — we never said there’d be waves.