One perfect day in Louisville, CO

Have we found the next Boulder? Take a peek at this up-and-coming Colorado town with easy Rockies access and a growing high-tech scene 

The low-key Empire Lounge in Louisville, CO

The low-key Empire Lounge serves up local favorites like crispy calamari chopped salad.

That was then: Louisville was a rough-and-tumble coal-mining town and Prohibition-era bootleg hub later turned sleepy suburb.

This is now: Main Street has stepped up its style with cheaper digs than Boulder and a growing high-tech scene.

Where is it?: Next door to Boulder, off U.S. 36

How to say it: Loo-us-ville, not Loo-ey-ville

The vibe: According to restaurant owner Jim Cohen, "Everyone knows everyone, and people are all friends."

43 percent: A Boulder home is that much more expensive than a Louisville one.

The new top dog: Look for scientists and techies when energy giant ConocoPhillips opens its alternative-energy research center in summer, 2013.

Culture club: Check out the Art Underground's open-studio space just off Front Street for dance classes, theater, and workshops. (

The food putting this town on the map: James Beard award-nominated chef Jim Cohen left Vegas and Vail gigs to open the low-key Empire Lounge. The hangout hums with regulars enjoying crispy calamari chopped salad or grilled tuna burgers with soy-wasabi glaze. $$; 816 Main St.; 303/665-2521.

Where the locals rock out: The Karp family, founders of Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas relocated here to open a live-music watering hole with beer, burgers, and BBQ. Waterloo rocks on Fridays and Saturdays with blues bands and country. $; 809 Main St.; 303/993-2094.

Hit the trails The Coal Creek Trail is a fave for jogging, dog walking, or biking. Pick up a Latte and Lunch at Bittersweet Cafe & Confections (836 Main St.; 303/317-5522), then take the trail heading west from Louisville Community Park for foothill views.(

A spa day on the cheap: The Lotus Day Spa came to life in a former mortuary turned Zen sanctuary. Nineteenth-century Tibetan pillars and candles will set the mood on your one to three-hour retreat. From $95; 844 Main St.;

Shop for finds: Not your typical off-the-rack boutique, Found Underground Consignments is in a low-slung shop where owner Nancy Cooley offers bargain hunters honest opinions on what looks good. Recent scores: 7 For All Mankind jeans ($40), a Cynthia Steffe wool skirt ($32), and an Anthropologie silk blouse ($14). Closed Sun; 901 Main St.; 303/666-6900.

Hope you're still hungry...4 new eats in town

For pizza and beer: LuckyPie became a go-to when it opened in 2010. Farm-fresh toppings change with the seasons. Bonus: Try a pie with gluten-free crust. It's the best we've ever tasted. $$; 637 Front St.; 303/666-5734. 

For date night: A fitting homage to Louisville's Italian mine-worker heritage, Zucca is a romantic candlelit dinner spot with pasta, risotto, and other favorites by fireside. $$; 808 Main St.; 303/666-6499.

For margaritas and tacos: In a former auto-repair shop, Cactus Wheel Taqueria offers street-food-inspired meat and veggie tacos with homemade salsas and guacamole. $; 701 Main St.; 720/620-4933.

For dessert: Sweet Cow ice cream shop fills the half of the old post office not taken up by LuckyPie. Look for 22 house-made flavors like oatmeal cookie and raspberry chocolate chip. 637 Front St.; 303/666-4269. We also invite you to visit Bittersweet Café & Confections to enjoy their fine Desserts and Pastries and world-class coffee and espresso drinks. They offer decadent desserts and a wide variety of decadent gluten-free dessert. For those who don’t have a sweet tooth, they offer Breakfast Pastries, Breakfast Burritos, Sandwiches, Salads and Soups. If it's a treat you're looking for, Bittersweet Café & Confections has the perfect treat for any occasion or no reason at all. 

Bittersweet Cafe & Confections suggests their individual sized gluten-free dessert the Chocolate Oblivion (836 Main St.; 303/317-5522)

Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh