Sarah Leonard and the Visit Longmont team in front of a newly installed mural inside the Longmont visitor’s center. It was created by local artist Annika Lahr.

Sarah Leonard and the Visit Longmont team in front of a newly installed mural inside the Longmont visitor’s center. It was created by local artist Annika Lahr. (Photo by Timothy Seibert/Longmont Magazine)

Sarah Leonard, CEO of Visit Longmont and Chief Destination Stewardship Officer.

Sarah Leonard, CEO of Visit Longmont and Chief Destination Stewardship Officer.

Sarah Leonard moved to Longmont last June with her husband and their dog Kumu after living for more than 25 years in Alaska, where she led the statewide travel industry association. As a bonus, their son Jacob is a student at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.

“We were excited to move to another beautiful outdoor state and I had the opportunity with Visit Longmont to continue to work in the travel and tourism space, which I am passionate about,” says Leonard, who is the CEO of Visit Longmont and Chief Destination Stewardship Officer. 

(The latter title is one she added to highlight the changing roles of destination marketing and management organizations — or DMMOs — like Visit Longmont. 

While the organization’s main job is to promote Longmont and the surrounding area to potential travelers to spend time and money at local businesses, it’s also becoming increasingly important to support the sustainability of a community and destination, she says. 

“I use the destination stewardship title to remind myself to be ever thoughtful in our messaging, our storytelling and in our community engagement,” Leonard says. “We want to share quality experiences with visitors while at the same time creating both economic returns and quality of life benefits for the community.”

Since last summer, Leonard says she and her husband have enjoyed exploring nearby trails and trying out local restaurants, breweries and distilleries, as well as getting a taste of the local farm-to-table experiences and the music scene.

Ahead, Leonard shares some of her favorite things about Longmont.

Where are some of your favorite places to cool down in Longmont during the summer? 

Sarah Leonard: We moved to Colorado last June anticipating the many days of sunshine the state promotes. We quickly appreciated Longmont’s proximity to nearby trails, forests and other public lands, where you can easily get up into the cooler, mountain air, go hiking, birding, fishing and take in the best views of Longs Peak.

If you have a friend or family member visiting, where are you taking them in Longmont? 

SL: In the year we’ve lived in Longmont, we have shared these initial top five “must do’s” with our visiting friends and family:

Choose at least one (or more!) brewery or distillery in Longmont to sample locally made beer, whiskey or cider.

Visit the farmers market or one of Longmont’s area farms for a special outdoor and farm-to-table experience and learn about the region’s agricultural history.

Try a new local dining spot every evening! Longmont offers an array of cuisines, ranging from genuine Mexican flavors to tantalizing Peruvian specialties, and from acclaimed pizzas to more traditional pub fare. Whatever your taste, there’s a culinary adventure waiting for you and your friends!

Bring a memory home from one of Longmont’s neighborhood boutique stores or cafes selling local gifts, created by makers right here, whether it’s homemade chocolates to the must-have Colorado chap-stick to beautifully crafted jewelry.

Find one of many of Longmont’s creative and public art spaces, throughout the community, from out of the way street corners with sculptures at trailheads to larger-than-life murals near downtown main street’s creative district. 

What’s your favorite way to spend a day outside in Longmont? 

SL: We have enjoyed getting outdoors with our dog at any one of the many outdoor nature areas and open spaces in Longmont. Whether we’re strolling along the St. Vrain Greenway or getting our steps in at McIntosh Lake, nature is right outside our doorstep. And, Longmont is such a welcoming community, especially for those visiting with their furry companions.

Tell us about one of your favorite community events. 

SL: One of the most memorable events from last fall was joining Longmont’s city-wide Dia de Muertos celebration, the longest standing in Colorado. We loved the vibrant colors and lively festivities at the street festival, and we learned more about the rich history and cultural significance of the Day of the Dead — a cherished tradition honoring departed loved ones.

What makes Longmont unique? 

SL: While we share some similarities with our Northern Colorado neighbors, we have found Longmont offers the most central location and shorter drive times to places like Denver’s International Airport and Rocky Mountain National Park, making day trip adventures more affordable and accessible. 

We love Longmont’s small-town vibe without losing the convenience of city amenities. Longmont gives us the breathing room where we can get outside for peace and relaxation in the pockets of countryside sprinkled in and around town, while still being close to everything we need.  

By Brittany Anas, Longmont Magazine