Want more than a simple “boo” + “gotcha” experience this Halloween? I’ve compiled a list of Colorado Halloween activities that go beyond the traditional haunted house visit. These outings will tickle not only your spine, but also your mind.

There are cemetery and ghost walks from Fort Collins to Leadville. I have written about the cemetery tour with Roger Pretti in Leadville here. It’s a fantastic tour and leaves the visitor with a good understanding of what life was like when Leadville was a rough and tumble mining town.

Leadville Cemetery Tour with Pretti. HeidiTown.com

Cemetery Tour in Leadville, Colorado.

In Fort Collins you can go on Haunted Fort Collins Ghost Tours. They offer everything from a Haunted Pubs Tour to a Horse & Buggy Ghost Tour.

There are many ghost tours available in Denver from the Capitol Hill Ghost Tour to the Denver Underground Ghost Tour. Type “Denver ghost tours” into google and you’ll get a lot of hits.

The Denver Halloween activity that I recommend is Victorian Horrors at the Molly Brown House Museum. Ryan took me to this event on my birthday several years ago and we loved every minute of this chilling literary romp.

It’s the perfect Halloween outing for someone like myself who is a fan of films such as “The Sixth Sense” and “The Others” rather than “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Victorian Horrors at Molly Brown House Museum poster

Victorian Horrors involves actors telling terrifying tales from Gothic masters like Edgar Allen Poe in various rooms around the Molly Brown House. It’s spine tingling literary fun.

If you want to get close and personal with ghosts this Halloween, you can do a paranormal investigation. My friend Erica Leigh Corbett wrote about her experience on a paranormal investigation at the Colorado Prison in Cañon City for HeidiTown back in 2011. Read her report here.

If you are curious about where to find ghosts in Colorado, Colorado.com has posted this list of places where paranormal activity is high.

The Stanley Hotel by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.

No Colorado Halloween discussion is complete without mention of the famous Stanley Hotel and you can do a tour of the hotel property with one of their fabulous guides at any time of year. I’ve been on this tour and I am fairly sure that I met the ghost who lives in the Concert Hall’s greenroom. Think I’m kidding? Take the tour for yourself. She’s very friendly.

Looking for a haunted hotel? Check out my most recent piece for The Heidi Guide on MountainLiving.com, “Haunted Hotels in the Rockies.”

My husband and I like to surprise each other with short birthday trips, which often involve a weekend stay in Denver. Over the years, we’d discovered some wonderful Denver birthday hotels, and since I field a lot of questions about the Mile High City, I’d like to share my top three Denver hotels for any special occasion.

The Brown Palace


Ryan and I held our wedding after party at Ship’s Tavern at the Brown Palace in 2003, and we spent the night at the hotel before heading off to England for our honeymoon. Obviously, it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

The grand entrance to the Brown Palace Hotel. Denver birthday hotels. HeidiTown.com

The grand entrance to the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

We’ve stayed a handful of times since because it’s a delightful escape from real life. From the champagne welcome to the fabulous breakfast at Ellington’s, it’s always a treat.

When staying at The Brown Palace you can dine at a variety of downtown restaurants or eat at Ship’s Tavern. They serve up high end pub fare and have live entertainment Wednesdays through Saturdays.

The Brown Palace’s packages are worth checking out and they also frequently offer locals-only deals for Coloradans.

The Crawford


I’ve been lucky enough to stay at The Crawford several times and it’s simply marvelous.

Located inside Union Station, the hotel is new, but it has an old soul. The rooms combine Victorian charm with modern luxuries. I could stay here a month and never tire of the hotel or Union Station.

The newly renovated train station offers amenities galore from fine dining to shopping. You never have to leave the property because everything you need is inside the building.

The view from our room at The Crawford Hotel. Denver birthday hotels. HeidiTown.com

The view from our room at The Crawford Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

When you go, you must have a drink at the Mad Men-esq Cooper Lounge, but be sure to make a reservation advance. Indulge in oysters, shucked table side at Cooper’s and then continue the seafood theme downstairs at Stoic & Genuine where ocean bounty is flown in daily.

The Curtis Hotel


The best word to describe The Curtis Hotel is fun. Every floor has its own distinct personality and the rooms do too. Is the birthday boy a Parrot Head? Book a stay in the Jimmy Buffet themed Hyper Suite. Perhaps your girlfriend is crazy about KISS. They’ve got an entire room dedicated to this iconic band.

No matter what the birthday girl or guy is into, they’ve probably got a room or floor dedicated to it at The Curtis.

The TV Mania Hyper Suite at The Curtis Hotel. Denver birthday hotels. HeidiTown.com

The wallpaper in the TV Mania Hyper Suite at The Curtis Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

This hotel is also perfectly positioned should you wish to include the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in your downtown plans. It’s directly across the street from the DCPA, so catching a show is a breeze.

After your show, indulge in dessert at CRAVE. It’s our absolutely favorite Denver restaurant for dessert and just a few steps away from The Curtis.

So there you have it, my three favorite Denver birthday hotels. Book a stay at one of these properties and you’re sure to impress that special someone in your life.

Fall Back Beer Fest 2014. HeidiTown (1)The Great American Beer Festival may be over, but that doesn’t mean Coloradans stop celebrating craft beer. We celebrate all year long.

Here are a few fall beer festivals that are sure to tickle your taste buds.

Fall Back Beer Festival, Estes Park, October 31, 2015


Ryan and I attended this event last year and it was one of our favorite festivals of last year. Held at the new Estes Park Events Center & Pavilion, what sets this festival apart are the educational seminars and home brewing demonstrations.

This is a Sip & Learn type of beer festival and I highly approve of this type of format. Of course, you can just come and drink, but I’d encourage you to take advantage of the free seminars.

This year, in honor of Halloween, some of your favorite candies will be paired with some of your favorite beers throughout the festival. Snag tickets here before they sell out.

All Colorado Beer Festival, Colorado Springs, November 7, 2015


Drink for a great cause in Colorado Springs this November at the All Colorado Beer Festival. Fifty breweries have already signed up for this annual event that raises money for Colorado Springs’ nonprofits. To date, ACBF has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for their beneficiaries.

They expect to have 70 Colorado breweries represented at the event serving more than 200 different kinds of beers. That’s a whole lot of beer, folks! Get your tickets here.


I’m going to skip December. Not because there aren’t any beer festivals, but dates haven’t been set for any of them. For instance, the Parade of Darks that takes place annually in December at Wynkoop has no date yet.


Big Beers, Vail, January 7-9, 2016


Technically this is a winter beer festival, but since December was a dud I thought I would mention this event. I have never attended, but we know many people (including brewers) who never miss it and think it’s one of the best beer festivals in the state.

This is a festival of big beers, Belgians and barlywines. This is NOT an event for light beer drinkers. These beers will put hair on your chest.

Festival packages are already sold out for 2016, but you can still get tickets for the tastings and seminars.

On our last visit to Glenwood Springs, Ryan and I did the math and discovered that we’ve been to Glenwood more than any other Colorado small town. The hot springs have always been a big draw and now there’s another venue where we can soak our cares away.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Downtown Glenwood Springs, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Downtown Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs opened this summer along the banks of the Colorado River. We visited in early September to indulge in both an evening and morning soak.

We stayed at Hotel Glenwood Springs, a stone’s throw from Iron Mountain. Eventually the hotel will be connected to the hot springs via a safe walking path, but for now you can drive or walk on the road. This is the perfect hotel for families; their hotel pool is a child’s dream and if I was still a kid you’d never get me out of it.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Hotel Glenwood Springs. HeidiTown.com

The spa-like atmosphere of Iron Mountain Hot Springs flows throughout the property. As we entered the tiered pool area, we were met with the sounds of light classical music and the soft whispers of the Colorado River as it flowed below us.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs at sunset. HeidiTown.com

On a Thursday evening we had the place mostly to ourselves and it was easy to find an empty pool. There are 16 mineral pools to choose from, all vary in shapes, size and temperature.

We soaked as the Colorado River sparkled and the world around us glowed pink and then deep orange before the sun disappeared below the horizon. It was one of those surreal moments that will forever be emblazoned in my mind.

Sunset at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

The next morning we returned for a morning soak and were glad that we did. We spent three blissful hours relaxing and then ordered lunch from Sopris, the hot springs’ onsite café.

We paid less than $10 for a sandwich, chips and a soda. They also serve beer and wine at Sopris, so you can soak and sip.

After lunch we jumped in the swimming pool for a quick swim before we had to head home. The pool, perfect for a cool down after the hot mineral pools or for the kids, was a perfect ending to our Iron Mountain Hot Springs experience.

The swimming pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs. HeidiTown.com

Parents must accompany their children (age 5 to 13) in the mineral pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs and there are “quiet” sections as well. This makes Iron Mountain the place perfect for an adult getaway.

While Glenwood Springs is touted as a family-friendly destination, and it is, we think it’s a lovely romantic destination – after all, we’ve spent three of our 12 wedding anniversaries in Glenwood. I think that Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a wonderful addition to this lovely Colorado town.

Thank you to Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Hotel Glenwood Springs for hosting us on this trip.

Artists, techies, authors, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, free thinkers – MAKERS are all these things and more.

The first official Maker Faire was held in the bay area of California in 2006. It included more than 100 exhibiting makers. The maker movement quickly grew. Today there are maker faires across the world, including right here in Colorado.

There will be more than 130 makers at the NOCO Mini Maker Faire in Loveland, Colorado this October.

NOCO Mini Maker Faire photo 1

All photos courtesy of NOCO Mini Maker Faire and taken by Lucky Brake, Ltd.

Living Ink will be at the faire. These makers have created an ink that allows you to write, sketch, draw or paint your story over time. Their product writes like a pen, but your words or art will disappear after a few minutes and when placed in a greenhouse your masterpiece will come alive.

Living Ink is just an example of the type of creative folks that will be sharing their inventions and creations with attendees at NOCO Mini Maker Faire. This two-day event will include demonstrations and speakers.

This year, NOCO Mini Maker Faire introduces Makers After Dark. This adult-only evening takes place on Friday, October 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. and features 20 craft distillers, gourmet snacks and larger than life demonstrations by a select group of makers. Think robots, fire and lasers. Tickets are $50.

flame breathing robot at NOCO Maker Faire

I spoke to Montanya Distillers about Makers after Dark while I was in Crested Butte earlier this month and these makers of delicious rum are super excited to be part of this event.

The Maker Faire has been called the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth,” and parents are encouraged to bring along their children to the main event on Saturday and Sunday. Watch your children be amazed and inspired.

NOCO Mini Maker Faire children

NOCO Mini Maker Faire

October 10-11, 2015

Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation & Technology

815 14th Street SW, Loveland, Colorado 80537

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days

Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children.

Click here to purchase tickets


NOCO Mini Maker Faire on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @NOCOMakerFaire

Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

A one night stay at this bed and breakfast in Colorado Springs and I came away with friends and fond memories

Last week I took a quick trip to Colorado Springs to check out Pepper Festival at the Colorado Farm & Art Market. The market, which is held at Ivywild School on Wednesday and Margarita at Pine Creek on Saturdays, is well-worth a visit. I came away with everything from pickled peppers to duck eggs.

Hot and tired from browsing the market I hopped in my car and drove 10 minutes northwest to Old Colorado City, a historic suburb of Colorado Springs. Founded in 1859, Old Colorado City was the Colorado territorial capital for just five days in 1862. Read about this history at the log cabin that stands on Colorado Avenue in Bancroft Park.

Old Town Guest House, Colorado Springs. HeidiTown.com

Today, Old Colorado City is a charming neighborhood with fine dining and shopping and is home to the Old Town Guesthouse. Upon check in I was greeted and asked if I’d like a beverage and I happily accepted a glass of cold white wine. Continue Reading…

Meet me in Montrose this October for the…

Featured Festival Montrose Oktoberfest, October 3, 2015. HeidiTown.com 3If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably driven through Montrose on your way to somewhere else. The fact is, Montrose is smack dab in the middle of a lot of cool stuff and there are a lot of good reasons to stop here for a few nights.

The Black Canyon National Park is a mere 21 minutes away. There are three museums in town and two breweries. Then there’s the Montrose Water Sports Park a few minutes from Main Street. There’s more in Montrose, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Featured Festival Montrose Oktoberfest, October 3, 201Featured Festival Montrose Oktoberfest, October 3, 2015. HeidiTown.com5. HeidiTown.com

Montrose Oktoberfest 2014, photo provided by the fest.

I’m heading to Montrose for the 10th Annual Montrose Oktoberfest. This fest, hosted by the Black Canyon Home Brewers Association as a benefit for All Points Transit, takes place at the Umcompahgre Event Plaza in historic downtown Montrose.

The event is, first and foremost a celebration of beer. Fifteen breweries will attend this year including local breweries Colorado Boy and Horsefly Brewing Company. Out of town breweries include Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Ska Brewing, Rockslide Brewery and more.

A brand new Winegarten has been added for 2015. This is where local wineries and cideries will share tastes of their wines and ciders.

Entertainment will be provided by Ascending Giants, Good Times Music Company and event headliner, Eleanor Tallie.

Grab a bratwurst or pretzel and enjoy polka dancing performances by Dance Around at 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Featured Festival Montrose Oktoberfest, October 3, 2015. HeidiTown.com 2

Don’t miss the photo booth where you can “dress up Oktoberfest-style” and share the pictures with your friends online. There will also be a Best Dressed Costume Contest and other games and prizes provided by vendors.

If you are coming to town for this event, check out the Montrose Oktoberfest Stay & Play Discounts on their website. Three hotels in town are offering packages.

Montrose Oktoberfest

October 3, 2015

1 to 6 p.m.

Umcompahgre Event Plaza

Advanced tickets $20 / $25 at the door

Purchase tickets HERE


Montrose Oktoberfest on Facebook

The mission of All Points Transit is to provide safe, reliable transportation by promoting accessibility and independence for seniors, persons with disabilities and the general public in our service area

Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

I love this time of year. Farmers’ markets overflowing with colorful produce, folks find ways to preserve the flavors of summer and harvest dinners blossom on tables throughout the country.

One such dinner is happening at Margarita at Pine Creek in Colorado Springs at the end of the month. A friend who attended this dinner last year said the Colorado Farm & Art Harvest Dinner was the best meal she has ever eaten.

Colorado Farm & Art Market Harvest Dinner. heirloom tomato. HeidiTown.com

Courtesy photo

Margarita’s executive chef Eric Viedt will create an incredible meal from produce donated by CFAM vendors and the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers. Lamb, goat and pork will be from Venetucci Farm and Frost Farm, and beef will be provided by Sangres Best.

From September 22 through the 26th, Margarita on the Pine will be offering their diners an all-Colorado menu. The Harvest Dinner will cap on this Colorado Proud week of dining.

Chef Viedt’s menu remains a secret until the evening of the event, but here’s a glimpse of last year’s menu.

Colorado Farm & Art Market Harvest Dinner menu

Courtesy photo

Wine tasting is part of the CFAM Harvest Dinner with wine provided by Sette Dolori Winery and other Colorado’s wineries. Beer will also be available from a local brewery (still to be determined).

Guests are invited to take part in bidding in a silent auction throughout the evening.

silent auction at the Colorado Farm & Art Market. HeidiTown.com

Courtesy photo

The dinner raises money to support the market’s SNAP program. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is commonly known as “food stamps.”

Bonnie Simon, marketing director of the Colorado Farm & Art Market, believes that their market may be one of the only in the country that doubles SNAP bucks. In other words, if an individual has $10 in SNAP dollars, the CFAM gives them another $10 to use at the market.

Colorado Farm & Art Market Harvest Dinner

September 27, 2015

3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Margarita at Pine Creek

$65/ticket, two for $125

To purchase tickets to the Colorado Farm & Art Market Harvest Dinner go to FarmandArtMarket.com.

Join the market on Facebook

Join the market on Twitter

Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

My mother canned throughout my childhood. I especially remember the peaches. She’d open a jar on a rainy Pacific Northwest day and it was a reminder of summertime. Two decades later, I can still recall the sweet flavor of those peaches and the way they glowed like summer sunshine in my bowl.

Bonnie Simon, of Colorado Springs, is the founder of HungryChickenHomestead.com. When she started blogging about the antics of her backyard chickens, Bonnie had no idea that the blog would become something much larger than just funny chicken stories.

Hungry Chicken Homestead Bonnie & chickens Heather Sams Fine Portraits

Bonnie Simon & one of her beloved chickens. Photo by Heather Sams Fine Portraits

Today, Bonnie’s passion for small farms and good food has made her a local celebrity. Her blog has become a resource for anyone who wants to learn about Colorado Springs’ local farm and small business community.

The Mission Statement of HungryChickenHomestead.com is, “finding ways to promote local business, local food, and the power of community and the American Dream.”

And Bonnie doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She grows her own garden, raises chickens, teaches classes on canning, yogurt making and more, facilitates workshops, shares recipes and is a champion of Colorado Springs’ small farms.

On Saturday, September 26 at the Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida, Colorado, you can learn to can at Bonnie’s Water Bath Canning Workshop.

Canning with Colorado Springs chicken lady Bonnie Simon. HeidiTown.com

Bonnie’s canned apricots.

On Saturday morning Bonnie will teach the basics of canning techniques and then participants will make a recipe in the afternoon. During breaks guests can play with Gina’s goats and chickens and check out her amazing greenhouse garden.

This canning class is a full day of learning for just $65 and you walk away with a skill that will last a lifetime. You’ll also walk away with some canned goods! Get more details and SIGN UP HERE.

Canning classes with the Colorado Springs chicken lady, Bonnie Simon. HeidiTown.com

Bonnie’s canned tomatoes. Yum!

In addition, receive a 10% discount on your stay at Mountain Goat Lodge when you sign up for the Water Bath Canning Workshop. Want to learn more about this unique bed and breakfast? Read about my experience here.


This featured event on HeidiTown.com is a paid advertisement. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.


As a festival and travel writer, I try not to play favorites when it comes to the Colorado towns I visit, however, there’s something about Durango that makes it hard for me to leave.

Durango from Fort Lewis College. Highlights from a weekend in Durango. HeidiTown (2)

Durango from Fort Lewis College.

We visited town for just two nights in late August for San Juan Brewfest. We stayed at the Downtown Durango Inn, located on the banks of the Animas River and within two blocks of all the best downtown restaurants.

The food

On this trip we didn’t venture out to try very many new places. We stuck to our tried and true Durango favorites including Steamworks Brewing Co. To avoid the wait here head to the bar area where there are usually several seats open at the long bar.

The food is always awesome and there’s a strong possibility that Hugh Jackman’s doppelganger will be tending bar. Yes, Wolverine is a bartender at Steamworks in Durango. Seriously. Just go. You’ll see. Continue Reading…