It’s the time of year when folks start contemplating their New Year’s resolutions and I’ve got a resolution I’d love for you to consider. How about resolving to travel to at least one new place in your state this year?

Resolve to visit a new place. Welcome to Colorful Colorado sign.

Most people have their favorite locations and they tend to vacation there year after year. I challenge you to discover a new destination in 2016 and give it a try. The one caveat is that it must be within driving distance of your house. I’m encouraging you to explore your own backyard – find the hidden gems within your state – I promise you that they do exist.

Here in Colorado there are numerous destination around the state that deserve a visit and yet on a regular basis I run into lifelong residents of this state who go to Vegas twice a year but have never been to some of our state’s greatest spots such as Mesa Verde National Park.

How about a wintry weekend in Crested Butte, a spring excursion to Durango where the trees start blooming in April or a foodie adventure in Delta County during harvest season? I bet at least one of these trips would be new for you.

While flying saves time, car trips come with many advantages that flights do not. By driving you can stop and explore things along the way. Whether it’s the World’s Largest Beetle in Colorado Springs or something a bit more educational like a Presidential library, a road trip gives you options.

You can stop and eat a real lunch and don’t have to purchase a dry airplane sandwich for $10.

Best of all, you can enjoy the scenery.

This country is amazing. From small towns that capture the spirit of the past to trendy towns whose restaurants celebrate local food on a nightly basis, there’s surely a place that’s perfect for you. I challenge you to go out and find it in 2016.

It’s Thanksgiving week and that means posts about thankfulness are popping up on blogs across the United States, so I decided to play along.

When you live in Colorado there’s a lot to be thankful for, but I’m especially thankful for our 300 days of sunshine every year.

Colorado sunshine on my shoulders make me happy.

Coloradans wake up to sunshine streaming in our bedroom windows nearly every day of the week. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, this was a new concept for me when I moved to Colorado, and even after fifteen years of living here I never take those rays of morning sunshine for granted.

A recent study in the United Arab Emirates (written about in the Huffington Post in 2013) has linked behavioral change with mood change and vitamin D status. See full article here.

Another study seemed to show that people living in sunny states such as Arizona and Florida tended to be more happy than those living in less sunny states such as New York. (

I don’t need a study to tell me I’m happier when the sun is shining, I know that I am. When the day is dark my mood is dark, but if it’s sunny I tend to have a sunny disposition. I am much more energetic on sunny days, which means I’m much more energetic living in Colorado than I would be living in a rainy state.

The wonderful thing about sunshine is that it makes it a lot easier to get out and enjoy everything Colorado has to offer such as 42 state parks and thousands of miles trail. I realize some of you hardcore types like to hike in the rain, but I do not.

Even if you don’t like hiking, the sun can still be part of a great Colorado day. I always choose to sit at the sunny table in restaurants and coffee shops, and I prefer to dine al fresco the moment restaurants open their patio dining. Of course, in Colorado, some restaurants have year round al fresco dining available, another reason I love living here.

So there you have it. This Thanksgiving I’ll be giving thanks for sunshine. And please note, this is the only post on HeidiTown this week, but don’t miss “Colorado Christmas Towns” this week in The Heidi Guide on

John Denver said it best. 

Happy Thanksgiving, citizen.

I love visiting Denver during the holidays. The city literally twinkles with Christmas cheer, especially the Denver Christkindl Market. As many of you know, we’re longtime lovers of this European-style Christmas market that sets up shop in Skyline Park in downtown Denver each holiday season.

Christmas lights at the Denver Christkindl Market 2014.

The market is a throwback to Christmas days of old. It’s fashioned after traditional European Christmas Markets that have a long history dating back to the Middle Ages, according to Wikipedia and other online sources.

Denver’s market isn’t quite that old, but it has become wildly popular over the last several years. The word has gotten out and visiting the market has become a tradition for many families, including mine.

Visitors to the market will find themselves transported to another place and time. Purchase a hot pretzel, sugary or salty, and browse the artisan stalls.

Beautiful sweaters at Denver Christkindl Market 2014.

Last year we bought my niece a brightly lit hanging paper star that she immediately asked “Uncle Ryan” to hand from her bedroom ceiling. Several years ago we purchased a beautiful German lace scarf for my mother. It is dyed a deep red and she cherishes it.

stars at Denver Christkindl Market 2014.

Eventually visitors to the market will find themselves in front of the Entertainment Tent. This warm and festively decorated tent serves as a waypoint for visitors. Here they can enjoy a beer, gluehwein, German mulled wine or schnapps. German music and dancers are on the Entertainment Tent stage throughout the festival. See the entertainment lineup here.

dancing kids at Denver Christkindl Market 2014.

Last but not least, visitors to the market can purchase a variety of European-inspired cuisine. From wienerschnitzel to hot pierogis – there’s something for every taste at the Denver Christkindl Market. My favorite is Chef Neuhold’s smoked salmon served with hot German potato salad. I get it every year at the Market and at the Biergarten Festival in Morrison every summer.

Heidi serving up schnapps at Denver Christkindl Market.

This year, market guests can win prizes each day between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Just be sure to pick up a free raffle ticket and you’ll potentially win a wonderful gift from one of the market’s vendors. A different gift will be given away each day.

Denver Christkindl Market

Skyline Park, 16th St. Mall & Arapahoe St., Denver, Colorado


November 20 through December 23, 2015

Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Closing at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day

Join the Market on Facebook

Follow the Market on Twitter

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

There has been a great deal of buzz around REI’s #OptOutside Campaign. If you haven’t heard, REI is closing their stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and is encouraging customers to enjoy an outdoor activity instead of fighting the shopping crowds.

Why it’s easy to #OptOutside in Colorado

Here in Colorado there are lots of ways to #OptOutside, so I thought I’d shed light on some of the ways you can #OptOutside in Colorado on Black Friday or any other day of the year.

42 State Parks in Colorado

Believe it or not Colorado has 42 state parks; there’s probably one very close to where you are sitting right now. Use this Park Finder to find the one nearest to you.

You can do a lot in Colorado’s state parks. There are miles of trails to explore whether you hike or snowshoe or cross country ski. Fishing and camping are other popular activity in our state’s many parks.

Why it’s easy to #OptOutside in Colorado. Snowshoeing with the dog near Boulder, Colorado.

Snowshoeing near Boulder, Colorado.

An activity you may not have considered is staying in a cabin or a yurt in a Colorado state park. During the cold Colorado months a cabin or yurt stay may be more appealing than camping. This page can help you plan that type of trip. Many of these accommodations are big enough for you and several friends.

If you are considering to #OptOutside at one of Colorado’s State Parks make sure your park’s pass is up-to-date. You can purchase a parks pass here.

Four National Parks in Colorado

Coloradans are lucky to have four National Parks in the state. We recently did several hikes in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – read that post here. See a list of all of Colorado’s National Parks, National Heritage Areas and National Historic Sites.

28 Ski Resorts in Colorado

In addition to skiing at Colorado’s numerous ski resorts, there are other outdoor activities available. Many resorts have installed tubing hills such as the Coca-Cola Tubing Hill at Winter Park Resort. At Copper Mountain you can zip line year round on the Alpine Rush Zip Line.

Why it’s easy to #OptOutside in Colorado. Snowshoeing at Telluride Ski Resort.

Snowshoeing at Telluride Ski Resort.

And in Telluride, take a guided (or unguided) snowshoe trek on top of the mountain.

Trails, trails everywhere trails in Colorado

Colorado is covered in thousands of miles of maintained hiking trails. From the canyons of Southeast Colorado to seventy different hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, if you love to hike, Colorado is the place to be.

Why it’s easy to #OptOutside in Colorado. Hiking near Horsetooth Resevoir in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Hiking between Horsetooth Reservoir and the Devil’s Backbone in Northern Colorado., a National Geographic site, is a great place to find a Colorado hike near you.

Whether you #OptOutside in Colorado on Black Friday or some other day this fall or winter, I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, the author of The Heidi Guide in Mountain Living Magazine online

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, the author of The Heidi Guide in Mountain Living Magazine online.

I have been remiss in telling you about a development that took place late this summer. As of August, I’m the new Western Destinations Blogger for Mountain Living Magazine’s online site. The title of my blog is The Heidi Guide.

Mountain Living is the magazine for mountain living, homes, design, furniture, travel, architecture and more.

In The Heidi Guide I have the opportunity to explore the mountains of Colorado and the mountains beyond this beautiful state. In next week’s post, for instance, I write give readers three reason why they should visit Saratgoa, Wyoming.

The Heidi Guide is also an opportunity for me to delve a little deeper into a specific town. For instance, my very first post was “6 Reasons to Visit Snowmass in the Summer.” In this post I highlight the many summer adventures available in a town that is so often associated with winter activities.

The Heidi Guide is not replacing, it’s enhancing it. And, because it’s one hundred percent original material, HeidiTown citizens will surely find it a delightful companion to this site.

The Heidi Guide LOGO

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is Colorado’s biggest fan. She is the founder of, the place for entertaining stories about Colorado festivals and travel. As the “Mayor” of HeidiTown and a freelancer writer, Heidi travels the Rocky Mountain States in order to introduce her readers/citizens to the amazing adventures that await them just outside their neighborhoods.

Check out The Heidi Guide today!

And be sure to LIKE Mountain Living Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Estes Park, Colorado has long been touted as a great place for families – and it is, but it’s also a great place for couples looking for a romantic escape or just a fun, adult-oriented weekend.

Ryan and I first visited Estes Park in the late 1990s, a year before we moved to Colorado. We spent a romantic, wintry weekend soaking in our lodge’s hot tub while snowflakes fell gently around us. I remember thinking, “This is Colorado.”

Ryan and a deer post at The Rustic Acre in Estes Park, Colorado, for adult getaways too.

Ryan and “Anna” the deer at The Rustic Acre in Estes Park, Colorado.

Since then we’ve visited Estes Park a number of times. Earlier this month we were booked at the Old Man Mountain Lodge at The Rustic Acre. As we drove into this historic property a deer ran up to greet us. She behaved exactly like a dog and was very excited to welcome us to Estes Park. I named this sweet and friendly deer Anna.

While the Old Man Mountain Lodge would be perfect for families, including the dog – it features two twins beds in the loft – it’s also a wonderful escape for couples. After all, there’s a jacuzzi tub in the huge master bedroom and who doesn’t love snuggling up in front of a fireplace with some warm mulled wine in the evening? Continue Reading…

Best Pizza I ever ate in Colorado. Poppy's Pizza & Grill, Rocky Mountain Pizza.

Rocky Mountain Pizza at Poppy’s Pizza & Grill in Estes Park, Colorado.

Nothing gets people more excited than soliciting their opinions about where to find the best pizza. I asked the question on Twitter and got five immediate responses. Responses were still trickling in a day later.

The fact is that we all have very different opinions about what makes a great pizza and I think a lot of this depends on the region where we grew up.

With that in mind, here are my picks for the best pizza in Colorado. Granted, I’m no pizza professional and I would love to hear your picks too.

Colorado Boy Pizzeria & Brewery, Montrose

Colorado Boy’s Rustica is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth. It features garlic oil, cheese, artichokes, roasted peppers, capicola ham and gorgonzola.

I recommend sitting at the back bar and watching the pizza makers put these delicious creations together. Everything that goes into this pizza is fresh, fresh, fresh.

Pair your dinner with one of Colorado Boy’s award winning beers and life is good, very good.

High Mountain Pies, Leadville

This tiny restaurant seats eight, maybe, but there’s a big backyard for summertime guest to enjoy.

Pizza here is awesome and you can create pretty much anything you want. Love extra jalapenos? Be careful what you ask for, they don’t skimp on toppings here.

Even if you can’t find a seat and the weather outside is frightful, get a pie to go. You will not be disappointed.

Poppy’s Pizza & Grill, Estes Park

Poppy’s makes a pizza that has had me coming back for several years. It’s the Rocky Mountain and it features smoked trout, capers, cream cheese, red onions and mozzarella. It may sound a bit odd, but I’m telling you that this combination is divine.

Always busy, I’m definitely not the only one who loves Poppy’s.

Hernando’s Pizza Pub, Winter Park

I’ve left a lot of dollar bills on the walls at this place. A longtime favorite of many Coloradans who grew up skiing in Winter Park, Hernado’s Pizza Pub is a must-stop anytime we’re in town.

Honorable Mention

I couldn’t finish this piece without including an honorable mention category. We stumbled into Pablo’s Pizza in Grand Junction a couple of years ago. Their pizza was so good that I still remember how pleased we were with our lunch there.

If you enjoy New York Style pizza, you’ve got to go to Antonio’s Real New York Pizza in Estes Park. The Godfather will make you a New York style devotee.

Note from the Mayor: I rarely participate in sponsored posts, but when Holiday Inn hotels approached me, I said yes. I really like the Holiday Inn brand and feel that it is a good fit for HeidiTown citizens, so without further ado, the following post has been sponsored.

I was set to cover Country Beer Fest (formerly Epic Beer Fest) in Denver on the same Saturday as my friend Zea’s birthday, so we decided to make a weekend of it.

Denver skyline from the Holiday Inn in Stapleton. HeidiTown (1)

The view from our 11th floor room at the Holiday Denver East – Stapleton in Colorado.

We were booked in two rooms at the Holiday Inn Denver East – Stapleton. We arrived to discover a contemporary hotel with a friendly staff.

Ryan and I were in an inviting room on the 11th floor with a king bed and an outstanding view of the Denver skyline and the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I’d strongly encourage anyone booking a room at the Holiday Inn Denver East – Stapleton to request a west facing room – the view will not disappoint. Continue Reading…

I’m a small town girl at heart, but I love visiting cities during Christmastime and Denver is a great Christmas city. A stroll through downtown Denver during November and December is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

In addition to the lights and horse and carriage rides, Denver has two wonderful Christmas traditions; the Denver Christkindl Market and the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park. It’s easy to do these two things on the same outing.

Heidi serving up schnapps at Denver Christkindl Market.

Heidi (not the Mayor of HeidiTown) serving up schnapps at Denver Christkindl Market.

The Denver Christkindl Market is a longtime tradition in our family. We do a good portion of our Christmas shopping there and enjoy a German dinner under the Entertainment Tent. The ice rink, located across the street, is a wonderful excursion for the little ones, or even a date night, although watch out for kiddos, they’re abundant. Continue Reading…

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written about books here on HeidiTown, which is odd because I read a lot of books… but perhaps I should rephrase that – I listen to a lot of books. Ryan and I are both Audible addicts.

I listen when I’m exercising and of course, I listen any time I’m in my car. It’s especially fun to listen on road trips because then Ryan and I can enjoy a story together.

I thought I’d share some of my recent favorite road trip books with you. These also happen to be books about traveling, making this the perfect #TravelTuesday post.

Good road trip books The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Henry Fry

By Rachel Joyce

This is the story of a pensioner (American’s say retiree) who decides to walk across England to visit an old friend. This book is laugh out loud funny, but also thoughtful and even brought me to tears at some points.

I enjoyed listening to this one as I walked my three miles each day; it made me feel that much closer to Henry Fry.

Ryan and I both liked “The Unlikely Pilgrimage” so much that we downloaded Joyce’s follow-up novel, “The Love Song of Miss Qeenie Hennessy.” While it was a good read, I didn’t like it quite as much as the first book.

Good road trip books The River of DoubtThe River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Days

By Candice Millard

This is an absolutely fascinating book about Theodore Roosevelt’s unbelievable adventure exploring an uncharted area of the Amazon. I have always loved books about exploration and this is one of the best I’ve read (or in this case, listened to).

I love how Millard focuses not only on Roosevelt’s journey, but also on the natural world around him. Her detailed descriptions of the Amazonian rain forest are some of my favorite parts of the book.

Good road trip books Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

By Mark Adams

Reading “The River of Doubt” refueled my interest in South America. After all, one of my favorite books of all time is “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann, who is an outstanding writer.

I don’t have an obsession with Machu Picchu and while it’s on my lists of places I’d like to visit one day, there are lot of destinations higher on the list. While I enjoyed “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” it didn’t really inspired me to move Machu Picchu up the list.

If you’re one of those folks infatuated with Machu Picchu, this is a must-read.