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Denver for the holidays

December 16, 2014 — 3 Comments

I visited downtown Denver during the holidays for the first time 14 years ago.  I  had just moved to Littleton from Washington State with my then boyfriend, now husband, who had grown up in Colorado. We visited Larimer Street, and with its canopy of lights and dressed up storefronts I fell in love with Denver during the Christmas season. We have made it a tradition to do at least one or two trips to the Mile High City every December since then.

Ice skaters at Skyline Park in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Ice skaters at Skyline Park in downtown Denver, Colorado.

If you head to the big city over the next couple of weekends, here’s a few things that I recommend you check out.

Stroll down Larimer Street

Downtown Denver is beautiful during the holiday season. Twinkling lights cling to the trees and lamp posts on the 16th Street Mall. Skyline Park comes alive with the sound of laughter as folks enjoy the free ice rink. It’s free if you bring your own skates and just $2 to rent a pair. But my favorite area is Larimer Street. There’s just something sweet and romantic about this Denver street during the holidays. Continue Reading…

Breckenridge, is one of the Colorado ski towns with which I am most familiar, and it’s a personal favorite. It is a unique ski town because the ski area and the town blend together making it easy for skiers and non-skiers to enjoy the offerings of downtown Breck.

Breckenridge, Colorado decorated for the holidays. HeidiTown.com

Downtown Breckenridge, Colorado alight with the glow of the holidays.

Breckenridge Arts

While in town, visit the Breckenridge Arts District (see map of all locations here). Be sure to stop by the Tin Shop at 117 E. Washington Avenue. Here you’ll find an artist in residence. This program brings artists from around the world to ply their trade in Breckenridge for one week to one month.  Last winter, I stopped by and met artist Jonathan Clark of Houston. He made cool art with office supplies. Continue Reading…

ColoRADogs logoBefore I introduce you to this month’s recipient of HeidiTown Gives Back, I want tell you a story.

When I was a little girl we lived in a rural area of southern Oregon. Our house and our neighbor’s house were the only homes on a quiet, dead end street. My little brother and I spent our days exploring the nearby sand dunes (probably a sand pit) and playing in our huge yard. We were never alone on these daily adventures – we had two guards – our dog, a fearless cockapoo named Fluffy, and Daisy, a big brindle pit bull that belonged to our neighbors.

Daisy was a sweetheart and she would have laid her life down to protect us, and we adored her. Daisy was my first introduction to pit bulls, a breed that today suffers from discrimination in places like Denver and Aurora, Colorado.

ColoRADogs, the recipient of this month’s HeidiTown Gives Back Campaign. I chose this organization because of their fight to repeal breed-specific legislation in Colorado and their desire to educate the public.

Pit bull puppy from Coloradogs on Facebook

Every dog was once a puppy. They learn how to behave from their human owners. Photo courtesy of ColoRADogs on Facebook.

Pit bulls and other power breeds, even German Shepherds, the breed I own, are often the targets of breed-specific legislation.

ColoRADogs trademarked the phrase, “Responsible ownership is not breed specific.”

Contrary to popular belief, pit bulls spend a lot of time smiling. Photo courtesy of ColoRADogs on Facebook.

Contrary to popular belief, pit bulls spend a lot of time smiling. Photo courtesy of ColoRADogs on Facebook.

They believe that everyone has the potential to be a great dog owner. Some just need a helping hand, whether that’s with basics like food, or with behavior intervention or simply by an encouraging message in a society filled with negative ones. ColoRADogs stand for breed equality – that is, every dog (and their owner) should be treated as an individual. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment.

They also believe that education is important to their cause; their website reads, “When people know better, they do better.”

soldier hugs his dog from Coloradogs on Facebook

Nothing is better than a dog hug. Photo courtesy of ColoRADogs on Facebook

ColoRADogs isn’t only an advocacy group, they are also a rescue organization, and while they rescue all breeds, they have a soft spot for pit bulls.

The ColoRADogs website is a wonderful resource and you can learn much, much more about what this organization does by visiting.

ColoRADogs.org

Like them on Facebook here!

Follow them on Twitter & Instagram too.

 I hope that you will consider donating to their cause today. After all, it’s #ColoradoGivesDay!

HeidiTown Gives Back is a campaign I started in January 2012. Each month a Colorado nonprofit of my choosing receives a free ad space and a write-up here on the blog, along with occasional mentions in social media throughout the month. This is my way of using my platform to try to do a bit of good in this crazy world. To be considered email me at TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

The Denver Christkindl Market is underway at Skyline Park in downtown Denver and this lively European style Christmas market has become a tradition in our house and something we eagerly look forward to every holiday season.

Why do we love it?

Truly Unique Shopping

Tired of strolling the mall for the perfect gift? The Christkindl Market has vendors selling goods that you won’t find anywhere else. I’m not much of a shopper, but even I love browsing the Christkindl Market. Last year I found a gorgeous German lace scarf for my mother and colorful nesting dolls for our niece. Need a cuckoo clock? They’ve got those too.

Denver Christkindl Market at night

The Denver Christkindl Market comes alive after dark. Twinkling lights add to the festive mood. Photo courtesy of the German American Chamber of Commerce – Colorado Chapter.

Unique Food & Drink

As fun as it is to shop at the Denver Christkindl Market, I really go for the food and drink. Glühwein, a traditional German mulled wine, is my favorite and it flows freely under the Entertainment Tent at the market. My husband, Ryan, prefers the German beers that are also sold under the tent. Continue Reading…

As some of you know, I have retired from skiing. My career was short and not very sweet. I learned as an adult and despite having amazing instructors at several Colorado resorts, I could never learn to get off the chairlift without falling. This little chairlift problem kept me up at night for weeks before I had a scheduled ski trip.

I wanted to love the sport of skiing – I so badly wanted to be one of those fashionable people swishing down the slopes, but I had to face the facts – I wasn’t ever going to be that person, and so I finally called it quits. But I am here to tell you that you don’t have to ski to have a great time at a Colorado ski resort.

In the past, I highlighted things to do in Steamboat Springs when you’re not skiing, and that gave me the idea for a series of winter posts about what to do at various ski resorts around Colorado when you’re not skiing.

Ice rink Vail Village. HeidiTown.com

The ice rink at Vail Village.

Continue Reading…

As I was thinking about my Thanksgiving post, I realized that I had some sparks of insight during this past year that made me grateful for some of the amazing things about Colorado that I’d been taking for granted. And I thought that this was the perfect time to come clean and reveal some of those things that hadn’t properly excited me until this year.

Rocky Mountain National Park

I live very near Rocky Mountain National Park, and I grew up going to Yellowstone National Park, and I think it’s the combination of these two things that have caused me to take RMNP for granted.

This summer, however, I drove Trail Ridge Road for the first time on our way to a wedding in Grand Lake in early July. The wildflowers were in full bloom and I kept asking Ryan to pull over so that I could hop out and take photos.flowers on top of trail ridge road, rocky mountain national park, colorado. HeidiTown.com

close up of wildflowers on trail ridge road, rocky mountain national park, colorado. HeidiTown.com Continue Reading…

There are few things I love more than wine, chocolate and cheese and I am not alone. That’s why you should get yourself to Ouray, Colorado for this annual December affair.

The event was founded by Faith Parry who has a passion for Colorado-owned businesses. She, along with Jennifer Loshaw, saw Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival as a way to support small Colorado wine and food businesses as well as bring visitors to Ouray.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to showcase the fabulous things we have in Colorado,” says Parry.

Ouray Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival. HeidiTown.com

She also wanted to encourage folks to shop local for Christmas presents instead of heading outside of Ouray to the big box stores.

Originally, the event featured Colorado wine and chocolate, but Colorado cheese was added the second year in order to bring something savory to the table. Last year, the event expanded again to include Colorado arts and crafts and Colorado distilled spirits – making it a real Colorado party.

Ouray Wine Chocolate & Cheese Festival. HeidiTown.com

Swing City Express, a 9-piece swing band will provide festive music for Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival this year. Guests are encouraged to dress up too – this year’s theme is Winter Wonderland.

Each year the festival helps out a local nonprofit and this year that organization is Art Partners, promoting youth development and building a sense of social responsibility and self-esteem. They serve Delta, Montrose and Ouray.

While this event attracts people from the region, there’s no reason folks on the Front Range can’t make a trip to the Ouray around Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival. After all, it may be tiny, but Ouray is full of fun – it’s a HeidiTown favorite! You can check out their two amazing museums, sip suds at two locally owned breweries, shop at the town’s many unique stores or just soak in the hot springs pool all day.

Ouray Colorado in the winter. HeidiTown.com

If you are more adventurous, check out the Ouray Ice Park – right now it’s set to open on the weekend of the festival. Read about my experience there.

“Ouray is a magical place in the winter,” says Parry. “Christmas lights shine against the sparkle of the snow. It’s a quaint snowy town nestled in a canyon surrounded by towering mountains. And there’s fantastic festivities almost every weekend from Thanksgiving to mid-January.”

Tickets for Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival are just $20 and available online. Better yet, stay at a participating Ouray hotel or bed and breakfast and receive a discounted ticket for only $10. Buy tickets and see list of participating lodging establishments here.

Ouray’s Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival

December 13, 2014

6 to 9 p.m.

Ouray Community Center at 320 6th Avenue

ChocolateWineFest.org

Follow this fest on Facebook

Ouray Wine Chocolate & Cheese Festival

 

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

 

There’s nothing more cheerful than a Christmas tree and no better way to ring in the holidays than by putting up the tree, but Christmas is about so much more than decorations and presents – it’s a time to reflect on our blessings and to assist those who may need a helping hand.

Tree for All logo

Tree for All is one of three fundraisers held annually by the Foothills Service League to benefit Foothills Gateway and Namaqua Center for Children. Since 1972, Foothills Gateway has been improving the lives of thousands of people in Northern Colorado with cognitive disabilities and their families. They help people conquer challenges and achieve their maximum potential.

Foothills Gateway, Inc.

For more than 35 years, Namaqua Center has provided care, treatment and healing to Northern Colorado’s most vulnerable children. Many of these children have lived through trauma and may have severe behavior challenges or have diagnosable emotional disturbances. Namaqua offers children-centered, community based programs to help give families the individualized support they need to raise healthy and happy children.

Tree for All will be held on Sunday, December 7, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at The Ranch First National Bank Building in Loveland, Colorado. This event is an opportunity to celebrate the season and help two great organizations at the same time.

I call that a “win/win.”

Crowd shot at Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

For just $40/ticket participants can browse 50+ uniquely decorated Christmas trees that will be raffled off during the event. A beautiful brunch will be served, live entertainment will be provided and there will be door prizes, a cash bar and parking lot shuttle services.

multiple trees at Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

The Christmas trees are decorated by local businesses, organizations and individual donors and let’s just say that these folks get very creative.

Just take a look at this Cat Themed “Christmas Tree” pictured below.

Cat Christmas Tree at Tree for All by Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

Tickets to Tree for All can be purchased at Cloz to Home (120 W 4th Street, Loveland), Rowe’s Flowers (863 N Cleveland Avenue, Loveland)

or online at FoothillsServiceLeague.org.

This is your opportunity to do something good for your community this holiday season and have fun doing it!

Here are a few more lovely Tree for All trees from past years.

Tree for All, Foothills Service League. 2 HeidiTown.com

Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

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

Luxor on the Vegas strip. HeidiTown.comI rarely write about travel outside of Colorado, but even the Mayor leaves the state occasionally, but when I go on vacation, I will likely write about it.

My husband decided that he wanted to spend his birthday in the sports book in Las Vegas, so after a five-year Vegas hiatus, we booked a trip.

Here are some of my Vegas tips, tricks and observations. Please feel free to leave yours in the comment section. Since I wasn’t on an official HeidiTown trip, I didn’t take my real camera, so please enjoy my below average phone photo editing skills.

Objects on the strip are farther than they appear

Some of you probably know about “false peaks,” a phenomenon that I have experienced several times while climbing Colorado’s mountains. It’s the peak you think is the summit, but it’s actually concealing the summit behind it. This is similar to the hotels along the Las Vegas strip. At first these ginormous buildings seem fairly close, but as you walk towards them it’s as if they somehow move farther and farther away. On our first night I think I may have walked five miles (in flip flops), resulting painful blisters that I’m still sporting. Continue Reading…

Hot springs dot the southeast portion of our state, providing serenity and play time across this breathtakingly beautiful region of Colorado. This is the story of two hot spring destinations that are located just 10 minutes apart, but couldn’t be more different.

We have visited a good portion of Colorado’s hot springs over the years and each has its own ambiance, but there’s no two springs more dissimilar than these two.

Ouray Hot Springs Pool, Ouray, Colorado

Located in the small village of Ouray, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool has a family-friendly environment. We’ve been there several times and it’s always a lively place, even in the winter. One of our favorite Colorado travel memories is sitting in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool with snow falling on our heads.

Ouray Hot Springs Pool, photo by Haji Mahmood

The pool, right in town, offers a chance for climbers, hikers and other adventurers to soak away their aches and pains. Moms and dads can soak away the stress of daily life while their kiddos swim until all of their little fingers are shriveled up like raisins. Retired folks enjoy the restorative powers of the hot water that was called “sacred miracle waters” by the Ute tribe who spent their summers in the area long before white settlers discovered it.  Continue Reading…