Museums around Colorado

Kids bored this summer? Let HeidiTown help

Since the beginning of summer break, I’ve seen dozens of my friends complaining on Facebook about their kids’ boredom and asking about interesting ways to keep them busy this summer.

Kids bored this summer Let HeidiTown help. The living Farm, Paonia, Colorado.

The Living Farm, Paonia, Colorado

I’m not a mom, so I’m not going to use this blog post to list arts and crafts projects or fun backyard activities to do with your kids this summer. However, I am going to shed light on a few free and low costs outings that are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained for at least a few hours.

Outdoor concerts

Nearly every town in Colorado seems to have a free concerts series happening this summer. Some cities, such as Loveland, have two (Thursdays and Fridays). See my recent post for Visit Loveland for details. Continue reading

Sherlock Holmes in Denver, Colorado

What is a 128-year-old fictional private detective doing in Denver, Colorado? Well, my dear readers, the game’s afoot at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and you’re invited solve the case.

Think this exhibit is just for kids? Think again. The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes encourages parents to review this page before bringing their children. Remember, the series of Holmes books, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, were written for adults and the exhibit, while suitable for some children, may not be suitable for all ages.

Sherlock Holmes in Denver, Colorado. HeidiTown (2)

We had a great time at this exhibit – better than I expected. Visitors start in a room dedicated to the literary history of Sherlock Holmes and then move on to the real fun stuff. In the second room we picked up a notebook, “a detective’s most important tool,” and we began to work our way towards solving the case.

As we completed each section in the first room, ballistics, optics, etc. we stamped our notebook and moved on. This area was a sort of learning ground that would hopefully turn us into good detectives. Next we entered 221B Baker Street and were instructed by our handy notebook to find 13 items. I found several bells, but never could locate the Bell Pull, so if someone can enlighten me as to where it is, I’d be most grateful. Continue reading

A stop at the Wyman Museum in Craig, Colorado

As my regular readers know, we try to check out as many museums as possible while traveling around the state. While on magazine assignment in Northwest Colorado, we decided to stop at the Wyman Museum in Craig, just 16 miles west of where we were staying in Hayden.

A stop at the Wyman Museum in Craig, Colorado. HeidiTown (4)

The museum’s collection was started in 1949 in Elks Springs, Colorado by Lou Wyman. He started the collection with a 1932 Lincoln that he paid $15 to obtain. Three years ago, a M47 American Tank joined the collection; it cost a bit more than the 32′ Lincoln, but Wyman had to have it. This tank was the highlight of Ryan’s entire day. Continue reading

Visit the museum in Telluride, #TravelTuesday

When I visit a town, I really like to get to know it. That’s why I enjoy a three-night stay when visiting a new location; it gives me time to soak in the ambiance and savor the flavor of a place.

How does one really get to know a town? I find that knowing a town’s history is one very effective way to get to know a place, so when I travel, I almost always visit the local history museum.

In January, while attending the Telluride Fire Festival, I spent an afternoon browsing the Telluride Historical Museum. I enjoyed the flow of this museum as I walked through each room the town’s story unfolded, right up to modern day.   Continue reading

Cartier in Denver, more than just shiny baubles

Brilliant at Denver Art Museum., ColoradoWhen I heard that the Denver Art Museum was curating a Cartier exhibition, the tune from Pink Panther began playing in my head and it continued to play when we visited.

We arrived at the Denver Art Museum on a busy, snowy Saturday morning. Unbeknownst to us, the museum is free on the first Saturday of every month so the place was filled with families. Please note that special exhibits such as Brilliant are still subject to a fee even on First Saturdays.

I’m not a super girly girl and I’m not one to swoon over sparkly things, but even I had to admit that the jewels on display at Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century were pretty spectacular. However, it wasn’t only the gems that appealed to me, but the story that they told. Continue reading

Denver for the holidays

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

Hotel de Paris Museum, a gem hidden in plain sight

We stumbled into the Hotel de Paris while on a trip to Georgetown for my birthday five years ago. As readers know, I’m a fan of museums and we try to patronize as many as possible in our travels around Colorado.

Hotel de Paris, Georgetown, Colorado.

An hour and a half later, Hotel de Paris was my favorite museum in Colorado. Our docent had brought the place alive for me (evidence that a good museum docent is priceless). The stories of the hotel’s colorful French owner, Louis Dupuy, combined with the historical integrity of the building and its contents convinced me that this place was very special.

I’ve been back twice; most recently this past week while on a magazine assignment. I toured the hotel again with current director Kevin Kuharic. Kuharic’s love for the museum and its story is palpable.

He’s done some really great things since his arrive in 2010, including starting a museum Facebook page – go like it here.

Hotel de Paris Museum in Georgetown, Colorado.

Hotel de Paris Museum in 2009, when photography was still permissible.

One of the reasons I believe this museum is so unique is that 90 percent of the museums furnishings are original to the building when it was a hotel operated by Louis Depuy from 1875 until his death in on October 7, 1900, exactly 114 years ago today. But that’s not the end of the story. Several other families operated the hotel until it was bought by the National Society of Colonial Dames of American in Colorado in 1954. It has been a museum since then. Continue reading

Museum Monday: The Agricultural Heritage Center

The Agricultural Heritage Center at the Lohr/McIntosh Farm

I am nostalgic for farm life. I don’t know why. I did grow up in a small town where black and white cows outnumbered people, but I did not grow up on a farm. Perhaps I was a farmer’s daughter in a former life. I have no idea, but when I walk into a place like The Agricultural Heritage Center in Longmont, Colorado, I become wistful.

The Agricultural Heritage Center in Longmont, Colorado. HeidiTown (4)

The Agricultural Heritage Center is on the property of the former Lorh/McIntosh Farm, on Hwy 66, just minute outside of Lyons, Colorado. I’ve driven by many times, but this time, on a whim, I pulled into their parking lot. Continue reading

Living West at History Colorado inspires thought

Colorful Colorado History Colorado museum mints. HeidiTown.comI’ve always lived in the west with the exception of a short year spent in the Midwest during college. I love the west. I love our “can do” attitude and laid back manners, and I thought I knew a lot about this region of our country.

I am well-versed in cowboy legends and Native American lore. Our mining history is something I’ve learned a lot about since moving to Colorado in 2000, and I have a good grasp on western pioneering history.

However, it wasn’t until last year when Ken Burn’s documentary, “The Dust Bowl“ came to PBS that I realized this major part of US history wasn’t just a Midwest story, and in fact, Baca County, Colorado was considered the epicenter of the Dust Bowl.

I am not the only one who was unaware of the Dust Bowl’s impact on Colorado, and that’s why Living West at History Colorado takes an in depth look at this man made natural disaster that bankrupted and destroyed so many lives.

A lifesized photo of a Colorado Elk at History Colorado in LIving West.

A life-size photograph of an elk in traffic at Living West.

History Colorado opened in April 2012, and the state-of-the-art building and the museum’s unique storytelling approach to history has been attracting a new type of history buff to Denver.   The 40,000 square feet of exhibit space is located in a 200,000 square foot, eco-friendly building in the Denver Culture Arc, an area that includes the Denver Art Museum, Denver Public Library and more.

Last week I got a sneak peek at Living West, the newest phase to open at  History Colorado. It officially opened to the public on Saturday. In addition to the Dust Bowl exhibit, there’s a section about Mesa Verde and the Anasazi people who lived in southwest Colorado in the 10th Century. It includes a very cool replica of Balcony House, a place I’ve visited in person. Continue reading

Paris comes to Denver, Colorado

Painting is not at all an abstract conception, elevated above history . . .it is part of the social consciousness, a fragment of the mirror in which the generations each look at themselves in turn, and as such it must follow society step by step.

–Jules-Antoine Castagnary, art critic, 1863

Passport to Paris at the Denver Art Museum.

Earlier this week we spent a night in Paris. Well, not exactly in Paris proper, but at the Denver Art Museum’s new Passport to Paris exhibition.

My love affair with all things French started in high school. I had the loveliest teacher who instilled in me a love of French culture, French cuisine, French art and the French language. After taking French class for four years, I started college intending to get a French minor and studied the language for two more years before switching to philosophy.

Let’s just say that I have been eagerly anticipating the Denver Art Museum’s newest exhibit, Passport to Paris. It’s actually three shows including Court to Café, Nature as Muse and Drawing Room. There are works by Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Claude Monet and many others. The exhibit explores the change in art and society during three important centuries of art history.

Ryan's drawing at Passport to Paris at the Denver Art Museum.

Don’t miss the activity room at Passport to Paris, where you can try your hand at being the artist. My husband, Ryan Schlaefer, a real life artist, created this masterpiece. I drew a teapot.

Court to Café is the largest gallery, featuring 50 masterpieces, and visitors walk through France’s art history, starting with the 1600s and ending in the early 1900s. I always utilize the handheld audio tour guide, and this exhibit has listening material suitable for children and another more suitable for adults.

“Let us read, and let us dance;  these two amusements will never do any harm in the world.”


The children version is performed by a woman with a strong French accent who points out some of the more child-friendly items in the paintings and encourages the listener to use his or her imagination. The adult version is drier, but I did enjoy the ambiance of birds twittering in the background or the sounds of an ocean (depending on which painting the speaker was referring to).

I enjoyed the flow of this exhibit. It was not only a chance to see great artworks, but also a few furniture pieces, as well as women’s dresses, giving the visitor a glimpse at what France’s culture was like at the time.

Each of the three galleries are thoughtfully put together, with intriguing quotes throughout. As a writer, I am perhaps drawn to the quotes more than others, but I felt these quips by the artists and their critics give the paintings even more depth. I would encourage you to stop and read these quotes as you go through Passport to Paris.

This exhibition would make a great date night in Denver. It is open now through February 9, 2014. You don’t want to let this one slip by. Go to for ticket information.

Heidi & Ryan at Passport to Paris at the Denver Art Museum.

When you to Passport to Paris, be sure to take your photo in front of this painting and follow the upload directions to be entered to win prizes, including a trip for two to Paris, France.




Check out my travel column in Mountain Living magazine online

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