coffee shop

Spring Break in Colorado

March is here and that means Spring Break. Several people have asked what the Mayor recommends doing with the kiddos over the break. If you don’t have the resources to spend the break in Mexico or Disneyland, here are a few things that will be great excursions with the kids.

Visit the Zoo

Giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Mayor comes face to face with a giraffe at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer. All rights reserved.

Coloradoans are lucky to have two outstanding zoos in our state. When we lived in the Denver area we had a membership to the Denver Zoo, and it’s  by far one of the best city zoos I’ve ever visited. However, my favorite zoo in the state, and maybe the world, is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.

A major appeal of this zoo is its location on the side of Cheyenne Mountain. The animal enclosures connect seamlessly to the environment, and because it’s on a hill, visitors walk through the zoo on a zigzagging path. Never knowing what’s around the next corner makes visiting this zoo a real adventure.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has the most prolific giraffe-breeding program in the world and one of the best giraffe enclosures I’ve ever seen. Visitors walk on an elevated viewing area, where they come face to face with these extraordinary animals. You can even spend a little on crackers to feed the giraffe. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Arcade in Manitou Springs

Arcade in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Arcade in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer. All rights reserved.

If your kids like video games, and I’m betting they do, why not take them to see the precursors to their Xboxes and Playstations. Manitou Springs, just minutes outside Colorado Springs, is a quirky town and the arcade is just one of many unique things this town has to offer.

We have spent several long weekends in Manitou Springs and the Penny Arcade is my husband’s favorite stop. Featuring an array of games in several buildings, you can find some of the very first penny arcade games, classic arcade games of the 1980s, skeeball, and even coin operated animal rides. There’s something for everyone and every age in this collection.

Pinball in Lyons

I’ve written previously about Lyons Classic Pinball on HeidiTown. This is a one-of-a-kind place, and makes for a fun-filled afternoon or evening. Located in Lyons, Colorado, this place has over thirty pinball machines from various time periods. You can guess what decade in which the machine was produced by looking at the art.

After pinball I recommend heading around the corner to Oskar Blues for a burger and soda. While there, head downstairs and check out Lyons Classic Video. This room is run by the same family as Lyon’s Classic Pinball and is home to such games as Tron, Mrs. Pacman, Donkey Kong, Q-bert and many more. There are 25 games in all and every game is just 25 cents.

Visit a Museum

Auntie Stone Cabin at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center

Auntie Stone Cabin at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer. All rights reserved.

I’m a huge advocate for museums. I grew up visiting museums and I have always loved them. If you start taking your children to museums at a young age, I think they too will be lifelong supporters of museums.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a personal favorite, but you don’t have to drive that far to find an interesting and entertaining museum for the kids. Greeley, Fort Collins, Windsor, Loveland and Berthoud each have a museum or two and most have kid-oriented exhibits.

I’m planning to write about all the museums in Northern Colorado, but so far I’ve only made it to a handful. I still need to visit the Greeley Freight Station Museum, but I mention it here because it sounds like the perfect museum for children (and train lovers like me).

Please visit the Museum section of HeidiTown for info on the museums I have had a chance to write up.

HeidiTown Tip: If your kids like board and card games they’ll enjoy the  Haunted Game Café locate in Fort Collins. This is a game store and coffee shop. You can play one of their many open games while sipping on an Italian soda or one of the cafe’s specialty drinks.

Mad about Mandolin Cafe

Stoll Vaughan b&w

Stoll Vaughan at Mandolin Cafe in Loveland, Colorado on February 11, 2010. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

I recently discovered Mandolin Cafe  at 210 East 4th Street in Loveland, Colorado.   This relatively new addition to downtown, is a funky coffee shop  with a musical soul.

Last Thursday evening,  Stoll Vaughan, a singer/songwriter and stellar guitarist  played a free show  at Mandolin Cafe. Vaughan had approached owner Alex Zoll about playing at the  coffee shop  after Vaughan opened for The Elders at The Rialto Theater in Loveland, back in January.

Vaughan, equipped with a mic, speaker, harmonica  and a couple guitars, played songs off his “Love Like a Mule” and “The Weatherman” CDs,  as well as  a few  other tunes.   He also spent time chatting with the audience.

Mandolin Cafe is a great venue for true music lovers  because it’s an intimate setting –  the  audience really feels the music and the musician  is able to  interact with the audience.

The cafe also has a wide variety of coffee, smoothies and shakes,  as well as breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and even a kids menu. Our table ordered the Chicken Pesto Panini ($5.99) and Italian Panini ($5.99). Both were delicious.

We will definitely be back to Mandolin Cafe – for the music and the food.

See  Mandolin Cafe’s  entire musical line up at www.mandolincafeloveland.com  or find them on Facebook.

Listen to Stoll Vaughan at www.StollVaughan.com.

Follow me on Twitter  @HeidiTown.com

Grand Opening of Colorado Coffee Exchange – free lattes and more

Colorado Coffee Company is located at Hwy 34 & County Road 9, inside the First National Bank Building in Loveland, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.
 Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

This Saturday, December 12, 2009, Colorado Coffee  Exchange will be holding an official Grand Opening. Owners Mike and Carole Thorsrud’s first store, Colorado Coffee Exchange, has been open for fifteen years at the Fort Collins mall.

I am a big fan of this coffee shop, located in the 1st National Bank building on the corner of Eisenhower (Hwy 34) and Boyd Lake Road (CR9). Colorado Coffee roasts their beans and the difference is noticeable. They also feature a convenient drive-through.

Excellent homemade bakery items, addictive made-in-house breakfast burritos, and consistently good coffee drinks make this coffee shop a HeidiTown favorite.

Join me this Saturday at the Colorado Coffee Company’s Grand Opening from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free lattes and free award winning cinnamon rolls. Be sure to tell them you heard about it from HeidiTown!

By the way, Colorado Coffee Company is now open until 7 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Read my previous review of Colorado Coffee BY CLICKING HERE.

Visit Colorado Coffee’s Web site at www.roasters2000.com.

Major chain now offers free wi-fi

Barnes & Noble now offers free wi-fi, and it’s about time.   Many smaller coffee shops and bookstores beat B&N to the punch, but the  world’s largest  bookseller has finally come to their senses.   Free wi-fi is now available at all their stores.

I go to the B&N at The Promenade Shops  in Loveland, and  one issue  I have with the place are the unhappy workers.  It’s service with a frown. Another problem is their coffee. It’s Starbucks. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I use to love Starbucks, but no more. So many other, smaller coffee roasters have popped up over the years, and Starbucks hasn’t kept up with the competition. At B&N I usually stick with tea.

Other  free Northern Colorado  wi-fi hot-spots I use:

The Coffee Tree, inside Anthology Book Company at 422 E. Fourth Street in Loveland, Colorado.  This locally owned coffee shop  has a loyal following and it  can be difficult to find a table for you and your laptop, but the coffee is  great (they roast it)  and service is always top notch. The best bet for finding a free table is around 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

Colorado Coffee Company, located in the First National Bank building at the corner of Eisenhower and Boyd Lake Rd. (CR9) in Loveland. This place, originally a Loveland Coffee location, is now owned by Colorado Coffee Company. It’s a small space, but sort of secret, so I can usually find a place to sit with my laptop. The coffee is  above average  and the staff makes  consistently good  drinks. I  order an americano with Irish cream and it’s always exactly the same no matter who makes it.

Daz Bog, Denver Avenue location in Loveland. I debated adding this locally owned franchise to my list. I use to go there quite often, but lately I’ve mostly avoided it.  First, their music is  usually too loud for working on my laptop and secondly, where B&N employees are rather unfriendly, Daz Bog’s employees are too chipper – sometimes I just don’t feel like discussing my day.  Lastly, their coffee isn’t  my favorite  and drinks can be inconsistent.

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