I am shamed to admit that an iconic Colorado town has been missing from my HeidiTown travels and it’s entirely my fault. After six years of traveling the state, up until this month, I had only ever been to Aspen for an afternoon.
To be honest, I was intimidated by Aspen.
I’m a laid-back, West Coast girl. I grew up in small towns in Oregon and Washington, far from the glitzy streets of LA or cultured avenues of NYC. I’m all about jeans and t-shirts. I get a manicure once a year, and I’ve only ever had one French manicure and that was for my wedding.
I was truly worried that I’d feel out of place.
We finally visited Aspen for a three-night stay earlier this month during Wintersköl, and while the town was all the things that I’d imaged it would be — women in fancy fur, high end shops catering to the mega rich and $20 cocktails — under the glossy surface, Aspen is a real town, with real people and real Colorado charm. It is, in fact, much more laid back than I expected.
So where did we find the real Aspen?
We found it sitting on the bar stool at Aspen’s oldest restaurant and bar, the Red Onion. We found it while watching local kids dance their hearts out to hip hop tunes during Wintersköl. We found it at Aspen Brewing Company. We found it in the architecture of the Victorian homes around town. And we found it while visiting with shopkeepers at various art galleries and shops around town.
Without a doubt Aspen is pricey and can be posh, but it’s also really fun and surprisingly friendly. When it comes to wait staff and others in the service industry, I’ve never met a nicer group of people in all of my travels. The genuine welcoming attitude of every waiter, bartender and barista we ran into in this busy tourist mecca is a real credit to the town.
Let’s face it, Aspen is the home of the $17 burger, but I’d bet you a hundred bucks it’s the one of the best burgers you’ve ever eaten. You see, in Aspen, you really do get what you pay for. The bar has been set high here for service, for food and for accommodations.
This isn’t a place for a bargain vacation, but you’ll find real people, a real town and you’ll have real great experiences. I’m looking forward to sharing some of ours with you over the next few weeks.
Thank you to the Aspen Chamber for hosting us.
And thank you to Allison & Jillian for being fabulous guides and pointing us to all sorts of fun!
This is not a post about the island in the Caribbean. This is a post about Trinidad, Colorado. You may have heard about it. Over the years, Trinidad became well-known as the sex change capital of the United States.
Interestingly, the clinic that put the town on the map for sex change surgery, moved to California a number of years ago, but preconceptions die hard, especially when a town’s sex change reputation is big enough to have made it onto an episode of South Park.
Before I visited Trinidad this past summer, it was 1) the sex change capital of the United States 2) a place I drove through on my way to New Mexico and 3) the place my friend Amanda, who makes the world’s best green chile, grew up.
After visiting Trinidad, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on the town. It’s a place where no one is a stranger, where art thrives and history runs deep, where waiters sing and the positive energy is so thick it’s hard not to get caught up in its flow. Continue reading
I recently read an article online where the author highlighted what he claimed were the “10 Worst Places to Live in Colorado.” It was unclear as to whether he had visited all ten towns, and as it appears he resides outside of Colorado, I am skeptical.
He wrote that he based his article on statistics, although he sprinkled non-statistic based comments throughout the piece.
The word “worst” denotes something very bad, and when the word is used to describe a place, most people would immediately check the place off their visit list. The more I thought about this, the more the article bothered me.
I’ve met the people in these communities and walked the streets of these towns, and I am here to tell you that many of the folks who live in these places are fiercely proud of their towns, and rightly so. Not only are there wonderful reasons to visit each of these Colorado towns, I believe all of them would be a great place to call home.
After some consideration, I decided to highlight some of the best things each of the towns on this “worst” list have to offer. And I have taken the liberty if of putting the following towns in alphabetical order (this is not as they appeared on the original list).
1. A person or thing that makes or produces something
Synonyms; creator, manufacturer, constructor, builder, producer, fabricator, inventor, architect, designer
“The makers of fine furniture”
2. God; the Creator
I have a real affinity for makers. After all, my husband designs and builds furniture, so “making stuff” plays an important role in our lives.
A decade ago, the first Maker Faire was held in California. Since then, the movement has grown, and today there are maker faires across the world. A Maker Faire is a celebration of arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the DIY mindset.
The 4th NoCo Mini Maker Faire, held in Loveland, Colorado, continues to grow, and with growth comes change. This year, the event is being held in a new location, inside the First National Bank Building at The Ranch Events Complex.
More than 100 Makers converge on Loveland for this event, which kicks off with an adults-only party on Friday, October 7, called Sparks & Spirits. Cocktails will be provided by local distillers and entertainers include Rubens Tube fire and music, interactive light art from Solid State Depot and Mystica body paint.
One of my favorite gin makers, Golden Moon Distillery, will be there, along with a nice lineup of other Colorado makers of fine spirits such as Syntax Spirits from Greeley. Distiller, Heather Bean, makes small-batch vodka, whiskey and rum from grain-to-glass using all Colorado ingredients.
The Noco Mini Maker Faire is an family affair. On Saturday and Sunday, children are more than welcome and in fact, encouraged to attend. A maker faire is an excellent place for a inquisitive child.
Attendees will be inspired, awed and intrigued. Some makers are students, while others are adults. Exhibits include everything from social robotics from Robauto to creative music makers, Serenity Forge. In addition, there will be several community art projects including a Chalkboard Art Car where guests can give voice to their creative expression. And fresh from Burning Man, no one will be able to miss the 30-foot DaVinci Flying Machine.
Attendees can expect to spend hours strolling through the event, chatting with makers and getting hands on with various projects and games.
A maker event is where the left and right brain merge to create amazing, innovative and beautiful things.
NoCo Mini Maker Faire
October 8-9, 2016
Location: The Ranch Events Complex, Loveland, Colorado
Advanced ticket prices $10 adults, $6 child/student
Sparks & Spirits, Friday evening, October 7
Advanced ticket price $50
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
Last week I was a speaker at a tourism conference in Pagosa Springs, and it was a good reminder of the total awesomeness of this Southwest Colorado town.
Pagosa Springs should be on your must-visit list this summer and here are five things you need to do once you get there.
1. Float the river in Pagosa Springs
The best way to take advantage of a river that runs directly through a town is to float it. The San Juan River is the source of all good stuff in Pagosa Springs and is a big summertime attraction.
The best time to float the river is in July and August when the water levels are lower. Bring your own tube or check out this Pagosa Springs’ website for how to go about floating the San Juan River. Continue reading
I’ll be the first to admit that I used this title as click bait. I knew that those of you with favorite taco shops around Colorado were going to click the link, and if you didn’t see your favorite taco listed you would school me on taco greatness.
Here’s the thing. “Best of” lists about food are crap and I can say that because I’ve written one in the past. Everyone has a different set of taste buds, not to mention we are influenced by things ambiance and the people we were dining with.
With that being said, I shall reveal three of the most memorable tacos I’ve eaten in Colorado. I’m sure I’ve had other delicious tacos, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind, and whether that makes them the “best” or not, I refuse to be the judge. Continue reading
You’ve heard about it in songs and perhaps you’ve seen it in a movie or commercials, but did you know that you can do it right here in Colorado? Several places around Colorado offer horse and sleigh rides, and earlier this winter we got to experience an outing at Snow Mountain Ranch, a beautiful YMCA of the Rockies property in Grand County, Colorado.
We arrived at Sombrero Stables a little before our scheduled excursion. All the draft horse teams were lined up, waiting to be hitched to their sleighs for multiple afternoon outings, so we walked down the line giving head scratches and taking photos.
I fell in love with draft horses while writing a series of articles about Norwegian Fjords for a Colorado newspaper. Draft horses are called “gentle giants” for a reason; their demeanor is calm and they are unlike any other horse I’ve been around. I love their chill personalities. Continue reading
Last year I finally got the opportunity to attend the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. I’d known about the event for years and wondered if it would live up to the hype.
We were booked at the Village at Breckenridge and our room overlooked the parking lot in which the snow sculpting teams were working on their creations.
We were lucky enough to stay for long enough to watch the sculptures as they were carved into their various final compositions.
As we watched the sculptures take shape over several days I was blown away by the size and intricacy of each piece. The photographs I had seen of this event, while amazing, just simply hadn’t done it justice. Seeing this event in person is truly astounding.
This year’s event International Snow Sculpting Championships run Jan. 18 through February 7, 2016. The ideal time to visit, in my opinion, is Jan. 26-30 while the sculptures are being created, especially Jan. 29 when the teams work late into the night to finish their pieces. Watching the sculptures come to life, so to speak, is quite astonishing. Continue reading
Dog sledding in Colorado? Yes, you can. I’ve done it twice now and our experience this past week at Snow Mountain Ranch was like no other.
I was a huge fan of the Iditarod when I was a kid. The race incorporates lots of things I love; dogs, snow and perseverance.
Snow Mountain Ranch is part of the YMCA of the Rockies. It is located between Winter Park and Granby, Colorado and is a snow sports fanatic’s dream destination. In addition to dog sledding guests can participate in everything from cross country skiing to fat biking to ice skating and the best part? Guests never have to leave the property. Continue reading
I was asked recently to write a “tips for attending winter festivals” post. Well, I had already written that post way back in 2014. Since it has some great winter festival survival tips I decided I’d re-post the original article.
The following post originally appeared on HeidiTown.com on February 7, 2014.
I was prompted to write this post after an experience I had last month during Breckenridge’s Ullr Festival. For the first time ever I experienced the terrible symptoms of severe dehydration. As a longtime Coloradan, I am embarrassed to admit this, but it happened and it’s NOT fun.
On our second night in town, after soaking in the beautiful hot tubs at Grand Timber Lodge, we went out to dinner where I started to feel shaky and nauseated. I thought I was coming down with the flu. I didn’t touch dinner and had to head back to our condo early where I crawled into bed with intense muscle cramps and aches all over my body.
The next day I was fine, a bit weak, but otherwise back to normal. When I searched my symptoms on Google, I discovered that I had suffered from dehydration. Usually I drink a ton of water, but on this trip I was so busy with Nordic skiing and partying that hydration had skipped my mind. It won’t happen again.
This long story leads me to tip number 1, which is HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!
Colorado is at elevation – all of it – but especially in the mountains where most of the great winter festivals take place. Dehydration can happen to anyone, even a Colorado resident – case in point -but those coming from outside the state should be even more conscientious of this issue. Continue reading