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A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien

I’m a small town girl at heart, but I love the city during the holidays and Denver is especially Christmassy at this time of year.

This past weekend, we visited Denver with the intention of immersing ourselves in the holiday spirit and we accomplished our mission.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Chandelier at Le Méridien. HeidiTown.com

Lobby chandelier at Le Méridien Denver Downtown.

Ryan and I arrived in the city around 1 p.m. and checked in early to our hotel, the brand new Le Méridien in downtown Denver. From the chandelier in the lobby to the rooftop bar, Le Méridien is 20 floors of modern, classy comfort. Plus, the location of this Denver hotel is ideal if you’re catching a show at the Denver Performing Arts Center or attending an event at the Denver Convention Center, as both are less than a block away.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Lobby at Méridien. HeidiTown.com

Le Méridien would be an ideal hotel to stay at during GABF (Great American Beer Festival), but I’d reserve your room now as the entire city books up during that week.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Roof top bar. HeidiTown.com

Roof top bar at Le Méridien.

After checking in, we walked to the Denver Christkindl Market, about two and half blocks from Le Méridien. It was a balmy 60 degree December day and the market was warm and crowded.

With the increased popularity of the market, I’d highly recommend exploring it on a less busy day (weeknights are ideal). The delicious smoked salmon by Chef Neuhold is still the best food at the market. Most vendors are cash-only at Denver Christkindl Market, so play accordingly.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Denver Christkindl Market dancers. HeidiTown.com

Dancers at the Denver Christkindl Market.

Our next goal was to check out a new-to-us brewery, but after a short Uber ride, we discovered that there were no seats to be had at the Denver Beer Company so we skedaddled down the street to My Brother’s Bar. I first visited Denver’s oldest bar in 1999 while visiting the city with my then boyfriend, now husband.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Bourbon at My Brother's Bar. HeidiTown.com

We bellied up to the bar where we enjoyed delightful conversations with two of the best bartenders in Denver — “best bartenders in Denver” was a recurring theme of this trip, during which we enjoyed both the holiday spirit of the Mile High City and the craft spirits too.

After a drink at My Brother’s Bar, we ambled through Confluence Park and took in the scenes which included a guy stand up paddle boarding on the South Platte just below the pedestrian bridge.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. SUP at Confluence Park. HeidiTown.com

We walked by Miracle Bar at the Wayward, Denver’s very own pop-up Christmas bar. I had this on the list of possible stops during this trip, but it wasn’t open yet and we didn’t make it back. We peeked in the window and it’s definitely the spot for those of you who are Christmas crazy (you know who you are).

While at My Brother’s Bar we’d had a short discussion about oysters and that’s all it took for me to put Must Eat Oysters on my to-do list for the evening. That was fairly easy because on our way back to the hotel we walked through Union Station, home of Stoic & Genuine, a seafood restaurant with a fine oyster menu.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Union Station lit up for Christmas. HeidiTown.com

Union Station is the best, especially when it’s all dressed up for the holidays.

Back at our hotel, we changed for dinner and enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at The Lobbyist, the lobby bar at Le Méridien. The Lobbyist also serves up sweet treats and scrumptious coffee drinks in the morning.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Room amenities. HeidiTown.com

Le Méridien’s town car was out dropping off other guests, so we opted for Uber to drive us to Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill on Capitol Hill, our ultimate evening destination.

Charlie Brown’s is a longtime Denver tradition, and not only is it Denver’s oldest piano bar, many a famous celebrity has sipped a cocktail at this joint.

We managed to get seats at the bar, just a few yards away from the pianist who, at 7 p.m., was already surrounded by admirers. We ordered drinks, Greek pizza (an excellent choice) and more drinks all while belting out Christmas tunes and the occasional piano bar favorite.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill. HeidiTown.com

Our bartender, Sean, said he’d probably heard Piano Man 500,000 times in his sixteen years of slinging drinks at Charlie Brown’s. Sean is an outstanding bartender in all ways, and in between piano tunes, he kept us entertained with stories. For instance, the much-told anecdote about Bill Murray having stopped in at Charlie Brown’s and serenading the regulars has apparently been greatly exaggerated, but it’s still a great story.

What happens every night at Charlie Brown’s is exactly what this crazy world needs more of; people of all stripes singing happy songs together. No one asked anyone who they had voted for or where they stood on climate change. It seemed that everyone in the bar was singing and there wasn’t a frown in the house. I wish I could bottle up whatever THAT magic is and sprinkle it everywhere.

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill sign. HeidiTown.com

From Charlie Brown’s we Ubered to Ship’s Tavern at The Brown Palace for a nightcap. This place has a special spot in our hearts as it’s where we had our wedding reception after party. On that night, a crew of performers from the Denver Performing Arts Center took over the piano and belted out show tunes for a couple of hours. Our guests were enraptured.

Ship’s Tavern was buzzing, but we did get a table just feet from the piano player, which was a beautiful ending to a fabulous evening. Of course, it didn’t quite end there, from The Brown Palace we hopped in a pedicab and serenaded the peddler, and everyone else on the 16th Street Mall, with Christmas tunes all the way back to our hotel (he loved it, I swear!). Pedicabs in Denver run about $2 a block.  

A Holiday Date Night in Denver With a Stay at Le Méridien. Brunch at Corinne. HeidiTown.com

Brunch at Corinne is a must.

The next morning, we enjoyed a leisurely morning in our room with fancy coffee from The Lobbyist followed by brunch at Corinne, Le Méridien’s exquisite restaurant. The French toast is basically cake and that made Ryan’s entire day.

If you do a holiday outing in Denver this year or in the future, we recommend using this blog post as a handy reference guide. Just remember, Uber and Lyft are readily available in Denver, so if your drink, click your app.

Thank you to Le Méridien for hosting us and watch for my upcoming article about the hotel in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles online.

A Visit to Bellingham, Washington, the Mayor’s Homeland

Washington State is not in HeidiTown’s region, however, I do travel outside of the HeidiTown sphere occasionally, and when I do, I write about it here.

Squalicum Harbor at sunset / Photo by: Lou Nicksic / Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

Squalicum Harbor at sunset / Photo by: Lou Nicksic / Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

Also, rather excitingly, the mountains regions of Washington and Oregon are now in The Heidi Guide’s region (my travel column for Mountain Living magazine), so my recent trip there was for work and pleasure.

***

I am not unbiased when it comes to writing a travel article about Bellingham, Washington. I grew up nearby and I attended Western Washington University during my sophomore and senior years of college in the late nineties. I met my husband, Ryan, in Bellingham, and I have many good memories of the town.

A Visit to Bellingham, Washington, the Mayor’s Homeland. downtown mural HeidiTown.com

If you are unfamiliar with the area, Bellingham is about an hour and a half north of Seattle and 30 minutes south of the border crossing into British Columbia, Canada. It’s where the mountains meet the sea and each year this connection is celebrated in a one-of-a-kind race called Ski to Sea. It’s the kind of event I’d cover if there was a HeidiTown, Washington. Continue reading

Art & Luxury in Denver: Her Paris & The Oxford Hotel

What’s better than a day at the Denver Art Museum? A day at the art museum followed by a stay at The Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver.

Art & Luxury in Denver Her Paris & The Oxford Hotel Photo courtesy of The Oxford Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Oxford Hotel

Earlier this month we participated in The Oxford Hotel’s Denver Art Museum package which includes VIP access to Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism. It’s the perfect combination because the woman featured in this exhibit would have likely stayed at The Oxford Hotel if they had visited the Mile High City at the Turn of the Century. After all, any woman who had time to paint during this era came from a family of means.

Art & Luxury in Denver Her Paris & The Oxford Hotel, photo courtesy of The Oxford Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Oxford Hotel

The package includes two VIP tickets to the show, complimentary valet parking at The Oxford, transportation to and from the exhibit in the hotel’s gorgeous Cadillac and a complimentary hotel upgrade based on availability.

Believe me, there’s no better way to impress your significant other this holiday season than with this Denver hotel package. Continue reading

Santa Claus is Coming to Town: 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado

‘Tis the season for holiday-themed festivals and while craft shows and Christmas parades abound, here are a few unique events where you get to join in the fun.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo credit Crested Butte Mountain Resort Santa Ski Crawl

Photo Credit: Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crowds of Santas Spotted in Breckenridge and Crested Butte, Colorado

There’s something particularly amusing about being surrounded by hundreds of Santas; boy Santas, girl Santas, tall Santas, short Santas, fat Santas, skinny Santas, pantless Santas (it happens). Here are two Colorado mountain festivals for folks who love Santa Claus and who like dressing up like the fat old fellow.

Race of the Santas, Breckenridge, Colorado

December 2, 2017

I’ve attended this event and can personally give it two white-gloved thumbs up. Race of the Santas is part of the Lighting of Breckenridge, a beautiful weekend tradition that involves the conversion of Breckenridge from a charming Victorian town to a charming Victorian town covered in holiday lights. 

Race of the Santas, Breckenridge

Photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

The Race of the Santas is seven blocks (0.75 miles) and contestants must dress like Santa. Some Santas who enter this race are serious runners while others, the Santa’s with a flask tucked into their black boot, are just there to have a good time.

You must register for this race by Friday, December 1, 2017. The race takes place on Saturday, December 2 at 4:30 p.m. Santa suits are for sale at the Breckenridge Welcome Center and Vertical Runner, a local running store. Contestants may also wear their own Santa costume.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo Credit Carl_Scofield_2015_Lighting_Santa-1

Photo Credit: Carl Scofield

Click here for more information on the Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas. If you’ve never visited Breckenridge during the holidays, it’s truly magical.

Santa Ski Crawl, Crested Butte, Colorado

December 9, 2017

Be part of history in Crested Butte this December and help break the World Record for the most skiing Santas at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. You can ski, snowboard or snowblade, but you must be dressed as Santa. This fifth annual event will attempt to break the record they set in 2015 which was 827 skiing Santas. Will YOU be number 828?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo Credit Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Photo Credit: Crested Butte Mountain Resort

In addition to the event, this is a festive weekend to be in Crested Butte. There’s a Santa Pub Crawl for drinker Santas as well as $25 lift tickets for skier and riders decked out in full Santa suits (valid 12/9/17 only).

This is also the weekend of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Light up the Night and annual Christmas Tree lighting, so it’s a good time to be in town. Register for the race here.

Santa Stampede, Littleton, Colorado

December 16, 2017

Okay, so this is less of a fest and more of a race, but I thought I’d throw it on this list for good measure.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo credit Colorado Runner Events, Santa Stampede

Tim Hancock, Photographer | Colorado Runner Events, Santa Stampede

This 5K and 10K winds along the banks of the South Platte River in Littleton, Colorado, just southwest of Denver. The entire family is encouraged to join in this Colorado Runner Events race. All runners get a Santa hat with registration, but participants are encouraged to dress up as well.

The race’s start and finish grounds are located at Hudson Gardens and will feature more than 20 vendors. There will be a festive, holiday atmosphere. To register for this family-friendly fun run go here.

While most Friday festival posts are sponsored, this is not a sponsored post.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado

Vail has grown on me over the years and I enjoy it now more than ever, so without further ado, here are five reasons to love Vail, Colorado.

1. It’s a BIG Mountain

You may stand in lift lines at the base of Vail ski area but once you are on the mountain it’s easy to get away from the crowds. The size of Vail ski area is what makes it tops with my husband, a lifelong Colorado skier. He loves getting into the back bowls where he’s far away from any slope traffic. Here’s a great Insider Guide to Vail Back Bowls on Snow.com.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado_Vail_BackBowls__Photo by Jack_Affleck

Vail Back Bowls, Photo by Jack Affleck (Vail Resorts)

The only problem with the sheer amount of acreage here is that you might be late to lunch with your wife because you underestimated how long it was going to take to ski back to Vail Village — so plan accordingly!

2. Truffle Fries

While my husband’s a lifelong fan of skiing, I’m a lifelong fan of truffle fries. There’s nothing better in this world than when they are done right and the truffle fries at Expert Burger in Vail’s Lionshead neighborhood are to die for. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Winter Wonderlights 2017-2018, Loveland, Colorado

A brand new holiday event is coming to Loveland, Colorado and it is one that the organizers hope becomes a long-running Northern Colorado tradition.

Featured Festival: Winter Wonderlights 2017-2018, Loveland, Colorado

Photo credit: Joshua Hardin

Winter Wonderlights will be a light show like no other in the state. Have you seen videos of houses decked out with Christmas lights that are synchronized with music? That’s just a little taste of what’s in store for you at this event.

Rhythm EFX is producing the light show and it’s a lot of work. First of all, it will take ten people about a week to set up this light display at Chapungu Sculpture Park. This one-of-a-kind, 26-acre park is located in east Loveland at the Promenade Shops at Centerra.  

Featured Festival: Winter Wonderlights 2017-2018, Loveland, Colorado

Photo credit: Joshua Hardin

A total of 46,000 lights will be part of Winter Wonderlights. Rhythm EFX calls the lights “mappable” as they are able to program the lights to be various colors. The centerpiece of this display will be a ginormous tree covered in mappable lights that will likely be visible from I-25 at night.

“We can even spell words across the tree,” explains Zach Klassen, owner of Rhythm EFX. “It becomes like a very, very low-resolution television.”

Photo credit: Joshua Hardin

The technology that takes place behind-the-scenes at an event like this is crucial to the production but it’s the end result that will be astounding to everyone who visits, and Winter Wonderlights isn’t just for kids. While families will want to make this part of their holiday excursions this year, this event will be awe-inspiring for adults too and would make an excellent destination for a date night. Don’t miss a great photo opt with Colorado’s largest inflatable igloo.

Featured Festival: Winter Wonderlights 2017-2018, Loveland, Colorado

Photo credit: Joshua Hardin

Winter Wonderlights will run every night from 5 to 9 p.m. from November 18, 2017 through January 7, 2018, and on weekends various entertainers will be on the park’s Great Lawn stage. There will be dance troupes, musical acts and more. Plus, retailers and food vendors will set up from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

Featured Festival: Winter Wonderlights 2017-2018, Loveland, Colorado

Photo credit: Joshua Hardin

Don’t Miss Opening Night

The kick-off of Winter Wonderlights will be Saturday, Nov. 18. There is a lot in store for opening night, but perhaps the coolest (no pun intended) thing is that it will be snowing at the event, even if there isn’t snow in the forecast. Be one of the first to see this fantastic light production in Northern Colorado.

Winter Wonderlights

Incredibly, Winter Wonderlights is FREE, but attendees are encouraged to bring canned food donations for the Larimer County Food Bank.

Winter Wonderlights

November 18, 2017 through January 7, 2018

5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Chapungu Sculpture Park (get map here)

Loveland, Colorado

Admission: FREE

Attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food donation for Larimer County Food Bank

visitlovelandco.org/winterwonderlights

Join Winter Wonderlights on Facebook

***

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

The Mayor Goes Shopping in Downtown Greeley, Colorado

I’ve been a longtime champion of Greeley. Over the years, it has suffered from a reputation that’s perpetuated by people who haven’t visited the town in more than a decade or who have never visited at all. Considering this, I think their new tagline, “Greeley Unexpected”, is rather apropos.

The Mayor Goes Shopping in Downtown Greeley. Einstein in mural. Courtesy of Visit Greeley

Image courtesy of Visit Greeley.

Earlier this month, Ryan and I spent the day shopping in downtown Greeley and discovered that, in addition to a good variety of restaurants and fun bars, the town offers an interesting array of boutiques appealing to everyone from clock fanatics to gamers.

We started our outing at Aunt Helen’s Coffee House. The shop is filled with quotes from Aunt Helen, who at the ripe old age of 105, has a lot of snarky wisdom to pass along such as, “It’s important to recognize your lack of talent early in life.” Continue reading

The Mayor Goes Shopping on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado

Shopping along Pearl Street is a longtime Colorado tradition, even for people outside of the state. Case in point, when my mother visits from Oregon, she always requests that we spend an afternoon shopping on Pearl Street.

The Mayor Goes Shopping on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado (11)

The pedestrian friendly Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder, Colorado.

I shopped Pearl Street Mall last Wednesday with my friend Karen on what was probably the last 80-degree day of the year. If you aren’t familiar with Pearl Street, it’s a stretch of road in Boulder, Colorado, bordered by lots of locally owned shops, restaurants and bars. And no matter the day of the week, it’s always a hub of activity.

We parked at the garage on Walnut Street below the St Julien Hotel & Spa. The hotel, which is glorious by the way, smells amazing thanks to their spa, and because of its proximity to the St. Julien, the underground garage is the best smelling parking garage in the world. This city should use this in any future parking garage marketing campaigns. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

… and now for something completely different.

Featured Festival Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado Photo Credit Eddie ClarkFeatured Festival Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado Photo Credit Eddie Clark

This photo & all following photos by Eddie Clark.

I’m always encouraging festival organizers to do something that sets their event apart. This is an example of a festival that’s doing just that.

Nitro Fest is one of Longmont’s most anticipated beer events, because it’s not just about the beer, although that’s a big component. This will be the fourth year of this event that’s one-part circus, one-part dance party, and one-part beer festival.  

Featured-Festival-Nitro-Fest-2017-Longmont-Colorado-2-Photo-Credit-Eddie-Clark.jpg

First and foremost, Nitro Fest is all about beer. It’s the world’s only exclusively nitrogenized beer festival. This fact alone makes it unique. This year the festival will feature 100 nitro beers from all over the world with nitro beers from China to Ireland.

In addition to the beer, Nitro Fest is a feast for the eyes and the imagination with a Cirque de Soleil meets Steampunk ambiance. Circus acts will be conducted by Boulder Circus School, Lunar Fire, and Sven Jorgensen & the Fractal Tribe.

Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

Music will be provided by LOTUS, a “jamtronics” band from right here in Colorado. Their energetic electric sound will have festival-goers dancing all night long.

Festival-goers are encouraged to come in costume and if you need a little inspiration, Left Hand Brewing has created this Pinterest page to help you out.

Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

Nitro Fest is produced by Left Hand Brewing High Five Events and proceeds benefit the Left Hand Brewing Foundation. To date, Left Hand Brewing has raised over $582,000 for non-profits.

Nitro Fest is going to be a special night and I hope to see you there!

Nitro Fest

Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Avenue (map here)

Longmont, Colorado

November 11, 2017

Tickets available at:

LeftHandNitro.com/nitro-fest/

Roundtrip bus transportation from Denver available on the ticket information page.

Join Left Hand Brewing on Facebook

Follow Left Hand Brewing on Twitter

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This Featured Festival was brought to you by First National Bank as part of their #WeGrowAsOne campaign.

“At First National Bank, we know that growth in the community starts with growth in the local economy. That’s why along with our commitment to the communities we serve, we strive to be the best bank possible for our business customers. Join us in supporting the community and the people behind the businesses in our community.”  

~UnforgettableFirsts.com

Buttercup’s Big Adventure: An Outing in a Rescued Relic Glamper

Earlier this fall, Ryan and I took one of our most anticipated trips in HeidiTown’s ten-year history. Thanks to Rescued Relics, we got to experience camper glamping for the very first time.

Buttercup’s Big Adventure An Outing in a Rescued Relic Glamper, HeidiTown (4)

What’s glamping, you ask? Well, in my opinion, it’s camping without the dirt. That’s right, after two nights in a vintage glamper, despite not having taken a shower, I didn’t feel nearly as dirty as I do after two nights of crawling in and out of a tent — and that’s just one of the benefits of glamping.

Buttercup is a renovated 1969 Go-Lite, and she’s just one of Rescued Relics’ glampers. At 10 feet long, she’s equipped with a bed, table, kitchenette with propane stove, refrigerator and storage. Quite frankly, I think she’s pretty much the cutest little glamper (camper) ever.  

We pulled Buttercup with Ryan’s Nissan Frontier and one of the drawbacks of pulling a camper is that you need to drive a reasonable speed which is not Ryan’s normal style, but he soon got into the rhythm of things. He often pulls U-Haul trailers and he said Buttercup was as easy to pull as one of those. Continue reading

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