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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.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado, Truffle fries from Expert Burger. HeidiTown.com

Take it from me, they make the perfect afternoon snack on your condo patio paired with a nice wine or a local craft beer.

3. It’s Adorable

Let’s face it, Vail Village is just plain adorable. I recently took my mom to Vail Village and her squeals of delight over the European Alps-like architecture reminded me of my first visit to the town.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado Vail Village

In the summer, Vail explodes with flowers of every kind and color. In the winter, snow embraces the village in a wintry hug that’s as photogenic as any alpine village in Europe, and that’s not a coincidence. Many of the town’s buildings were purposely modeled after European architecture such as the iconic Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer, home of Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant and the Sonnenalp, to name just a few.

4. Vail Brewing Company

For years I’ve been visiting Vail Brewing Company’s tent at beer festivals because I can always count on them to be pouring something delicious, but I hadn’t actually been to their brewery until earlier this year.

Technically, their brewery is a stone’s throw away from Vail in Avon, but Vail Brewing Company does have a tasting room in Vail Village.

We visited the brewery in Avon on a snowy afternoon and were delighted to discover that we like the brewery space as much as the beer. It’s a local waterhole that features the Rocky Mountain Tacos food truck, live music and more.

5. Shopping

Despite the rash of shopping posts recently on HeidiTown, I’m not a big shopper or big spender. However, I love interesting jewelry and while I don’t wear much, the jewelry I do wear usually has a story.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Shopping in Vail Village. HeidiTown.com

On the Vail shopping outing with my mom, I bought a ring that’s become part of my daily worn accessories. The cool story behind the ring is that Mary Jane’s Vail also has a store in Hawaii and one of their featured jewelry artists there makes a gorgeous silver and gold wave ring for that store. The owners of Mary Jane’s decided that the wave pattern could be tweaked into a great mountain motif and now the artist makes wave rings for Hawaii and mountain rings for Vail.

A LITTLE EXTRA – GETTING AROUND VAIL

If you aren’t familiar with the layout of the town, Vail Village is the old part that photographs well because it looks like a European ski hamlet. West Vail is home to the Lionshead area, and while it’s quieter than Vail Village it has a neighborhood feel that I really enjoy. We frequently stay in Lionshead.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Lionshead area. HeidiTown.com

Springtime in Lionshead at Vail Spa Condominiums.

A free bus connects all of Vail and the buses run frequently, so there’s never a problem getting around without a car.

Read more about Vail on HeidiTown.com, Things to do in Vail, Colorado When You’re Not Skiing.

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So there you have it, there are so many reasons to love Vail.

Feel free to leave a comment telling me why you love Vail!

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.

Winter Wonderlights

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.  

Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra in Loveland, Colorado

Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra is open 365-days a year. An outdoor gem perfect for walks, runs, picnics, photo shoots, concerts, weddings and more!

Posted by Chapungu Sculpture Park on Sunday, September 25, 2016

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.”

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 igloo photo from visit loveland

 

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.

Groups like Kutandara will perform.

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.

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

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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.

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

Featured Festival: Fall Back Beer Fest 2017 in Estes Park

I’ve attended this festival a number of times and it always makes my list of best mountain destination beer festivals. Find out why in today’s Featured Festival post.

Featured Festival Fall Back Beer Fest 2017 in Estes Park, Photo Credit Brewtography Project

Photo Credit: Brewtography Project

Location, Location, Location

First, let’s talk about the location of Fall Back Beer Fest. Estes Park is a short drive from Denver, but oh so far away. When is the last time you saw an elk cross Larimer Street?

Featured Festival Fall Back Beer Fest 2017, elk crossing the road in Estes Park, photo by My Big Day, LLC

Elk crossing the road near YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Please yield to the wildlife! Photo Credit: My Big Day, LLC

On our last Fall Back Festival weekend in Estes Park, a herd of elk walked through the yard at Rustic Acres where we were staying. That’s not something you see every day. The elk are out in droves in Estes Park in the fall (please give them room to roam).

While Estes Park can be a bit crowded in the summer, the crowds taper off in November, making it a great destination for a weekend getaway that’s close to home for a lot of us.

Education, Education Education

I’m always preaching (often from the pulpit at a conference) that festivals need to work to set themselves apart, especially beer festivals because there are a lot of them.

Featured Festival Fall Back Beer Fest 2017 in Estes Park 2, Photo Courtesy of FBBF

Homebrewers at FBBF 2016. Photo courtesy of the fest.

From the beginning, Fall Back Beer Fest organizers realized that they needed a component that would make them different and that’s why there are always fun educational experiences at this beer festival.

In addition to presentations and workshops (and yoga this year), Fall Back Beer Fest is the official site for the American Homebrewers Association’s National Learn to Homebrew Day. Each year, sanctioned clubs set up demos at Fall Back Beer Fest and chat with festival attendees about the process of homebrewing.

Beer, Beer, Beer

Of course, the most important aspect of any beer festival is the beer. Fall Back Beer Festival excels here in part because many of the brewers attend and pour at this event.

With so many beer festivals through Colorado during the year, it’s getting harder and harder to find beer festivals where the brewers are actually present, but many of them come to Fall Back Beer Fest. They too like being in Estes Park for a weekend.

Featured Festival Fall Back Beer Fest 2017 in Estes Park 3, Photo Credit Brewtography Project

Photo Credit: Brewtography Project

For a list of breweries at Fall Back Beer Fest go here.

Music, Music, Music

Music isn’t always a big deal at beer festivals, but at Fall Back Beer Fest it is and that’s because each year the festival invites the winners of the 2017 Rockygrass Band Competition to play at their Rocky Mountain festival.

FBBF Band Meadow Mountain 2017

This year, Fall Back Beer Fest will feature Meadow Mountain, the winners of 2017 Rockygrass and the 2017 UllrGrass band competition and third place finalists in this year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition.

Please note that Hwy 34 from Loveland to Estes Park is closed due to construction until Memorial Day 2018. If you are driving from Northern Colorado or Wyoming to FBBF, take the route through Lyons via HWY 66.

Fall Back Beer Festival

Estes Park, Colorado | Estes Park Events Complex (map here)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

GA $35 | VIP $55 | DD $15 | Beer Yoga $15

Purchase tickets at:

FallBackBeerFest.com

Join this fest on Facebook

Follow this fest on Twitter

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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.

 

The Mayor Goes Shopping in the Choice City, Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins is best known for craft beer, bikes and Horsetooth Reservoir, but downtown boasts a healthy variety of retail stores and whether you’re shopping for the holidays or for yourself, there’s a store here to fit every need (or want).

The Mayor Goes Shopping, FNB, The Perennial Gardener

The Perennial Gardener

This past week I went on a little shopping outing in downtown Fort Collins with my friend Karen, and our first stop was at a store that’s been a longtime tradition in downtown Fort Collins. The Cupboard just celebrated its 45th anniversary this summer, and while this milestone is fantastic, what makes this store even more special is that it’s been in the same family for all that time. Continue reading

HeidiTown’s Ten-Year-Anniversary: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About HeidiTown

It’s apropos that I’m posting this anniversary blog post on October 10, my birthday, because I have always considered ten to be my lucky number.

Thank YOU for taking this road trip with me and please don’t get out of the car now, the fun has just begun.

HeidiTown's Ten-Year-Anniversary Ten Things You Didn't Know About HeidiTown. Buttercup the camper at Delicious Orchards

Hanging out with Buttercup the camper rental from Rescued Relics at Delicious Orchards in the North Fork Valley during Mountain Harvest Festival earlier this fall.

My first official HeidiTown blog post was posted on October 8, 2007, and that means HeidiTown is 10-years-old this month. At first, I thought I’d write a retrospective, but even the word “retrospective” sounds boring, so I decided to write a list. Lists are fun, lists are easy and I try not to do very many, so here you go.

1. The Who: My name is Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer. I was born in southern Oregon in a hospital that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The ocean still calls, but the pull of Colorado sunshine is greater.

HeidiTown's Ten-Year-Anniversary Ten Things You Didn't Know About HeidiTown Oregon Coast pic

The Oregon Coast is one of the best spots in the world.

I grew up in a family that took road trips to most of the National Parks in the Western United States and who backpacked every summer into back country around Mt. Rainier. These trips instilled in me a strong love and respect for the natural world. Continue reading

Meet Me in Meeker, Part Two: Staying & Dining in Meeker, Colorado

Last week, I shared with you part one of my two-part “Meet Me in Meeker” series. In last week’s post, I wrote about the surprisingly vibrant downtown we encountered. Click here to read it. This week, I want to introduce you to where we ate, drank and stayed in this fun little northwest Colorado town.

Meet Me in Meeker, Part Two Staying & Dining in Meeker, Colorado (10)

As a reminder, we were in town for the Jammin’ Lamb Festival, a culinary event that’s part of the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials which I wrote about here. I’d been invited to town to be a judge for Jammin’ Lamb Festival.

After discovering all the neat stores in downtown Meeker, we drove the short distance to 8th Street to find our bed and breakfast. Festival organizers had booked us a room at the Bear Mountain Inn. Cheryl Houser welcomes guests into her home as if each one were a long-lost friend. Her husband Dale and son Toby are also very sociable and accommodating to guests. Continue reading

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