I love road trips and I love Americana, and Cortez has more “Americana” architecture on Main Street than I’ve seen in any other Colorado town. From the Cork n’ Bottle liquor store to the Retro Inn, vintage signs are standard fare around town. It gives this part of Colorado a “Route 66” type of feel even though that famous road is well south of the area.
It had been years since Ryan and I visited the Mesa Verde area of Colorado. We weren’t sure what to expect when we sailed into the region earlier this month.
The Anasazi Heritage Center – A Must Stop
Our first official stop was the Anasazi Heritage Center, 15 minutes out of Cortez. I really like this museum because a walkthrough gives the visitor an easy to comprehend history lesson on the area. I encourage everyone to make this their first stop when visiting Mesa Verde Country.
And don’t miss the short, onsite trail that leads to the Escalante and Dominguez Ruins as well as providing an outstanding view of McPhee Reservoir and the surrounding area. It’s worth taking the quick walk to the top.
Here’s the lowdown on Mesa Verde Country. The Ancestral Pueblo lived in Southwest Colorado from approximately 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Without a doubt, the area is best known for Mesa Verde National Park, home to 4700 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
The park is amazing and we toured it during our last visit, but the fact is that there are a lot of other places around the area to see ruins including Hovenweep and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. And the real bonus is that both of these places are a lot less crowded during high season.
Mesa Verde Country is made up of the towns of Cortez, Mancos and Dolores. At a population of around 8,000 Cortez is the largest town of the group and while there have been a few changes since last we visited, it’s also the same quiet ranching community that it’s been for 131 years.
Staying in Cortez
We were booked at The Retro Inn in downtown Cortez. I hope that more retro motels across the country will adapt The Retro Inn’s concept. The owners have taken an old motel and turned into an ode to the past, with modern amenities, of course.
Elvis greets guests as they arrive and each room at the inn is dedicated to a particular year in history. For instance, our room, Room 1977, features photographs of the disco age on the walls.
A stay at the Retro Inn includes a nice breakfast in their diner-style eating area. Rooms run around $100 during high season and $80 during the off-season (winter).
Eat & Drink in Cortez
Longtime HeidiTown readers won’t be surprised to learn that our first stop was the new brewery in town. Wild Edge Brewing Collective was only a few months old when we stopped in. We loved the light and bright, modern tap room and the beer was good too.
During our stay in Cortez, we had great pizza at the Loungin’ Lizard and a delicious (and cheap) Mexican brunch at La Casita, which tasted even better after a morning hike in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
Unfortunately, we didn’t eat at The Farm Bistro because they are open Monday through Friday only and our timing was bad, but this farm-to-table restaurant is well-loved by locals.
Don’t miss Moose & More, when you visit Cortez. Featuring ice cream and chocolates handmade by local owners, what’s not to love?
Things to do in Cortez
From June through September 2, each evening at 7 p.m., there are Native American Dances that take place outside at the Cortez Cultural Center in downtown. I highly recommend stopping to enjoy these beautiful and free demonstrations of Native American culture. They occur every day except for Sunday.
As Ryan and I thought we were wrapping up our second evening in Cortez, we happened to walk by the Millennium Center for the Performing Arts, just a few doors down from Loungin’ Lizard. We could hear Latin music and through the window, we saw dancing. We inquired and discovered that it was Latin Dance Night.
I’ve never written about it, but Ryan and I have taken quite a number of dance classes over the years, including Latin, and so we danced. It was a wonderful way to meet locals and it turned into a travel memory that we will both treasure. These public dances in Cortez at the Millennium Center occur on Saturdays and the theme is either Latin or Country Western. A short lesson is included in the $12 entry fee.
Watch for my next post on Mesa Verde Country, “Take Road G to Paradise.”
Thank you to Mesa Verde Country for hosting us on our Southwest Colorado adventures.
When Ryan and I were invited to experience Jet Boat Colorado during our visit to the Grand Junction area, I was simultaneously delighted and terrified. I love boats and I love the water, but ever since I had a scary river incident many years ago, I’m not particularly fond of getting out on a river of any kind, let alone the mighty Colorado River.
Despite my fear, I realized that some of the scariest things in life have been the most fun — snowmobiling and zip lining, for instance. So I would do it, even if it meant swallowing my fear and spending the entire outing with my eyes squeezed shut.
There was another motivator for doing this activity — Jet Boat Colorado is the only jet boat operation in the state and they just opened this summer. This means I’d be one of the first people to get to experience jet boating in Colorado and who doesn’t love being one of the first ones to do an activity such as this? Continue reading
Have you heard about the upcoming solar eclipse? If not, you may be fairly surprised when the sun disappears behind the moon on August 21, 2017, starting around 10:30 a.m. We won’t experience a total eclipse here in Colorado, but we will see a partial eclipse and it will occur over a three hour period.
Here’s a cool video of how this partial eclipse will appear in Colorado.
I’ve made it my mission to find eclipse parties happening in Colorado, and at the time of the writing of this post, there aren’t many being advertised online yet so I’ll try to update this article as they pop up.
Eclipse Parties in Colorado
The first party that came on my radar is the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party being held at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Beaver Creek. Ryan and I have stayed at this fantastic property near Vail that features several restaurants, an incredible spa, an enormous pool, lovely salt water hot tubs, and large, comfy suite-style rooms.
The resort is partnering with Walking Mountain Science School, a non-profit science learning center, to offer a free party to the public that includes educational family activities and celestial crafts. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the Westin’s patio.
The Rocky Mountain Eclipse Getaway (offered August 20-23, 2017) at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa includes a studio suite, exclusive access to the resort’s educational event with Walking Mountains, solar eclipse viewing glasses and nightly s’mores at the resort’s fire pits. Rates start at $179.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Total Solar Eclipse Party is being held at the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s will be held on August 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This will be an exciting day at the Discovery Center. They will have solar viewing telescopes, tubes and boxes for visitors to use and they will feature live feeds from other eclipse locations around the United States.
Visitors may purchase solar viewing glasses, while supplies last, for just $3 or two for $5. There will be craft events and a planetarium show in the center’s new inflatable planetarium.
This is a once-in-childhood experience for your science-minded children, so if you live in or near the Colorado Springs area, don’t miss it.
Visit the Total Solar Eclipse Party online HERE.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will start their solar eclipse festivities at 9 a.m. on August 21. The museum will be buzzing with eclipse activities including events scheduled outside on Boettcher Plaza, in the Science Studios, on the south atrium, inside the Space Odyssey exhibit and at the Discovery Zone (the area for young learners ages 5 and under).
A solar-scope viewing will be held on Boettcher Plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The museum will be providing safe viewing options for guests in the form of solar eclipse glasses and pinhole viewers. There will even be pop-up food available service outside during the event.
While the eclipse is happening in the sky outside, inside the museum visitors can enjoy stories, kinesthetic activities and crafts related to the eclipse. The eclipse-related activities end at 2 p.m., but the museum will remain open until 5 p.m. Don’t miss the Space Odyssey programming that will include eclipse-themed shows throughout the day.
See a map of the eclipse in the United States here.
For information on Where to Watch the Eclipse in the West, visit The Heidi Guide at Mountain Living online.
I’ve scoured the internet and even made some calls to find out if more parties are planned and nothing comes up… yet.
I am certain that more parties will pop up and I’ll try to keep this list updated. If you know of a party or your organization is putting something together for the public, please leave me a comment here or email me at TheMayor@HeidiTown.com with details. Thank you!
Making cheese is almost as fun as eating cheese, but in the cheese making classes in Longmont, you get to do both.
Back in April, Ryan and I took a Flavored Cheeses class with The Art of Cheese in Longmont, Colorado. It was part of a weekend visit where we explored a familiar town in an entirely new way; via trolley and via foot. There are more Longmont posts to come.
We arrived at Haystack Mountain Cheeses’ facility on a drizzly, slightly humid morning; perfect for being inside a nice, cool creamery. The Art of Cheese holds their classes inside of Haystack, but they are not related businesses.
Ryan and I love cheese. My favorite spot in the world is the Cheese Importers in Longmont, and by visiting this store many times, we’ve become quite knowledgeable about cheese, however, neither of us have ever tried our hand at making it. Continue reading
BrüFrouFEST was my husband’s favorite event of 2016, and that’s really saying something because we go to a lot of events. I loved it too. What’s not to love about food and drink pairings? And this is not your average “taste of” kind of event.
BrüFrouFEST inspires chefs and brewers to take food and drink pairings to the next level — and they do.
Last year, we wandered through the event, increasingly impressed by what we were putting in our mouths. Verboten Brewing’s Cucumber Gose paired with Harman’s Eat & Drink’s salmon pastrami with dill cream cheese mousse, avocado, brewers rye crisp, pickled mustard seed and cilantro was my favorite on the day.
However, there were other standouts too including the Bristol Brewing Company Roggenbier paired with saffron banana steamed mussels with Aurelia chorizo and crumbled rye (food by Brother Luck). Obviously, I love seafood, but there were lots of other pairings as well, including last course options.
Ryan couldn’t get enough of the Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout pair with spicy chocolate cake from The Rosedale Tavern.
BrüFrouFEST is for foodies and foodie wannabes, and the brewers and chefs that are involved take this event very seriously.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is thrilled to be pairing their beer with cuisine by Euclid Hall at this year’s event and I can’t wait to taste the result of this stellar combination. Verboten also got a great pairing this year – Blackbelly Market out of Boulder. Only good things can come from that collaboration.
While the food will continue to be spectacular, some things at this year’s BrüFrouFEST will be a little different. For instance, they are holding it outdoors at Tivoli Station in downtown Denver. They’ve also moved it from Saturday to Sunday to make it easier for chefs to be away from their restaurants on the day of the event. And it takes place from 12 to 5, as opposed to in the evening. Lastly, they’ve added craft beer cocktails from some of the region’s finest mixologists.
Chefs are coming from as far as Vail to participate and compete and overall, there are 125 chefs and breweries and 80 unique pairings. In addition, six bands will be in attendance to keep things lively when the meat sleeps start to kick in.
This is the largest culinary event of its kind in the country, so you really, really, really don’t want to miss it. Seriously, my husband talked about this one for months; obviously, it makes an impression. This year, tickets start at just $35, so you’ve got no excuse not to be there.
SUNDAY, July 16, 2017
12 to 5 p.m. at Tivoli Station
Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!
What comes to mind when you think of Cheyenne, Wyoming? Cowboy hats and big trucks? Trains? Those are all accurate descriptions of Cheyenne. It’s a historic train town with a lot of cowboys, cowgirls and big trucks. Today, however, Cheyenne is so much more.
We spent a weekend in Cheyenne earlier this month. We were there to attend the Celtic Festival and Rock the Block, as well as explore a town that we’d only ever passed through.
I’m going to write several posts about this trip, including some of the fun touristy things you can do here like the trolley tour, botanic garden and museums, but in this post, I want to concentrate on some of the surprising things we discovered in Cheyenne.
First of all, did you know that there are three breweries in Cheyenne, Wyoming? True story.
We visited two of the three, stopping first at Accomplice Beer Company where guests pour their own beer. Yes, you read that right. Accomplice has self-pour taps, and they have a lot of them. After a brief explanation of how it works from the bartender, we were off. They use an electronic card system to track how much you pour, so you can’t drink here all day long.
We also got lunch at this brewpub, sliders for Ryan and chicken tenders for me. The tenders were some of the best I’ve had, although the ranch dressing could be a bit thicker. While it’s a bit gimmicky, Accomplice is centrally located in the famous depot building and a must-visit when in Cheyenne.
Freedom’s Edge Brewing Co. is just a couple blocks from Cheyenne’s downtown plaza. They have a traditional taproom with a nice contemporary feel and really good beer. We’ll definitely be back to Freedom’s Edge on our next visit to Cheyenne.
We didn’t make it to Danielmark’s Brewing Co. on E. 18th Street, but this is Cheyenne’s newest brewery and is located in a renovated historic home. They have an outdoor patio and feature food trucks.
And speaking of food trucks, there’s a delightful pizza place in Cheyenne that got its start as a food truck. Bella Fuoco Wood Fire Pizza gets top marks from both Ryan and I, and we recommend the jalapeno popper and the NY Blue. Just thinking about these pizzas makes my mouth water.
Everyone knows about the Wrangler (Boot Barn) in Cheyenne, and I did purchase a hat there while I was in town, but we found a real gem of a shop next to Freedom’s Edge Brewery.
Mid Mod Etc. is a terrific store that’s worth the drive if you love mid modern clothing, furniture, decor and even cars. You can track their inventory by following their Facebook page. And here’s the best part, their prices beat anything you’ll find at the mid-modern stores in Denver.
Ryan was excited to discover two stores selling vinyl in Cheyenne. There’s Ernie November and Phoenix Books & Music.
In addition, Ryan was overjoyed to discover that Cheyenne has an arcade bar. Located in downtown, Flippers Family Arcade is good for families, but also fun for adults because not only do they have a large selection of arcade games and pinball, they have a bar serving beer and wine. It’s a great place to kill an hour or two.
So there you have it — did you know Cheyenne was so hip and happening? I didn’t. Keep an eye on HeidiTown.com for more posts about where we stayed and what we did in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Thank you to Visit Cheyenne for hosting us on this trip.
I write a lot about beer because Colorado is filled to the brim with great craft beer. However, our wine scene is pretty spectacular too and I happen to love wine, so here’s a collection of five spectacular wine festivals that are taking place this summer in some of Colorado’s most beautiful towns.
Telluride Wine Festival, June 22-25, 2017
Telluride’s remoteness is part of its charm. A trip to this region comes with awe-inspiring vistas that you’ll find nowhere else.
The Telluride Wine Festival has been running for 36 years and features seminars, parties, luncheons, etc. You can pick your level of involvement at this wine festival that includes free events as well.
The Culinary Village in Mountain Village is a new feature this year. It’s free to stroll through Culinary Village where you’ll be treated to culinary demos, bands, wine tasting and more.
Keystone Wine & Jazz Festival, July 15-16, 2017
Having attended twice, Keystone Wine & Jazz is a personal favorite of mine. It’s free to stroll through the event that sprawls throughout the Keystone Village. In addition to the hundreds of wines being served from dozens of booths, there’s endless music on various stages.
Everyone has a good time at this festival, including children who love Keystone’s Kidtopia and the festival’s Kid Zone.
Whether you love wine and want to learn more at one of the festival’s various workshops, or just enjoy listening to great music in the sunshine, the Keystone Wine & Jazz Festival is for you.
Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival, July 26-30, 2017
Without a doubt, Crested Butte is one of Colorado’s most picturesque towns, and while the town has an old-timey feel, the Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival is anything but old-fashion.
This is a first-rate wine event with a Grand Tasting that features more than 500 wines. The five-day festival has a large variety of seminars to choose from and includes outdoor events such as the Standup Paddle Board & Lunch outing on July 29.
Steamboat Wine Festival, August 9-13, 2017
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Steamboat Springs. While there’s a ski resort, there’s also a lot of real people who call this town home and that gives it a welcoming feel.
Steamboat Wine Festival is a celebration of the town’s refined side. This festival has grown into a destination event that includes master winemakers and culinary celebs.
It’s a “stay and play” sort of event that invites guests to enjoy a long list of wine-centric activities throughout the festival. There’s everything from a hiking outing with mimosas to Wine on the Nine, a best ball tournament with a nice wine finish.
Colorado Mountain Wine Festival, September 14-17, 2017
The largest and oldest wine festival in the state, Colorado Mountain Wine Festival is the granddaddy of all Colorado wine festivals. This year the event turns 26.
Located in one of Colorado’s most fantastic agricultural areas, guests will enjoy a variety of farm-to-table food events at the festival, as well as guided tours of the region. “Festival in the Park” takes place on Saturday during the event and is the highlight with live music, grape stomping, chef demos and seminars.
Being the largest wine festival means that you should purchase your tickets early and plan your attack. Some local hotels fill up months in advance, especially ones in Palisade. Thankfully, Grand Junction is just 12 miles away.
This is only a small list of the many wine festivals that happen across Colorado every year. If you have one that you love, please tell me about it in the comment section.
I know it’s a big ask, but every town with more than two breweries should have a BrewHop Trolley. Not only is it fun, but it’s a safe, efficient way to explore a town’s breweries.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Longmont, Colorado’s BrewHop Trolley drives a repeating route between Longmont’s many breweries and brewpubs. There’s a schedule so you don’t have to guess when and where you’ll jump on and off. For just $15 bucks, you can ride as many times as you like throughout the day. A two-day pass is $25.
It’s simply brilliant. Continue reading
As many of you know, I’m a passionate dog-lover. I believe strongly in the dog/human bond and that’s why it’s inconceivable to me that some people abuse these wonderful animals. Puppy mills are a form of abuse. If you have any doubts, read the story of the little puppy mill rescue dog that inspired Hops & Harley.
Five years ago, the first Hops & Harley occurred in the taproom of City Star Brewing in Berthoud. Today, the event is held at Fickel Park and has grown into a festival that attracts dog and beer lovers from around the country; after all, Harley, who passed away last year, is quite famous. His work as a spokesdog against puppy mills eventually resulted in him becoming the 2015 American Hero Dog.
City Star Brewing is the host of Hops & Harley and 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go to Harley’s Dream, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about the commercial dog breeding industry (aka puppy mills).
While puppy mill tales are sad, Hops & Harley is a celebration. This year’s event features live music from Bonnie & the Clydes and Woodbelly Bluegrass Band. Food trucks will be in attendance, along with activities for children and for dogs. In addition, attendees will enjoy a photo booth, doggy doppelgänger contest, Painting & Pints, and they’ll have a chance to learn about puppy mills.
Of course, no Hops & Harley is complete without beer. City Star will be pouring a variety of their craft beers including Harley’s Wheat, and a personal favorite of mine, Spirit Hound Distillers from Lyons, will provide cocktails.
Hops & Harley is kid-friendly, dog-friendly and free, so pack up the entire family and head to Berthoud on Saturday, June 24.
Hops & Harley
June 24, 2017 | 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!
Last week I was invited to Fort Collins to be on a tourism panel. Happily, the event was held at The Gardens on Spring Creek, a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time now.
The gardens were established in 2004 when Ft. Collins voters supported a proposal to create a community horticultural center. More recently, an expansion of the gardens has been approved which will add a permanent Butterfly House and a concert venue that will accommodate 1500. You can see an artist’s rendering of the plan at The Gardens on Spring Creek. Continue reading