Top 5 Lists
The key to blogging professionally is that you have to do it regularly. I typically blog two to three times a week, and I aim for three. Not an easy task since I am also a full-time freelance writer.
This week I was struck down with the plague, and when I’m sick I’m about as creative as a rock. And it takes more than a few ounces of creativity to do any writing, unless perhaps you’re writing a mathematics textbook.
When creativity has taken a backseat to a runny nose, some writers (me) turn to top five lists. The reason you see so many top 3 , top 5 or top 10 lists on the Internet is because they are relatively easy to put together, although I did have to ask my readers’ help via Facebook on this one.
One of the hosts at KRFC 88.9 FM, asked those of us with a show to put together the top three songs that we felt represented our programming. This got me thinking”¦ what three songs would I pick to represent HeidiTown? Continue reading
In the weeks leading up to Christmas I always put out a top 5 list of some sort, and this year I decided to share with you my picks for the top 5 made in Colorado gifts for 2012. The prerequisite for making my list was that the product made by each company had to be manufactured IN Colorado.
This list is in no particular order.
1. MouCo Cheese Co. I’ve had the pleasure of touring MouCo and writing about them for several other publications over the years. They just so happen to make my favorite cheese of all-time, Truffello, which is saying a lot because I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like. Their website describes Truffello as a “mystical soft cheese to be savored and shared with reck-licious ease.” MouCo sells their cheese all over the world, but it’s all made in their small factory in Fort Collins, Colorado with milk from local cows.
2. OZ Snowboards. I don’t ride, but if I did I’d ride an OZ board. I ran into these guys on Facebook and fell in love with their concept and the beauty of their boards. They make these works of art in Evergreen, Colorado.
3. Moonflower Essentials. This small company is located in Denver, and they make my favorite lotion, Forest Muse. I’ve known owner, Barb Donnelly, for a number of years, and she’s a creative lady with a talent for making body products that truly impress. Moonflower Essentials has a Holiday Open House planned for Sunday, December 9. Learn more here.
4. NeedleForge.com. This company was brought to my attention by a HeidiTown citizen and I couldn’t resist putting them on this list. I don’t know exactly how to explain what it is they make, but my Facebook tipster put it like this: Geekery + yarn = win. Every yarn creation is made by hand in Denver, but if you want something by this Christmas you’d better get your order in real soon, because according to their Facebook page, orders are stacking up and they only have so many hands to do the knitting!
5. Nova Monda Cacao & Chocolate. I have not had the pleasure of trying this chocolate yet, but it made my list because it’s made in Lafayette, Colorado and it was highly recommended to me by two people; the Chef at the Welsh Rabbit Cheese Shop and a trustworthy friend with good taste.
This could have easily been a top 50 list, as there are many wonderful Colorado companies and craftsmen I would have enjoyed highlighting in this piece. If you have a favorite please feel free to share it in the comment section.
Please Note: A lot of Facebook friends helped me with this list by sharing their favorite Colorado companies and I’ve compiled a list of all their suggestions in a NOTE on the HeidiTown Facebook page. Click HERE to see it!
I encourage you to shop local this year, as much as possible. Spending your hard earned money at a small Colorado-owned business will ensure that all boats rise.
Between freelance writing and blogging I bounce between fun topics like Colorado travel, and not so fun topics like cancer. Sometimes I get severe writer’s block, and this week I found my writing brain seriously obstructed.
So I opted to write a top 5 list and share the reasons I love Colorado – this blog post nearly wrote itself.
Please feel free to comment & let me know why YOU love Colorado.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which means I never take for granted Colorado’s 300 plus days of sunshine every year. The brightness of the sun makes Coloradans happy and active.
The Rocky Mountains are the biggest gems in Colorado’s crown. They provide a never ending list of recreational activities, offer up towns full of character and history, and provide a beautiful backdrop to the Front Range.
Colorado is a sports-lovers dream. From professional teams in every major sport to kayaking, rock climbing and cycling, this state is full of enthusiastic fans of sports, as well as athletes of every kind. The best part, in my opinion, is that no matter where you travel in Colorado, you can always find a place to watch the Broncos with fellow supporters.
4. State & National Park System
Colorado has 42 state parks with 4,376 campsites. The state is also home to four national parks, including Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. What I love about our national parks is that each is unique and offers different landscapes and activities.
I haven’t done any scientific research on this topic, but I think Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly states in the union. It’s not unusual for Coloradans to own several dogs, and they take them everywhere – from the sidewalks of Denver to the Rocky Mountain backcountry. As a lifelong dog person, I appreciate living in a dog-loving state.
So there you have it, the top five reasons I love Colorado.
Why do you love Colorado?
Colorado has all the right ingredients for romance; soaring, snow-capped peaks, cold, wintry nights, hot summer days and charming communities rich with history and picturesque architecture.
So without further ado, here are my picks for the top 5 romantic towns in Colorado, and where to steal a kiss at each destination.
Loveland, Colorado. At first glance, this work-a-day town might not seem a fitting candidate for romance. Despite having “love” in the name, Loveland appears like any other nondescript borough. However, you don’t have to look far to discover that the “Sweetheart City” really does live up to its name.
Loveland is home to one of the country’s premiere sculpture shows, and has long been a Mecca for artists. It is still home to many renowned sculptors, several foundries and is well known nationally and internationally for art.
Steal a Kiss: Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, take a stroll in Loveland’s Benson Sculpture Garden. Walking hand in hand among modern interpretations, classical renditions and larger-than-life sculptures can be quite romantic. Be sure to bring a camera because the park is photogenic at any time of year.
Estes Park, Colorado. Nestled among soaring peaks, this town has some of the most spectacular vistas of any on this list. Over the past year or so, I’ve changed my notions about Estes Park, also known as the “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.” I used to think of Estes as a kitschy tourist community, and it is, but I’ve come to realize that this is part of the town’s charm. In a recent Facebook poll, HeidiTown citizens named it the number two most romantic town in Colorado, just behind Loveland.
Steal a Kiss: The Stanley Hotel is a Colorado landmark. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to experience some of what it has to offer, but, of course, a stay would be ideal. Enjoy a romantic dinner at the Cascade Restaurant, have cup of coffee in the cafÃ©, or hold your sweetheart tightly during one of hotel’s many paranormal tours.
Georgetown, Colorado. Here’s an adorable Colorado town that is hidden in plain sight. Located along I70, just west of Denver, after years of driving right by, we stumbled into historic Georgetown one day looking for lunch and discovered much more. As home to one of the best museums in Colorado, Hotel de Paris, a nice collection of dining establishments and bed and breakfasts, as well as quintessential and well-preserved architecture, Georgetown is tops when it comes to romance.
Steal a Kiss: The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a romantic and historic train ride from Georgetown to Silver Plume and back. Periodically they offer themed events, some geared towards children, but others for adults. You can even pack your own lunch and bring it on board this one-hour scenic ride.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We’ve been visiting Glenwood Springs for over a decade, and my preferred way of getting there is Amtrak via Denver. The town’s famed hot springs are a huge draw for couples and families, but Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area offers a lot more, including every outdoor activity you can imagine and some you probably haven’t ever consider like the giant canyon swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Steal a Kiss: Bring along bicycles, or rent them in town, and check out the scenic River Trail along the Roaring Fork River. On one May excursion we saw a herd of mountain goats and enjoyed the roar of the river as we sped along this paved trail. If inspired, you can bike from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, and all but 11 miles of the 44-mile route is paved.
Manitou Springs, Colorado. This town is one of Colorado’s hidden gems, and it’s story starts with the effervescent water that flows up into the town. Through the years many have believed the springs to have curative powers, and presidents and celebrities have found their way to the town to experience the life giving waters.
Steal a Kiss: Quaint storefronts and art galleries line the streets of Manitou Springs with the Cliff House at Pike Peaks being the crowning jewel of downtown. However, my pick for the perfect place to steal a kiss is at the Penny Arcade in the 900 block of Manitou Springs. You’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time as you play classic pinball, video and other arcade games.
After the holidays, things slow down”¦ especially along the Front Range of Colorado, but there’s still tons of fun to be had, especially in the mountains. It seems that every mountain town and ski resort has a festival during the winter months.
This is not a top 5 list because quite frankly I’m not sure how I would narrow it down to a top five; each town has a unique festival that expresses the nature of that particular community, so each event is special. I’ve picked five festivals to highlight in this post, and will feature others here, on Facebook and on the radio as the winter progresses.
Winter Carnival, Steamboat Springs, February 8-12, 2012 – During this event the streets of Steamboat Springs, Colorado are turned into a snowy racetrack for daredevils of the cowboy variety. Skijoring at Winter Carnival may be one of the most entertaining events I’ve ever watched. Other competitions include the shovel races, the dog dash, the dad race and lots more. The event is capped off with the Night Extravaganza at Howelsen Hill, a fireworks show and the famous Lighted Man. Learn more about the 99th Annual Winter Carnival at SteamboatChamber.com.
Estes Park Winter Festival, January 13-15, 2012 – If you follow this blog you may have already read about the Estes Park Winter Festival, when I ran the contest for VIP tickets to this event. With a chili cook off, beer and wine tasting, live music, an ice castle, and so much more, this is one of my favorite Estes Park events. Buy tickets at EstesParkWinterFest.com.
Ullr Festival, Breckenridge, January 8-14, 2012 – This 49th annual tradition of partying like a Viking in Breckenridge, Colorado made my weekly HeidiTown segment on KRFC 88.9 FM. The event is now in full swing with the craziest stuff, like a flinging frying pans contest happening this coming weekend. HeidiTown readers rated this as the best winter festival in Colorado in a Facebook poll last winter. Read more at GoBreck.com.
Snowdown, Durango, February, 1-5, 2012 – Outside Magazine rates this as one of the top winter festivals in North American, so it’s gotta be good! This Durango, Colorado festival pays homage to the silly things that happen when a person gets cabin fever with events like a polar bear plunge, a burp-off, arm wrestling competition, snow golf and plenty more oddly hilarious activities that help the locals (and tourists) get through the cold winter months. Each year has a different theme, so head over to Snowdown.org, to find out 2012’s.
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, March 2-4, 2012 – I think this is one of Colorado’s most famous festivals, and Grandpa Bredo is most definitely the most famous frozen dead guy in the world. While Grandpa Bredo has been on ice in a Nederland shack for 22 years, the festival is just 11-years-old, and the bizarre nature of the event fits the rather wacky personality of Nederland. Let’s just say Nederland, Colorado is weird at any time of year, but especially during this festival. If coffin racing, frozen t-shirt competitions and polar plunging sound good to you, visit FrozenDeadGuyDays.org for all the icy details.
I’m not one for resolutions. I have too much guilt when I stray, but I do like lists”¦ to-do lists, packing lists, and even grocery lists. Here’s a list of the things I think should be on your 2012 Colorado To-Do List. Do one or do a few, or make it your New Years Resolution to do them all! And if you do, do them all, I’ll come up with some sort of prize or make you the HeidiTown citizen of the year. Seriously, I will!
1) Train. I know, I know. I write a lot about trains, but they are just so neat! I’ve mentioned them before and probably will again, but here’s the list of rides I love: Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Georgetown Loop Railroad. If I’m missing any great Colorado train rides, please let me know! I also enjoy taking the Amtrak from Denver to Glenwood Springs. This train ride is scenic at any time of year. I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Ski Train!
2) Hot Air Balloon. I see hot air balloons all over Colorado, and one of these days I’m going to get a lift! I’d like to give a shout out to a Facebook buddy, Grand Adventure Balloon Tours based in Winter Park, Colorado.
3) Hot Springs. When I moved to Colorado about 12 years ago, I had no idea that the state was brimming with hot springs. My new favorite is Mt. Princeton Hot Spring Resort, and I recommend booking a room at the resort so that you can use the VIP pools. We always have fun at Glenwood Hot Springs, and lastly, I think Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs is one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially during winter.
4) Snowshoe. My favorite Colorado winter activity, second only to my newest love of cross-country skiing. It’s a great way to see the beautiful backcountry during the snowy months and it’s an awesomely fun way to burn calories.
5) Festival. As you know, there are many great festivals happening year-round in Colorado. Pick a new one and give it a try. We visited the Estes Park Winter Festival for the first time last year and if you are a fan of chili, this one is not to be missed. The annual chili cook off at this festival is a sight to behold – I think we tried over 40 chilis last year.
Last year I compiled a wonderful list of Christmas presents, and many of them weren’t actual things, but rather they were experience – the gift of theater, the gift of music and the gift of travel. See all of last year’s recommendations here.
Because events, festivals and travel are my areas of expertise, I’m staying with this theme of giving an experience rather than a thing for my Top 5 Christmas Gifts from HeidiTown.com, 2011 edition.
1) Dance lessons. While we were still dating, my husband bought us ballroom lessons, and we had a blast learning the waltz, chachacha and tango. Since then, through the years we’ve periodically taken dance lessons, and after experiencing the Big Band Christmas Ball this month, I think our next style will be swing. Dance lessons for you and your partner are often a great way to lineup a mandatory “date night” of dinner and dancing. There are lots of places to take lessons. In the past, my husband and I take classes through The Rhythm Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.
2) A train ticket. If you’ve spent any time in HeidiTown, you know I’m crazy about trains. I love train shows, train rides, miniature trains, and train depots. I’m not too fond of having to wait for a train, but that’s another story. Thankfully, Colorado has lots of great train rides to choose from. Around Colorado Springs check out the Royal Gorge Route Railroad with their fabulous lunch and dinner trains and lots of year-round special events. In the southwest part of the state there is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and just 45 minutes west of Denver, check out the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
3) Snowshoes or cross-country skis. Ok, both of these gift ideas are actually things, but I’ve received both as gifts and they provide an excellent opportunity to experience Colorado in a new way. A ski slope is fun, but have you ever noticed how crowded they tend to be? Getting out into backcountry during the winter is breathtaking. Being on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis is a way to get away from it all, plus, both are awesome calorie burners. It’s a win/win.
4) An overnight-er. Last year I recommended buying someone a gift certificate to a bed and breakfast, and I still think that idea is awesome, but a hotel stay is also great. Pick a fun overnight package that includes a show or dinner. The Hotel Treatro in downtown Denver often has packages that include a one-night stay and a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. For instance, during the holiday season they have a package that includes tickets to “A Christmas Carol” playing at Stage Theater at the DCPA.
5) Babysitting gift certificates. Here’s something I’ve given as a gift and it was very well received. Give your friends or family with children coupons for you to do the babysitting for an evening. This gives them a two or three hour window to get out and enjoy the theater, or symphony or just dinner and a movie. Trust me, your friends will think it’s the best Christmas present ever.
I love Colorado during the holiday season. From Denver’s Larimer Street to the Christmas Market in Georgetown, there’s something about Colorado that make me feel as though I’m spending the holiday season in a postcard.
As the Mayor of HeidiTown.com, I attend a lot of events and festivals and I spend a lot of time at holiday events around the state, so I’ve decided to share what I deem as the Top 5 Colorado Christmas Towns. This list is in no particular order, although if I were to pick a number one Colorado Christmas town, it would be Georgetown.
1. Georgetown, Colorado is a hidden gem just 45 minutes west of Denver along I70. I’d driven by it a hundred times before actually stopping in, but once I did I realized what a great little place it really is, and during the holidays it’s truly outstanding. With the a tree lighting ceremony, Letter Day and the Georgetown Christmas Market running for two weekends, this town commemorate the holidays the way they were intended to be celebrated. Visit HistoricGeorgetown.org for more information.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado is well known as a ski town, but this place has a lot of other stuff going on and that’s why it makes my list. The Victorian style architecture of the town looks resplendent during the holidays. With the Lightening of Breckenridge on the first weekend in December to carriage rides available throughout the holidays, and wonderful shopping opportunities, this town will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a holiday postcard. Check out GoBreck.com to keep an eye what’s happening in Breckenridge year-round.
3. HGTV recently named Durango, Colorado as one of their “Top Ten Christmas Towns,” and it’s no surprise. Durango is home to the Polar Express, a production of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This train ride is a memorable way to celebrate the holidays with your children. During the month of December, Durango is alive with festive music and the hubbub of the holidays. There’s never a dull moment and always something Christmassy happening, and that’s why it makes my list. Go to Durango.org for more information on this top Christmas town.
4. The 12 Days of Aspen, is just one reason this ski town is making the list. From December 20, through New Year’s Eve, Aspen, Colorado celebrates the season with all sorts of cheery activities from concerts to theater, from street entertainment to free ice-skating, to shopping and restaurant specials and so much more. Aspen is also quite lovely during the holidays – just one more reason they made this list.
5. Nestled between the soaring peaks of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado is known as the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s always a bustling during the summer, but this charming little village lights up during the holidays. Visitors should stop at Longs Peak Coffee & Paper House for a cup of hot chocolate and then stroll the streets of this picturesque town. While in town, be sure to visit the famous The Stanley Hotel, to see the holiday dÃ©cor.
Read this closely guys, because the planning for this holiday usually falls on your shoulders. Here are a few ideas from the Mayor, and I think any of these date nights will score you big points this Valentine’s Day.
1. Dinner theater – There’s a slight chance all the dinner theater joints are already booked for Valentine’s Day, but it’s worth checking. Dinner theater is an entire evening of fun without ever having to leave your seat. Seriously, it makes a great date. Even for those of you who aren’t “theater” people, this evening will undoubtedly prove entertaining. If you can’t find any tickets left for dinner theater, take her to dinner and a play. Colorado has an amazing theater scene, and I guarantee you’ll find a special show.
2. A night away – Don’t underestimate how sexy a hotel room can be as opposed to your bedroom; after all, she sees that scene every night. Whether it’s a stay at a local bed and breakfast in your own town, or a hotel in the nearby big city, a one night excursion just may rock your Valentine’s world, and it won’t break the bank.
Tip: Make the drive extra special by making your gal a mixed CD, or create a playlist on your iPod of her favorite songs so that you can listen to it in the car. Sometimes it’s the little things that make for a truly great date.
3. Go bowling – You think I’m joking? Perhaps you missed my post entitled “You’ve forgotten, you love to bowl.” Some of my most memorable date nights with my husband have been at the bowling ally.
Of course, this night should not include the dinner special at Applebees. Sorry Applebees, but you just aren’t Valentine’s Day material. Bowling may not sound like Valentine’s Day material either, but accompanied by a nice dinner at a local steakhouse it just might be the most fun you’ve had in years.
Tip: Rule the jukebox. Every bowling ally has one and guys, you need to load it up with her favorite songs. Throw in a couple of your favorites too, but make sure the night is full of tunes that will keep her dancing. She will love it, believe me – just do it.
4. Eat fondue – There’s nothing nothing sexier than dipping food into sauces and eating without a fork. Fondue, like dinner theater, is an entire evening of entertainment. There’s a strong possibility that most fondue restaurants are already booked for Valentine’s Day. If that’s the case, than pull out the fondue pot you got as a wedding present. You remember – it’s still sealed in the box, buried in the basement next to all that other stuff you put on your registry because that gun was just so fun to use. I hear fondue is very easy to make at home. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never used the one we got as a wedding present.
Tip: Don’t forget to pair your fondue with tons of wine. And when looking up fondue recipes, don’t forget dessert fondue.
5. Stay in – I’m usually trying to make you get off the couch and get out there and do stuff, but sometimes staying in can be romantic as long as it’s well executed. Be sure to leave the kids with an overnight sitter, otherwise it’s just another night. Order in or pick up her favorite take out. Think sushi, not pizza. Fire up the candles and her favorite romantic movie and don’t forget the wine and flowers.
Need help deciding on a romantic movie? Here are the Mayor’s suggestions:
“When Harry Met Sally”
“Sleepless in Seattle”
“EverAfter”Tip: If you are married already, any wedding movie will do. If you are not married and don’t intend to propose on that very night, a romantic wedding movie isn’t a good idea.
Have you experienced an outstanding Valentine’s Day date night? Please feel free to share it in the comment section.
1. The gift of dinner & theater. This is the gift of an entire evening of fun, including dinner and a show. We are lucky to have several excellent dinner theaters nearby, including my favorite, Boulder’s Dinner Theater. You can read my past review of one of their shows by clicking here.
If you live in Northern Colorado check out Carousel Dinner Theatre in Fort Collins (www.adinnertheatre.com), Union Colony Dinner Theater in Greeley (www.ucdinnertheatre.com) or Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Loveland (www.coloradocandlelight.com). For my review of a past show at Candlelight click here.
Also consider a gift certificate to the Dinner Detective with shows in Fort Collins, Golden, Denver and Colorado Springs. See my review of a Dinner Detective show here. For tickets go to www.thedinnerdetective.com.
2. The gift of music. How about giving a gift certificate to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra? Several years ago my husband and I had season tickets to the CSO, and it was wonderful. We looked forward to each symphony event because it was a built-in date night in Denver. Instead of an entire season, you can also purchase smaller packages that include a grouping of specific shows. Visit www.coloradosymphony.org to find out more.
If you live in Northern Colorado check out the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra at www.greeleyphilharmonic.com, or the Fort Collins Symphony, www.fcsymphony.org, currently running a buy one, get second one half off of their flex passes.
Do you know someone who loves jazz? Buy them tickets to the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival. The 41st annual festival runs August 28-30, 2011 and is the largest festival of its kind in the country.
3. The gift of membership to a local museum or zoo. For many individuals and families a membership to a local museum or zoo is a gift that they will use again and again, and museum or zoo membership comes with benefits.
For example, a family membership at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Center costs $70 (individual, $35) and benefits includes unlimited access to the FCMDC, discounts on programs, workshops and at the museum store, free newsletter and advanced schedule of events, exclusive new exhibit previews and free admission to ten other Colorado museums including the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
4. The gift of artisan beer or liquor. Need to find something for the person who has everything? I recommend a growler of craft beer or a nice bottle of craft liquor. In Northern Colorado we have a brewer on every corner, but I like Grimm Brothers Brewhouse. These guys specialize in German style beers, a unique option for Coloradoans. You can purchase a full growler for just $13, and your gift recipient can refill his/her growler for $9. Find Grimm Brothers online at www.grimmbrosbrewhouse.com, or on Facebook.
While already well known for beer, the craft distillery business is making its mark in the rocky mountain region. Colorado is ranked fourth in number of distilleries in the state and one of the newest and finest is located in Loveland, Colorado. Dancing Pines Distillery opened this past summer and they make several varieties of artisan spirits including a chai liqueur that is already tremendously popular. A bottle of any of their top-shelf spirits would make a splendid gift. Visit Dancing Pines on Facebook by clicking here.
5. The gift of bed & breakfast. My husband and I love staying in bed and breakfasts, even if it’s close to home. Buying someone a gift certificate for an overnight stay in a fabulous B&B is like buying them a miniature vacation. For instance, why not buy a Denverite a stay in a Golden, Colorado? Or a Fort Collins resident a stay in Denver?
My favorite website for finding the perfect B&B is www.tripadvisor.com. This site is a great way to browse photographs and read reviews from real people who have stayed at the thousands of B&Bs listed on the site. The Mayor’s reviews are on Trip Advisor, just look for reviews by HeidioftheRockies!
Any reproduction or unauthorized publication of this article or photographs is strictly forbidden. If you’d like to republish this article please send your request to TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
Top 5 Christmas Gifts, according to the Mayor by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.heiditown.com.