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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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