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Cortez, Colorado: Blending the Past & Present

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present, Fiesta Theater retro sign. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Anasazi Heritage Center HeidiTown.com

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.

Hiking in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in Mesa Verde Country. HeidiTown (8)

Just look up while hiking in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and you’ll probably spot something like this along the way.

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present, Cork n' Bottle retro sign. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Retro Inn. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Retro Inn dining area. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Wild Edge Brewing Collective. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Pizza Loungin' Lizard. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Native American Dancer. HeidiTown.com

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.

Cortez, Colorado, Blending the Past & Present. Dance Night at Millennium Center. HeidiTown.com

I left my Canon in the hotel room, so I snapped a couple phone photos on dance night.

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.

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Jet Boat Colorado: The Most Fun You Can Have with Wet Clothes On

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.

Jet Boat Colorado The Most Fun You Can Have with Wet Clothes On 4. HeidiTown.com

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

Cheese Making Class in Longmont, Colorado is Deliciously Fun

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.

Cheese Making Class in Longmont is Deliciously Fun Becca Heins, HeidiTown.com

Becca Heins

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

So You Think You Know Cheyenne, Wyoming? Think Again

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.

So you think you know cheyenne, think again. Wrangler building. HeidiTown

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.

So you think you know cheyenne think again. taps at accomplice beer co. HeidiTown.com

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.

So you think you know cheyenne Accomplice Beer Co. HeidiTown.com

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.

So you think you know Cheyenne think again. Freedom's Edge Brewing. HeidiTown.com

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.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. Bella Fuoco Wood Fire Pizza. HeidiTown.com

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.

So you think you know cheyenne think again. Mid Mod Etc. sign. HeidiTown.com

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.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. Ryan sporting his Mid Mod, Etc. shirt in Cortez, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Ryan sporting the vintage shirt he bought at Mid Mod, Etc. on our recent trip to Cortez, Colorado.

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 you think you know Cheyenne Think again. Flippers Arcade & Bar. HeidiTown.com

As some of you know, I’m a coffee snob, so I was delighted to discover Paramount Cafe in Cheyenne. This trendy coffee shop under The Second Floor, a coworking space, serves up a quality cup of Joe.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. street scene. HeidiTown.com

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.

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Brewery Hopping on Longmont, Colorado’s BrewHop Trolley

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.

Brewery Hopping on Longmont’s BrewHop Trolley (4)

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

Flower Power in Fort Collins, a Visit to The Gardens on Spring Creek

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.

Flower Power in Fort Collins, a Visit to The Gardens on Spring Creek. Rock Garden. HeidiTown.com

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

Dog-Friendly Hotels in Your Favorite Colorado Destinations

If you’ve been following HeidiTown for any length of time, you’ve probably met our German Shepherd, Xena. As Xena got older and had more health issues, we started looking for ways to include her on our trips. However, I was astonished to discover that many so-called “dog-friendly” hotels do not allow dogs over 45 pounds.

Dog-Friendly Hotels in Your Favorite Colorado Destinations Hotel Aspen

Courtesy of the Molly Gibson Lodge / Hotel Aspen.

A lot of HeidiTown citizens have fur kids that exceed this weight limit – our Xena is 75 lbs – so I made it my mission to find a few awesome Colorado hotels that were large dog-friendly. Here’s the list I’ve put together of some truly fantastic hotels that do not discriminate against large breed dogs. If you know of others, please leave a note in the comment section.   Continue reading

Dining in Colorado – New Favorites & Longtime Favorites

I wish I were a picky eater, because if I were pickier I’d probably be a bit slimmer, but I like food a lot. Thankfully, Colorado’s food scene is fantastic right now. No matter where we go, we find good, often farm fresh, food to eat. It’s a fabulous time to be a foodie in Colorado.

Dining in Colorado, Meat & Cheese in Aspen. HeidiTown.com

Photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese.

In my work as a freelance writer and Mayor of HeidiTown, I get the opportunity to dine out a lot. Here are a few standout restaurants from the last six months; some are brand new to me and others are old favorites we hadn’t visited in awhile. Continue reading

5 Unique Colorado Inns that Should be on Your Radar

I’ve stayed at four out of five of these inns, and I toured the other one, so you can be assured that there is an authentic voice behind this post. These Colorado inns are all quite varied in price and ambiance, but they are each one-of-a-kind.

5 Unique Colorado Inns that Should be on your Radar. The Distillery Inn partio. HeidiTown

Photo courtesy of The Distillery Inn.

The Distillery Inn at Marble Distilling Co. – Carbondale

The Distillery Inn is the most luxurious property on this list. I had the great pleasure of staying there last month. When I say it’s “unique,” I’m not exaggerating – it’s the only distillery inn in the world.

The five rooms, located above the distillery, are top-notch. The ambiance of the entire place is laid back, yet elegant. My favorite detail of my room, the Ginger, were the daffodils in the bathroom and tulips in the main room. Continue reading

How We Ended up in Minturn, Colorado & Why You Might Want to Go

Sometimes the best part of traveling is when something unexpected occurs. Even getting stuck on Vail Pass in a snowstorm can result in a nice long soak at Glenwood Hot Springs, which is what happened to us in 2014.

It wasn’t a snowstorm that brought us unexpectedly to Minturn last month – it was Record Store Day. If you are an avid collector of vinyl, like my husband, Ryan, you know that this is an important day. It only happens once a year and vinyl nerds do not miss it.

How we ended up in Minturn, Colorado & Why You Might Want to Go. HeidiTown (6)

However, having been laid out flat with the flu for the week leading up to our Vail trip, Ryan had forgotten that Record Store Day was the Saturday we’d be 150 miles away from his hometown record store.

Thankfully, while browsing the Vail Daily over a beer at Vail Brewing on a Friday afternoon, Ryan realized the Record Store Day was the following day. Where in the world could he participate in Record Store in the Vail Valley? Continue reading

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