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.
… and now for something completely different.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Avenue (map here)
November 11, 2017
Tickets available at:
Roundtrip bus transportation from Denver available on the ticket information page.
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.”
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
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
You need to attend a Maker Faire in order to truly understand the powerful nature of these events.
First and foremost, you will see children of all ages engaging with something other than a screen, and you’ll walk away with undeniable proof that children are curious beings.
I recently attended a maker sort of event in Boulder that proved to me that if you give a kid a cardboard box and some glue she will turn that box into a spaceship (even if it still looks like a box, it’s a spaceship in her mind).
“Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth — a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.” –MakerFaire.com
Maker faires inspire creativity and imagination, and if you aren’t familiar with the history of these events they launched in 2006. Makerfaire.com describes the events as “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.” Maker Faires occur all over the country and are an all-ages gathering of “tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.”
Denver Maker Faire is a chance for you to experience the Maker movement first hand. You’ll get the opportunity to become part of the Maker story because you will be invited to join in many activities. And there are so many activities happening at Denver Maker Faire.
From combat bot competitions to a Maker Fashion Show, there’s a little something for everyone, including a life-sized interactive arcade experience that sounds super fun.
In addition, you’ll have the chance to meet makers like Zhenghua Yang (Z), founder of Serenity Forge, a video game development company. Z will talk about his studio’s approach to developing video games that are driven by strong values aimed at helping important areas in society such as education, business, culture, science, and art.
Let’s face it, the world needs more makers. We need people who are inspired to create things and there’s no better inspiration in Colorado than Denver Maker Faire. I hope to see you in Denver this October. Below find the details about the faire and a link to get 10% off your Denver Maker Faire tickets.
Denver Maker Faire
Saturday & Sunday, October 14 & 15, 2017
Denver Pavilion Building
451 E. 58th Avenue (map)
Folllow @DenMakerFaire on Twitter
As some of you know, I grew up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest and I have a real affinity for communities where the cows — or in Meeker’s case, the sheep — outnumber the people.
Meeker is located about one hour and 40 minutes north of Grand Junction and three hours and 45 minutes northwest of Denver. When they asked me to be a judge for this year’s Jammin’ Lamb Festival, I answered a resounding “yes” because I’d been looking for an excuse to visit the town ever since we stayed in Rangely, Meeker’s neighbor, and one of the friendliest Colorado towns that I’ve ever encountered.
Jammin’ Lamb Fest, a culinary competition, is part of the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials, which I previously wrote about here.
We pulled into town in early September and despite summer drawing to a close the town’s proximity to the White River had kept it green. The area surrounding the town of approximately 2,300 is really quite lovely. Continue reading
If you think sheepdog trials involve dogs chasing sheep around, you’d be a little right, but not entirely right. Sheepdog trials are much more involved than I ever realized and our weekend trip to Meeker, in Northwest Colorado, was an eye opening experience. I liked it so much that I’m hoping to sponsor a dog/handler team in 2018.
When I set out on this trip, I didn’t really intend to write specifically about the sheepdog trials, after all, I was there to judge and help promote the Jammin’ Lamb Festival, a lamb cook off in downtown. However, after watching the competition, I really wanted to write about it.
So what are sheepdog trials? In a nutshell, it’s a competitive sport in which herding dogs, under the command of their handler, move sheep around a large field, through fences and gates and into enclosures. The sport is mimicking the work that many of these dogs do at home on the ranch, although some of these dogs spend most of their time competing. Continue reading
Call me an Oktoberfest snob, but I believe it takes more than beer and pretzels to make a great Oktoberfest. This year, Loveland Oktoberfest, held at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, has many of the right ingredients to be called the best Oktoberfest in Northern Colorado.
Of course, it’s about the bier
First of all, Oktoberfest is about good beer and Loveland’s festival will feature six of the city’s award winning breweries, and for fun, they’ve invited Wibby from down the road in Longmont. In addition to Grimm and Wibby, breweries in attendance are Verboten, Loveland Aleworks, Crow Hop, Big Beaver, Buckhorn Brewers and Big Thompson.
New this year is the Baron Berliner Bar, which will feature Grimm’s traditional Berlinerweisse called The Baron, with multiple flavored syrups available for festival goers to create their own Berliner experience.
It’s about the music
Second of all, Oktoberfest is about German music. I am super excited that this year, not only will Loveland Oktoberfest feature two authentic polka bands, Neue Polka Colorado and Polka Folka, but also DJ KAAOS.
Just like at Oktoberfest at Munich, DJ KAAOS will spin all sorts of German music including Die Fantastischen Vier, Rammstein, Jurgen Birlinger and much more. This is one of the most unique things happening at Loveland Oktoberfest and I can’t wait.
It’s about the food
This year’s Loveland Oktoberfest will feature pretzels from Styria Bakery (these are the real deal, folks), pastries from Sweet European Treats (Mayor approved) and the Colorado Candy Company is making something special just for the fest. In addition, authentic German cuisine will be catered for the event. No one will go hungry at Loveland Oktoberfest.
It’s about the games & ambiance
Come in your best German garb and participate in the Best Dressed Costume contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. Other contests will be held during the fest including a Stein Hoisting event and a Hammerschlagen tournament to benefit Kiwanis (the champion wins free beer for a year).
Several local university German Clubs will be on hand to help you practice a little Deutsch, the official language of Germany and Austria, and one of the three official languages of Switzerland.
Party like a barbarian on Thursday
The kick off to Loveland Oktoberfest is the Barbarian Dinner on Thursday, September 14. This is like no other beer dinner you’ve ever attended (I guarantee). While Loveland Oktoberfest is free to attend, Barbarian Dinner is a ticketed event. Learn more & purchase tickets here.
Loveland Oktoberfest is 100% family-friendly. There will be activities for the bigs and littles, so grab grandma and the kiddos and make your way to Loveland, Colorado this September.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse (click for map)
Friday, September 15 | 4 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, September 16 | 12 to 9 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!