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Staycation at Omni Interlocken, Broomfield, Colorado

Want to get away, but don’t have a lot of extra money or extra time? There are a few hotels located on Colorado’s Front Range that will give you a resort experience close to home.

Whether you plan to take the kids along, want a romantic weekend with your sweetheart or are looking for a place to party with the girlfriends, these hotels have got your covered.

Staycation at Omni Interlocken, Broomfield, Colorado, pool overview

Photo courtesy of the Omni Interlocken

Over the next month or so, I’m going to share with you some of the Front Range’s best staycation hotels starting with the Omni Interlocken in Broomfield, Colorado.

The Omni is an expansive resort property that features a spa, multiple swimming pools, kids club and semi-private champion 27-hole golf course that can’t be topped when it comes to views. In fact, the course offers up such spectacular scenes of the Flatirons and the Rocky Mountains that couples occasionally book a wedding on the course. Continue reading

Riding the train in Durango, Colorado

engine 481 at Cascade Station. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. HeidiTown.comI love trains. If you’ve been a fan of HeidiTown for any length of time you are already aware of my train obsession. I’m not into the technical stuff, but I like the experience of train travel and the nostalgia that comes with it. Train travel forces us to slow down and look around; something we should be doing on a daily basis.

While in Durango last month, Ryan and I had an opportunity to ride the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We boarded on a brisk morning at the end of April. I was gripping my camera and probably sporting a rather silly grin, because I’d been looking forward to this ride for a very long time.

We were happy to discover that a tour group of Brits were in our car. We love the British, and they did not disappoint – proving to be a very entertaining lot.

I suppose this is where I should tell you a little bit of the history. Durango was developed as a railroad town by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1880. The railroad arrived in town the next year, and construction on the line to Silverton began that fall. By July of 1882 the tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began hauling both passengers and freight. If that seems fast, it was.

After WWII, the Silverton line was nearly shut down, but thanks in part to a slew of 1950s westerns filmed in the area that featured the train, tourist began flocking to Durango. Today, the train provides year-round service. The locomotives used to pull the train are 100% coal-fired, steam-operated, and circa 1920s.

the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad chugging through the canyon HeidiTown.com

As soon as the train left the station we moved to one of the open-gondola cars, as did most of the Brits. The open-gondola cars are excellent during warmer months, although you will be covered in a thin layer of coal soot by the end of the day, and by the end of our excursion I’d made the decisive decision never to work in a coal mine.

Continue reading

A Colorado Valentine’s Day Guide

beautiful cake made in Colorado HeidiTown

A pretty cake goes a long way in making your Valentine happy! Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

Want to experience an authentic Colorado Valentine’s Day? Here are my tips for infusing a little Rocky Mountain high into your relationship this February.

STAY

Colorado offers everything from well-appointed historic hotels like the Brown Palace and Hotel Colorado to the shiny and still-fairly-new Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver to Movie Manor, a motel in Monte Vista offering a drive-in movie with your stay.

When it comes to lodging options, this state has it all, but it’s Colorado’s bed and breakfasts that offer the perfect romantic ambiance for a Valentine’s Day escape. Many bed and breakfasts are located in the heart of Colorado’s unique towns, making everything within easy walking distance including restaurants, bars and shopping.

If you have reservations about staying at a bed and breakfast, I encourage you to read my article, “Dispelling the myths about staying at a bed & breakfast.”

Pick a bed and breakfast with a romance package, or make your own romance package. Pack a bottle of bubbly, some of your partner’s favorite chocolates or other fancy foods and stay in for the evening. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!

We recently stumbled across the Carr Manor in Cripple Creek, and toured this 14-room bed and breakfast in a converted high school. There are two spa suites that will blow your mind. One has a vaulted Jacuzzi tub that should come with a couple servants waving palm frawns.

For a romantic little get away in the charming town of Berthoud, Colorado, check out the Berthoud Inn. The owner is an accomplished chef who just might cook up something special for your dinner if prearranged.

wine & chocolate HeidiTown

A romance package is a nice touch when booking a romantic escape at hotel or bed & breakfast. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

Eat

When it comes to the culinary scene, Colorado has chefs who are pushing the boundaries and testing the palates of residents from the Front Range to Aspen. While not always known as a “foodie town,” today, inspired cuisine can be found throughout Denver at places like Euclid Hall and Fruition Restaurant.

But let’s face it, Colorado’s known for meat, red meat like steak, lamb and wild game.

If you want to impress your date this Valentine’s Day with an authentic Colorado meal, try the Frontier Platter at  The Fort in Morrison. This sample plate includes a buffalo sirloin medallion, wild boar chops and grilled teriyaki quail. Start your meal with some Rocky Mountain oysters as a daring aphrodisiac.

Looking for Rocky Mountain oysters at a less fancy establishment and price? Try  Bruce’s  in Severance, Colorado. A basket of oysters, fries and dip at Bruce’s will only set you back $8.99.

snowshoing HeidiTown

Snowshoeing if fun! Photo by Ryan Schlaefer.

DO

Here at HeidiTown, I’m all about doing stuff, and Valentine’s Day is your opportunity to get out and do something romantic with that special person in your life.

If you read HeidiTown then you’re already an expert when it comes to doing fun Colorado stuff, but if not, here are a few suggestions for this Valentine’s Day.

Dinner theater – This option kills two birds with one stone; dinner and the evening’s entertainment.   And if you want to keep the Colorado theme going, The Unsinkable Molly Brown is now onstage at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown.

A free gondola ride in Breckenridge – The 143-cabin Breckenridge Gondola runs year-round for skiers and non-skiers. This ride could be part of a romantic getaway in the beautiful town of Breckenridge, Colorado. Current hours of gondola operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A moonlight snowshoe outing – Check out Colorado’s Best Snowshoeing Trails and do a little investigating to find out what resorts/ranches have this unique experience available.

A stay at The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado

The Rush Casino & Hotel by HeidiTown

The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

While in Cripple Creek I was incarcerated and lost some money, but I’d still go back. We arrived in Cripple Creek on a cloudy Friday afternoon. I had been invited to be a guest at the brand new Rush Casino, formerly the Gold Rush. The building had been shuttered for three years before the new owners bought it, renovated the place and opened in August 2012.

I had never been to Cripple Creek before, and I can’t say that about many Colorado towns, so I was extra excited as we past Manitou Springs and then Woodland Park. As we neared our destination we were greeted by this view, just outside of Cripple Creek.

view driving into Cripple Creek Colorado photo by HeidiTown

View driving into Cripple Creek, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

When we arrived in town I was quite delighted by the look of the place. Cripple Creek is an authentic mining town, all red brick and Victorian charm. While they legalized gambling in the early 1990s, the town has managed to retain its historical appeal.

At The Rush we found a open-plan casino, with extra high, golden ceilings and lots of elbow room. I dislike feeling pinned in at a casino, so this was a pleasant surprise. Apparently every guest at The Rush receives a mini-bar gift basket, a practice I would encourage every hotel to establish. At check in we were asked what we would like in our gift basket and given a list of items we could choose from.

mini-bar gift basket at The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek photo by HeidiTown

Our mini-bar gift basket at The Rush. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

While the casino at The Rush has been fully remodeled, the boutique hotel upstairs hasn’t receive as much attention, but there is a fresh coat of paint and upscale amenities like flat screen televisions and high end bath products. Our large room overlooked Bennett Avenue and included a nice view of the vintage Gold Rush sign.

We spent the first night gambling at The Rush, and winning at everything with the exception of three-card poker. I had very good luck at the Elvis game; the King and I got on famously. I enjoy these new games that include a chair with surround sound. At this game you rock out to famous Elvis tunes while trying to hunt down the rabbit in the Hound Dog Hunt. It’s seriously fun.

Elvis machine at The Rush photo by HeidiTown

Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

In addition to your mini-bar gift basket, guests at The Rush get free “bottomless” breakfast at the casino’s restaurant. I really enjoyed the breakfasts during our stay, especially the fresh jalapenos in my omelet, and you can’t beat the $1.50 bloody Mary.

We spent the morning of our second day exploring Bennett Avenue. As we scouted out the other casinos and did some shopping at the boutiques along the northeast side town, it began to snow. The town was quickly blanketed in white and with the twinkling Christmas lights, it felt very much like an old-fashion kind of holiday.

There are some cute shops in Cripple Creek, including a candy store that we stopped at every day during our stay and 9494, my favorite store in town where I bought an adorable hat. The General Store is over 40 years old and squished between two casinos on the south side of Bennett. It is an entertaining place to shop and includes lot of stuff for kids.

Back at the casino we met up with my in-laws who had arrived from Denver. Lunch at The Rush got fairly high marks from our group, especially the chicken wrap.  After lunch, we left my mother-in-law at the slot machines and took my father-in-law with us to get into some trouble – and we succeeded, as the photos prove.

Heidi at the Cripple Creek jail museum photo by HeidiTown

Ryan at the Cripple Creek Jail Museum photo by HeidiTown

My father-in-law goofing off at the Cripple Creek jail museum by HeidiTown

As you can tell, we had a good laugh at the Outlaw & Lawmen Jail Museum.

That evening we spent time gambling at The Rush, and my husband had too much fun at the Monopoly slot machine and the black jack tables. Every Saturday night the casino brings in a DJ who takes requests and keeps things festive. The drinks and fun flowed, and despite not winning the hourly cash prize of $100, we had another great night.

The Rush Casino Cripple Creek December 2012 HeidiTown.com

The Rush Casino, formerly The Gold Rush. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

I’m very excited about the future of The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek. The Palladium is a 900-seat outdoor auditorium directly behind the casino and the owners plan to renovate it starting this spring. It should be open for summer concerts in 2013 – more than enough reason to go back and stay at The Rush again.

You can find The Rush online at TheRushCasino.com. You can also find them on Facebook HERE and follow them on Twitter.

PLEASE NOTE: The Rush Casino unexpectedly closed on Friday, January 4, 2013. I still highly recommend a trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado.

HeidiTown on the radio – Oktoberfest & Colorado Fall Travel

Oktoberfest GingerbreadIt’s time for another segment of HeidiTown on the radio. If your curious about when these air, you can hear me at noonish on Wednesdays and during your drive home on Fridays around 5:30 p.m. on KRFC 88.9 FM.

Some of the info in this week’s segment will seem like old news to my avid readers, because I’ve already written about Berthoud Oktoberfest on previous occasions, but it will be new information for my radio audience.

This radio show also has some advice on traveling in Colorado during the fall. Both my birthday and my husband’s birthday are in the fall, and we tend to do weekend getaways to celebrate, so we’ve learned a lot about traveling the state during this time of year.

Listen to this week’s segment HERE.

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