small towns

Colorado’s Back Road Towns: Resolve to Travel Somewhere Small in 2018

As most of you know by now, I grew up in several small towns in the Pacific Northwest. I think this is where I get my affinity for small towns and the characters who call these places home. While cities are very entertaining and they have many stories to tell, I believe the heartbeat of our country is in our small towns.

Colorado's Back Road Towns, between Lamar & La Junta,

The highway between Limon and La Junta, Colorado.

I am challenging you to resolve to travel somewhere small this year, and I am providing a list of Colorado’s small towns for you to consider. In this blog post, a town qualifies as “small” if it has a population of 10,000 or less.

Northwest Colorado

If you’ve kept tabs on HeidiTown over the past two years, you’ll know that we discovered this fantastic corner of Colorado in 2015 during an anniversary trip to Dinosaur National Monument.

It was during this trip that we discovered Rangely, a place I dubbed “Colorado’s Friendliest Town.” All of the towns in this post are above-average when it comes to friendliness measured by Colorado standards, but Rangely out-friendlies them all. It was so noticeable that I wrote about it. Continue reading

Trinidad, Colorado, It’s Not What You Think

This is not a post about the island in the Caribbean. This is a post about Trinidad, Colorado. You may have heard about it. Over the years, Trinidad became well-known as the sex change capital of the United States.

Trinidad, Colorado, it's not what you think

ArtoCade on Commercial Street in downtown Trinidad, Colorado.

Interestingly, the clinic that put the town on the map for sex change surgery, moved to California a number of years ago, but preconceptions die hard, especially when a town’s sex change reputation is big enough to have made it onto an episode of South Park.

Before I visited Trinidad this past summer, it was 1) the sex change capital of the United States 2) a place I drove through on my way to New Mexico and 3) the place my friend Amanda, who makes the world’s best green chile, grew up.

After visiting Trinidad, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on the town. It’s a place where no one is a stranger, where art thrives and history runs deep, where waiters sing and the positive energy is so thick it’s hard not to get caught up in its flow. Continue reading

Finding America in Colorado’s Small Towns

This article was inspired by a comment someone left when I was promoting my post about Kevin Torres’ “Storytellers: Small Towns” special on 9News. A reader wrote…

“Small towns are where you can still find America.”

This comment got me thinking.

What does that mean exactly? And do I agree?

The more I thought about it, the more it struck a chord and I think the chord was especially loud because we are in the midst of one of the most revolting campaign seasons that I’ve witnessed. While our voting rights are part of what it means to be American, these politicians do not make me proud to be one.

Traveling across Colorado, however, does make me proud. Inspired by the statement above, I’ve decided to share some of the times I’ve found America in Colorado’s small towns.

The Mayor’s American Moments

Some seem to think that Colorado is all about (and only about) purple mountains majesty. And while our mountains make us special, the small towns scattered across the Eastern Plains are as American as apple pie.

One of my American Moments occurred at Glenn Miller SwingFest this past summer while lying in the grass at Fort Morgan’s City Park under a huge oak tree listening to swing music being played by a local band. Later that evening, as the trees and tractors glowed in the setting sun on Keith Bath Farms, with the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing “In the Mood” behind me in the barn, I thought – this is America.

tractors on Keith Bath Farms in the small town of Fort Morgan, Colorado.

Keith Bath Farms in Fort Morgan, Colorado

Another American Moment is much smaller, but nonetheless it makes the list. Every time we go to Steamboat Springs we stop at a gas station in Walden, Colorado. This isn’t just a gas and bathroom stop, it’s my go-to place for free popcorn. They have one of those table top popcorn makers and if I remember correctly, popcorn is free with a gas fill up, or maybe it’s just free. Continue reading

Become an advocate for your town

South Park City Museum

Children running through South Park City Museum, a town/museum made up of a collection of historic buildings from around Part County. Located in Fairplay, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

Small towns are full of character and characters, and that’s what makes travel across this country so great. Meeting interesting people, trying new restaurants, exploring the unknown and learning a little about an area are the reasons I enjoy being a tourist.

However, when you meet a tourist in your own town, are you excited to tell them about your community, or do you struggle to find something nice to say?

You can be an advocate for your town, and if you are, the economic impact is beneficial to all.

So, how can you be an advocate of your town? First, you need to become a tourist, and here are a few ways to make that happen:

1.   Visit the local museum or historical sites. Most towns have a museum or two, and some have historical landmarks. You may be amazed at what you learn. For instance, the first time I visit my town’s museum I learned that the region used to be covered in cherry orchards. This was news to me,  and explained why the community celebrates a Cherry Pie Festival every summer.

2.   Try a new restaurant. We all have our favorite hometown eatery and often we fear branching out and trying something new. But if you don’t stretch your taste buds a little, you won’t know everything your town has to offer. The new bistro down the street may have the best eggs benedict in the world, but if you don’t try it out, you’ll never know.

blue house south party city museum Colorado

South Park City Museum, Fairplay, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

3.   Visit your town’s parks. Driving by a park every day is a very different experience than stopping and sitting down on a bench for a little while. This summer, make a point to go on picnics in your town’s parks. We lived in our community for several years before discovering a renowned sculpture park, and now we always take visitors there to share this amazing place with them.

4. Visit your Visitor Center. Sound strange? It is very possible there are interesting things about your community you haven’t yet discovered. It’s also helpful to know how your town is being branded, and this all happens at the Visitor Center.

5. Attend a festival or event. A local celebration is the perfect way take to the pulse of a community. Every town is different and often a festival is where you can identify the uniqueness.

Once you start looking at your town through new eyes, you’ll recognize that you live in a delightfully interesting place, thereby enabling you to become an advocate for your town. When citizens feel proud of their community it leaks into their speech and actions, and speaking with optimism about your town does have a positive impact on your town’s economy.

“The word on the street” has more sway than ever before because the Internet and social media have made “the street” a lot bigger. How you feel about your community does matter and people are listening.

Become an advocate for your town today, and become part of a thriving community.  


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A Note from the Mayor: Keeping up with Colorado summer fun

Berthoud Day Parade, Berthoud, Colorado

Berthoud Day Parade 2010. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved

If you are anything like me, you plan ahead – especially when it comes to the busy summer months.

On that note, I’m going to do my very best to give you a heads up on Colorado  summer festivals well before they happen. This way, you can fill up your summer calendar with lots of fun and not miss any of it!

I won’t always get ahead of stuff… sometimes I don’t even know it’s happening until it’s just a weekend away, but I will try to keep up to date on the events and festivals that I think fall into the category of “stuff the Mayor likes.”

Also, watch for giveaways this summer. If you haven’t joined HeidiTown’s “party block” on Facebook, I’d definitely recommend doing so (that’s where I often give hints about giveaways on the blog). That is also the place where I can give you last minute details on lots of events that I don’t have time to write-up here.


Lastly, if you would like to advertise your event or festival on HeidiTown, shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up with a Press Kit, rates and site info. One month or two month ad space is available. Let’s chat!

Thanks for supporting this town!  It’s going to be a GREAT Colorado summer!!!

Sunday Afternoon Drive – Berthoud, Colorado

Spring has sprung in HeidiTown. The birds are singing, the fields outside of town are greening up and there’s a feeling of warmth in the air. This time of year puts me in the mood for road trips and Sunday afternoon drives.

Metromix Denver recently released an article naming the 25 small Colorado towns to visit under $100. There was some misinformation in this article – Windsor was not “destroyed” by a tornado in 2008 – but overall it had some good tips on small towns to visit around the state.

It got me wondering what towns I’d put on such a list. There are so many great communities around Colorado and each has it’s own unique flavor. If I were to get in my car and take a Sunday afternoon drive there are lots of fun towns I’d could visit, so I thought I’d highlight them in a new reoccurring Friday post called Sunday Afternoon Drive. The post won’t run every Friday, but at least a couple per month.

Berthoud Day Parade, Berthoud, ColoradoBerthoud, Colorado

This town of 5,000 is approximately 45 minutes north of Denver. It has a rich agricultural history, and that story is told in the town’s comprehensive and delightful Pioneer Museum. The Berthoud Historical Society is one of the most active historical societies in Northern Colorado, and their work to preserve the history of the area is outstanding and commendable.

The museum won’t be open on a Sunday, and not much else in town will be either, but that’s the case in many small towns across America.

I am very familiar with Berthoud, Colorado because for the past five and a half years I’ve written for the town’s newspaper, the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor. I’ve met hundreds of people during my years working for the paper, some very young, some business owners, and many “old timers,” but every one of them was interesting and unique. I’ve really grown to cherish the community.

Berthoud is the kind of place where if a kid decides to play hooky someone will surely see them and tell their mother. It’s a true slice of Americana. There are no big chain stores, just one small grocer, an Ace, and a handful of restaurants and gift shops. The grocery store is Hay’s Market and I love shopping there. You won’t run into nicer deli staff anywhere, and I actually look forward to stopping in and doing a little shopping at Hay’s.

Berthoud’s nickname is “The Garden Spot” and many residents’ landscaping lives up to the name. The homes around Fickel Park are truly beautiful and in late spring and early summer I’d encourage you to ditch your car and stroll through down these charming streets.

Nothing beats an authentic root beer float on a warm afternoon, so when you drive through Berthoud, be sure to stop at the historic A&W, located at 802 Mountain Ave. This place is a HeidiTown favorite, but the biggest fan of all might be my husband, who is always asking to meet me for lunch there. Locally owned since 1971, people drive for miles just to experience a bit of old fashion Americana at Berthoud’s A&W.

So there you have it – my first Sunday Afternoon Drive post. I look forward to introducing you to many more communities along the Front Range in the months to come.

For my subscribers, you are probably getting this on Saturday morning and for that I apologize. In the future I will try to get this posted on Thursday night so the email will land in your inbox on Friday morning.

Some new changes in town

There’s been a bit of construction here in HeidiTown, so things might look a little different as you cruise around.  

First and foremost, you can now subscribe to HeidiTown.   If you’d like to be notified via  an email from the Mayor  each time  a new and exciting post goes up, please enter your email address into the box at the right.  

Second, you may notice the  Cinema and Eat tabs are missing.    You will now find those sections under the Extra!Extra!  tab.   The Mayor will continue writing movie reviews and the occasional dining review, but these two categories will not be the main focus of this blog.

Also new, the Colorado Festivals & Events  tab.   This section will grow and grow as HeidiTown evolves into your one-stop-shop for all  information on Colorado festivals.   From small town  fairs to big time events, the Mayor intends to dig up all the  great times  Colorado has to offer.

Last, but not least, don’t forget the Travel tab!   This area will also be expanding to include road trips throughout Colorado and beyond.

So put the top down, buckle up and get ready for the ride!   It’s gonna be good.

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