Why would one staycation at the Denver Tech Center? Hilton Denver Inverness, that’s why. This resort hotel has everything you need for the perfect getaway and you’ll never need to leave the building unless of course, you want to golf their pristine, 18-hole park-like course.
This is part two of my three-part series on great staycation resort hotels around Colorado’s Front Range, and Hilton Denver Inverness, formerly The Inverness, is indeed a truly great staycation spot south of Denver.
Hilton Denver Inverness is undergoing a multi-phase remodel and the new contemporary look and feel of the place suit my tastes perfectly. It also suits the architecture of the hotel which was built by a Scandinavian hotel company in 1989. Continue reading
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.
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
My Facebook wall has been full of tropical vacation photos for several weeks. I even have a friend on a private yacht in the Caribbean. If this is the case for you too, it’s rather depressing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to be on a yacht in the Caribbean?
If you’ve got cabin fever, I’ve got a solution and no, it’s not robbing a bank. It’s called a mini-vacation, and while I’m not promising that this outing will be as exciting as snorkeling in Grand Cayman or zip lining in Costa Rica, it will brighten your day.
1. Take a Walking Tour
Not every town has a guided walking tour, but you’d be surprised at how many towns have a printed version of a walking tour. They are usually available at your local visitor center, museum or at the chamber of commerce.
I once took a walking tour of Fort Collins, a town with which I am very familiar. It was a night walking tour, but it wasn’t about ghosts, but rather the town’s history. Despite having walked Fort Collins’ streets many times (even at night), during the tour I felt like I was in a brand new town. Continue reading
Sitting on our room’s patio at the Table Mountain Inn, we felt a million miles away from the big city. This is the best part of a visit to Golden, Colorado; it is a small town that’s so close to Denver metro and the Front Range that you’ll hardly see your fuel indicator move on a drive there.
We were in town to attend the Golden Music Festival, but this 2-day itinerary works for whatever happens to bring you to Golden.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel and decided to indulge in nachos and a couple gigantic margaritas on Table Mountain Inn’s restaurant‘s new patio. A great idea because it was happy hour and everything was just $5, plus the nachos were impressive.
Tour Miller Coors Brewery
After our snack, we walked the short distance to Coors for our VIP tour. This was my first-ever big brewery tour and it was an eye-opener. The scale on which Miller Coors brews beer is staggering. My husband kept referencing “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” as we gawked at huge copper kettles and ginormous two story vats of bubbly stuff. Continue reading
Mayor’s note: I’ve written a three-part series on Doing Durango. Part one, published on 5/15, was all about beer and part two published on 5/29/13 was all about food. The final post is all about the touristy activities you shouldn’t miss.
When I visit a new place, I usually try to blend in with the locals, but I’ll be honest, sometimes being a tourist is a lot of fun. We did a lot of stuff in Durango that locals love to do, but we also got to play tourists on our nearly week-long stay.
Ride the Train in Durango
I’ve already written about our excursion on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad here, and it is, without a doubt, the top tourist activity in the area. In addition to the standard train ride they have special train rides, like the Dinosaur Train this month, package excursions and more. Go to Durangotrain.com for more.
Don’t miss the Durango Train Museum located at the train depot. It’s free to tour and has an expansive model train set up that kids (and adults) will enjoy.
An Historical Walking Tour of Durango with the Victorian Aid Society
As part of the conference I was attending, I got to participate in an historical walking tour of downtown Durango guided by the Victorian Aid Society. Anyone can book a tour with this organization, just go here. They even have a Facebook page.
I’ve been on a few historical walking tours and this one is top notch. I wish I’d written down the names of our guides, but thankfully I got pictures. These gals were wonderful storytellers, and that’s what makes a good tour. I don’t just want dates and names, I want the inside scoop, the nitty gritty, the lowdown – and these ladies deliver all that and more.
Take a Horse & Carriage Ride in Durango
I’ll be honest. I have never wanted to go on a horse and carriage ride. It just seemed way too touristy. However, when I was offered a ride by Dean of San Juan Sky Outfitters, I decided to take him up on it, and Ryan and I were so glad that we did.
Even though I’d never been on a horse and carriage ride, as soon as I boarded, I knew this going to be a ride like no other. First of all, Dean and his haflingers are real characters. Haflingers are small horses known for longevity and their excellent disposition. This ride so memorable because of Dean and his horses.
We boarded the carriage in front of the beautiful Strater Hotel and took off fairly quickly as the haflingers were excited, after all, we were their first passengers of the season.
Our 40 minute tour of historic downtown Durango was exhilarating and humorous. Dean’s stories were slightly different versions than those told by the ladies of the Victorian Aid Society, which only added to the entertainment level. Let’s call Dean’s version of the same stories told by the VAS, the “Cowboy Version.”
You do not need reservation in advance. Just show up and jump aboard. Or you can sign up for a carriage tour with Dean at the Strater Hotel.
Want more info on Durango? Go to Durango.org.
Special thanks to the General Palmer Hotel for hosting us during part of this trip. Room 301 was a wonderful place to relax after a busy day of exploring Durango.
This trip was sponsored in part by Durango.org.
So you’ve decided to spend a weekend in Fort Collins – a very good choice, and even better if you plan your stay around Colorado Brewers’ Festival, June 22-23, 2013. In its 24th year, this is one of the first Colorado brew fests and my favorite. With multiple music stages, lots of shade and of course, lots and lots of beer, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival ticks all the right boxes on my What Makes a Great Festival list.
Instead of giving you a specific schedule, I’m going to throw out a bunch of my Fort Collins favorites and let you organize your own fabulous weekend. So without further ado, here’s my 3-day Fort Collins itinerary during Colorado’s Brewers’ Festival.
Stay in Fort Collins
As a fan of boutique, downtown hotels, The Armstrong Hotel is my recommendation for a weekend stay in Fort Collins. This historic property is within walking distance of restaurants, museums, galleries, theaters and, of course, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival.
I took my husband to The Armstrong for his birthday a number of years ago, and we were delighted to find charming rooms that really are one-of-a-kind. Our room was huge and had a bright and cheery, contemporary sort of feel. Continue reading
I 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.
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.
Do you seek out adventure? Or would you rather soak in hot springs all day? Does rappelling into a waterfall sound exhilarating? Or would you rather sit on a sun soaked, rooftop patio drinking a beer? You can do all of these things and more in Ouray, Colorado.
Ryan and I visited Ouray in March and we fell in love with the town. I hadn’t been to Ouray since my parents made the road trip from the Oregon Coast to Colorado in a Volkswagen Rabbit in 1978. The most memorable photo from the trip is of me at age two, sitting on a snow bank, surrounded by wildflowers.
Ouray is nestled between high mountain peaks, giving it the deserved nickname of Little Switzerland. The town still has many unpaved streets, adding to its unpretentious charm. Here are highlights from our March trip, and I hope that they will help you make the most out of your Ouray experience.
Does the idea of rolling out of bed and into a hot springs pool every morning sound appealing? This experience awaits you at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings. The Wiesbaden is unique because in addition to a hot springs fed pool, they have a vapor cave, something my husband enjoyed enormously.
They also have a private hot spring called the Lorelei. It is magical, and I highly recommend booking the Lorelei when you stay at the Wiesbaden, and be sure to ask if they are running any discounts for hotel guests.
There are several different types of lodging options at the Wiesbaden. We had apartment style accommodations complete with a kitchen. Eating in is a great way to save money if you are staying somewhere for more than two days.
The Wiesbaden is retro, but has all the accoutrements of modern living such as flat screen televisions. The big bonus is that it is within walking distance of everything downtown Ouray has to offer. Continue reading
This week’s a little screwy, but that’s okay. Radio is not an exact science and neither is blogging. This post usually goes up on a Monday, but this week it’s being posted on a Friday, but that’s okay too because most of what I talk about in this segment are festivals in mid-April.
As you know, my radio segments on KRFC 88.9 FM are now recorded and aired every other week instead of weekly.
In this week’s segment I discuss great events happening in mid-April. In fact, the second week in April is so busy you’ll need a couple clones to do everything. I also share a bit about my trip to Ouray, Colorado.
As you know, Ryan and I did a lot of traveling this winter and every trip has a special place in our hearts. Grand Junction, however, has a special place in our stomachs. If you are a fan of eating and drinking, you’ll want to get out a pen and paper and take notes on this post.
We’d driven by Grand Junction and Palisade a number of times over the years, but had never stopped, so we had no idea what we’d been missing.
So without further ado, here’s a two-day Grand Junction/Palisade itinerary, influenced greatly by our March trip.
Before heading out to Grand Junction, call and make dinner reservations at Bin 707 Foodbar. Arrive Grand Junction and check into your hotel. We stayed at The Clarion. It’s a simple, freeway hotel, but they provide a free shuttle to downtown and there’s a nice little bar at the attached restaurant, Pantuso’s Ristorante.
Utilize free shuttle ride to downtown. If you are a little early, browse Art on the Corner and do a little shopping. We were impressed without how busy downtown Grand Junction gets on a Friday night – every restaurant was packed and the sidewalks were bustling with people.
Bin 707 Foodbar is a little slice of culinary heaven in the heart of Grand Junction. They serve up locally sourced food in a contemporary, yet comfortable environment. Engage your knowledgeable server to learn about the menu.
We started with an assembly of charcuterie and artisan cheese. Charcuterie is the craft of salting, curing and smoking meat. There was a rich pate made in-house with fresh herbs, prosciutto cut so thin you could see through it and headcheese made by the Chef of Bin 707. All the cheeses were from Colorado including the Ashley from MouCo Cheese Company in Fort Collins, a personal favorite.
We didn’t stop with the cheese and meat plate. We ordered up fried oysters served with aioli sauce, roasted beet salad (a customer favorite) and grilled cheese flatbread with arugula salad. I felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef and I gave everything top scores.
We paired our food with local wine and ended our meal with two unique deserts. I’m not a big desert person, but my beet ice cream was sweet and earthy at the same time, an amazing combination. Ryan ordered the Momofuku Crack pie, and they might actually spike it with an illegal substance because it’s that freakin’ good.
We got up early, had the free breakfast buffet at The Clarion and then headed to Powderhorn Resort for a morning of skiing. The resort is about 45 minutes from Grand Junction. However, if you’re making this trip during the spring or summer, head to the Colorado National Monument to some morning hiking and bighorn sheep hunting. Hunt with your camera, of course. I wrote about our experience at the Colorado National Monument in a previous post here.
After burning some calories, it’s time to start eating and drinking again. Grab a quick lunch at Pablo’s Pizza in downtown Grand Junction and now it’s time for wine.
Start with Two Rivers Winery & Chateau in Grand Junction; the Syrah and Cab were my favorite here. Afterwards, make the 20 minute drive to Palisade where you can hit multiple wineries within walking or biking distance of one another. We started at Grande River Winery, one of the original wineries on the Western Slope. Just next door is Talon Winery and St. Kathryn Cellars. Talon has traditional wines while St. Kathryn’s stirs things up a bit by offering fruity wines. They even have a lavender wine. Just down the road, we visited Plum Creek Winery where I enjoyed nearly every taster on their list.
We heard wonderful things about Colterris, but were unable to visit them on this trip. I did have one of their reds at Bin 707, and it was a well-rounded, memorable wine.
Before leaving Palisade, be sure to visit Peach Street Distillery. The cliffs of the mesa glowed pink as we pulled into the parking lot just before sunset. It was warm enough to sit on the patio, but every seat was taken, so we sat inside, sipping on sweet, fresh drinks and listening to classical guitar. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful afternoon.
Note: If you plan to spend the afternoon drinking in Palisade on Day Two, please make someone in your group the designated driver!
For dinner we ate Irish fare at Naggy McGee’s Irish Pub in downtown Grand Junction. This is a popular place, so be prepared for a wait. On a two-day itinerary, beer drinkers may prefer dinner at Kannah Creek Brewing Company. I had a yummy sandwich there on our visit to Grand Junction. Popular with college students, the patio fills up quickly on a nice day.
So there you have it. A two-day itinerary to Grand Junction, and I promise it will not disappoint. Book you trip around one of the Western Slope’s many spring and summer festivals, like the Palisade International Honeybee Festival on April 12-13, or the Art & Jazz Fest in downtown Grand Junction on May 10-12, 2013. For the scoop on other festivals, go to VisitGrandJunction.com.
We genuinely fell in love with the Western Slope during this trip. The landscape + people + food + wine is a winning combination and we can’t wait to visit again.
This trip sponsored by Visit Grand Junction.