Denver

Denver, Colorado 

The Rocky Mountains, Hiking, a Trendy City, Fresh Air, The   most amazing concert venue in the US, great people, organic  food....

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Colorado is wonderful – Nature is everywhere you look, yet a trendy, upscale city is still within easy reach. My 5 day trip to Colorado allowed me to understand why people move there….and never come back [to the midwest]. Colorado is a great vacation spot – whether you have a weekend or 2 weeks- there is always something to do, and in every season. I will not be touching on skiing or snowboarding spots (they are 2 sports that I was never able to fully enjoy – the idea of face planting in snow in snow is horrifying to me, yet I am still willing to give it another chance…if I’m forced 🙂 )

Our Itinerary (You can grab bits and pieces from it if it does not line up with your schedule/time frame):

Day 1: Early Am Flight into Denver International Airport

  • Rent a car and Drive to Estes Park – Camping in the Rocky Mountains!
    • Stop at a Whole Foods or other grocery store along the way to pick up dinner to make at the campsite and snacks
      • We purchased salmon, fresh mango salsa, olive oil, butter, potatoes, onions, graham crackers, tin foil, snacks (nuts, cherries, strawberries, bananas, etc.), eggs, 2 jugs of water, Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, wine & local beer. We brought a few paper plates, plastic silverware, cups, 1 garbage bag & 1 roll of paper towels from home. It ended up raining in the evening while I was there and we had to cook the salmon in a pan over a tiny portable stove in our tent, and then topped it with the mango salsa – it ended up being probably the best salmon I’ve ever had.
  • Stop at Estes Park Mountain Shop  (2050 Big Thompson Avenue), where you can rent a tent, sleeping bags and pads, a stove, bear cabinet…and basically anything you need for camping. If you are flying in and are not an avid camper, their prices are great – and super convenient to be able to pick it up outside of the Park and drop it off when your finished. It’s helpful to call ahead to make a reservation.
  • Head to Glacier Basin (or other campground of your choice) in Estes Park/the Rocky Mountain National Park (Make Reservations ahead at the National Park website). A campsite is ~$20 a night, and the park requires a separate $20 per car fee. Make reservations — the campsites fill up during the summer months!
  • After setting up the tent, check out Sprague Lake and the beautiful reflection it offers, just a short hike from the campground
  • Enjoy making a bonfire, cooking dinner, s’mores, card games, a drink or two & each other’s company 🙂

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Day 2: Enjoy breakfast over the campfire (we made eggs).

  • Head over to hike the Glacier Gorge, Emerald Lake & Dream Lake trail (off of the Bear Lake Trailhead). Check out a different trail if you have already done this trail- I would highly recommend this trail if you are new to the area- the scenery was amazing! We went in early May, which was not the ideal whether condition for hiking in improper shoes….which brings us to a funny story – I was walking along the trail next to the lake, and realized the path split in 2 different ways. Of course I decided to take the path that didn’t have many foot prints, and within 3 steps, I had shattered the ice and fallen into the lake. Michael’s mom quickly pulled me out, and to say the least- the rest of the afternoon was a chilly one! However, I was not willing to go back to change – being from the midwest, the scenery in itself was enough for me to completely forget that my entire body was drenched and frozen.
  • I would have loved to have camped longer, but we headed back to Denver since we were on a tight schedule and the whether was still in the 30’s at night (one night in the cold was enough!)

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Day 3: Explore Denver! We stayed at the 4 Seasons (which has a really nice rooftop pool if you are looking for a day of relaxation – there are a variety of hotels, air b&b’s, etc. to fit everyone’s budget!

  • Check out Larimer Square and the shops, cafes/restaurants/bars in Denver – they have a wonderful food scene!

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  • Visit Red Rocks Amphitheater — Check their schedule before hand to see if any artists are playing while you are there. They also offer yoga in the parks, or you can go just to visit. It truly is the most amazing Amphitheater in the US! We saw Chromeo and they were great!

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Day 4: Visit Boulder – Check out the town, and stop by the Boulder Chautauqua or Eldorado Canyon State park for some leisure hiking!

Day 5: Explore

  • Visit Garden of the Gods! Heading there during daylight is magical enough – but if your schedule allows, the sky looks amazing about an hour before sunset. If you are an early bird, head to the Incline in Manitou Springs (allow 30 minutes to hike up the incline) to be there for sunrise for some magnificent views.
  • Titanic Fan? Check out the Molly Brown House, where one of the Titanic survivors lived in downtown Denver for years. The house does not portray much from Titanic, but it is a really neat piece of Denver’s history.

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Places to Eat:

I’m sure there are SO many more great restaurants, we only made it to a few that I will suggest —

Work & Class was delicious

Tag Restaurant in downtown Denver had wonderful tapas and great happy hour specials

Enjoy Denver! 

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