EXPLORE COLORADO IN 3 DAYS



Summer is here and vacations have commenced, whether your idea of a vacation is a stay-cation, an oversees trip or a trip to the lake, it's a vacation nonetheless. We personally enjoy the great outdoors, therefore took a 3 day trip to the Denver area last month and enjoyed the magnificence and splendor of the mountains. It was our first time traveling to Colorado and oh were we in awe. It's amazing how nature has a way of awing us, as close as right outside our doorstep. There are no words to describe the beauty, peace, and greatness of the wild, you'd just have to see it to believe it. But, I will tell you a few things we did enjoy on our short stay in the great state of Colorado. 

*Tip of the day-Rent an economy car when traveling. Rental companies always seem to be overbooked on economy cars, especially on the weekend, and therefore end up upgrading your vehicle at no additional charge. For our stay in Denver, we booked through Budget and ended up with a Jeep SUV for the price of an economy. Not bad if I do say so myself. With that said, don't spend your money on wasteful upgrades!

Shopping

It was raining when we arrived, so we took the afternoon to discover downtown Denver. We ate lunch at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs and shopped a bit at the 16th Street Mall once the rain slowed. The mall area is not much too look at, it has your standard run of the mill shops, but it's an okay place to walk off your lunch. There are other areas in Denver that are a much better time checking out such as Larimer Square


Pikes Peak is. a. must. The views are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking (literally oxygen is low up there) and the beauty just seems to go on and on. The park is located in Colorado Springs, about an 1-1/2 hour drive from Denver. You can choose to either drive up the mountain, take the Cog train, or take a bike tour. We decided to drive and take in the park at our leisure. The cost to enter the park is $12 per person. Make sure to pack a jacket, as you can see the ice-packed mountains can get pretty chilly. And by chilly I mean it feels like a slap to the face, even in mid-May. 









Manitou Springs is a historic town at the foot of Pikes Peak. We stopped and packed a lunch at Good Karma Coffee Lounge and had some chocolates at Pikes Peak Chocolates afterwards. It was worth the stop and made for a much better meal than the food served at the souvenir shop at the peak of the mountain. I loved passing by Manitou Springs and seeing it's character shine through its shops and spectacular views. You can also do other things there including hiking, swimming, fishing, biking, zip lining and more. 


The Garden of the Gods park is located in Colorado Springs as well, right outside Pikes Peak. It's a fantastic park to visit and although it is a much smaller park you can spend a good amount of time there just walking around and pretending to be on Mars. Did I mention that it is FREE. Yes, free-free-free. Who doesn't just love that four lettered word. 






Estes Park is a town with a bit of old charm, a short drive from Denver as well, about 1-1/2 hour drive. We took 25 North and US-36 West and enjoyed the most beautiful drive. It was absolutely stunning to say the least, the winding roads and rivers made for an exciting trip. If you have time, you can stop for lunch in Boulder or wait till you get to Estes Park and have lunch at The Steamers Cafe located at The Stanley Hotel (made famous by The Shining film). If you are feeling up to it you can take a tour of the hotel at a cost or just peek around the grounds at your leisure for no cost-where you can go in the hotel is limited with the latter. You can also do some shopping or explore the Rocky Mountains as we did. 




We entered the South Rocky Mountains entrance near Estes Park, drove around a bit, and hiked a few miles. Some trails were closed because of snow but that didn't keep us from having fun. The weather changed constantly so I would suggest wearing layers, packing snacks, packing a water-proof, light jacket, plenty of water, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Don't forget your camera and snap some unforgettable pictures! 

*Another tip of the day-Don't venture from your group. The park is made up of hundreds of acres (and wildlife) and believe it or not you can get lost. While walking the trail we came across a young woman who was looking for her friend who she thought was walking ahead of her. We don't know if or when she found her friend but we definitely know it gave her a scare. 







We concluded our trip with dinner at Uncle Ramen followed by ice cream at Sweet Action Ice CreamI had the Earl Gray ice cream and it was legit. I don't know about you but good ice cream is the way to this Texan's heart. 

In the end, we ate, we saw, we conquered. We were sad to leave the great state of Colorado but enjoyed our 3 days of adventure and bliss there. Onward to our next adventure! Where are your favorite places to vacation? 

Jen


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