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Colorado

Off we go again!  Saturday 9 a.m. flight, direct to Denver from FLL on Spirit.  

The flight was full again and understandably so with great round-trip deals starting at $34!

The four-hour flight felt long but we didn’t’ have any turbulence and it was non-eventful.  The landscape came into focus and it was awfully flat and brown until those beautiful white capped mountains came into focus. 

The white capped mountains showing us DEN well known airport and of course, the real Rocky Mountains!

Violet’s initial response was that she thought Colorado would have more trees (don’t worry my dear, they will appear!) 

Rocco loved the airport and it was nice to see more restaurants and stores open in comparison to our visit to Las Vegas a few weeks ago.  The tram to the main terminal was also a fun experience.  Make sure you hold on because it moves fast!  There was not a lot of social distance inside the tram nor did they have sanitizer available (something to think about Denver airport) but overall, the airport is great.

There is about a 10-minute bus ride to the car rental area and boy where we surprised to see how busy they were!  We had to wait in line for about 35 minutes to get our rental car.  I asked the nice Enterprise Representative why today was so busy, and she said it wasn’t!  That today they only had a couple hundred reservations vs. 800 the other day!  Things are looking good for car rentals in Colorado! 

Ready for our 1.5-hour drive straight to Garden of the Gods.   Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark and it is FREE!  

Since it was Saturday and a beautiful day, it was busy!  There were lots of people out on the trails and a few even rock climbing.

There are lots of ways to explore this park including guided tours, horseback riding, etc.  We just parked, hopped out and started walking!  (We had been sitting for a long time!) 

Check out the visitor center for some historical and educational info as well as a gift store and small café.

About 15 minutes from Garden of the Gods, is the parking area for stop #2 on our itinerary, The Broadmore Seven Falls.  My wife really put this on her list because she loves beautiful hotels and The Broadmoor is a historic hotel of America.  She also found this cool adventure, but she didn’t calculate her fear of heights when decided we would walk up the 220+ stairs to see the waterfall from above!  Check out their webcam here to see what you will be getting yourself into!  https://www.broadmoor.com/media-gallery/webcam/

Parking is free and there is a shuttle bus that will take you to the ticket area where you purchase tickets and start your walk!  You can also purchase a tram ticket for $2 each.  We purchased the tram for our way down as it was getting late, cool and we were tired!  Right now, tickets cost $16 for adults and $10 for children. They are open from 10a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday – Monday.  I would recommend arriving late in the afternoon or early in the morning, so it is not too hot. 

It was time for dinner!  We were hungry!  After having hiked through Garden of the Gods and up and down over 400 steps at the waterfall, we were ready for some dinner!  We wanted something unique to the area so we drove about 15 minutes to a restaurant called “The Airplane Restaurant.”  This is a great place for any aviation aficionados.  We were able to eat inside of the actual airplane but even if you can’t score a table inside the plane, you will find their dining rooms decorated with lots of memorabilia.  Good ol’ American style food with baked potatoes, ribs and don’t miss out on their warm brownie Sundae.

We drove back another 10 minutes or so to our home for the night at the “SCP Colorado Springs.”  SCP short for “Soul, Community & Planet.” 

This was an older motel style building that they renovated and turned into this cool community style lodging.  Their lobby and public space are unique and creates a true vibe to want to hang, which we did.  It also helps that they give each person in the room a marble upon arrival to redeem at the bar for a complimentary beverage may it be a local draft beer, fresh lemonade, OJ or kombucha.  We went for the beers.  I really liked their blond ale.  We played Jenga, the kids hung in the hammock chairs and we even explored their huge gym and outdoor pool & hot tub.  

Their rooms have tile floors (love this feature vs. the typical carpet in most hotel rooms.) They are spacious and minimalistic in design but have everything you need.  Violet was in complete awe that she could request a foam roller (like one that we just happened to have purchased last week for our home!)  Rocco thought that their explanation as to why they don’t have clocks in the room was perfect.

  My wife liked the microwave and refrigerators in the room.  Their pillows are oddly small, but their towels were soft, and they gave us enough for all of us (pet peeve not having enough towels in our room for the 4 of us!)

DAY 2

We checked out early because my wife had made reservations to enter Rocky Mountain National Park between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.  There is about a 2.5-hour drive from Colorado Springs to the park entrance.  We stopped in Boulder for breakfast.  It was Sunday and this is a cool little college town that really made us want to explore but all their breakfast places were full of over an hour and a half wait, so IHOP it was.  We wanted a big breakfast as we knew we wouldn’t be eating again until early evening. 

We started the windy roads up to Estes Park and into the National Park entrance.  They do not always require a reservation to enter the park, but since COVID, you do.  You can reserve here; each car costs $25 each.  We saw beautiful scenery.  Snow was a big hit for the kids (not so much my wife as she got a few snowballs to her back side!) 

 It is against park rules and can cause them lots of harm. Oh yeah, and don’t walk on the tundra.  It’s a no-no because it can take hundreds of years to grow back.  My wife reads all these signs and likes to keep us on track.   (She is a gringa after all.) Search up #rockypledge about all the conservation efforts and code of conduct for the park.

We saw some wildlife including pica, marmots and moose!  Don’t feed the picas even though they are friendly! 

Overall, we spent about 5 hours inside the park, driving up from Estes Park at the Beavers Meadow Welcome Center and drove down through the Arapaho National Recreation Area.   

Bring snacks and water.  There is a café at the Alpine Visitor Center but that’s it…Restrooms can be found along the way.

All in all, on day two, I drove a lot, about 10 hours but the part through the National Park was stop and go with truly amazing views so it didn’t feel that long.  We drove straight through to the town of Vail.  The landscaped even outside of the National Park were stunning.  Download a play list, lower your windows and enjoy the ride!

We overnighted just south of Vail at the Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley.  This was a great property where we could have stayed longer.  Suite style with a full-size kitchen, washer and dryer, fire places, and even a grill on the balcony!  There are restaurants within walking distance but since we were there just for one night, we wanted to go explore Vail Village.   

Alpen Rose was the winner for our dinner that night.  We have been told Vail is like a little European village, so why not have some German fare? 

 The ambiance was stellar, the service great and the food quick and delicious.  Their pretzel came out warm and their beer cold!

DAY 3

We got on the highway and stopped at the exit for Frisco / Breckenridge.  The town of Frisco was quaint, and the perfect stop for some shopping and lunch. 

We chose to eat at Uptown on Main where we walked up a few flights of stairs to eat on the roof top with magnificent views.  I tried a Bison Burger, the kids a normal burger and Caitlan had a tofu beet salad. 

We kept on driving for another 30 minutes into the mountain to visit the well-known village of “Breckenridge.”  This was certainly well worth the visit.  There was live music on the streets, loads of boutiques, ice cream stores, restaurants and a little river running right by the side of the main street.  It was truly charming, and we could have spent a lot more time here. 

On our drive to Denver (estimated about 2 hours) we came across more beautiful landscapes and a fun little town called Fairlplay where the “South Park City” museum caught our eye.  Of course, Rocco jumped for joy believing he was visiting where the TV show “South Park” was based out of.  

Visiting this small little town and museum was not on our itinerary but we decided to visit anyhow.  There is lots of history here in these little mining towns.  It costs $10 per adult and $5 per child to enter the museum and explore this historical village. 

We arrived late into the city of Denver, late enough to start to see the red lights from all the traffic and the lights coming on the Bronco’s Stadium, Empower Field at Mile High. 

Our last hotel for this trip was the Hotel Curtis.  What a fun hotel!  Their decoration was A+ and definilty one of those “instagrammable” hotels! 

We arrived late into the city of Denver, late enough to start to see the red lights from all the traffic and the lights coming on the Bronco’s Stadium, Empower Field at Mile High. 

Our last hotel for this trip was the Hotel Curtis.  What a fun hotel!  Their decoration was A+ and definilty one of those “instagrammable” hotels!  

About two streets over we found a boulevard with a giant sign with “Welcome Back Denver.”  This is an area called Larimer Square.  It was for pedestrians only and had a great atmosphere for outdoor dining.   All the restaurants were full!  We chose Cru Food & Wine Bar.   I am not sure if it was the menu or the flights of wine that made Caitlan want to dine at this one!  Violet said that this was her favorite meal of the trip (Filet Mignon, anyone?) 

All in all, the service in Colorado was great. It was noticeable how friendly everyone was!

DAY 4

We can’t really count this day, but you know the schools counted it as absent so we might as well count it here too.  We didn’t have much time to do anything on day 4 as our nonstop flight from Denver to FLL was at 12:20 p.m.  Hotel Curtis recommended a local restaurant just a block and a half from the hotel called Sam’s No 3 for breakfast.  It was well worth it!  Quick, friendly and delicious.  It is one of those typical American Diners that has been around for ages (established in 1927.)  Check out their value meals for morning breakfasts.  Their bacon is good too.

We sadly checked out and decided that we needed to come back.  We really did not get to explore the capital city and so many other towns in this grand state. 

Colorado, we will be back!

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