Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Best of Denver 2014

 best veggie burger sliders: Jonesy's (during happy hour only) (update: Jonesy's is now closed. Total bummer!)

best burger: Park Burger

best brunch: Sassafrass; An American Eatery

best cake shop: Cake Crumbs

best Mexican restaurant: Benny's Restaurant and Tequila Bar

best Mexican burrito:  Benny's or Hacienda Colorado 

best pad thai: Tommy's Thai

best southern BBQ: Moe's Original BBQ

best locals favorite restaurant: Racine's

best doughnut shop: Voodoo Doughnuts

best happy hour: Euclid Hall

best cocktail: Steuben's

best specialty happy hour: Park Tavern-- $2 You Call It Tuesdays

best local brew and food: Oskar Blues (Lyons and Longmont)

best rooftop bar: Linger

best place to hike nearby: Roxborough State Park

best place to swim: Bear Creek Lake Park

best little known town: Crested Butte

best dogpark: Chatfield State Park off-leash dog park

best place to see wildlife: Mt Evans or Rocky Mountain National Park

best place for a date night: Sante Fe Art District on First Friday
or the new RiNo Art District on First Friday

best coffee shop ambiance: Tattered Cover (downtown location)

best museum experience: History Colorado Center

best antique store: Rockin' Horse Antiques (Golden,CO)

best place to play games: Punch Bowl Social Club or 1UP

best movie theatre overall: Landmark Greenwood Village

best movie and dinner theatre: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

best place to chill with your dog and drink on the town: Bark Bar or the Watering Bowl

best make-out spot: along Lookout Mountain

best festivals: Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Planet Bluegrass Folk Festival

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Favorite Colorado Hot Springs

Colorado is fortunate to have at least about a dozen popular hot well as some that are off the beaten path. I thought I would list my favorites for you and also a few that I am hoping to check out in the near future.

Favorite Colorado Hot Springs:
(Click on the underlined title's for links to the websites)

1. Strawberry Hot Springs
(Located in Steamboat Springs)
This place is awesome! I love the way they have kept the natural look and feel. They also have several small but cozy and rustic camping concoctions. Also, be advised that after dark is "clothing optional" soaking.

2. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
(Located in Nathrop...between Salida and Buena Vista)
I enjoy these springs because they are in one of my favorite areas in Colorado. After a fun day of camping, hiking, rafting, or four-wheeling this is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening. Also, they have a couple of big pools but the coolest part is being able to find a few of the completely natural hot spots on the bank of the river (when the water is not too high0--right next to the commercialized pools.As of 2013, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs is now more of a resort-with an additional lodging facility and private pool for those staying in the lodge.

3. Hot Sulphur Springs
(Located near Granby)
What I like about this place is that there are around a dozen individual pools...some smaller and bigger than others. This can make for a cozy atmosphere if there aren't that many other guests. However, if the place is packed...then it could feel like alot of sardines in a can....but usually you can find a nice little pool for yourself and friends.

4. Indian Hot Springs
(Located in Idaho Springs)
This is probably the closest hot springs from Denver. It is a quick relaxing getaway located in the old mining town of Idaho Springs. One of the cool features of this resort is their Geothermal Caves. Guests can sit in an actual pool inside of a cave. However, one thing to know is that the caves are divided among and wives would not be able to go into the caves together...and note that bathing suits are optional (it used to be mandatory NO bathing suits; glad that has changed).. There are private pools and there is also a main pool.

5. Glenwood Springs Hot Springs
(Located in Glenwood Springs)
This resort is one of the main attractions to the town of Glenwood Springs. It lies right in the heart of town and can often be seen full of happy guests and swimmers. This is one HUGE hot spring pool! This offers more of a communal and open space for children and swimmers.There are actually two large pools that from a distance look like one large pool; one averages around 90 degrees (more of the swimming/active pool) and the other is around 102 degrees. Also, nearby is the Yampah Vapor Caves where you can also spend a day relaxing and steaming.

6. Cottonwood Hot Springs
This is a small but cute commercial hot spring with a handful of pools. A nice quaint oasis near Buena Vista and Cottonwood Pass. As of 2014, they have added some additional lodging facilities.

A few that I want to eventually check out:

7. Pagosa Hot Springs
(Pagosa Springs)

8. Orvis Hot Springs

9. Conundrum Natural Hot Spring
(off the beaten path hike near Aspen)

For some other hot springs that I have not mentioned, check out the Colorado Hot Springs Enthusiast Blog here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Palisade; Colorado's Wine Country

When you think of Colorado you probably don't immediately envision images of grapes on the vine or peach orchards. But in Palisade, Colorado that is exactly what you can find. Although there are small vineyards sprinkled throughout Colorado, the major concentration are in the sun-kissed valley of Palisade. Surrounded by mesas, in what is known as Grand Valley, Palisade is a quaint and savory experience.

Whether you are a wine connoisseur or simply want something to do this weekend, there is pleasure for all in this valley of produce. Palisade, is home to many annual festivals: music festivals, bike tours, and of course their famous peach festival.

A sample of  Palisade wineries:

Maison La Belle Vie

Garfield Estates Vineyards

Canyon Wind Cellars

Meadery of the Rockies

Palisade Brewery Company

Grand River Vineyards

Colorado Cellars Vineyards

DeBeque Canyon

There are a few places to lodge in the area but even more lodging options about ten minutes away in Grand Junction. For nearby lodging:

Wine Country Inn

A Divine Thyme Bed and Breakfast

Vistas and Vineyards Bed and Breakfast

I loved the Vin De Peche sampling at this lovely French winery. It was like drinking a refreshing taste of summer.

Palisade; a beautiful outdoor experience.

Enjoyed the V2 sampling at Garfield Estates.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to dispose of your camping propane bottles; recycle!

With as much camping as Coloradoans enjoy, I could probably start my own propane bottle recycle program. But I'd rather spend my time outdoors! So, if you are like me and have a multitude of empty camping propane bottles lying around, here are some ideas as to where to properly dispose of them:

**Many places will gladly recycle them for you but for a small fee (like $5/bottle).

1) AAA Propane
Last year, after camping season, I found this place and have been forever grateful! It is a small, no frills, propane company located in Lakewood and Wheatridge. The manager at the Lakewood facility was super friendly and very glad to see people recycling. He told me that there is NO CHARGE to drop off my tanks whenever I want. Needless to say, I'll be seeing him again at the end of this camping season.
***Updated 7/19/17--just found out the location at 2651 W. Hampden has closed. I will call the one in Wheat Ridge and see if they are as friendly and helpful.

2) Your local waste disposal service--Check and see if your city/county has a hazardous waste disposal service. For Lakewood (Jefferson County) they prefer you take your propane bottles to Rooney Road Recycle Center (there is a small fee).

3) **Updated on 6/24/16: I just read that if you camp at Moraine Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park that they have a small propane tank recycle bin near the entrance.

Before finding AAA Propane, I called several other propane rental companies and like I said earlier, they would gladly take my camping bottles off my hands but for a small fee.

People used to tell me that I could drop my propane tanks off at the local fire department but this really isn't true.

So, if you have a collection of small camper propane bottles around--take them to AAA Propane!

Enjoy camping season!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Colorado Historical Sites

Denver was founded amidst the backdrop of the Old West. If you are fascinated with Native American culture, pioneer and mountainman stories, 1800's architecture, gold mining folklore or many other facets of what we have come to call the American West then gallop on over to many of the Denver/front range historical sites and museums. Here is only a sample:

 Historic Houses or Lodges:

  The Four Mile House or The Seventeen Mile House
Discover a couple of special "mile" houses that dotted the dusty trails like that of the Cherokee Trail or Smoky Hill Trail in what is now Denver and Aurora. I have written previously about Denver's oldest house; the Four Mile House. But Seventeen Mile is also now open to the public. Each of these houses served as pit stops for those traveling west toward Denver City in the mid 1800's.

Astor House Museum
The Astor House, built in 1867, was used as a boarding house for miner's and later legislators.

Molly Brown House
 Visit the home of the "unsinkable" Margaret "Molly" Brown

Byer's-Evans House Museum
 Built in 1883, housed prominent Denver family.

Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin
 A Victorian home and cabin in the historic mining town of Leadville, CO.

 The Stanley Hotel
Built in 1909, Freelan Stanley was one of the main financial contributors to the development of Estes Park. His hotel is now famous for ghost activity and a couple of movie productions.

Hiwan Homestead Museum
 A beautiful log lodge built in 1893.

Trujillo Homestead
One of the first permanent Latino settlements in Colorado, built in the mid 1800's.

Historic Forts:

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Bent's fort was at the epicenter of trade along the Sante Fe Trail. Charles Bent acted as a middleman between many Native American tribes and mountainmen/trappers during the early to mid 1800's. Many councils took place at Bent's fort.

Fort Vasquez Museum
A former fur trading post north of Denver.

Ft. Garland Museum and Pike's Stockade
An 1858 fort supervised by Kit Carson.

Regional/Local History Museums:

History Colorado Center

Denver Art Museum
(They have an amazing section on early Native American life, as well as, an intriguing  American West art exhibit).
Lakewood Heritage Center

Littleton History Museum

El Pueblo History Museum

Ute Indian Museum

 Historic Sites:

Sand Creek Massacre Site
A horrific site where hundreds of Native Americans were caught off guard and slaughtered. (No other way to say it). 
Amache Internment Camp
During WW2, many Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps to be sure they would not retaliate against the American government during the war. 

 Historic Mining Sites:

 Mollie Kathleen Mine
Argo Mine
Country Boy Mine

 National Parks
 (Remnants of early Native American and/or Ancestral Puebloan life can be seen at many of Colorado's National are my favorite in the history category)

Mesa Verde National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Dinosaur National Monument

Historic Towns:
(Most of Colorado's towns are themselves historic sites  but here are some examples)
Black Hawk and Central City
Glenwood Springs
Manitou Springs
Idaho Springs
Cripple Creek
South Park

There are many other historic sites, museums and stories to find! Get out and explore! :)