Denver Area, CO // Mom-Daughter Weekend
It's pretty shocking & sad that I haven't blogged a Colorado trip yet considering my parents live there, but due to all these other crazy trips I actually haven't been home since last June (don't worry - I see my parents on the VERY regular, we just meet in other places). This past weekend was a girls trip with two friends, their mom and my mom, hilariously lining up with parents' weekend at some universities nearby. As usual it felt like way too short of a trip, so I'm going to round up all my other favorite Colorado things to do too ;)
We started the weekend out with a trip to Colorado Springs, about an hour and a half-ish drive South from the Denver area. Because when on vacation you must just eat and drink mimosas nonstop, we went to The Broadmoor hotel first for brunch. There are quite a few restaurants in this hotel/resort grounds, but we went to the Natural Epicurean because they have healthier options. I had some incredible juice that I can't remember all the ingredients but I think papaya and pineapple were in there so how can you go wrong.
The hotel itself is worth taking some time to explore. Gorgeous pools and lakes line the buildings. Beautiful fresh flowers in every room. A whole hallway dedicated to every celebrity who's been there, and even a bowling alley. The outside is kind of like the Grand Budapest Hotel on a much much smaller scale hehe.
Our next destination was right around the corner at Garden of the Gods. Not to be confused with the world's best music venue (in my humble opinion ;)) Red Rocks Park (which is in Morrison about 45 mins West of Denver), Garden of the Gods is full of natural red rock formations that you can climb, view and hike around. Each one has a cute little name that *kind of* resembles what it looks like. I take everyone who visits Colorado with me here because it's truly breathtaking and indescribable in words. Here are some pictures that don't even do it justice so you just have to go there!
That day in itself is exhausting and to top it off we hit a road closure on the highway and it took us over 2 hours to get home (see LA traffic isn't THAT bad!!), so we ended the day with pizza at home. This pizza was meh, but Colorado does have some amazing pizza joints:
- Pizzeria Locale in Boulder - prosciutto and corn pizza is not to be missed
- Beau Jo's (all over) famous for their mountain pie pizza which is like deep dish but totally different. They give you honey on the table to drizzle over your leftover crust. Amaze balls.
- Lucky Pie in Denver and Louisville - another amazing prosciutto pizza and if you go to the one in Louisville you're right next to the best ice cream Sweet Cow
Saturday we ventured into Boulder for the day which is my fave and it seems like there's never enough time there. Especially since I took 2 hours to get my hair done by the best stylist ever AnnMarie of Colours. Yes I have lived in LA for 10 years and yes I still go to my mom's hair stylist back in Boulder :). Here's a round up of my must do's in Boulder:
EAT IN BOULDER
- Snooze - Everyone goes apesh*t for Snooze there, although it's not my fave (admittedly LA does brunch so good I think I'm tainted)
- The Kitchen - my favorite restaurant in Boulder (now also with a Denver location!) by far, I love going here for brunch, lunch or dinner. Farm to table fare with a great atmosphere including community tables and community nights where everyone eats together family style
- Salt - next door to the Kitchen this salt themed restaurant has bomb cocktails and even better food. Everything made with tons of..you guessed it: salt. You even get a menu of all their salts to concoct a cocktail from!
- Snarf's - best. sandwiches. ever. Sorry Potbelly (which is my #2), Snarf's has you beat. And for those who this matters to, Bernie Sanders ate there on his last Boulder visit :)
- The Med - this is my back up to The Kitchen, my fave Mediterranean food with an outdoor patio and you can normally find parking nearby which is a plus for me
- Leaf - delicious vegetarian food with an extensive tea list
- Illegal Pete's - the Chipotle of Boulder (and is widely preferred over Chipotle there)
- Not in Boulder but honorary mention of The Huckleberry - in Louisville maybe 15 mins East of Boulder. Adorable little tea house with great hummus, salads and brunch.
- Bova's for frozen custard. I've never had anything else there, but it's damn good frozen custard
DRINK IN BOULDER
- The Cup for coffee or chai tea lattes - I LIVED here the summer I spent in Colorado. Their nut milk and coffee is amazing, but even better is their chai. They offer two types of chai - 3rd street and Bhakti - where the former is sweeter and the latter is spicier. You normally only get one option of chai and you never know what you're going to get, whereas the Cup has been offering these two options for as long as I've known and they do it better than anyone else. This could also go on the "to eat' list because they have amazing bagel sandwiches ;)
- Mountain Sun - I love this spot right on Pearl Street! Really unassuming looking brewery with a bomb Java Porter (this coming from a Hef girl). Definitely on the small side but worth the stop for a tasting flight
- Avery Brewery - I'm sure you've seen beer from Avery around, it's fantastic. And their brewery is legit with tours, lots of amazing beer to try in the tap room and an outdoor patio
- Oskar Blues - Last brewery on the list and the one I have the fondest memories of because I went there with Rahim (boyfriend), Becky (bestie), Scott (friend who we visited in Japan) and my family after we went skydiving! The tour is really fun and they have tons of great beer and an outdoor patio to drink it on.
- Admittedly I don't go to bars in Boulder a lot, mostly Denver! Oops :)
DO IN BOULDER
- Chautauqua!! - tons of hiking paths, dog friendly and always beautiful! You can choose an easy, medium or hard hike depending on how you're feeling. Love this spot
- Walk along the path or tube down the Boulder Creek - nice little creek going through most of Boulder with a gentle walking path beside it. When the weather is nice you can rent a tube (we always go here) and tube down there, it's a mix between a lazy river and a level 1 rafting experience so pretty mellow. Although Rahim and Scott once tricked Becky and I into tubing down it in thunder and lightening (with rain too of course) and that was pretty wild. Unpleasant at the time, great story now :)
- Shop! Pearl Street is lined with tons of amazing places but my favorites are:
- Chelsea - unique women's apparel
- Farfel's Farm - dog store of course
- Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery - local handmade jewelry and art, makes for perfect gifts
- Goldmine Vintage - awesome vintage clothes & records
- Peppercorn - Williams Sonoma with Boulder charm, my friends spent 45 minutes in this store alone. It's home decor heaven :-D
- Rocket Fizz - soda pop and candy shop. Need I say more?
After a day in Boulder we went back to the house to unwind and jacuzz a bit before heading out to Denver! I love Denver because it's a vibrant, lively city that's CLEAN and has a lot of fun things to do within a really short walking distance. We went to the only two areas I'm pretty familiar with, which are LoDo (lower downtown) and Larimer Square.
For drinks we went to my new favorite spot in Denver, The Green Russell. On one side this is a BBQ joint, and then if you ask to go to the bar you're taken through what looks like a door to the kitchen and brings you to a speakeasy-style underground bar with wood throughout, gaudy green booths and dim lighting. It's one of those places where you tell the bartender what type of cocktail you like and they make you something they come up with. Christine had some sort of vodka grapefruit snow-cone which was amazing, and my mom's non alcoholic cucumber-lime-soda water concoction was runner up. I could've spent all night there, loved the atmosphere and the drinks. Oh yeah food too!!
Dinner was exceptional though so Green Russell all night will have to happen another time. We went to Panzano, an out of this world Italian restaurant closer to LoDo in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. I found this place randomly on OpenTable and when I mentioned it my brother (who lives in LoDo) immediately said "oh yeah, let's go there." What a great find, we will definitely be back there!
Sunday was a pretty lazy day, so all we did was leisure into Longmont to go to my favorite cheese store, Cheese Importers. This place has one of those fridges that you have to put on a jacket they supply to go in and not freeze to death. The cheese is organized by place of origin and they have lots of samplers. And meat too. It's heaven! Plus there are some really cute kitchen goods and pasta, crackers, spreads etc. to shop from as well. There are lots of other fun things to do in Longmont too if you have time, like
Things we didn't get to that will definitely have to happen sometime soon in Colorado:
- Rafting! I've rafted down the Poudre most recently but there's tons to do
- Camping! Camping everywhere is fun in Colorado!
- Golden - not just home of the Coors brewery any more, this town is a really fun spot to live these days
- Every other brewery...Left Hand, Funkwerks, Breckenridge, New Belgium, Odell...
- Stranahan's for whiskey (sensing a theme here?)
- Hiking a 14 ft'er
- Train up Pike's Peak
- Casa Bonita - the South Park episode is super accurate about this place. Hilarious night out if you're willing to venture to this part of town
Next time I'll be in Colorado it'll be winter which means SKIING :) :) - turns into a whole different and equally awesome Colorado.