I’ve been to Denver several times and although I’m super attracted to the small town feel the mile high city has to offer, I knew there was more to explore and had been looking for an opportunity to visit its surroundings. Colorful Colorado (how can I not be attracted to such a state) has always been good to me but I’m mostly familiar with the ski resorts in the south, bordering with New Mexico where I used to live. While I love this state in the winter, for its beauty, skiing, hot springs, (hiking is really all year round since the beautiful Rockies are always available) there is so much to do in the summer as well, but really anytime of the year!
When I was invited by Colorado’s Front Range to go on trip and culinary tourism adventure along with 3 other bloggers (The Travel Bite, A Taste of Koko and Chelsea Bird), I just knew I had to go! These we’re the BEST girls I’ve ever traveled with and this quickly became a girl’s trip as our chemistry continued to mesh and by the end of the trip we were sad to see each other go, and even naming ourselves the brunch squad, but more on that later!
We did so many awesome activities that you might think a group of girls wouldn’t enjoy, but each thing was more fun then the next. To give you a snapshot of the time we spent there (we visited 6 cities in 5 days), and besides eating our way through Northern Colorado, the highlights for me were: Hiking and finding the most incredible views, horseback trail riding on a ranch, learning how to make goat’s cheese from scratch (AND hugging baby goats at the end), learning how to make chocolate and the science behind it, going to a concert in Colorado’s cowboy country and sipping delicious microbrews everywhere we went (just a taste)!
I hope you find inspiration and this post helps you when looking for places to visit in Northern Colorado, because I left there wanting to move there, and can’t wait to visit again next time with winecoach!
We flew into Denver and in just under an hour drive we were in Boulder, Colorado, which I had been wanting to visit for quite a while. I honestly don’t know what took me so long as I have friends from there and had heard of this city’s hippie new age vibe which just sounded fun ans up my alley, and what do ya know, it did live up to it’s name! The cherry on top was the fact that it offered an amazing food scene and beautiful sceneries!
Boulder is infested by culture and apparently the smartest people in America, with a super above average number of citizens having PhD’s, but not only that, the Colorado university is in the heart of Boulder so it has a diverse student population, hiking trails, bike lanes everywhere, on of which will even take you straight to Denver! Let’s just say the people there are not intimidated by doing a little leg work to get anywhere, and perhaps that is why the Colorado population is among the fittest in this country.
Where we stayed:
Let’s just say I felt immediately welcomed as I walked into the Historic Hotel Boulderado built in 1912 with serious charm, an incredible ceiling and the friendliest staff. If you like character and authenticity, this is where you need to stay. Plus it was the first luxury hotel in Boulder, walking distance from everything, so no brainer there. I was immediately greeted by a smiling Colorful Foodie fan, who didn’t know I was coming but recognized me and said she loved the recipes! This was fun! Sam was her name, (the beautiful receptionist) who checked us in and told us a bit about our surroundings.
- Hiking the Chautauqua Trailhead to the Flatirons was the first stop. Friendly hike and beautiful view of Boulder. Our guide was a wealth of knowledge, random facts and funny jokes! He took this picture of the us, the brunch squad before we knew that’s who we would become!
- Downtown Boulder, exploring and just enjoying the city’s vibes.
- Boulder Farmer’s Market which happens on Wednesdays and where I had a blast! Who doesn’t love a farmer’s market! They had fresh everything and we enjoyed a huge fresh pretzel which was more like a cinnamon doughnut, hot chocolate, fresh berries and even had a celebrity top chef sighting!
- Wellness potions at the Shine Restaurant meant to wake you up (great in case of jet-lag), and balance you chakras! This whole place had that Boulder vibe I was telling you about but it’s also a bar with fun drinks and just a cool place to hang out.
- Dinner at Oak at fourteenth focused around sustainable cuisine (I love that!) which had a fantastic menu that also catered to athletes offering high quality delicious, nutritional and colorful dishes as well as an extensive cocktail/mocktails menu which you know I took advantage of!
- Breakfast with a view the next morning! We picked coffee from Vic’s Espresso & News and loaded breakfast bagels from Moe’s Bagels, and took a hike to Lost Gulch to appreciate the sunrise in the outdoors. If you’re in Boulder and you don’t do breakfast on top of a mountain, you’re doing it wrong! Let’s just say this is the way to go, plus your lungs can use the fresh air and your eyes will appreciate the scenery.
The coolest and fanciest YMCA you’ll ever go to: The YMCA of the Rockies! Think glamping meets every family’s needs surrounded by the most beautiful location a YMCA could exist in! It’s a mountain lodge/resort type situation located in the Rocky Mountain National Park providing daily activities for families, parents or both ranging from hiking, horseback riding, fishing, crafts, and the list goes on and on. This is a nice place to go and drop of the children while you can also have adult time! I was assured. Too cool, with excellent prices. Must check out, especially if you have a family! I’m going to refrain from any other jokes other than, yes it will definitely be FUN to stay at this YMCA!
FINALLY! This visit was redemption for me as I couldn’t make it here 2 years ago to a dear friend’s wedding! I finally got to see the beautiful landscapes I was told about and saw pictures of. It turns out the buzz was true, and I’m happy I got to see it for myself
First things first: Activities
- Estes Park Aerial Tram Ride to the top of the mountain. If you’re afraid of heights this one is a challenge that is totally worth overcoming! The cable operated tram takes you up quite quickly and the views are absolutely breathtaking, not to mention how close you can get to wildlife. There are chipmunks everywhere, and even some deer. Too cool.
- Fly Fishing: I’ve always wanted to try this and even talked about it with winecoach! He was actually jealous I got to this this before he ever did, but how fun to fly fish with a bunch of girls! We were catching and releasing but the thrill of catching your own fish is indescribable! Probably has to do with our ancestors who were hunters and gatherers! Fly fishing is great, especially if you have exed out fishing from your activities because you have to be quiet! We interacted with our instructors from Kirk’s Flyshop and with each other the whole time, and gave bystanders quite the show with our inmate excitement after catching our beautiful rainbow trouts! Not your typically fishing experimented, and I would definitely recommend it for an interactive good time! The guys from Kirk’s Flyshop set us up with everything we needed, from a fishing license to all the gear necessary to get in there and own it! It was a one on one experience and they made sure all of us caught fish!
- Beer Tasting: We ended up celebrating our victorious fishing experiment at Rock Cut Brewing tasting from 11 different beers they offered on tap! It wouldn’t be Colorado if there wasn’t a beer tasting at pretty much every corner.
- The Beer And Pizza Pairing Experience at Poppy’s Pizza & Grill. This place is truly amazing, family owned and operated by Rob Pieper, a true legend who gives this place a “There’s no place like home” feel. Rob prepared us a personalized feast, ranging from charcuterie, salads, flatbreads, pizzas, sandwiches and desserts all paired with his favorite beers! This beer connoisseur doesn’t play around, and you will be delighted at his local and international selections and pairings. Poppy’s is a must when in Estes Park!
- Sunset tour drive through the Rocky Mountain National Park – but this isn’t hurt a hit ride through your average park. Trail Ridge Road is the Highest continuous Paved Road in the United States, and yes, it’s in Estes Park! We drove nearly 3 mile up, so the temperature drop is definitely interesting and will 30s-40s degrees Fahrenheit up there If you’ve ever looked at snow-capped mountains and thought, “man, I’d love to see the view from the top but I’m not a skilled enough climber/hiker to try it…” then this road is for you. You’ll be right on top of the snow-covered tundra (even in the summertime). I highly recommend going on a sunset tour with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to learn about the landscape and to get the best pictures of the sunset. Just don’t be surprised if you’re a little out of breath as it’s almost three miles.
- Doughnut Haus: stop by for fresh doughnuts from this family owned delicious business.
Where to stay:
Sylvan Dale Horse Ranch – we spend the night but it is the most amazing place! You literally feel like you’re at your aunt and uncle’s ranch and they are just the most amazing people!
- Giddy Up!! – Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch hosted us for the best trail ride of our lives! If you’re looking for galloping, this isn’t for you, but if you’re looking for a relaxed, breathtaking sceneries, come on and giddy up! These are the friendliest horses I’ve ever met, and I’ve been on a horse or two. I as paired with Big Ben because we are both tall, old, tired and have sore feet, haha, the only difference is he isn’t pregnant!! That’s right, I was 14 weeks pregnant on this trip, so that’s how chilled this horseback trail ride is. Bring your kids!!! one of the best horseback riding experiences I’ve ever had.
- Now I told you about the breathtaking Colorful Colorado views, but the other incentive for doing the trail ride was the amazing BBQ lunch awaiting us on the other side of the mountains which surrounded the ranch: Grilled steak, crispy potatoes, beautiful colorful beans, fresh veggies and of course, crank-your-own ice cream! Ok, so maybe it was a little too hot and it turned into a milkshake but equally delicious! This was a high point for me because: Horses and Food!! I LOVE that! Sylvan Dale Ranch will forever live in my heart, and I wish to return with @winecoach so he can experience it!
- Hiking: On our way back to Loveland we quickly stopped by an amazing hiking track I definitely want to try next time I’m in Colorado Devil’s Backbone. The rock formation really resembles the backbone of maybe a dinosaur? Looks very cool and inviting, a great spot to stop for some exercise and of course, pictures! Loveland area is truly lovely!
- Beer Tasting: Done at Loveland Aleworks, a local downtown micro brewery where we were greeted and given a tour of the facilities by the owner himself. Such a great vibe, and a wonderful place to grab a flight with friends.
- But the FOOD! – I was amazed by all the food options in Loveland! Such a pleasant town, famous for “love” and Valentine’s Day celebrations such as Fire and Ice has a lot more to offer in the off season! We enjoyed a true feast very exclusive tapas at Door 222! the chef was amazing and had a fabulous tasting menu for us. I truly enjoyed this restaurant in great company with the Loveland crew.
Again, we didn’t stay, but Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is the spot, and not very far.
- The Famous Rocky Mountain Oysters – First top was at Bruce’s Bar known by all to be where to go for these Rocky Mountain “delicacies”! These are also big in Oklahoma, except they are called “lamb fries”, but Bruce’s does them up 3 ways: bull, buffalo and lamb TESTICLES! Oh, did I shout? These are deep fried, served with fries and some people LOVE them! Although they aren’t my favorites, you best believe that when in Greeley, these are just a must try, so get your buns over here and try some Rocky Mountain Oysters!!
- Greeley Stampede – Not your typical carnival, but a legendary gathering of all nearby communities that lasts for almost 2 weeks! Anything from rides (of course we had to ride the Ferris Wheel!), carnival food, cohttp://colorfulfoodie.com/wp-admin/options-media.phpncerts and shows in a grand scale! We had the pleasure to be in town on the same day as Lady Antebellum was playing, so you bet we had to check it out!!We were visiting during the legendary Greeley Stampede, a nearly two-week long event including fair rides, a rodeo, and big named concerts like Lady Antebellum. If you’re going to plan coming to town, try to do it during Stampede, it’s worth checking out!
- GIANT PANCAKES – and a real American breakfast to be enjoyed at the Barnstormer Restaurant which is located inside the Greeley Weld County Airport. It is so much fun to eat your breakfast and watch the local planes fly in and out! The food is delicious, and we got to take a lot of fun pictures on one of the parked planes. People here are so sweet and go out of their way to make you feel at home, even if it means letting 5 girls climb on their plane! Too fun!
Where To Stay: Jessup Farms Artisan Village or Local Bed & Breakfasts
Fort Collins is a must! If you’re into beer, this is another reason to come visit. Ft. Collins is the major producer of beer in the state of Colorado, making as much as 70% of the local beer. Not to mention it is absolutely beautiful, bike friendly, dog and kid friendly, with lots of places to stay, eat and things to do! This is the Napa Valley of beer you guys, and you can do beer tours by bike! Fantastic concept.
- Tour New Belgium Brewery – Most people have heard of New Belgium Brewery but they don’t know how the brewery itself is operated. This is a place where the employees are clearly happy and everyone treats this space like it’s their own. The beer making craft is amazing and the space is so inviting! The brewery has an amazing bar, patio and hangout area where everyone brings their family to picnic or just have an afternoon of leisure sitting around enjoying some awesome beer. They do hold tours daily, so make sure you book yours when you’re in town!
- Jessup Farms Artisan Village – One stop shop for all your tourist needs! This, if of course you’re a foodie who loves sustainable cuisine with a slight shopping addiction! Jessup farms has it all, and it makes you want to move there! We had our tour of the property which includes the Bindle Coffee, the cutest coffee shop, Hey Day (where inevitably we went shopping) and The Farmhouse Restaurant which was simply amazing, and the best brunch around! I mean, we even met the chickens where the eggs come from, and they looked really happy! Did I mention they have a microbrewery – Jessup Farm Barrel House? Well, I did mention we are in Ft. Collins, yea? Clearly, I’m in love with this place and wold move here in a heartbeat.
- Downtown – Rent a bike for the day and explore Fort Collins using their City bikes! Sure you can walk it, but it’s lovely to ride around this beautiful bike friendly city stopping by all the shops, eating and drinking your way through the city! There also the option of using the Magic Bus Tours to get a more concentrated overview of the Ft. Collins food scene, but there are so many places to eat and drink you will not have a problem here! We of course went to cool down at the local Walrus Ice Cream and enjoy some margaritas and Queso Del Mar at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. I mostly watched the margarita action, but the food, was amazing – which of course the place sells itself by how full it was!
Anyway, we stopped by this charming town called Longmont, located in the suburbs of Boulder to see more of what we came her to do: FOOD! And it did not disappoint. Between having a feast for dinner, an authentic creole brunch and learning how to make cheese, we closed this trip with pure GOLD!
Let’s make cheese with The Art of Cheese! This is Kate Johnson, and she’s amazing! We learned it all with here!
- Making Goat Cheese – When you’re a cheese lover, learning how to make cheese is top of the list! I finally was able to learn the process of making one of my favorite cheeses with The Art of Cheese, and got the pleasure of playing with baby goats after! Doesn’t that sound like the perfect afternoon ever? Oh, and this was all held at a Stonebridge farm local sustainable farm that also operates a micro winery. So yea, it doesn’t get any better than this for me! Not to mention cheese making made simple by Kate Johnson was fabulous. She does a lot of classes and seminars (and she has baby goats, make sure you ask about the baby goats! haha).
- So Much Food! – Last dinner in Colorado was: Surprise, surprise, a FEAST! Cocktails, cocktails a wide variety of diverse dishes and really interesting french fry combos! The Roost definitely didn’t disappoint, and it seemed a crowd favorite was the sweet po fries with marshmallow dip! The cocktails are muddled with really delicious fruit, and I was so excited to try everything!
- Lucile’s Creole Cafe – Hello New Orleans! That’s how I felt at the taste of the first cafe au lait followed by chickory! What an amazing brunch spot! It is a gem that is locally owned, and you will be reminded of how much you enjoy creole food with a local twist. A must visit for amazing authentic eats!
Thank you Colorado Front Range for having me and sponsoring this post and trip. I had an amazing time and made long lasting friendships. All opinions presented in this post are my own and I can’t wait to visit Colorful Colorado again! More photos below (and more coming in the next few days) and in my other social media pages!
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