Eyes like a morning star, cheeks like a rose… Tall, snowy peaks and outdoorsy men with good teeth. Okay, not exactly the lyrics of the Colorado Trail, but close. Yes, I hear the men are smokin’ (and I don’t mean Marlboro reds). Athletic, free-spirited, down-to-earth goodness. Nature at it’s best. Don’t worry, boys. The women are equally fresh-faced, fit, and full of fun. Imagine a place with clean air and enough outdoor activities, fine food, and shopping to keep you occupied for months. The people, and the place, will make you damn proud to be an American.
So ride your way to Rockies.
Jaunt picked some highlights which we thought were a good start. Remember, Colorado is broken up into the following seven regions:
Northwest: Aspen, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Grand Junction
Noteable attractions: Skiing, of course, Dustin Hoffman’s Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp, Fremont Indian rock art at Canyon Pintado, the hot springs of Glenwood Springs, rock formations and vistas of Colorado National Monument
Front Range: Boulder, Ft. Collins
Notable attractions: The summer long Colorado Music Festival, the gold and silver rushes evident in the small mountain towns, granite canyons of Poudre Canyon, the Peak-to-Peak highway with stunning sunsets, shopping Pearl Street Mall in Boulder
Once a frontier town, this young city is now home to a thriving arts scene full of restaurants, fine art, and museums.
Notable attractions: The Black American West Museum and the quaint Five Points Neighborhood
Considered the Colorado outback, this area is full of wheat and grassland. Talk about frontier… from the early pioneers to Native Americans and soldiers, the Pony Express came through here.
Notable attractions: From April- October, there are over 150 fairs, rodeos, and tournaments where locals and guests revel in their mountain men gunfightin’ roots.
Durango, Telluride… in this region, white rapids and grassy meadows are joined with ghost towns and the high flats of the Colorado Plateau.
Notable attractions: In Durango and Telluride, beauty meets culture. In the summertime, there’s the Jazz and Bluegrass Festivals of Telluride. For those who love a good remnant of the past, ancient Anasazi ruins speak to the mystique and centuries of American Indian culture while the skiing, rafting, and hiking can’t be beat.
Valleys, wildflowers, peaks and a town that boasts itself as the highest city in America. Leadville is literally tucked amid clouds. South Central includes Colorado Springs, a quaint hippie town that still calls almost 1/2 million among its’ residents.
Notable attractions: Rafters, kayakers and fishermen flock to Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River to try their hands and paddles at the river. High art meets mining in a place where the plains meet the Rockies.
You’ve read about Native American gems and beautiful scenery, this area is known for it’s wide open spaces.
Notable Attractions: The Hot Air Balloon Festival takes place in the lower Arkansas Valley every November. There’s also Bent’s Old Fort and the Santa Fe Trail or Comanche National Grasslands, over 400,000 acres of sprawling land where you can bring your own horses and ride (but Jaunt recommends going City Slicker and visiting a Dude Ranch where they do it all for you – see below).
St Julien Hotel & Spa http://www.stjulien.com – this super swanky property on Walnut Street is the first hotel to be built in downtown Boulder in 100 years. Their spa, and attention to detail and service, is some of the best in the city.
The Boulderado – http://www.boulderado.com – With a view of the snow capped mountains, this property calls itself ‘The first luxury hotel.’ A member of the Historic Hotels of America, it’s Victorian design and happening Corner Bar, is a place to rest, have a mango barbeque shrimp salad, and chill. 4-6pm Happy Hour or 12-2pm weekend brunch anyone??
Jill’s Restaurant – http://www.jillsdining.com – a modern bistro offering Metro American fare with Mediterranean influences by award-winning Executive Chef Jason Rogers. The menu at Jill’s is light and full of flavor, utilizing a wide variety of locally grown, organic, and free-range ingredients
The Kitchen Café – http://www.thekitchencafe.com – a laid back local spot for fresh, affordable fare
Shopping on Pearl Street Mall – just 1 short block from St Julien Hotel & Spa, this pedestrian mall is loaded with amazing boutiques. Highlights include: Chelsea Boutique – started by a group of sorority sisters from Colorado University, this shop is loaded with unique gems and favorites from Marc Jacobs, Theory, Tory Burch, and more – http://www.chelseabella.com/ or http://www.boulderdowntown.com/guide/shopping/apparel/womens-clothing
Rocky Mountain National Park
Boulder Beer Company Brewery & Pub
Boulder Creek Path – walk, bike, or in-line skate along this local, scenic path running parallel to Boulder Creek
2 hour Love Olive Me! Treatment at the Spa at St Julien
Sonnenalp Resort – http://www.sonnenalp.com – this sprawling resort property is nestled right in the center of Vail
Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa – http://www.vailmountainlodge.com
FYI…Vail is undergoing a “billion dollar renewal” and renovation over the course of 9-10 years or so with a new Ritz-Carlton residences opening in Vail village just steps from Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa
Restaurant Kelly Liken – http://www.kellyliken.com – Innovative seasonal American cuisine, inspired by local ingredients indigenous to the Rocky Mountain region. The menu changes frequently to showcase the market-driven produce and organic ingredients available with each season.
La Bottega – a local favorite for affordable Italian fare. http://www.denver.citysearch.com/profile/1975722/?brand=smx_restaurant-nc
From snow skiing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, hiking, river rafting and, of course, private cooking classes by celebrated local Chef Kelly Liken, activities abound.
Taste of Vail is coming in early April which is a huge draw for epicureans and surrounding areas interested in the culinary offerings of Vail.
For fun – try the authentic 1920′s Penny Arcade, the US’ steepest and oldest Cog Railway up Pike’s Peak
Shopping- BEST SHOES, Yardis – http://www.broadmoor.com/broadmoor-shopping.php
New Colorado Springs Fine Art Center – http://csfineartscenter.org
For all the horse lovers out there, might we recommend a good Dude Ranch?
For general info and good way to decide where you want to begin your trip try: http://www.colorado.com
Give me land lots of land and the starry skies above…