Recently Girls Flight Out travelled to Colorado where we discovered the real high you get when visiting this state comes by way of its geographic diversity, mixture of charming small towns and urban cultural centres, and the people’s passion for all things outdoors. Colorado is considered the dude ranch and rodeo capital of the USA so we made sure the first leg of our trip was a four-legged one. Lost Valley Ranch treated us to an authentic western experience – to get a taste of it, take a gander at our Get Your Cowgirl On video.
4 Fab Towns You Must Hang Your Hat In
A weeklong trek saw us pulling into several Colorado towns as well as the State’s capital. While each stood out individually, all were as seamlessly woven together as patches on a quilt.
“We call ‘em the three B’s of Fort Collins,” our guide told us. “Beers, bikes and bands.” Sure enough, our tour included stops at a couple of the city’s 20 craft breweries most of which are located in historic downtown. Happily, the area also boasts artisanal coffee and chocolate shops, boutiques, bistros and bars. The town boasts a thriving music scene – painted pianos dot the streets – so this is the kind of place you can grab a pint, kickback and enjoy the sounds of local and international talent. For dins, we dug in at The Kitchen, a nearby restaurant with a long-table communal feel and local, sustainable philosophy. We snuggled in at The Armstrong Hotel in Old Town, a beautifully restored 37-room building that originally opened in 1923. www.visitftcollins.com
The first city in the U.S. to buy open-space land with tax-payer money, Boulder is a outdoor enthusiast’s dream with some 18,000 hectares of wide open space beckoning hikers, bikers, climbers and the like. For those who want to do something a little more laidback the Pearl Street Mall is comprised of a 4-block traffic-less street flush with shops, patios, restaurants and cafes. Rather than try to pick from the slue of places to eat, we joined Local Table Tours where Megan Bochulz, a local entrepreneur and food guru, took us to a few hotspots to sample. Afterward, we nestled into the quaint cottages at Colorado Chautauqua, a National Historic Landmark situated on 40 acres of land at the base of the Boulder Flatirons. www.boulder.com
After a rejuvenating stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort (think geothermal waters and luxury cabins) we pulled into Salida, a small town with the Arkansas River running through it. Surrounded by 14,000-foot mountain peaks, here art meets nature. The downtown streets are lined with restored century-old brick buildings housing art galleries, vintage stores, cafes and gift shops packed with the works of potters, painters, sculptors and the like. Home to FIBArk, which is billed as America’s oldest whitewater festival, Ladies put down your purses and pick up your paddle -- kayaking is must. www.nowthisiscolorado.com
As the wide-open spaces of Colorado gave way to the Capital’s urban landscape, as a concrete-hugger (by nature), I couldn’t wait to soak up all The Mile High City had to offer. We checked in to the contemporary, luxe ART Hotel located downtown, at which the suites, floors and lobby are adorned with curated hand-selected works of art. Our evening began at Cooper’s Lounge in Union Station, a transportation hub with so many interesting bars, eateries and shops, it’s a wonder travellers don’t miss their trains. Mind you, most folks there are locals or tourists unwinding over drinks and a bite to eat in the 100 year-old building that has been restored to the nines. After cocktails, we headed to TAG, one of many topnotch restaurants in Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest district, and then took a stroll beneath the pretty white lights strung across the streets popping into a handful of clubs. Day-time in Denver also offers plenty to do. The Denver Art Museum houses an extraordinary collection of American Indian and Western Art. And for a little retail therapy and to rub shoulders with the well-heeled locals, head to Cherry Creek North to check out the indie restaurants and one-of-kind boutiques. There, I met Cindy Johnson co-owner of Sol, a lingerie boutique and bra-fitting destination. She invites women on a girls’ getaway to book an appointment at her shop where with the help of professional outfitters and libations of your choosing – martinis, champagne, wine – you’ll enjoy a fun afternoon and bring home a souvenir that lifts more than your spirits! Speaking of spirits, two Denver establishments contributed wonderful cocktail recipes you can make at home. Go to www.becjager.com/tastes and give 'em a shot!
Must-Sees Along the Way
The Broadmoor – An idyllic 5-star 3,000-acre in Colorado Springs that’s been a playground for the rich and famous since 1918. We took a tram up to Restaurant 1858 at Seven Falls where the rustic but elegant food was as sumptuous as the scenery.
Garden of the Gods – On the way out of Colorado Springs we stopped at Garden of the Gods Park, a national natural landmark. The cluster of enormous misshapen red rocks is so jaw-dropping no wonder the park is the most visited attraction in the region. The movie at the Visitors Centre takes you back a billion years in about 15 minutes, and is well worth the watch. It answers the first question that will pop into your mind when you first set eyes on the rocks – how in the world did they get there? www.gardenofgods.com
Disclaimer: Rebecca and Samantha were guests of Lost Valley Ranch. All other aspects of this trip were provided by Colorado Tourism.