I took my two sons on a week long trip to Colorado, along with my brother. We needed a summer getaway somewhere and Colorado came to mind. I had previously only been there in the winter. It had been at least ten years since I last visited for skiing. I’m a terrible skier, unfortunately.
In travel planning, Colorado seemed like a better alternative weather wise to somewhere else like Florida, which I’ll never visit again in the summer. Too hot. We had no firm plans except to spend the first four days in the Colorado Springs area. It seemed like a good starting point. Everything always seems to work out when I “make it up as a go” and I enjoy the freedom of an open itinerary.
The weather was a bit hotter than I expected – around 85F – but without any humidity, it was still enjoyable. Compared to 100F in Texas, it was still a noticeable difference.
We started off in Colorado Springs at the Great Wolf Lodge (GWL), which is waterpark resort. The area surrounding GWL is very beautiful with wide open spaces and the mountain ranges. The kids wanted to enjoy a couple days at the GWL so we wanted to get that out of their system first before doing outdoor activities. I thought I would hate GWL, but my brother and I had a good time, too. The brand new GWL resort is very well designed, has great amenities and the water activities were fun enough for adults, too. The kids had a blast swimming for hours.
We had a great view of the Colorado Springs mountain range from our balcony, right across the street from the Air Force Academy.
The Air Force Academy was a good way to spend a couple hours – the famous “chapel” shaped like a futurist triangle arches, impressive. We also got to see some cadets in training. After two days, we moved to the Academy Hotel, so we could spend our days exploring Colorado Springs area, without the high cost of a resort hotel.
We visited Garden of the Gods State Park and Santa’s Workshop Amusement Park, which is an old time amusement park from the 1970s. Both were fun visits.
For dinner, we had pizza dinner at Fargo’s Pizza, which an old time pizza joint where the workers dress up in old time outfits. They had an 80s’ video arcade, too. Supposedly, it’s one of the “largest” pizza restaurants in the United States. I felt a sense of déjà vu there, like I had been there before, which was very strange. The pizza was great – tavern midwest style, thin cracker crust, with corn meal.
On our last day, we attempted to summit up the famous Pikes Peak (aka “America’s Mountain”). Unfortunately, it was clouded over and packed with other tourists. We were not able to summit, so that was a disappointment. The long car drive up was driving the kids bananas. The high altitude also affected us — oxygen got too thin at 11,000 feet — so its not a trip to take without knowing your limits, especially for kids and older people.
Like most other popular “things to do” the famous sights are sometimes the most disappointing, over crowded with tourists, costly and time consuming. Lesser known options – like Santa’s Workshop – turned out to be far better choices.
BOULDER TO NEDERLAND
We then headed up to the Boulder area to stay with a friend. My friend graciously let us stay at her “cottage” in Nederland, CO, which I really loved – staying there really made the trip for all of us. Her house looked like a “cottage” on the outside, but inside it’s a luxury vacation home. Situated right on river, the roar of the water at night was a great way to unwind at night.
Nederland is a great mountain town, known for Frozen Dead Guy Days festival. Google it. The town has a “carousel of happiness” which is this old time wood carousel kids can ride for only $1 dollar. My kids loved it.
We then headed to Denver to finish out last couple days at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.
The drive from Nederland to Denver was spectacular, with twisty winding roads, but it became a bit much at times and I wanted to puke from all the switchbacks.
The Hyatt Regency Denver is a giant modern skyscraper hotel right in the middle of downtown. As a Hyatt Rewards Member, I always get treated swell and got a AAA rate that was cheaper than far lesser hotels with free breakfast, too.
In Denver, we hit up a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field (beautiful stadium), visited the Children’s Museum of Denver (best one we’ve visited – kids loved it) and The Wings over Rockies Air and Space Museum (super fun) which had a life size replica of an X-Wing from Star Wars.
Colorado in the summer is a great option for families, couples or singles: modern, easy to get around, and growing rapidly. I can see why it’s become one of the most popular states.
Now if I can only learn how to ski.
Tech: I snapped 1,014 pictures on my iPhone 7 Plus, not including about an hour of iPhone video in eight (8) days. That’s 127 pictures per day. I always take along an extra digital camera, but rarely use it. I find the iPhone just to the only device I need for about everything.
Hotels: Great Wolf Lodge, Colorado Springs Academy Hotel, Nederland (private cabin) Hyatt Regency Convention Center Denver.
Denver Places Visited: Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs, Air Force Academy, Children’s Museum of Denver, Coors Field, Wings over Rockies Air and Space Museum, Pikes Peak, Santa’s Workshop Amusement Park.
Eats: Fargo’s Pizza, Dave’s BBQ, Pizza Nederland