Traveling is one of those priceless life experiences. Getting to see and explore a brand-new place and create unforgettable memories is something you just can’t put a price tag on! While there are ways to be budget-friendly while traveling and make the most of your time on your adventure, taking a trip is always a yes in our book! Krista recently jetted off to spend time in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado. See her trip recap below.
Seeing a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater has been on my bucket list for a long time. I’ve debated over the past few years whether I just wanted to plan a trip and see whoever is performing when I go, but I decided that if I was going to travel all the way to Colorado for a concert, I was going to make it worth it! When my sister and I found out that one of our favorite bands, Hozier, was going on tour and that one of his stops was the Red Rocks, I knew this was my time to finally cross this item off my bucket list, and the planning begun!
We purchased tickets for his October 18th concert date and flew on an early morning flight from Philadelphia the day before! It was an easy direct flight with Frontier Airlines, and we arrived in Colorado on Tuesday morning around 8:30. We picked up our rental car and were ready to go!
We soon realized we were both starving! We knew we wanted to explore some of Denver, so we decided to try out The Lobby for brunch and this was an AMAZING decision. My goodness was this meal delicious – maybe we were just super hungry but between the drinks, apps and meals, it was the BEST meal we had (and we had some good ones on this trip). We both started with the Dirty Hippie, made with a vanilla chai-infused vodka, milk, and chai. It was perfection. For our starter, we ordered the Fried Green Goodness. It was made with fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese, pico de gallo, and a balsamic reduction. *Chef’s kiss* For our meals we shared Back in BLAT, a sandwich with thick cut bacon, avocado slices, roma tomato, artisanal lettuce, and aioli on sourdough; and Bubba’s Benedict, made with poached eggs, spiral cut ham, pimento cheese, English mun, hollandaise, fried onion strings, and breakfast tots. As you can see above, I obviously loved my drink and we were clearly starving…we ate everything! This was quite possibly the best brunch I’ve ever had, and my sister agreed!
We stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriot about 25 minutes outside of Denver in Parker, CO. It was clean, our room had two comfortable queen beds, and the town was very nice – plus free breakfast every day! Once we arrived, we checked out a bar across the street from our hotel and then decided to head back and just relax. This was the only downfall to an early morning flight – the early afternoon sleepiness.
We woke up the next day feeling so refreshed, and good thing because it was concert day!! We wanted to do some things around the concert venue, so we headed off to Dinosaur Ridge! It was an easy drive from our hotel and it was so cool! It is a paved pathway through a mountain where you can see real dinosaur footprints. There are choices for tours, or you can ride your bike or walk. We decided on doing the free one and walk our way through. I learned from my Vermont trip I took earlier in the month (read about it here) that sneakers are better to wear than boots, so this time I was sure to be in my sneakers! The main trail is a little less than a mile to the end, but you do have to walk back and you are walking up a steep mountain with no shade…luckily we had a beautiful day. The views from walking were amazing, and you could even see the tops of the Red Rocks Amphitheater! Throughout the main trail were smaller rocky terrain paths that you could take, but we decided to stay on the pathed roads. There were plenty of signs explaining what you were looking at and it was actually really cool!
After getting just a bit sweaty, we decided to check out the town that the Red Rocks Amphitheater is located in – Morrison, CO! It was the cutest town set in-between some beautiful mountains! We started off checking out all the adorable boutiques along the main road, which actually reminded me of all the little shops in New Orleans. They had tons of cute trinkets, souvenirs, and beautiful jewelry.
With all the walking we did, we decided it was time for another drink, and we found the perfect spot – The Red Rocks Beer Garden. It’s set in a little cottage with the cutest outside section, and they serve only Colorado beers, seltzers, liquors and food. (They have a small kitchen so the food was limited). We ended up trying their pumpkin beer, raspberry wheat, and a blood orange wheat, and they were so good! The best part – they offered $2 off your first drink with a concert ticket! At this point we were getting pretty hungry and wanted a solid meal before the concert. We asked the bartender where to go but he was torn between two places – we went with the casual one, The Cow, where we were seated by the friendliest host and had the best bison burger ever.
Then it was finally the time we had been patiently waiting for – concert time! It was about a 5-minute drive to the Red Rocks Amphitheater from town and easy to follow to parking lots! My sister and I got ourselves comfy, freshened ourselves up, and did some tailgating! We had so much fun just hanging out, people watching, and talking to everyone around us. We did notice a lot of the people were lining up versus tailgating…we just figured tailgating might just be Jersey thing, but we soon realized why!
Once it started to get dark, we decided it was time to head up (and literally up – it’s like walking up a mountain) and we realized people were lining up early for two reasons: 1) the lines get so long waiting for security (fyi their bag policy is very strict – I used the Lululemon belt bag but I did get my gum taken away…no gum allowed) 2) general admission is first come first serve and the more people that come in, the higher you have to climb. Fortunately since it was just two of us, we were lucky enough to snag two empty seats on the end of the second row of the GA section. We could see the stage and had prime access to the steps. I soon learned why so many people were bringing in blankets, too – you are sitting on cold rock benches! Luckily it wasn’t too bad of a night and I didn’t get too cold. Once Hozier graced the stage, I was in my glory. The theater itself is beautiful, the stars were popping out behind the stage, and it was just an overall amazing concert. He sang all my favorites and I loved hearing a full crowd of all ages singing his songs. Between his voice and the acoustics, it was just breathtaking. It certainly made my top three concerts of all time. I also want to add that the drive home was so easy and they do great with their concert traffic – we stayed the whole concert and had no problem getting out to the highway after!
Thursday morning we woke up still smiling and decided to get ready for our next adventure – Iron Mountain Springs in Glenwood Springs, CO. This was something we both knew we wanted to do so we bought our tickets in advance and decided on the all-day pass so we weren’t on a strict time schedule, especially since it was a three-hour drive from our hotel! When I saw how long the drive was, I almost said oh forget it, but I am sooo glad I didn’t. Once we got about thirty minutes into the drive we had the most breathtaking, beautiful views. The amount of gasps and murmurs of appreciation that came out of my mouth was no joke. You would think that after 2.5 hours you would get tired of the drive, but from all the views, it went by so fast and it was the most beautiful drive I have ever experienced.
I’m honestly not even sure what to consider this besides an experience. There are hot springs pools ranging from 90-109 degrees along the Colorado River, which serves as a gorgeous backdrop. You can purchase food and drinks, and there is a 21+ area that has hot springs pools based on hot springs from around the world, each with its own healing properties. They believe soaking in the minerals from the hot springs can heal ailments from GI problems, anxiety, skin irritations, and aging to a number of others. You can choose a timed pass or an all-day pass (like we did) that allows access to both sides and unlimited towels plus unlimited time within. We started out soaking in one of the pools in the CO side and it was just amazing. After a while we got our bearings and we decided to grab ourselves a drink and some snacks and head over to the 21+ side. I ordered the most delicious spiked warm apple cider and a charcuterie board pack and got myself comfy in the Dead Sea-inspired hot springs. After we finished our snacks and chatting with others in the pool, I decided to try the cold plunge pool and man, was it hard! I could barely breath in there, but once I got out and hopped on over to the France-inspired hot springs, I felt way better! We decided we were going to take our time and experience each pool in the world springs section. I want to add that while walking around outside sounds cold, they offer nice, warm towels and all the sidewalks are heated so it’s comfortable! After several hours of relaxing in the hot springs and lounge chairs along the Colorado River, the sun was starting to set and we decided it was time to start our long trek back. Again, the ride didn’t feel as long as it was, but driving along the mountain roads in the dark with no lights on the roads was a bit nerve-wracking. Thankfully we made it back with no problems and my sister and I both agreed that Iron Mountain is 100% worth the visit and worth that drive!
On our last day, we decided to explore the town we were staying in – Parker, CO. We decided since we were in Colorado we were going to experience their dispensaries. We found a highly rated one about 20 minutes from our hotel called The Green Solution. They had everything from your normal marijuana selections and gummies to rice crispy treat and cookies, plus ointment for your muscles and even cereal! I settled on trying some elderberry gummies that help you stay asleep! Hey – when in Colorado, you gotta try it! Next we decided to head over to West Main Taproom and Grill for lunch and we were not disappointed! We started out with some Hot Toddys with honey and ordered the green chili cheese fries. These sounded weird but my sister convinced me, and wow was I impressed. They were so good! I ordered a Buffalo chicken salad, and it sounds boring, but it was anything but! It had homemade ranch and buffalo sauce, the chicken was cooked perfectly, and all the veggies shredded up made it perfect! If you’re ever in Parker, I definitely suggest checking them out!
After lunch, we decided to try this winery that was only three minutes away – Purgatory Cellars winery. They are a family-owned business and they make their wine the oldest wine-making way there is…in clay pots! This husband-and-wife team from Croatia brought over their Croatian wine recipes and have won many prestigious awards! The wife, Ivanka, was so friendly and such a lovely woman to speak with! She let us try many of the different wines and even brought out Colorado grapes! Did you know that Colorado has amazing grapes due to the elevation? I didn’t! A lot of the grapes for wine making are from CO, and when she brought out the grapes for us to try…WOW they were so so good. By far the best grapes I ever had! They had a ton of wines to try from dry red to sweet white and even the best rosé I have ever tasted! I enjoyed it so much I even took the chance and brought a bottle home. Just to show how much of a chance – the Frontier Airlines checked bag limit is 40 pounds. On the way out there, my suitcase was at 38.7lbs, and I had already bought myself a sweatshirt, so adding the wine to my suitcase was certainly a gamble!
After our wine tasting and full bellies, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and pack up our suitcases for our early flight home on Saturday morning. Overall, this trip was worth every penny! If you ever come across the chance to visit Colorado, go! See the concert, visit the hot springs, experience the gorgeous views! The entire time I said to myself “why didn’t I come here sooner?!” Colorado, I will be back – but I have a few more travel bucket items left on my list I plan to cross off!
- Early morning flights are rough, but they give you almost a whole extra day.
- Search for your flights. If you’re like me (an over-packer), Frontier can be stressful with their 40-pound bag limit
- Sneakers are all you need – I brought cute boots and didn’t wear them once (and I’m not a sneaker wearer)
- Keep an eye on the weather – everyone told us how lucky we were with the weather we had. September and October can be hard months to go (it can even snow), but we were lucky with 70 degrees during the day and 45’s at night!
- Denver was not my cup of tea, and I can love city life, but I would try it again!
- Everyone is so friendly! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or chat with strangers – I’ve never met friendlier people!
- Take the trips – life is too short not to travel!