Sylvan Dale Ranch ~ Colorado Vacation That Will Capture Your Heart

Dude ranch vacations are becoming more common, with many people exploring this option for their next family trip.  Why are these venues so popular?  What should you look for when selecting a ranch?  And is this type of experience right for your family?  Plus a look at one I consider special, Sylvan Dale Ranch. The secret is out.  Dude ranch vacations offer a unique opportunity to unplug and live a relaxed, Western lifestyle for a few days.  They are truly amazing experiences, and here in Colorado we have numerous guest ranches available. My family has had the opportunity stay at a few of the Colorado dude ranches, and it’s become one of our absolute favorite vacations.  However, it pays to do your research, as there are definitely certain aspects to consider before selecting a ranch. Last Fall, we enjoyed a visit to one I think is particularly special:  Sylvan Dale Ranch near Loveland, Colorado.  Here’s an overview of our stay at this charming ranch, along with some helpful … [Read more...]

Come Discover Colorado’s Wild Horses

Colorado is known for outdoor recreation and miles of beautiful hiking trails. But did you realize it’s also home to one of only three areas in the United States set aside specifically for wild horses? Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area in Western Colorado is easy to find, free to access, and open year round. Here’s what you need to know to plan a fun day adventure there. Where to See Colorado's Wild Horses A hidden gem of western Colorado, Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area is home to a beautiful herd of wild horses.  This sizable area is over 36,000 acres of public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The herd is comprised of hearty mustangs, and ranges in size from 90 to 150. A group called Friends of the Mustangs works with BLM to ensure that both the range and the horses living here are kept healthy.   They also assist in annual roundups, and in finding adoptive homes for any animals culled from the herd. Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area Although it's … [Read more...]

Top 5 Experiences at Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Allow me to tell you a little bit about Colorado’s loveliest zoo!  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is truly unique, with one exhibit in particular that will knock your socks off, and possibly change your life.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a gem that has been brilliantly nestled along a mountain side, near Colorado Springs. Trails to view the animals slowly wind up the mountain, switchback style.  Foliage and trees are prevalent, and while some exhibits (like the monkey house) feel a little dated… most of the habitats are excellent. We visited on a cool, rainy November day.  Which I highly recommend!  The animals were active, and the crowds were very low.  One of the things I love about going to a zoo, is that each visit is unique.  Here are what we feel were the Top 5 Experiences at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. #5 Rocky Mountain Wild… Moose, Mountain Lions, & Bears! Especially given the natural Colorado Rocky Mountain surroundings, I loved the Rocky … [Read more...]

Treat Yourself to a Luxury “Daycation” at Sonnenalp Spa in Vail

The Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail Village, Colorado has created a new experience so guests can enjoy the day the Sonnenalp way. For daycation reservations please contact the spa at 970-479-5404 or email spa@sonnenalp.com My family has visited this amazing place, and we absolutely LOVED our time here.  You can see more about The Sonnenalp in my article I wrote for TravelingMom:  Sonnenalp Hotel - A European Getaway in Colorado. The Experience: Your pampered day at Vail's The Sonnenalp Hotel Spa will include the following: Spa Treatment One 50 minute spa treatment from the Sonnenalp Spa. Full spa menu here. Top choices include:  ** Signature Seasonal Scrub A gentle full-body exfoliation, blended with scents of the season. Removes dead skin cells and surface impurities, allowing the skin to retain moisture and a healthy glow. The scrub ends with a hydrating moisture application, leaving your skin softened and nourished. ** Spa Reflexology This holistic treatment stimulates the … [Read more...]

When a 7th Grade Hiking Field Trip Goes Awry

Last Friday was the perfect Colorado Fall day.  Sunny and high 60’s, absolutely ideal hiking weather.  My daughter’s 7th grade class was scheduled to do a class hike field trip.  I had the day off of work, and planned to join them.  Everything was right in the world. That is, until the bodies started hitting the floor. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Wait, Can We Bring Dog…?! So Friday morning we are scurrying around, packing lunches and getting ready for school.  I swear our Golden Retreiver Daisy must have spotted my daughter grabbing her hiking backpack.  You know those key items, that set the alarm bells off for a dog...”An adventure is afoot!!” Bless her 10 year old heart… she starts bouncing around like an excited puppy. “Oh Daisy, you can’t come on the field trip.”  Wait. Maybe she can? Since I planned on driving behind the school buses, and hiking with the kids – in theory, maybe we could bring the dog? Our plan was to have my daughter ask permission once … [Read more...]

Tips for the Best Colorado Fall Drive & Family Adventure

You just can't beat Fall color in Colorado!  When those Aspen trees turn brilliant gold, and contrast against the Rocky Mountain evergreens... it's a breathtaking sight to behold.  Here's my "Insider List" of where the locals consider the best Colorado Fall drive.  Plus my tips on exploring a bit off the beaten path, and how to keep your kids excited about this awesome family outdoor adventure. A year-round outdoor lover, I'd have to say that fall is my absolute favorite season in Colorado.  I've polled the experts, and seen many of these for myself.  Here's my Insider List of best fall drives. Top 5 Colorado Fall Drives NORTHERN - Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park CENTRAL - Kebler Pass, part of the West Elk Loop that ends in fun ski town Crested Butte CENTRAL - Grand Mesa Byway (My favorite! More on this below), 45 minutes from Grand Junction SOUTHERN - Last Dollar Road, from Ridgeway to Telluride, both awesome mountain towns DENVER AREA - Guanella … [Read more...]

6 Cool Things You’ll Love at the Denver Aquarium

Nestled in a lovely, easy-to-access downtown area, the Denver Aquarium is a fabulous option for families.  You'll even find some surprising, non-fish attractions!  Here are the top exhibits to see, how much time to allow for a visit, what to expect for a closing time, and whether the attached Aquarium Restaurant is a good place to eat. We had been to the Downtown Denver Aquarium a few years ago, and I don't remember being too impressed.  But for some reason, this recent visit was more enjoyable than ever.  Perhaps it’s because this time around we have a first grader son that loves fish?  Or that they are now under a restaurant brand's umbrella, and have upped their overall game to bring in visitors? At any rate, we were quite impressed and had a wonderful time.  I heartily recommend this Colorado attraction!  Here's my recap of what to expect, and the best exhibits to watch for. Travel Through the World’s Ecosystems Rain forest ecosystem at Denver AquariumThe layout of the … [Read more...]

Colorado Summer Fun with FREE Elitch Garden Concerts 2017 + Season Pass Perks

The school year is winding down, and it’s time to start plugging in some “don’t miss” fun events into your Colorado summer fun calendar.  Check out this upcoming music roster and incorporate some of the Elitch Gardens Concerts for 2017, and consider the perks of being a season passholder. There is no additional charge to attend the music concerts, they are free with park admission.  Plus, Elitch Gardens offers an excellent season pass deal of only $69.99 (more on this below), which will have you covered for lots of summer excitement. Located in the heart of Denver, when my family visited Elitch Gardens for the first time we had a blast.   My kids were ages 4 and 10 at the time, and both had fun.  These were our favorite Elitch Gardens Experiences we consider must-dos. We’d love to return some time and check out the water park area.  And planning our visit during one of these Elitch Gardens Concerts for 2017 seems like an awesome idea we may have to try. Elitch Gardens … [Read more...]

Start Kids Early at Summer Adventure Camp

Living in Colorado brings with it the privilege of easy access to a gorgeous outdoor playground.  It’s a large part of why my family lives here, yet it still takes an ongoing effort to get out there and enjoy it.  Even though we love the outdoors, we get busy with everyday life. Then there’s those darn screens, always ready-at-the-helm to suck time.  So I’m constantly looking for opportunities to fit outdoor play into my kids schedule.  Avid4 Adventure summer camps is bringing in the reinforcements, and has got you and your kids covered this summer. "Sending our daughter to Avid4 Adventure camp was one of the single best decisions we’ve ever made as parents. We learned much about her as a person and she felt awesome about herself and her experiences."                                                                                       ~ Avid4 Adventure parent Avid4 Adventure Summer Adventure Camps I absolutely love the Avid4 Adventure’s concept of summer adventure camps. … [Read more...]

Why You Need to See Colorado in the Fall

A year-round outdoor lover, I’d have to say that Fall is my absolute favorite season in Colorado.   The Fall colors in Colorado showcase a breathtaking mix of golds and greens, as the Aspen trees start to change color and contrast against the pines. There are numerous driving routes through the Colorado Rocky Mountains, available to behold this Fall splendor.  There's also an extensive trail system available for exploring, as the state is filled with outdoor lovers who love to go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and 4x4 off roading. Here are some ideas on best bets for accommodations, keeping your kids excited about the adventure, my favorite Colorado scenic drive, and when to come visit. Colorado ~ Where To Stay First off, what are your options for accommodations?  Well, I say go native.  And by that I mean... embrace a nice cabin with a fireplace and hot tub, if  you can! If you’ve never staying a luxury lodge style cabin… you are in for a pleasant surprise.  … [Read more...]