Can’t Miss Denver, Colorado

Hey everyone,

So, I’ve been back from Denver, Colorado for a few weeks now and have yet to share my recap. If you remember, I took my Mom to Denver, Colorado on a work/leisure trip several years ago and I was so excited we had the opportunity to go again this year!

Instead of doing a day-by-day recap, I thought I would just highlight some of the sights and activities we visited while there and breakdown a quick review of my thoughts for each one. Let’s get started!

  1. Royal Gorge Canyon Train Ride

One of the first days we took a rental car and headed out to Canon City to ride the Royal Gorge Dinner Train. Canon City is approximately a 2 hour drive from Denver, but the scenery is BEAUTIFUL! Straight out of a Western movie!

The train advertised a beautiful drive through the Royal Gorge mountains and did not disappoint. We enjoyed gorgeous views and landscapes along the way. My only complaint about this excursion was the seemingly false advertising while purchasing tickets. We purchased tickets from the website and as soon as we added the tickets to the cart, a message popped up on the screen that said, “Purchase meal tickets now and save.” So… we purchased the tickets online for $20 each ONLY to discover once we got on the train nearly every meal on the menu was significantly less than we had paid for the meal tickets. Womp…womp…

2. Chautauqua Park

On another day, we visited beautiful Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado. Chautauqua is a small park which features some of the earliest settlers in the area and used to be a prestigious summer getaway. The park has a beautiful mountain landscape and is a quick and easy walk to the top to enjoy a breathtaking view.

3. Novo Coffee Cupping Tour

We traveled into downtown Denver one morning for a coffee cupping tour at Novo Coffee. This was such a fun experience! The tour guide explained the process of sorting the beans, as well as how different shapes of the beans bring out different flavors of the coffee. He then ground fresh coffee beans and encouraged us to taste 4 different flavors while we tried to guess which coffee matched the different types of beans. I learned there is a very specific process for “expertly” tasting coffee, from the temperature of the water, how long it sits, to carefully “cleaning” up the oils that float to the top of the glass. We were each given our favorite coffee flavor to take home as a gift.

I highly recommend this experience, as it only takes about an hour and a half and is just $15 per person. You can call ahead for times for tours and to schedule. So fun!

4. Adam’s Mystery Playhouse Dinner Theater

We attended a Murder Mystery dinner show at Adam’s Mystery Playhouse in downtown Denver. We had attended a dinner show on our previous trip and thought we would try another. The show was fun and quirky as this style of show tends to be. It was a fun night and we would definitely do this again! (That creepy statue in the background of that last picture cracks me up! Totally unplanned.)

5. Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge

We visited this refuge on our trip in 2014 and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to see it again. I’m so glad we did! The reserve is home to lots of wildlife and you are certain to see lots of deer and cute prairie dogs. The first time we visited we did not see any buffalo, but this time we saw LOTS of buffalo. They were so close to the car we could’ve reached out and pet them! (We didn’t.) One of the things I like most about the reserve is that it is just on the outside of Denver and it’s a free scenic drive. So relaxing and enjoyable to roll through slowly with the windows down so you can hear all the wildlife! But maybe roll up the windows when passing the buffalo… 😉

6. Cora Faye’s Cafe

We ate at very few restaurants that weren’t chains, but one place we were fortunate to discover was Cora Faye’s CafĂ© located in Aurora. At first glance, this little cafĂ© was definitely a “hole in the wall” joint, located upstairs in a small shopping center. However, the food was TO DIE for! I ordered the fried chicken and waffles (red velvet!) with black eyed peas and greens and I swear, I spent the REST of the trip talking about how good that meal tasted. Fun fact: Cora Faye’s CafĂ© was featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives. So cool!

7. Garden of the Gods

This free park is absolutely stunning and is located in Colorado Springs approximately 1 hour from Denver. The park is quite vast and features paved sidewalks for all to enjoy the park’s unique red rock landscape. We walked around the park for just over an hour and barely made a dent in the map. We visited the Gift Shop (this is where you can pickup a map) and the Trading Post which is also located on the grounds.

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8. Gleny Eyrie Castle

This castle is nestled among the red rock landscape behind Garden of the Gods and is completely secluded from view from the main road. It was such a gem to find and discover. The castle staff offer guided tours with tons of information and history about the family who built the castle and the life of the castle since. We loved checking out all of the fancy rooms, the beautiful grounds and we enjoyed a snack from the café before leaving. I would suggest calling ahead and scheduling for the tour because we really wanted to attend one of the Tea Time tours and it was booked up by the time we called. We were just lucky enough to get in on one of the walking tours on this day because the others were also booked!

And that was our trip! We had a great time and I absolutely think Colorado offers some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. I hope I get to return again one day!