Imagine it with me, friends. Exploring the city on foot, taking train tunnels straight to Narnia. Beer tastings and amazing breakfasts. Fabulous hotels, excellent coffees, and views to die for. Does that sound like a good time to you?
Almost two weeks ago now, Greg and I returned from our long weekend away. And while reentry into the hustle and bustle of real life with four busy kids, a sacrament, and houseguests was sheer insanity, the trip itself was simply amazing. Greg did a fabulous job of organizing this trip and arranging for his mom to take care of our kids while we were gone.
I can’t wait to share lots of pictures with you!! I’ll link to the hotels and restaurants we loved. And I’ll also provide some links to other posts about why and how we make parents-only travel a priority. Sound good? Let’s go!
Day One: JAX-DEN
It just so happened to be Valentine’s Day when we left on our adventure. No, there was no intentional romanticism about that. It just so happened to be the day before our kids got off school for a 4-day weekend. A weekend which, thanks be to God, my mother-in-law and her friend would be caring for our kids.
Little did we know until we overheard the already semi-soused passenger in front of us order his beverage, but Southwest Airlines was offering FREE cocktails on their flights! How could we not order up our own? I mean, it would seem wasteful not to, don’t you think? And when they brought us each two cocktails instead of just one, it really seemed that our trip was up to an indulgent start.
When we finally arrived in Denver that evening, we took the shuttle train from the airport straight to our hotel. That’s only one on the many beauty parts of staying at The Crawford Hotel that is nestled into Denver’s Union Station. Other benefits? I mean, beside the beautiful rooms, friendly service, and convenience to downtown, of course. Well, you also get a free scoop of ice cream from Milkbox Ice Creamery every day, a free cup of coffee from Pigtrain Coffee Co., priority seating at Snooze (the best breakfast restaurant in Denver!), and free car service within a 2-mile radius. And those are just the benefits we took advantage of!
The complimentary robes and slippers along with the lavender and peppermint C.O. Bigelow bath products made for a cozy evening, too. Side note, I brought home a small bottle of lotion for each of my girls and they feel so fancy when they put it on before bed at night. Free souvenirs for the win!
Dinner on our first night was at Urban Farmer. Just a short walk from the hotel, it was a wonderful experience. Excellent food, friendly service, and a fun atmosphere. We had them make up a charcuterie board for us as an appetizer, then ordered a steak flight (yep, just like a wine flight or beer flight — but steak!) for dinner. So, so good!
Also, seeing as this vacation was 100% planned by my husband, I thought the sign that was posted over our table was highly accurate. Actually, it’s pretty accurate for my life right now! But that’s another story for another time.
Day 2 — Denver and Golden
One of my favorite meals to indulge in while on vacation is breakfast. I mean, why not, right? Well, thanks to a recommendation Greg got from a friend of a friend, we ended up at Jelly. Now, friend. If you ever find yourself this super kitschy, super fun spot in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, there are two things you need to order. One, according to me, is the mini doughnuts (see picture on the left). We selected four different flavors and split them between the two of us. The straight-up jelly and the Mexican hot chocolate flavors were our favorites. The other thing you need to order, according to Greg, is the iced mocha. He said it was the best he’d every had in his life.
After we left Jelly, we wandered past a pot dispensary (those things are everywhere, man!) and a tattoo parlor to end up at Wax Trax. The vintage music store had new and used CDs (ummm, when exactly did the “new” type of music I used to listen to become “vintage”?), 45s, t-shirts, posters, and that definitive smell of “old stuff.” Let’s say Greg enjoyed that more than I did.
Walking a little farther, we ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Yes, I’m one of those people who likes to look at fancy churches while on vacation. And, as luck would have it, we wandered in right as they were beginning the daily Mass at noon, so we stayed. Well played, Lord. Well played, indeed.
After Mass, we hopped in an Uber and for about $25 got a lift over to the Coors brewery in Golden, CO. The brewery tour was interesting (we’re museum people, so we love that kind of stuff). The beer was…beer (I’m not a beer person, but I did manage to finish a whole beer!). Golden itself is a quaint little mountain town that definitely plays to its stereotype.
After dinner that evening, we Uber-ed back to our hotel and completely crashed. Neither one of us had quite adjusted to the 2-hour time change. Waking up early and falling asleep early seemed to be the way it worked for us for pretty much the entire trip.
Day 3: Denver to Glenwood Springs and We Rode a Train!!
This was it. This was the day we were waiting for! And waiting was exactly what we were going to need to do.
This was the day that we were to board the Amtrak train, the California Zephyr, and ride out to a town called Glenwood Springs. But, as is apparently the case more in the winter than the summer, the train wasn’t running anywhere close to on time. Our 8:00 am boarding time was pushed back to about 1:00 pm. It ended up being just fine, though!
We were able to enjoy a more leisurely breakfast at Snooze (those blueberry pancakes, my friend — to die for!). Then we went to do some shopping at both the Tattered Cover bookstore. Honestly, I could’ve spent days in there. There’s just something about a bookstore that is run by people and not a corporation. It was so warm, so welcoming and cozy, and the little love notes to books that were posted on every shelf were literary gold. Greg also wanted to run into the Patagonia store, so we did. This Florida girl didn’t need to spend that kind of cash on a winter jacket, but I can see why people who live in that climate make the investment!
Finally, though, it was time to board the train.
Riding the train was a completely new travel experience for me. We had a sleeper compartment, which meant we had two large chairs, our own window, a door for privacy, and complimentary meals in the dining car. So fun!
Riding in a Winter Wonderland
For someone who hasn’t seen snow in I don’t know how long, this ride through the ever-changing topography of the Rocky Mountains was unbelievable. We’d be riding along with one view, go through a tunnel to the other side of the mountain and bam! We would have emerged into Narnia or some other sort of winter wonderland. We saw herds of elk, little towns and ranches that seemingly fell out of the sky in the middle of nowhere. Our path followed alongside the Colorado River that, at times, seemed to be nothing more than a frozen over creek. There were different types of rocks, different shapes to the mountains, and different plant life with every mile, it seemed.
But, I’ll just let these pictures speak for themselves.
Day 4: Glenwood Springs
Every time we told people we were going to Colorado, they asked if we were going skiing. The short answer to that is, no. The longer answer is that we just like to look at the snow and explore new places. And Glenwood Springs didn’t disappoint!
We stayed at the Hotel Denver which was located directly across the street from the quaint little Amtrak station. Another beautiful boutique hotel, Greg did an excellent job finding places for us to stay. While we didn’t actually swim in the hot springs the town is known for, we commented that, had our boys been with us, they would’ve been the first to jump in! Mass on Sunday morning was at St. Stephen’s church and we truly enjoyed the ladies and the coffee at Deja Brew.
Before we knew it, our little adventure was over and it was back on the train and back to Denver for us! Bright and early the next morning, we headed back to the airport and back home to our family.
Over the years, Greg and I have found that travel and exploring new places is one of our very favorite things to do together. We find that it’s the best way for us to reconnect as a couple and it really allows us to escape the sometimes overwhelming world of work and parenthood. To learn more about some of our trips and why and how we do what we do, check out these posts!