Travel Mondays: Colorado

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A little less than two weeks ago now, Brady and I escaped the early Minnesota chill for a few days in warm Colorado (it was in the 60s and 70s there throughout our trip!). My Aunt and Uncle have lived there for years and ever since they converted a downtown Colorado Springs Carriage House into their dream house (it’s truly darling), they’ve been begging for visitors. After finding tickets on the cheap through  Frontier airlines, it was now or never, and I’m so thankful we went.

My first experience in Colorado was at the tender age of fifteen when I attended camp in the surprisingly vibrant town of Manitou Springs. Those formative weeks at camp followed by a week with my Aunt and Uncle in Colorado Springs were special to me, and I wondered how this second time around would compete. Readers, our few days exceeded my expectations and if you’re in need of a quick getaway, I promise you can’t go wrong escaping to the mountains.

Since my Uncle grew up in Colorado Springs he knew exactly where to take us and it’s always such a treat to be shown around by ‘a local.’ Keep reading for our itinerary and tips to help you plan your next trip to ‘Little London.’

#1:  Get lost in Glen Eyrie.  The former home of the founder of Colorado Springs and present home of the Navigators, a Christian nonprofit based in Colorado Springs, visiting the Glen is alike to unexpectedly finding yourself in Downton Abbey. Modeled after upper-class English estates, General  William Palmer saved no expense when building this dessert oasis for his wife and three daughters and the charm of the grounds, 17 guest rooms and grand dining rooms still feels magically out of place in the American West.

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#2: Burn off breakfast at Garden of the Gods. Named by two Americans smitten by its grandeur and natural beauty, this scenic range of red rocks is fittingly called Garden of the Gods. It’s a popular place for novice and advanced rock climbers and , so long as you stay on the path, is a perfect picnic spot.
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#3: Have tea and read a book at The Broadmoor. Gotham City had Batman and the Joker and nineteenth century Colorado Springs had General Palmer and Spencer Penrose. Unlike Palmer who aimed to civilize Colorado Springs—he so named the city to reflect the idea of luscious flora and fauna—Penrose wanted to keep things untamed. After earning a fortune at Cripple Creek (keep reading!), Penrose toured Europe for inspiration on how to create the most luxurious and lustful of hotels. The Broadmoor was the result.

The Broadmoor

The Broadmoor

1462956_10201292378132950_1742022770_nSince its founding in 1891, the Broadmoor has earned its Triple A Five Diamond reputation and boasts such clientele as American presidents, movie stars and, my personal favorite, Prince Harry. If like me, you can’t afford the steep price tag, simply slip into Broadmoor for the day. Lunch at the welcoming Golden Bee and after a walk about the grounds, cosy up to next to one of the many fireplaces with a good book.

Overlooking the sleepy gold mine town of Cripple Creek

Overlooking the sleepy gold mine town of Cripple Creek

#4: Gamble at Cripple Creek. Exploring Cripple Creek, the last of the great gold mining towns,  was an unexpected highlight for me—in part because of the scenic drive through the foothills and, in larger part, because I got to gamble away my husband’s money.  I was very proud of the fact that though I gained no money, I only lost fifty cents.

A South African company mines gold here to this day.

A South African company mines gold here to this day.

The Cripple Creek District Museum is well worth a visit and gives you an accurate and sometimes amusing peek into the rough life of those seeking to strike it rich. A favorite oddity of mine was a photograph of ‘saloon ladies’ at the time named Greasy Gertie, Slippery Sadie, and, memorably, The Victor Pig.#5: See history in the making at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  We spent our last day in Denver, and wondering through this famed natural science museum—one of America’s best—felt like becoming six again. The variety of collections and displays was enough to keep anyone engaged and I especially enjoyed the museum’s collection of dinosaur bones. The museum also hosts a team of scientists piecing together recent excavations and you can watch them in action, gently chipping away dirt to reveal the treasure underneath.  My little sisters would have loved this museum and, if traveling with kids, this museum is really a must.

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If you find yourself with more time, take time to visit Manitou Springs—an eclectic town only minutes from downtown Colorado Springs. Eat at one of the many local cafes before tasting  water from one of Manitou’s many natural springs, which calls to mind the altitude! The dry air and high altitude can easily wear you down, so certainly keep a water bottle with you at all times and should you decide to hike, take your time. After all, the panorama of mountains and sky is alone worth the trip.

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