After my Labor Day Weekend trip to Chicago, I wanted to go somewhere completely different for my birthday. Somewhere that is not a city, not another country, but a place I can vacation and relax. I found that in Denver, Colorado, the location of my next trip. It was my 24th birthday and my friends and I decided to leave Friday night and come back Monday morning. Now I know it’s not a typical time frame, but I found traveling is something we enjoy even if it is for a couple of days. Also most of us work full-time jobs as well, so it made it harder to fully plan a whole week. To find a ticket? Well now that was easy with Spirit and we actually found a roundtrip for only $97.00! Yes 97! Crazy, I know! But Spirit has amazing deals and if you can plan in advance you’ll find tickets for an amazing price.
We stayed at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, which is such an amazing hotel with a great staff. We informed them of our late arrival on Friday and they had no problem accommodating us. The hotel was clean, in a great location, and affordable. Check out their website because the photos and rooms are the same in person. Now, getting around in Denver and with our itinerary we knew we would have to rent a car out for this trip. Thankfully Hertz was super helpful! We actually saved a large car because we were 6 people total beforehand and somehow during all of reservation with my employer a mix up occurred. It was late when we arrived into Denver and we just wanted to sleep, but the associate helped us out and we ended up with an Infiniti QX80, which is huge and literally a top of the line car for a great deal. The Hertz representative made everything easy and was so nice and it didn’t even cost us a ton. From the airport to the hotel it was about a 25-minute drive and to downtown Denver from the hotel about 20 minutes as well.
Saturday was here. We all decided instead of exploring Denver, we’d all get up super early and drive about an hour and a half to Colorado Springs. Another reason we opted to rent a car! Colorado Springs has so much to offer, check out their site for your future plans. We decided to visit the parks and all the nature touristy things we could fit in to the day. First we drove to Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, which is a train station that will take you directly to Pike’s Peak. The train ticket is about $40.00 per adult and you can buy ahead of time. Also you want to check out their site to know the times the train leaves so you don’t have to waste a lot of time. They usually past every hour and twenty minutes. Here you’ll find a view like no other and be about 14,100 feet above sea level. The train lets you see many incredible views along the way and if you have the time, of course, you can always opt to climb the trail to Pike’s Peak yourself. Just make sure you pack a jacket in case, because at the top it is freezing and in the middle of September the Peak felt like 10 degrees! There is a little café at the top, where you can find some pretty amazing doughnuts, hot chocolate, and most importantly water. Also just be aware of the altitude, you’re steady climbing up the mountain but you do feel your ears pop.
After feeling like you were on top of the world, the next place we drove to was the Seven Falls which is another spectacular view Colorado Springs has to offer. When we arrived there are signs everywhere to direct you where to go park and then you take a trolley, around the town which holds some very grand houses and hotels, and it drops you off the entrance of the Falls. You do have to purchase a ticket to enter, which is about $14.00, then your next adventure begins. Here there is a lot of walking and stairs to climb so just make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and ready for it or if you’re like me, have patience for other people in your party when climbing the stairs and being in that elevation. It’s not a joke, it’s like over 200 steep stairs to climb and not everyone is accustomed to climbing a lot, being in that elevation or the heights. The sites you’ll see however make all that walking and climbing THAT much better!
Our final stop of the day was to the Garden of the Gods, we planned to do this last because we were losing daylight and wanted to catch the sunset here, plus this park closes at 11pm. I recommend catching the sunset here because the view of the town and mountains is truly breathtaking. The Garden of the Gods park is free to visit and walk around. Here is where you’ll see the beauty of the red rocks, see the natural beauty the city has done so well to maintain, and probably the most important is the view you’ll experience. You’ll look over the city and see all the mountains in the distance and forest. It is truly an incredible experience. All 6 of us actually found a cute spot and just stared out at the mountains for a couple of minutes lost in our thoughts. We did take photos but none did it justice. This is a place you just have to experience for yourself. There is a lot of trails to take and exploring you can do on your own, you can truly just get lost in the beauty nature has to offer here. Again, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes to walk around a lot in and shoes that are good for climbing rocks.
We arrived to our hotel and changed quickly to go explore part of downtown Denver at night. The downtown area is super cute, filled with lights throughout the streets, hotels grand and beautiful and food everywhere. We ate at Rock Bottom, which is a brewery with amazing beer and food. The location is great, price is affordable and the beer, oh the beer, is quite amazing.
Our last day in Colorado we used to visit a friend and have fun in the city. We bought tickets to the Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts game because I’m a huge football fan and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Sports Authority Field. This stadium is unique because it is the highest stadium in all the National Football League in terms of altitude. Your body doesn’t adjust to being so high up and many opponents think it’s an advantage to the Broncos because since the visiting team isn’t adjusted to living so high up it can wear on your body. We sat in like the nosebleeds, but boy was the atmosphere rocking! Due to the time change we left early morning to brunch and watch the earlier games, we were eating right in front of Coors Field (Home of the Colorado Rockies) in a cute place called Tavern. The food was amazing, the bottomless mimosas even better and they kept coming, our waitress never let our glasses go empty. We left our car at our friend’s place nearby and took an Uber to the stadium since we were drinking and it was like a 10 minute drive. After the game we met up at our friend’s house again to grab our car and head to dinner in another hot spot in the Lodo part of Denver called Rio Grande. The Rio Grande has amazing Mexican food and our waitress was just beyond phenomenal, she actually used to live in Florida and once she found out it was birthday, brought me a shot of tequila. Which was the best shot I’ve ever had of tequila, I might add. The staff was so sweet, amazing and genuinely caring. If you’re looking for a hotspot in Denver to eat, go here! Trust me.
I must warn you though make sure you hydrate yourself. Everyone kept telling us to drink water even if we were not thirsty, but we thought we knew better. We thought the altitude wouldn’t get to us. The second day there we literally felt the altitude everyone describes. We just were not used to being so high above sea level, considering South Florida is almost at sea level. It was an adjustment and next time we know to stay hydrated, but it didn’t deter us from having fun and enjoying ourselves. Colorado was just the trip we needed. Yes, it had the excitement of being in a city, the craziness of the dedicated sport fans and amazing locals, but most importantly I found an unknown sense of peace and relaxation I never knew I needed. Exploring mother nature and seeing the scenery was so breathtaking, driving on our own and figuring out the directions was fun too. We got to see a different side to our traveling, the not so glamorous part, the part of guiding ourselves on the roads and making sure we get to the right exit but that’s where we saw the beauty. Colorado was an amazing way to celebrate my birthday! We all got much closer to mother nature and learned to appreciate it in a different way because we all live in Florida and don’t get to experience that every day. Go to Colorado, visit Colorado Springs, catch a game at “Mile High Stadium”, grab a couple of beers with the locals. There’s so much to do and see that you will never want to leave. If you have ever been to Colorado, let me know what your favorite place was. Mine had to be Pike’s Peak, because I literally felt like I was on top of the world.