Words by Brett Callwood, Ryan Howe and Annie Mehl
Whether it’s here at home or across the country here are some great ideas for summer travel plans.
New York City
Colorado is beautiful; there is no disputing that. The mountains and 300 days of summer, well maybe not this year as the rain completely took over the latter half of April and the majority of May. But a break from such beauty is sometimes required, and why not hit one of the most tourist-visited spots in the country. Yes, we’re talking about New York City.
Visiting the Big Apple can become more of a burden than a vacation if you let the sheer volume of things to do take over what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. But, the tourist traps are the least exciting things to do in NYC.
The first thing to do is find a place to stay. Do not stay in Times Square, unless you want to be bombarded by a giant dancing Elmo every time you walk out of your hotel’s front door. We’d suggest you stray away from getting a hotel altogether, and browse Airbnb for a place to stay. Living with a New Yorker can give you an authentic experience of how different it is to live in a city with more than eight million people, as opposed to BoCo where our yards could easily house multiple New York City apartments. Prices of places vary, depending on location and number of people staying, but a one bedroom can go for as low as $60 a night to $400 a night.
After you find a place to stay, it’d be smart to fly into LaGuardia Airport, unless you want to spend the first two hours of your trip on a shuttle, then a train just to get to Manhattan from the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Once you arrive, take the first day to hit as many tourist attractions as you can. Start at the southern side of Manhattan, in an area called Battery and gaze at the Statue of Liberty without ever stepping off the island. If the view isn’t as marvelous as you’d hoped, carve out a little extra time to take a ferry to Staten Island to get a better view. Or, you can save a little time by walking the Brooklyn Bridge, killing two birds with one stone.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the more relaxing, fun tourist stops to make while visiting the city. Walking the length of the bridge is a must, not only to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty, but also to see the Manhattan Skyline, and count the number of selfies taken on the bridge. Just wear plenty of sunscreen.
People of BoCo know their food. But, don’t go to the city and try to find the nearest kale bar. Take a break from the healthy lifestyle and experience the grime that is New York City. After a trip to the Brooklyn Bridge the summer humidity, which is something BoCo residents are not used to, grab some ice cream from any street vendor. If you want to keep it at least a little healthy visit Big Gay Ice Cream in lower Manhattan, which offers gluten free cones.
Side Note: There are a few dining places that should definitely be hit when visiting New York. Of course, everyone needs a slice of pizza from a small shop, and there is no better place than Artichoke Basille’s Pizza. With a few locations in Manhattan, it’s easily found and even more enjoyable. Also, pick up some of the best dumplings you will ever put in your mouth at Vanessa’s Dumpling House, also located at numerous places throughout the city. Pies & Thighs in Brooklyn is the go to for a delicious, not so healthy, breakfast, alongside Peter Pan Donuts also located in Brooklyn.
To finish of the tourist day, hit Times Square at night. The later the better, because the hasslers asking about comedy shows and furry costumers will be few and far between, but the light show from the billboards and signs is still worth the visit.
Once your day of tourist attractions is complete, spend the rest of your vacation visiting small bookstores, or thrift shops. Walk the High Line. Try and find all of Keith Haring paintings scattered through the city. Visit a few bars in Harlem. Check out Central Park, and sunbath for a while. Get off the subway at a random stop and explore for a bit. Take your time and don’t stress about seeing everything. There’s a reason why it’s called the city that never sleeps. There is never enough time to do what you want.
After making the drive every week during the winter months it may get boring and car sick-inducing to be constantly driving up I-70 and through the same tunnel causing ones heart to race as they enter the tunnel because of the claustrophobia they developed over the years of driving up to the same mountains every week. Instead of driving west on I-70 up to mountains like Key Stone and Vail, another popular mountain is in the opposite direction. Following I-25 down south for a few hours, the mountain Crested Butte sits in Gunnison County. From Denver Crested Butte is about a four hour drive but is worth the summer experience offering a wide range in activities and summer camps for kids.
Being just one of Colorado’s famous mountains for great snow, and extreme ski runs, it also attracts tourists for the summer months. Crested Butte offers a fun downtown and night life, with events such as summer concerts, festivals and art shows. Others also travel down for hiking, camping, biking, archery, zip lining, rafting, horseback riding and so much more.
Beginning in July an amazing summer concert line ups will arrives at Crested Butte featuring famous artists from around the world such as Todo Mundo and other artists known mostly in our country like Jason Eady.
More active out door activities like hiking up the mountain of Crested Butte is a fun and adventurous way to spend the afternoon while also raising ones heart rate. Trails lead up to Elk Mountain Range, where a once in a lifetime view can be seen at the top.
Zip-lining is offered while staying at the mountain resort. Ranging in length from120-400 feet, the zip line is connected by bridges and plat forms. Shying away from land still, rafting and horse back riding are offered in during the summer months. Dodging sharp rocks, as your raft down the river of either Taylor or the Gunnison are both great experiences to be had at Crested Butte. Horse baking riding is an another option when one grows tired of hiking on foot through the mountain, trail rides through the valley still provide exercise and an alternative way to see the beauty that Crested Butte offers.
The Mountain town makes sure that it is worth the journey down to visit. Planning any of these events, as well as buying tickets and summer packages can all be done on the Crested Butte website at skicb.com/things-to-do/summer-activities.
With Colorado being famous for its mountains why would a true Coloradan be satisfied with only visiting a few of them? Or even a tourist. Everyone goes to Breckenridge but being able to make the trip down south and see Crested Butte, is an experience not every visitor is able to have.
The beauty of a trip to Long Beach is that you’re almost visiting Los Angeles without actually having to visit Los Angeles. Everything that’s great about a vacation to LA is within easy reach, whether that be Disneyland and Hollywood or Venice and Orange County. But at the same time, a stay at Long Beach offers the relaxation of a coastal trip in beautiful surroundings.
Sports fans can time their trip to coincide with the Long Beach Marathon or indeed the Long Beach Grand Prix. This is the place that gave the world Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz, so you know there’s something special in the air (if Snoop has anything to do with it).
Yellow Scene journeyed to Long Beach this year for the annual Iron N’ Ink Festival, a celebration of low brow culture that includes punk, rockabilly and outlaw country music, hot-rods, motorcycles, tattoo art and burlesque dancers. The festival takes place mid-June aboard the historic Queen Mary ship so, while the entertainment is top-notch, the setting is also stunning.
Other attractions in Long Beach include whale and dolphin watching, the awesome Aquarium of the Pacific, and the gorgeous harbor and waterfront which is ideal for walking and cycling. Long Beach is particularly unusual because it is both scenic and beautiful, but also just the right amount of edgy and rock ‘n’ roll. The hotels aren’t cheap but, if you’re looking for a flight trip that isn’t too far away, it’s ideal.
An old mining town about half an hour west of Denver is Golden. Golden is not only a destination spot for students looking for a great college, attending the School of Mines but is a fun tourist attraction. While in Golden one may climb up Lookout Mountain, hike through Golden State Canyon Park, check out Buffalo Bill’s Grave, learn about the history of Golden at one of the countless historic museums, taste the hops in the various beers at the Golden City Beer tour or even fly through the sky on a parasail. It seems as if the activities are limitless in the small town of Golden but these are just a few of the many actives that can be found in the beautiful town.
An adrenaline rushing way to see all of the beauties of Golden that you cannot see on land would be rafting down the rapids. Various levels of white water rapids exist, for someone looking for a slower ride, or someone wanting to get a little wet hitting rapids and paddling around rocks.
An easy afternoon can be spent just walking around the town shops, and enjoying brunch at one of the many Bed and Breakfast spots. Golden is a wonderful day trip for anyone wanting a quick weekend break from their office in the city, or looking to come visit the hot spots in Colorado for the summer.
After checking out from the bed and breakfast, one may head up I-70 towards Glenwood springs where another endless day of hidden explorations await.
On top of a mountain sits an Adventure Park where thrill junkies can ride on Alpine coasters, Cliff hanger coasters, Giant swings, and more. They are able to push their fears to the limits, reaching higher heights than just being on a mountain top.
After being up high, one may decide they are finished with heights and are ready to be on the ground, or even under ground? Glenwood springs also offers historic cave tours. Each tour has a different pricing depending on the package chosen. Everything can be seen on the Parks website at glenwoodcaverns.com
After a heart pounding day above ground and under, one may want to sit and relax. One of the many hot spots of the Springs are the Hot Springs. The famous Hot Springs are the perfect place for this. 15 minerals that help heal the body exist inside of these hot springs. Everyday these springs bring in three and a half million gallons of water, always keeping the springs flowing, perfect for a relaxing night any time of the year.
Down in southern Colorado, scenic breathtaking destinations await someone looking for a memorable adventure up a long road, and then back down a bumpy river.
Driving nearly 55 minutes south of Colorado Springs, a long road ascends up to a magnificent view of Cañon City. The Sky Line drive follows a one way waved road up US 50 on the edge of town. It’s not something for the faint of heart to try, as the narrow road seems more like a death trap than something your grandma would take on a Sunday drive after church. Unless, of course, your grandma was once a stuntwoman for the hot rod movies of the 1960s. If your legs, and stamina, are up for it we’d suggest taking a nice run up the road to avoid the imminent stress of not letting one of your treaded tires slip off the narrow road. Also, the view is too spectacular to take in from behind a windshield.
But now that it is summer the road is safer to travel, and the view of the entire town and all of the other destinations awaiting you will be spectacular.
Cañon City is home to the Royal Gorge Bridge which also includes the Royal Gorge theme park where someone can experience what is called the “scariest Skycoaster in the World.” This coaster holds the harnessed rider form a 100 foot tower to swim over the Royal Gorge.
Sticking closer to ground, but not on land is the famous Royal Gorge. This is where amazing rapids flow down the Arkansas River. Professional rafters float down stream, instructing tourists how to paddle and stay afloat when they hit the size four and five rapids. If the rocks are too terrifying for someone wanting to stay dry, smaller class rapid tours are possible as well, or maybe just a hike or rock climb?
Heading up north from Cañon City, world class rock climbing is built into the Lime Stone walls of Shelf Road. With around 700 climbing routes, this rock climb leads to beautiful scenery and campsites where one can reach hiking trails, ATV routes, and find horseback riders trotting through the trees.
Another trail route would be the Stulz trail. This trail serves as more than just a hike, it can be used for horseback riding, mountain biking, or running. It is open year round but is especially beautiful during the warm summer months, when one can hike and then cool off after by rafting down the Gorge.
As you pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel and cut through the beautiful rocky mountains, plenty of summer adventures await someone willing to venture only two hours north-west of Boulder County.
After escaping the tunnel, the exit for Keystone can be spotted where the mountain of Arapahoe Basin sits. Offering skiable slopes until early June depending on conditions, and with the mountains getting hit with snow lately, it may prolong the closing of the mountain. For anyone loving to ski, this would be a fun and unusual day being be able to ski in June.
Passing through Keystone and continuing north, the town of Breckenridge is only a little bit further up the road. Having a small but lively down town, Breckenridge is filled with boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Not only can one find entertainment just walking through the down town area, but more exhilarating adventures await the thrill seekers if they are not afraid of heights.
A ten mile zip line, spans more than 392ft and reaches more than 45 MPH, raps around the skies of Breckenridge ski resort.
If heights are a worry, more options for fun await on the mountain of Breckenridge. An alpine slide called the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster, rolls down 2,500 feet of the mountain. With two seats available in the car, each passenger is allowed to race down the mountain controlling their speed with a lever. The Coaster raps and runs around the mountain, providing not only an adrenaline rush, but a great tour of the forest.
Continuing north, soon awaits the prestigious mountain of Vail. Known for not only some of the best powder in the winter, Vail also offers an amazing down town shopping area with fine dining easily assessable when one grows hunger from a long day hiking.
Beginning at the base of mountain, the Eagle Bahn Gondola provides access to many scenic hiking trails. Each hike varies in distance, with the Eagle loop only lasting a mile, the trails grow longer and become more challenging. Tour plans with lunch packages are also provided for someone wanting a professional tour with along with the hiking experience. Maps are also provided for the adventurous person, wanting to take on the mountain without help from a guide.
Even further up past Vail, sits the famous mountain of Aspen. Drawing in foreigners from around the world to ski on distinguished slopes. Tourists are also captivated by the shopping that ranges from thrift shops to designers like Prada. Besides eating and shopping though, Aspen is home to the outstanding Maroon Bells.
Part of the National Forest, the Maroon Lake is surrounded by fields of wild flowers with roads open to all non-Motorized vehicles. This road is closed during the winter so summer is a perfect time to visit the national park that is otherwise unavailable.
Hiking around the lake is also an option, if one has the stamina for the long 12 mile round trip hike.
Colorado may be portrayed as a winter state, but the mountains are an all season tourist attraction. Making sure to offer various attractions to tourists of all needs, the view from the mountain is captivating even without the snow.
Visiting the city of Denver may not sound as outstanding as visiting the city of New York. However, Denver is currently one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. With mountains providing a magnificent background for the sky scrapers, Denver may be small, but is clean and ever expanding.
When in Denver, it’s fun to check out the outdoor mall on 16th street, eat at some of the finer dining places on Market or Larmier, ride a roller coaster at Elitches, go to the aquarium (which also offers five star dining), and checking out thrifty shops down on South Broadway, or walking or jogging on the beautiful side walks of Wash Park.
Experiencing just a day in the beautiful city of Denver might make one forget how small it is compared to LA because its beauty outranks probably every other city. Even though some of these tourist attractions may be possible in many cities, the experience you get doing them in Denver is unique.
It is easy to plan a day starting with breakfast at either Snooze or Sam’s Number Five diner, then heading down to 16th street for some window shopping in a city where the sun is shinning over 300 days a year, is a great way to start the day. Heading to the thrift stores and unique boutiques on South Broadway is not only entertaining but may hold odd treasures.
After this the option of reaching new heights on the Mind Eraser, or Twi ster Two, is definitely an option as long as you are able to hold down your lunch from possibly Chipotle? An inexpensive Colorado-based restaurant that rivals Qudoba.
Having dinner while watching giant fish swim over your head is always an exciting and entertaining experience to have while sipping on wine. Walking around the aquarium can lead into a few hour experience if you take your time looking at every little fish.
When it starts getting late, it may be time to travel down south to where the amazing fortress of Bishop Castle is located.
In 1959, Jim Bishop paid $450 to have an enclosure built around two and a half acres of land. Still only being a kid, Bishop’s parents paid for the rest of the parcel to be built and in the summer of 1971, the castle was built and continued to grow.
Now tourists are able to visit this castle anytime for free, and meet the people that live or work there. Tour guides are not provided, so tourists are able to rummage through the castle and over outside cages, and tours of the castle.
Not too much further south of Colorado Springs, one can get to the exit for the castle by following I-25 south and taking exit number 74, and heading to the mountains of Cañon City. After this you will begin on highway 165 for around 24 miles until the miraculous castle appears into site.