Local Microadventure: A Weekend in Estes Park

It’s so easy to forget how a local microadventure can be the perfect weekend getaway!

When the kind folks at Visit Estes Park invited Will and I up to visit the adorable mountain town a few weeks back, I jumped at the opportunity. Estes is one of those towns that reminds me of my childhood as I spent many a family vacation tucked away in the cabins of the local YMCA of the Rockies. However, I wasn’t sure if this trip would work; we’d been traveling a lot and I was reticent to leave Tals with a sitter again. Fortunately, we came up with a plan: why not bring Tally with us and showcase the dog-friendly side of Estes?

And so it was! We spent the weekend alternating between outdoor adventures to tire out the pup and indoor, human fun while Tals snoozed in the condo. It was the perfect combination and I felt good knowing that she was along for the ride.

We’ll chat about the dog-friendly hiking in another post. First, let’s focus on the must-do fun around town!

Rocky Mountain Resorts: Timber Creek Chalets

I’ve been down this road before: everyone in towns insists they love dogs but when you try to find a place to sleep–poof! No one will house your canine companion. {And if you’re a dog mama like me, you KNOW that’s stressful!} Fortunately, the crew at Rocky Mountain Resorts has pet-friendly accommodations and hooked us up with a quaint lil’ unit at Timber Creek Chalets.

All photos by Will Rochfort

Y’all, Timber Creek was perfect and I don’t say that because they comped our lodging. It was located on Fall River Road, just a few miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and smack in the middle of gorgeousness. Our unit was on the end and we had outdoor access through our private front patio: I didn’t have to walk Tally through a front lobby or public hallway! Three cheers! Truthfully, it was more of a small apartment since it had a living room with a fireplace, a full kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom with two beds….leaving one for Tals.

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Honestly, the best part was their attention to detail. Not only did they team up with Visit Estes to leave us a wonderful care package, but they didn’t forget Tals. She received an obscene bag of dog treats and some were decked out in doggy-friendly chocolate. I tried to explain to her that she was living the high life…but she was too busy scarfing down her snacks.

And did I mention our local visitor?

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Dancing Pines Distillery

This may have been my favorite of the trip! And no, not because I’m a lush….blame the chai liqueur!

Although Dancing Pines‘ mothership is located in Loveland, the mom-and-pop business recently opened a small branch in Estes, just in time for the 2015 summer season. If y’all visit town this summer, I highly recommend swinging by!

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We spent a good chunk of time with Jacob and Chris. Chris regaled us with stories of Dancing Pines’ history {he is one of the owners} while Jacob poured me sample sippy cups of drink after drink. Truth? I’m not typically a connoisseur of liquor and wouldn’t know a good whiskey from a glass of water. But I do know that I typically can’t handle liquor straight up; it makes me wince when the liquid hits my throat.

 

You know what else? That didn’t happen once! The vodka was buttery smooth {due to the 50-some times it’s been distilled} and the bourbon had a mellow, grainy quality that I enjoyed However, the home run of the evening was the chai liqueur! It’s still 30% ABV so not like a typical liqueur, but I was more interested in the taste: SO GOOD! I looked at Will in astonishment because it was almost like my morning lattes from Starbucks. Seriously, if you’re into chai, you need to try this stuff! {And yes, there is a bottle sitting in our liquor cabinet now…along with a second one of the Cherry Tart.}

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This original wall remains intact at Dancing Pines. There is even a bullet stuck in there!

The Rock Inn

If you like history, character and charm, check  out The Rock Inn when you’re in town!

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Brooke, our Visit Estes guide, took us to dinner here on Friday night and Will and I were enchanted with the old building’s charm. Sure, the food was good but it was the atmosphere that I really enjoyed. Built in 1937 as a dancing hall, The Rock has an authentic vibe that’s hard to find in tourist towns. A two-man folk band played music the entire time and locals sipped beer outside by the wood burning stoves. The portions were huge but I still managed to inhale half of Will’s dessert!

Naturally.

The Waterfront Grille at Estes Park Resort

Even though we ate a ginormous dinner on Friday night, Will and I both awoke on Saturday ready to eat some more. We had hiking plans in the morning, so we quickly threw on our clothes and headed to breakfast at The Waterfront Grille at The Estes Park Resort.

Of course, the food was awesome {salmon and cream cheese on this fancy-schmancy bagel that I didn’t even come close to finishing} and the view was astounding.

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But more impressive than either of those points was our waitress. Her name was Barb and she was the friendliest person on the planet! Turns out, she is an Estes-loving local playwright who knows the local history like the back of her hand. She regaled us with stories of Rocky Mountain Jim {a ruggedly handsome local trapper who was eventually shot in the head over land disputes} and Lord Dunraven {an English scoundrel who acquired a ton of land through somewhat questionable means.} She was so engaging in her storytelling that Will and I found ourselves running late for our morning plans. If you can catch her at the Waterfront Grille, I highly recommend it!

The Historic Park Theatre

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I love old movie theaters, and this one is a gem! Built in 1913, Park Theatre is the oldest operating movie theater in the United States, only showing films during the summer. We were invited to the theater to watch The Living Dream, a film released this year to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park. The film itself was fascinating and both Will and I enjoyed learning the history of the park.

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But I will admit that watching the historical film in a historic theater made it even better!

The Stanley Hotel

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The Stanley Hotel is a thing of local legend. In 1974, Stephen King stayed in Room 217 with his wife. As the story goes, they were the only guests staying in the beautiful old building, leading to long corridors and stark rooms full of creaks and groans of the unnatural sort. Triggered by the eery environment, King dreamt of his three-year-old son running through the hallways, his face full of terror. And thus, the movie The Shining was born with The Stanley Hotel as inspiration for the movie’s The Overlook Hotel.

Creepy, right?!

These days, The Stanley is insanely popular for weddings, dinners and guests looking for a beautiful-yet-mysterious environment. We were treated to dinner at the romantic Cascades restaurant, and it was fantastic. I mowed down on surf ‘n turf while Will ate a half of a chicken {seriously, it was the biggest bird I’ve ever seen!} After dinner, we attempted to walk off the food coma by checking out the gorgeous lobby. It’s decked out in stunning wood with an old fashioned car parked by the fireplace. We’re already making plans to come back and stay here for Halloween!

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Although I was not compensated for this post,  Visit Estes Park did pick up the tab for our weekend. For that, I owe them a huge thanks! Additionally, I’d like to thank Mountain Khakis who provided both Will and me with apparel for the trip. If you roll your mouse over some of the photos, you’ll see that I got fancy and used a new software called OVRHD to tell you all about the clothes worn in the images. I get quite a few emails asking about my clothing, and while I have no intentions of turning every post into a fashion post, I thought this would be a good way to cover both bases. Thoughts?

5 Comments

  • Reply Grainne May 26, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Great post! It looks like such a great place to go to for a weekend away.

  • Reply 3Up Beth May 26, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Looks amazing!

    I’m totally jealous of seeing the RMNP film in the Park Theater! That’s so cool.

    Looking forward to the dog friendly hike post. 🙂

  • Reply Angela @ Happy Fit Mama May 27, 2015 at 3:28 am

    You showcase all of Colorado so beautifully. Another place I need to visit soon.

  • Reply Angie May 27, 2015 at 9:49 am

    What a fantastic review! I would be happy to highlight it on our travel blog if that’s OK with you. Feel free to email me.

    Love that they had dog friendly accommodations, the chalet sounds neat. We love little quaint places. And I would have loved the liquor sampling lol

  • Reply Charissa (@ColourfulPalate) May 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I want to stay in that hotel! It looks wonderful – love the mountainous, rustic feel!

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