December 15, 2019

COLORADO TRAVEL GUIDE (denver & co springs)

Taking a trip out west has been on my bucket list for years, and back in November, I got to mark it off! Grayson and I flew into Denver, CO and drove about 1 hr 20 min down to Colorado Springs to visit friends Justin and Kyla! We have pretty mountains in SWVA, but they are nothing compared to the Rockies! I gawked over the scenery the entire drive to Co Springs. 

One thing I quickly learned - it was impossible to capture the beauty in a photo. I can't tell you how breath taking this little spot on the map is! I tried my iPhone, I tried taking videos, I tried my GoPro.. and I kinda gave up. So, if you've never been, I highly recommend a visit so you can see for yourself!   

Before I spill the details, Justin and Kyla get the credit for what we did all week. They took us to the best food spots!

We *over half* tackled the Manitou Incline on our first day! This hike is 2,744 steps and gains over 2,000 ft in elevation in a little under a mile. We would take a break after every 100 steps to avoid altitude sickness. The elevation change is REAL. I was soooo out of breath SO easily. It took us about an hour and a half to make it 1800 steps, which is where the bail out Barr Trail is. We were absolutely starving for bbq, so we walked the trail back down. Grayson and I could've made it to the top, but that meant we probably would've had at least 3 more hours to go before food, so bbq won. And it was some of the BEST bbq I've ever had.

Rudy's bbq was a quirky spot with sweet tea and wooden picnic style tables that gave it a hometown southern feel. Not to mention the best banana pudding and cobbler to top it all off. It was just what we needed after the Manitou hike!

In addition to the best bbq I've ever had, I also ate some of the best pizza of my lifeeeeee. I'm a huge pizza lover, and I might have to go back to Colorado Springs just to get my Bambino's pizza fix. It's a Subway style set up, and after you customize your pie, they put all the Italian goodness in the brick oven to bake. Fresh mozzarella, the perfect crust, so much flavor. It's pizza heaven, and only like $10.

All of us are from the Bristol area, so Justin and Kyla took us to Bristol Brewing, but in Colorado 🤣 I'm not a fan of craft beer, it all tastes bitter to me, but this place was great! Apparently the fresh mountain water has a lot to do with it. So now I'm a craft beer lover when in CO. 
Bristol Brewing was in the neatest spot at Ivywild School. It's actually an old and super pretty elementary school turned marketplace with food, drinks, art, coffee, farmers markets, etc. And they kept the school vibe with places like "The Principal's Office" and "Teachers Lounge".

We ventured up to Denver one day so we could see Red Rocks Amphitheater and all the fun things in the city. Since we were here so late in the year, there weren't any events/concerts at Red Rocks, but I've heard it's an amazing place to see a show! I'll go back for a concert one day, for sure.

While in the city, we checked out Union Station (gorgeous), Larimer Square, Denver Pavillions shopping, and had some DELISH Mexican food at Otra Vez Cantina.

Small world side story: so I got a margarita at Otra Vez, the waiter checks my ID and sees that I'm from Bristol, VA, and says "hey, do you know so and so" I'm like um, yeah I grew up with the dude. And the waiter's like, "Oh cool he's one of my good friends! He works right across the street, I'll see if he's working if you wanna go say hey.". Like whaaat? I'm 1,200 miles from home, and the waiter is good friends with a guy that I've known my whole life. Cray cray. 

I think Garden of the Gods was my favorite part of the week. I kept sending my parents pictures and mom's like.. "Maybe it's prettier in person, because it just looks like a bunch of rocks and dead stuff." 😑
Back to what I said at the beginning - pictures did NO JUSTICE to anything! The rocks and formations were absolutely massive! One of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. You can drive through, get out and walk the trails, or even take a horse ride! They also have an awesome shop called the Trading Post. It's a giant gift shop filled with all the cheesey souvenirs you expect plus lots of  super nice clothes, jewelry, and locally made items! 

So much to do, and so little time! If it's up to me, we'll be back next year to tackle Pikes Peak, Bear Lake, Rocky Mtn Ntl Forest, and maybe even a whole new city like Boulder or Aspen! Hope you enjoyed my little recap, and I'll list everything we did with links below so it's easy to find!

Manitou Incline
Garden Of The Gods & Trading Post
Pikes Peak
Red Rocks Ampitheatre
Union Station
Larimer Square
Denver Pavillions Shopping
Co Springs First and Main shops

Bambinos Pizza
Bristol Brewing
Ivywild School
Rudy's BBQ
Urban Egg good breakfast!
Rock Bottom restaurant & brewery
Otra Vez
Hu Hot amazing Mongolian grill
Dutch Bros Coffee (went here almost daily 😂)