Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
I had to go to Boulder for a conference to present my dissertation proposal. I had never been to Colorado before, but I fell in love while I was there. The beautiful sites, the dry heat, the clean streets, and the surprisingly good food.
Colorado Springs, CO
The Mining Exchange
The first city we stayed in was Colorado Springs, at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains. We stayed in The Mining Exchange, a historic Wyndham hotel. Built in 1902 as a stock exchange for local mining companies, the property reopened in 2012 as a hotel.
The city has these quirky little humpty dumpties perched on the top of buildings. I have no idea why. My husband recalls this town being very strange – it felt safe, except for the fact that there were bums everywhere. Everywhere.
Our favorite restaurant was Springs Orleans, a New Orleans style restaurant right next to our hotel. We could have and should have eaten here every night.
Manitou Springs and Cliff Dwellings
Not too far from Colorado Springs is Manitou Springs, an artisan Southwestern mountain town. We had a chance to explore the town and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a group of relocated Anasazi ruined cliff dwellings. What a wonderful museum and site to see.
Garden of the Gods
We were most excited to explore Colorado’s trails. Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971. There are some key landmark red rocks the travel books tell you to check out at Garden of the Gods. We stayed away from those places because they were swamped with tourists trying to get photos. Also, we got to the park early, because, by mid-morning, there was a line formed to get into the park. This place gets nuts! One thing I learned is to stay hydrated and to go slow. I felt awesome on the way out, but nearly passed out on the way back. My body got hot on the inside from exertion and then, holy cow! I was HOT! Sunscreen, water, and appropriate attire are NOT optional.
After I nearly killed myself, we managed to find TAPAteria while on our way back. We were obsessed with the small size, galley kitchen, and authenticity of this old world, Barcelona tapateria. This was the perfect place to do lunch after a long hike and I am so glad we stumbled upon it. The menu features many of the dishes and tapas we found all over Catalonia and Barcelona. I like how they put a spin on each of the dishes we ordered. Everyone was super sweet, especially our waitress. The decor and atmosphere was super fun. They did so much in their small space- I love the bar and happy kitchen. We started with a few drinks- an Estrella and sangria of the day (plum=delicious). Had it been dinner, I would have struggled to choose one of their amazing wine flights. We tried the following tapas: jamon wrapped dates, artichoke pepper salad, garlic mushrooms, small charcuterie and patatas bravas. Everything- every single thing- was fantastic. I am so glad we found this place- would eat here every day if we lived nearby/ or in the state.
The Rabbit Hole
This was the place I was most excited to eat at being a huge fan of all things Alice in Wonderland, but it was packed. Apparently, other people were as excited as I was to drink and dine here. First, finding the restaurant is complicated. It’s in the basement, I think, but only accessible through what looks like a subway stop. We opted to get the butcher block for two, which was a mistake. Total meat coma. Not that the food wasn’t good, it was just way, way too much for two people. See photo below. Key learning: start small.
On our drive to Boulder, we stopped in Morrison, Colorado for some lunch. Yep, this parking board is really a thing.
Our lunch at Morrison Inn was fun. Great views out of the rooftop bar windows of the mountains nearby and the street below.
We loved Boulder. The streets were so fun to walk around on. There were artisans everywhere and so many great shops and restaurants.
We stayed at the Hotel Boulderado. It opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1909 and we rode the original 1908 Otis Elevator that is still in operation. Behind the check-in counter, we spotted our city name stamped on the safe – Buffalo, NY. Isn’t that wild?
The hotel is beautiful and features gorgeous views from any room. There is a new part of the hotel and a historic part. We stayed in the historic part and our room was quaint. There are tons of ghost stories about this hotel and yes, I definitely heard footsteps in the hallway in the wee hours of the morning walking too slowly for anyone who was really trying to get somewhere. As long as they didn’t come in my room, I was fine!
West Flanders Brewing Company
A few blocks from our hotel, we found our watering hole. West Flanders Brewing had good food, great beer, and a good atmosphere to dine in most days and nights.
Boulder Book Store
A good town is not complete without a good bookstore. The Boulder Bookstore is such a shop with books piled high, tall stacks, great architecture, and a lot of customers who feel the same as I about bookstores.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
I am slightly obsessed with tea and drink as much as an Irishman. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse was THE place I most wanted to see in Boulder and it did not disappoint. The city of Dushanbe built this Teahouse as a gift for Boulder to extend their culture and respect. The ceiling and walls are hand painted. It was so hot out that, unfortunately, we could not do hot tea. That is alright because they had a whole menu of iced tea. The menu had plenty of great selections to choose from. I just loved our experience at the teahouse.
On our last night, we ate at The Mediterranean Restaurant at the bar. This is another place that was packed. My husband most remembers drinking Pappy Van Winkle at the bar for $60 a glass! We did a tapas-kind-of dinner: edamame, patatas bravas, and a cheese plate. The food was good and it was fun to watch the chefs cooking at the bar. This is another place that was packed and it was such a big place with so many individuals rooms to be so packed!