Monday, October 19, 2015

Rocky Mountain High

When I found out that Adam had a bye-week mid-October I decided I needed to steal him away for a quick weekend out of town.  My original thought was to take him to the Bourbon Trails in KY, but the flights were sparse and ridiculously expensive (I'm a last minute planner).  PLUS, we really wanted more than 48 hours to explore the distilleries.  Next thought was traveling somewhere where we'd have a chance at seeing what a real Fall looks like.  Brown and crunchy here in Texas aren't exactly the adjectives I'd use to describe Fall.  So, we went back to the drawing board and added a few options to the list...somewhere in Maine or Vermont OR Boston.  The flights out that way were a lot less expensive (thank you, Southwest), but the flight times and connecting flights made me cross them off the list with a quickness.  I didn't want to spend more time traveling than enjoying our surroundings.

Colorado has been on my bucket list since forever and when Adam brought it up, we were sold.  Southwest was running an amazing deal on flights to Denver and we couldn't have reserved our seats at a more perfect time.  Our original plan was to stay in Denver on Friday and then drive to Estes Park on Saturday, hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, and then tour and stay at The Stanley Hotel (remember The Shining?! #redrum).  Sadly, the hotel was booked through November and Adam was convinced I'd be in love with Breckenridge a lot more, so that's where we headed instead.  

It was a whirlwind 48 hours, but I think I'm finally coming down off my Rocky Mountain High
 (John Denver, anyone?!?!)  Colorado...Breckenridge, specifically...has just shot up to the top of my list of favorite U.S. cities/states.  Swoon.

We arrived at the Denver airport mid-afternoon on Friday and drove to downtown Denver.  Adam loves Colorado and wanted me to see downtown before heading to Breckenridge.  We were starving by the time we got settled in,  so we walked to the little mall area downtown and found this great burger bar, 5280 (I highly recommend!!!), where we stuffed ourselves silly with fries, burgers, and a few of their handcrafted beers!! (I loved the Autumn Ale!)

What to eat:  
The Green Chili Queso & Fries - to die for appetizer
The Baja Colorado Burger (not ashamed to admit there wasn't a bite left on my plate)

Our personal favorite?!  The music!!!  They were playing the best 80's music and added so much to the already amazing atmosphere.  

.  We walked down to Larimar Square to shop around, grab a nightcap, and admire the foliage after burgers.  Seriously picturesque. I felt like I was in a movie :)  Larimar Square reminded me of the downtown area in Franklin, TN.  It was stunning!

Several people suggested we try Snooze for breakfast while in Denver and we were told they'd have crazy long lines so we should get there early.  We went to bed early and set our clocks for 6 am.  We like our food and we don't want to wait to eat if at all possible ;)  Luckily we got there at the perfect time...right around 7:30...and there was no wait!  This was, hands down, the best breakfast!  
We absolutely loved the restaurant itself...really cute and had a great little diner feel to it.  The menu was pretty big, so I was glad to have suggestions on what to eat.  Several people told me to go for the Flight of Pancakes and ohmiword...that did NOT disappoint!!!

If you ever find yourself at a Snooze eatery (we're getting one in Houston!!!!!), here are our suggestions...

What to Eat:
If you like something sweet....
The Flight of Pancakes (a pancake sampler, if you will) 
I went with the pineapple upside down pancake (my favorite of all three...real bits of pineapple in the batter topped with this ridiculous brown sugar butter), the cinnamon roll pancake (equally as delicious), and the blueberry danish pancake (with a surprise lemon creme filling).  

If you're more into savory....
Chilaquiles Benedict with hash browns (the best hash browns I've ever had)

What to drink:
The Cosmonaut (but get it on ice!!!  Best coffee cocktail EVER
The Jam Session Mimosa

I was excited to get an early start to our day. The restaurant started to fill-up by about 8:30 and we started our early morning road trip to Breckenridge.  I really wanted to drive through the Boreas Pass, so Adam mapped it all out and decided we'd head to Breck & through the Boreas Pass through a little town called Como. 

It's the tiniest little town.

Before arriving in Como, we pulled over to test out the selfie stick.   Our favorite travel accessory :)  Finding this stream of water at the base of one of the mountains was the perfect start to our day.  

Let me just tell you right now that driving the Boreas Pass starting through Como will have you on the edge of your seat.  Talk about white knuckle driving.  I'm pretty sure I didn't breathe for the first 10 miles of that ascent.  The driving path was so narrow that if another car would've approached us coming the opposite way I seriously think we would've fallen off the side of the mountain.  Of course there were no guard rails and I was convinced that the right gust of wind would have us careening off the steep sides.  All that to be said, it was totally worth it.  Here we were once we got through the most narrow area...YAY!!!  We're alive!!!

Can you see the mirror in the pic on the right??  And then the gravel below?  Where it stops is the edge and it's straight down.  TOO close for comfort, LOL!!!  I kept leaning toward Adam in driver seat as if that would help the car stay put :)

Each time we saw a place to pull over and park we'd get out to admire the beauty that is Colorado.  The views were so breathtaking.  I couldn't possibly articulate how stunning it is...this is just something you'd have to see for yourself!!!  Pictures clearly don't do it justice.  

We couldn't have been more excited to make it to the summit.  A nice little relief to all that white knuckle driving.  The Boreas Pass was once used as a narrow-gauge railroad running from Breckenridge to Como and at the top of the pass you'll find the historic Section House, cabins, and a boxcar (the only things left remaining of the original Boreas Station).  The cabins were locked up, but apparently they're used by cross country skiers during the winter.  This is also the location of the Continental Divide!!  Woo hoo!  And the altitude is no joke.  I was out of breath just hopping out of the car :)

We spent the most time walking around here at the summit.  I wanted to check out the cabins and Adam wanted to say he "hiked" to the top.  He's a mess.  We could've stayed up there all afternoon just exploring.  It was such an amazing experience!

I think we were just a couple weeks past seeing the flood of Fall colors on the Pass, but we did happen to see these gorgeous trees along the descent into Breckenridge. 

I mean.  For real.  Could this be anymore beautiful ?!?!!? (said in my best Chandler Bing voice).
The Boreas Pass was my favorite part of our trip.  Scary driving and all.  The views and scenery are unparallelled.  

All that driving anxiety helped us to work up quite an appetite, so we headed to Main Street and stopped to eat at Giampietro.  Someone suggested eating here in one of the comments, so when we spotted it we had to try it out. And pizza sounded SO good!!!  The perfect meal!

What to Eat:
Start with the Cheese Bread (the sauce is outstanding) and top it all off with pizza.  ANY pizza will do because the base is amazing.  Wash it all down with a Peroni :)

After lunch we walked around Main Street and I'm pretty sure I teared up.  Y'all.  If you've never been to Breckenridge, GO.  It is just beautiful.  The downtown area is so quaint and charming.  Adam knows me so well...this is just my kind of town!  But even more amazing than I could have imagined.  We went in and out of the shops lining Main Street and then ducked into this great little bar (Apres) when it started to rain. Not a bad way to wait it out :)  This was a great place for libations.  The setup was perfect and there were lots of board games available to play, too.  And tons of handcrafted beer on tap. And again with the music.  The best!!  60's & 70's classic rock which, in my opinion, is the perfect genre of mountain music.  We loved it there!

What to drink:
We recommend Death of a Gentleman :)

After the rain passed, we headed to the park area.  I was dying to see the blue trees that were filling up my IG feed!!

Fun fact.  The trees are painted blue to bring awareness to global deforestation.  You can read more about it here.  They were just gorgeous! 

These COLORS!!!!  The most breathtaking scenery!  I felt like I was walking through a movie.  

After walking around for a while longer, we headed to the hotel to check-in.  We stayed at One Ski Hill Place and I HIGHLY recommend it!!!!

  Our room was amazing.

And this was our view right off our huge balcony/patio.  I can only image how beautiful it is when it's all covered in snow!  It was a little chilly, so I grabbed a blanket to sit on the balcony and listen to some music before dinner.  

When it was time to head out, we had the shuttle take us to Ember.  This was another place recommended and it was delicious :)  We're adventurous eaters, so we like to try things that we wouldn't be able to find back home and the menu seemed to fit that bill.  This is definitely not a place I'd take kids.  While the food was really good, I don't think we'd go back....not because of the food (because it was great), but there are several other places we want to try!!  They have a menu that changes seasonally, so I would be interested to see what they offer during other parts of the year.  For Saturday night's dinner we started with an Indian take on tomato & spinach soup (pretty tasty) and I had the buffalo tenderloin.  It was served on top of a bed of cornbread stuffing (amazing) with a side of swiss chard (not my favorite, but that's not because of the way it was cooked.  I've never been a huge fan!).  Adam had the New York Strip with sweet potato and quinoa salad (really good!) and a side of brussel sprouts.  There wasn't a bite left on his plate if that tells you anything.  
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this place if you're looking for something quiet and quaint!

We walked to the Briar Rose Saloon for dessert and cocktails. We sat at the bar and loved the atmosphere. And the music!  SO great!  And our bartender was awesome.

What to eat:
Dessert - the cheesecake (one of the best I've ever had. Light and airy. Perfection on a plate)
Pair your dessert with a coffee cocktail.  I recommend the signature Briar Rose Coffee.

We called it a night after dessert and headed back to the hotel to watch a movie by the fire.  Not a bad way to end the day!

We slept in Sunday morning, packed up, and checked out.  We drove back to Main Street for breakfast.  We didn't want anything too filling, so we hopped into the cutest little Starbuck's for our overpriced Caramel Machhiatos and then we walked around one last time.  Several people suggested Crepes a La Cart and when we stumbled upon it on our walk I had to try one. There was hardly a line (which I heard is extremely rare), and we still waited about 20 minutes for my crepe...and it was worth every minute. Adam decided to pass, but I'm sure he regretted it when he saw mine :)  

What to get:
I'm a fan of all things apple, so I would suggest he German Apple Strudel crepe (but there are a million different choices, both sweet and savory.)  NO WORDS.  
Just amazing.  

We took one last walk past the Riverwalk Center and started the drive back to Denver to head home. SO sad to leave so quickly, but it was an amazing 48 hours of fun!  I can't wait to go back!  Only next time, we'll bring the boys :)  

There are a lot of places on my bucket list that I want to visit, but like I told Adam...I'd much rather come back to Colorado before I cross anything else off that list.  It was really that breathtaking.  I've been to Europe a handful of times thanks to a grandma who believed in learning through travel.  Italy will always be a favorite of mine and out of all the places she took me I'd love to go back there the most, but if I'm being really honest, I don't see myself traveling abroad again any time soon.  There are SO many beautiful places in the U.S. that I haven't even seen yet!  And I want to explore more of Colorado.  In fact, I really want to move there :)  

Such a perfect 48 hours!!!  Can't wait to go back!


  1. I'm so glad it was such a great weekend in my home state. Your photos are beautiful and I love all of your thoughts on the various eateries. We moved here from the east coast about a year ago and are still exploring it all- so fun! While you might have really enjoyed Breck, definitely come back and hit up Estes Park- its main street is quite similar and The Stanley is such a cool place to walk around and enjoy (and stay if you can- it was booked when we went as well). Plus RMNP is absolutely gorgeous too. There's so many awesome places to check out...... Next time! :)

    1. We will DEFINITELY be back and Estes Park is on our next stop!!! I'm dying to check out RMNP and, of course, EP too :) Colorado is breathtakingly lucky girl to call it your home!!! I'm in love and can't wait to visit again!!!

  2. Wow looks like an amazing trip! My dad loves his selfie stick that he bought when we took a trip to Rome this summer and at first I wanted to be judgmental and think it was tacky, but you know what? It takes great photos! Who cares what anyone else thinks. Where in Italy did you visit?

    1. Okay, I LOVE that dang selfie stick! We started taking pictures in CO and then realized you could only see our big ol' heads and well, no one needs to see any of that, so we stopped at a Walgreen's next to the hotel and picked one up, LOL. SO glad we did!!! I'm pretty sure my husband was tired of my selfie stick by the time it was all said and done, but it was seriously perfect for the mountains especially since there was no one around to snap pics of us!
      Oh...almost forgot...we went to Rome & the Vatican City. SO.MUCH.HISTORY. It is absolutely stunning. I'm also a little obsessed with the Italian culture. My mom's side of the family is from Sicily so I think I took to Italy a bit more than the other places we visited. I'd love to go back and visit Florence, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast :) Someday...after I start knocking places off my US bucket list ;)

  3. Where is Snooze going to be in Houston? We are in the Spring Branch area. Please tell me it will be close by!!!

    1. I just read that it will be on Montrose!!!! And it will definitely be worth the drive!!!

  4. I love Colorado! My husband lived there for a while and graduated high school there not too far from Estes Park! I'm so glad you had such a fun trip- FYI- COEUR D' ALENE, IDAHO should be high on your list. I may have to say it's MORE beautiful than CO. : ) Seriously though, I live within 10 miles of 2 beautiful mountain lakes. WIN WIN. Come visit! <3

    1. I've been to Idaho once and it was in the dead of winter!!! I remember the beautiful mountains, but what I remember most is the BITTER COLD!!!! LOL!!!! However, I think Couer D'Alene sort of sounds beautiful and I should probably visit, soon. As long as I can wear mycowboy boots ;) #twinning

  5. What a FAB trip Cara!! I must admit I love Houston but the weather. Being from the Midwest I sure do miss the fall. I pray God sends my family and I somewhere awesome. I miss this kind of weather. What a FAB getaway for you and the hubs. I'm all about that selfie stick life. :)

    1. Tiffany!!! I don't think I knew you were from the Midwest!! I bet you miss the Fall like crazy! And that selfie stick life is no joke ;) Miss your daily dose of IG inspiration, my friend!!! XOXO

    2. Yes, Iowa to be exact! I do miss the fall and the first snow. I've lived in Houston for 12 years now. I love Houston but the weather not so much. Lol you make me smile sunshine!! XOXO
      ((((((((((((((((((((( TEXAN HUGS )))))))))))))))))))))))

  6. You can stay at the hotel from The Shining?!? OH my word...I'd definitely have to pass on that one!!!

  7. OH MY GOODNESS! This looks like the most awesome trip. I've been out west several times, but always to go skiing and never in the fall. This is JUST.GORGEOUS. Now I'm DYING to go!!!! So glad you had a great trip!
    :-) Lindsey

  8. I have been dying to go to Colorado! It's very high up on my Bucket List. You have made me want to go even more!