we just got back from our trip to CO the other day so i thought i would share where we went and what we liked.
landed in Denver around 11:30ish. where are the mountains? i was told there was mountains! all i see is flat farmland. they must have dropped us off in Kansas by accident! got our crepe and headed to Beet Box in Denver for lunch. YUM YUM YUM. i had the tofu banh mi (YUM!) and my husband had the chickpea of the sea sandwich (also yum but i liked the banh mi better). we shared a lemonade and got our daughter a big cup of soy milk. i love when i can go to places and actually get plant milk for her or my coffee. we headed out and bought two donuts for the next morning and a small chai caramel cake to share because it also happened to be our 11th anniversary.
headed out to Boulder where we were staying. finally started to see some mountains in the distance behind a lot of haze. (people told me later the forest fires and heat wave in NM/AZ was affected the weather and clarity in CO). we had rented an apartment over someone's garage on homeaway.com it was SUPER NICE. we had planned to walk around Pearl St that night and go to a brew pub for dinner but after a full day of traveling and not napping the 3 year old was NOT HAVING IT. so we stayed in the apartment for the night. i ran out to Whole Foods to get some groceries since we had a full kitchen (except no oven) and holy hippie haven! i was not prepared for the Boulder Whole Foods! i totally consider myself a hippie at heart but once i walked in i realized i was no hippie.
Toddlers dont do time zone changes so she woke us up at 5am. it was Father's Day and we planned to hike El Dorado Canyon. we ate our Beet Box donuts for breakfast (YUM!) and headed out. it was good she got us up so early because El Dorado Canyon ended up being SUPER busy. not sure if it was because it was the weekend or because it was Father's Day. we hiked the Fowler Trail (easy) and really enjoyed it. i had finally found the mountains! we ate a picnic lunch in the back of our rental car because all the picnic sites were booked. then we attempted to do the El Dorado Canyon trail which goes up a staircase but i had put my daughter on my back and that plus the fact that it was over 90 plus the elevation and i couldnt do it. i got to one point and realized i felt like i was going to puke my guts out if i could just catch my breath long enough to do it so we left. later that night we walked around Pearl St and went to Mountain Sun Brewing for dinner. i got a tempeh reuben which was good. the only weird thing that happened was the waiter had a tray of several drinks for several tables and put a kiddie cup down in front of my daughter and gave us water and i gave it to my daughter to drink thinking it was also water and she started drinking it and the liquid going through the straw was white. BLECH! COW MILK! i was like what the fizzle why do they just bring cows milk to kids? turns out it was totally a mistake and before i could even say anything the waiter came back and asked if he had given us milk by mistake. i think another table had ordered it and the cups got switched. so gross. totally understandable that mistakes happen but blech. after dinner we walked around Pearl St some more and got some gelato at Fior di Latte. i got the vegan dark chocolate and shared it with my daughter. it was good and then the toddler was on a massive sugar high for the rest of the night
monday we had breakfast at our rental place and then went to hike the Flat Irons. so beautiful! the weather was nice too. we did the Enchanted Mesa trail to start then ended up on a couple different trails and did a big loop. really enjoyed it. for lunch we got takeout from Sun Deli. i got the buffalo chicken sandwich per people's recommendation here. very yummy. definitely pizza place take out food (greasy) but still good. later we took our daughter to the Butterfly Pavilion which is slightly south of Boulder. it was very busy but pretty good. she liked it. lots of bugs and creepy crawlies. the butterflies were cool. for dinner we went to Twisted Pine Brewing Company. i got the one vegan thing on their menu which was an herbivore pizza with a hummus base. it sounded really good but was just ok. a lot of the toppings (carrots, walnuts, onions) i think they put on after they cooked the pizza so most of the toppings were kind of raw. we also got some chips, salsa, and guac thinking our daughter might eat the guac and somehow the guac tasted like nothing. ive never had avocado that tasted like nothing but this one did. we got to sit outside which was nice and our waitress was very nice and the chilled out atmosphere was cool but the food was just ok (not sure what the verdict on the beer was).
Tuesday was supposed to be well over 90 and even though the "dry heat" was actually quite nice for us since we are used to humid heat we decided to drive back to Denver to go to the Museum of Science and Nature because our daughter is obsessed OBSESSED with dinosaurs and they are supposed to have a really great dino display and they have a stego fossil statue and my daughter's favorite dino is stego. we got stuck in pretty bad traffic which we thought was from rush hour (it was a after 9:30/10ish though) but then we found that there was a traffic light that was blinking red instead of working correctly and everyone was waiting for a personal invitation to go through it. you people are way too polite! (they call drivers from MA Massholes for a reason). the museum was AWESOME and we got in for free because we have a membership to a museum at home that is part of a museum passport program. the dinosaur display is AWESOME. it's huge! they have all my daughter's favorite dinosaurs she was in dino heaven. we checked out the rest of the museum and it was really nice. it was good for toddlers. the science museum in Boston is great but it's a bit advanced for toddlers. the one in boston is a bit more science and the one in denver is a bit more nature. we really enjoyed it. we bought tickets to the special robot exhibit because my husband wanted to see it and it was just ok. it was neat to see but not worth the price of admission. after the museum we went to Sputnik Cafe for lunch. it's basically a bar/cafe. the food was good. i got the Israeli falafel and it was really good. my husband got some sort of BBQ jackfruit thing he said was good. we shared the fried pickle chips with ranch dressing and they were SO GOOD. the ranch tasted like my favorite vegan ranch recipe from Betty Goes Vegan. and the pickle chips werent greasy at all which i find sometimes happens with fried stuff (the bottom ones were but all the others were great).
afterwards we drove back to Boulder and our daughter fell asleep in the car and we drove up Flagstaff Mt. it was just ok. the views were pretty but a lot of trees have overgrown so you cant really see the mountains in the distance that well. for the evening we went back to Pearl St to wander around and ended up at Falafel King for dinner. yum! we both got some sort of hummus and falafel platter and i didnt realize it came with a salad and i dont think the dressing on it was vegan.
Wednesday we left Boulder and headed towards Estes Park. we did some hiking in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain Natl Park and hiked around Copeland Falls. then we hit up the Alluvial Fan area. saw lots of ground squirrels. i LOVE ground squirrels. i love critters. there is almost zero vegan options in Estes Park despite the rest of CO (at least Boulder and Denver) seeming very vegan friendly. we got takeout from Peppers Mexican. i just got the veggie burrito with no cheese/sour cream. it was pretty good. we spent the night at a "rustic" hotel.
Thursday we were planning on spending the entire day inside Rocky Mountain Natl Park driving Trail Ridge Road. we had coffee at Kind Coffee in Estes Park. they had vegan cookies but i didnt get any. we spent the day driving Trail Ridge Road and stopping at different areas. we made it all the way to the Alpine Visitors Center and climbed a staircase up to 12k feet, i did it with my daughter riding on my back and huffed and puffed my way up. really liked the park. loved the alpine tundra. saw 1 marmot, several herds of elk, and 1 young buck with a pretty good rack. did a few short hikes. that night we walked around Estes Park again and stopped at a Thai restaurant for dinner thinking it would have veg*n options. it surprising had almost no vegetarian options. i got pad thai and had to ask them to leave off the egg, chicken, and fish sauce. it was tasty though.
Friday morning we had breakfast at a starbucks inside Safeway because i needed to grab some more diapers then we started to leave Rocky Mountain Natl Park. we stopped at Lily Lake on the way and hiked around it. saw lots of ducks and saw one weasel/marten. then we drove 1.5 hours to Dinosaur Ridge which is in Morrison, CO. Dinosaur Ridge is cool. it's basically free unless you want to take the guided tour. they have some beat up dinosaur statues. lots of stegos so my daughter was in heaven. you can hike up the road a bit and walk a trail that has fossils but it was hot and we were so tired and my daughter is only 3 so i dont know how much fossils would interest her so we didnt do the fossil trail. she dug for bones in a little sand pit and we went into an exhibit hall which cost $2 a person. it's a good stop for kids who love dinos otherwise im not sure how exciting it is for others.
then we drove back to Denver. for dinner we went to Watercourse Foods. OMG NOMS. my husband and i basically hadnt eaten all day so we were tired and STARVING and we ate basically ALL THE FOOD. i got a choco/pb milkshake to share with my daughter. YUM. it was happy hour so we got two different appetizers for cheap. we got the buffalo seitan wings and some nachoes. both were good. the wings were a tad spicy for me. the blue cheese that came with it was SO GOOD. for dinner i got the tofish n chips which was so tasty and my husband got the baja tacos which was the tofish in taco form with a sauce. he really liked it. we got my daughter a side of mac n cheese and she ate quite a bit. for dessert we all shared key lime pie. it was good but it was a single little mini pie so there was quite a bit of crust. im not much of a crust person but the filling was great. the food was so good! and all that cost us only like $60 plus tip. it was surprisingly affordable for the amount of food we got. i thought it was going to be like $100. my husband said it was probably his favorite veg*n restaurant we've been to.
late that night i left our hotel and went to the Oriental Theatre to see some of my friends play a show that was a fundraiser for Bernie Sanders. it was a weird night! i ended up ubering both ways. my first uber drive would not Shuttest The Forsooth Up!. omg he kept yacking and yacking. it was starting to creep me out.
Saturday we went to breakfast at City o City. OMG NOMS AGAIN. having been in MA my entire life i find the idea of chicken and waffles weird and gross. my husband likes it and has it occassionally when he travels to TX for work. he got the traditional chicken and waffles and i actually got the southwestern style chicken and waffles despite my reservations. it had a chipotle sauce and im not a huge chipotle fan but it also had pineapple salsa, avocado, and pickled red onions. i thought that all sounded good so i thought i would try it. it was really good. the chipotle was definitely too spicy for me but otherwise it was really good. i assumed the chicken part was seitan and i didnt bother to read the description of the actual "chicken" and then a few bites in i cut a piece and realized it was cauliflower! i dont know how they made it taste like a chicken product but they did and it was REALLY good. we got our daughter some oatmeal and i even used a little of the maple syrup they gave her on mine and it was good with that too even though its a weird mix of stuff.
after breakfast we went back to the Museum of Science and Nature to kill time before our flight home. we went to see the dinos again and then went to the Discovery Zone which we had missed on our first visit. its an area for kids prek-2nd grade and it was AWESOME. they had a ton of building toys, a whole room of arts and crafts, several big really cool water tables and a whole "dino gulch" area that was for digging for fossils and they had plastic dinos to play with.
well you can guess where our daughter spent the next hour and a half.
the only places we missed food wise that i wanted to go to was a Native Foods cafe (they have them in both Boulder and Denver) and the Voodoo Donuts in Denver. weve been to the Voodoo in PDX so not a huge deal but donuts! traveling with a 3 year old is no joke so im just happy we made it to the places we did!
we had a great time in CO!
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