June 27 2005, 11:28 PM
Did you know that Colorado Springs has a great little historic district full of boutiques, cozy little restaurants, bed & breakfasts, day spas, bars, and college kids? It's true. I was there last Saturday night. How did I end up in Colorado Springs on a Saturday night, you ask? Fair question. I snuck out of town last weekend. I wanted a quick overnight stay somewhere not too far away, and since I had plans to visit the Colorado Renaissance Festival on Sunday, I was hoping for a neat little B&B somewhere down south. I found one nestled in a neat little neighborhood near Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs. Now, over the years I've heard plenty about the Springs -- mostly involving Focus on the Family, the Air Force Acadamy scandals, and so on -- and very little that made me think, "hey, what a great getaway!" But the price was right, the B&B I found looked great, and anytime I have the opportunity to check out a local historic district, I generally enjoy it. Plus, when we visited nearby Manitou Springs last summer, we were tipped off that all the cool kids down south stay on the west side of the Springs... which seems to be true so far. We found plenty of cool spots. Saturday afternoon we drove down and checked into the Holden House, a 1902 Victorian that has been restored and updated. The rooms are decked out in typical B&B frou-frou fashion, which is fine by me for the most part, give or take an overly cutesy teddy bear here and there. I liked that the rooms are furnished with great antiques but also sport brand-new oversize jetted tubs for two, air conditioning, and private sitting rooms. The Silverton suite where we stayed is in the old carriage house, so we also had a semi-private living room, kitchen, and front porch. We settled into our room and joined the crowd in the main house during the wine social, where we met a great couple traveling from Minnesota all across Colorado, doing all the things that us natives (okay, I'm only semi-native, but the point holds true) never do unless we have out of town visitors. They hit Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park, and all the other amazing spots we take for granted because they are right in our own backyard. Later, our evening innkeeper, Tiffany, pointed us toward La Petite Maison for dinner. We walked the two blocks over to the restaurant, tucked into a small historic home. The menu offers traditional French cuisine, and my lobster Napoleon with vanilla sauce was absolutely sinful. I tried the soup du jour, a creamy broccoli with a touch of sherry, we shared a bottle of crisp white Bordeaux, and opted to skip dessert in favor of a long walk around the historic district. Old Colorado City was about a mile up the road - a decent walk up a gentle slope that helped with the cream-sauce-covered-lobster guilt. Apparently this was the original capitol of the Colorado Territory, and 100-year-old buildings grace both sides of Colorado Avenue. We popped into the Colorado City Creamery for coffee and homemade ice cream, peeked into a couple of happening bar-and-grill type joints, and made our way back to the Holden House for a good night's rest and a well-deserved soak in the huge bathtub. Breakfast on Sunday was great, and since we are both grumpy in the mornings, it was well worth the extra $15 we paid to have it delivered en suite rather than eating in the dining room with the other guests. With apricot and cream cheese stuffed French toast, an excellent fresh fruit salad, just-baked cranberry muffins, OJ and coffee, the meal was nearly as guilt-inducing as the French feast the night before. Good thing we had plans to hike around Larkspur all day. We hit the road north toward the Ren Fest, and spent the day frolicking among the maids and minstrels. It's a great festival, and this year the owners have brought back many of the street performers that have been missing for the past few years. I was surprised to run into many an old friend (see my prior post about my many high school jobs there), and unlike my last visit, this time was wonderful and made me almost miss my days as a professional wench. Almost, but not quite. By the end of Sunday we were more than happy to be back home in our little bungalow in Wash Park. I like the Old West and Olde England just fine, but there is a lot to be said for hanging out in my good old home sweet home.