The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
City of Iridescence
A multimillion-dollar restoration has Mexico’s Mazatlán looking better than ever.
Mazatlán, “the pearl of the pacific,” has been welcoming tourists since the 1500s, when Spanish conquistadors showed up looking for a beach…from which they could ship the gold they stole from the native populations. Because of the riches flowing through the port, the city’s Centro Histórico district flourished before the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. Shortly thereafter, the town center fell into disrepair and languished—until recently. The city completed a nearly $400 million renovation just in time for Carnaval Mazatlán 2018, six days (February 8 to 13) of exuberant exhibitions, including the ritual burning of a puppet to release negativity from the city, the Festival de la Luz fireworks display, and parades. Much of the revamp focused on Centro Histórico, and Denverites can experience the restoration firsthand thanks to Sun Country Airlines’ new seasonal (from January 24 to March 7), three-hour direct flight to Mazatlán International Airport.
The sidewalks along the oceanside promenade have been expanded. The streets have been retrofitted with ruby-hued stone. And vintage streetlights reminiscent of Mazatlán’s gilded 19th century have been installed to light the way to eateries—such as elegant Casa 46. Then there’s the nearly 20 miles of beaches running alongside the Pacific Ocean. Take in the blue waters from Casa Lucila, an eight-room boutique hotel that was once a restaurant frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Located right on the ocean, Casa Lucila features sparse but beautiful decor. Papa would definitely approve. $149 to $295 per night and $189 to $325 on holidays
So what if you don’t have any milestones to celebrate in 2018? These spots do. Feel free to live vicariously.
- 100th: In honor of its centennial, the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs is hosting a Colorado Appreciation weekend from January 12 to 16, when Centennial Staters can vacay like one percenters for just $149 a night (rates typically top $300.)
- 75th: On 10th Mountain Day (March 2), World War II vets who trained at nearby Camp Hale parade at Cooper, which is celebrating its 75th year. The next day, Leadville hosts its skijoring festival. Stay at the Delaware Hotel to catch both. $99 to $250 per night
- 50th: Celebrate Snowmass Ski Area’s golden bliss at Viceroy Snowmass, whose new Dine & Dash package has dinner waiting for you in your room when you arrive Friday. Then, on Monday morning the hotel makes predawn grab-and-go burritos so you can commute back when the highway is clear. Rooms start at $550 per night (plus $80 for Dine & Dash, excluding alcohol)
More Winter Weekends
Sunlight Mountain Resort’s Ski, Swim, and Stay offering, available all season, is growing up. Kids 12 and younger still ski for free, and an après-ski dip at Glenwood Hot Springs remains gratis. But this season, Sunlight added Carbondale’s Distillery Inn, inside Marble Distilling Co., as a lodging option so adults can hit the tasting room before they hit the hay. $334 per person, per night to stay at the Distillery Inn
Year-old Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs boasts an epic 50,000-square-foot indoor water park adjoining 311 kid-friendly suites. Another perk? The hotel provides so many dining options—from pizza to doughnuts—you don’t have to leave the grounds at all. From $199 a night (includes entry to the water park)
Quaff with the Neighbors
With 15 craft breweries and 12 distilleries, Salt Lake City has become a real gem for lovers of artisanal booze. Spend your nights sampling at Uinta Brewing, Avenues Proper, and Wasatch Brew Pub. Then dry out during days spent skiing at one of the nearby mountains (Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, or Brighton). In between, slumber at the Anniversary Inn, where every suite has a theme, such as Phantom of the Opera.
Located in the picturesque red rocks of western Colorado, Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa is worth the haul—especially from February 15 to 18 during its Winter Wellness Weekend. Listen to health and wellness speakers, enjoy yoga programming, and attend demos by chef Thomas Hartwell. From $199 per night
In Kansas City, a 90-minute flight from DIA, stands the splendid Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Don’t miss Through the Eyes of Picasso (it runs till April 8) or the museum’s painting from Monet’s majestic Water Lilies series. Rest your head at the historic Raphael Hotel in the retail mecca of Country Club Plaza. From $329 per night
Frontier Airlines has been expanding its offerings from its home base at Denver International Airport. Why buy a ticket to ride with the, um, minimalist carrier? Because shelling out for in-flight peanuts is a small sacrifice to make in order to reach these now (or soon-to-be) accessible destinations and their epic attractions.
- Boise, Idaho (coming in 2018): Boise boasts one of the largest Basque communities in the country and is proud of it: The Basque Block features a cultural center, museum, and authentic eats—like the divine “pintxos” (translation: tapas) at the Basque Market. Plan a visit during the San Inazio Festival, an annual showcase of Basque cuisine and culture in July.
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada (coming in 2018): The National Music Centre, inside the new Studio Bell building, has 2,000-plus artifacts, such as Shania Twain’s Toronto Maple Leafs stage outfit. That does impress us much.
- Reno, Nevada (already flying): Rent is cheap at the 2,000-room Grand Sierra Resort and Casino (sometimes just $49), which just refurbished its pool area by adding daybeds, cabanas, a splash pad for kids, and even a petting green. Feel free to blow the money you saved on the room at the casino.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan (coming in 2018): During the ArtPrize festival, from mid-September to early October, Grand Rapids transforms into a citywide exhibition. Works are staged in museums, galleries, and (many) top-shelf breweries around town.
- El Paso, Texas (coming in 2018): The Camino Real Hotel, built in 1912, reopens this year—after a $35 million face-lift—as Hotel Paso Del Norte, providing lodgers with a fresh look at its stained-glass dome bar and ready access to restaurants and museums in the Union Plaza district. Cinephiles won’t want to miss August’s Plaza Classic Film Festival, the largest classic cinema festival in the world.
- Palm Springs, California (already flying): Relax at the Ingleside Inn—a 1920s-era Spanish estate whose 30 rooms were recently renovated—before exploring the desert landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park. From $279 per night
- Albuquerque, New Mexico (already flying): Architects incorporated Ancestral Puebloan design into the layout of the months-old, 118-room Hotel Chaco, mixing those concepts (like aligning the building with the movement of the sun) with modern conveniences, such as double walls for sound insulation. The result is an upscale lodge that celebrates history without skimping on amenities. From $189 per night
It’s time your family had its own luxurious estate—if only for a spring weekend.
The Kennedy’s have Hyannis Port, the Bushes have Kennebunkport, and the Trumps have…whichever golf course the president happens to be “working” from that day. But just because your family isn’t part of the presidential elite, that doesn’t mean it can’t enjoy the luxuries of a secluded compound for the weekend. Welcome to Bella Vista Estate, a seven-acre private resort on the edge of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest near Steamboat Springs. With three lodges that together can house up to 28 people, Bella Vista has the capacity to accommodate even the most extended of family reunions. Meanwhile, the sprawling property boasts enough amenities—a pool-size hot tub, a saloon bar (pictured), three kitchens in which to feed your hungry horde—to meet even Uncle Randall’s annoyingly highfalutin tastes.
There’s also an included, ready-and-waiting shuttle on-site to run you into Steamboat proper (about 10 minutes), and management can schedule a brewery tour or an excursion (from skiing to horseback riding, depending on how late in the season you arrive). But what you’re really paying for at Bella Vista is the chance to retreat from the distractions of the outside world. From the log benches around the outdoor fire pit, you’ll take in the full scope of the Yampa Valley, cut by a shimmering ribbon of river, and view the Flat Tops Wilderness in the distance. Nothing else will disturb your private sanctuary, so you can concentrate on connecting with the people who matter most—Uncle Randall included. $2,500 per night for a three-night stay from April 1 to May 31
Escape Colorado’s interminable winter in nearby Arizona, where the weather is warm and the recreation endless.
Baseball: Mountain Shadows resort opened last year outside Scottsdale. So after spending the day at one of the 10 spring-training sites nearby, you can luxuriate by one of two pools with views of Camelback Mountain. Around $400 a night
Golf: The Boulders Resort in Carefree not only ranks as the best golf resort in the Southwest (so says Golf Digest), but it also offers myriad instructional packages, meaning you’ll be sharp when Denver’s courses defrost. From $359 a night
Hiking: Northern Arizona’s Page is close to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Antelope Canyon, and (what’s left of) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If you need a rest day, the views from Lake Powell Resort’s waterfront pools aren’t bad either. From $108 a night
Relaxing: The Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary at the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, which debuted in 2016, employs botanicals and aromatics crafted from natural elements found in the desert. We highly recommend the Prickly Pear Body Therapy. From $399 a night
More Spring Weekends
Deckers may have amazing fly-fishing, but the town is also close to a splendid stash of wildflowers. Near the southeast corner of the Lost Creek Wilderness, Goose Creek Campground provides access to the 9.4-mile (one way) trail of the same name, along which blossom pink woods’ rose and lacy white yarrow, beginning in May.
The Eastern Plains are rife with striking plumage, and coloradobirdingtrail.com maps where to find our state’s feathered friends. One great way to spot a slew of birds is by camping at Two Buttes Wildlife Area. Home to roadrunners and prairie longspurs (to name a few), Two Buttes is a way station for winged beauties refueling during migration season.
To ensure the kids’ brains don’t turn to complete mush during spring break, follow the Santa Fe Trail from Lamar to La Junta. Near the route, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for learning, such as the Boggsville National Historic District in Las Animas (Kit Carson’s last home).
FoCo’s New Old Town
In February, Fort Collins’ River District will get a new restaurant, Union, from the owners of Old Town cocktail bar Social. Nearby, the Exchange development will begin serving craft brews and bites—including treats from Churn, Little Man Ice Cream’s latest outpost—out of converted shipping containers. Stay at the Elizabeth Hotel, a new luxury lodging option in Old Town that pays homage to local music with record players in each of the 164 guest rooms. From $159 per night
One Last Run
Feeling robbed by the late-arriving powder this season? Make up for lost lift time at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Crested Butte is offering half off stays at the Grand Lodge, the Lodge at Mountaineer Square, and the Plaza from April 1 to 8, and kids 12 and under get free lift tickets.
A River Runs Beside It
Buena Vista isn’t just about the Arkansas anymore.
Nestled into the banks of the Arkansas River, Buena Vista has long been a great put-in for paddlers. But over the past decade, the town, population 2,778, has morphed into a destination even aquaphobes love to visit—and it’s about to get even more attractive to anyone looking to book a multiday getaway.
The 42-room Surf Hotel, which opens this summer, is the brainchild of Kennley Selby and her husband, Jed, the pro kayaker turned developer largely responsible for BV’s emergence as a one-for-all vacation spot. In 2005, the Selbys broke ground on South Main, a river-adjacent development that has blossomed into a river park with five waves, 12 vacation rentals, and the Surf Chateau, a 20-room boutique inn overlooking the water. On sunny afternoons, weekend visitors sample Colorado beers from 10 rotating taps at the Jailhouse, located inside—wait for it—the old town jail. At night, they wander to the Lariat, a two-year-old music venue and restaurant, for live music. But the river-averse don’t just drown their sorrows at the nearest bar; there are a dozen fourteeners in the county and several nearby hot springs. Plus, Intentions Spa, located just south of downtown, offers massages, facials, and pumpkin glow body wraps.
In the Surf Hotel, the Selbys hope to deliver a touch of sophistication to BV’s dining scene with an upscale restaurant on the first floor. To prepare for the as-yet-unnamed eatery, the Selbys attended the San Francisco Baking Institute, where they learned to make the City by the Bay’s distinctive tartine bread. But you won’t have to fill up on just carbs: They’ll also source fresh ingredients from a nearby farm and feature top-notch wine and cocktail menus. Once the meal is over, guests can head to the Surf Hotel’s concert venue—which, overlooking the Arkansas, might be the most distinctive place to hear tunes this side of Red Rocks. From $175 a night at the Surf Chateau (rates not yet available for the Surf Hotel)
Follow the prompts to find your perfect warm-weather retreat.
If You’re Cool with Taking a Flight…
A Rustic Destination: Land in Vernal, Utah, which is just south of the Flaming Gorge Resort. The rooms are basic (and reasonable, at $125 a night), but the waters are spectacular: One seven-mile section of the nearby Green River contains some 70,000 fish, including handsome brownies, rainbows, and cutbows.
An Upscale Destination: Sunriver Resort in Oregon boasts comfy lodges and hotel rooms, four epic golf courses, the updated Sage Springs Club & Spa, and eight restaurants and bars—all in the shadow of the sloped splendor of Mt. Bachelor. Plus, it’s only about 15 miles from the city of Bend’s 26 breweries. From $252 per night
If You’d Prefer to Drive…
OK, OK—we hear you. The Pines Lodge, the second-best resort in the Centennial State, according to Condé Nast Traveler, is a two-hour drive from Denver. The 60-room Avon hotel features a secluded pool with views of the mountains and is just steps from hiking trails where you can find the solitude you need. When you’re done, unwind with an in-room massage or tuck into seasonal cuisine at the on-site restaurant, Grouse Mountain Grill. From $199 a night on weekends
When your top choice is booked, look down the road. —Natasha Gardner
- Destination: Glenwood Hot Springs Resort‘s 90-degree mineral waters during mud season.
Option A: The 100-plus-year-old Hotel Denver and dinner at its ground-floor Glenwood Canyon Brewpub.
Option B: Book a room at an inexpensive chain in nearby Carbondale and enjoy burgers and local brews at the Goat.
- Destination: The slopes (after a March storm has laid a blanket of powder.
Option A: The Vintage Hotel at Winter Park Resort or, really, any room at the base. After all, you’re here to ski Mary Jane.
Option B: Search for an Airbnb cabin in Fraser, where you can often reserve a property with a hot tub, easy access to snowshoeing trails or sledding hills, and gorgeous views of the valley.
- Destination: FIBark, Salida’s annual white-water rafting festival in June.
Option A: The Amigo Motor Lodge, a renovated 1950s motel that, with its Southwestern touches (think: sun-bleached cattle skulls on the walls) and modern furniture, puts a trendy spin on a timeless aesthetic.
Option B: Reserve a tent spot at Cotopaxi’s Arkansas River KOA, which overlooks—and has access points for—the same water you’d float in Salida (with fewer river rats).
More Summer Weekends
Under the Big Tent
Take United Airlines’ new route from DIA to Moab (beginning in May) and proceed to Under Canvas Moab, which is close to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Then again, after seeing the deluxe tents—king beds, full bathrooms, patios—you might find it difficult to venture far from camp. From $209 per night (open March 8 to October 30)
Swedish (and) Fish
Only a three-hour flight from DIA, Seattle offers new cultural offerings (including the Nordic Museum) as well as standard tourist spots (like the recently expanded Pike Place Market). Should a downpour erupt, run to two-month-old Hotel Theodore, a shelter showcasing Seattle-inspired art. From $249 a night
Lyons, In Wait
WeeCasa rents out 22 funky, 135- to 250-square-foot abodes on South St. Vrain Creek—perfect for a summer floating or fishing trip. We also recommend WeeCasa as a base during Lyons’ summer events, such as Oskar Blues’ Burning Can Festival in June. From $109 to $209
Utah’s Park City is home to 400 miles of amazing singletrack for mountain biking, and many hotels offer special packages (see parkcitylodging.com). Once you’ve locked up your steed, refuel at the new Riverhorse Provisions, a casual spinoff of Park City fine-dining staple Riverhorse on Main.
North Country Culture
Begin with a Friday showing of Newsies: The Musical at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown (June 28 to August 26; tickets from $60 for adults and from $30 for children five to 12). After spending the night at the charming Berthoud Inn & Events, head north for the 35th edition of Loveland’s Sculpture in the Park (August 10 to 12) show and sale at Benson Sculpture Garden, home to 158 distinct pieces. From $125 per night
Things might get hot in these luxe lodgings.
Echo canyon river expeditions has been guiding rafters down the Arkansas River for 40 years, but it only recently entered the resort game. In 2017, the outfit’s offshoot, Royal Gorge Cabins, opened nine modern, well-appointed cabins and four glamping tents near Cañon City. And, yes, you could enjoy the cabins during the summer—along with the billions of other people looking to gawk at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Or you could slip away with your significant other during the fall—when the kids are, mercifully, back in school—for a romantic weekend. Although rafting season typically ends around Labor Day, you can still go fishing with Royal Gorge Anglers or take a ride with Colorado Jeep Tours over the country’s highest suspension bridge to the top of Fremont Peak to catch sight of Pikes Peak. (Royal Gorge Cabins has a partnership with both outfitters.) Then again, there’s nothing wrong with lighting a cozy fire and taking in the view of piñon trees and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from your perch high above Cañon City, the unexpected romance capital of Colorado. From $179 per night for a glamping tent and from $319 per night for a cabin
Three ways to find foliage gold this fall.
- By Foot: A weekend at Snowmass Cottages puts you close to the aspen- and fir-lined Capitol Ditch Trail; the spectacular views of Capitol Peak are a bonus.
- By Car: Gape at Longs Peak’s golden canopy along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, which runs from Estes Park to Central City. Feeling lucky? Stay in the casino town of Black Hawk.
- Lawson Adventure Park and Lodging near Idaho Springs has a challenge course, a bungee trampoline, and cabins and yurts. Be sure to carve out a half day for an aerial view of the treetops with outfitter AVA Rafting & Zipline’s Cliffside Zipline trip.
Oh, the Pageantry
You don’t have to love football to love college football weekends. Here, a ranking (from good for everyone, to football junkies only) of gridiron getaways.
Colorado State University
The Team: Who cares? They sell New Belgium beer at Colorado State Stadium.
Stay: Remington Flats, located within stumbling distance of the stadium.
U.S. Air Force Academy
The Team: Win or lose, the lively cadets make for a great atmosphere.
Stay: The Antlers Hotel, whose 273 rooms, lobby, and craft-brew-centric bar were revamped
The University of Wyoming
The Team: The Pokes beat CSU and Air Force last season.
Stay: Wherever—but don’t miss Bar Band on Friday night. The UW band bursts into downtown bars and eateries to play tunes.
The Team: CSU Pueblo won an NCAA Division II title in 2014.
Stay: It’s OK to wake up in the clink. The Station on the Riverwalk, a boutique hotel, opened this past April inside a former Pueblo jail.
More Fall Weekends
Home on the (Driving) Range
Adulting can put a crimp in your travel plans. Escape responsibility for the weekend (without leaving Denver) by securing a campsite for September’s three-day music extravaganza, which is being produced by Superfly Productions, the organizer of Bonnaroo. The details are still thin (the fest doesn’t have a name yet), but the tunes will be played at Overland Golf Course and big acts will likely abound.
Forget the Alamo
A two-hour flight away, San Antonio offers weather that simmers down to darn near dreamy in the fall. Take advantage of the climate by enjoying the city’s bevy of new developments, such as the Pearl, a former brewery that has been converted into 18 acres of restaurants, retail, and Hotel Emma, one of Condé Nast Traveler’s best new hotels in 2016. If it’s history you desire, Mission Concepción (pictured) is the oldest unrestored stone church in America. From $335 per night
In October, more than 100 institutions transform regular ol’ San Diego into Kids Free San Diego. This past year, the swanky new Pendry hotel offered 12-and-under guests an in-room sleepover package—complete with candy, movies, and PJs. Children also gain free admission to amazing attractions, such as the world famous San Diego Zoo. From $299 per night