Colorado is one of the best states in the USA to visit. Not only is it beautiful and historic, but it is also full of some of the nicest people in America. Although I still call Asia home, If I ever move back to America it would be somewhere in Colorado. Never been? Colorado is amazing, you have to visit! Here are seven unique and offbeat travel destinations to help get your Colorado vacation started:
$10-20/person depending kid/senior/adult
Official Web Site
With history dating back to the 1870s, the Old Hundred Gold Mine hit pay dirt just after the turn of the century when they began supplying gold bars to the Denver Mint for use in coining. However the ever-increasing yields from the mine were the begin of the end and before long it was officially "mined out".
All-in-all the tour lasts almost an hour. After getting loaded up (and bundled up, it is a little chilly underground) you board the railcars and proceed underground. There we explored a couple of the original veins with a guide who gave us a firsthand history lesson of both the mine and mining processes. But the scenery does not stop there; even outside of the mine shafts the backdrop of the local mountains is breathtaking. One neat part of the tour includes a view of the original miners' cabin, which if I remember correctly dates back to 1904. The thing is perched way up on the mountain and just barely is hanging on. As a matter-of-fact, when they first built the cabin they had to secure it to the nearby rock face with metal cables to prevent it from falling down the mountain. Wild!
And of course no tour of a gold mine would be complete without a stop at a real-life sluice box where you can take your turn at panning for gold, silver, and other semi-precious stones just like the gold-panners of the past did. And, yes, no worries: you get to keep whatever you.
Due to the local weather this tour only operates during the warm season, from May to October. And, as with any decent tour, there is also a gift shop selling all sorts of related souvenirs and trinkets as well as snacks and drinks. Check the official web site for more information on directions, rates, and operating hours.
$19-25/person depending kid/senior/adult
Official Web Site
Wow, where to start. Think amusement park combined with natural wonder and you might be headed in the right direction. Covering 360 acres and featuring nearly two dozen rides, shows, and attractions to keep you amused, it is hard to get in and out of this place in less than a couple hours -- but then again, why would you want to rush it.
The prime attraction and namesake of this park is the Royal Gorge and its sky high suspension bridge, one of the highest in the world. It was built in 1929 for only $350,000 but the cost today would exceed $15,000,000. You can walk or drive across it but I definitely recommend walking, as that allows you to better enjoy the scenery as well as take some fantastic pictures using the 360° view. There is also an aerial tram that is apparently the world's longest single-span tram.
After enjoying the view from above, you can also admire it from below by riding down the 45° incline railway. Seeing it from this angle really puts it all in perspective; the towering bridge you just walked across is nothing more than a thing string stretching across the canyon like the tight-wire of a circus performer.
But the sights don't stop there! You can explore the gorgeous countryside by taking a mule rule ride through the pines and evergreens or strolling the Wapiti Western Wildlife Park. There is one of those free-fall skycoasters and a plaza theatre, a Mountain Man Trading Post (not sure what that is actually, I skipped it), and even a mountaintop lodge for those wanting to stay overnight.
The park is open year-round but some of the attractions may be seasonal or weather-permitting. I'm sure the official web site provide you with up to date information.
$10/person, $5/kids ≤12 yrs
Official Web Site
Located just 30 miles northeast of Denver and covering a grand total of 720 acres and sheltering around 300 lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores, the Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado is the first sanctuary of its kind to create large acreage species-specific habitats for its rescued animals. Since 1980 the Wild Animal Sanctuary has responded to nearly 1,000 requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States and even in Mexico.
After breaking free of the Welcome Center & Gift Shop, with a guide book in hand, you'll be set free to wander. They have huge closed-off habitats surrounding the main complex but by far the best thing is the observation ramps and decks that stretch over the animals in the center of the park. Walking up ramps and along observation decks suspending above the animals you can get a birds-eye view of some of nature's most impressive and majestic mammals.
Each of the main observation decks was thoughtfully designed with picnic tables and chairs, as does the small garden area at the foot of the main ramp. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch, or if all else fails the gift shop does also sell a few drinks and snacks.
This is a great family expedition, absolutely perfect for the kiddos.
Beer? I like beer.
Fort Collins, Longmont, Boulder, Golden, & others
Colorado Brewers Guild
Craft beer is something that every real man should appreciate. It is something to be proud of, unlike that mass-produced swill that relies on a multi-million dollar advertising compaign to get you to buy their crap. It is said that pairing beer and cheese is akin to holding hands, whereas wine and cheese is like arm wrestling. If you are drinking a good craft beer then that is so very true. And if you are like me you'll be happy to learn that Colorado has a lot of microbrews, good microbrews. Colorado is one of the best states for craft beer lovers. As a matter-of-fact they have more breweries per capita than any other state in the USA. And for those that like the [ugh] mass-market beer, you probably already know that Colorado is where Coors proudly calls home. They even offer tours. I didn't go on one. Nothing fany about mass production. Craft breweries however are always cool and quirky!
Almost all of the larger cities have breweries. If in doubt just inquire in a local bar. I even found a restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs that has a glass-encased brewery right in its main dining room. The food was good and the beer was better. If you are in the area, definitely look up Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.
Have you been to any of the breweries in Colorado or tried any of the local beers? Share your thoughts and/or recommendations at the end of the article!
Entrees @ $15 - $20
Official Web Site
Forever immortalized by an episode of South Park, Casa Bonita offers an eating experience unlike any other and I just had to check it out for myself. True to the episode, this restaurant actually features shoot-em up gunfights, cliff divers, strolling mariachis, puppet shows, magicians, games, prizes, and more.
via Rob Lee
The restaurant is huge, covering over 50,000 sq ft and seating well over 1,000. Hell it has a 30-foot indoor waterfall. You pay for the show though with the cost of the food. Casa Bonita specializes in Mexican cuisine, but their menu is very limited and stereotypical. Everything except the kids meals is over-priced and none of what we ordered stood out or overly impressed us. But the sights, now that was a different story!
Kids will never want to leave this place, but even for adults it is worth at least one visit. Just one though.
Official Web Site
How can you beat free? You can't! So why not visit the Denver location of the US Mint and learn a little bit about the coin and currency we Americans use every single day.
Tours are fairly short, only about thirty minutes, but the the guides are very knowledgeable in all aspects of the Mint from the gold rush days up to its present day production of coins. There wasn't too much crazy stuff to see as far as the machinery that actually produces the coins, but there are some interesting displays and videos. And of course the mandatory gift shop.
via Ken Lund
However, there are a few warnings: first off, you must make a reservation online first or you will not be allowed entry. Additionally, don't plan on taking any pictures for obvious security reasons. And as security is just as tight as at the airport, don't bring with you what you do not need. Finally, there is no public parking. Not a big deal but noteworthy nonetheless.
Colorado has 54 "Fourteeners," otherwise known as mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level. One of the most well-known however is Pike's Peak. With a 19-mile paved road that winds and stretches all the way up to its 14,110 foot summit, it is no wonder this is the most visited mountain in North America.
Pike's Peak National Park is open year round, weather permitting. You can see it in the picture above (the red rocks in the picture are the Garden Of The Gods). Be warned, in addition to extreme winds, the temperatures at the 14,110 summit can easily be 40°F less than at the base, which is only at around 8,000 feet elevation. The road to the summit, although just recently fully paved (apparently the last stretch used to be gravel), still features on a couple guardrails, sheer drops, breathtaking views, and scenic view spots you can pull over to park and take pictures.
Recently discovered the White Owl Brewery in Mumbai, a warehouse-like brewery bistro located in Lower Parel at Indiabulls Center. The White Owl was conceptualized by two young entrepreneurs with fancy business degress from the USA who returned to India to set up the “Owl”. Their commitment to detail is evident by their teaming up with Obataimu Design Studio to engineer a rather unique creative concept. Right from the interior design to the menu, everything is beautifully crafted to suit the tastes of the young professional, bright-eyed entrepreneur and anyone with a free spirit.
At The White Owl, old world objects iconic of Bombay in the 1950's come together in unexpected ways. The space is an amalgamation of industrial elements with basic rudiments like antique smoked-mirror table tops and metal chairs combined with patent leather upholstery, creating a grunge yet chic atmosphere. The attentive staffs seem as though they have walked in from a '50s English movie. The music is modern and lively. As such, it is the remarkably eclectic vibe at The White Owl that sets it apart from the other restaurants and bistros in Mumbai.
Firstly, we liked the ambience of this joint. We like the fine combination of bistro and a micro-brewery like this, which was new to Mumbai. Chef Kshama is at the helm of White Owl’s kitchen which has char-grill as the main concept behind their menu. They bake their own breads, make their own dips and would start brewing their own beer, as soon as they get their license.
For starters we had the Assorted Dips with House Lavash, Pesto Chicken Skewer, Beef Paprika and Cottage Cheese Chilli-Verde. The dips (carrot and cumin paste, labneh and hummus) were really good.
The Kingfish Chimmichuri was made well where olive pil enhanced the flavour, and the Pesto Chicken Skewer, being one of their signature dishes, was indeed sumptuous dish. The Beef Paprikawas way over-cooked, chewy and could have been better. The cottage cheese was cooked well, but the would have been better with more sauce would have given it better flavour.
Next up was the Classic Grilled Chicken Salad which had chicken cuts and filling lettuce, followed by a Cranberry & Chevre salad, which is another one of their signature dishes -- and that was amazing. The combination of cranberry, goat cheese and parsley worked pretty well together and it was the best dish till then. Only one note though, the salad portions could have been slightly more.
We moved on to the main course which started with the Gourmet Potato Gratin which was pretty amazing. The caramelized onions along with blue cheese & chives is brilliant and adds a lot of depth to the dish. This was followed by the Gingerale Chicken & Asparagus which was another interesting concept. We really loved both the concept and the taste of the sauce but the chicken could have been cooked better. It was really dry inside instead of the moist, succulent chicken that we were expecting. The portions of all the mains were pretty good.
Next up was the Pepper-Crusted Rawas which in our mind was the best dish to come out from the kitchen that evening. It was perfect. The fish was cooked to perfection, the sauce was amazing, everything on the dish went well together as well as on its own and hence, we would call it a perfect dish. If you are visiting White Owl and had to try just one dish then this would be it!
Grilled Green Apple & Raisin Pie and Blueberry Cheesecake were the deserts for the day. The pie was really nicely done. The crust was baked to perfection and the green apple and raisin filling went really went with it. It wasn’t too dry or soggy. It was just right. It tasted really good even without the scoop of ice-cream it was served with. The blueberry cheesecake… hmm. Let’s just say that you should skip that and go straight for the pie.
We would say that White Owl is a nice place to chill-out and get a couple of drinks with friends and hop on to some great fish there. The starters could have been better and we recommend waiting for them to get their micro-brewery license. However we would return only to have their Grilled Green Apple & Raisin Pie or the Pepper-Crusted Rawas.
(Yes, that would be a shameless reference to the Village People song.) The west I am referring to is however WEST Brewery in Glasgow. It’s the only brewery in the UK to produce its beer according to the Reinheitsgebot - the German Purity Law that demands only water, barley and hops be used in the making of the beer. Using an intimate fusion of German traditions, modern technology and the finest ingredients (throw in a lot of tender loving care) and the result is some of the finest beers I have EVER tasted – even rivalling Munich’s Augustiner (my favourite of Munich's breweries) for that coveted special place in my heart.
I discovered WEST by sheer accident, shortly after my summer interning in Germany. Serendipity had it that after staying at a friend’s place in Ayrshire, I hitched a lift back to Glasgow with her parents and was dropped off literally around the corner. With it being a very rare sunny day, I decided to walk into the city centre, cutting through Glasgow Green (one of Glasgow’s many parks). As I wandered past the striking Templeton Building I saw the word “brewery” outside and was sold. The faint aroma of brewing hit me only afterwards. I salivated: this was somewhere I must visit.
The Templeton Building on Glasgow Green - it certainly caught my eye!
The next week I made an excuse to take my friends. We got dressed up and made the short walk from the city centre to the Green. Walking in that first time felt just like walking into the living room on Christmas Day – a kind of giddy excitement that still remains when I visit to this day. The smell and taste in the air is indescribable. There is always the cosy sound of friendly conversation. The atmosphere is always welcoming – a sense of homeliness. The use of the space, décor and lighting lends itself to a kind of pleasant intimacy without it feeling crowded. There is even a beer garden looking out onto the Green and the People’s Palace if you are lucky to visit on a sunny day.
And I’ve not even got on to the beer – Oh! The beer! There are the regulars like my favourites; the crisp, I think in some ways almost fruity, St Mungo lager and the rich, aromatic Munich Red. It is almost a ritual for me to have a pint of each, starting with the latter, before a half pint of something different – usually one of the seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest and Weihnachtsbier. If peckish, I go for a warm, freshly baked pretzel on the side (unsalted is my preferred choice).
Nowhere else is such a delight for the senses. WEST has become one of my favourite places in Glasgow, and the beer ranked so highly in my books that I endeavour to drag every German I know there. If you are ever in Glasgow I strongly recommend you give it a visit – if you don’t then you truly have missed out!