26 September 2011
Home to the likes of Aspen, Breckenridge, and Vail, it"s one of America"s top ski destinations, but there"s a whole lot more to Colorado than just snow.
TravelMole Editor Bev Fearis and her family take a two-week trip to explore the highlights of the Rocky Mountain State...
It"s been voted the happiest and the healthiest place in America, so where better to start our trip than Boulder, a 50-minute drive north of Denver. Surrounded by 36,000 acres of recreational open space and some world class hiking trails, it"s full of happy people in lycra off for a hike, run, bike ride, or a climb. On the first day, I"m awake at 6am (as is always the way on the first few days of a US trip) and decide to go for a gentle jog. It has to be gentle because Boulder is 5430 feet above sea level and I"m feeling the effects of the high altitude. The next morning, better acclimatised, I brave an hour"s hike up Sanitas Valley Trail and the views are simply breathtaking. I"m feeling happier and healthier already.
View from the top of Sanitas Valley Trail
Downtown Boulder has a laidback feel and is devoid of the grittiness of most American cities. It"s main shopping and dining street, Pearl, is car-free and dotted with trees. It"s pristine, green and lined with funky boutique stores, outdoor shops, bohemian cafes and sophisticated restaurants. It"s a University town so there is a lively night scene, but it"s all good clean fun. Just a few blocks from Pearl and you"re in wide leafy pristine boulevards lined with million dollar houses.
We had flown into Denver with British Airways but it was dark by the time we landed, so we decide to go back for another look. It"s more like a typical US city with its high rise skyline and gridlocked highways, but, surprisingly, it"s also home to some of Colorado"s best family attractions.
Freddie, my two-year-old son, was absolutely blown away by the Children"s Museum. It"s not really a museum, more of an activity centre totally geared towards little ones. Think Willy Wonkers Chocolate Factory, but without the chocolate. One room is devoted to trains (we literally had to carry Freddie screaming from this one), one is a bubble factory, another is a meadow with a rabbit hole with burrows to climb into and out of (Mums too). There are 11 different rooms in all and if you let your child stay in each one as long as they want to, you could literally spend all week there.
Nextdoor is Denver"s Aquarium, where Freddie"s eyes lit up again at the sight of stingrays and sharks and luminous jelly fish - complete with Disney-style sound and lighting effects.
Freddie meets a shark
Just to complete our family-friendly day, we drove across the city to Denver Zoo. There are nearly 4,000 animals here but we spent so much time with the monkeys we didn"t get to see them all. We told Freddie that perhaps we"ll have time to come back later in our trip, but with so many of Colorado"s highlights yet to see, I very much doubt it.
Monkey meets monkey
For more information, see Visit Colorado