Hello friends! Welcome back and happy Monday, post holiday weekend 🙂
Lets back track to Friday of last week- Andrew was able to enjoy a long weekend in honor of celebrating July 4th, so of course, to us, meant an extra day of adventuring. Y’all know my adventurous heart LIVES for exploration. Our original plan was to go explore Vail a little deeper but to our demise, the weather wasn’t looking so hot in that direction. Instead, we decided to head towards the Rocky Mountains to Estes Park where it was a little brighter and lesser chance of rain. And as most places go in CO, the drive to get there is a gorgeous scenic bypass road.
For those who are not familiar, Estes Park is a town at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park, and a quaint little mountain town at that. I’m not as familiar with Estes as I am with other CO destinations, we’ve only visited maybe 3 times in total. But I do know that there’s so much depth to it that we haven’t uncovered just yet. So in my opinion, Estes is definitely one of those places where you could use a few days in town to explore the surrounding area (and the Rocky Mountains) but a day trip is totally worthwhile too.
What To See
As soon as you get into town, a good first stop (since you’ll most likely be driving by it anyways) is Lake Estes.
It’s usually the first pit stop Andrew and I take to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. There’s plenty of parking for all the enjoy- picnic, fish (I think it’s allowed there, maybe, but don’t quote me on that ha), leisurely walk around, and/or just drive by. You can get a great view from the drive by!
THE STANLEY HOTEL
The next thing we checked out was The Stanley Hotel.
The notorious Stanley Hotel is where Stephen King stayed and gathered his inspiration for The Shining. In fact, he stayed in room 237 at this very hotel to which he deemed room 237 to be the haunted room in The Shining. And you know the scene where Jack Nicholson is running through that tall hedge maze… well lo and behold there’s a very miniature and certainly not scary hedge maze right on premise too!
We also found out that The Stanley Hotel is where they filmed part of Dumb and Dumber. The staircase that Lloyd and Mary were running up to get ahead of one another (at the “Aspen” hotel) were these stairs-
The stairwell was actually quite stunning with the little carved details in the railing, I loved that! Is it just me or is there something so satisfying about photographing a stairwell?
All around great views from the hotel and tons of picturesque spots within.
Or you can just take mirror selfies in the hotel, like me. LOL
TIP: WHERE TO EAT
You can of course find a plethora of restaurants in their downtown/Main Street but my recommendation would be to try Bird and Jim, which is mere minutes from downtown. Andrew and I have eaten there each and every time we’re in the area and it never disappoints. Disclaimer: the menu options are limited and some dishes change with the season. Everything we’ve tried have exceeded our expectations which is why we love coming back. The outdoor seating views are a great perk as well!
For shopping and to satisfy a sweet tooth with an ice cream cone, I’d for sure head to Downtown for that. The downtown is sweet and charming. The little parks and the creek that runs alongside Main Street makes for a great stroll.
One of the last spots that we’ve become familiar with is Lily Lake. From Bird and Jim it’s a stunning 11 minute drive to this lake. We originally accidentally fell upon it our very first time visiting the Rockies, but we thoroughly enjoy the drive so it was worth a second visit!
And that pretty much concluded our day trip to Estes Park. As the clouds started rolling in we decided to call it a day and head back. Estes Park is always a pleasure even if you don’t get the opportunity to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park. I’m hopeful that there’ll be an extension to this post later down the road once we really get down and dirty in Estes!