The best trips I have taken have been when someone casually mentions going on a trip and before you know it you have a flight booked and a bag packed. Denver was no exception. Enter Bailey and Sophie. We first met when I moved to Virginia and they were regulars at the coffee shop where I was a barista. During the holidays we were chatting about taking a trip one day and then the next day we decided to book the cheapest flight we could find over Christmas break.
You guessed it!
One of us booked the flights, one of us rented the car, and one of us researched and found us a sweet deal on a crib for the duration of our stay. We each took one carry-on and filled it with mostly sweaters and jeans. Fully packed and caffeinated, we drove to the airport ready for adventure.
Day One // Fly into Denver, Explore Downtown Denver
The flight took almost 4 hours and then once we landed in Denver, we hit the ground running. We picked up our rental, dropped our bags off, and headed downtown. We had a general itinerary that we had prepared before we left. However, we wanted to live-in-the-moment and enjoy all the new experiences we could. We knew coffee was important to us, so we had time each day to find a new coffee shop (or two) to try. After a quick bit at a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant we were off to find a coffee shop.
Our first stop was Little Owl Coffee Shop in Downtown Denver. This became one of my favorite coffee shop on our visit. I went 3 times and then bought two bags of coffee beans to bring home! Hot or iced, the barista Chris made our drinks with perfection. We tried the mocha, vanilla latte, and brewed coffee. They were never bitter or overly sweet. Therefore, they receive my barista seal of approval.
We made a stop at the REI flagship store where I bought my favorite winter coat that was in the clearance section. I wore it the rest of the trip and even went skiing in it. You can find the same coat here. It has been so cold here in Virginia since I’ve been home that I am still wearing it everyday.
We went to the grocery store that evening and we each bought ingredients for our night to cook. We also bought a large pack of water to keep in the rental car to help keep us hydrated and to stave off altitude sickness. We went through the entire pack of water and stayed healthy (with many bathroom breaks).
Day 2 // Red Rocks, Skiing
On our way to the Red Rocks on the second day we went back downtown to a restaurant we had noticed the night before that looked like a great breakfast spot. I could have ordered one of everything on the menu at Snooze an AM Eatery . I ordered the smashed avocado benny and it was pure bliss. If you need to know anything about me is that I live to eat breakfast food. I could eat breakfast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, sometimes I think I go to bed at night just because I know I can eat breakfast in the morning. After a breakfast that stuck to our ribs, we were ready for the day.
If you go to Colorado in January it is a rule that you have to ski. We decided before we left that we would go night skiing in order to save money. I have never skied, let alone night skied. But how bad could it be? We went to Echo Mountain, because it was the closest ski area to Denver, most affordable, and have ‘ambassadors’ that are always available to help a girl out. It really helped that I ice skate because of the similarities of how you stop and gain speed.
Day Three // Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Due to the recent government shutdown the park was closed, but we could still drive around in the mountains and get out and walk some. Our first stop of the day was Boulder for breakfast and, you guessed it, coffee. We enjoyed exploring Boulder, shopping, eating, and walking around. My favorite coffee shop was in Downtown Boulder. Ozo Coffee has over 20 variations of mocha. I tried to the Valencia orange and believe I found true love.
Day Four // Free Day
Due to our busy schedules at home, we knew we wanted one day on the trip that we could do absolutely whatever we wanted. And if that meant doing nothing for a day then that is what we would do. However, there were several places we had seen over the last few days that we took a mental note of and then knew we would return on our free day.
Tattered Cover Books was one of the places we all agreed was a place we wanted to visit. It is a bookstore in the heart of Downtown Denver that had a lot of character and ambiance. I could have bought the entire store, but I refrained and just bought one book, Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged, in the clearance section (are you noticing a theme?) that I had been wanting to read for a while.
Day Five // Final Day
We woke up the last day to snowstorm, which was exciting to me, because what is the point in going to Colorado and not have snow. We decided to get out and find our final coffee shop for the trip and do some shopping. We found Reunion Coffee House in Commerce City, a new coffee shop that was perfect for our last day. We had the breakfast burritos and excellent coffee. We enjoyed our last night in the city and we flew out early the next morning.
It is possible to go on a trip with a small budget, and a small window of time. Never let finances or time or energy stop you from saying yes to new adventures. We are already planning our next trip! Have you been Colorado? Comment below with your favs in Denver.