Your 2019 Colorado Summer Bucket List

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I mean … G is barely even in this photo, but you get the gist — Colorado is amazing in the summer, and summer is right around the corner! I mean, it’s pretty amazing all of the time, but the summer is a great time to check out the mountains, lakes, hikes, breweries … and everything in between.

To help you out if you happen to be in the hood, here are a few of our fave hangouts when the weather gets warmer:

Ice cream at Little ManGetting your first ice cream of the summer at Little Man is almost more about the experience itself than the ice cream … although the ice cream is pretty darn fantastic, as well. Lotte had her first taste of ice cream here, and it was one of the first spots we visited when we were testing the area out to see if we actually wanted to move here. If you can rent a bike and stop here on your way to touring other spots of Denver, you’ll make the whole experience even more quintessentially Denver-esque.

Every single thing Golden related: Check out the quaint old Main Street, grab a beer at Golden City Brewery, tour Coors Brewery, drive up the scenic overlook pass and take a peek at Buffalo Bill’s grave … all in gorgeous Golden.

Hikes, hikes and more hikes: Hiking in Colorado is basically an essential, but fear not, there is a trail for every level. Some of our favorites have included Hanging Lake, St. Mary’s Glacier, Gem Lake and the Flat Irons.

Check out a 14er: Okay, okay, to be fair I’ve only actually done one 14er, and it was a drive-up one, but still, it was glorious and I would highly recommend it! The mountain was Pikes Peak, and it was well worth the altitude. 

Visit the mountains: Mountains are a-plenty here in Colorado (duh), but the summer is the perfect time to visit. Glorious hiking, delicious drinks and food, hot tubs and pools and hanging out in the warm summer sun — there’s just nothing like it. Some of our favorite summertime mountain adventures have included camping in Boreas Pass, visiting Telluride for Easter (not technically summer, but always gorgeous), Beaver Creek for a getaway before G was born and checking out the Maroon Bells in Aspen.

Head to a National Park: The National Parks in Colorado are not to be missed, even if they may be a bit off the beaten path. Be sure to check out Rocky Mountain National Park (which is easily combined with a trip to Boulder), and if you have time/happen to be in the area, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a place you won’t want to miss.

Find the rock formations: By which, of course, I mean visit Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks, two must-not-be-missed spots in this great state called Colorado. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a concert at Red Rocks and/or get to take a morning yoga class. Both are pure magic.

Besides those big-ticket items, there are unlimited places to find great brews and get great food. Living in Colorado has been such an adventure, and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing things we’ve been able to see and do. So, without further adieu ‚ bis bald, friends — and I hope you all have a fantastic summer ahead!

2018: A Year in Review

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Well friends, somehow — and I’m really not sure how — this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.

So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….

January
January started out with us getting used to being a family of four, which was made easier by the fact that Chris’ parents were still here helping out, and then my Dad & stepmom, sister and brother-in-law, and a whole slew of friends, all came out to help, as well.

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February
I continued on with my maternity leave in February and celebrated Grace’s first Valentine’s Day with a visit from my bestie.

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March
We finished up our maternity leave visitors in March with a visit from my stepdad, and we checked out the aquarium for the first time.

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Downtown Denver Aquarium

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Arvada, March 2018

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April
April was a big month for us. It was my birthday and the end of my maternity leave, our first big road trip as a family of four (we visited Telluride for the first time!), and Grace’s first plane ride where we went back to New York.

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Telluride, CO

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Telluride, CO
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Telluride, CO

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June & July
June and July continued to be months full of visitors, and we had a blast! First was Auntie Kate, who came to stay with us for about three weeks, followed by Chris’ aunt and uncle and their three kids, and then my stepdad again at the end of the month to help us ring in Lotte’s 2nd birthday with a trip to the Denver Zoo and a Pancake Brunch Birthday Party!

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August
In August we were back out to New York to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday, and along the way we checked out the Statue of Liberty views from Liberty State Park, spent lots of time with family, walked my Mom’s Memorial Trail in Chadwick Lake Park and spent a couple days at a friend’s summer cabin the woods.

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Liberty State Park, New Jersey

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Liberty State Park, New Jersey

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Weeds Orchard, New York

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Chadwick Lake Park, New York

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October
In October we used up the last day of our annual National Park pass with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, we went pumpkin picking at our favorite place amongst the mountains, and we celebrated Chris’ birthday with a trip to Alamosa, Colorado and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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Estes Park, CO

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Estes Park, CO

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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December
And that brings us to December, friends! While our biggest family adventure to date is set to take place this Thursday when we fly to Australia, we’ve been celebrating the holiday season so far with visits from my stepdad and then my dad and stepmom, holiday light viewings at the Denver Zoo and the Botanic Gardens and Chatfield Farms, attending holiday parties, seeing Santa and checking out his village at the Thornton Winterfest. Oh and you know, no big deal, but we also celebrated G’s first birthday … because my baby is officially one.

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And that, as they say, is that, my friends. I’ll see you back here on the flip side of 2018 and the flip side of Australia, but for now, have the very best holiday season filled with all the love and joy.

December Update: We’re back from Australia, and it was every bit as epic as we imagined it would be! I blogged about it here, here, here, here and here.

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Mudgee, Australia
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Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Australia

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Koala Park Sanctuary, Sydney, Australia

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Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia

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Manly Beach, Australia

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Coogee Beach, Australia
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Coogee Beach, Australia

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Bis bald, friends! And cheers to an amazing 2019!

Great Sand Dunes National Park For an Epic Birthday Celebration

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Chris & the girls & I got back yesterday from a weekend away in Alamosa, where we stayed at the adorable 40 Winks Inn and visited Great Sand Dunes National Park. We only found out about the Great Sand Dunes over the summer when a cousin of mine was visiting Denver with her family and they went to see them. Chris really wanted to plan a visit for his birthday, and I’m so glad we did. They are the tallest dunes in North America and are surrounded by grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. It’s honestly, truly magnificent. And although Lotte originally referred to them as a “big pile of dirt,” I think she honestly had the most amazing time sandboarding with Chris and just playing in the sand in general. We had the most glorious weather, packed a picnic, and even did a little off-roading afterwards.

Colorado, you are one beautiful state, and you never cease to amaze us.

So, are you ready for lots of photos of sand? Well good, then you won’t be disappointed!

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^^ These ladies were the most amazing travel buddies on the four-hour ride. We were a little nervous about Lotte and the whole potty situation, but she only had one accident, and honestly it was our fault because we should have been paying closer attention. Overall, we were so impressed with these little travel warriors.

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^^ We stopped in Bueno Vista and had sandwiches at Biggies Sub Shop, which turned out to be way delicious and the perfect little half-way pit stop.

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^^ Colorado road trip roadside views = pretty epic.

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^^ Someone was less excited about the views 😉

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^^ How cute was our Airbnb, 40 Winks? And how cute is little Lotte, making herself right at home on her potty! There were two bedrooms in the space, but there was also a Queen bed in the living room around the corner, so it was perfect because Chris and I just slept there and gave each of the girls their own room. It was a great little spot, and only two blocks from Main Street which, while very small, had some nice restaurants and breweries.

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^^ Our Airbnb was made for Insty 😉

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^^ Our first stop after rolling in on Saturday was Square Peg Brewerks on Main Street, where Lotte made the cutest little friend, fell in love with a dog and had the best time playing cornhole.

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I didn’t take any photos there, but we also visited San Luis Valley Brewing afterwards for drinks and dinner, which was super tasty.

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^^ Sunday was the big day. After renting a sandboard and a sandsled from Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, we headed to the Dunes, which was about a half hour from Alamosa. Our first stop was the visitor center, which small enough to not feel totally intimidating but had all the info you could possibly want about how the Dunes form (the Medano Creek brings the sand down, and the wind blows it back up … in a nutshell).

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^^ This studmuffin carried the sandboard, sandsled and our 2-year-old in her hiking backpack up the mountain of sand. I had G strapped to me and I was huffing and puffing. We only went to the closest dune before plunking down and having Chris take Lotte on some sled rides, but still, it was enough for me to know that anything further would have been really, really hard to do. One note about the sandboarding – Chris didn’t love it. I guess he was hoping it would be somewhat similar to snowboarding … but it’s not. Oh well, lesson learned, and at least he tried.

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^^ Epic and amazing.

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^^ G slept during most of our Dunes adventure, but she did wake up in just enough time for some adorable pictures.

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^^ We weren’t exactly sure how Lotte would take to sand sledding (she doesn’t necessarily love getting dirty) … but she loved it! Every time they got to the bottom she’d squeal, “More, again!” And even though she had dirt flying into her face, eyes and mouth the entire ride, she always enjoyed it. I was actually quite proud of my gal.

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^^ Sand babies <3

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^^ The dirt on Lotte’s face in this pic gets me every time!

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^^ It didn’t hurt that it was the height of fall for our trip, meaning the trees had all turned glorious shades of yellow.

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After a full day at the Sand Dunes, we headed back to our place and chilled for the rest of the night, made dinner and let the girls rest. It was really the perfect first day at the Dunes, and I hope we get back some time soon.

Monday was Chris’s actual birthday, but we had to pack up and head back to Arvada … but not before stopping in Buena Vista again, but this time at Eddyline Restaurant on South Maine, which turned out to be so adorable and picturesque.

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^^ These two <3

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^^ More roadside Colorado craziness. Chris actually took this picture from the car while I was driving, which I’d say is pretty impressive.

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^^ Heading into Eddyline … how cute is this little neighborhood?!

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^^ Not a bad lunch view.

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^^ This one, too <3

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And that was our trip, friends! For a place that we never knew existed before a few months ago, it was pretty amazing how beautiful it was and how much fun we had. Plus, you just know we love ticking National Parks off our bucket list! This was Lotte’s fourth National Park (Yosemite, Sequoia and Rocky Mountain being the other three), and G’s second, so we hope to keep up the tradition with them and tick some more off the ole’ list soon.

And also, how are we almost in November already?! In other travel news, we booked our trip to Australia for Christmas last weekend, and we even have a couple hours of a layover in Vancouver on our way out, which Chris is very excited about. I’m a little nervous about the flight, I can’t lie, but here’s hoping everything goes smoothly … or as smoothly as it possible can with a 2.5 and 1-year-old … right?!

Bis bald, friends!