Estes Park & The Peak to Peak Highway

Fall in Colorado is absolutely stunning. It is even more amazing if you take a little drive up to the mountains and explore while the leaves are turning. If you missed my post last year on fall foliage in Colorado, check it out! The best time to go is in September, mid September is usually best to catch the colorful trees in the Rocky Mountains. This season we went up to Estes Park, Colorado and then drove on the Peak to Peak Highway home for a scenic ride. 

Estes park in my opinion is known for two things, Elk and the famous Stanley Hotel where the horror film The Shining was filmed at. Estes is stunning so if you are looking for a quick day trip from Denver, this spot might be perfect. Right when you pull into town there will be a lake on the right side of town. Often this is where the Elk will be gathered, and the day we went that was just the case. We pulled in, parked the car and got up close with the elk of Estes. Make sure to be careful and keep a safe distance, but at the same time the elk are very used to tourists stopping for pictures. The female elk (without antlers) are far less aggressive than the males. They are all so beautiful and it was such a blast watching them in nature. We did have an incident that occurred while we were there. Two of the males were fighting and they were running right towards us! We all hid behind a car, thank God, and it was all fine, but wow talk about exciting! Like I said, keep a safe distance because you never know when they will start bickering and chasing one another, and they surely don't care if you are in their way, they will come for you too. 

estes park
elk in estes park co
estes park elk
elk in colorado
baby elk in estes park

If you visit Estes Park make sure to stop in at the Stanley Hotel! If you have ever seen The Shining starring Jack Nicholson then you are familiar with this hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1900's. Today it is a hot spot to get married, vacation or even take a ghost tour. We stopped in for lunch. We ate at the restaurant near the bar. Yes, the bar in the movie where the ghost serves his drinks! Today the bar looks quite different, but it is still exciting to see it. The food there is amazing, I would absolutely recommend eating there. We then walked around the hotel property admiring the antiques and beauty the hotel has to offer. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking Estes Park, the views of the mountains are beautiful. 

the stanley hotel
Stanley hotel
the stanley
inside stanley hotel

After lunch we headed into town to grab coffee and wander. The town is a very quaint mountain town with lots to look at. There are tons of great shops, restaurants and candy stores. There is a beautiful river on one side of the town and a few restaurants looking over the river. If we had not eaten at the Stanley Hotel, I think this would have been the next best option. If you are lucky you will see elk wandering around "their" town. We did not see any that day, but my mom has seen that before. 

estes park
estes park
estes park

We left Estes just in time to catch the Peak to Peak Highway before the sun went down. The Peak to Peak highway is a designated scenic byway that goes from Estes Park to Nederland, then towards I-70 to make your way back to Denver. This time of year this is such a great highway to take if you are driving back to the Denver area because it has amazing fall foliage. There is also a stunning church on the highway that you can stop at and look around. It's a stunning stone church nestled in nature. My suggestion would be to allow yourself enough time driving on this highway to be able to stop and enjoy every bit of it. 

fall in colorado
peak to peak highway church
peak to peak highway colorado

I hope you enjoyed this post on my adventure through Estes Park Colorado, the Stanley Hotel and the Peak to Peak Highway. If you have any questions, simply comment below. To stay updated on my newest adventures and most current blog posts, enter your email address below. Thanks for reading!

 

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Miami Florida | A First Timer's Perspective

One of my favorite things about travel is getting to experience different cultures. And last weekend when my husband and I visited Miami, Florida for the first time, we had the privilege of experiencing a new culture. We had previously been to Orlando on many different vacations, but we never headed a few hours south of there to Miami. I wanted to write this post because in many ways Miami was very different from what I had pictured. Since we had been to Orlando, I pictured Miami being extremely similar (with the exception of Disney World of course), the only thing I thought would differ was that I thought it would just be a bit more beachy. I also want to preface this by saying, I am a Colorado girl, born and raised here in Colorado, so my perspective on Miami is slightly different for the fact that Denver and Miami and very different. Not one is better than the other, simply different.

First off, I was right about my assumption that Miami would be "beachy". The beaches in Miami, well at least the one we went to in South Beach, was absolutely stunning! The water in Miami is bright blue and extremely clear. When you get into the water it feels like a warm bath tub, it felt amazing (this was in July). The sand is smooth and the sun is so hot. The water reminded me of Mexico, since it was so warm and the color was so vivid. On these beaches, get ready to see some skin... lots and lots of skin lol. Miami loves it's "cheeky" bikinis. There were thong bikinis everywhere we looked in South Beach. So, needless to say, I'm not sure if Miami is the very best option for a family vacation with kiddos. I didn't mind it, but I sure wouldn't want my kids to see all of it. Actually, the beach we went to happened to be a topless beach. Or at least there were a few tops off, so I just assumed it was called a topless beach. Let's just say Miami is filled with people who are young, wild and free. 

While being in Miami, my husband and I kept saying "I feel like I am in a different country" or "This does not feel like America". Miami has a huge cultural influence from Cuba. Cuba is only about an hour long flight away from Miami and many people from Cuba or parts of Central America move to Miami. The food in Miami is heavily influenced by Cuban food, and let me just say it is delicious. We tried Cuban bread and ate a lot of plantains, and yes of course we tried Cuban coffee while we were there. It was all delicious. Just about everywhere you go in Miami serves a Cuban sandwich, even the Subway restaurants in Miami serve a Cuban. It was such a treat to experience Cuban food and coffee for the very first time. That is one of my all time favorite parts of travel, I enjoy trying new foods and discovering what people from different parts of the world eat. It gets me out of my "food bubble". 

Another thing we noticed while in Miami was the language difference. Spanish seemed to be the main language there, which was another reason it felt like a different country to us. A friend of ours who lives in Miami told us that if you don't speak Spanish and are trying to get a job in Miami, you basically have no shot at getting hired. I can understand why, it seemed like more people spoke Spanish than English there. Just about every Uber driver we had spoke only Spanish and most of the people working at our hotel (Hilton) spoke only Spanish. 

Overall I loved Miami a lot. It is absolutely stunning and is such a great place for a beach getaway. Next time I go back I want to experience a bit more of the culture, I want to try more of the top local restaurants, and I would like to spend more time soaking up the sun. This isn't somewhere I will ever bring my kids, since it has a party vibe, but it'd be a great spot for a husband/wife vacation. The best part in my opinion is that you get to immerse yourself into a new and exciting culture without having to leave the U.S. (if of course you live here). Can't wait to go back!

 

 

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