Author Topic: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers  (Read 3451 times)

Offline chesky

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Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« on: September 08, 2022, 10:31:57 PM »
This past summer we took a trip to a few different places in Colorado. We scoured the DDF Colorado thread and read previous trip reports for activities and places to stay for our family. We wanted to share our trip so others can benefit. Enjoy!

Background: We were traveling with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old and spent a total of 9 days in Colorado - Colorado Springs, Vail, Dillon, and Denver.

Itinerary/TLDR:
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Indoor Playground
  • Cheyanne Mountain Zoo
  • Vail Farmer's Market
  • Boating by Mt. Dillon
(thank you @Joel for the inspiration and pictures from your trip report)
   
  • Mt. Evans
  • Denver Children's Museum
  • Hammond's Candy Factory

Now for the details. 

Day One
We flew from NYC - DEN using AMEX points, getting 35% back because we chose the airline as our selected partner on AMEX Business Platinum card.

Since we really wanted a minivan or SUV, we had reserved a few cars on Priceline in advance and were hoping for an upgrade because of status. We didn't want to bank on the upgrade so were also considering doing a Pay Now on the flight so it would be cheaper. Priceline gave us a good rate for a minivan from this rental car agency Nu but then pulled it as we were confirming. Instead we used Expedia, got the same (or comparable) rate for a minivan and didn't need to Pay Now.   

We took a shuttle to the rental car place, which was a good 15 minute drive from the airport, picked up our car and were on our way.

We drove straight to East Side Kosher Deli to have an early dinner and do some grocery shopping for the next few days. We planned an Instacart and Shipt order to meet us at the hotel so we just got the meats and yogurts we wouldn't have been able to get from those other services. After dinner we headed to our first stop: Homewood Suites in Colorado Springs. (Booked with points) The hotel was dated but clean and nice and in a good neighborhood in Colorado Springs. (Down the street from a Starbucks)

Day Two
Day two dawned bright and early since we were still on Eastern time, after a hotel breakfast (cereal and pastries were Kosher) we headed to a Starbucks and started our day at the Garden of the Gods. We chose Garden of the Gods over Red Rock so the kids could climb up the rocks, not really thinking they would actually do it. We were wrong, they absolutely loved the rock climbing pieces. We started at P1 (first parking lot) took a pretty picture and then realized we probably weren't in the right place since it was all paved paths and the rocks were really high. We climbed back into the car and drove till P7. There, we went to the trail on the right for a 5 minute hike to a huge rock formation where the kids climbed all over.

View from the rocks



Afterwards we wanted to find the place we saw in pictures of someone on the forum here (can't find exactly who right now so sorry about that) where the rocks form an O and you can see Pike's Peak in the distance. We got lost a few times trying to find the proper parking lot to hike there and ended up parking at P11 or P13. It was about a 10 minute hike and then a bit of rock climbing to the picture spot. When we were done and driving away we saw a parking lot P14 that was closer to the right trail (the trail you want for this is called Siamese Twins) and probably would've been a quicker hike. Oh well, now you know. 

Siamese Twins with Pikes Peak in the background



We spent a good 3-4 hours there. The kids were getting cranky so we got back in the car, went to the hotel where we cooked a quick lunch on the Betty Crocker (chicken wraps) and continued our day.

Our original plan was to go to The Seven Falls at the Broadmoor. We ended up putting the wrong Broadmoor in first, drove there (about a 30 minute drive from the hotel), it was someone's house. When we got the correct place in Google Maps they said they were closed. Apparently because we went late summer they were only open during the weekend. We decided to go to  America the Beautiful Fantasy Playground.

It was not what we were expecting at all. While the park itself seemed to have interesting activities for the kids, there was absolutely no shade so all the slides and swings were hot and the only people there besides us were homeless. The bathrooms there also did not have any doors. So after 5 minutes we got back in the car and tried to quickly figure something else out. Since it was a really hot day (in the 90s) and we had spent a good chunk of time outdoors already we decided to go to an indoor playground.

Google quickly shared Monkeycos Indoor Playground in a mall. The mall was in a sleazy part of town and was really low class, however Monkeycos itself was really cute and nice. The kids had a fantastic time in there. They had a section for 0-3 with great toys and a section for older kids with slides, a ball pit, climbing things, a trampoline. It was great.

More to come...
« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 10:48:32 PM by chesky »

Offline David61

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2023, 12:46:06 PM »
How many likes do you need to continue this trip report?  :)

(Most interested in stuff outside of Denver.)

Offline Joel

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2023, 02:13:57 PM »
Very nice TR
Looking forward to the rest

Offline AsherO

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2023, 07:02:46 PM »
How many likes do you need to continue this trip report?  :)

(Most interested in stuff outside of Denver.)

:D I put a like in the jar :P

Offline yungermanchik

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2023, 07:06:17 PM »
Small people talk about other people.
Average people talk about things
BIG PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IDEAS.

Offline chesky

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2023, 09:52:16 AM »
Well this is awkward....life happened and I completely forgot to continue to update, sorry about that. Thanks for pinging me @yungermanchik so we got the notification. Glad people are reading and hopefully finding it useful. Here goes the next installment.

Day Three
Our activity for the next day was the Cheyanne Mountain Zoo. We booked time tickets in advance, I think we got like a $2 discount, and tried to get there earlier in the day, just because (there might've been a reason that's escaping me now). It's a zoo that is built on the side of the mountain. It wasn't too bad doing all the walking going up and down. If you've ever been to the San Diego Zoo, that zoo is also built on a mountain or hill and there's a lot of steep uphill or downhill walking, this zoo is not like that at all. There's definitely a bit of an incline but it didn't feel like a hike going to all the exhibits.

The first thing we did when we got there was the Mountaineer Sky Ride, which is basically a ski lift to the top of the mountain. We weren't sure the kids would enjoy it so we didn't purchase advanced tickets but when we got there they were all enthused about it so up we went. It's better to go up earlier in the day because sometimes they have to close it due to weather. We got there around 10/11, there was no line and clear sky but when we were ready to leave around 2/3 they had to close due to thunderstorms rolling in.

There is an age and people limit on the sky ride. We strapped our 1 year old in to one of those forward facing baby carriers which is the only way we were all able to go on. It's literally a ski lift, so pull a flimsy bar down and up you go, swinging in the wind. Our hearts were dropping sure that our kids would fall out because they didn't have the sense of danger but they loved it. Were taking pictures on the way up and generally enjoying it. The view from the top was pretty cool, you could see far out and it was cool to see all the people walking as part of the zoo below, there's not much to do up there except see the view and go to the restroom so after a few minutes we turned around and went down the ski lift.





They do have shows for some animals. We didn't really spend our time figuring out where to go, just meandered around. Beware there are some activities that you have to have cash for, and they didn't have an ATM right there. We weren't able to feed the birds because of that but we did get to feed the giraffes (I guess they took credit cards) which was really fun.





We saw lions (no pictures), bears, bald eagles, and watched the penguins get fed. After about 4 hours in the zoo we were done, had seen mostly everything and were ready to leave.







More to come... (and iy"H it will be less than 5 months)

Offline Gvann

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2023, 01:52:18 PM »
Just curious how long you spend in each place and where you were for shabbos? @chesky

Offline mkessler

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2023, 09:49:22 PM »
Nice job planning this while learning for semicha!

Offline chesky

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2023, 11:19:17 PM »
Just curious how long you spend in each place and where you were for shabbos? @chesky

Here's the breakdown of where we stayed
  • Colorado Springs - Tuesday through Friday morning - Homewood Suites
  • Vail - Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos - Residences at Cascade Village attached to Grand Hyatt Vail
  • Mount Dillon - Sunday - Homewood Suites
  • Denver - Monday through Thursday - The Rally

Offline Gvann

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2023, 04:33:22 PM »
Near a Shul in veil? Kosher? Eager to hear the rest of this tr cause planning a similar trip

Offline chesky

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2023, 08:56:59 PM »

Days Four - Six

The next day was Friday. Our plan for Friday was to check out, go to East Side Kosher Deli in Denver to pick up food for Shabbos and then drive to Vail where we had booked a 3 bedroom, 2,400 sq ft residence at Residences at Cascade Villages attached to the Grand Hyatt Vail for 43,000 Hyatt points a night. There were cheaper options available but we wanted the space for the kids to play and run around, especially since there was no eruv and we would be cooped up all day in the house.

We didn't bring any food for Shabbos from home but we brought a hot plate and Betty Crocker (we brought 2 one milchig, one fleishig) all the food we got from East Side Kosher Deli. We were trying to find a way to order online but couldn't figure out a good one so we just went to the takeout counter and they had everything we needed.

The drive to Vail is breathtaking, driving through the majestic mountains. There is a Chabad of Vail in Lionshead that has a minyan but when we looked Lionshead was booked and no rooms available for us to stay there. Where we stayed was about a 40 minute walk to the Chabad. Luckily we found a park about a 10 minute walk from the house so Shabbos afternoon we took turns taking the older kids to the park so they could run around. The house we were staying in was nice with mountain cabin feels (lots of dark wood and logs) with a deck, balcony, and backyard with a brook running through it. Even though there was no eruv it gave us and the kids an opportunity to be outside.

Here's the view from the porch and balcony.




Sunday morning after packing up we headed to the Vail Farmers Market located in Lionshead. Vail is a really expensive neighborhood, parking for an hour close to the entrance of the farmer's market cost $50 (which we only found out afterwards), there was cheaper parking located probably around 5-10 minute walk that we should've parked at it if we knew. The farmer's market was very nice and not your average market. There was a stand selling organic fruit and next to it a stand selling Designer sunglasses for hundreds of dollars.

Based on @Joel trip report we booked boating in Lake Dillon for Sunday afternoon. If you are planning on going there in the summer we'd recommend booking it earlier in the day since there is less chance of rain. We got to the marina and saw clouds coming our way, looking at the radar we figure we would risk it and go out on the water. We boated around the lake trying to outrun the rain but after about 30 minutes we saw lightning headed back to the dock to wait it out. It rained, thundered, hailed and wasn't really letting up we called it a day and went bowling instead.






That night we stayed in the Homewood Suites Lake Dillon which was newly renovated, spacious and really nice with beautiful views.

Day Seven
Monday morning we set out to drive up Mt. Evans based on another trip report that we read about here. You do need a reservation in advance to be able to go up to the top. It started off beautiful and then just kept getting more wonderous and terrifying. No one is lying when they say the road is broken up in some places and it's literally a cliff with no guardrails. We were hoping to see wildlife but the ranger collecting the tickets (turned out she was Jewish, her name was Margalit) said that they hadn't had any wildlife spotting that day and we likely wouldn't see anything. Either badger, mountain goats and mountain sheep aren't considered wildlife or we got lucky.




Some of the wildlife we saw






We stopped at Summit Lake for lunch. It doesn't look like much when you get there but the reflection when you go up close is incredible.




After safely making it back down the mountain we headed to Denver where we were staying at the Rally Hotel in McGregor Square right next to Coors Field home of the Rockies. It was a bummer that there was no home game while we were there because it would've been fun to watch from the hotel window. The room we stayed in had a bunkbed room, a large living/dining room, separate bedroom and a huge bathroom with a separate tub.

Days Eight - Ten
Based on advice from the forums we did the Children's Museum, Hammond's Candy Factory, The Outlets which had a really cool slide/playground for the kids and the rooftop pool.

View from the rooftop pool




10/10 would do it again as we all had a fantastic time. Hope it's helpful. Let us know if you have any questions.

Offline chesky

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Re: Family Trip to Colorado with Toddlers
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2023, 09:00:19 PM »
Near a Shul in veil? Kosher? Eager to hear the rest of this tr cause planning a similar trip

There are residences that seem to be near the shul in Vail in Lionshead. But I would double check when they have minyanim since it might only be during peak times.
There was no kosher food that we knew about in Vail but the Chabad there may have more information. We ended up getting all our food from East Side Kosher Deli.

Hope this is helpful, good luck planning. What we found was having one major activity planned for each day was the perfect cadence for us and the kids. We were all able to enjoy while not feeling stressed that we had so much to do. We definitely filled in gaps with extra things but it was more ad hoc and relaxed.