Author Topic: Family Trip to Denver  (Read 1388 times)

Offline Joel

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Family Trip to Denver
« on: May 26, 2024, 09:25:22 PM »

This trip report was supposed to be posted a year aga. I just came across it and realized I never finished and posted it. With many people asking for ideas of trips with kids, I figured nows a good time as any to post it.

Planning and Arrival
Having been to Vail a few years back, I always knew I would be back. When planning this trip, we settled on Colorado for its beautiful mountains and kosher food. I booked United flights using points. Unknown to us, the theme of this trip was delays, and our flight out was unable to take off as they had no first officer. After about 45 minutes, they allowed anyone who wanted to leave the plane, provided they take along their carry-on. It took 2 hours, but fortunately, they found a first officer. One flight attendant told me she was shocked they did, as usually when itís a crew issue, they donít end up flying. It was a smooth flight, and we arrived at DEN only 1 hour and 45 minutes later than planned.

I rented a car from National, and since I am an elite member, we had a seamless experience. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Aurora as they have suites bookable with points. The suite had a separate bedroom and living room, where we put the kids to sleep. The sofa bed was quite comfortable, and our kids slept well.

Tuesday
It was cloudy, perfect weather to spend time walking around the otherwise broiling hot Denver Zoo. The animals are close by, so there is not much walking between exhibits. The elephant exhibit has benches (as I think they have a show or something there) and the elephants came up real close. They had staff posted by most exhibits to answer any questions. After the zoo, we did a Walmart run then went back to the hotel to relax.

For supper, we went to East Side Kosher Deli. The food was delicious and the service great! We ordered:

Pulled chicken pizza 10/10
French fries 8/10
Lamb chops 6/10
Napoleon 10/10

Wednesday
We started by heading out to Tiny Town. It was an absolute hit! The road up was beautiful with views of mountains on both sides. We arrived at opening time and did the railroad first. The railroad covers a lot of stuff you wonít see by just walking around and takes 10 minutes. The little houses/buildings were cute. Kids most enjoyed looking through the windows and seeing all the tiny details. There was one area where the kids could go into the building, and they really loved it. After we were done, they had a small playground where the kids ran around and had fun. Overall, the kids absolutely loved it, and the adults enjoyed it too. I would say itís a must-go if traveling with young children. Since the entire place doesnít take longer than an hour or two, we still had plenty of time ahead of us.

We decided to head to Wash Park, based on a recommendation we got from a local guy we met at East Side. Itís a beautiful park with lots to do. Not far from the entrance, there is a small playground with some cool features such as a tunnel and roller slide. They also have bike rentals and boat rentals. We rented a surrey bike for an hour. The kids sat up front on some sort of kiddie basket and had a blast while the adults got a good workout ;). We did the bike loop twice; it took us about an hour which was $28. According to our Denver friend, there is a stand there that sells kosher ice cream and sorbet with vegan options for people who eat Cholov Yisroel. Sadly, we did not find it, but truthfully after biking for an hour, we didnít want to walk to look for it.

For dinner, we went to Brooklyn Pizza. The pizza was okay, nothing special. There is very little seating, but there was one table left when we arrived. The food took a while to come, but they did warn us that it would take time.

Thursday
We started our day by heading out to the Denver Botanical Gardens. They have a childrenís garden, which has cute little things for kids to do. There were cool tunnels, bridges, tents, etc. There was also a little stream where the kids could splash around as well as a sand pit. The regular garden was beautiful. We didnít get to explore it much as the kids were cranky and tired. There were stunning flowers and trees all around, waterfalls, and lakes with frogs.

After the gardens, we headed back to the hotel to nap the kids (and adults). In the afternoon, it was raining, so we went to an indoor moonwalk park, called Bounce City. The kids had a blast jumping around and riding the bikes they had there, and we got to sit and relax while watching them have fun.

For dinner, we went to Bitcoin Grill. The food was great; however, service is slow. Interesting tidbit, the owner told us they named the restaurant Bitcoin because they used the profit they made from cryptocurrency to invest in the restaurant.

Friday
We checked out of the hotel, went to ESKD to stock up for Shabbos, and headed up to Vail. The drive up was beautiful. We had booked a 2-bedroom apartment in the residence area, so we had a full kitchen and dining room for Shabbos. It was off the creek, which gave us a beautiful view and path to take walks on. (When I booked the room I used the direct website Vail Residences https://www.destinationhotels.com/vail-residences-cascade-village where I was able to see the exact layout and view of each individual residence. When I found the one I wanted, I called into Hyatt to book with points and gave the exact apartment I wanted. They were very accommodating.) After setting up and getting ready, we hung out at the pool for the rest of the day.

Shabbos
We had a restful Shabbos, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and spending quality family time.

Sunday
We debated whether to rent bikes with a wagon in the back for the kids or walk into Vail Village. The bikes were $40 for the day and the wagon $30. In the end, we decided to walk to the gondola. Lucky for us, the path was closed off, so the way took over an hour, instead of 25 minutes. We bribed the kids with promises of prizes, and they walked nicely for the entirety of the trail. With help from other tourists, hotel staff from along the way, and of course Waze, we finally found the square. First stop was an overpriced souvenir store to pay up our bribes. Then we went up the Gondola, which was $55 per person but kids rode free with a paid adult ticket. The views up top were beyond magnificent. We ate a picnic lunch, checked out the discovery center (it has a Jenga game, many animal puppets, taxidermized animals with little animal sound buttons, etc. Kids adored it), and headed back down. After that, we headed back to the hotel, enjoyed the pool, and called it a night.

Monday
We checked out of the hotel and headed back down to Denver. We went to Brooklyn Pizza for lunch, then searched for a short local attraction to cover before our flight. We tried booking a free tour of Hammonds Candy factory but werenít successful. As they do their last tour at 2, and we werenít sure we would make it on time, we decided to skip it. A quick Google search found a cute park Englewood Farm & Train at Belleview Park with a small playground, lots of hilly grass, and a creek in which many kids were splashing around. There is also a small petting farm and a short train ride around the park. Right outside the park, there is a water park, but we did not go in.

We went to ESKD to buy food for the flight and headed to the airport. Knowing there were issues in EWR, we kept checking the status and weather info. Seeing the ground stop was supposedly lifted, we checked in our luggage and went to board. Boarding was delayed a bit, and once boarding was finally done, the ground stop was reinstated. We overheard the pilot telling the gate agent that he refuses to move to the gate unless he has clearance to fly. It was nice of him, as that allowed us to leave the plane and take walks around the terminal with antsy kids. The pilot invited all children to come to the cockpit, handed them wings and activity kits, and gave them a really good time. Unfortunately, this dragged out many hours until our crew timed out and the flight was officially cancelled. This is where the trip report really begins.

United reps claimed it could take up to 6 hours to get our luggage back. At first, we decided to wait, as we didnít even have a change of clothing on us. (Yes, we learned our lesson. Always keep a change of clothing and basic toiletries in your carry-on.) There were no available airport hotels, and the rep claimed their system could only give us a voucher to an airport hotel. I quickly booked the Hyatt Regency Denver Colorado Convention Center. As it was well past midnight, I sent my wife with our kids back to the hotel while I waited. The check-in clerk was really nice, and when he heard my wife was there due to a cancelled flight, he gave her a bunch of complementary toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, mouthwash, etc). At 5 am, I gave up waiting for suitcases and headed to the hotel as well. United automatically rebooked us on a flight Tuesday to LGA, but I requested they not redirect my suitcases there and instead hold them in the airport whenever they finally depart the plane.

Tuesday
The entire morning was spent buying clothing, toiletries, essentials, and small toys for the kids as we had nearly nothing. We tried calling, texting, Twitter DMing, and chatting with United to no avail. After a couple of hours waiting and refreshing, we got someone on chat who told us our baggage was on baggage claim 15. She once again asked if we wanted our luggage checked into our flight, and I politely refused. Seeing what was going on, I didnít trust them not to cancel our flight again. We went to ESKD once more for flight food and headed to the airport hoping. Unfortunately, our instincts were correct, and as soon as we pulled into the airport, our flight was cancelled.

Two of our suitcases were waiting for us, but they told us the third one was still being unloaded. This was 15 hours after our flight had been cancelled. I went upstairs to try and talk to a United customer service agent while my wife and kids waited for our suitcase. After 3 hours, the suitcase finally came, but I was still in line waiting for a United rep. Finally, I made it to the front of the line, but all they offered was a flight with two layovers, or one late Thursday evening. I took the Thursday one and started searching for a different, earlier flight. My wife begged me to book with any airline, as long as it wasnít United.

I paid out of pocket (can't remember the last time I actually paid for a flight) for a Wednesday flight with Southwest to PHL. This was my first time flying with Southwest, and I was overall impressed. The seats were wider and had more legroom than most flights, and they gave special attention to my kids. Finally, the plane touched down in PHL, and after a long car ride, we were finally home.

Now begins the saga of trying to get compensation from United.

Offline Joel

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2024, 09:30:52 PM »
For those who are wondering, we initally received 30k United points per pax. After submitting our complaint to United along with all our receipts, they only gave us $100 Untied travel credit per pax, and after pushing they gave us additional $50 per pax. They did not want to compensate us for the flight, although a United rep in the airport had promised reimbursement for the SW flight.
Seeing that, I reached out to the Chase, since I used the Sapphire card to book the trip. After compiling all our documents they paid us for the shopping we had to do, food and car services. They couldn't refund the hotel as it was booked on points. Since United refunded the original flight, they couldn't pay me the difference in flights. (Obviously the SW flight was insanely expensive.)

Offline Samy1716

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2024, 01:07:35 PM »
Wow, crazy experience!
I am looking into Vail CO for a summer trip at the end of Aug and I was originally thinking of staying in Vail exclusively, after reading your TR I am having second thoughts.... Denver sounds nice as well.
It will be myself, DW and 3 kids (ages 6, 3 and 1) I would love to hear your recommendation as to how to structure an 8 day trip in Colorado.

Really appreciate the TR.

Thanks! 
 

Offline Joel

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2024, 01:58:31 PM »
Wow, crazy experience!
I am looking into Vail CO for a summer trip at the end of Aug and I was originally thinking of staying in Vail exclusively, after reading your TR I am having second thoughts.... Denver sounds nice as well.
It will be myself, DW and 3 kids (ages 6, 3 and 1) I would love to hear your recommendation as to how to structure an 8 day trip in Colorado.

Really appreciate the TR.

Thanks! 
 

I highly recommend splitting the time between Denver and Vail. Theres plenty more to do in Denver that we didn't get to.
I started off in Denver where we had all the kosher food so we didn't have to bring along so much. It would depend on which day of the week you start the trip. We also wanted to be in Vail over shabbos, as we were able to have a full villa with a full kitchen and beautiful grounds. We took nice walks and hung out outside. It was a lot nicer than being cooped up in a hotel room all day.

Offline LMB

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2024, 03:11:54 PM »
fully agree on that
while Denver itself isn't so scenic, there's lots in the Denver area that's very far to do as a day trip from Vail
see my trip report linked below- we also split between Denver and Vail with kids ages 2-12
was beautiful!
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=134076.0

Offline Samy1716

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2024, 10:09:28 AM »
Thank you so much!
Did you have an issue with not having an eiruv in Vail over shabbos?

Offline Joel

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2024, 06:26:53 PM »
Thank you so much!
Did you have an issue with not having an eiruv in Vail over shabbos?
I didnt need a stroller.

Offline Cleveland

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2024, 08:15:38 AM »
Im not sure if its mentioned hereÖ but what season/month was this? Amazing!

Offline Joel

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Re: Family Trip to Denver
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2024, 08:30:27 PM »
Im not sure if its mentioned hereÖ but what season/month was this? Amazing!
Jun