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An Insider’s Guide to Summertime In Boulder, Colorado

Hiking in Boulder Colorado

From the first significant snowfall, folks begin arriving, from far and near, to enjoy the world-class ski slopes high in the Rocky Mountains. The stunning beauty of the snowy mountains along with the variety of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, compels several people to choose Colorado their winter vacation destination.
Colorado can be gorgeous in the summertime also. The little city of Boulder, Colorado—nestled along the eastern “front range” of the Rocky Mountains, at a modest altitude of 5,300 feet—is an absolutely glorious place to be from late-May through September.

Iconic Boulder Summertime Destinations

Walk the Pearl Street Mall

This four-block brick pedestrian mall will delight you with its fountains, street performers, and abundance of gorgeous flowers (tulips of every imaginable color; and other varieties later in the summer). Not to mention all the charming restaurants and small businesses that line it: a discerning shopper’s heaven! But really, simply strolling down the mall on a sunny summer afternoon has persuaded more than a few visitors to become permanent Boulder residents.

Take in a Bands On The Bricks performance

Every Wednesday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm, June through August, you can enjoy a couple hours of free music and dancing, beneath the Colorado sky. Bring a blanket to spread on the courthouse lawn, purchase a microbrew or margarita in the beer garden, and put on your dancing shoes. If you’re not in the mood to dance yourself, you can watch local street dancers do their thing.

Walk or bike the Boulder Creek path

This sweet 5.5-mile paved path is peacefully shared by walkers, bikers, joggers, and skaters. As its name implies, it runs parallel to the Boulder Creek. You can get onto it right downtown (e.g. near the Dushanbe Teahouse) and then travel west toward the mountains (and a bit beyond the Boulder city limit), or to the eastern parts of town. Both directions are beautiful. Additionally, you can raft the river itself—a great option, in particular, for super-hot days.

Enjoy Boulder Open-Space hiking

Much of the western edge of Boulder, Colorado is designated “Open-Space” that are intentionally kept free from commercial development. There are many great hiking trails around these designated areas, just a stone’s throw from central Boulder. Some of the best ones are:

  1. The trails emanating from centrally-located Chautauqua Park (onto Green Mountain or the Flatirons)
  2.  The more northern Mount Sanitas
  3.  The magical Shanahan Ridge trailhead—at the far southern end of the city—which links up with the spectacular Fern Gulch trail, which will take you to the summit of Bear Peak.

Visit the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

This might be the most beautiful teahouse you’ll ever see and it has a fun and inspiring history as well. It came in the mail, piece by piece, as a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe (the capital and largest city of Tajikistan). The hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels were all lovingly crafted by Tajikistan artisans. There’s a fountain in the middle of the teahouse, tables inside and out (with the Boulder Creek running nearby), and a bar counter from which you can order a cup of award-winning homemade chai. Whether you come just for tea, or to share a lunch or dinner with friends, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a place you cannot miss!

Boulder Restaurants & Colorado Cuisine

Sherpa’s Restaurant

With authentic Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine, Great momos (Tibetan stuffed dumplings) among other things, and delightful decor, Sherpa’s Restaurant is a must see. It is located just west and a block south of the Pearl Street Mall.

Sushi Zanmai

Visitors can find excellent Japanese food at Sushi Zanmai, with great happy hour prices for lunch (11:30 am – 2:00 pm) and dinner (5:00 pm – 6:30 pm). Right downtown, a block north of the Pearl Street Mall.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

This is the place in Boulder for awesome, elegant vegan and vegetarian fare, just a half-mile or so east of the Pearl Street Mall.

Boulder Farmer’s Market

For a sampling of authentic Colorado cuisine, check out the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon. It sits in front of the Dushanbe Teahouse and some of the native favorites that you’ll find there include:

  • Palisade peaches, and a variety of melons– The climate is perfect for producing luscious peaches and melons—not to be missed!
  • Trout or striped bass–caught fresh from one of Colorado’s many rivers
  • Roasted green chilis, and various hot sauces–The scent of roasting chilies is something you’ll encounter frequently in summertime Boulder. Elk, venison, bison or wild boar, in the form of steaks, sausage, or burgers. Wild game roam freely in the mountains and plains, and their meat is a Colorado delicacy.
  • Rack of lamb–Colorado is one of the nation’s leading producers of lamb, and it is known to be especially delicious.
  • High-end granola–Boulder is a mecca for endurance athletes as well as outdoor enthusiasts (campers, climbers, hikers, etc.). The high demand for high-quality granola means we have a vast variety to choose from. Yum!

Charming Boulder Bookstores

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe is great for poetry-lovers and literature buffs. This sweet bookstore is “on the hill” in the middle of the University of Colorado campus. It is a great place to have a cup of tea or coffee while reading some new or old favorite poems.

Lighthouse Bookstore

A staircase takes you from the busy Pearl Street Mall down into this basement hideaway, that features a great array of metaphysical and spiritual titles, along with an in-house psychic and tarot readings. Classic Boulder.

What To Do On A Rainy Day In Boulder

Take in a show at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory
If there happens to be a special multimedia show–in the observatory’s circular auditorium–you’re in for a real treat.
Enjoy a performance or art show at The Dairy Arts Center
The movie theater, array of galleries, and performance spaces provide inspiring options for art, dance, and theater lovers.
Music compliments of the Chautauqua Concert Series
Get tickets for a concert at the Chautauqua Auditorium or Community House: beautiful venues nestled at the base of the Flatirons.

Awesome Day Trips From Boulder

Brainard Lake Recreation Area
A 30-40 minute drive from Boulder, this recreation area features jaw-dropping gorgeous alpine lakes and high-mountain forested trails. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is open to hikers only during the summer months and is well worth the drive.
Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness
A half an hour drive through the stunningly-beautiful Boulder Canyon will place you in the quirky yet charming Nederland, which can easily be explored on foot. The Carousel of Happiness–with its beautiful hand-carved animals–is definitely worth a ride, or two.
Whether you’re just passing through, or enjoying a more extended visit, Boulder, Colorado in the summertime is sure to delight you!

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Top 8 Summer Music Festivals in the World

A music festival is a timeless way to see new places, spend time with your favorite people, and hear some great live music. A good festival, of course, is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a chaotic meshing of sounds, socializing, food, unique fashion statements, creative art forms, and merchandise. Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have become a rite of passage for young people and, increasingly, people of all ages. Best of all, there are amazing festivals in all corners of the globe. Let’s look at some of the top summer music festivals in the world.

1. Lollapalooza

Grant Park, Chicago, USA

Right in the heart of downtown, Chicago, Lollapalooza is an amazing festival that’s been running since 1991. It features eight stages and more than 170 bands, covering a wide range of styles. A festival in an urban setting can either be a perk or a drawback, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, you don’t have to drive into the wilderness and set up your campsite. You have all the city amenities within walking distance. Chicago is famous for its great food (especially pizza), bars, museums, and impressive skyline. On the other hand, escaping civilization is one of the features that draws you to festivals, you have plenty of other choices.
In addition to music, Lollapalooza has a mini-festival for kids, an art market, and plenty of merch. You can buy 4-day tickets for the entire festival or single-day tickets. There are also hotel packages. Children under 10 with an adult are admitted free (up to two kids per adult).

2. FYF Fest

Los Angeles, CA, USA

This annual 3-day festival is held at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. FYF Fest has been popular on the West Coast since 2004 and is known for its edgy atmosphere and diverse selection of music, including pop, rock, rap, electronic, hip-hop, and indie. It’s a good festival choice for those with eclectic tastes.

3. Tomorrowland

Boom, Belgium

Tomorrowland is a two-weekend festival that combines electronic music and the arts with a vision for a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable future. This festival began in 2005 and attracts an enthusiastic audience from all over the world. In some ways reminiscent of Burning Man in the U.S., Tomorrowland is full of futuristic visions, art installations, and its own “city,” DreamVille.
There are several options for accommodations, from As with most festivals, there are many tiers for ticket prices, depending on when you buy tickets, what you want to experience, and how long you stay. There are quite a few creative options, at various prices for lodging, including simple tents, tiny home-like structures to luxury “mansions.”

4. Hideout

Zrce Beach, Croatia

Hideout is a good choice if you want to get an early start to celebrating the summer. Set in a remote and pristine location on the Adriatic Sea with a view of mountains, this festival is famous for its boat rides, beach parties, and a wide selection of electronic music. As the name suggests, Hideout is a place where you can escape the everyday rut and experience an idyllic world for a few days.
This is also a great festival for adventurous travelers who enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, boating, and quad biking. Festival goers have a chance to island hop and explore beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.

5. Electric Zoo

 New York City, USA

Electric Zoo is an end-of-summer Labor Day festival held at Randall’s Island Park, a 480-acre urban park on the border of Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Established in 2009, Electric Zoo has been held all over the world. The original location, however, is New York. The 2018 theme is The 6th Boro, which reveals the ambitious attempt to make the festival a permanent part of the New York City (which has five official boroughs or counties) cultural scene.
Their past lineup included DJ Snake, Above & Beyond, Galantis, and Sasha & John Digweed. Check the website for early bird tickets.

6. Wireless Festival

London, UK

If you want to visit London this summer, you may want to schedule your trip to coincide with this festival, held at Finsbury Park. Now in its 13th year, Wireless has become one of the most popular music festivals in the UK. Since Wireless is an urban festival, you have to find your own accommodations. London, however, is an easy city to navigate. If you don’t want to spring for a costly hotel, there are plenty of hostels and reasonable Airbnb options.

7. Arise

 Loveland, Colorado, USA

The Arise Music Festival, approaching its 6th year, is a diverse event held at Sunset Ranch, a 350-acre organic farm in a scenic valley. In addition to music, Arise gives participants the chance to explore a variety of classes, workshops, and art installations. Many attendees are active in political and environmental causes. One of the requirements is that you “leave no trace” –i.e. clean up and leave the grounds as you found them.
Tickets for the 3-day festival include camping. Car camping is another option. There are also camping upgrades available if you want additional amenities.

8. Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux, Switzerland

The Montreux Jazz Festival, founded in 1967, is one of the most glamorous and popular jazz festivals in the world. The program typically includes rock, soul, and blues musicians as well as jazz greats. On the scenic shores of Lake Geneva, the setting is perfect for relaxation and boat rides as well as great music, parties, and socializing.
Montreux has a variety of venues to enjoy music and special events, such as the Auditorium Stravinski, known for its outstanding acoustics and the Montreux Jazz Club, where you can enjoy intimate performances by contemporary artists. Visit the website to find out program details. Past participants have included B.B. King, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and scores of other household names as well as new performers.
You can buy an all-music pass or attend one of the festival’s many free events such as jam sessions, concerts, and film screenings.

Music Festivals Make the Summer More Fun

A music festival can be the highlight of summer vacation. If it’s close to home, it can make for an awesome road trip. The above are some of the most exciting summer festivals in the world. Some festivals don’t announce their lineups until fairly late in the season. However, keep in mind that tickets often sell out fast. So, if you want to attend one of these festivals, it’s best to buy your tickets early!

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3 Unconventional U.S. Cities to Spend the Holidays

Christmas Tree

For anyone looking to travel for an unforgettable holiday trip, consider these three options that offer an incredible spread of possibilities catering to a variety of interests.

1. Colorado Springs, CO

Jingle Bell Run 5K and Kids’ Reindeer Romp

From romance to family-friendly events, Colorado Springs is always a magical place to visit when fall finally gives way to winter. At a sprawling costume party and holiday celebration rolled into one, the Jingle Bell Run 5K and Kids’ Reindeer Romp is one of the main events that kicks the season into high gear. Participants toss on their ugliest ugly-Christmas sweaters, Santa suits, and reindeer antlers for an energetic run (or stroll) through scenic Fountain Creek Regional Park, which lies at the base of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains. The fun run also is for a great cause that will help you get into the holiday giving spirit, as the proceeds go to a variety of programs that help local teens.
While the Jingle Bell Run 5K is perfect for families, couples, or individuals, the same goes for the popular Skate in the Park, a growing tradition at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. Featuring demos by Olympic skaters and programs for skaters of all ages and skill levels, Skate in the Park is circled by holiday lights and dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. Families also tend to go all-in for the Santa Express Train, where patrons toss on their favorite holiday pjs and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies with Santa on the way to the North Pole.

Spend the Day at a Castle

On top of the robust list of family options in Colorado Springs during the holidays, there are also some great opportunities for small groups or couples looking to drum up a little romance. At Glen Eyrie, you can not only have a cozy night in a real castle, but you can also participate in a range of holiday activities, from the very popular Yule Tea to the immaculately decorated Madrigal Banquet, which will whisk you back to the 16th century for a jolly night of great food and activities. Also in the area, Miramont Castle offers a Victorian-era Christmas atmosphere from mid-November onward, creating another beautiful backdrop to get the season rolling in the right direction.
Also consider: For more than three decades, the Festival of the Lights Parade has taken over downtown Colorado Springs with a wondrous spread of lights and holiday spirit. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari also pivots to the holiday season with all kinds of impressive decorations and offers outstanding views of city holiday lights from its mountain perch.

2. San Diego, CA

You may not instantly think of Southern California when you conjure up images of the holidays, but one trip to San Diego at the right time of year can change that in an instant – particularly for anyone hoping to escape the more wintery aspects of the holiday season. Over at the renowned Hotel Del on Coronado Island, you can actually walk right along the ocean all the way up to the Del’s famous outdoor ice-skating rink, where holiday enthusiasm runs rampant throughout December and early-January. Staged between the wide Coronado beaches and the famous red rooftops of Hotel Del, the rink offers California-style ice skating that typically comes with mild weather (think low to mid-60s) and the patented San Diego sunshine. Hotel Del also gets very decked out for the holidays as well, including an enormous evergreen tree in the lobby decorated to the hilt.

Balboa Park

Meanwhile, Balboa Park in downtown San Diego puts on the steadily growing December Nights, an astounding holiday festival that draws on cultural traditions from all over the world. For four decades, December Nights has taken over the sprawling, 1,200-acre park that showcases the world-famous San Diego Zoo along with an assortment of renowned museums and gardens. But for one weekend in early December, the park is enlivened by countless holiday lights and a staggering spread of food vendors, making for an international holiday celebration and enormous food festival rolled into one. Add in some live holiday-themed performances at the Old Globe and other activities embedded in December Nights and it’s easy to see why visitors (and locals) turn up at Balboa Park in December.

Parade of Lights

As a prominent port of call, San Diego is also not exactly lacking in beautiful harbor views, which create the background for the explosion of holiday colors that come with the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. For nearly a half-century, participants have shown off their inner creativity by decorating their boats based on the annual theme, which have ranged from “Aargh! A Pirate’s Christmas” to “A Tropical Island Christmas” (2018) in recent years. To get the best views of the roughly 80-boat parade, viewers show up early and spread out around the two embarcaderos that jut out into the harbor overlooking Coronado Island.
Anyone up for a short drive from central San Diego also has even more terrific options for the holidays. Though all the beach towns north of downtown (e.g. Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Encinitas, Del Mar) have their own holiday festivals worth checking out as well, driving a little east to Julian, California will give you a completely different experience. Sitting at the base of the Cuyamaca Mountains, Julian is known for its snow-capped mountain scenery, crisp air, and wonderful little historic area that springs to life for the holidays. Regionally famous for the pies and various homemade delicacies, Julian has a fun tree-lighting ceremony and looks like a postcard once Main Street is fully lit with holiday excitement. From major festivals celebrating diverse holiday traditions to events that take full advantage of local geographic advantages, San Diego is simply a great place to spend the holidays.

3. Williamsburg, VA

Christmas Wonderland

There’s an irrefutable holiday cheer in the air in Williamsburg, Virginia once the calendar moves past Halloween. At the heart of the action, Busch Gardens Christmas Town is a vintage winter wonderland complete with more than 10 million lights. It constantly smells of fresh Christmas trees, and has an impressive spread of boutiques lining the cozy village within Williamsburg. Unique holiday-based dining experiences, Santa sightings, and a North Pole workshop help create an electrifying atmosphere sure to get the holiday fun started in Williamsburg. Nearby, at Yankee Candle Village, Christmas is actually celebrated all year. However, it really pops to life in November and December to offer another memorable stroll through lights, decorations, and holiday activities.

Christmas Tree Lighting

Because Williamsburg is often credited with being the site of the first community Christmas tree, the tree-lighting ceremony has become a seminal way to usher in the good vibes of the season. The first tree was decorated here all the way back in the 1840s, and by 1915. Williamsburg celebrated with its first community tree complete with electric lights, making the annual ceremony a timeless tradition that continues to draw both locals and visitors. Not only do participants gather to see the lighting of the enormous evergreen tree in Market Square but everyone crowds around for a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” followed by caroling.
Though Colonial Williamsburg and the surrounding region is always great for delving into the magic of the region’s rich history, history lovers have even more options during the holiday season. A short 15-minute drive from central Williamsburg to Jamestown will let you time-travel to the Christmas traditions of the first English settlement on the continent. Whether you come for planned events and activities or simply want a great location to wander and take in a traditional holiday experience, Williamsburg is tough to beat.

Final considerations

Part of the fun of holiday travel is looking for the under-the-radar possibilities that will really tie your vacation together, making the holiday season an amazing opportunity to dive headlong into new experiences and traditions. Even in places that don’t immediately come to mind when you think of the holidays, there’s a good chance there are plenty of exciting sites and local events that will put you in the holiday spirit. With an eye on local social media pages and willingness to consider contrarian options, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right balance of cozy traditions and newfound adventures no matter where you choose to travel.

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A Wine Lover’s Guide to Western Colorado

While Colorado is justifiably famous as an outdoors enthusiasts’ dream (hello, 14,000 high peaks to climb!) and a beer drinker’s paradise (cheers to the 348 and counting breweries in the state). However, wine lovers appreciate the Western part of the Centennial State which is home to a flourishing wine scene. Those seeking an alternative to Napa, Sonoma, or Willamette Valley should consider visiting the North Fork Valley and Western Slope, including the towns of Palisade, Paonia, and Grand Junction. Pair your wine tasting and peach picking with the unique sights of Western Colorado, where the Colorado River flows alongside stunning red rock mesas and the peaks of the West Elk Mountains reach towards the big skies of the American West.

Hop Along Beer: Make Room for Wine

Before you head out on your wine tour, it might help to learn a bit about the wine scene in Colorado. While beer is quite popular, there is also a robust wine production community in Colorado, with 140+ producers located throughout the state. Many are located in the Western part of the state, where the climate is ideal for growing and the scenery is one-of-a-kind. The Western Slope, in particular, is a strong agricultural hub for the state, which can be seen in the unique wines coming out of that region; peach, watermelon, and plum are just a few of the rare varietals you can enjoy in tasting rooms.

Start Here: Grand Junction

Located four hours from both Denver and Salt Lake City, Grand Junction is the gateway to this wine tour. The town is the perfect place to rent a bike if you’re opting to bike along the Fruit and Wine Byway, warm up to hiking at altitude at the nearby Colorado National Monument, and start your wine tasting at any of the wineries in town. Some of the favorites include:

Desert Sun Vineyards

This winery offers amazing mesa views and delicious Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon vintages. Their tasting room is open in summer and fall from 11am-5pm daily.

Whitewater Hill Vineyards

Follow a tasting at this winery with a picnic on their terrace. Wine aficionados can appreciate their tasting room all year-round; there, you can taste many varieties, including the rare Riesling Icewine.

Two Rivers Winery

This family-owned winery is open year-round and offers privately scheduled tours for groups larger than 8. Located just west of town, the winery neighbors the Colorado National Monument, making it the ideal stop after a day hike (or the perfect place to admire the Monument from afar, wine glass in hand!)

Next Stop: Palisade

Drive twenty minutes down the road to Palisade, a quaint town known for its world-class peaches and creative wines. The Fruit and Wine Byway connects Grand Junction and Palisade and then meanders through Palisade’s side roads. Visitors can choose to drive or bike the byway; biking is a fun way to make your way between stops, while driving allows you to see more in a day. Either way, consider incorporating these favorites into your itinerary:

Maison La Belle Vie Winery

Established in 2009, this winery offers Merlot, Syrah, and other traditional wines. They also offer unique wines such as Muscat, a French dessert wine, and the Vin de Peche, which uses the famous Palisade peaches to make a Muscat fortified with peaches. Wine lovers can start with a complimentary tasting, then sit on the patio for a lazy afternoon filled with wine, cheese, and charcuterie.

Talon Winery

With 30 wines and two tasting rooms on site, everyone can find the wine that suits their preferences at Talon. They are open 10am-5pm daily. Stop by to try their apricot honey wine, classic chardonnay, or chocolate cherry dessert wine.

Talbott’s Hard Cider Tap Room

Take a break from wine to try a crisp and refreshing hard cider. Talbott’s started serving apple cider in 1907; since their founding, they’ve expanded their offerings to include the “IPC,” a cider inspired by IPAs found at breweries, and the “Grow a Pear,” which is a, well, pear hard cider.

The Finale: Paonia

Your final stop on this wine tour of Colorado is Paonia, a hidden gem nestled in the North Fork Valley. Located an hour and a half drive from Palisade, Paonia is home to award-winning wineries, beautiful views, and a strong agricultural and foodie scene. Stock your picnic basket with local cheeses from Western Culture Farmstead, bread from Paonia Bread Works, and produce from Lizzy’s Market. Visitors can stay at a quaint bed and breakfast just out of town before striking out to taste the local offerings. Some of the favorites in the area include:

Azura Cellars and Art Gallery

Drive up a gravel road until you reach the best views–you’ve made it to Azura Cellars. Enjoy perusing the beautifully curated art as you enjoy your complimentary tasting, and then buy a glass or bottle to split on the patio. They offer five red varietals and two white; one local favorite is the Yacht Club Red, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Wine lovers should plan their trip in advance as their tasting room is only open seasonally, from May to October, from 11am-6pm.

Stone Cottage Cellars

Drive just down the road from Azura until you stumble across the winery’s namesake stone cottage. While you can sip on many standard offerings at Stone Cottage, such as Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay, make sure you don’t leave before trying their unique wine, the Gewürztraminer.

Black Bridge Winery

Family-owned and operated since 1976, this winery is located on the Orchard Valley Farm, which offers seasonal produce, olive oils, aged balsamic vinegar, and, of course, wine. Try their “Tape Label” pinor noir, “Pearamour” pear wine, or the “Farmer’s Ditch” red blend. All tastings are complimentary.
If you only have time to pick one town for your first wine vacation in Colorado, well, plan your next trip now, because all three towns have something to offer! That said, Grand Junction is fantastic for wine lovers to include more intense outdoor adventures with a select few wineries; Palisade’s cute downtown is perfect for families who want to combine a wine tour or two with peach picking and park picnics for the whole family. Couples seeking a romantic getaway may prefer Paonia, with its stunning views and cozy bed and breakfast vibe. Wherever you decide to visit, please drink responsibly and plan ahead for safe transportation between locations and enjoy. Cheers!

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Skip the Hotel: 7 Lodging Options That are Anything but Boring

hotel alternatives treehouse

It’s time to mix things up. Whether you choose a house, a castle, or even a converted jail, thinking outside the box will reward you with a trip you’ll be talking about long after you return home. Take a look at some of our picks for unique places to stay on your next vacation.

Live like the locals and rent a house

It should be clear by now that we think that one of the best ways to experience a new location is to live like the locals. To really experience the local life, skip the hotel and rent a house or apartment outside of town. It may be convenient to stay at a hotel on Main Street, close to the popular attractions, but staying in town often limits you to seeing the area as a tourist. When you stay in the residential areas, you will have the opportunity to chat with your neighbors, visit the local grocery store, and explore the quaint little cafes that only the locals know about. From your standard 3-bedroom house in the suburbs to a penthouse apartment in Asia, there’s something to please everyone. Head to Airbnb or VRBO to get started.

Camp in style in a Yurt

If you want to be outdoors but aren’t sold on the idea of sleeping in the standard tent, consider a yurt. The yurt has been around for thousands of years, originally used in Mongolia. The structure has many key features including portability, a cloth roof, and circular shape. If you want peace and seclusion in the Colorado mountains, consider a yurt where you’ll have a fireplace, kitchen, and the ability to ski and hike to your heart’s desire. Looking to try a yurt but still have some of the luxuries you would find at a hotel? Try the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls where you will have a private bathroom, hardwood floors, and of course access to a luxurious spa.

Embrace your inner child in a treehouse

Sleeping in a treehouse is no longer just a childhood dream, it’s an adult reality. But unlike the treehouse of your childhood, these treehouses are not small constructions nestled in the backyard oak tree. Instead, some of the most luxurious treehouses feature amenities like jetted tubs, king size beds, balconies, and fireplaces.
If you want to relax and immerse yourself in nature check out this remote treehouse on the Big Island of Hawaii. The floor to ceiling windows will surround you with the lush greens of the island. If you are looking for something with more of a funky vibe, head to Canada and rent a tree sphere. Free Spirit Spheres offers the tree house experience with a more sophisticated touch. These houses feature a unique spherical design and are suspended by heavy duty cables. Choose one of the three designs and fall asleep to the sound of the outdoors.

Live like royalty in an ancient castle

If you’re traveling abroad, consider staying in a castle, because let’s be honest, who hasn’t dreamt of living like royalty at least once in their life? If you are looking for a truly magical experience, visit the Ashford Castle. Located in Ireland, this 800-year-old castle was once the home to the Guinness family. It now features 83 rooms, a world-class spa, and dining in its 16th-century wine cellars. Guests can enjoy a wide range of activities on the 350-acre estate. Take in a movie at The Cinema, enjoy a round of golf, or go ziplining.

Choose a lighthouse and fall asleep to the crashing waves

Is there really any more soothing sound to fall asleep to than crashing waves? Sure you can rent a hotel room that is kind of close to the beach and vaguely hear the waves in the distance, but if you really want to experience the coast, look into renting a lighthouse.
There are many options available. Stay at a bed and breakfast in renovated keepers quarters or be the keeper and take on duties like raising the flag, doing minor maintenance, and keeping a log. From atop the lighthouse, you will experience breathtaking panoramic views and see the ocean in a way many others do not. From Oregon to New York, it’s easy to find a lighthouse that will welcome you as a guest. Just be sure to plan ahead as room is limited and the experience is in high demand.

Spend the night behind bars

Did you know that prison hotels are a thing? In fact, you can find these unique renovations all across the globe. But these upgraded clinks are far from dingy cells, hard mattress, and questionable food. On the contrary. Take the Lawyer Suite at the Het Arresthuis just outside of Amsterdam. Chic decor, top of the line amenities, and onsite world-class dining will make you forget that this hotel once housed dangerous criminals.
Traveling down under? Do some time at The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in Australia. The high brick walls and bars throughout the building will give you a more authentic experience. Most rooms have been converted from actual jail cells. The rooms are small, as the original cells were, but they do come with additional amenities like electric blankets and private bathrooms. If you are looking for more space, book The Cottage or The Lodge, former homes to the warden and his staff. Don’t worry, this visit won’t stay on your record.

Experience tiny living in a capsule hotel

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Ready Player One, the look of a capsule hotel will be somewhat reminiscent to “the stacks.” Rooms are lined up, one next to another, one on top of the other. The capsule hotel is not your typical hotel room. It’s not really a room at all. Instead, guests stay in small pods, or capsules. Each capsule typically contains a bed, electrical outlets, and possibly a tv or alarm clock. There is usually a communal bathroom area and often a shared kitchen, living space, and sauna. The design is minimalistic, providing a simple, affordable option for travelers.
Capsule hotels originated in Japan. Today the hotels are found most prominently throughout Asia, but locations are beginning to show up in areas like the US and Russia. Though the same basic design stays consistent throughout most hotels, many capsules are being decked out in unique and fun designs. Book and Bed in Tokyo will make you feel like you are sleeping in the middle of a bookstore with each capsule situated behind shelves of books. The books are available for guests to purchase and each pod has its own reading light. The City Hub in Amsterdam goes for the futuristic feel with sleek colors, high speed internet, touch screens throughout, and it’s very own app to help users check in.
Keep in mind, a capsule may not be the best choice if you are claustrophobic, are traveling with a large group, or are carrying a lot of luggage. However, these hotels are great for solo travelers, business travelers, or lodgers looking for a quick, cheap place to stay.
Shake things up on your next stay. Choose an adventure above or find something of your own. Bundle up in an igloo, or resist the temptation to eat a house made out of chocolate. Get creative and have fun. Adventure can be had inside the lodging you choose, just as much as it can be outside your accommodations.

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The Best Rivers to Explore in Colorado

When you think of Colorado, perhaps pristine powder and bluebird days on the slopes come to mind. But did you know that Colorado is also home to three major rivers that are ideal for a summer fishing trip, a whitewater rafting adventure, or a lazy day of tubing on the water? The Colorado, Arkansas, and Yampa rivers all flow through the Centennial State; consider adding an exploration of these off-the-beaten-path locations to your list.

The Colorado River: Grand County, CO

The Colorado River stretches an astonishing 1,450 miles and is home to world-class fishing spots, swiftly-flowing rapids, and relaxing swimming holes. With so much river to choose from, how do you narrow down your options? Make Grand County, CO your home base. Families seeking a low-key vacation with water activities for everyone in the group, from the fishing enthusiast to the nature lover, prefer this area for its easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area.
Your local options for fishing the Colorado River include Rocky Mountain National Park, Winter Park, Granby, Grand Lake, and more. Wherever you choose, look forward to stunning views of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The river winds through Grand County, providing countless options for casting a line, including a “mostly untouched” part of the river near Granby that was just opened to the public in 2017.
Would you rather cruise the rapids? Pick either a kayak or rubber raft and set off for a day of fun. Local tour operators offer half-day and full-day options throughout the season, which runs from May to September. Beginners may prefer the upper Colorado River, which is typically calmer than the rapid-heavy lower Colorado. With offerings ranging from gentle Class 1 rapids to challenging Class 4 and 5’s, everyone can spend their perfect day on the water.

Biking by the Colorado River

Locals Love: Start your day’s adventure with a cup of coffee from Winter Park’s The Perk and, during summer months, enjoy an all-Americana treat at Grand Lake’s Miyauchi’s Snack Bar, located right on the lake.

The Arkansas River: Salida, CO

Arkansas River at dusk

Located just 2 1/2 hours south of Denver, Salida is home to local Colorado breweries, an emerging foodie scene, and incredible mountain access (including local favorite, Monarch Ski Resort). Couples looking for a new weekend escape love to visit Salida for its cute downtown, which is filled with unique shops and historic buildings, and the meandering river that borders town. Upgrade your trip with a visit to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs after a day on the water and maybe wander down the road to neighboring town, Buena Vista.
Why choose the Arkansas River? For one, the river flows right through town—simply walk from your lodging to start your adventure! With up to 5,000 trout per mile and more than 70 miles of public access, you can’t go wrong with where you cast your line—just be sure to check for a green sign along the river, which indicates you’re at a fishing hole. 5280 Magazine recommends the calm waters above the rapids and near Salida for summertime fishing. The waters are quite chilly year-round due to snowmelt, so either bring or rent waders.
The Arkansas River is also known for whitewater rafting. Locals and visitors alike flock to the river to enjoy the crisp waters. With views of the local “Collegiate Peaks,” all of which are over 14,000 feet in elevation, routes through Brown’s Canyon, and the opportunity to ride alongside the sheer rock face of the Royal Gorge, you might find it hard to keep your eyes on the rapids! Local tour operators include Salida-based Independent Whitewater, Buena Vista-located River Runners, and Noah’s Ark, which offers a variety of tour options.
Arkansas River

If you’re looking for something a bit different, consider exploring the river on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). River Runners offers a package that teaches participants how to manage the river’s continually changing surface on a SUP before taking you upstream to try your hand at class 2 rapids. Others can try their hand at river surfing at the Salida Whitewater Park in town! If the water levels are appropriate, visitors looking for a more laid back day on the water can inner tube the river near town.
Locals Love: Pick up fresh bread for your picnic or perhaps a breakfast to go from Salida’s Little Red Hen Bakery. After a long day on the water, head back into town for pizza and locally-crafted beer (another Colorado specialty!) at Amica’s.

The Yampa River: Steamboat Springs, CO

While this river may not be as well known as others, boating enthusiasts won’t want to miss it. Located near the charming mountain town of Steamboat Springs, the Yampa River is known for its variety in topography and fly fishing offerings. Each part of the river provides different opportunities to fish for cold-water and warm-water species, including trout and pike. You can even fish in town—just be sure to follow the catch and release rules.

Yampa River

If you prefer a boating adventure, launch your vessel from any of the 13 access points for boaters and enjoy the views of steep sandstone mountains. Kayaks, rafts, canoes are all suitable for the water, so take your pick! The Yampa River State Park provides access to 134 miles of the river, flowing west to the border and Dinosaur National Monument. Most of the river flows at class 1 or 2 rapids level, although there can be sections up to class 5. Visitors should be prepared for all scenarios, in particular near the Cross Mt. Canyon segment, which can surge up to class 5.
Locals Love: Enjoy a hearty and hot breakfast at Steamboat Springs’ Lil’ House Country Biscuits and Coffee before setting out for the day; end with a soak in Strawberry Hot Springs, a series of spring-fed pools nestled into Hot Springs Creek.
Please be sure to review the Colorado Parks and Wildlife rules before putting on your waders or casting your kayak from shore.
Visitors flock to Colorado year-round for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and more. As you plan your next trip, consider touring one or more of the state’s rivers. From fishing to kayaking, the offerings are world-class and fun for everyone! And for those landlubbers who prefer to stay dry—pack a picnic, rest on the riverbank, and enjoy the sound of flowing snowmelt as it gently passes you by.