Our Colorado getaway, as detailed in Part I and Part II, was an active mix of urban and wild outdoor adventures. We continued on with our quest for discovering the great outdoors during the last leg of our trip, and added on some R & R as well.
After our adventures in Colorado Springs came to a close, we spent the morning at the Outlets at Castle Rock browsing the comprehensive selection at The North Face, Vans, and some other fine outdoor outfitters (the forecast had duped me into planning a morning indoors; which was fine because this family likes to shop). We then drove about two hours to Vail Village. We had fun exploring this Alpine European inspired pedestrian village, and wound up having an early dinner at Pepi’s Deck, where Curious G was lured by the live music. The benches along the beautiful creek that runs through the village provided a nice respite from all of the walking that we did, the shops provided cute little trinkets to buy as gifts, and the large green "lawn" in Solaris Plaza (that becomes an ice skating rink in the wintertime) was the perfect space for Curious G to run around and stretch her legs after our long car ride.
The Hanging Lake trail is a very popular hike that rewards its visitors with a mystical emerald colored lake at end of the mile long trek. While we set out the next morning with visions of making this upward climb and marveling at the dazzling vision at the top, the weather turned upon our arrival and Curious G went into meltdown mode. We tried. We really did. We made it out the car, through a very intense bathroom break complete with high pitched tear- infused shrieks, and onto the trail. But the cold rain pelting our faces while dragging a kid who suddenly lost function of her legs made us turn right back around towards the car. To drive an hour back towards our hotel (heavy sigh, violins).
Our consolation prize for trying was not too shabby. We wound up at Nottingham Park, which was a short walk from our hotel, where we picnicked and played along the lake. In the summertime, paddle boat, paddleboard and kayak rentals are available right next to the lake. Our peaceful and scenic lunch, and the beautifully maintained and whimsical playground right next to the lake more than made up for our morning hike fail.
We were relaxed and ready for some more relaxation, poolside, back at the hotel. After our pool time, we took the 10 minute hotel shuttle ride to Beaver Creek Village, which was a smaller scale version of Vail Village. We walked around for less than an hour before hopping on the shuttle back.
We researched the Lionshead Rock Trail on All Trails after one of the desk clerks at our hotel recommended it. It was only a 15 minute drive from the hotel, and was rated as a moderately difficult hike with diverse terrain, a chance to see wildlife, and a couple of lookout points on the 4 mile hike up to the summit. (we also met some nice people on our hike who told us that you can hike 6 miles all the way to Lionshead Village). We hiked for about a mile or a mile and a half; it took us about 30 minutes, before reaching the first false summit. We sat on some logs after staring out and gazing upon mountain peaks and tiny little houses and cars staring back at us. The view was almost akin to the Paramount Pictures logo, and the logs provided the perfect picnic spot. We headed back down after snacking on some nuts, fruit, salami and cheese from our communal backpack. Curious G held her own during the hike and kept up the pace with mommy and daddy. She also had a good time “warding off the bears and rattlesnakes” with her constant chatter.
Lionshead Village and a return to Vail Village
We visited Lionshead Village twice. During our first visit, we walked around and played on the playground after our hike. We had the pleasure of being there during Vail Oktoberfest and reveled in the festive live music and array of traditional German outfits.
On the morning of our last day in Colorado we returned to Lionshead Village to take the Eagle Bahn gondola up to enjoy the Epic Adventure. We purchased the Scout Sampler for Curious G, which allowed her to fly down a zip line three times and take two turns on the junior ropes course. The surrounding views 10,000 feet above sea level were magnificent, and the gondola ride up was just as breathtaking. While C.G. was practicing her skills on the ropes course BBQ fumes wafted throughout the mountain air, so when it was time to eat, we stayed on the mountain top and enjoyed some pulled pork and BBQ chicken sandwiches at Talon's Deck.
After taking the free shuttle from Lionshead Village back to Vail Village, where we were parked, we had the chance to shop around, enjoy some of the public art, and grab ice cream cones at Sundae, where the scrumptious homemade flavors really hit the spot after we went a whole week without ice cream.
Where we stayed:
Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas
I wish we could have stayed here for a week to take full advantage of the beautiful grounds, the poolside relaxation, the tranquil spa, and the fitness facilities (free pilates reformer classes! Daddy broyoga!) We did take extensive walks along the creek to skip rocks, and to the nearby supermarket for provisions. I also walked across the street to get a deep tissue massage from Simply Massage (it was half the price of getting a massage in the hotel spa!).
Curious G climbed everything she possibly could along the multiple decks and terraces, and made friends with every bartender and hotel staff that made eye contact with her. We got some quality fire pit time in every evening, but we did not have the chance to enjoy modern Mexican food and tequila cocktails from Maya while looking at the stunning view from the terrace. My poolside margarita was a pleasure to imbibe, but we missed out on a family soak in one of the three hot tubs. Hopefully, we will have another chance to stay and enjoy everything the next time.