Colorado Dreamin’ | A Week Itinerary

Colorado Travel Itinerary

When I tell someone about our trip to Colorado, I usually wind up with a bewildered look.  It seems that we were able to pack a lot of adventure into the 8 days that we were out there.  To kick off my recommendations and snaps (that are sure to be different from the scenes I’ve shared on Instagram), I thought an overall look at our week would be a good place to start…

Day 1  

Red-eye flight from Orlando to Denver.  We chose this because it would maximize our time in Colorado without taking extra days off work.  Also, after two flights with Frontier, it’s safe to say we won’t be flying with them again.

Drive to Rifle, CO (approx. 3 hours).  Maybe not the best idea after work all day and a three hour flight that was an hour late.  But, with a two-hour time change and the excitement of being somewhere new, it worked.

Day 2

Rife Falls State Park
Rifle Gap State Park
Drive to Glenwood Springs (approx. 30 minutes)
Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Day 3

Drive to Snowmass, CO (approx. 45 minutes)
White River National Forest

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Day 4

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Drive to Boulder, CO (approx. 3 hours)

Read about Days 2-4 here!

Day 5

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park

See some snaps from RMNP, Day 5 and 8!

Day 6

Wyoming Territorial Prison

Pictures from Wyoming!

Day 7

Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods
Cripple Creek
Victor Mine

Scenes from the Mine!

Day 8

Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Lake

See some snaps from RMNP, Day 5 and 8!

Day 9

Downtown Boulder
Red Eye Flight back to Orlando.  1.5 hours late.  Making the last day of vacation / Sunday before work starts pretty much useless!

Red Rocks at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Check soon, as I’ll have more to share about our trip!

5 Quick Stops in the Florida Keys

5 Places to See and Eat in the Florida Keys

One of the biggest benefits of living on the Southern part of the Treasure Coast, is the opportunity to drive down to the Florida Keys for a long weekend.  Scott and I love to explore different areas, but we always seem to be drawn to, and find the most joy out of, the less crowded spots.  These five quick stops in the Keys are no exception- and you will still have plenty of time for relaxing on the beach!

Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West, Florida

Time to Explore: 1 1/2 hours including lunch.  Fort Zachary Taylor used to actually sit on the coast of Key West, but due to the receding ocean, there is now a nice little beach attached to the park, which was very crowded.  We only ran into a handful of people while exploring the fort.  The dark rooms were a welcome break from the heat.  Swing in for a bite to eat at the small takeout located between the beach and fort called the Cayo Hueso Cafe.  While it’s a little pricier for the portion size, the profits go to the Florida Park Service and you don’t have to fight for a parking spot.

7 Mile Bridge, Marathon, FL to Little Duck Key

View of the US 1 bridge running from Big Pine Key

Time to Explore: As long as you want, maybe longer!  Okay, so this may be a little more well known, because you have to drive it to get to the lower keys!  While probably not much fun if you’re in standstill traffic, we had no problem any of the 4 times we crossed it.  The views from the bridge are amazing, and you can enjoy them from the comfort of your air conditioned car.  Or, if you want to be extra adventurous, there is a section of the old bridge on the north side that allows you to walk, bike, and fish.

Bahia Honda, Big Pine Key

Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, Florida
Time to Explore: 30 minutes, without sitting on the beach.  Get here early- 8 or 9am to get a prime spot on the beach and enjoy some quiet time before the crowds.  There are a number of short walking trails; the section of old bridge is my favorite for the views.  If you’ve got more stops planned, or don’t like crowds- get out by 11:30! When we left, traffic was backed up on either side of US 1 trying to get in!

Sparky’s Landing, Key Colony Beach

Time to explore/ eat: 1 hour or so.  I seriously only picked this place to eat because the name of it was “Sparky’s!”  Most spots to eat throughout the keys are marinas, like Sparky’s.  The drive out to this little key was easy, but felt less known due to it not being on the main/only thoroughfare.  It gave us the opportunity to see a lady walking her gorgeous golden retriever, who was proudly holding on to a coconut!  The portions and drink were the best we had in the short time we visited the keys.  When the check came, they included a Sparky’s sticker that now resides proudly on my Kindle(affiliate).

World Wide Sportsman, Islamorada

Ernest Hemingway's boat, Pilar, in Islamorda, FL

Time to explore: 30 minutes (more if you’re with a boy!)  Perhaps the biggest surprise exploration came within the Bass Pro/ World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada!  A boat that I thought was just a prop for display purposes, turned out to be Ernest Hemingway’s.  Take a short tour inside the Pilar, which also houses some of Hemingway’s belongings, and try to ignore the racks of clothes on all sides.

These 5 quick stops along the Florida Keys give you a chance to stretch your legs while taking in the history and lifestyle of the area.

What are your favorite spots to visit in the Keys?

Linking with Bright on a Budget /Cup of Tea / Della DevotedSeptember Farm / The Farmer’s Wife, and Meet @ the Barre

Morning at Hollywood Studios

Review of Disney's Hollywood Studios attractions

Our second time at Hollywood Studios was a lot of fun- we met up with one of Scott’s coworkers and his wife and son, so we had other people to play with.  Which is good, because I am never getting back on Tower of Terror.  It also meant that he didn’t try to con me on to the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster.  Downside- I don’t have a rating for that, but I can tell you that it goes upside down, which automatically crosses it off my list.

So what did I do?

Star Tours- The Adventures Continue. 4/5 stars.
While I’m not a fan of upside down rides, or dropping to my death, I don’t actually get motion sickness.  Therefore, this 3D ride about movies that I’ve never seen was about as much fun as it could be.  The props and such leading up to the entrance of the ride are quite fun to see, and apparently if you enter a different portal or whatever, you’ll get a different experience.  The one was flying in outerspace and crashing onto another planet.  Since you’re on this with bunches of other people, it’s kind of hard to get the full effect of the 3D when someone’s head is in your way.  The other thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of for this ride was the 3D glasses.  You grab a pair as you enter, and you don’t know if they were sanitized (or how well) in between use or not.

Classic Car outside of Beauty and the Beast Theater, Disney's Hollywood Studios

While Scott and his buddy decided to go on the Tower of Terror again, I hit up just about every shop from the beginning of the park to ToT.  I can’t even begin to tell you all that I was in, but I can tell you these few things…

Every store is the same.  Every single one was crowded and I had to weave in and out of people and small children not being supervised.  It didn’t matter if I was in the Frozen Boutique, the 5 & 10, or one of countless others, I could find princess and Frozen gear in all.

Every store is a little bit different.  However, I could always manage to find one neat thing that I didn’t see in the others.  I’m not saying, it was only in that particular store, but something different stood out to me in each.

Everything is overpriced.  I always find so many fun things to pick up for my niece.  But I have a tendency to hop onto Amazon then and there and find it at a discount.

Everything thing is souvenir crap.  I mentioned to Scott that I would LOVE to have a higher-quality dainty Disney necklace.  I have yet to find one.  Yes you can get Alex & Ani and Pandora charms in certain stores.  You can also get nicer pieces that scream I’m obsessed with Disney!  I have yet to find something with just a small mouse-head or silhouette of Cinderella’s Castle.  That isn’t made for a 4 year old / feels like it’s going to break the minute you wear it.  However, if you want to be decked out head to toe in Disney sweats, these shops are the way to go.

An Afternoon at Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios

This park isn’t nearly as packed as Magic Kingdom, and there’s still a lot to do!  Plus, the folks at Disney are working on some construction, so you know that within the foreseeable future, there are going to be exciting things!  I have to say, I love the feel of Hollywood Studios- how it’s laid out like a little town, complete with street signs which make for easy navigating.  I also love that since it’s smaller than the Magic Kingdom, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming to me.

The first time we went to Hollywood Studios was our first time using our Magic Bands and Fastpasses.  We learned a lot.  For instance,  even with the Magic Bands being linked to our annual passes, we still have to carry our yellow “annual passholder” card to get discounts for merchandise and food.  Oh, and the discount on food only works for sit-down restaurants.

The Fastpasses are amazing, though it’s a little tricky to get used to.  Be sure you are well within your time frame to use it for rides.  It seems if you’re using it for a show, they’re a little more relaxed.

Things to see:

Beauty and the Beast play at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Beauty and the Beast. 4.5/5 stars.
We Fastpassed this, since the only thing Scott really wanted to do was go on the Tower of Terror ride.  We were in line well before our scheduled time for the Fastpass, but they let us in ahead anyway.  I guess since there’s so much seating available, it’s not that big of deal.  This abridged version of Beauty and the Beast is about 30 minutes long, and features all of our favorite characters and songs.  I absolutely loved it; Beauty and the Beast was probably my favorite movie growing up.  Besides The Little Mermaid and 101 Dalmatians, anyway.  Around the corner from the show is a Frozen Boutique, with bunches of overpriced items.  There is also a penny-press machine, so I paid .50 to get a Beauty and Beast penny.  These are becoming my favorite form of souvenirs, because at .50, they are certainly the cheapest Disney has to offer!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. 4.5/5 stars.
Just as the name of the show states, the Indiana Jones show is full o’ stunts.  This would have gotten a full 5 stars if not for two things.  One- this was the second show that we went to that day, and two shows when you’re just there for the afternoon tend to take up a lot of time.  The show itself should only be about 30-45 minutes.  Which brings us to downfall number two.  When they were changing scenes, they couldn’t get some equipment brakes to unlock or something.  So we had to wait about 15 minutes for them to get it working right.  That’s a little wait when it’s 95 degrees outside, and there’s a crowd packed into the theater!  Overall, this show is great, though sometimes the “stunts” are a little over the top.  Scott being a true boy enjoyed this much more than Beauty and the Beast.

Things to Do:

Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Tower of Terror. 3/5 stars.
We Fastpassed this, since Scott really wanted to do it.  He bribed me into attending as well, with the promise of a Starbucks after.  Tower of Terror is where we learned the ins and outs of the Fastpass a little more.  We showed up a couple minutes before our allotted time, and when we scanned our bands, the Mickey scanner turned blue.  We had no idea what this meant, and the attendant out front told us (we thought, but there was another group there having issues) to go ahead.  We get ALL the way inside, and when we scan our bands at the second portal, we get told that it’s not our “time” yet, and to go back outside.  Ya’ll there’s no easy way to exit this place, without having to weave in and out of people.  This is true for any ride line, and I kind of wish they gave you an easier “out.”  Anyway, we wait a couple minutes, scan our bands again, and lo and behold- Mickey turns green, signaling that we are, for sure, good to go.

Now, the ride itself.  I hated it.  It wasn’t one of those rides that I hate and then I ride and I wind up loving.  NOPE.  Hated it.  Every minute of it.  you’re in an elevator with about 20 other people.  You have a seat belt on, and what I affectionately refer to as “oh shit bars” on either side of you.  But you’re sitting next to someone, so really, you only have one to grab on to.  Then they zoom you up something like 13 stories.  Maybe more.  It felt like more.  They open your death trap up to look out over the park and you think, “oh how cool!”  And then they drop you.  5 stories or so.  Then open the thing up again so you can see out.  And then, FML, drop you again.  Seriously, I was hunched into Scott, holding onto his arm the entire time.  And also cursing him.  The video and photo that came out of it, however, was fantastic.  Just not close to worth the $200+ for the photo package to get it.

Where to Eat:

Studio Catering Co.  4/5 stars.
We’ve actually eaten here a couple times.  The price is relatively cheap by Disney standards, and the food is tasty.  I’d add a picture, but I’m apparently in the minority in that I want to eat my food instead of photograph it.  We have tried both the Spicy Chipotle Ranch Chicken, and the Turkey and Cheese Panini.  The Turkey was a little too salty for my liking, but overall, it’s a great place to grab a quick bite to eat.  There is plenty of patio seating, making it easy to find a spot.  Your annual pass discount won’t work here, by the way!

The Trolly Car Cafe. 5/5 stars.
We’ve also been here a couple times, as this is where Starbucks is housed.  Which automatically gives it a 5/5 rating.  I feel like this one runs more smoothly than the one in the Magic Kingdom, but that could be because they don’t see the crowds that the MK see.  The space is huge, making it harder to trip over each other while ordering your drinks.  Also be sure to look up!  I was entertained by the artwork and craftsmanship above while waiting to order.  As with Studio Catering, we couldn’t get our 10% off food here.  It’s okay, because coffee.

Happy Friday y’all!   I suppose it’s time to start Christmas shopping!!!

Linking with Coffee with Caitlin / Bright on a Budget /Cup of Tea / Della Devoted, Meet @ the Barre, and September Farm / The Farmer’s Wife