What to Pack for a Colorado Vacation

No one wants to travel across the country only to realize something was forgotten. At the same time, hauling everything but the kitchen sink through an airport is exhausting. The more people traveling together, the more luggage there is; pile kids’ toys, strollers, and sippy cups on top, and you might as well have brought the sink too. Needless to say, packing for a vacation can be a delicate art.

That’s where a vacation rental is great. We supply the necessities–blankets, pillows, towels, and best of all, a washer and dryer.

Save yourself the hassle and pack light. You can always wash your clothes at your rental and save the suitcase space for souvenirs!

That being said, what do you bring?

Dressing for Colorado weather is best summed up with one word: layers.

You’ll want layers you can easily take on and off. A nice, breathable t-shirt first, then long sleeves over that. On the top, think of wearing a wind- and water-proof jacket.

With the high altitude and low humidity, there’s greater temperature swings through the day than you would experience in the plains of the Midwest. Mornings and nights are quite cool, so you may want long sleeves and pants (even in the summertime), but by mid-day, you’ll want to ditch the long sleeves for something more breathable. Bring a backpack for hiking or cruising around town, and throw the jacket in the pack when you get too hot.

And remember the material of your clothes can make all the difference. Whether you’re coming for a winter or summer vacation, you’ll want your base layer to be something synthetic that wicks away sweat and breathes. Fleece makes a great warming layer over top. Finally, add that weatherproof jacket to keep out the elements.

And don’t forget about your little piggies! Particularly in the winter, you’ll want warm wool socks if you’re going to be outside.

Side note: It can be tempting to reach for cotton t-shirts, or a comfy sweatshirt, but cotton is only good when it’s dry. It doesn’t breathe in the summer, so when you sweat, it will cling to you. Then when you start to cool off, your clothes will be wet which will make you cold. In the wintertime, cotton keeps you warm by trapping air between you and the clothes. If you sweat from serious skiing, hiking or snowshoeing, that cotton will cling and the warm air pocket will be completely gone. You’ll be cold, and your day will be done. Think too, cotton socks in your boots bunch up, rub on your feet, and won’t keep you warm.

Other must-have items for a trip to Colorado:

  • Sunglasses. We have serious sun out here!
  • Water bottle. Less humidity + more altitude = dehydration. Every Coloradoan has a trusted water bottle that doesn’t leave their side. I even bring mine into restaurants!
  • Sunscreen. Same deal: altitude and sun can lead to serious sunburn. Even in the winter, sunscreen is a good idea. It also keeps the skin from drying out.
  • A hat.
  • Chapstick.
  • Your camera!
  • Shoes. If you’re going to hike, have a decent pair of shoes. I don’t care if you got your sandals in the hiking section of the sporting-goods store, you’ll want closed-toe shoes.
  • Backpack. I mentioned before that it’s handy to have a backpack, but I’ll say it again. It’s a great catch-all that’s easier than a purse and keeps Dad from loading up his pockets. Plus, a backpack makes it that much easier to pull over and go for a hike! Throw your water and snacks inside, and go for it!

Top 5 Reasons to Book Directly with a Property Manager

 

In a world with Airbnb and VRBO, everyone can rent out their home.

It’s a great way to earn money back on your investment, and one I wholeheartedly support! But not every VRBO or Airbnb experience is created equal.

So much of what makes a vacation rental great is the host, or in our case, the manager. Many homeowners have full-time jobs and may even live across the country from their rental! That’s where renting from a vacation rental manager can take your vacation from good to great, and your vacation home from a simple place to sleep, to a place with incredible memories.

Need another reason to find a vacation rental manager in the city you want to visit? Here’s my top five!

1.  It’s My Job 

As a vacation rental manager, it’s my full-time, 24/7 job to take care of these properties and those in them! I have the time, the resources, and the experience to tell me what each house will need to be fully stocked and ready for guests.

2. Get What You Expect 

It can be hard to sift through pages and pages of houses, and get a good feel for the home. Give me a call and I can answer your questions. I know the houses inside and out, so let me walk you through them, and tell you exactly what you can expect when you get there.

3. Customer Service 

As my guest, I’m here for you. Do you want me to set up a reservation for you? Do you need me to bring you groceries so you can sit back and relax? Let me know! I want to help make your stay memorable and relaxing. If there’s something I can do to help, I will! Not to mention, I live, work and play here, so ask me questions. I can help you make the most of your visit.

4. Save on Fees 

Like other vacation rental managers, we have our homes on listing sites like Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey and more, but we know the service fees from those sites can be a drawback. So give us call, and we can save you the fees when you book directly with us.

5. Maintenance 

Neither you nor I want anything to go wrong during your stay, but if something happens, I’m on it. I do everything I can to resolve issues quickly. I don’t want you to go without anything, and as a manager, I have the time to focus on a problem and get it resolved. I can’t guarantee that everything will be working 100-percent of the time. Things happen–even in a vacation rental. But know that I won’t put off an issue, and I will do everything I can to make it right for you.

Third Space Coffee

Third Space Coffee is a community-minded hang out. Photo: IG/@third_space_coffee

We had heard a lot of great things about Third Space Coffee, so we knew we had to give it a try.

The inspiration for their name came from a community-minded apporach to owning and operating a business. They wanted their venue to be the “third space” in your life; first is your home, then work, and third is your community space.

And they definitely delivered there. The shop has lots of space and seating, so a lot of people can gather together at once. They host live music, group events, and worship groups weekly.

There’s a separate area for parents to take their kids, so little legs can stretch while moms and dads sit together.

Large events are part of what makes Third Space a community hub. Photo: Facebook/@ThirdSpaceCoffeeCOS

We’ve been there twice, and both times there were a lot of people, so the atmosphere was very fun, but we were less impressed with the coffee. I ordered a vanilla latte and it was sour for my taste. I usually like them smooth, with just a hint of vanilla. I’m not afraid of the coffee–rather than the sugar–being the hero of the drink, but this was not for me. My husband’s cappuccino was small and bitter, more like an espresso shot. The second time we went, his was much better, but I thought mine was much the same.

The other thing I’ll mention about Third Space is the location. While the store itself is easy to find and has plenty of parking, it’s off of Academy Blvd. It’s a busy thoroughfare, so you’re traveling fast and it’s easy to miss your turn. A lot of places are only accessible from one side of the street because of the median.

While the coffee wasn’t our favorite, it had a lot of other good qualities including a great staff. It’s especially nice if you have your kids with you.

Kid friendly: Yes – separate play area for kids = happy moms and dads!

Drive through: No.

We give Third Space Coffee a 5/10.

5670 Academy Blvd N, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 | thirdspacecoffee.org

Kairos Coffee House

Kairos Coffee House near Popes Bluff and Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs
Kairos Coffee House behind Popes Bluff and Ute Valley Park.

Kairos Coffee House was a last-minute decision we’re really happy we made.

Colorado Springs natives may have noticed their sign along Garden of the Gods Road, but you can’t actually see the storefront from the street. In fact, it felt a lot like searching for the Isle of Tortuga from Pirates of the Caribbean: it cannot be found, except by those who already know where it is.

Once you get inside, you’ll forget you’ve never been there before–because you’ll already want to come again.

In the ’70s, this space used to be a bar, so the decor still has that cool, bar vibe with multiple levels, stone walls, and the baristas stand behind a bar that surrounds them on all sides. But it’s been transformed into a really cozy setting. Local art is hung on every wall, and there are tons of windows that let in lots of natural light. The fireplace near the entrance is open on two sides, so you can warm up on your way in, or pull up a chair on the other side with your coffee of choice.

There are larger tables which make it great for study groups or a mobile office, and in fact, they encourage you to come in and make yourself at home with work, school, friends, or a good book. They even let you host events like baby showers, birthday parties, and corporate gatherings.

Their menu has something for everyone. My next visit will include the London Fog!

I had a regular vanilla latte which was creamy and sweet. I think I prefer it with a little more coffee flavor, so next time I might ask them to go light on the syrup. My husband had a Caramelicious and loved it. He had it with with four shots, so it wasn’t too sweet.

Kid friendly: Yes – though it is quiet, so if your kids are prone to running around (like our 2- and 4-year-old), you may think ahead.

Drive through: No.

We give Kairos Coffee House a strong 9/10. If it was in a slightly different location it would get 10/10, but we’ll definitely be back.

505 Popes Bluff Trail, Colorado Springs, CO 80907kairoscoffeehouse.com

The Principal’s Office

The Ivywild School was an elementary until 2009. Now it’s home to several local businesses. Photo: Facebook/@IvywildSchool

We love The Principal’s Office! The coffee is amazing, but what really makes The Principal’s Office unique is the setting.

The Principal’s Office has it all: great food, drinks, coffee and an amazing atmosphere. Photo: Photo: Facebook/@POatIvywild

It’s on the southwest side of the Springs in a building called the Ivywild School. In 1916, it was built as an elementary school and served the community as such until 2009.  By 2012 it had begun its transformation into the social hub and community marketplace that it is today. In addition to The Principal’s Office, the Ivywild School is home to Colorado Springs native Bristol Brewery–try their Beehive beer, it’s my favorite. There are several other restaurants, local shops and the gym stays open for events like group yoga, improv acts, movie nights and more.

The Principal’s Office has a great selection of coffee, from a straight black cup o’ Joe to their artisan drinks, it’s really all good. I had a rose water vanilla late that I now find myself craving.

They serve food and also specialty cocktails. My husband and I love their homemade Moscow Mule. They make their own ginger beer, and they throw in a jalapeno for extra kick. We’ve tried to replicate it at home, and we just can’t. Give it a try for yourselves!

Kid friendly: During the day – yes. There is seating at the bar, as well as indoor tables and a nice outdoor sitting area. It does get more of a cocktail bar feel at night.

Drive-through: No. Do yourself a favor, and go inside!

The Principal’s Office gets a full 10/10 from us.

1604 S Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80905poativywild.com

Day Trip to the Ski Resorts

The Pikes Peak region really has it all. Hiking, fishing, ATV trails, horseback riding, amazing natural landmarks and best of all–it’s within driving distance to Colorado’s major ski resorts.

Our moderate climate makes this a great winter destination. Coming from the Midwest, my husband and I love that winter time is sunny in Colorado! And in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, lots of sun and not much snow means hiking year round. We can take the kids, the dogs, and our out-of-town friends on the trails we love and get glimpses of those breathtaking panoramas almost any day of the year.

I know many people come to Colorado during the winter for time on the slopes, but I say, why not have both?

Our toddler hiking on the well-groomed Nordic trails. At 2, he’s too young for ski school, but we had fun of our own!

Major resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail are about two hours away which makes for an easy drive and a fun day-trip in the snow. But come back to our neck of the woods, and enjoy the nicer weather along with other perks. You’ll save some cash by staying farther from the ski resorts, so you’ll be able to buy some souvenirs, go out to eat, and enjoy more than what your lift ticket can get you. And you can mix-up your daytime adventures by staying in a part of the state with a very different climate. One day you can go hiking or sight-seeing; the next day you can ski!

Another thing my husband and I love to tell visitors: check out the smaller ski resorts–especially if it’s your first time. Breckenridge is amazing. The views are wonderful, the skiing is first-class and you’ll have lots of fun. But so will everyone else. It’s a well-known resort, so it’s where people think to go. That means long lines to the lift, crowded runs down the mountain, and standing-room only in the lodge.

The Panda Patrol ski school was great!

We recently took a day-trip to Cooper Mountain in Leadville, Colorado, and it was the perfect place for some snowboarding for my husband, our 4-year-old tried skiing for the first time, and our toddler and I spent the day hiking and snowshoeing through the Nordic Center right next to the resort. Our favorite part, though, was the price. An adult lift ticket cost $54; a half day lesson, lunch and afternoon daycare cost $110 (rentals included); and my pass on the Nordic trails cost $15 (our 2-year-old went for free). That’s chump change compared to those major resorts!

And while the temperature stayed in the single digits in Leadville, we drove home and back into 40-degree weather. It was really nice after a long day to not have to freeze while unloading the car!

Rock Climbing in Garden of the Gods

Great, sunny weather makes rock climbing possible year round.

Garden of the Gods is one of the best known attractions in Colorado Springs. Locals and out-of-towners alike flock to this iconic site to stretch their legs and also take some of the best pictures in town! Whether you’re running, biking, walking the dog, out with the stroller, horseback riding or just looking to take a drive, Garden of the Gods is a must-see any time of year.

The moderate climate keeps much of the winter blues (and the snow) at bay which has made this a year round destination for rock climbers as well.

There are a few rules before you climb. First, you must fill out a climbing registration form to get your climbing permit with the city. It’s free to register, and you can do it online.

Second, you must use proper Technical Climbing equipment and practices. You can review those on the City’s website here. The City mentions some common-knowledge rules for climbing throughout Colorado Springs on the same page.

A guide is a great resource to use on your first trip skyward in Garden of the Gods. Front Range Rock Climbing Company offers half- or full-day tours which they cater to any skill level. They’ll provide the gear, the know-how, and even give you some great pictures to take home.

Easy Hike, Beautiful Views

The Siamese Twins rock formation in Garden of the Gods is a must for any trip Out West! While traveling around the park loop, head towards the balanced rock formation. Pull off into parking area #14 and get your camera ready. It’s an easy hike to get to the formation. If you’re taking pictures with your smartphone, set it to HDR mode to get the best photo quality.

Siamese Twins rock formation in Garden of the Gods, pull off area 14.