7 Romantic Things To Do in Estes Park, Colorado

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! Inspired by all the LOVE, this week I’m sharing the most romantic things to do in Estes Park, Colorado.

  1. Linger over breakfast. Typically I eat toast for breakfast, that’s the opposite of romantic! Sitting down to a full service breakfast with a couple cups of coffee is a luxury. There are a lot of places to eat breakfast in Estes Park. A couple of my favorites are Notchtop Bakery & Cafe and Trailhead Restaurant.
  2. Play Outside. There is something very romantic about activities that are playful or adventurous. During the winter months you can grab a sled and ride in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Hidden Valley. Or, you can rent snowshoes and explore the trails you love all covered in bright, white snow. If you are planning a romantic trip in the summer, you could rent a boat at Lake Estes marina or go on a horseback ride with your favorite partner.
  3. Browse Unique Shops. Downtown Estes Park has plenty of shopping. Date-worthy destinations include historic Macdonald Bookshop – I think the fireplace adds to the charm. There are also several art galleries in downtown Estes Park. My favorite is Images of Rocky Mountain National Park.
  4. Wine Tasting. Estes Park is home to Snowy Peaks Winery. They offer tastings of local wine and often host live music.
  5. Sunset. When the sun goes down over the mountains, the sky turns brilliant shades of pink and yellow. Savor these magical moments with a romantic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.
  6. Romantic Night on the Town. The Dunraven Inn in Estes Park offers home-made Italian food and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a unique, locally owned restaurant. There is a tradition to hang $1 bills on the walls in the bar area and a collection of Mona Lisa themed art work is displayed throughout the restaurant.
  7. Get Cozy. Estes Park has a lot of wonderful places to stay while you visit. If you choose to stay at Solitude Cabins, we hope you take time to relax by the stone fireplace and watch the snow falling down outside. We would love for you to visit our cabin and enjoy a memorable weekend with your loved ones. If you would like more suggestions for your itinerary while in Estes Park, I would love to help!

Super Fun Guide to Spring Break in Kansas City

Since we moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Northwest Arkansas, I’ve missed the obvious things, like my parents living a few miles away and the not-so-obvious things like the occasional shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.

It’s interesting to get an outside perspective of the city I grew up in. For us, the biggest attractions in KC are friends and family, but I’ve had several people ask me about things to do in Kansas City.

Spring break is coming up in mid-March so I’m tentatively planning a trip back home. Today I bring you my favorite family-friendly activities in the land of fountains, barbecue and Chiefs football.

Downtown KC Adventure

My girls are 4 and 2-years-old, so taking them on city excursions can seem daunting, but downtown Kansas City has a lot to offer young families.

Historic City Market

Kansas City's Historic City Market is open Saturdays and Sundays year round. You can browse the stalls for fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Celebrate Mardi Gras at Beignet, a New Orleans style restaurant. Fat Tuesday is March 5.

The City Market is open Saturdays and Sundays year round. You can browse the stalls for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. This is a great place to people-watch and enjoy one-of-a-kind dining experiences at the many restaurants. My favorite morning treat is sitting outside of Beignet and savoring the sweet powdered sugar goodness of one of their signature french doughnuts.

KC Streetcar

Taking a ride on the KC Streetcar is free, fun and it takes you all the way from the City Market to my favorite building in Kansas City, Union Station
Explore more routes at kcstreetcar.org

Taking a ride on the KC Streetcar is free, fun and it takes you all the way from the City Market to my favorite building in Kansas City, Union Station.

Union Station

Union Station is an active Amtrak train station. It is also home to Science City, a Planetarium, Extreme Screen, rotating exhibits like "Dinosaurs Revealed" and restaurants. Most of all I love the architecture of this historic building.  It's a great place to take a family photo!

Union Station is an active Amtrak train station. It is also home to Science City, a Planetarium, Extreme Screen, rotating exhibits like “Dinosaurs Revealed” and restaurants. Most of all I love the architecture of this historic building. It’s a great place to take a family photo!

Crown Center

Union Station and Crown Center are connected with a sky walk. Crown Center is home to unique restaurants and shops. My girls like going to Fritz Railroad Restaurant because their food is delivered by toy train. It’s really fun. Outside Crown Center you will see fantastic fountain displays. Check the calendar of events, because there are often events held in the pavilion.

Kansas City Barbecue

Kansas City is known for barbecue and everyone has their favorite. If you want to stay in the downtown area, I’d suggest eating at Jack Stack Barbecue in the Freight House district and buying a bottle or two of their signature barbecue sauces as a tasty souvenir.

Kansas City Zoo

You could easily spend a day seeing all of your favorite animals at the Kansas City Zoo.

The Kansas City Zoo is open year-round. It’s located in Swope Park which is a 15 minute drive from downtown. You could easily spend a day seeing all of your favorite animals. Our girls love the polar bears, penguins, tigers, giraffes and elephants. We also like riding on the carousel and taking the tram, so I suggest splurging on a pass that includes rides.

Country Club Plaza

Visiting the Country Club Plaza with it’s Spanish architecture, fountains, and high-end retail shopping feels like a special treat. For a family dinner on the town, I’d suggest Bo Ling’s, Brio Tuscan Grille, Buca de Beppo, or the Cheesecake Factory.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is located near the Plaza. The museum is free (although you may have to pay for parking) and often hosts family-friendly events. My girls enjoy the Sculpture Park on sunny days.
Iconic Shuttlecock Statues

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is located near the Plaza. The museum is free (although you may have to pay for parking) and often hosts family-friendly events. My girls enjoy the Sculpture Park on sunny days.

Loose Park

Loose Park is one of our favorite parks in Kansas City. It is located near the Plaza and has a great playground, rose garden and a beautiful pond. The homes that surround the park exude historic charm.

Loose Park is one of our favorite parks in Kansas City. It is located near the Plaza and has a great playground, rose garden and a beautiful pond. The homes that surround the park exude historic charm.

Brookside

The Annual Brookside Warm Up Parade is Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 2pm.
Pack Your Green! The Annual Brookside Warm Up Parade is Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 2pm.

If historic charm is your thing, head 5 minutes down the road to Brookside. I suggest trying out local coffee favorite, The Roasterie Cafe before browsing the neighborhood’s shops.

And wait, there is so much more…

Kansas City Royals Baseball opening day is March 28

Our spring break is mid-March, but there are a few extra events taking place this spring that I MUST share.

  1. Kansas City Royals Baseball opening day is March 28
  2. It’s March Madness! Kansas City hosts college NCAA basketball tournament March 29-31
  3. Deanna Rose Farmstead opens for the season, April 1. It’s located in Overland Park, KS (a suburb of KC). Honestly, I could write a whole other post on things to do near OP!

I hope this gives you a lot of great ideas for fun family adventures in Kansas City, Missouri… my beloved hometown! I’d love to hear what you think of my list.

Happy Travels – Kelly

Hiking Kessler Mountain Trails in Fayetteville, Arkansas

When I meet people these days I typically ask them about their favorite local restaurants and their favorite places to hike near our new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We’ve got a lot of great hiking suggestions, but Kessler Mountain was on the top of many lists. When we were blessed with a warm winter morning, we decided we would seize the opportunity to explore Kessler Mountain Regional Park.

Here is a link to the Kessler Trail map. There are 10 trails in the park with different levels of difficulty.

Kessler Mountain Regional Park in Fayetteville Arkansas. Hiking.
Kessler Mountain Regional Park

We decided to start on the Last Call trail which is 1.2 miles. Portions of the trail were muddy from recent rain, but for the most part we enjoyed good hiking conditions.

Family Hiking trails in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas. Hiking.

As first time visitors, we appreciated the directional trail signage.

Last Call and Terrapin Station trails in Kessler Mountain

Hiking with toddlers means exploring every rock, tree and bridge we cross.

Kessler Mountain.
Kessler Mountain

The trails were well used by both hikers and mountain bikers. The rule is mountain bikers should yield to hikers, but we definitely kept our eyes and ears open to make sure the girls were safely out of the way. Everyone was very polite and patient with us!

Kessler Mountain Fayetteville Arkansas

When we reached the end of Last Call, we had a few options. 1. turn around to go back. 2. take a right uphill towards Terrapin Station trail. 3. take a left downhill towards Terrapin Station trail.

Out of curiosity, we headed uphill and found the main reason to continue is to join up with other trails like Crazy Mary. (I was kind of hoping for a lookout, but we didn’t see much besides water towers) So, we turned around and headed downhill on the Terrapin Station trail which is .9 miles. This was our favorite portion of the hike because it felt the most secluded.

Bluffs Fayetteville Arkansas
Awesome bluffs and rock formations

I think winter is a great time to hike because you get great views of bluffs and rocks that you might miss when the trees are thick and green. I also don’t worry as much about snakes, ticks and mosquitoes.

Winter hiking northwest arkansas
These rocks reminded me of the trolls in the movie Frozen. Just me!?

Soon after the trail split between Terrapin Station and Chinkapin Oak, it joined back into the Last Call trail and zig zagged back down to our starting point.

terrapin station and chinkapin oak

We promised our girls a cookie and play time at the park’s playground as a reward for good behavior on the hike. We were blown away by how great they did. Our four-year-old walked all 2.5 miles on her own! And, our two-year-old walked impressive stretches and rode happily on Dad’s shoulders for the remainder.

playground at Kessler mountain park in Fayetteville arkansas
The playground at Kessler Mountain is a fun outdoor themed space for little ones to climb and slide.

Near the playground, a path connects to the paved Cato Springs Trail which is 3 miles long and joins the Razorback Greenway Trail. (according to an article we found from the Fayetteville Flyer)

I was curious about the unique names of some of the trails in the park and started googling them when we got home. Terrapin Station is the name of a Grateful Dead album. Crazy Mary is a Pearl Jam song. Is this a coincidence? Or, am I starting to figure out the theme? If someone knows the answer, please share!

Now that we’ve been to Kessler Mountain Park, I can see why others recommended it. We can’t wait to go back and explore more of the trails.

Falling for Fayetteville – Our 9 Favorite Things Since Moving to Northwest Arkansas Last Month

We’ve been in our new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas for a little over a month and I have to tell you – I’m very excited about all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer. From art to nature, here are my 9 ‘first-loves’ in Fayetteville:

1. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Making snow monsters art project at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Crystal Bridges is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. I went to Crystal Bridges on a girls road trip with my sister a few years ago and enjoyed the art and fabulous Eleven Restaurant. I couldn’t wait to take the girls to the museum for a Preschool Playdate in January which featured a musical performance, winter themed play activities and an art project. My girls are art maniacs, they color everything – even themselves! They absolutely LOVED Crystal Bridges and can’t wait to go back for the next preschool playdate in February.

2. Scott Family Amazeum

Climbing high on the Canopy at the Amazeum

The Amazeum is located right down the street from Crystal Bridges. This place is packed with interactive exhibits. I think our current favorites include the cave, climbing canopy, and homestead cabin. We had such a blast we decided to get a family membership.

Tip: We didn’t realize that the museum is closed on Tuesdays so we made the trip up to Bentonville and had to find another activity. We decided to try out the Walmart Museum which is located on the square. I treated the girls to an ice cream cone with extra sprinkles at the Spark Café Soda Fountain. (Spark Café is adorable) The girls had a little too much sugar for the ride home, so we walked down the street to Dave Peel Park which was a convenient and fun place to burn off energy.

3. The Winery at Sassafras Springs Vineyard

Sassafras Winery in Springdale, Arkansas offers a cozy space to enjoy both local and international wines. I can’t wait to go back in warm weather to enjoy the decks and patios.

4. Lake Fayetteville

Winter hike around Lake Fayetteville

My daughter and I took a 2.5 mile hike on a trail around Lake Fayetteville. The trail went through the woods with views of the lake. I was surprised that we could find such a beautiful spot without leaving the city. There was a playground in the parking area which was an added bonus!

5. Wilson Park Castle

Wilson Park Castle

My girls enjoy the great playgrounds, musical instruments and creek at Wilson Park which is conveniently located near downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. At the edge of the park, we discovered the ‘castle’ which is a magical spot for my little girls who are princesses at heart.

6. Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens

Holiday light display in Fayetteville Downtown Square

‘Ohhhh! Ahhh!’ exclaimed our youngest daughter as we drove into downtown Fayetteville to look at the twinkling, colorful lights that lit up the square during the holidays. The atmosphere was truly festive and our four-year-old even went on a pony ride which was her first experience riding in a saddle.

7. Fayetteville Public Library

Holiday book tree at Fayetteville Public Library

We enjoy weekly trips to check out books at Fayetteville Public Library. We like the kids story times and the roof top deck on warmer winter days. The gorgeous library is located in downtown Fayetteville which makes a fun weekly excursion. I also appreciate that there is a remote drop-off box at the Bank of Fayetteville close to my house. So handy!

8. Gorgeous Scenery

Northwest Arkansas

Windy roads and rolling hills (mountains!?) lead to our new home. We have access to the White River less than a mile away which feeds into Beaver Lake. Bike trails abound – the Razorback Greenway trail is 36 miles and connects Bella Vista, Arkansas through Fayetteville. We have no excuse to get bored with all of these outdoor activities in our backyard.

Friendly Neighbors

Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like brownies

Arkansas seems to mix a little Midwest friendliness with Southern charm and the result is neighbors who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. For this, we are most grateful!