9 Ways to Save Time and Money in Estes Park, Colorado

  • Take advantage of the free seasonal shuttle service in downtown Estes Park. Click the link above to learn more about 2020 policies (for example face mask requirements) and route information.
  • There are 415 free parking spaces at the parking structure located off of North Saint Vrain Avenue. You can get real-time parking lot availability for all public parking in town here.
  • You can save money by bringing your food instead of eating out every meal. There are grocery stores on your way into the mountains in nearby towns of Longmont and Loveland. These stores are likely less busy than grocery stores in Estes Park. If you want to shop in Estes Park, there is a Safeway, Country Market, and Dollar General. We recommend shopping early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. Safeway reserves time for at-risk shoppers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7am to 9am, so avoid shopping at the store during these time blocks. We have a Safeway card and find that we save a lot of money using it at the grocery store and at the Safeway fuel station.
  • Follow your favorite vacation properties and hotels on social media. They will sometimes post specials and discounts. Solitude Cabins (where we have our cabin) was recently promoting ‘buy 2 nights, get 1 free’. That’s an amazing deal!
  • Plan your trip during off peak season. A good rule of thumb is if school is out of session, the town will likely be busier and more expensive to stay in.
  • If you want to go to a sit down restaurant, consider going for lunch instead of dinner. You can often get the same quality and experience, but lunch menus are often less expensive.
  • Our favorite inexpensive souvenir gifts from Estes Park are postcards. Our girls love picking out cards and mailing them to friends and family back home.
  • Love a bargain hunt? Head to Cliffhanger Used Books. In July they are selling nature and travel used books for $1-$2. Proceeds benefit the local library.
  • 2020 Free Days in Rocky Mountain National Park include August 25, September 26, and November 11. Park reservations ($2 online fee) are still required. You can find more details about park fees on the national park’s website.


Best Places to ‘Have a Cup of Cheer’ in Estes Park, Colorado

From a steaming mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream to a glass of robust red wine, the holiday season is a great time to sip and savor. Estes Park has opportunities for you to pair fun winter adventures with your favorite cup of cheer.

Best Kid’s Drink

Trailhead Restaurant on Fall River Road serves hot chocolate the way  toddlers and their parents like it, with loads of whipped cream! If you are feeling extra festive you can order peppermint hot chocolate or opt for the hot cider that smells just as good as it tastes. 

Another favorite is the milk flight found at Mama Rose’s restaurant. Our kids enjoy small cups of strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and white milk. This is a fun replacement for dessert. 

Best Coffee

Kind Coffee is located on the edge of downtown Estes Park. Grab a cup of quality organic coffee and warm up in the cozy cafe before shopping, or take it with you on a stroll along the Estes Park Riverwalk. For many Christmas is the season for giving, but Kind Coffee gives back year-round by donating a percentage of their revenue to international charities as well as participating in the Estes Park Give Back community partnership. 

Estes Park Coffee Shops
Warm up in local coffee shops before shopping in downtown Estes Park

Best Local Beer

If you appreciate good beer and a laid-back, friendly environment, Rock Cut Brewing Company is your place. It’s a tough choice to decide which beer on their menu to try, so why not go with a flight of 5 tasters? Rockcut also contributes to the local community. When you order a pint of their German-style amber aptly named Altruism, $1 goes to charity. 

In this category we also have to mention Lumpy Ridge Brewery which is located in an old gas station building that feels both hip and compact. What they are lacking in space, they make up for in taste. Their menu currently includes a Winter Breeze Coconut Brown Lager – yum. 

Best Local Wine

We have written about our love of Snowy Peaks winery before and we probably will again because of their awesome play area for kids to enjoy why parents taste local wine. For $6 you can taste 5 wines that are made by Snowy Peaks and other local Colorado wineries. 

Snowy Peaks Winery in Estes Park Colorado
Kids entertained at Snowy Peaks Winery

Best Margarita

Merry Margarita to all! It’s not the first drink you think of on a trip to a winter wonderland like Estes Park, but there are several good Mexican restaurants in town and there is always room in our life for chips and salsa. If that comes with a refreshing margarita, no complaints here. For Mexican cuisine with a Colorado twist, we think Ed’s Cantina and Grille is the place to go.

There are plenty of ways to fill your cup this season in Estes Park, Colorado. We are excited to learn more about a Booze Cruise offered by the Ridgeline Hotel. We have kids traveling with us this season, so we can’t participate, but we want to share for those looking for a safe and fun way to experience local breweries and distilleries. 

The Ridgeline Hotel’s website also highlights Trendz boutique, which is one of our favorite local shops. They now offer a Sip & Shop experience along with a full calendar of great shopping events in December. 

Winter Refresh

We have been doing a winter refresh project on our blog and want to share a couple articles that have updated content. 

The Most Underrated Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park: Following the Historic Ute Trail

Gingerbread Cabin Cookie recipe