Located just a short drive from Denver, Colorado, is the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park. It is most known for being the home of the wonderful Rocky Mountain National Park and one of the most haunted hotels in America. Every fall it receives thousands of visitors who want to see the gorgeous fall colors, hear the elk bugling during the rut, and attend the Scottish-Irish Highland Festival.
In the winter people come to cross country ski and snowshoe the nearby trials, and the annual Glow Holiday Parade is another big attraction.
There is a large lake popular with boaters and some challenging golf courses, not only for their design but because elk herds are regular fairway obstacles.
Accommodations in the town are diverse including condominiums, luxury resorts, hotels, campgrounds, RV parks, and rustic cabins. One of the most popular hotels is the haunted Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. Also popular for families and event and conference planners is the YMCA of the Rockies, and it is very different from what one pictures when they see the name “YMCA.”
There is a wide range of restaurants, bars, and pubs, including microbreweries. The Egg and I is a popular restaurant for breakfast and brunch. Parking can be quite challenging, so try to take advantage of the free parking located next to the library.
Mama Rose’s serves up some excellent Italian cuisine but can be a little tricky to find if you’re driving around. Your best bet is to park in the same spot as above and find it on foot.
The Other Side Restaurant has a very impressive menu including offering a variety of game meats cooked to perfection and at reasonable prices. Parking is much less of an issue here, and don’t be surprised if you see the occasional elk walking by or resting in the grass across the street.
Bob & Tony’s Pizza has some excellent food and a unique ambiance. Kind Coffee is a great place to get breakfast or a nice cup of organic coffee while using their free WiFi to brag about your trip to all your friends on Twitter and Facebook.
If you’re looking for something to do besides walking around the main street, hiking, fishing, or playing another round of golf, check out Fun City. They offer mini-golf, go-karts, giant slides, and more. They are conveniently located near the national park as well.
While this is a charming town that is worth the visit, if you don’t have a lot of time in your itinerary, Estes Park makes a perfect day trip, especially with its proximity to Denver and the popular high country towns and ski resorts.
Have you been there? What is your favorite activity or place to eat?