Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
Colorado offers many tourist areas. Two are the college town of Ft Collins and the mountain town and gate way to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes park. Both offer a staggering amount of dining options and shopping experiences, sure to test your endurance.
For lunch in Ft Collins, the Mainline, 125 South College Avenue, is in an upscale modern renovated industrial building offering a diverse selection of food choices with courteous wait staff. Located in old town on its main street, is popular and validates its reputation.
The Perennial Gardener and Sense of Place, at 154 N College street, offers seasonal décor and specialty items. While the store is packed to the rafters with tempting objects, don’t miss the outdoors back yard with a choice of garden sculptures. Nature inspired gifts include scented candles, wall art, jewelry and even unique pajamas. In their own season, holiday items and ornaments abound. While strolling the town don’t miss the old town square and the candy store, Rocket Fizz.
When shopping on College, on Ft. Collin’s main street, be sure and drop into the Rocky Mountain Olive Oil Company (www.RockyMountainOliveOil.com) where you can sample many different Olive Oil infusions, and a few hole olives. I was looking for gourmet blue cheese stuffed olives for Martinis.
I found my olive search at Flat Top Mountain Trading Company, (145 East Elkhorn, 970-480-1445) in Estes Park, Colorado. The Olives are very large and the cheese as pungent as you cold want. Of course you’ll need to visit Estes Park and its main street filled with a variety of gift and food shops.
While in Estes Park be sure and visit the tasting room at Dancing Pines Distillery (www.DancingPines Distillery.com). Their Colorado Crafted Vodka is distilled from grapes 6 times in a column still with snow melt water from the Rockies. The Vodka has a faint hint of grape and is a truly unique vodka, just the kind of specialty you seek as a delectable souvenir. For a tasting of 6 of their liquor concoctions you can get a cocktail made to your specifications. You can choose from the Campfire Mule, of Ginger Beer with a choice of spirits, Chai Manhattan, of Bourbon and Black Walnut with Cherry Orange, among others. The tasting room offers comfortable seating and an elevated view of the shops below a mountain backdrop.
Visitors are encourage to take the Elkhorn Express Trolley located a the Visitor Center, 691 N, St. Vrain Ave, conveniently located next to the new parking structure. The trolley can make stops at Bond Park, The Ore Cart Rock Shop, West Park Center, the Trading Post, Barlow Plaza and the Grubsteak Restaurant. For availability and times check out; www.estes.org/shuttles.
Twin Owls Steakhouse, near downtown Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue is a natural choice for a mountain log cabin environment. Of course the food selections are numerous and the quality top notch, from prime rib, seafood to trout. Musical entertainment might be engaged on your evening experience. Our wait staffer, Sergei, was Russian charming and efficient. Reservations recommended. (970-586-8113) For overnight lodgings you may want to investigate the nearby Black Canyon Inn.
A trip to this area would not be complete without a stay or short visit to the iconic and historic Stanley Hotel. This hillside white visage is credited with inspiring Steven Kings’, “The Shining,” and tours of the property are available even if you can’t book an overnight stay. As with many famous and upscale hotels, a visit to their restaurant or bar can satiate your need of your atmospheric hunger. The Whiskey Bar offers quality beverages as well as you can order food, as the restaurant proper has limited hours. In coming years a maze, just recently planted in front of the hotel, will grow and offer an old world experience.
This is just a small sampling of two cities which you can explore when visiting Colorado.
For more on Estes Park visit, www.EstesPark100.com
For more on Fort Collins visit, www.visitftcollins.com
Mr. Terry Zinn – Travel Editor
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association