Hey there! Valentine’s Day had just passed, so I started thinking about some of my most romantic weekend getaways, and the first thing to pop into my mind was our weekend in Estes Park, Colorado! Here is a complete guide to Estes Park Hotels and awesome things to do!
A Weekend Guide to Estes Park Hotels, and Awesome Things to Do
History of Estes Park
What is not to love about Estes Park? It’s a gorgeous, sleepy little town in the midst of the Colorado Rockies! The town was founded in 1859 and has a total population of 5858 people! Estes Park sits on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Big Thompson River runs right through the middle. Many locals call it the gateway to the Rockies.
Gold was discovered in the Colorado Mountains in 1859, and one of the men who rushed into Colorado was Joel Estes. The word “park”, at that time, was a term used for wide open spaces – thus, the town was founded and named Estes Park!
The Colorado Mountains were once known as the place to go for dry air and was a diagnosis of sorts for people who had tuberculosis. The most famous tuberculosis patient who came to Colorado was F.O. Stanley. F.O. Stanley invented the Stanley steam car, among other things. He moved to Denver after being diagnosed and was eventually pointed toward Estes Park by the Denver locals.
Stanley made many contributions to Estes Park including building the first waste water treatment plant, but his most famous contribution was the Stanley Hotel!
I am a native Colorado Girl, so trust me when I say you don’t want to miss this gorgeous town! This sleepy little town’s claim to fame is the book, (and later the movie), “The Shining” by Stephen King! Stephen King was visiting Estes Park and stayed at the Stanley Hotel. While staying there, he had some interesting experiences and heard all the ghost stories from the locals!
His inspiration for his book, The Shining, came from the haunted stories that have surrounded the hotel for ages. Many of the people who work there, and the locals, believe that the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, are still living and working in the hotel. There have been many reported sighting of them, and they can often be seen and heard walking through the hotel at night! Many guests have also complained of loud children laughing and running through the halls at night… even though there are no children checked into the hotel. Cool, right?!
How to Get to Estes park
Since my husband had never read the book, seen The Shining Movie, or ever been to Estes Park, I decided that we had to go and spend the weekend! The Amazing part is that Estes Park is only about an hour and a half from Denver, so this can also make for a great day trip!
It is a super easy drive right up the highway and the scenery is to die for!
Estes Park Hotels
I rented us a beautiful three-bedroom condo from the hotel. The hotel has beautiful rooms, suites, and full condos that are more like two-story townhouses. These gorgeous condos are for rent with hot tubs on the porch overlooking the Rocky Mountains.
I booked us a romantic package, and when we arrived there was champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us!
Here is the only problem – our condo was so beautiful that we didn’t want to leave! How gorgeous is this?
We drank our champagne and then walked down to dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Cascades. We had lamb chops, that melted in our mouth, with a raspberry reduction sauce that was to DIE FOR!
The following morning we had continental breakfast delivered and enjoyed our breakfast on the porch in the sunshine!
After breakfast we went to the spa. I had booked us a couples spa package. We went to the spa and were pampered all morning! We choose a couples hot rock massage which was incredible! Romance was in the air, and we were feeling great!
If you are in Estes Park I cannot tell you how gorgeous The Stanley Hotel is! WOW If you are looking for luxury or romance this is your place! They have many types of rooms, and condos to suite your needs! If you are interested in staying at the Stanley Hotel, Compare Estes Park Hotels here!
Estes Park Cabins
Some of our other favorite places to stay are Columbine Cabin, a gorgeous Cabin in Estes, built from Logs and has gorgeous views! We also love WorldMark Estates Resort in Estes park.
We have been back often and love to stay in log cabins along the Big Thompson River – it’s like camping with a bed for mom and dad! One of our favorite places to stay with the kids, and budget friendly is River Spruce Cabins, because they have comfy beds. These are right on the river, and many have hot tubs, and outdoor fire pits for roasting marshmallows after a long day of hiking.
You can compare all cabins in Estes Park Here
Things to do in Estes Park
After our awesome spa day, we walked into town which is beautiful and quaint – a true old western town that has been untouched by the outside world.
Estes has a river walk all the way through town. The river walk has restaurants and bars built all along the sides and many stone pathways to enjoy the river.
One shop we stopped in was Laura’s Homemade Ice Cream and Fudge Shop! This shop has been one of my favorite places since I was a kid.
Estes Park Resturants
She has the best homemade fudge and candy apples in the world! Even if you are not a sweet eater, just wander in and gaze over the amazing candy and treats she makes.
After a lot of walking, and a candy apple, we decided it was time for a drink; I was feeling like a margarita and some Mexican food!
For those who have never been to Colorado, we have some kick ass Mexican food! So we had to stop and have some Peppers Mexican Grill!
They have fantastic margs and a full menu. I am a Mexican food snob, and I have to say it rocked! If you are in Estes Park, check it out!
We then decided to stroll down the river walk, listen to the river rushing by, stop at our favorite bar, and say hello to the local wildlife! In our wanderings we found The Wheel Bar. The bar is one of the oldest bars in Estes Park, opened in 1945. The bar is loud and rustic and filled with country music!
They have great drinks, a friendly atmosphere, and just a load of fun people! They have these super cool T-shirts that read “I fell off the wagon and got run over by the wheel.”
Beware of the altitude – if you drink too much in this high altitude you will feel like you were run over in the morning!
Our night was coming to an end, and we walk hand in hand, along the river, and up the hill toward our hotel! What a super evening! The stars were shining, the river was rushing by, and I couldn’t think of anything more romantic than Estes Park.
Things to do in Estes Park
There are so many things to do like hiking, horseback riding,
snowshoeing, fishing, and white-water rafting, so swing by next time you’re in the Rockies!
There is also some great shopping for all budgets from handmade boots to a rock shop that has local polished stones from the area.
Pewter is very famous around the area and I always like to pick up a pewter figurine. The Pewter Mine is the only pewter mine in the world, and it’s in Estes Park, so go buy and take a tour. They also have great jewelry and you can make your own pewter hummingbird.
Last, you should take in some history and learn about this amazing town! Stop by the Estes Park Museum and learn about the history. Check out the historic old buildings in town that you can visit and walk through! This is also a great way for the kids to learn the history without getting bored!
What Else Can we Help You with in Estes Park?
DO you need a car rental? In Denver you can rent cars at the airport, and you can compare all car companies prices in the area with Expedia.com – Cars You can also find all-inclusive packages, with airfare, hotels and cars for best possible prices with Expedia.com. Summer in the Mountains – Save on Travel Deals to Utah, Colorado & Beyond… Book on Expedia!
I hope you enjoyed Estes Park Colorado as much as we did! Have you been to Estes Park? Did I leave anything out? If so drop a comment on your favorite things about Estes Park Colorado.
Melody Pittman (@melodytravels)
Sandy N Vyjay
Erin Klema | The Epicurean Traveler
Rob Moses Photography