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A weekend in the city, of Denver

Denver is a great weekend getaway from Phoenix.  Flights are cheap and direct on Southwest and Frontier, and short enough that leaving early on Saturday and returning late on Sunday gives you most of the weekend to enjoy Denver and the surrounding areas.  This time of year is great for a weekend ski trip, and if you follow Groupon, LivingSocial, and any of the variety of other deal sites ski weekends including lodging and lift tickets are frequently posted making the trip that much more affordable.  Also, ahead of time start checking the Groupon and LivingSocial deals within Denver for additional excursion ideas, or just cheaper meals when you arrive.
I cannot stress enough how much you must visit one of the several Lucile's locations for literally the best breakfast of sausage gravy I have ever had - the "Carlin County."  Lucile's alone is worth a trip to Denver, and that's why I am mentioning it alone in this disjointed paragraph. The Denver location has a patio and fire pit that is great to enjoy a cup of coffee beside on a cool morning, the Boulder location fills up fast so arrive early.

My recent trip was a long weekend that included Friday skiing at Keystone, Saturday wandering around downtown Denver, a Saturday night stay in the Stanley Hotel (compliments of a $99 Groupon), and Sunday disc golf and slacklining in Boulder.

Keystone and several other ski resorts are around an hour drive outside Denver, depending on where you're located, making it convenient to stay in Denver at a cheaper rate and drive out to ski for the day.  There was little to no natural snow when I was there, but the skiing was still excellent enough for my amateurish skills.  That, and going on a Friday, made the mountain less busy than normal, which was a nice added benefit.  After you work up an appetite skiing, and you will, a lunch to satisfy the hunger is not going to come cheaply so be prepared to spend up to $20 a person for a meal.  I recommend coming prepared with snacks and food of your own to make the process quicker and saving a significant amount of money.

Downtown Denver is a nice counterpart to Phoenix in that downtown Denver is actually a thriving downtown.  It's no NYC, but it has plenty of ways to keep you busy for a day without feeling overwhelmed by choices.  Check out some of the Denver-flair stores, the fantastic independent bookstores, the library and museums, and keep your eyes open for unexpected events.  We accidentally caught a handbell concert at the library, a German Christmas festival, and an Occupy Denver protest march in addition to everything else.

The Stanley is in Estes Park and is about 45 minutes outside of Denver, again depending on where you are coming from.  In something of a letdown, the Stanley is the inspiration for The Shining and plays little to no role in the actual movie.  You might, however, be excited to know that it is the hotel featured in Dumb and Dumber (and even has the iconic moon landing newspaper).  That said, it is still a beautiful hotel in a beautiful area, and has a channel dedicated to repeated showings of The Shining.  If you are hungry, eat at the hotel rather than the surrounding restaurants--it may be pricier, but your other choices are McDonald's-level food.

Make sure to check out the Colorado Cherry Company on the drive to/from Estes.

Boulder has many great options for things to do, I recommend taking a walk on Pearl Street and having lunch, dinner, or happy hour at one of it's breweries or restaurants.  Check out another great independent book store, a European homeware store, and a boutique selling classically-styled but ungodly expensive men's and women's clothing.  If that is not enough to keep you busy, head over to The Spot for some bouldering or slacklining, or find a disc golf course to spend some time in the cold, but surprisingly pleasant weather.

Note:  No business paid or otherwise compensated me for mentioning them in this article, they are simply places I enjoyed visiting.


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