Highlights of Fort Collins

As you all know I am a huge foodie and most of the times a “drinkie” as well. The main reason I love to travel is to find new palate pleasures and fun adventure. I traveled to Fort Collins and its surrounding areas with my family and stayed with my aunt so unfortunately this blog won’t suggest any hotels, but it will be full of experience.

Hike Lory State Park

We had a 10 month old with us so we could not handle the long trails. We decided on the Well Gulch self guided trail. The hike was pretty easy, gave you a great glute burn and filled with gorgeous sights. You could see the Horsetooth Reservoir  filled with boats at each cove. We also “hiked” the .1 miles to Waterfall Trail, well worth it. The water was crisp and clean. We drove the rest of the path through the park. Lory welcomes dogs, horses and bikes. Cost:$7/carIMG_8411

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

So gorgeous and I have now added “seeing a concert at Red Rocks” on my bucket list. Your legs, glutes and calves will thank you after climbing the 380+ stairs it takes to get to the top. Trust me the view is worth it. The amphitheatre was bursting with people working out and tourists taking selfies. There is plenty of parking (there is a lot up at the top if you want to skip your cardio) and a restaurant at the top. Cost: FREEIMG_8412

Breweries: Fort Collins Brewery/Odell/New Belgium

I am not a beer drinker at all but these breweries were a great place for me to taste. My favorite out of the 3 was New Belgium. I tried the La Folie Sour and the Blackberry Barley Wine. I actually semi enjoyed them (I’m a wine snob).They had a very open space with plenty of seating, games and food trucks. We ate at The Waffle Lab. We ordered the Voo Doo Monkey; waffle, peanut butter, bananas and raspberries and The Spicy Professor; waffle, jalapeños, cheese and bacon.

We went to the Fort Collins Brewery for lunch. The locally source a lot of their ingredients. I dined on the Asian duck salad. Ryan and I “shared” a flight of beer. I only enjoyed the first beer; Hefeweizen. They included their Mexican chocolate cake stout and being that I live for chocolate, I would love it…negative.IMG_8154

Our last stop was Odell. (Fort Collins brewery and Odell are about 2 blocks away) The patio was a perfect place to catch some UV rays and cool off with their many flights of beer; the Classic Tray, Pilot Tray and the Locals Tray. Each tray allowed you to try 5 different beers with a card explaining each one. We split these trays between 4 people! This non-beer chick was 3 for 15!!! My favorites were Food for Thought, Mishawaka and Bobby Kolsch.IMG_8164

Estes Park Aerial Tramway

The tram was so fun but so scary. The views you get during the ride and once you are at the top are well worth it. You can see the snow capped mountains, the adorable town below and trees, rocks and more trees.  Fun facts about the tram; it was built in 1955, the upper terminal is 8708 ft and the highest point off the ground in the tram is 200 ft! The top has a cute gift shop,coffee shop, rocks to climb and places to explore. Pack a jacket and/or scarf, it is cold and windy at the top.Cost: $12/adult

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Nuance Chocolate

This small batch bean to chocolate bar shop was one of the better chocolates I have ever had. When we traveled to the Caribbean, we learned about the cocoa bean process, but this shop explained it even further. Different cocoa-growing areas of the world have diverse soil types, temperatures, and humidity levels, further influencing taste and texture.
Chocolate made from cocoa beans of different origins can taste deliciously unique, just like red wine! No wonder I love both of those things.

They offered different taster flights ($7 each). We enjoyed the Single Origin taster; favorites were Ghana and Madagascar and the Flavored Taster flight; favorites were chili pepper and sea salt. It is a must to purchase some of their truffles as well. IMG_8147

 

Dancing Pines Distillery

I was bummed that we discovered this right before we had to get to the airport, so I was the only one that tasted. Dancing Pines uses natural and local ingredients to create small batch liquors. They offer 3 different trays to taste along with a really fun cocktail menu. I ordered the sweet tooth. I sipped on Cherry tart liquor (and purchased it), Chai liquor, Zoranj (orange and super strong) and Brûlée. Brûlée was my favorite with really sweet caramel notes but I would use Cherry more! When you purchase a bottle you are offered a free cocktail or a token for the next time you visit.

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Downtown Estes Park

Anyone from Minnesota will understand this analogy. Estes Park shops are adorable and very similar to Stillwater, MN but with better surrounding views. You will find antique shops, candy shops, ice cream parlors, places to purchase blown glass, jewelry and other souvenirs. I was on the hunt for the best taffy and old school bubble gum ice cream (the pink stuff with colored square gum pieces). My favorite Taffy was the Estes Park Taffy Company. I purchase one of every flavor that sounded good, you have around 60 flavors to choose from. As far as the ice cream, all the shops had the new “kid” friendly blue bubble gum ice cream and of course I don’t remember which parlor had the good kind. I was in ice cream heaven and completely lost to remember such an important detail.

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Stanley Hotel

I have seen 3 mins of The Shining, so this stop was a little lost on me. The hotel was stunningly beautiful but according to Ryan, very different from the movie (which keep in mind was filmed YEARS AGO). You are surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains, the gorgeous building and great landscaping. Cost:$10/car

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Blue Skies Winery

Go figure I find a winery in downtown Fort Collins and even more shocking, I brought home 2 bottles. Blue Skies had delicious reds and really yummy ports. I tasted their Sangiovese, Barbera, Malbec, Cab/Merlot blend (amazing), Raspberry Pinot Noir (great for sweet lovers) and their Under Canopy (Blackberry Port). The tasting shop was quaint and full of local artists work. They also offer chocolate from Nuance and local cheese.  Cost: $5 for a 3 wine tasting.

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Fort Collins is a wonderful part of Colorado to visit. Very different from exploring Denver and Colorado Springs, but this area is not to be missed. I am excited to go back in the winter and explore the ski slops and more restaurants.

Temecula

April 2015:

I stumbled upon this gem while trolling Groupon for things to do near San Diego. A wine tasting in Temecula popped up, so I jumped on TripAdvisor and started to research. I was able to book us a wine tasting tour on the Grapeline Wine Tours, (www.gogrape.com) and found a really nice hotel at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

I had Ryan take the “scenic” route from San Diego to Temecula. As we came into wine country, the views were fabulous. We checked into our hotel around 2:30 pm and decided,  with 41 wineries in Temecula and the fact that we were only going to 4 on our tour tomorrow, we probably should go try one! We freshened up and started our on adventure to Europa.

Europa

IMG_1956This winery was AMAZING! They have three wineries featuring wines made in the styles of French wine, C’est la Vie Wine Chateau, their Spanish wine, Bolero and Vienza, which has a Tuscany southern French influence. Our sommeliers’ name was Dr. Doug. He was so interesting. He is a retired professor, who was working on his third level Sommelier certification. This guy knew his wine and I looked like a fool.

IMG_1968He taught us to look for the “legs” after you swirl your wine, how to check out the color and I added my own “trill” that my sister taught me. We had such a great time and since they had such an extensive selection we joined the club, 3 bottles every 2 months! Now we were part of Société Europa and Dr. Doug gifted me a coveted autographed cork! We selected a glass of wine and went out to the vineyard!

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Grapeline Wine Tour

Quick little review on them! They pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. They had an amazing day planned for us, warned us of how much we would be consuming and Melissa was our tour guide. Please request her, or come with me the next time I go! We booked the Picnic Tour for only $109 a person, yes please!

Leoness Cellars

Leoness means “village of dreams” and WOW this place was like a dream. We started down by the process plant and received our first taste. Our tour was perfect because as you are touring the grounds, you were given tastes along the way. The barrel room was beautiful, the vineyards lovely and the views were breathe taking. My favorite part of the tasting was the dessert wine at the end, 2007 Cinsaut Dessert Wine paired with a dark chocolate truffle. We really enjoyed their wine and loved that they had different tiers. We joined the club! 3 bottles every 3 months. I am most excited about this winery due to their Signature Collection Club. These wines must mature for 7-10yrs, which means we could enjoy them in our 40’s! FUN!IMG_1986

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Danza Del Sol

Now that we have a nice buzz going, lets cover stop #2. Danza Del Sol was the first winery to grow the Gewürztraminer grape, which is the wine they are known for. One of their most popular wines is the Orange Muscat with of flavors of vanilla and apricot and smelled like oranges. The reason I love to taste, is sometimes you find a gem and tis worth it. Luckily we didn’t join the club, but did grab a few bottles to take back to MN.

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Cougar Winery

Can we talk about the views at this place? They are located on top of a hill and have 360 views of the vineyards. Thank God this was our lunch stop, my buzz needed some carbs. The winery had lunch set up for up in their barrel room. The food was great and we were served a half glass of wine. Their wines here weren’t my favorite. They have a lot of sweet wines and table wines, so I brought a few of those. 3 down, 1 to go…and I’m just a little wine wasted!IMG_1997

South Coast Winery

This winery is huge and we are wine wasted for sure. Honestly I don’t remember much from this winery, except that it was beautiful and has an amazing spa and hotel. They also had 80+ different wines. Due to the fact that they have so many, we joined the club. Yeah, no that was a lie, were were just drunk and made a bad decision. IMG_2006Our tour dropped us of at our hotel and since were couldn’t drive anywhere, we ordered pizza and passed out. I am so happy I stumbled upon this gem. I am obsessed and can’t wait to go back.