Aspen Colorado Fall Foliage Road Trip

imageSome places are truly so beautiful that it’s almost painful to leave.  This year we ventured up to Aspen Colorado at just the right time of year.  Fall was in full force and the foliage was spectacular, it was definitely sad to depart from this beauty.imageMaroon Bells in Aspen is a very popular destination in Fall.  Fall foliage road trips bring the masses to this beautiful destination. With bold panoramic fall foliage backdrops surrounding much of Aspen Mountain and Maroon Bell lake, this location is a photographer’s paradise and destination visited by worldwide tourists.  image

This year we wanted to enhance our memory at Maroon Bells and explored culinary resources in downtown Aspen.  We learned about gourmet carry-out lunches to buy at Meat and Cheese in downtown Aspen.  We showed up for our carry-out lunches, and headed up to Maroon Bells hiking trail.

These lunches were exceptional!   Wrapped in fancy linen napkins, this healthy and delicious lunch spread definitely hit the spot after hiking, not to mention was the coveted meal amongst onlookers.  We carried these in our backpack too, as they are light, wrapped snug and require no special treatment.image

While at Maroon Bells, there are several places to navigate and diverse scenic trails to explore.  Prior to arrival, be sure to check with Aspen Chamber for parking information.  Certain times of the year visitors must take a shuttle to the lake from town instead of parking at the base.  The Aspen Chamber also provides current trail information and up-to-date information on closures and trail construction.

There’s another great place to visit on a fall foliage road trip to Aspen – take a ride up the gondola at the Aspen Gondola Plaza.  This ride up Aspen Mountain provides more panoramic views of the Fall foliage in Aspen.  imageAnd when you’re at the top be sure to stop by at Sundeck, Aspen’s premier restaurant location for offering more panoramic views of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. image Not only are the views amazing, but the food is healthy, fresh and made-to-order.  Alcohol is also served.  Sundeck restaurant is operated by Aspen’s five-star hotel, The Little Nell.  Visiting Sundeck restaurant on Aspen Mountain was one of our favorite stops in this Colorado fall foliage road trip.image Another part of our trip that we loved were the accommodations at The Gant Aspen.  This condominium resort exuberated Fall colors at every turn, which made this resort experience paramount. image Situated on five acres at the base of Aspen Mountain, The Gant Aspen is nestled in quite a cozy location, that lends itself a sense of privacy and autonomy from the busy town that surrounds.  The Gant Aspen, although “tucked” away, is actually within just a few streets of downtown Aspen.  We didn’t even use the courtesy guest shuttle at The Gant Aspen to go into downtown Aspen.  We merely walked just a few streets and arrived to to dinner in downtown Aspen.
imageWe also had beautiful views of the mountains from the greater part of the resort.  And for the individual condominium, rustic met luxury with our fancy accommodations at The Gant Aspen.  Our cozy and posh condinium was spacious, complete with two rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area and classic living space.  Also, the condiminium had a large fireplace. The bedding was very comfortable and the entire unit was clean and amazingly decorated.  We really enjoyed our time at The Gant Aspen.  It was the perfect resort to relax and unwind on this Colorado fall foliage road trip.

imageAnother great activity in Aspen is downtown, at night.  With music and entertainment on almost every block, not to mention the great variety of restaurants to choose from, there’s plenty to keep you occupied and having a great time.

imageWhen it was finally time to leave Aspen, we decided to add one last stop for our foliage tour.

We visited Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs.  This quaint and lovely hot springs sits in Carbondale, just about a 30-minute drive from Aspen.image  This is a perfect end for a Fall foliage trip because the views are great, from up high where the pools sit.Be sure to contact the Hot Springs in advance to secure reservations if you go.  We saw several visitors turned away for the hot springs, because they didn’t have a reservation.image

There’s so much beauty in Colorado during Fall.  It’s one of my favorite seasons of the year, even though it never seems to last long enough.  I’m glad for the opportunity to visit Aspen this Fall, and will plan to return again.


Colorado Fishing Camp | The Broadmoor

Childhood Colorado fishing trips are forever imprinted in my mind.  These family trips would begin in the early morning hours.  A tap on the shoulder meant it was time to rise, exit the tent and head to the shallow river banks. There we’d crawl on hands and knees, lay low by the shrubs, not utter a word, cast and wait for that line to gracefully tug.image    

Forty years later I still love a good Colorado fishing trip, especially when it’s at The Broadmoor’s Fishing Camp.  I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful fly-fishing camp located in Lake George, Colorado.  This world-class trout fishing region and camp rests upon five miles of the Tarryall River and borders 120,000 acres of the Lost Creek Wilderness.image  Roughly 70 miles North of The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, this fly-fishing trip will satisfy a fisherman or woman’s desire to sport plenty with spectacular nature surrounding at every turn.  Lost Creek Wilderness is filled with rock canyons, open meadows and a meandering river that creates a fly-fishing paradise.image

This Colorado fly-fishing adventure offers great terrain and seasoned fly-fishing guides that lead through the five miles of private water.  On this diverse terrain, we used any number of flies, including the dry fly, the nymph and the streamer.  We also tried out saltwater flies one day in a very flat part of the river.image  The tips and tricks these guides have is impressive!

They know the best time of the day to fish, in which locations on the river are best, and what are best flies to use given location, temperature of water and time of day.  I was so grateful for their expertise.  And these guides are equally helpful for beginner and/or avid angler.  Their expertise is indispensable.image 

Additionally, the Broadmoor Hotel’s Fish Camp Managers Scott and Steve provide regular demonstrations of fly tying, step by step, and make this art appear seamless.

This angler’s art of binding materials of all hook sizes, colors and materials is a challenging yet creative endeavor.  Scott and Steve are no amateurs, having years of fly tying and fly-fishing engrained in their craft, these guys definitely know how to make beautiful Elk Hair Caddis and Wooly Bugger ties.  It was fascinating to watch, truly it’s an artform fused with talent, passion and fishing expertise.

My fishing guide Amy was very knowledgeable and helpful.  We spent our time exploring different regions of the river and she helped me craft my cast, tied the clinch knot multiple times and changed multiple flies.image  She also spent time in the water, fetching my line lodged under the river boulders, more than a few times.  She was awesome! image Finally, perserverance and new fishing skills paid off.  It was equally amazing to catch and release, once the challenge was met.  The time spent with a fishing guide makes the fly-fishing trip a wonderful experience, not only in terms of learning new skills, but also because they are equally invested in the overall fishing adventure and experience for guests at The Broadmoor’s Fishing Camp.  

And when it’s time to call it a day, or take an afternoon nap, the active angler has many options.  

My favorite was resting and taking in some great Tarryall River views.  Or, the active angler can return to his/her quaint and rustic guest cabins along the creek.image  There are seven cabins total at The Broadmoor’s Fishing Camp, and each is a restored miner’s cabin.  The preservation of history combined with the rustic and restored guest accommodations make this a truly unique and authentic Colorado experience.image

Make no mistake… these restored cabins don’t miss a modern beat either with cozy beds, chairs and seating, Wi-Fi and luxurious rustic design.  No guest comfort or detail is spared in these cabins.image

A central heated bathhouse is within a few steps of each of the cabins, as well as the grand lodge with a wraparound porch.  Inside the grand lodge, Broadmoor chefs prepare meals for family style dining.image  River-to-table trout is a chef specialty at The Broadmoor’s Fishing Camp.  

We had the opportunity to watch a hands-on demonstration by the Broadmoor’s Sous Chef Angus McIntosh in scaling, gutting and prepping river-caught fish.image

We ate family style and river-to-table with some of the fish caught during the day. This fish was showcased at dinner, along with more sides that created a bountiful feast for guests at Colorado’s fishing camp.

With endless varieties for this river-caught Rainbow Trout, Sous Chef Angus McIntosh created a beautiful dinner presentation, and served this fish as a fisherman would, with head, tail and fins intact.  He also prepared this delacacy as boneless fillets, perfectly moist and seasoned.image

 Sous Chef Angus McIntosh also provided a demonstration of preparing The Angry Trout, a popular dish at The Broadmoor’s Summit Restaurant.  This river-to-table culinary art and dining opportunity at the Broadmoor Fishing Camp is exceptional and authentic.image

Some of the family-style dining also takes place by the river at Fish House.  Something about the scenery of this location, the bustling river waters just below, savory cuisine and family-style dining, as well as great conversation with others gathered around the table makes this place one of my favorites at The Broadmoor’s Fishing Camp.broadmoorThere so many amazing details about this all-inclusive Broadmoor Wilderness Experience adventure.  The Broadmoor’s hospitality at Fish Camp is paramount.  Fly-fishing in pristine and private waters in the Lost Creek Wilderness coupled with the abundance of nature’s beauty at every turn makes this one of Colorado’s great outdoor adventures to repeat, time and time again.image




Girls Trip in Victoria BC

It was time for the annual girls weekend of travel.  This pack of women I call the “sisterhood” because after nearly 25 years of memory making together, we know each other pretty well.  This year we explored several weekend ideas and ultimately explored things to do in Victoria Canada. image

First on the priority list in Victoria BC was locating an oceanfront hotel or resort that we could call home during our stay.  It didn’t take long to locate Oak Bay Beach Hotel, a luxurious waterfront destination at Oak Bay, also part of small coastal community of Victoria BC.  Victoria oceanfront travel was our theme, and we looked forward to some exhilirating scenery and coastal experiences.image

This hotel was really perfect for a girls weekend, with an oceanfront spa and oceanfront dining that offered spectacular views and luxurious oceanfront accommodations.victoria

  Morning tea and spectacular ocean views make this luxurious Victoria hotel one of the best.  The luxurious ammenities here offer the perfect royal treatment and experience for all guests.  We enjoyed everything about this luxurious Victoria hotel as well, including but not limited to service, food, cleanliness and staff friendliness.

Adventure was another important part of this girlfiends getaway, and so we rode scooters.  None of us had been on a motorcycle or scooter, yet this experience was so much fun!  We worked with Cycle BC Rentals & Tours, and were very impressed by the very-necessary training we needed & received from Ander in the Victoria location.image

Prior to using the scooters, we received a mini course on riding the scooters, as well as Ander’s assessment of our capabilities.  Eventually somehow, we convinced him that we were capable of riding after a few test runs.  :) We also didn’t ride in the busy parts of downtown Victoria but instead on routes alongside the ocean.  It was BEAUTIFUL and a very fabulous part of our trip to Victoria.

Things to do in Victoria Canada on a girls getaway must also include a Victoria Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Downtown.image

We received the royal treatment from Paul our server, who made us feel like queens gathering on this beautiful morning for an afternoon tea.  We left our scooter helmets at the door and entered a century-long experience and tradition of many of England’s past and present royalties, celebrities and dignataries.image

The tea lobby of the Fairmont Empress in Downtown Victoria BC is very picturesque with antique and vintage furnishing.  This beautiful space reveals history, but equally provides one of the best Victoria experiences today.  The afternoon tea entails delicious hand-made signature Empress scones, assorted pastries and the Empress blend of seasonal tea.  This was quite a memorable and royal experience.  This is a must-do with the ladies in Victoria.image

Also close in proximity to Oak Bay Beach Hotel is the Oak Bay Marina.  You can rent kayaks or take a chartered fishing trip from this marina.  You’ll also want to make a visit to the coastal Oak Bay Marina Restaurant to take in the beautiful sunset ocean views and indulge in fine seafood. image 

And when you’ve finally had enough fun on this Victoria girls trip, you’ll head back to Seattle on the Victoria Clipper Ferry like we did.  This vessel is spacious and our ride was smooth.  While in the Seattle area, you’ll need to make one last great memory like we did at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, Washington.  image

The Library Pairing Tastings is just the royal experience we needed before saying goodbye.image

We learned a great deal about different wines and a lot of tricks to enhance the flavor and taste with this pairing.  image

We also enjoyed a tour of the winery from our guide.  But for me, the best part was the dessert, right?!  Save the best for last.image

Who knew that dipping a biscotti stick in Ste. Michelle’s Ethos Late Harvest Riesling would be so divine?  It’s a dessert that I’ll be sure to have again.image

And finally, the grounds at this beautiful Washington vineyard and winery are beautiful.  Bike, walk or drive here and you’ll be sure to make some good memories, just as we did.



Best Places to Visit in California

Summer trips to any one of the five oceans is a must.  Summer is all about relaxing and playing in the best of nature, and California’s beaches and the Pacific coastal region are a favorite.   I’ve compiled some of the best places to visit in California after a recent family summer trip to several seaside resorts and towns in Newport Beach, all the way down through Laguna Beach.image

Let’s start with dining in Dana Point.  This beautiful seaside town is surrounded by coastal bluffs and rolling lush hills.  You’ll find some of the most beautiful waterfront dining venues for taking in the Pacific Ocean at Dana Point.  We elected to eat at Cannon’s Seafood Restaurant because I wanted some spectacular views of Dana Point Marina, and this picture was worth every penny.  The Chart House was a neighboring restaurant that also faced Dana Point Marina.  Both of these restaurants are perched high on the hillside and provide best sunset views in Dana Point, but there’s also plenty of dining options closer to Dana Point Marina if water proximity is more important than expansive sunset views.  This area offers beautiful dining options and is one of the best places to visit in California.image

Next recommedation for best places to visit in California is the Montage Laguna Beach.  The Montage Laguna Beach Experience is a travel vacation experience you’ll want to have at least once in a lifetime.  Not only is this five-star waterfront resort perched high above the coastal bluffs to offer some of the best Pacific views, but it also neighbors in backdoor proximity to some of the best beaches that California has to offer.  One of these backyard beaches is Treasure Island.  We loved the sea caves and coves especially.image

 Laguna’s prestigious Montage Laguna Beach is one of the best places to visit in California because of the natural wonders that can be found around Thousand-Step BeachCrescent BayCrystal State Cove Park and Treasure Island.seacaves California’s National Park issues warnings and safety precautions for not only kayakers, but for any visitors that are exploring the sea caves.  Weather and water conditions can change quickly, so be sure to check out California’s changing forecast before you go.image

Thousand Steps Beach is one place everyone loves, no matter what age, this place is amazing.balboa3Thousand Steps Beach as you can guess, is famous for the long staircase you’ll take from town to reach this beautiful pristine ocean that is busy with surfers, body surfers and sun gazers and worshippers.  The steps down were easy breezy.  The climb back up was a slightly different experience.  Totally manageable but just take your time.  It’s not a marathon – this was my motto.

Thousand Step Beach is truly one of the most scenic areas in and around Laguna Beach and so it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in California.image

Another stop you’ll need to make in California is the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel.  This luxurious oceanfront resort is a favorite, especially because of the Ritz Kids programs offered and the child-friendly resort focus.  We loved our visit and enjoyed some of the best oceanfront dining at Raya, one of the dining venues at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel.  I especially was impressed by the child-friendly menu, dining options and activities for children.balboa4  Anytime I visit a Ritz Carlton with my kiddos, I’m always impressed with the special accommodations and considerations for children during travel.  I love that about the Ritz Carlton.ritzbluAnother great waterfront dining venue in Laguna Niguel is the Ritz 180Blu.  This is a great place to take in the sunset, have a cocktail and just relax.  It’s ideal for adults, and a great place to spend time with friends.  There’s usually a band or individual musician that keeps the atmosphere lively in the evening.  This was one of my very favorite places to visit for sunset gazing.ritzcarlton

I also loved the amazing backyard beach accessibility of the Ritz.image  The walk to the beach from the resort was easy, and the beaches are well maintained and perfect for surfing, body surfing or relaxing.  For these oceanfront Laguna Beach dining venues, close proximity to some of Laguna’s best beaches and the exceptional child-friendly focus and accommodations at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, this is one of the best places to visit in California.image

Heading up North, you’ll want to visit Balboa Island, in Newport Beach.  Be sure to check out all the adventures on the island, including kayaking, fishing, surfing and shopping.  Shopping on Balboa Island was one of my favorite parts about the island.  My daughter and I could have spent HOURS at these shops.balboa2   Also, you’ll want to be sure and stop at Dad’s Original Frozen Banana.  These frozen bananas are a five-star treat and solely a good enough reason to visit Balboa Island.balboa1However, the sunsets are pretty amazing here as well.  So I guess for the views, sunsets and frozen banana treats – Balboa Island is another top choice for one of the best places to visit in Calfornia.   image

Catalina Island, located just 22 miles off the Pacific California Coast is also one of the best places to visit in California.  There’s so much to do on this island.  Read all about what to do on Catalina Island, whether you plan to make a day trip or stay longer.image

This island has something for all ages and will keep you plenty busy.  It’s location and unique Mediterranean landscape feel is what makes this destination one of the best places to visit in California.

There’s so many places in California, and it’s hard to narrow down my top picks.  For now, this coastal region is my top pick for summer vacation and coastal travel.  So much to do, so little time.

** Some pictures courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Santa Catalina Island

I’ve always wanted to visit Catalina Island, which is a beautiful island just 22 miles off the coast of California.  image

First, I wanted to explore the ways of arriving to the island.  I learned there is transportation by sea in many forms to Catalina Isand, and we ultimately secured our transportation with the Catalina Flyer.  This large three story ferry left from Newport Beach in the early morning and we arrived to Catalina Island by 10:30a.  The other modes of transportation include but are not limited to Sea Planes and Helicopter.image

Our experience on the Catalina Flyer was great.  The crew was efficient and helpful from the time of boarding this vessel.  They explained that the ride to Catalina Island could be a rough ocean ride, and what to do if passengers were prone to motion sickness. They even sold Dramamine on board!  It was a perfectly beautiful and clear morning the day we visited Catalina Island.  This 22-mile ride across the Pacific Ocean is what you might expect in terms of motion, so come prepared and don’t forget to look at the constant horizon – a life saver!!  The best part about the trip was the dolphin sightings – they were on all sides of the ferry throughout most of the ride.image

Upon arriving to Avalon Island, you’ll want to decide your mode of transportation for getting around the island.  Will you be staying for just one day at Catalina Island or longer?  There are several places to rent a four or six seater golf cart to take a tour of this island, or to just get around if you’re staying for a few days.  You don’t even have to know what to do in Catalina Island – just rent a cart and figure it out.image

There is a beautiful scenic tour of Catalina Island, and it last for roughly an hour using a golf cart.  There are other parts of the island that are not accessible outside of this scenic tour, and no one is allowed to those other parts of the island except guided tours, etc…  So remember that you don’t have 100% access to the entire island when you rent a golf cart, but, it is the mode of transportation around Catalina, especially for a one-day trip it’s nice.  But if you’re wondering what to do in Catalina Island – rent a golf cart and take the island tour.  It’s beautiful.image

So wondering what to do besides the one hour scenic tour in Catalina Island?  Try some Snorkeling or scuba diving, it’s a popular activity around Catalina Island.  With the waters being so transparent, its totally inviting.  You can bring your own equipment and/or get hooked up with a professional guided snorkel or scuba tour.catalina2  Playing and relaxing in this beautiful transparent water is a common interest among the many visitors, both at Descano Beach Club and at the beach at Avalon Island.  You can rent water toys at the beach at Avalon, or bring your own.  It’s a great place for children to play.catalina3Shopping.  It’s what you can do in Catalina Island.  There’s a very nice selection of stores in Avalon that can provide some wonderful retail therapy and fun.catalina1Dining.  It’s what to do in Catalina Island.  Buffalo Nickel was great!  Try the fish tacos and a margarita, you won’t be disappointed.image

Explore and Play – it’s what you can do on Catalina Island and you’ll never grow weary of these beautiful pristine waters.

Snow Mountain Ranch

There are so many family attractions in Colorado during the summer.  And there’s a special place in one of the best Colorado mountain towns that offers so many great family experiences and attractions for kids at Snow Mountain Ranch!  This mountain and wildnerness adventure camp in Granby, Colorado is one for the entire family and all ages.  It’s conveniently located less than two hours from Denver.

Upon arrival at Snow Mountain Ranch & YMCA of the Rockies, you’ll soon learn about the endless activities available for children and adults.  These activities are outlined according to day, time and fee, if one is assigned.  Many of the activities are free, and are spread throughout the day.  We were so excited to explore the options.  We began with a guided horse tour with Sombrero Stables.image

image1 (2)

This trail ride with Sombrero Stables was a favorite for my daughter and I.  The guide was knowledgeable and friendly, and especially good with helping ease any anxiety with riding.  She led us on a trail, back into the Rocky Mountains where the Aspen and Pine trees were plain beautiful.  We finally looped back around to the stables.  Perfect.

The next activity was a favorite of both children and adults.  If you’re looking in the Granby area or checking out Winter Park summer activities, you’ll definitely want to check out this tubing in Colorado, at the Summer Tubing Hill at Snow Mountain Ranch.

I love tubing in Colorado, whether it’s in a river or during winter down a hill.  But I had never heard of tubing in Colorado during the summer down a hill.  I learned this summer downhill tubing in Colorado at Snow Mountain Ranch is one of only three that exist in the United States and is the very first in Colorado!

With a turn of the tube and a little water’s help, you’re flying down this hill.  And before you know it, you’re all the way down.  And then step over, and take a ride to the top.  Get your tube ready, turn and spin, go down, repeat.  We repeated much, it was so much fun!image

So if you’re looking for some great family attractions in Colorado during the summer, and especially attractions for kids, this tubing in Colorado is a first of its kind and one you’ve got to try!

The next day we were back at exploring more wilderness adventures in one of the best mountain towns of Granby, Colorado.  It was time to trout fish, but more than that, for the little people to get fishing tips from the fisherman.image

And obviously, the Snow Mountain Ranch’s fisherman gave some great fishing tips.  This catch is about the average size of most, and everything here is catch/release.image

We also tried out some ziplining at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado.

This ziplining tour was great.  It may not be the longest zip line, but it sure felt like it.  The guides were extremely helpful with directions and helping anyone who needed assistance.  My children although young, were thrilled to indulge in this ziplining.image

 In terms of lodging and accommodations, where do I start.  You have so many options to choose from starting with cabins, lodges, yurts and campgrounds at Snow Mountain Ranch.  image

I was pretty much smitten with the Village of Yurts at Snow Mountain Ranch.  These Yurts, also coined a Mongolian House, are a comfortable yet intimate experience with the outdoors.image

Each yurt provides comfortable beds and all the essentials you would come to expect in a lodge or cabin.  There is no electricity and/or plumbing in a yurt, but there is a bath house just steps away that offers all these.  This Yurt park in Granby, Colorado is one of the best I’ve seen.  Perched high on the hillside, each Yurt offers beautiful and expansive views of the area.image

Speaking of the area, there’s a good amount of trail biking around Snow Mountain Ranch.  You can rent the bikes for the day, or halfday, and explore the trails in the area that are divided by skill level and color.  image

We also enjoyed the arts and crafts store.  There is a plethora of activities to choose from, as well as some to buy if you choose.  We love painting!image

And the indoor swimming pool, let me not forget.  It’s a great place for the kiddos to release some energy.  Children must pass a swimming test to swim alone in the pool, but once they’re in, they are climbing the walls and playing with all the other great features.image

And when you’re at the beautiful Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, don’t forget to stop and breathe, take in the fresh air and smell the flowers.  It’s a very spiritual place in the mountains with the splendor of nature surrounding the camp.  It’s a reminder of the great Creator.  And a wonderful place to make special family memories.

Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park has the tallest dunes in the United States, and is a natural wonder of sand hills that you and the entire family will enjoy.  Located in the Sangre Di Cristo Range and town of Mosca, these sand dunes are a popular Colorado family vacation destination for those wanting a unique experience of nature.  image

Many visitors enjoy hiking the dunes, sand boarding, sand sledding and wading around the waters of Medano Creek.  This creek keeps the sand base cool during the late Spring and early summer.  Be sure and check the Great Sand Dunes National Park weather before you come, to plan accordingly for activities and adventures in the sand!
IMG_9243Outside of the Park, companies such as Zapata Ranch just down the road from the Great Sand Dunes, offer horseback riding tours in the park, as well as photography trips, etc..  Find out places to rent and learn about sand surfing and sand sledding in the Great Sand Dunes.  We tried some sand surfing and sledding and it was just as fun as it sounds!  And it’s an activity for all ages.  And with a backdrop of the Sangre di Cristo Mountain Range, it doesn’t get much better.IMG_9244Close to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, is the City of Alamosa where you can find hotels, motels, ranches and cabin accommodations.  We elected to stick with the “nature theme” and found a rustic cabin that was close to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Some very close places to the Dunes are Zapata RanchGreat Sand Dunes Lodge and Great Sand Dunes Oasis. image  Also close to Alamosa in the town of Mosca is the Colorado Gators Reptile Park.  This is a must visit, especially if you’re bringing the children as they’ll love the large assortment of alligators and reptiles.image

And when you’re done with the alligators and playing around at the Sand Dunes, head back to Alamosa for a good meal.  There’s plenty to choose from but we loved a very good burger at San Luis Brewery, located right on Main Street.  

Solage Calistoga Spa and Resort


Are you wondering when is the best time to visit Napa Valley California?  Let me tell you, about RIGHT THIS MINUTE is the best time to visit Napa Valley.

Really, there’s so much to do in the valley around this time of year and into Fall.  This year, I’m excited once again to visit one of my favorites, a Napa Valley Spa in Calistoga California, the amazing Spa Solage Calistoga.image

With so many luxury Napa resorts and hotels and luxury Napa spas in wine country, it’s hard to know which one to visit, or to know what is the best Napa Valley spa experience.  In addition to touring all the beautiful Napa vineyards, it’s also good to add in some down time, and much needed R&R from the wine tours.  As much as I love trying the best California wines, learning the history of wine, wine values, attempting to pronunciate vintage wine names, smelling and tasting the many incredible flavors of wine country, I also love REST.  And the Napa Valley Spa you’ll want to visit for REST, cleanliness and a luxury Napa mud experience is Spa Solage Calistoga. This luxury Napa Valley resort and spa is exemplary and sets itself apart with incredible mud treatments.  No rules here, just your relaxation and comfort level with the entire Napa mud experience.image

If you’re looking for Napa luxury spas for massage, bath massage and mud bath, Calistoga offers many different options and experiences.  Many travelers seek comfort and solace, knowing that a spa and massage is just on the other side of day of touring wine country.  I for one always try to plan the best Solage Calistoga Mud experience in a Napa Valley Spa.image

So arrive to Solage Calistoga, and pick out your essential oil.  Next get ready to apply this mineral rich mud mixed with your essential oil of choice.  This is the perfect American getaway, especially for girlfriends.  This American getaway is perfect the perfect luxury venue for a bachelorette party and/or a best friend getaway.  Or just bring 12 girls, your girlpack, or just four, as we did for our last trip.  Btw, we wore our suits, but you can do whatever you want.  Next, prepare your skin for an exemplary Calistoga mud treatment.image
imageAnd just when you think this Calistoga mud treatment is as good as it gets with mineral rich dried mud into your skin, it’s then time to rinse in the bathhouse.

It’s at this point when your skin truly comes alive and the therapeutic relief is experienced.  And to complete this rinsing process, you’re moved to a bath, prepared with minerals and spring water, right from Solage.  This Calistoga mud treatment is exemplary.  You’ll not want to miss this incredible experience that ends in a sound/vibration chair.  REST & Rejuvination is what happens at Solage Calistoga with an incredible mudslide experience.  image


Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa

If you’re researching some great places to go with kids, and are looking for best places to vacation in the US, Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa is a great destination in Moab Utah.  This Dude Ranch Resort offers guests with a luxurious experience and wild west adventure, including but not limited to horseback riding, guided hikes, national park tours, a petting zoo and so much more.  This Moab Utah Dude Ranch provides luxurious accommodations for families, couples and individuals.image

Sorrel Ranch is perhaps one of the best places to vacation in the US because it has something for everyone in the family, whether you’re an equestrian, photographer, painter or simply seeking solitude and rest.  A Moab Utah family resort like Sorrel has so many  options for activities during your stay.  My daughter was so excited to explore one of her passions, riding.  There are so many horse breeds at this Moab Utah dude ranch too, and she loved meeting each horse and hearing their story. Sorrel Resort in Moab Utah offers free pony rides for all children, and group rides that leave in the early morning on trails that wind through Ida Gulch up and over the foothills below Parriot Mesa.  You can schedule all these trips upon arrival at Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa.  Obviously having outdoor adventures for everyone in the family, combined with luxurious accommodations and the surrounding beautiful landscape, this Moab Utah Dude Ranch is one amazing place to go with kids.

imageSorrel Ranch Resort & Spa is also a great place for the entire “family”, being a Moab Utah pet friendly resort.  Many resorts in the region are not pet friendly – so this is a real plus!  Don’t leave your pooch at home, they’re welcome here and so we brought ours along. There’s also so much room at this Moab Utah Dude Ranch for your leashed pet to walk around and explore as well.  image

These cabins and suites that face the river makes this one of the best places to vacation in the US.  Waking up, talking a stroll with our dog and finally winding up in one of these chairs for my morning coffee pretty much sealed the deal for me.  The family loved it.image

Speaking of animals, this Dude Ranch not only has a ton of equestrian options for guests, but also a petting zoo that’s a real hit with the kiddos (and their mom).  These small pot baby belly pigs won my heart.  They’re tame as are the other animals that appear so happy for all the visitors and pets! :)


The stable is organized and well maintained.  The daily activities on the ranch are organized and the staff are so friendly.  They were very good with my children and facilitating everything with the ranch animals.image

Speaking of places to go with kids, Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa is such a great place for children but also their parents.  I enjoyed dabbling around Sorrel’s Spa and learned about regular daily yoga routines and yoga workouts available for guests at the bank of the Colorado River each morning.  Sold.  This again, is why Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa is one of the best places to vacation in the US.image

I enjoy a luxury dude ranch that provided services and ammenities for every age and every interest.  Another beautiful part of this Dude Ranch is the pool area adjacent to the Colorado River.image

There’s something about the tranquility at Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa that is unmatched.  The suites on the river and cabins riverside are luxurious.image

We enjoyed the views, the breeze and the comforts of a luxurious Moab Utah resort suite on the river.image

We also enjoyed the views that came from River Grill Restuarant.  imageAnd in the morning inside, the views were just the same.image

This luxury Moab resort offers healthy food and meals to accommodate any diet or nutritional restrictions.  While I enjoyed my fresh fruit, yogart and coffee, I was really more mesmorized by the view.  Once again.image

So if you’re looking for places to go with kids and best places to vacation in the US, a dude ranch is calling your name.  And especially a luxurious dude ranch like Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa in Moab Utah.  When you’re not at this guest ranch, you can explore all there is to do in Moab Utah in the surrounding area.