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How to Hit the Slopes

It’s the perfect time to start preparing for a fun winter out on the slopes – even if you’ve never been skiing before! With time and effort, you can learn to ski, no matter your age or athletic ability. Don’t wait until you’re already at that Colorado ski resort and all of your friends and family have already gone out to enjoy the snow. Here are a few ways you can start preparing now:

 

  1. Get Everything You’ll Need

An artist can’t be an artist without the right tools. Same goes for skiing! Make sure to stock up on warm and waterproof clothing. The key is to dress in layers. Invest in some thick gloves and socks, and make sure that your arms and legs will be fully covered. You’ll definitely want to be comfortable and have a little extra padding in case of a fall. Most resorts will have an option for equipment rentals, which is the way to go if it’s your first time. You’ll want boots, skis and poles that fit your body perfectly. Last but not least, you can’t forget the snacks! Packing a bag of quick pick-me-ups is essential. You’ll want water, and snacks with lots of protein, like nuts.

  1. Start an Exercise Routine

Believe it or not, it’s super important to have built up a little bit of muscle and endurance before you even step foot onto the slopes. It’s important to be fit and flexible and to focus on your legs when working out. Check out this exercise program to inspire yours before you s tart to ski. It breaks down everything you should do in the 6 weeks leading up to your trip.

 

  1. Learn from a Professional

The most important thing you can do before skiing on your own is taking a lesson. The best way to learn is from the professionals, and conveniently, almost every ski resort offers time for you to learn from them. Not only will you feel more confident when you hit the slopes, but you’ll have learned all of the proper techniques to get yourself down the mountain.

 

  1. Learn the Right Techniques

One tip to keep in mind while you’re getting the hang of skiing has to do with your feet. Most beginners want to let their feet lead their bodies, but this causes them to fall. Instead, remind yourself to keep your feet under you, so you’ll have more balance. And always keep your knees bent!

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

You’ve had the cliche, “practice makes perfect,” preached to you since you were a toddler, but it’s true! The only way to continue getting better at skiing is to practice, practice, practice. Every chance you get, practice your skiing techniques, and you’ll see faster improvement.

 

  1. Don’t Give Up!

The truth is that skiing is difficult. Don’t expect to master it right away. Even the pros had to put in years of practice. Don’t give up on yourself, and always remember that skiing should be fun! It’s okay to fall (and to laugh at yourself when you do)!

 

Chicago – The Complete Activity Guide

Chicago Skyline

Chicago, the “Windy City,” is one of the top most visited cities in the nation. The third-most populous city in the United States is home to over 2.7 million residents and lots of things to do on a business trip or vacation.   

Chicago lake frontCloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois

Must-See Places:

Chicago has plenty of parks and places that you have to go to while you’re in town.  Millennium Park is home to some of the city’s best art and architecture (including the famous Bean), gardens and landscapes, and free events and exhibitions.  Navy Pier sits right on Lake Michigan and has all different restaurants, shops and attractions, like the Centennial Ferris Wheel.  The Shedd Aquarium not only has amazing architecture and a global animal collection, but they also are leaders in animal and environmental care.  Skydeck Chicago sits at the top of Willis Tower, and welcomes visitors out onto the “Ledge” where you can get a one of a kind view of the city of Chicago.  The Tribune Tower is widely regarded as “the most beautiful building in the world,” because of its gorgeous architecture that includes actual pieces of other famous structures, including rock from the Alamo, the Colosseum and the Great Wall of China.

Pizza

Food:

Of course, the city that invented the Twinkie is widely regarded as one of the best cities with the best food in the United States. With celebrity chefs, world-renowned restaurants and ethnic dining from all over the globe, Chicago is known for a variety of food.  Most sought out is deep dish pizza, and the original can be found at Uno Pizzeria & Grill.  Chicago is also known for its brunch scene, where there are plenty of restaurants to ensure that the most important meal of the day is skipped. The Chicago style hot dog was invented in – you guessed it – Chicago, and the best can be found at Portillo’s.  With 26 Michelin ranked restaurants and 52 Bib Gourmand ranked restaurants, you definitely will not go hungry.Baseball field

Sports:

Sporting News has named Chicago the “Best Sports City” three separate times, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Chicago is one of only 10 US cities to have a sports team in all five of the major sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer).  If you’re a baseball fan, catch a game at Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play, or at Guaranteed Rate Field, where the Chicago White Sox play.  The Chicago Bears play football at Soldier Field, and the Chicago Fire plays soccer at Toyota Park.  Both the Chicago Bulls, basketball, and the Chicago Blackhawks, hockey, play their games at United Center. Chicago also showcases female athletes with both the Chicago Sky, basketball, that plays at Allstate Arena and the Chicago Red Stars, soccer, that play at Toyota Park.

Inside of a Museum

Museums:

Chicago’s got museums for history, nature and culture all covered.  The Field Museum of Natural History has over 30 permanent exhibitions full of biological and anthropological artifacts.  The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world that aims to motivate and inspire every “inventive genius.”  The Adler Planetarium has exhibits all about space and space exploration, with the mission of sparking excitement and curiosity.

Double Decker Bus

Tours:

Chicago is a city with a lot of history, and there are a variety of bus and boat tours to take you around to learn more.  The Big Bus Chicago Tour takes you all over the city and allows you to hop on and hop off as you please.  This is perfect for getting all around Chicago and exploring at your own pace.  The Crime and Mob Bus Tour stops at famous crime scenes, takes you by famous landmarks and tells you all about different famous criminals and mobsters in Chicago, like Al Capone, the Chicago Mob and the Chicago Black Sox.  The city of Chicago is known for its beautiful and innovative architecture, and the Chicago Architecture River Cruise shows you why the city’s buildings rank third in the world. The Chicago Segway Tour teaches you how to ride a segway and then takes you for a ride through some of Chicago’s most famous neighborhoods.

Sculpture portraying Grant Wood’s American Gothic characters

Art:

As one of the “12 Best Cities in the US to See Art,” Chicago is the place for every art lover. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the nation, and is home to a large number of famous paintings, including Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Pablo Picasso’s Old Guitarist and Grant Wood’s American Gothic.  The Chicago Theater is a famous landmark known for its beautiful architecture and the organ inside that has the ability to sound like an entire orchestra.  In the Loop, there is the Chicago Picasso, a sculpture by Picasso himself, that has become a famous landmark, even though no one quite knows what it is supposed to be a sculpture of.  Guesses range from a bird to an aardvark to an Afghan hound to the Egyptian deity Anubis, so check it out and try to guess for yourself. Chicago is also the birthplace of improvisational comedy, so it’s necessary to see a show while you’re in town. There are a variety of different comedy clubs all over town, but a few include The Second City, iOTheater and Laugh Factory.

shopping bags

Shopping:

From designer stores to outlet malls, Chicago has shopping for everyone. The most famous place to hit while in town is the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. With three malls and stores like Nike, Chanel and Nordstrom, you could spend your whole trip walking up and down this street. The Fashion Outlets are best if you like getting a bang for your buck.  With shops from worldly designers to big department stores, you’ll be able to find deals everywhere you look.

 

Sources: EXPLORE CHICAGO’S RESTAURANT SCENE, Things to Do in ChicagoShopping in Chicago: sweet spots abound all around town

 

 

How to Make the Most of Your Layover in Chicago

You’ve got the most amazing vacation planned: lots of fun things to do, places to eat, and sights to see. The only thing that’s standing between you and your week of pure bliss is…a layover in Chicago. The seconds feel like they’re dragging by as you’re sitting at the gate, just waiting to board that plane. Instead of distracting yourself with social media or games on your phone, use these tips to make your layover fly (pun intended) by!

Quick Bites

No matter what you’re craving, O’Hare has it. Each terminal has mouth-watering places to grab a quick meal. Check out Tortas Frontera (Terminals 1, 3 & 5), owned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless, for some delicious Mexican. It’s Bon Appetit’s “best airport restaurant,” and the reason that a Chicago Tribune writer wants to get delayed at O’Hare. Another amazing option is the Wolfgang Puck Cafe (Terminal 5), owned by the celebrity chef, for pizza and sandwiches. There’s also La Tapenade (Terminals 1, 2 & 3), which features flavors from the Mediterranean, and Wow Bao (Terminal 5), known for its “hot Asian buns.” And, of course, a trip to Chicago (even if you never leave the airport) wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Garrett’s. Get the world-famous popcorn as a souvenir for someone or as a treat for yourself.

Sit Back & Relax

“Relaxation” may sound like the exact opposite of hanging out in an airport, so you might be surprised by all the amenities O’Hare has to offer. There’s a yoga room located just past security in Terminal 3. Mats are provided and monitors show popular yoga positions, so whether you’ve never done yoga before or you’re a professional, this is the perfect place to get away from the bustle of the airport. There are also spas if you’re in the mood for a less active type of relaxation. The Terminal Gateway Spa is in Terminals 1 & 3, and for a quicker service, the XpressSpa is in Terminal 5. If shopping for relaxation is more your style, there are amazing stores all over the airport.

Yoga Class

For the Kids

If you’ve got the kiddos with you, don’t worry. There are plenty of cool things to keep their attention during your layover. The Kids on the Fly play area is located in Terminal 2, featuring interactive airplane and helicopter models. Kids can also check out a model control tower. There is also a Brachiosaurus skeleton replica on the upper level of Terminal 1. The dinosaur stands over 40 feet tall, and is an amazing sight for both kids and adults.

 

Unique Things

Chicago’s Public Art Program has decorated the airport with pieces from local and national artists, making a stroll around the terminals feel like a museum. One of the most popular pieces is the Sky’s the Limit neon light installation. This instagram-worthy spot is on the ceiling of the underground walkway between concourses B and C in Terminal 1. If you’re looking for something a little more active, check out the Hilton Athletic Club. There are day passes available for this gym that’s located in the hotel attached to the airport. Underground walkways are connected to Terminals 1, 2 & 3. After your workout, check out the aeroponic garden in Terminal 3. This type of gardening uses a nutrient solution to keep plants growing instead of soil. This specific garden not only grows produce that the airport restaurants use, it also doubles as a perfect spot to lounge before your flight.

underground walkway

We all know that a long layover is the worst, but with these tips, you can make the most of your time in the Chicago O’Hare airport. Got any more tips? We’d love to hear them!

15 Reasons to Visit Mid-Missouri

Although Missouri might sound like just another fly-over state to you, it is home to loads of hidden treasures. It turns out that the perfect place for your next vacation might just be waiting for you in mid-Missouri. With cities like Columbia (“Athens of Missouri”), Jefferson City (2013’s “Most Beautiful Small Town in America”) and Lake of the Ozarks (“The Missouri Dragon”), there’s never a shortage of things to do.

 

  1. Midwestern politeness

It’s real. The Midwest is one of the most well-mannered places in the US, and Time’s “Mood Map” even ranked Missouri as “Friendly & Conventional”. There’s always someone holding the door open or smiling and saying “hi” as you walk by.

 

  1. Lots of beer

Missouri should be nicknamed “Land of Beer”.  With Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, and many local breweries in mid-Missouri, a beer lover would be in heaven.  If you’re looking for a local brew in Columbia, there’s Logboat Brewing Co., Broadway Brewery, or even local favorite restaurant/pub/brewery, Flatbranch.  If you’re in the mood for something a little more worldly, there’s the Craft Beer Cellar or the International Tap House. In Jefferson City, there’s Prison Brews, a local brewery and the only place to play a great game of bocce ball.

Beer glass

  1. Cornhole

Speaking of sports, here in the midwest, tailgating is practically a sport of its own. People surround themselves with friends, cheeseburgers, and the beloved game of cornhole.  The object isn’t just to make the mini bean bag into the hole, but also to have the most decorative cornhole set in the entire parking lot.

toss game

  1. Locally sourced food

If eating green is your thing, mid-Missouri is your place. Restaurants all over the area only use locally sourced food from farmers’ markets to make their scrumptious signature dishes. In Columbia, at places like Cafe Berlin, Main Squeeze, Sycamore and many, many others, you can eat a delicious meal and know exactly where your food is coming from.  Madison’s Cafe, Vitality Cafe and The Grand Cafe all get their goods from farmers in the Jefferson City area.  Down at the Lake, The Duck and Paint Box Cafe are just a couple of examples of locally sourced restaurants.

 

  1. True/False Film Fest

One of the biggest film festivals in the midwest happens right here in Columbia.  The True/False Film Fest draws in huge crowds, debuts new documentaries, and features live music before every show.  Who knows, you could even run into a few celebrities, as famous director Spike Lee made an appearance at last year’s event.

 

  1. The ultimate college town

The SEC’s newest addition, the nation’s top-ranked school of journalism, the home of the Tigers. The University of Missouri, one of the most beautiful campuses in the Midwest, is right in the middle of Columbia. Walk down the same sidewalks that celebrities like Brad Pitt, Jon Hamm, and Sheryl Crow once did. The University of Missouri even invented the annual tradition of Homecoming.  Each year, alumni and people that just like to celebrate come to Columbia during this time to see a huge parade, a decorated campus, and a fantastic game of football.

University of Missouri Columns and Jesse Hall

As the second all-women’s college in the nation, Stephens College prides itself on helping women get one step closer to achieving their dreams.  With one of the top rated theater and fashion programs, there is always a show to catch and art to see.  

 

With over 33 remote campuses nation-wide, Columbia College educates people from all over the world. A deep pride in academics and athletics and beautiful, historic buildings make the campus absolutely amazing to take a stroll through.

 

  1. Show-Me State Games

According to ESPN, the Show-Me State Games are one of the 101 Things All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die. All year long, this non-profit organization puts on sporting events that Missourians and non-Missourians alike can participate in.  With every sport represented, ranging from pickleball to judo to synchronized swimming, these events are a great time for people of all ages.

 

  1. The art scene

The downtown skyline, the gorgeous landscapes and diversity of people makes Columbia full of endless inspiration for artists galore. As you walk downtown, you’ll pass art gallery after art gallery. Bluestem, Artlandish, and Orr Street Gallery are just a few places where local artists get to show if their work.  And if you’re feeling crafty, stop by the Mud Room to put your own spin on some pottery.

Tourists looking at paintings

  1. Missouri Government

As the state’s capitol, Jefferson City is the perfect place for every history or government buff.  The Missouri Capitol Building is modeled after the Capitol in Washington D.C. and is filled to the brim with paintings, sculptures and other fantastic artworks. The Missouri Supreme Court Building and the Governor’s Mansion are both open for tours as well.

Missouri State Capital Building

  1. Missouri State Penitentiary

The original state prison that was first opened in 1836 and decommissioned in 2004 now gives tours, showcasing 168 years of history.  Walk the same halls as boxer Sonny Liston and James Earl Ray inside what used to be the largest prison in the US.  There are also multiple ghost tours that are offered from guides that will outline strange occurrences from within the penitentiary’s walls.

 

  1. Museums

Jefferson City is full of museums on a variety of different topics.  As the heart and capitol of Missouri, it only makes sense that it is home to the Missouri State Museum, which covers all the interesting history of the state. There’s also the Museum of Missouri Military History, the National Churchill Museum, the Museum of Art & Archaeology, and there’s even a Vacuum Cleaner Museum.

 

  1. The Lake of the Ozarks

This area would just be called the Ozarks without the giant lake that spans 92 miles from end to end.  The body of water twists and turns so that from up above, it looks like a huge serpent (which is how the area got its nickname). With over 1150 miles of shoreline, 57,000 acres of water and 150 marinas, the lake provides itself to endless opportunities to boat, tube, water ski, swim and much, much more water fun.

Dock on a lake

  1. Golf

No matter your experience level, the Lake of the Ozarks is every golfer’s dream.  With 12 unique golf courses for a more experienced golfer and 11 mini golf courses for a more laid back player, there’s over 180 holes to play.

 

  1. Shopping

It’s not unusual to run into people that came to the Ozarks just for the shopping and not necessarily for the lake.  The area has multiple outlet malls with big name brands, including the largest one in Missouri.  Small and unique boutiques are sprinkled all over for people looking for a more hometown flare.  The Lake of the Ozarks also has 57 antique stores, so it’s likely that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

 

  1. Ha Ha Tonka State Park

The Lake of the Ozarks is home to Missouri’s newest state park, Ha Ha Tonka.  On the almost 2500 acres of land stands a mansion that was built in 1905 but partially burned down in 1942.  In 1978, the state of Missouri opened this area up for visitors, including what remains of the giant castle.  The historical area is visited by thousands of people each year, promising a gorgeous hike and an amazing view.

   Castle Ruins

 

Six Family-Friendly Winter Activities in Colorado

Woman in Ski helmet and googles on Ski slope

It’s no secret that Colorado is one of the top vacation destinations for families during the winter. It may snow quite a bit, but the high altitude, low humidity and large amount of sunny days (300 a year!) make for the perfect weather for outdoor winter activities. Between the mountains and the snow, there are endless opportunities to have some family fun.

  1. Skiing at Keystone Resort

When you think winter activities in Colorado, the first thing that comes to mind is probably skiing. With 27 ski areas and more than 40,000 acres of skiable terrain, it’s the place to go if you want to hit the slopes. For a fun family vacation, Keystone is the place to go. If you book a two-night stay at the resort, kids that are 12 and under ski for free! That’s a sweet deal.

Opens Nov. 10.

1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Colorado Mountain Express.

 

  1. Tubing at Copper Mountain

Not big into skiing? No problem! Colorado offers a wide variety of other winter activities, and Copper Mountain is the best place to go tubing. Hop on an inflated tube and whiz down the side of the mountain. Tubing is fun for all ages (as long as you’re 3 feet tall), and is sure to provide some laughs for the rest of the trip!

Open Dec. 15 – April 6.

1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Colorado Mountain Express.

Snowshoeing at Frisco Nordic Center

  1.  Snowshoeing at Frisco Nordic Center

Hiking enthusiasts can still take in the beauty of the trails during the winter too. Snowshoeing is a great activity, and the Frisco Nordic Center has a bunch of different trails for people with all different levels of experience. There aren’t many things that are more beautiful than hiking through the snowy mountains of Colorado, and kids under 6 get to snowshoe for free!

            Opens Nov. 18.

            1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the West Line of the Bustang.

  1.  Snowmobiling in Winter Park

With 5 different snowmobiling trails, Winter Park is the place for both beginners and advanced riders. They also offer family tours, with a guide that teaches you how to ride, takes you to the best spots, and has kid-sized snowmobiles to ride!

            Opens Nov. 23.

            1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Winter Park Express Train.

  1. Sledding at Ruby Hill Park

The best hills for sledding in Denver are at Ruby Hill Park. Not only is it super fun for the sledders, but it also has one of the best views overlooking downtown Denver. The best part is that the park is free for everyone to come enjoy the slopes!

            Opens in January.

  1. Snow fun in Denver

When the snow starts falling, there’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned snowman. Denver is the perfect place to play in the snow. From snow angels to a snowball fight, you’ll find it in Colorado. Plus, there are a bunch of little cafes around to grab a hot chocolate when you need a break from the cold!

Dad and son snow sledding

With all of these activities, your family won’t be able to wait until they get to spend another winter in Colorado!

14 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Denver

From the outside, Denver may seem like just another big city that happens to be by some mountains. But, it turns out that Denver has quite the history and a bunch of interesting facts you probably didn’t know about.

Here we go –Denver is one mile above sea level

  1. Denver is home to the 10th largest downtown area in the United States.
  2. At just over 26 miles long, Colfax Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Denver, is the longest continuous street in the country.
  3. Denver is one of the sunniest states in the US, as they average 300 sunny days a year.
  4. Louis Ballast, owner of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In, invented the cheeseburger in 1935. Thank you Louis!
  5. Denver loves food, as the first Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noodles & Co and Smashburger were all opened there.
  6. The city sits one mile above sea level, making golf balls, baseballs and footballs all fly 10% farther than normal. It also means that alcohol hits you about twice as fast. For real.
  7. A city had never turned down hosting the Olympics until Denver did in 1976, and a city hasn’t since.
  8. The first male cheerleader for the Denver Broncos was none other than Robin Williams, when he dressed up in the sparkly uniform and cheered for a game as a stunt for his TV show, Mork & Mindy. Nanu-Nanu!
  9. Over 200 named mountain peaks are visible from the city of Denver.
  10. Denver is home to over 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas.Colorado State Capital Building
  11. The state capitol building’s dome is plated with real 24K gold.
  12. The Denver International Airport is the largest in the country in terms of land area. In fact, four of the other largest airports in the country (Heartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) could all actually fit inside.
  13. The Denver Mint is the single largest producer of coins in the entire world, as they produce over 40 million a day.  A coin that was made there often has a D on the front.
  14. Denver’s current mayor, Michael Hancock, was a Broncos mascot when he was 17.

 

Denver is the best jumping off point to…

Denver International Airport

 

Denver can be a fun city to hang out in, but it doesn’t have to be your final destination.  After a layover in Denver (which can be a destination itself), there are plenty of places to fly off to.

 

 

 

 

Golden Gate Bridge

COU → SFO

San Francisco, the city we have to thank for fortune cookies, bendy straws, jeans and Irish coffee, is also one of the top 50 most visited cities in the world. Stop by one the Wonders of the Modern World, the Golden Gate Bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in the world. A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without visiting and taking a tour of Alcatraz, a prison that was deemed impossible to escape. Rumor has it that while Al Capone was held there, he played banjo in a prison band called The Rock Islanders.  San Francisco is also home to the only National Historical Monument that can move, its famous cable cars.  Take a ride in one, and stop by Chinatown, the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.  Although San Francisco isn’t really known for its beaches, it does have Baker Beach, which some say is the most beautiful in all of California.

 

 

Santa Monica Pier

COU → LAX

Los Angeles, thankfully shortened from the orginial name of “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Riena de los Angeles sobre el Rio Pociuncula,” is home to over 90 stage theaters and 300 museums. There is never a shortage of things to do while in LA, but a few of the highlights include Universal Studios and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  Rodeo Drive, right in the heart of Beverly Hills, has some of the best and most luxurious shopping in the world. Los Angeles also has a wide variety of museums, including the California Science Center and Griffith Observatory. If you’re wanting to hang out by the water, check out Venice Beach or the Santa Monica Pier. And, of course, you can’t miss one of LA’s biggest attractions, Disneyland, nicknamed “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

 

 

 

Sea World in San Diego California

 

COU → SAN

San Diego, best known for its naval bases and role in aviation development, is a popular tourist destination.  One of the largest collections of sea vessels in the nation is held at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The first baby panda born in the Western Hemisphere since 1990, Hua Mei, was born in the San Diego Zoo, where you can visit her and the cafe that is named after her.  See the aquatic animals and SeaWorld, where you can watch the orcas play all day.  Go for a hike that ends up on cliffs overlooking the ocean at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, or skip the hike and just go for a swim at La Jolla Beach.

 

 

International Balloon Fiesta

COU → ABQ

Albuquerque, nicknamed “The Land of Enchantment,” is actually the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World, so going for a ride is a must-do while you’re there.  If you’re in town during the first week of October, stop by the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest balloon festival in the world. Albuquerque is a city rich in Native American history and crafts, so check out the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center or the Turquoise Museum. Beautiful, natural geography is also a huge plus, so hike through the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park or ride in the longest tram in the world up to the top of the Sandia Peak.

 

 

Downtown Seattle Washington

COU → SEA

Seattle, the birthplace of America’s favorite coffee, Starbucks, makes for a great vacation spot. Check out the Pike Place Market, one of the country’s largest farmers’ and fish markets and the location of the original Starbucks. Another must-see in Seattle is the Space Needle.  The building, built for the World’s Fair in 1962, was originally sketched out on a napkin by the architect.  Seattle is also home to the Museum of Pop Culture, which has exhibits on music, film and video games, as well as a very large sculpture made out of guitars.  Seattle is also the city for dog lovers, as there are 140 thousand living within city limits (which is a lot, considering there are only 93 thousand children).

 

 

Portland Oregon

 

COU → PDX

Portland, home to the world’s largest continual chocolate waterfall, is known for being an innovative and creative city.  While you’re there, stop by the Pearl District, which is the perfect destination for great food, shopping, and arts and culture. The Pittock Mansion, once belonging to one of Portland’s most prestigious families, is open for tours and has a great view of the city. If you were a fan of the game Oregon Trail growing up, check out the Oregon Historical Society Museum, which has exhibits all about the history of the area.

 

The Essential Packing Guide for a Hike in Colorado

Mountain view spring

Colorado is consistently ranked the fittest state in the nation. Being active is just part of the lifestyle, which makes sense since Colorado is covered with trails to hike and mountains to climb. Even if you don’t know if you’ll end up having time, a good hike is all about being prepared, so it’s important to make sure you’ve packed everything that you need.

skis in the snow

  • Backpack (which could even double as your suitcase, if you’re doing a weekend trip) with plenty of water and snacks, like granola bars or trail mix
  • Hiking boots with ankle support
  • Snowshoes can be used all year long, but spring is the best time to go snowshoeing
  • Thick socks
  • Rain jacket or a windbreaker
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Camera
  • Inhaler because of the altitude, it may be harder to breathe

Depending on what time of year you’re taking your hike, you may need a few different things.

skiers walking on a snow trail

Winter

  • Snow pants that are thick and warm
  • Winter coat
  • Hat, gloves and a scarf

hiker walking on a trail through the mountains

Spring/Fall

  • Pants that are lightweight and breathable
  • Long-sleeve shirts that are lightweight and wind-resistant
  • Hat and gloves

Hiker looking over a cliff at the mountains

Summer

  • Shorts
  • Short sleeve shirts that are lightweight and moisture-wicking

Being prepared doesn’t just mean knowing what to pack.  You also have to know what to avoid.

  • Anything cotton
  • Rain ponchos
  • Jeans or heavy pants
  • Sandals
  • Everyday ankle socks

And, of course, no hike would be complete without an actual place to hike. There are hundreds of trails to choose from, but a few can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver.

Hiking

  • Mills Lake: a 5.3 mile hike alongside the lake and surrounded by the beautiful view of the mountains.  A little ways up, you’ll hit Alberta Falls, a 30 foot waterfall and one of the park’s most popular features.

Snowshoeing

  • Bear Lake Loop: a half mile trail that takes you up 9,475 feet in the air, overlooking a beautiful lake and mountain view.

 

Denver- The Completely Activity Guide

Once your direct flight touches down in Denver, you’ll quickly realize why it’s an increasingly popular vacation destination with plenty of local food, places to shop and things to do. While visiting the “Mile High City,” you might make a note to visit the 13th step of the capitol building where the sea level is 5,280 feet, thus the nickname. Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and Colorado is consistently ranked in the top five happiest states in America. The mountain views, professional athletic teams, variety of museums and theme parks make Denver a fun vacation. However, you will find a touch of home with Denver’s similarities to mid-Missouri such as expansive parks systems, great music scenes and an assortment of craft beer offerings. Beginning Aug. 1, 2017 you can take the short direct flight from Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Mo. to the mountains and adventure in Denver.

Cityscape of Denver Colorado. Clear skies in the afternoon.Union Station with a construction Crane in the background

Downtown:

Denver’s downtown area (the 10th largest in the country) is the perfect mixture between hip and historic. Restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops are sprinkled in among buildings from the Gold Rush era.  In the middle of downtown Denver, there’s the 16th Street Mall, a mile long shopping district packed with delicious places to eat and unique places to shop.  The free shuttle can take you all around downtown to places like the historic Larimer Square (filled with art, shops and eats) or LoDo (28 blocks of restaurants, bars and pubs).

 

 

Ice cream coneAwooden bowl of fried dumplings with soy sauce.A restaurant table with brunch meals and appetizers on it and two cocktails.

Food:

Denver is the city for every inner foodie. Restaurants from all over town are regularly featured on the Food Network, and Denver ranked third on Zagat’s “26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016.” The city is known for innovation when it comes to food.  The cheeseburger was invented by Louis Ballast at his drive-in restaurant, and the first Chipotle ever was opened up right next to the University of Denver.  Elvis even took his private jet from Graceland to Denver just for a Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwich from the Colorado Mine Company. There are lots of eats and plenty of sweet treats, from Vesta Dipping Grill all the way to Little Man Ice Cream.

 

Denver Art Museum entrance.

Museums:

From history buffs to scientists and art lovers to sports fanatics, Denver has a museum for everyone.  Denver is also home to one of the six U.S. Mints in the country, which provides a free guided tour and is the single largest producer of coins in the world, making over 40 million per day. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science features an IMAX theater and an astronomy demonstration that make it a fun trip for people of all ages. The Denver Art Museum is home to work from all over the world and includes a photography exhibition of the 19th century American West. The National Ballpark Museum is located in LoDo and displays unique memorabilia from ballparks all over the country.

 

 

view of blue mountains with pine trees and cloudy skyDenver Zoo entrance

Nature:

Denver is one of the sunniest cities in the country, enjoying around 300 days of sunshine per year.  This makes Denver one of the best places to experience the joys of nature.  There are three botanical gardens around town, which have sculptures, flowers, a little bit of wildlife and were one of the filming locations of Woody Allen’s “Sleeper.”  The Denver Aquarium is home to over 500 species of sea life and features an interactive touch tank.  The Denver Zoo houses a variety of animals in the Primate Panorama, Tropical Discovery, Predator Ridge and many more.  Denver also has the largest city park system in the nation.  With 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas, a day trip to somewhere like the Rocky Mountain National Park (National Geographic Best Trips in the World 2014) will offer great hiking and an even better view.

 

 

Mile High Stadium in Denver, ColoradoCoors Field in Denver, Colorado

Sports:

With eight professional teams, Denver is a sports fan’s haven. The Colorado Rockies play baseball at Coors Field, which is located at the highest elevation in the MLB. One of the best ballparks in the nation to see a home run is Coors Field.  Because of its high elevation and dry air, the balls fly much farther than when hit in other stadiums.  Sports Authority Field at Mile High is the home field for both the Denver Broncos and the Denver Outlaws.  Catch a football or lacrosse game at the field where three out of the four longest field goals in NFL history took place. There are plenty of games going on at the Pepsi Center, where the Colorado Avalanche play hockey, the Colorado Mammoth play lacrosse, and the Denver Nuggets play basketball. Watch a soccer game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids, or a rugby game at CIBER Field, home of the Denver Stampede.

 

 

Red Rocks AmphitheaterThe Bluebird Theater in Downtown Denver 

Music:

A trip to Denver wouldn’t be complete without a trip out to see the Red Rocks.  Rolling Stone’s Best Amphitheater is literally surrounded by giant red rocks, which will give you a concert experience like no other.  When there isn’t an event going on, the Red Rocks are free to visit and take a tour around.  Denver’s music scene is continually growing from small music clubs all over town to cultural theaters like the Bluebird Theater or the Gothic Theater.  Music’s The Fray, OneRepublic, The Lumineers and Tennis are all Denver natives.

 

 

 Denver Beer Co. signA flight of beer samples on a wooden tableA rack of bourbon barrels aging or souring beer

Breweries:

The “Napa Valley of Beer” is the perfect nickname because Denver brews more beer than any other city in the nation, with over 80 different beers brewed daily. The Denver Beer Trail will take you on a tour of 27 different breweries in town, including Blue Moon Brewing Co, Denver Beer Co and Spangalang Brewery.  Although not on the Trail, Denver is also home to Coors Brewery, which offers free tours to people of all ages.  The Great American Beer Festival, which holds that Guinness World Record for most beers on tap, takes place in Denver every October. Be careful while drinking though because the extra altitude makes the alcohol hit you a little quicker than it usually would!

 

 

Farris Wheel

Theme Parks:

Thrill-seekers visiting Denver will be happy to hear that there are two huge theme and water parks in the city. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Parks is 70 acres of rides, pools and games. The Star Flyer is the newest ride, which reaches 17 stories high and spins at 50 miles per hour.  The XLR8R is the world’s highest free fall swing that drops the bravest of people from 150 feet in the air, and the Mind Eraser is the fastest suspension coaster which propels faster than 50 miles per hour. Water World is also located in Denver, and spans over 64 acres of land, making it one of America’s largest water parks.  Whether you’re visiting to unwind or find adventure, Water World has something for everyone. From one of the longest lazy rivers to the Zoomerang, which is a four story high waterslide, people of all ages can enjoy this park.

If you’re looking to enjoy a nice getaway, family vacation, trip with friends or a solo adventure in beautiful Denver, book your direct flight from COU today. Visit FlyCOU.com for more information about flights.

Source: denver.org

Your Favorite Team is Playing in Denver

Only 10 cities in the US have all five professional sports teams, and Denver is one of them. With all of the stadiums in a central location, Denver is the perfect place to catch a baseball, football, basketball, hockey or soccer game.

Coors Field in Denver, Colorado

Baseball:

The Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field, which is just two blocks down from Union Station in downtown Denver. The field sits at the highest elevation in the MLB, and because of that altitude, balls fly farther and players hit more home runs. Along with that, Coors Field has a Blue Moon microbrewery and restaurant inside of it. Hang out, have a beer and catch a ball when the Cardinals, Royals or Cubs are playing.

Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado

Football:

Mile High Stadium is home to the Denver Broncos, located right along Interstate 25 with its own light rail station. The Colorado altitude affects the balls there too, as three of the four longest field goals in NFL history have been kicked in that stadium.  Rumor has it that a KC jersey belonging to former Chief and Bronco, Neil Smith, is buried under the 50-yard line. The stadium has sold out every football game since 2001, so if you’re planning on going to see the Chiefs or the Bears play, you better get your tickets quick.

Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Crowd cheers as basketball player dunks.

Basketball:

The Denver Nuggets play at Pepsi Center, right next to Speer Boulevard in downtown Denver.  The team and center are both owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the business of Columbia local, Stan Kroenke. Go out and catch a game when the Bulls are playing.

Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Hockey players on the ice.

Hockey:

The Pepsi Center is also home to the Colorado Avalanche, another team owned by Kroenke.  Grab tickets to enjoy a good hockey game, and see the Blues and the Blackhawks take on the Avalanche.

Dick's Sporting Goods Park with rainbow

Soccer:

The Colorado Rapids play their games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, about 30 minutes outside of Denver in Commerce City, CO.  The team and park are also owned by Kroenke, who has a lot of holdings in the Denver area. Don’t miss Sporting KC play.