If you are looking for a quick weekend trip in Colorado, I would highly suggest two hidden gems named Palisades and Glenwood Springs.
It is about a 4 hour drive from SLC, UT or Denver, Colorado, which makes it the perfect amount of time for a road trip! The best part was catching up my one and only traveling partner. It’s been nearly two years since our last trip.
Things to do in Palisades
Palisades, Colorado is one of the cutest towns I have come across. The town is filled with local shops, all adorably decorated and streets of quaint colorful homes. Palisades is home to over 40 wineries.
The day started with a quick stop downtown. Their downtown consists of just a few streets full of little restaurants and gift shops. Unfortunately, every place we went was closed except for the bike rental shop.
Then main purpose of our visit was to take a tour on Mark’s Pedicab. He runs six pedicabs in Palisades, but before Covid he would travel to events and drive people around. The pedicab is a mix between a rickshaw and a carriage. Normally Mark does 4-hour wine tours, but we arranged a 2-hour tour instead since we don’t drink very much.
When we arrived, Mark had us stand around the downtown area and he pulled up in his pedicab. It was such a fun sight to see it for the first time. We hopped on and he asked what type of wines we liked to start the tour. We told him we only do light and sparkly.
He took us to the following three places.
Sauvage Spectrum focused on sparkling wine. Their most popular one is the cotton candy blend and it was delicious. The winery reminded me of a hip distillery feel. When you ask for a tasting, they do heavy pours so be prepared. I was tipsy by the time I left; I know I am a lightweight. I bought 4 bottles for my girlfriends to drink the following week and they all agreed the cotton candy sparkling wine was one of the most unique wines they have tasted.
Meadery of the Rockies focused on a variety of sweet wines. They had very interesting flavors including lavender, which I ended up buying. It was one of the best wines I have tasted, but it is on the sweeter side. The whole store was cutely decorated with bee themed items everywhere!
The last stop was Colorado Vintner’s Collective, which has an outdoor seating area. They purchase other vineyard bottles and have a few of their own blends. Their tasting was only $12, which we shared. While we were sitting there, a random elderly man who had seen us at the prior shop came over and greeted us saying, “I’m not stalking you.” It was a little uncomfortable to be honest, but we chit chatted with him for a while and finally he left. The owner was listening in to make sure we were ok. Afterwards, she came and introduced herself and we had a lovely conversation about the winery and how she likes raising her family in Palisades. At the end, we took a boomerang and photo with Mark and the Pedicab. We asked if Eddie would take our boomerang, he had never done it before, but he got the perfect boomerang on his first try.
We then took a quick tour around the town and saw the rose garden.
To end the trip, I made a reservation at Peche in Palisades. Mark recommended the place, he described it as five-star restaurant at a fraction of the cost. He was correct, everything about this restaurant was as good as a five-star restaurant in a metropolitan city.
They open daily from 5 PM to 9 PM for dinner. It’s hard to get a reservation because they are still taking reservations manually over the phone or email, but the owner is so busy with dinner that she doesn’t have time to take call. We had reached out to her by phone and email, but we didn’t have luck. We decided to take a risk and stop by the restaurant anyways.
Christine, the owner was so nice, and she remembered the email from Lisa and squeezed us in. We asked her about the reservation issue and that is on her wish list to have an electronic reservation system. The restaurant is a local business, so I completely understand how innovation they must get especially with Covid hitting the industry so hard.
For a Wednesday night, the restaurant was almost full. I loved the decoration, the open kitchen, the service, and the food was fantastic. Their staff worked really hard, I counted two people cooking in the kitchen, one server, one server/bartender, and Christine was the host who greeted and seated the guests and she stepped in wherever was needed such as serving food or grabbing items in the back.
This was my birthday dinner for Lisa, so we went all out. Everything on the menu was unique. I was impressed the spin on every normal dish that I’ve had in the past.
Aviation Cocktail– This is the most we have ever drank on a trip. We were not planning on a cocktail, but we saw someone get it and it looked pretty. The bartender comes and shakes the martini shaker for a minute. The even have an hourglass. This was probably our least favorite item of the night. The drink was really strong and we thought it would be sweeter, but it had a sour/bitter taste.
Foie Gras-The Foie Gras had a smoky taste to it. Normally the Foie Gras I have had is more on the savory side. Peche did a savory and sweet combination and it was delicious. Since it was rich, I only had a few bites and took the rest home for my mom and dad to try.
Ravioli-The ravioli was both of our favorite. It wasn’t regular Italian food, but they integrated an Asian Fusion flare. The raviolis were like dumplings. This is a dish I could order repeatedly.
Tartare– The tartare we nicely plated and the taste was what I expected.
Lamb-The lamb was amazing. This dish had an Indian twist, which included fresh naan. The lamb was tender and well flavored.
Pork Short Ribs-We love the short ribs. The plating and presentation were creative. We expected just a plate of the short ribs, but they included bok choy, kim chi, and other sides to create a wrap. The ribs were very tender with the perfect amount of sauce.
S’mores to Share-This was the perfect way to end the night. I was very impressed with this dessert. I wasn’t expecting my own small fire to roast my marshmallows. I appreciated the small touches like how the roasting sticks were placed between bent silverware. They also included a small candle for Lisa to blow as well.
If you plan on driving through Palisades, I would highly recommend you do dinner here. You will feel like you ate at a Michelin restaurant.
Sopris Alpaca Farm & Air B&B
Lisa found this Air B & B, which is 20 minutes from town. This is a place was such an incredible find, it is one of the most unique experiences. When you enter the farm, the small apartment is located on the front of the road before you go to the main house. It is a very private location.
The outside is just concrete, but when you go inside it is the cutest places I have seen. It is well decorated, clean and spacious. They even provide alpaca cookies to eat.
You can see the alpacas right outside your doorway. In the morning, we went to the gift shop and met Kim the owner. She gave us some food to feed the alpacas and we had a blast!
If you don’t want to stay at the place, you can come feed the alpacas anytime during their open hours found on their website.
What is a vapor cave? These are one of the only known vapor caves in the USA. They are natural underground hot mineral water steam baths which range from 104 to 125 degrees. You must call and make a prior reservation due to restrictions and the space. The caves are not extremely large, so I think 15 to 20 people may comfortably fit at a time.
The location is a little hard to find because it is tucked in the back of a corner before a sharp bend. As you are approaching, it shows on the GPS that it should be right around the bend, but you want to go straight.
When we entered the staff greeted us and checked our temperatures. We paid $17 each and we opted to pay an extra $1 for a eucalyptus towel. Warning: It is very potent, and they do say not to place it over your face. We placed it close to our chest and it still burned after a few minutes. If you don’t like strong scents, don’t get the towel!
After getting dressed and leaving your stuff in the locker, you walk down a flight of stairs and enter the caves. Everyone just picks a dark spot and sits or lays. There are buckets free to fill up with cold water to cook off. I only lasted 45 minutes and used two full buckets.
Once you have opened up those airways with all the steam, head up to the solarium and relax with all the plants!
There are two major hot springs in Glenwood. Glenwood Springs is more family-friendly whereas Iron Mountain is geared more towards adults. It is recommended you buy tickets beforehand. Due to Covid, you select a 2.5-hour window to soak.
You will receive a bracelet with a different color, this is how they manage the time shifts. We didn’t know, but when you get your bracelet, pay for a locker as well. If you need a towel, you can rent one for $5.
There are about 17 different pools, each one with a different temperature. I prefer the ones in front because the view is beautiful, and they were pools had the hottest temperatures.
We didn’t go to the Glenwood Hot springs, but overall, I was very happy with our experience here.
When I came across this shop on my research, I was sold at the name. The place is only open until 2 PM, so make sure to go early. You cannot miss the store; they have a huge bus outside with their logo and an old cop car. Their patio chairs are made with old skis, which I think is very clever.
I got a coffee and the flag donut based on their recommendation for the photo. They guy jokingly asked if I was here to buy the entire row, I said just one. He surprised me with another huge donut which I gave to my friends daughter the next day for her kindergarten graduation.
The donut was very good! It was light and fluffy and wasn’t too sweet. I will admit I took most of the frosting off to eat, but it was beautiful for the photo.
This is a mix of rides and cave tours. They have one insane ride, which is a swing that goes over the edge. When Lisa asked me to go on the swings, I thought it was the swing carousel that kids went on. I was shocked to come up to the ride and see a huge swing. I chickened out, but we still wanted a video and picture for our Instagram. We ran across Rev and Zack who were walking up behind me. I asked if they were doing the swing and if they give me their phone, I would record it. I thought Lisa meant this…
On the first ride, they screamed so loud yelling “Oh my God.” They tried to ask me to go with them, but I just couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. We became friends and even did the cave tour together.
We went to two cave tours, the King’s Row and Fairy Caves.
Each cave tour is about 45 minutes long. Be prepared to walk a set of steep stairs if you choose to go on the King’s Row caves. I would also suggest bringing a jacket as well. In the Fairy Caves, the guide trusted us to be at the end and shut the doors. I had Lisa do the honors.
I did get the guts to go on this zip line ride. It was really fun, the scariest part was getting zipped up backwards and sitting up there waiting for the drop.
Lisa and I did go on one ride together. It was a kid’s ride, but it was fun!
We had lunch at The Lookout Grille and greatly enjoyed the view. We had the Caesar Salad, which was delicious, and the price was reasonable as well.
On the way down, due to a mechanical issue we got stuck on the gondola for nearly 30 minutes! I kept looking around to see how we could escape, meanwhile Lisa took a nap. Unfortunately, none of the pictures looked good of her sleeping lol.
This state park is close to Sopris Alpaca Farm. It’s is a short and easy walk to the falls. It’s about 10 minutes from the parking lot. Most people don’t know this, but there is a staircase on the left side of the falls where you can go behind the falls.
This was one of the last views as we left the park. It was exactly like a postcard! Colorado, you have been wonderful and I hope to get a chance to explore more parts of this beautiful state.