1. TAKE FEDERAL BLVD. FOOD TOUR: We get it, you really want to, but all the choices get you overwhelmed. That’s okay, we’re going to break down some of our favorite dishes, here.
PHO 95 – The Pho (pictured above) is amazing, but if you want to try something that will blow your mind, get the Fried Noodles – keep in mind, these aren’t just pan fried, they are dusted in flour and deep fried and then put in the most incredibly savory and decedent sauce, your taste buds won’t believe it.
PRO TIP: We hear vegans rave about their vegan pho and a lot of people tell me their fav broth is the vegetarian, which you can still get with meat, if you like.
STAR KITCHEN: Star Kitchen is a bit of a dizzying experience. From the moment you sit down, plates heaped with dim sum are piled high in front of you. Sounds like a fantasy, until you’re too full to even try an entree (which they wheel out later)! Here’s our top Star Kitchen favs: We loved every iteration of the shrimp dumplings, especially the Shrimp & Cilantro and Shrimp & Leek Dumplings, so tasty and light; Crab Fried Rice; Salt & Pepper Shrimp; Ginger & Scallion Lobster; Crab Balls & the Sauteed Green Beans and the Egg Custard. We hear rumors, you gotta get The Steamed BBQ Pork Buns and that there’s even a Fried Chicken Bun… making a return visit for us, needed ASAP.
PROTIP: Go with a group, it’s so much more fun and you’ll get to try a ton of items. Also, go early, like, at-the-door-ten-minutes-before they-open-early, if you want to go on the weekend.
LAO WANG NOODLE HOUSE: There’s not picture that pops up in my feed more than that of the potstickers at Lao Wang Noodle House. What else to get? Dan Dan Noodles and the Pork Soup Dumplings.
PRO TIP: We’ve been told the owners’ son is a microbrewer and his beer is often on tap, so ask about that!
2. PLAY OUTSIDE: The winter is a perfect time to be a kid again. So we think you should take some time to Tumble Bumble! You’ll get a legit workout, while laughing your ass off, all in the beautiful outdoors. You can find Tumble Bubbles at the Frisco Adventure Park and in Breckenridge. Grab more info, here.
3. PLAY OUTSIDE, SOME MORE: Feeling more adventurous, you should try fat biking! With huge tires, wider rims & a lower tire pressure for extra grip on the terrain, you can seriously have a wild snow day on the trails. Check out Breck Bike Guides in Breckenridge, Beer And Bike Tours in Ft Collins & Front Range Guides for rentals & guides.
4. VISIT THE ART, A HOTEL: Whether you’re seeking an overnight staycation, or just a respite for a few hours, there’s no better place than The Art, A Hotel. Though I’ve visited the hotel many times for cocktails and delicious bites at both the rooftop restaurant, the Fire Terrace (a must for the warmer months), and the Fire Lounge (the views at sunset are stunning), I really fell in love after staying there! The room, just like the Fire Lounge, has jaw-dropping views of the city, and the two person soaking tub is something I miss every day! Check out room availability and rates, here.
WHO SHOULD GO: You love incredible design, art and think magical sunsets from the Fire Lounge are the perfect way to end your work day, or celebrate something special.
SAVE SOME MONEY: They have 3 hour free validated parking when you’re visiting one of the restaurants.
6. HOTEL BARS ARE THE BEST BARS: One of our favorite lounges in the city is The Study at The Hotel Teatro. You can sink into deep leather club chairs and enjoy the beautifully appointed room. During the day, it’s so perfect for drinking coffee but let’s be honest, we made it through the work week and need to celebrate with an adult beverage! Luckily, someone from the staff from The Nickel is ready to serve you! Definitely try a hot toddy (they have a vegan one, too)!
SOCIAL HOUR: Though you’ll need to migrate a few steps away to The Barrel Bar at The Nickel, this twist on a Happy Hour is one of the best deals in town, especially if quality and originality are the measure! Happening from 3pm-5pm, The Nickel’s Social Hour menu features an offering of two of their barrel-aged specialty cocktails for just $7 each, as well as $5 and $7 wine selections, and $2 off draft beers. They also feature specially priced Social Hour Bites so you can enjoy the same quality food as they serve in their restaurant.
PRO TIP: The Nickel is participating in the Winter Warmer, as well, so grab yourself a 2-for-1 cocktail. Our other favorite things: The new Fall/Winter Menu at The Nickel, which does comfort food at the highest level. We’re pretty crazy about their brunch menu, too, which features a bottomless The Big White Russian Bar – think boozy white Russians with cereal-infused milk!
7. PLAY INDOORS – When the weather takes a dip, why not heat things up with an indoor game of bowling at Punch Bowl Social or ping pong at Ace Eat Serve? It doesn’t hurt that when you have a hang at either Punch Bowl Social or Ace Eat Serve, you can keep your joints loose with strong boozy libations.
Punch Bowl Social keeps it fun with huge bowls of stiff drinks that serve up to eight people, like “You must bring us … A Shrubbery” – Skyy Moscato Vodka + Watermelon Shrub + Lemon Juice + Cardamom Syrup + Red Wine Float. Also a huge fan of the Tiki Cactai Necktie bowl – and you’ll love it, too, especially if you like a libation that packs a citrusy punch. Over at Ace Eat Serve, you’ll be treated to the best selection of imported sakes you’ll find in town, but if you want a traditional Tiki drink or Scorpion Bowl – they have that, too!
THE FOOD: At Punch Bowl Social – The Knockoff Burger is not to be missed. At Ace Eat Serve, I can never get enough of the Tiger Wings but the Bulgogi (Marinated Ribeye that you make into lettuce wraps with their house-made Kimchi) is among the best I’ve ever had.
8. GO TO EVERYONE’S BEST KEPT SECRET OF A BAR – Everyone’s talking about it, but before they speak off the charming atmosphere or even how fantastic the craft cocktails are in this 1800’s era former bread bakery-turned-bar, they implore you not to tell anyone about it! It’s Bread Bar out in Silver Plume, and trust us, it’s worth the drive.
What you’re going for, more than anything, is a feeling… it could be the feeling of getting away from it all or capturing the nostalgia of a childhood road trip, or the tranquility that comes from a town that seems deeply rooted in its realness and it’s value of the importance of simplicity. (And the bar follows suit in this simplicity, after all, you’ll only find it open, Friday – Sunday).
People stop in to Bread Bar to and from the mountains, but now, more often than not, Bread Bar is the destination. The word I hear to describe it, and often, is… magical. So go grab some of that magic for yourself.
9. TAKE A RIDE TO FORT COLLINS & EAT THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN OF YOUR LIFE – Am I exaggerating? I don’t think so. The brothers behind Music City Hot Chicken are doing something really special out in Fort Collins and I promise it’s worth the one hour ride (plus, read a little further, and I’ll give you a few other ideas of things to do while in Fort Collins).
What I love about Music City Hot Chicken, besides of course, the incredible Nashville-style taste (moist on the inside with terrific crunch on the outside) is the flavors, which you are completely in charge of. When ordering, you can decide the heat level – Southern (no heat), to Green Chili (some heat), all the way up to Incendiary! Even better, build your own Bloody Mary with the same style heat! Check out all the offerings, here!
WHAT ELSE TO DO IN FORT COLLINS? For shopping, we love The Hey Day Store and Sunday Supply. For a great brewery experience, there’s Pour Brothers and Funkwerks. But if you’re the designated driver, you won’t feel deprived by a visit to Bindle Coffee, not only do we hear raves but it’s over on a coverted farm, with additional adorable shops to browse. You can read about my recent Food Tour of Fort Collins, here!
10. Group Hike on January 1 – If you’ve already have New Year’s resolutions on your mind, and one of them is to get out exploring, then you’ll be glad to know that 27 state parks are participating in group first day hikes. Take in all the beauty that Colorado has to offer in these aptly named “First Day Hikes” which will be led by rangers. Hikes will range in difficulty and milage and you can get all the into, as well as participating parks, here. And note, though the hikes are free, you will need a valid park pass to participate!
COVER PHOTO: Adventurer and Photographer @christinhealey.
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