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Colorado Local/ Travel

History Meets Technology in LoDo

I spend most of my days in and around the bustling heart of Denver in LoDo.  As a Colorado Native, I’ve seen some of the change that’s happened in the city over the last 15 or so years but most of the town has been a vibrant cultural scene for longer than I can remember.  

Standing on the corner of of Wyncoop and 17th Street it’s almost possible to close your eyes and imagine what life would have been like 100 years ago when hundreds of travelers surged through Union Station and into the city beyond. Today, thanks to the hard work of community leaders and preservationists like Dana Crawford, the historical buildings have remained as vibrant as they were when the Edbrook Loft was home to Spratlen-Anderson grocer and the Denver City Railway Building housed horses instead of diners.  

The area called LoDo is officially known as the 23 block space bounded by Speer Boulevard on the south, 20th Street on the North and Lawrence Street to the East. The western most edge of the neighborhood is closed in by the South Platte River as it cuts through town. It was registered as a neighborhood district in 1987 and the mixed use combination of loft style housing, retail and dining has since given the area new life. As one of the most in demand areas in town, LoDo is the must see destination for Denver tourists and one of the most sought after areas of town for urban living. 

Starting this summer, visitor’s can go beyond imagining the history in the bricks, to learning about them as they traverse the city. The LoDo District just recently launched their Explore LoDo app, marrying the technology of geofencing with the rich history of the area into a fun to navigate app. As you navigate the area Explore LoDo will notify you of happy hours, sales and historical details through easy to follow alerts. 

Outside of the app, the Explore LoDo website provides much of the same information and can be easily navigated through your phones web browser, although the alerts are what I feel make the app a fun way to experience the city. Once inside the app, users can create an account to favorite information you wish to return to later, like which happy hours are your favorite for a girls night out. 

As a local, its always fun to be a tourist in my own city and Explore LoDo provides the tools to view the city through a unique lens that I might not experience outside a historical tour. 

Explore LoDo is available to download on the app store, or you can head over to their website to browse LoDo businesses and history online. 

What are your favorite ways to learn about the history of towns you visit? 

Mockups courtesy of MagicMockup.com. All photography and opinions are my own. 

Travel

Real World Advice for Visiting Disneyland Without Kids

When we started planning our trip to California, visiting Disneyland was on the top of my list. The last time I experienced Disney was as a four year old, and that had been at the Disney World park in Florida. Before the trip, I spent hours researching the best prices, recommendations and ideas, but despite everything I read, nothing actually applied to what I needed to know. Since I’m sure I’m not alone, this post is an overview of the REAL information you need to know about visiting Disneyland as a couple. 

9 Tips for Visiting Disneyland

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Colorado Local/ Travel

Denver Staycation at the Hilton Inverness

When summer weekends leave you with a bleak future of the weeks dishes piled in the sink and a mountain of laundry to get through a staycation not far from home is just what you need to relax and get away from the duties of home, even if only for a night. I’m the kind of person who has a really hard time relaxing, so sometimes the only way I can really not work on projects is by not being at home at all. 

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to visit the Hilton Inverness to enjoy a bit of relaxation, just far enough from home to forget anything lingering on my to do list. While most Denverites know of the Inverness for their impressive meeting options, booking a stay as a weekend getaway is the perfect way to enjoy resort living without the cost of a plane ticket. 

Just off the beaten trail, driving up the the Hilton Inverness is like coming upon an oasis in an otherwise busy metropolitan area. Located off i25 and County Line Road on the south side of Denver, the beautiful grounds open up as you enter the parking lot, making you forget that you are just down the road from the city. 

We arrived on a Friday night, ready to enjoy some time together watching a movie and relaxing at dinner. We popped over to nearby United Artist Theatre to watch Wonder Woman [AMMMMAAZZZING, if you haven’t seen it you need to] and returned back to the hotel for a late night dinner in the Spotted Dog Pub. 

The Spotted Dog is on the lower level of the hotel and is perfect for meeting up with a group of friends to enjoy drinks and dinner over a friendly game of pool or shuffleboard. While the pub is open to the public, it’s a bit of a hidden gem for those who are over the loud bar scene, providing the perfect place for meeting up with a large group, and being able to actually hear the conversation. The full assortment of bar games are completely free of charge and the kitchen is open late so you can have a meal with your drinks. We enjoyed some classic pub grub, including a grown-up spin on grilled cheese with tomato soup. 

Vacation isn’t vacation without sleeping in, so the next morning we got a late start and headed down to the outdoors pool to snag lounge chair for some poolside reading. One of the great things that separates the Inverness from other hotels is the poolside drink and meal service. There is nothing better than having drinks brought right to you so you could stay outside all day under an umbrella. 

When the started to heat up, we headed back inside for some late brunch at the Garden Terrace. They were serving a full brunch buffet but we opted to try a couple of the dishes off the menu instead and were incredibly happy with our choices. The service was attentive and quick, ensuring that we could enjoy our meal before heading off to our separate activities for the day. 

One of my favorite things about vacation is spending a bit of time by myself, so I headed to the spa while Drew was off to the on property golf course. 

The luxurious and relaxing interior of the spa did not disappoint. The ladies changing room includes a lockers for storing your belongings, a steam room and a full assortment of toiletries for getting ready after your treatment. Waiting for your service you get to enjoy the co-ed lounge and hot tub area, fully stocked with tea, infused water and snacks. If you don’t find what you are looking for in the lounge you can even order a meal or drinks delivered to you from the restaurant. There is nothing better than a massage and a facial to help relax and forget all the stresses at home. 

The spa has a full menu of services that are completely open to the public, so even if you can’t get away for a full weekend, you can enjoy a couple hour retreat any time you want. 

Drew spent the afternoon on the Inverness golf course. The semi-private course is open to the public after noon (and available for members only before) and the championship course provides a challenging experience to help test your skills. The course is beautifully landscaped, making a warm afternoon on the green the perfect escape.  

After a day at the Inverness, it was time to home and back to reality but with their summer stay & play special, I know next time we need to relax I’ll be booking another stay!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary stay at the Hilton Inverness to inspire this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.  

Travel

Road Tripping with the Mazda CX-9

Prior to last month, the only time I’ve been in Los Angeles was for a quick conference, just one hotel shuttle away from John Wayne airport. When we started planning our California vacation, I knew I wanted to check out more than just the airport so flying into LAX and heading out for a mini-road trip was the perfect way to really experience the state (and the traffic it’s so well known for).  

My husband is a huge Mazda fan so when we were given the opportunity to try out the Mazda CX-9 for our road trip we were excited to see what features Mazda would be loading into their top sized SUV. We planned to arrive in LA with a couple of friends and head out on highway towards Palm Springs with a truck full of luggage and two sets of golf clubs. 

In most cars, this much luggage would be a problem, but thanks to the ability to fold the 3rd row down we had no issues loading up all the gear and getting on the road to beat rush hour traffic out of town. 

As we took to the road, the Active Driving Display projected the navigation in a non-obtrusive location onto the windshield. The heads-up display is only visible to the driver and allows you to focus on the road by putting speed and navigation just below your line of sight. I’ve never seen a heads up display before and I was amazed by what a difference it made in my driving experience. There was no need to wonder what the next direction would be, because it was already there right where I could see it. 

Once we arrived in Palm Springs and unloaded the car, I met up with a few more friends who would be joining us for the trip. With the ability to fold the third row seats back up, we could fit all 7 of us in the car, making it perfect for getting out into town for dinner. Even with a full car and tall men, no one was uncomfortable. With Drew over six feet tall, usually leg room is a huge issue, but the spacing between the seats meant that he and the other tall riders were all comfortable no matter who was sitting in front of them.  

Spending a week driving all around town, I fully expected to need to fill up more than once. I was amazed to learn that the all wheel drive model has an averages 23 MPG, making it a very fuel efficient car for it’s size.  

I’m used to driving a mid-sized SUV, so I was afraid that I might feel a bit overwhelmed by the size of the CX-9. Usually big cars are heavy and have large blind spots that make me uncomfortable. The back-up camera made maneuvering in and out of parking spots easy, and the weight of the car was not noticeable at all. 

We even drove up the Palm Springs Tramway canyon and the get up and go on the steep roads was a nice surprise. Heading into the canyon, the road warns drivers that they may need to turn of their AC to get enough power to get up the road – completely a non-issue in CX-9.  The turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine had no issue carving up the canyon road at all – which would be a must-have if I was to drive this car in Colorado. 

Overall, I am very impressed with the performance of the Mazda CX-9 and feel it’s perfect for big groups or large families. With all the bells and whistles, the CX-9 price is way less than I expected, with an MSRP of $45,655 and the entry level version of this vehicle is priced at $31,520. For how luxurious the interior was, I expected the price to be substantially higher and feel that the bang for the buck is unrivaled in this class. 

What type of features do you look for in a good road trip car? Leave a note in the comments!

Disclosure: I received the opportunity to borrow the Mazda CX-9 as a complimentary experience. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.