Colorado Travel Guide: How to Spend a Weekend in Colorado Springs

I’ve written quite a few Colorado travel guides over the past couple of years. I started with Estes Park part 1 and part 2 and the most recent was Steamboat Springs but I’ve never posted about my hometown: Colorado Springs! This post was actually really difficult to write because I had a terrible time deciding which local businesses I wanted to recommend and which ones I wanted to keep to myself. Part of me wants everyone to love my favorite coffee shop but I also don’t really want my favorite table to be available even less often. I’ve managed to push down (most of) the selfishness and I’m doing a slightly different format for this post: a three-ish day schedule instead of just a list of my favorite places. I’m also not keeping you inside the city for the whole time. This is really designed for someone who either lives outside of Colorado, or is new to the area and has a few days free so if that sounds like you, or if you just want some new recommendations of things to do in the Springs, read on!

Day 1

Roll into town sometime early in the afternoon and head to Cheyenne Canyon for a hike. Seven Bridges is one of my favorites and if you have extra time you can keep going past the seventh bridge and hike into Allen’s Park. When you finish the hike head to Trader Joes. Get the ingredients to make dinner tonight, and a picnic lunch and trail mix for tomorrow.


Day 2

Get up early and watch the sunrise from Garden of the Gods (balancing rock is a great spot for this!). Grab breakfast burritos from the La Casita on Cimmaron and coffee from Intertia Coffee and head west on highway 24 to explore the mountains. Mueller State Park has some great hikes and the aspens are beautiful in the fall. If you want something more strenuous, head to Pancake Rocks for an amazing view of Cripple Creek (you can read more about Pancake Rocks here). On your way back into town make sure you stop at the Donut Mill in Woodland Park!


Eat a late lunch/early dinner at the Skirted Heifer in downtown CO Springs. They make some of the best burgers in town but don’t get there too late because the line gets crazy long! Spend the rest of the afternoon/evening shopping and exploring the downtown area. Some of my favorite shops are Rocky Mountain Soap Market, and Wilder Bag and Weighstead in Pikes Peak Market. When you’re in Pikes Peak Market, make sure to get some gelato from Legit Gelato, the orange chocolate is my favorite.


Day 3


Have brunch at Ivywild Kitchen. Ivywild Elementary School was built in 1916 and closed in 2009. It is now owned by Bristol Brewery and is home to Bristol Brewery, Ivywild Kitchen, a cute brunch place/coffee shop, a bar called The Principal’s Office, and fairtrade shop Yobel Market as well as a few other local businesses. When you’re done, explore the Broadmoor, a historic resort built by Spencer Penrose before heading back home or out of town.

Honorable mentions: I have visited some but not all of these businesses, they have all been recommended by friends who love them.

The Pop – a coffee/specialty soda drive-through in north CO Springs

Who Gives a Scrap – a second-hand craft supply store in Old Colorado City (I haven’t visited but this place looks really cool and I’m going to visit the next time I’m in the area!)

Roscos Coffee – a local coffee shop and roaster in downtown CO Springs

Switchback Roasters – another local coffee roaster/shop in downtown

Special Grounds Coffee – a local coffee shop in north/east CO Springs

What is your favorite thing to do in or near Colorado Springs? Tell me in the comments!


Compassion El Salvador 2018

I’ve been wanting to blog about my trip to El Salvador since before I left but I’ve been feeling a bit like Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride when he says “let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.” And I’m struggling to sum up in a way that does justice to how amazing the trip was. Everything I have to say won’t fit into one post so I’m going to break it up into posts about each day starting with an overview of Compassion International and the work they are doing in El Salvador specifically.

Compassion International is a child sponsorship organization. They were founded in 1952 by Rev. Everett Swanson to help war orphans in South Korea. Today Compassion partners with local churches in 25 countries to empower children to break the cycle of poverty. Compassion prioritizes holistic development. My favorite part of their ministry is that because they work through the local church, the kids in their program benefit from community and support from adults who care about them and interact with them daily.

Compassion has been working in El Salvador since 1977. They serve over 60,000 children in 272 church-operated child development centers. Individual countries are given a lot of freedom to make decisions that best benefit their kids and in addition to the standard interventions such as education, healthcare, spiritual support and sponsorship Compassion El Salvador provides many unique opportunities for the kids in their program. I’m going to link this PowerPoint about Compassion El Salvador if you want more information but also stay tuned for the next post because I’ll be talking about my trip to the country office!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.


Colorado Summer Bucket List

June is here which means summer is coming fast! Most summers feel like they fly by and when the school year hits I feel like I didn’t fit in everything I want. To help keep that from happening I put together a summer bucket list. Some of this list is of activities that I want to do this summer and some of it is of activities that anyone should definitely do at least once if they are in Colorado during the summer time.

(1) Visit Rock Ledge Ranch

Rock Ledge Ranch is a living history site located right by the main entrance of Garden of the Gods. While visiting you can experience life in the Pikes Peak region with the Ute Indians, on a homestead, on a working ranch, and on the country estate of General William J. Palmer’s sister in law. The 4th of July is a really fun time to visit but going on a weekday will give you more time to explore the houses. The park is open Wednesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and admission is $8 for adults.

(2) Visit the Denver Art Museum

I visited the Denver Art Museum a few years ago and they had a really cool textile exhibit that was under construction at the time. I’d love to go back and check it out. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 with a student id

(3) Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens has multiple locations but the York street gardens in Denver have a succulent garden and a rose garden that I love to visit. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $9 with a student id.

(4) Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

I don’t stop talking about Rocky Mountain National Park so I’ll just link to two of the posts about my favorite hikes there. 4 of my Favorite Day Hikes in Colorado, Colorado Travel Guide: Rocky Mountain National Park. A day pass is $20 for a car.

(5) Hike a fourteener

Colorado has over 40 14,000 ft mountains! Read these two posts before you go and if you don’t feel ready to hike one, you can still visit the summit of Pikes Peak by driving up the Pikes Peak HighwayHiking Pikes Peak: My First Fourteener!, Five Things to Know Before You Go Hiking To drive the highway it is $15 for adults or $50 with a car of 5 or more people.

(6) Go camping

You can camp in Rocky Mountain National Park which makes number 4 more convenient. I also love camping near Glenwood Springs or in Eleven mile canyon.

(7) Go hammocking

Swinging in a hammock is one of the most relaxing things ever. I have this ENO and you will probably want straps as well.

(8) Cycle Glenwood canyon

The River trail goes through Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River but make sure you go in July or later because the river floods the trail during spring run-off season. The Rio Grande trail goes between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

(9) Go tubing in the South Platte River

This is another thing you should probably do later in the summer because the rivers in Colorado are COLD early in the season but if you pick a warm day tubing down the river is a blast!

(10) Hike the incline

One mile of old railroad ties that start in Manitou Springs, CO and climb almost 2000 feet in elevation. Olympic athletes and amateurs alike love this hike. I’ve done it once and once was enough.

Have you done any of these things? What would you add to this list?

Also, did y’all know that I have an email list? That’s right! If you want access to exclusive content (including my weekly favorites starting next Wednesday!) plus a free pdf version of this list sign up here!


4 of my Favorite Day Hikes in Colorado

The trees are starting to leaf out, crocuses and daffodils are blooming, and the weather is alternating between freezing temperatures and 65 and sunny which can only mean that spring has arrived in Colorado. With the changing seasons comes a desire to get into the mountains and go hiking. To help me stay patient and focused on class, I’ve compiled a list of 4 awesome day hikes in Colorado that I love to do and will definitely be on my docket this summer. These hikes are spread out over Colorado and are a great way to spend a few hours.

1 Finch Lake


Located in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National park, this is a gorgeous hike through pine forest and the occasional grove of aspens ending with beautiful views of finch lake. The trail is 4.2 miles one way and another 2 miles takes you pear lake. This hike is moderate to difficult with the hardest section being a steep hill close to the trailhead.

2 Wild Basin


Wild Basin is a 6.3-mile one-way out and back trail punctuated by beautiful waterfalls and ending at a lake. Wild Basin is my all-time favorite area to hike. The area is interlaced with dozens of rivers and all of the moisture causes it to explode with lush greenery and wildflowers. This trail is moderate to difficult but the waterfalls are spaced out really well for hikers to take breaks

3 Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls


Pancake rocks is an approximately 6 mile out and back trail that starts between Divide and Cripple Creek on Highway 67. Horsethief falls is approximately two miles. Both trails are gorgeous hikes through Pike National Forest but pancake rocks is a much more difficult trail that ends with beautiful views of Cripple Creek surrounded by the most incredible rock formations that look exactly like stacked pancakes! Horsethief falls is a gentler hike that ends at a waterfall.

4 Wheeler National Recreation Trail


Quandary Peak from the Wheeler trailhead


The wheeler trail is a through hiking trail that starts near the Quandary Peak trailhead. The first two miles you climb to the top of a bluff, hike along it, and then climb back down. The top of the bluff burned in a wildfire at some point and has recovered enough that it has beautiful grass and wildflowers and young spruce and pine trees. The wheeler trial is also an alternate route to get to the Mohawk Lakes trail if you don’t have a vehicle that can handle the road to Mohawk Lakes.

Planning a hiking trip this summer? You might want to check out my post Five Things to Know Before You Go Hiking it’s full of useful tips to make your hiking trip safer and more enjoyable!

Have you hiked any of these trails? Tell me about it in the comments!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.



Colorado Travel Guide: Steamboat Springs


Hello and welcome back to the Colorado Travel Guide. This is a series I’ve done fairly frequently in the past but it hasn’t appeared in a while. There is no particular order to these posts, it’s just a place for me to walk you through all of the shops, restaurants, hikes, and sights that I love in my favorite state.

For spring break this year my family decided that we were finally going to make the drive up to the northwest corner of the state and visit Steamboat Springs and Dinosaur National Monument. I’m a pretty big national park fan and I realized on this trip that Dinosaur was the last major national park/monument for me to visit in Colorado. There are a couple of smaller sites left but I was pretty excited when I realized that.

The main visitor center of Dinosaur National Monument is two hours west of Steamboat Springs in Jensen, Utah. There is also an entrance in Dinosaur, Colorado. If it’s your first time visiting I recommend going to the Jensen entrance but I would like to eventually go back and get more hiking in on the Colorado side of the park. Hands down the coolest part of the park was the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall. You get to touch real fossils that are still embedded in the actual rock. My niece adores dinosaurs and wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up and I kept wishing that she was there the whole time because she would have loved it.

The most common reason for people to visit Steamboat is the skiing, the second most common reason is the hot springs. Old Town Hot Springs is right on the edge of downtown. It was so cool sitting in the warm water and watch the snowfall. The only problem was that I forgot to pack my contacts on the trip and the steam made it so I couldn’t see through my glasses.


Steamboat Springs had a really cool art culture. There were galleries everywhere. The art museum is free to the public and had beautiful oil paintings and sculptures by artists from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts looked really cool but when we got there they were packing up the most recent display. There was a really cute dog running around though.


I didn’t get any pictures but the first night we were there we ate dinner at Vaqueros, a Mexican restaurant. The food wasn’t exceptional but the atmosphere reminded me of a Robert Louis Stevenson book. Kind of dark with lots of wood and brick, like the characters of Treasure Island were probably somewhere in the back. Aaaand that’s how you know I was homeschooled. LOL.

The food I DID really enjoy was from Steamboat Smokehouse. I love barbeque and the ice cream shop on the other side of the building had amazing pomegranate sorbet.


I always have to visit the bookstore in any new town and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore was amazing. I love bookstores in old houses; it’s so fun to find little corners and just get lost in a book. I found a practically brand-new autographed copy of Everyone Brave is Forgiven in the used books section for half-off and I’m still a little giddy.

The bookstore was also a coffee shop and the latte names were either book titles or literary characters and it was super adorable.

Some of the other cute shops we visited were All That, which had a cool vintage vinyl selection, and Ohana which had a surprisingly surfer vibe for a Colorado town.


Have you visited Steamboat Springs? What were your favorite places? Tell me in the comments!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Spring Break in the Pacific Northwest


Long time no post right? Life has been a bit crazy this semester with school and working 24 hours a week but I’m excited to get back into blogging regularly this summer!

For spring break this year my family visited the Pacific Northwest. My oldest sister lives in Portland, Oregon so that was where we started and ended. The trip was a blast and I highly recommend exploring that part of the country if you haven’t already.


We flew in on Friday afternoon and met up at my sister’s house to decide where to eat. We ended up going to a restaurant called Screen Door. It’s a cute little southern style place, I had chicken and waffles and the french toast. The french toast wasn’t that exciting but oh. my. goodness. the chicken and waffles was amazing.



Saturday we drove up to Washington to visit Mount St. Helens. The road to the actual mountain ended up being closed so we decided to explore Ape Cave instead.



We hiked down into the cave but didn’t make it all the way through because of how dark and wet it was. Hopefully someday I’ll go back with a headlamp and explore some more.

On our way back we visited Multnomah Falls


The falls were absolutely stunning but make sure to bring a rain jacket especially if you plan on hiking the trail to the top because you will get in the spray.


On Sunday we visited Cannon Beach and the town of Astoria, Oregon which were the two filming sites of the movie “The Goonies.” I’d never seen the movie before the trip but my sister talked a lot about it so of course Saturday night we had to watch it. It was actually quite hilarious and made Sunday’s adventure a little more fun knowing the history of the places we visited.

Haystack rock from the movie
Cannon Beach

While in Astoria we had lunch at Buoy Beer Company. I recommend eating there just for the experience, the restaurant has a great view of the ocean and is built out over the water a bit and the area underneath it is a popular hangout spot for sea lions. After lunch we spent a little bit of time in the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The Columbia River bar is one of the most hazardous areas of water in the world so naturally the museum had a section on Coast Guard rescue swimmers which, being a lifeguard, I thought was really cool. I might have considered changing career paths.


Monday we tried to vist OMSI but the line was so long we headed over to Powell’s Books. There are no words to describe how wonderful this place was. I wanted to copy the kids from From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and live there. I was in heaven. I bought at least five books, I know that’s not that many but they had to fit in my suitcase.

After Powell’s we visited one of Portland’s many food truck pods on SE Division St. It was so much fun! I had chicken curry and chicken tika masala from an Indian food truck and a smoothie from Moberi truck. If you ever visit Portland you must eat at least one meal at a food truck pod. After lunch we went to Salt and Straw. They have new flavors every month that are inspired by kids from the local elementary schools near their locations. All the proceeds from those flavors go to the schools that inspired them. I had rose flavored ice cream with white chocolate and waffle cone pieces in it and it was amazing.




After lunch on Monday we started driving down highway 101 towards California. It was grey all day Monday but on Tuesay, our second day of driving, the sun came out and it was absolutely beautiful.


The north Pacific coast is so rugged and beautiful it was quite the enjoyable drive.



While in Crescent City we got to watch some surfers. They were in wetsuits but it still must have been freezing for them. They are way tougher than I am.


Our goal in Cali was to visit the Redwoods and they did not disappoint. The trees really are awe-inspiring.


While in the Redwoods we managed to lose one of my sisters. She is a runner and while we all went on a leisurely hike she decided to go running. When we didn’t ever meet her on the loop we were all supposed to be on we got a little worried. We regrouped, realized that it was highly unlikely that she’d actually get lost in the forest and my dad set out to hike around and look for her while we stayed at the car. My sister showed up about 20 minutes after that and then the worry was that my dad wouldn’t get back before the sun went down and everything got really cold. He got back just fine and was actually in a great mood from his long hike through a place he’s always wanted to visit. Needless to say Wednesday was a bit more of an adventure than we anticipated.



Thursday we spent a couple of hours in the Redwoods before driving back up to Portland to spend the last night with my sister before heading home on Friday.

IMG_0834 (1)

Have you ever been to the PNW? What was your favorite part?


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Florida Keys Recap


Last week my family went to the Florida Keys. This Colorado girl had a hard time dealing with the bugs and the heat but overall I had an absolute blast!

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and arrived just in time to get some dinner and take a night walk along the atlantic before we crashed. On Monday we drove down the coast to Key Largo we ended up renting a house while we were there and it was so much pleasanter than a hotel.

On Tuesday we went to Everglades National Park. This wasn’t my favorite part of the trip but we do get to see a couple of dolphins playing in the wake of our boat and that was so awesome!



We got back to Key Largo just in time to watch the sunset. It was so striking and so completely different from Colorado sunsets. The sun reflecting off the water of the Florida Bay was incredible.






Wednesday we got on a boat and went snorkeling in a coral reef in John Pennekamp State Park. It didn’t occur to me to bring a waterproof way to take pictures until I was already in the water I saw barracuda, parrotfish, and Dory’s cousin. Later that afternoon we planned to go snorkeling again at the park where we watched the sunset. We ran out of time but my parents went on a seafood date that night and watched the sunset again at the park. They came back that night and informed us that a shark had been spotted in the water there. It was probably a nurse shark but no one had been able to identify it yet so we were all pretty glad that we hadn’t snorkeled after all.



Thursday we went to Lauderdale by the Sea for a beach day because the Keys don’t have very good beaches. The weather was perfect and the water was so warm!



The beach we went to had the cutest benches shaped like a boat.


I wore my *Rey Swimwear suit for the first time and I loved it. The pineapples are so cute and the ruching on the sides is really flattering.




It is the first suit I’ve ever had that doesn’t ride up on my butt. The only downside is that I am just the tiniest bit too short for the suit so the top slipped down sometimes. Rey Swimwear is a super awesome ethical swimwear brand. I have a blog post about them here.


Friday we drove out to Key West. We visited Ernest Hemingway’s house, ate lunch at a restaurant called the Six Toed Cat, and had chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick. The pie was delicious but I think I like it better on a plate, without the chocolate.


At the end of the day we went to another state park on Key West and looked around and watched the ocean for a while before driving home.



I wore a sundress that day because I’d been wearing a lot of Tshirts and things I could throw over a swim suit so I wanted to look cute. It ended up not being the best choice though because it was pretty short and there was a lot of wind that day.

Saturday my younger sisters and my dad went snorkeling and my older sister and I did some souvenir shopping and in the evening we went to the airport and flew home.

I had such a good trip. It was so much fun to explore and experience a totally different part of the country from what I’m used to. Plus, who doesn’t love the beach.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

All photos marked with By Quiet Waters Photography were taken by my mom over at By Quiet Waters.