Getting around Denver, Colorado

Denver16thStreetMallAre you planning a trip to Denver? I’m going to a conference here in the city later this month. For folks not familiar with how to get around this area, here are some tips.

  • You don’t hail cabs in Denver. You call them and wait for them to come to you. The hotel may have a taxis at the stand – or not. Uber and Lyft are very popular here. You can also use a car sharing service such as ZipCar.

    Bike Rental


  • Denver was also one of the first cities to have bikes to rent – B cycle . You can rent a bike for $9 for 24 hours at any B Cycle station – but you must have a credit card. These stations are all over the city – you can rent at one and return at another.
  • In downtown, use the 16th Street Mall Shuttle to get around. It’s free and goes from 16th and Broadway all the way to the Union Station Transit Center. There’s also the light rail and traditional buses. During the week, there are plenty of trains and buses. However, on the weekends, there are often fewer buses and so time between buses is much longer. Light rail is the same, fewer trains on the weekends.

    Light Rail


  • At this time, light rail does not go to the airport. You can get around downtown, and get to some outlying areas, like the Federal Center. Light Rail is mostly used by locals to get to and from downtown for work and special events. In 2016, there will be light rail from the airport. We’re all looking forward to it! Check out RTD for routes and costs.
Denver, Colorado
Union Station, Denver, Colorado
  • Pedi-cabs are also available downtown. You can flag these down on the street and talk to each operator about the cost. These are particularly nice in the evening on the way to or from a nice dinner and show.

    Parking


  • Due to the a building boom here, many parking lots and garages have been replaced by new hotels and office buildings, so parking can be scarce during the week, not to mention expensive. Check out the Park Smart Denver lots first for the best rates. There are also garages and lots just outside the main downtown that can be much cheaper if you’re willing to walk a few blocks either to your destination or to the 16th Street Mall Shuttle.
  • Most of the garages and lots take credit and debit cards. You might check at the outlying lots just to make sure.
  • And finally, parking meters. These are all over the downtown area. They take credit and debit cards as well as Smart Cards (visitors probably don’t have these) and change. Each meter has different costs and time limits so you must read the meter! You don’t want your souvenir from Denver to be a parking ticket.

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Air New Zealand offers great airfare deals from Denver

New Zealand
New Zealand by Abaconda Management Group, Creative Commons, 2.0

Air New Zealand is offering a great deal to the cities they fly to from Denver. Fly into Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin, Nelso, or Rotora from Denver from $1,295 per person, round-trip. Air New Zealand is flying Boeing 777-300 exclusively, and is offering Skycouch seating on some flights.

New Zealand is an adventure traveler’s dream, with hiking, biking, mountain climbing, and paragliding for starters. Spend time at one of their many golf courses, or just sit on the beach and relax.

This deal could disappear any day, so check out Air New Zealand for more information today!

Rifle, Colorado: A classic Colorado getaway that’s easy on the budget

Rifle Falls State Park
Rifle Falls State Park

Emerging from Glenwood Canyon, driving through yet another CDOT construction project we motored past the Hot Springs pool and kept going. I could almost smell the chlorine and sunscreen from the shiny bodies I saw through the fence as we passed by. This time our destination was not Glenwood Springs, but its closest neighbor, Rifle.

Glenwood Springs neighbor

Rifle, Colorado is about 30 miles west of Glenwood Springs along I-70. That puts it about 5 hours’ drive west of Denver. Earlier in the week, we had contemplated visiting Glenwood again, but lack of reasonable hotel rates for the summer weekend led us a bit further away. We decided it was time to visit Rifle – normally just a rest stop along I-70 for these weary travelers.

When one thinks of Rifle, Colorado what comes to mind are shoot’em up old westerns with slightly grubby cowboys snapping matches to flame for hand-rolled cigarettes, lots of cows, and bars serving whiskey. Downtown Rifle is actually quite updated, with a few relics of its old West past. However, as a nod to its name, visit the Shooter’s Grill on East 3rd Street. The wait staff carry weapons along with your burger and fries.


A local hangout


Our very nice room in Rifle was under $100 per night, including a delicious breakfast. Lucky for us, our hotel was right across the street from the Sonic, where everyone was hanging out in the early evening when we arrived. A little ice cream really helps to top off a long drive in the mountains. The next day we would play the Rifle Creek Golf Course for a very reasonable rate. We were intrigued.

Rifle Creek Golf Course

Rifle Creek Golf Course
Rifle Creek Golf Course Hole #2

RifleCreek (1 of 1)-2

Rifle Creek Golf Course
Rifle Creek Golf Course
Rifle Creek Golf Course
Rifle Creek Golf Course

We showed up the next morning, ready to hit the links. The staff at the Pro Shop were very nice, and since we’d paid earlier through GolfNow at about a 40% discount, we were ready to go. The greens fees here are very reasonable, even if you don’t get a discount at $33 for 18 holes during the week. It was a Thursday morning, and we were playing mid-morning as a twosome.

This is a great course to play, even for a high-handicapper. It’s got some beautiful views, particularly from the back 9. The course really fits well into natural landscape of the Hogback Range. We had a blast, and decided that we wanted to come back and play again.

Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls
Rifle Falls

Golf isn’t the only activity we found around Rifle. Rifle Falls State Park is a well-known in the area, and everyone we met asked if we’d been there. The park is easy to find, and visiting Rifle Falls is an easy walk. Visitors can explore the caves beneath the Falls if you like dark and spooky places, complete with bats. Folks can also walk up to the top of the Falls and look out over the park, with the roar of the water in their ears. The campground seemed very full the weekend we were there, so you might need to make reservations if you want to stay.

Rifle Gap State Park

We took a drive to Rifle Gap State Park, not far from Rifle Falls. This beautiful reservoir was being enjoyed by water-skiers, visitors on jet skis, fishermen, and boats just puttering lazily around the reservoir. There was plenty of room for everyone and for a Friday, didn’t look that busy.  There’s a campground not far from the beach that didn’t look too full on this Friday afternoon. But again, I’d check and make reservations if you want to stay the weekend.

Rifle Gap State Park
Rifle Gap State Park

The Rifle Arch

Before we set off back to Denver, we scouted out the Rifle Arch trail. This hike starts out pretty tame, and quickly advances into a steep climb. Once you get to the top, it levels out again. You can see the Arch from the trail early on, the trail ending just below the Arch. You can hike through the boulder field to get up to the Arch if you have the energy. As you hike, be sure to take in the views of the Grand Mesa and the Hogback Range.

The Rifle Arch
The Rifle Arch

The hike took us about 2 hours round trip. Take water and snacks and decent hiking footwear. There are no amenities along this trail and some steep inclines. We did see families with small children hiking the trail though I’m not sure I’d bring children under the age of eight on this hike.

Find the trail by driving north on Highway 13 out of Rifle. The trailhead is on the east side of the road several miles outside of town. For more information on hiking in the Rifle area, including the Grand Mesa and the White River National Forest, visit the Rifle Information Center, 200 Lions Park Circle, Rifle, Colorado.


A surprising number of activities


Rifle really surprised us. We have traveled through and past Rifle over the past twenty years, often stopping at the rest stop but never venturing further. For those folks that prefer fewer crowds and less chlorine, plan to spend some time discovering this old West town and the surrounding area. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the number of activities you can find to keep the family busy as well.

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Enjoy Rome and Florence, visit Palm Springs, getaway in Steamboat Springs

IMG_9427This week’s deals include a deal on a great hotel in Palm Springs, a getaway in Steamboat Springs, and an adventure in Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Palm Springs

A great getaway from the Front Range in the fall is Palm Springs, California. Travelzoo.com has partnered with The Renaissance Palm Springs hotel and resort to offer weekday stays for $99 per night and weekends for $139. The Renaissance Palm Springs is located right downtown, near the popular restaurants and clubs. It has the largest pool in Palm Springs, if hanging at the pool is the most active you want to be. Get out and play by hiking, riding bikes, or playing golf at one of the many golf courses in the area. Dates are available through December and there are some blackout dates around holidays. A two-night minimum stay may be required on some Saturdays, so a phone call to the resort would be advised. Visit Travelzoo.com soon for more information and to buy your voucher.

Steamboat Springs

A bit closer to home, the Hotel Bristol in Steamboat Springs is also discounting rooms from now through October 2015 starting at $89 per night for two. The Hotel Bristol is in downtown Steamboat Springs, and amenities include rainfall showerheads, LCD TVs, pillow-top beds and Pendleton wool blankets. Mazzola’s Italian Diner is in the hotel or walk to one of the other great restaurants downtown. The ski resort is about a 10 minute drive down the road. There’s lots to do in and around Steamboat Springs including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and a trip to the hot springs. Visit Groupon.com by August 17 for more information and to book your weekend getaway.

Rome, Florence, and Venice

If you can get away in the next few months, Tour Crafters has a great package to Rome, Florence, and Venice, land-only, starting at $479.00 per person, double-occupancy, for nine nights. The package includes nine breakfasts, three nights each in Rome, Florence, and Venice, high speed train tickets – tourist class with an extra-large seat – between Rome and Florence and Florence and Venice, pizza at La Strenga, gelato at Gelateria Santa Maria Maggiore, and a Murano tour. You’ll cover your airfare to Rome, hotel city tax, excursions, tips, weekend supplements, and travel insurance. The dates are off-season, November 1 to December 20, 2015. This is a great price – if you’ve wanted to visit Italy, this may be the time! Visit Tourcrafters.it for more information and to buy your package.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information, go to www.debtalkstravel.com and follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

 

Castlewood Canyon: Discover Cherry Creek

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak

The late afternoon is warm, with the requisite clouds over Pikes Peak providing that late day storm to the top of the mountain. The pine scent is heavy – it seems much richer than any fragrance you can buy. The hummingbirds are providing their buzz, sounding like a slightly off-key piper making a weak attempt at musical scales. The path to the overlook is busy, but not with people.

Castlewood Canyon State Park is a small slice of wilderness an easy drive from the big city.  It’s just a bit over an hour’s drive south of Denver, Time stops here for the deer, fox, coyote, birds and other creatures that can handle close proximity to people. It’s a popular location for day hikers, cyclists, and rock climbers as well as families enjoying picnics overlooking the creek.

Resident of the Canyon
Resident of the Canyon

This State Park was born of disaster. In 1890, the Castlewood Canyon Dam was completed by the Denver Water Storage Company, holding back Cherry Creek. The dam leaked from the day it opened.

Once the dam was in place, homesteaders started populating the area. In 1901, the Lucas family’s application for land was approved. The family lived in an area inside what is now the park for many years. Visitors to the park can visit the original homestead and see the walls of the house near the West entry to the park.

Homestead in Castlewood Canyon
Homestead in Castlewood Canyon

In 1933, during a heavy rain the dam gave way. A wall of water 15 feet high flowed down through the Canyon and towards the town of Denver. Luckily, the dam operator made it the 12 miles to reach the nearest phone operator, who could then warn the residents downstream. The wall of water pushed into Denver down Cherry Creek, flooding streets, demolishing bridges and  causing havoc in the city.  It took months to dig out from the mud and debris, and begin repairs to roads and bridges.

The ruins of the dam.
The ruins of the dam.

The dam was never replaced. Visitors to the park today can see the remnants of the structure in the center of the park. The Creek Bottom hiking trail along Cherry Creek is where visitors can retrace the path of the flood and sit on the rocks near the waterfall. For those not so ambitious, there is a road that goes through the park, passing the top of the dam. There is a parking area for access to the Westside Trail area, picnic area and restrooms.

Castlewood Canyon State Park
Castlewood Canyon State Park

The main entrance to the park is on the East side, off Highway 83. Day passes are $7. Holders of a State of Colorado parks pass get in free. The Visitor’s Center provides an overview of the area and a short video that describes the history of the area. The rangers are very knowledgeable about the park, and can point you to the latest birding spots or trails to suit your abilities.

The Canyon Overlook trail is one of the most popular. It’s a short easy hike that ends in a gazebo and overlook. The layers of rock across the canyon are home to birds and small animals. At the bottom of the Canyon, you may see hikers following the creek around to the remains of the dam. The hummingbirds provide the background soundtrack, along with the raptors that nest in the park.

The Overlook
The Overlook

There is no overnight camping in the park, and rock climbing is reserved for a few areas in the park. The rangers can point you to the climb sites. For great views of Pikes Peak, follow Castlewood Canyon road out of the park. Dogs are welcome in the park, as long as they are kept on six-foot leashes and keep to the established trails.

The falls at Castlewood Canyon
The falls at Castlewood Canyon

The East Canyon Preservation area welcomes hikers on the established trails, but no dogs or other pets are allowed. This area is fragile.

For more information on Castlewood Canyon State Park, visit State of Colorado. For more information on the history of the dam, visit CherryCreekBasin.org for personal accounts of the night the dam failed.

 

Small ship cruising deals, the Northern Lights of Iceland, visit La Jolla

Northern Lights, Iceland by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons
Northern Lights, Iceland by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons

Today’s travel deals include specials on small ship Windstar cruises, a winter escape to Iceland, and discounts on bungalows in La Jolla, California.

Small ship cruise deals

The Fourth of July is bringing out the travel sales and Windstar Cruises is offering it’s best deals this weekend. With only 148 to 310 passengers on any ship, Windstar offers the best in small ship cruising. One of their best deals is seven days on the Wind Surf, setting sail fro

Ride Rio Grande rails, cruise the Inside Passage, enjoy Lake Las Vegas

This week’s deals include a train ride and concert, an Alaskan cruise, and a great deal at a resort in Las Vegas.

It’s summer in the Rockies, and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is offering half-price tickets for their Mountain Rails Live Summer Concert Series. The package includes two economy class adult tickets for $19, the train ride and concert tickets with the train departing Alamosa at 10:30 a.m. and Fort Garland at 11:15 a.m. Standard class tickets are available for $39 for two. Standard class features more comfortable seating with chairs that can be reversed to make a four-person seating area. Children’s tickets are also available. There are eight shows during the summer included in this promotion. Visit Travelzoo.com soon for the dates and to buy your voucher.

For those who can travel at the last minute, Cruise.com has partnered with Celebrity Cruises to offer sailings to Alaska in mid-July 2015. Sail July 15 on the Celebrity Millennium starting at $749 per person for an inside cabin. The package includes prepaid gratuities, and up to $300 extra onboard c

Las Vegas Sign
Las Vegas Welcome Sign

redit, discounts on Vancouver hotel and shore excursions, and a value booklet with up to $350 in savings. The itinerary is Vancouver, thorough the Inside Passage to Seward, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and the Hubbard Glacier. Visit Cruise.com for more information and other dates and to book your Alaskan cruise.

The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort in Henderson, Nevada is offering a great deal on room rates through September starting at $69 per night for two people. Breakfast is included with an upgraded, Premium King Lake-View room for $89 per night for two. Up to two kids 17 or younger stay free in double rooms. This resort has a private beach on the lake and watersports such as stand-up paddle boarding. Play some golf at the Reflection Bay Golf Club and the Southshore Golf Club or just hang by the giant pool. In Henderson, visitors escape the congestion and 24-hour hassle of the traffic on the Strip. Visit the Hoover Dam or nearby Lake Mead for hiking, biking, or fishing. Visit Groupon.com soon for more information and to book your Las Vegas getaway.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information, go to www.debtalkstravel.com and follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

 

Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic – flash sale on an all-inclusive!

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic by Ian Bruce, Creative Commons

Apple Vacations is offering room rates starting at $49 per person per night at the all-inclusive VIK Hotel Arena Blaca in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – and two kids 12 and under stay free! This price includes all food and beverage and doesn’t require double occupancy.  The deal is available for September – October stays and you must stay three to seven nights.

Punta Cana is served by American Airlines, Frontier, and U.S. Airways from Denver.

The resort is on the Bavaro Beach – named to the top 25 beaches in the Caribbean. Bring the kids – they stay free if they’re under 12.  The resort offers a kid’s club, spa, and six restaurants. Shuttles from the airport are available.

Apple Vacations also has airfare-inclusive options available. The sale ends on June 18. Visit Travelzoo.com for more information and to book your vacation.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information,  follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals

Airfare deals from Southwest, Half Moon Bay getaway, road trip in Tuscany

travel, Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay, by Aaron Logan, LightMatters, Creative Commons

This week’s travel deals include great airfare discounts from Southwest Airlines, an adventure in Tuscany, and 40% off rooms at Half Moon Bay, California.

Southwest Airlines is having a three-day sale on flights out of Denver. One-way airfare from Denver to Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Oklahoma City starts at $49. For $99 one-way from Denver fly to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and many others. Visit Southwest.com by June 4 for more details and to book your flights. Southwest is also offering discounts on hotel and vacation packages.

Grab those cheap flights to San Francisco, rent a car and visit the Oceano Hotel and Spa at Half Moon Bay, about 26 miles from the San Francisco (SFO) airport. Groupon.com has partnered with this hotel to offer a King Suite for two for $175 per night – a $313 per night value. The stay includes a bottle of wine. Bring the kids and stay in a Princeton Double Suite for the same price, with dates available into August. The suites include private balconies, fireplaces, and 42-inch flatscreen TVs. Browse the shops, boutiques, and galleries in historic Half Moon Bay. Many restaurants source locally, inviting you to sample the wine and produce from the area. Visit Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, watching the life in the tidal pools. For the sun worshipper, spend the day on Half Moon Beach. Visit Groupon.com soon for more information and to book your getaway.

For those who like road trips, check out Gate 1 Travel’s excursion to Tuscany and Milan, Italy. Discounted to $799 per person, this six day road trip through Tuscan countryside starts with roundtrip airfare from New York to Milan, five nights at a 4-star hotel in Tuscany, and one night in Milan, daily breakfast, seven day car rental (manual transmission), unlimited mileage, insurance, theft protection, taxes and airport fees. Departures from other U.S. gateways are available. Talk with the Gate 1 Travel representative. Personally, I’d ask about an extension! Visit Travelzoo.com soon for more information and to arrange your Tuscan treat. Book your vacation by June 17.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information, go to www.debtalkstravel.com and follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

Escape to Athens, Greece, party in the Dominican Republic, spa day at the Four Seasons

Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado

Today’s travel deals include a wonderful escape to Athens, an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic and a spa day at the Four Seasons in downtown Denver.

Gate 1 Travel is partnering with Groupon Getaways to offer a great deal to Athens, Greece with travel dates in late 2015 and early 2016. Packages for a seven night stay start at $899 per person, double occupancy including airfare from New York, five nights hotel accommodations in Athens, daily breakfast in Athens, and all airline fuel taxes and fees. Stroll through the Acropolis and visit the Parthenon, ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycabettus for great views of the city or take a tour of Delphi for an additional fee. Visit Groupon.com by June 8 for more information, including available dates and prices. Book by June 16 and travel by March 2016.

If the beach is more your style, Livingsocial.com has partnered with Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic to offer a six day stay starting at $560 for two. That package includes all meals, domestic alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks, non-motorized sports, daytime activities, nightly entertainment, and taxes and fees. Relax by one of the 12 pools or on the beach. There is an on-site spa and a movie theatre. Golf is nearby, as well as kiteboarding and waterfall climbing. Visit Livingsocial.com by June 9 for more information and to book your Caribbean getaway.

The Four Seasons Hotel Denver is offering a luxury spa day, including a facial or a massage and your choice of a massage add-on (collagen eye treatment, scalp treatment, or hand or foot scrub) or facial add-on (lip enhancement, scalp treatment or hand or foot scrub) for $119. You’ll also get a glass of sparkling wine or a mimosa and access to the pool and all other spa amenities.  This package is available Monday through Thursday starting on June 1. An automatic 18% gratuity will be added on to the total cost of the services. Visit Travelzoo.com soon for more information and to buy your voucher.

Like this article? Click the subscribe link at the top of the page to get the latest information by email when it’s published. For more fun deals and information,  follow Deb on Twitter at debtalkstravel.

These deals are subject to change or cancellation at any time, and restrictions may apply. Book early for the best deals.

Plan ~ Play ~ Discover