Beaver Creek ski resort is just past Vail on I-70 west. While this is a very family friendly ski resort, it has some great expert terrain and some very long runs that I really love. Beaver Creek is the furthest resort on I-70 making the trip a little longer but worth it. While Keystone, Breck and Vail can be swimming with people, Beaver is never too crowded even on a holiday weekend.
This post is sponsored by The Royal Sonesta New Orleans, who help create the perfect girls getaway with my best friend to see Taylor Swift!
When I first started researching hotels for our girls weekend in New Orleans, I started with location. Location, location, location! I wanted something central to the majority of our activities so we only had to take Ubers when absolutely necessary.
The French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans and while Bourbon Street may seem like a place to avoid, it’s not. Positioned here you are a short walk to some of the best restaurants, bars and historical sites in the city. Walk a little bit further and you’re at the Superdome, Central Business District, Warehouse District or Frenchmen Street. Yeah, you can Uber but with open drinking laws why not take a little bit longer stroll and enjoy all the sites, sounds and smells of New Orleans.
The Perfect Location
Knowing all this, the French Quarter was where I wanted us to be. And we needed somewhere with a pool. The Royal Sonesta fit the bill perfectly. Located right on Bourbon and Conti Streets, the hotel location could not be more ideal.
Now I know what you’re thinking… being right on Bourbon, wasn’t it loud? Not at all. They have gotten that figured out.
A few weeks ago Clay and I spent closing weekend in Vail at Hotel Talisa. If you remember Clay and I took a ski trip to Vail with Hotel Talisa at the beginning of the season and had a blast – read about that trip here. Ski season may be over but Spring is just starting to heat up so now is the best time to book and save at the Hotel Talisa. Plus, the spa just opened and its SO beautiful and amazing. Hotel Talisa is offering special discounts for locals looking for a weekend or weekday getaway.
Spring Staycation Experience – $169/night inclusive of a $50 resort credit (perfect to put towards the spa or dining/beverage!) valid through 6/14.
Colorado Resident Savings – 20% savings on nightly rates for stays through 9/30 – so it’s wonderful for a summer getaway or to check out the changing leaves this fall.
Spa Debut Package – 20% savings inclusive of two massages valid through 6/14
Spa Specials – Up to 40% off spa services through June 15th, perfect for mother’s day or for spa pampering!
Clay and I drove up for the a night and while he skiied I spa’d! I chose the Hight Altitude package which was a TWO-hour massage complete with food rub and finished with an oxygen tank. It was freak’in incredible. Seriously, hands down the best massage of my life. Let me qualify this, I get a massage monthly, I get some work done but this… this was next level. It definitely helps to put on the robe have access to the steam room, sauna and lounge to enjoy as well. Michelle was my masseuse and she is a miracle worker. I mean the spots she got on my back… damnnnnn. So ask for her!
As always our stay at the Hotel Talisa is nothing short of fabulous. After the Spa, I hit the slope for a few runs before we came back to enjoy some hot tub time. 50-degree spring weather feels like 70’s out by the pool. We jumped between the pool and hot tub, drank champagne and ate chocolate chip cookies. Because there are free chocolate chip cookies followed by champagne sabering in the afternoon! Seriously nothing short of fabulous at Hotel Talisa. Also, the spa is gorgeous! The decor is bight, airy and relaxing. I am obsessed with all the art and little touches they do around the property so no surprise the spa is just as amazing.
This post is sponsored by the Hotel Talisa, as always all thoughts and opinions are my own
Destination: Vail, Colorado
About: Located in the Eagle Valley surrounded by The White River National Forrest and Gore Range
Route: I-70 West
Distance: 98 Miles
Time: 1h 30 mins
Trip Length: Overnight or Day Trip
Sleeping: Airbnb or Hotel
The heart an d soul of Vail! The village was founded when the ski lifts opened in 1962. Modeled to resemble the European village of the Swiss Alps, Vail Village is adorable! The village is pedestrian only with cobblestone streets, little shops and bars everywhere.
Lyons’ head is the next village over from Vail Village (heading west). I always make a stop in Lyons’ head when skiing for lunch at Moes BBQ. I have never stayed in Lyons Head but I think the nightlife is a little tamer then Vail Village.
West Vail is where you will find the grocery and liquor stores and any other conveniences you may need. Plus, some pretty tasty restaurants. Most residence and Airbnbs at a lower price point will be in this part of town.
Like most mountain towns, public transportation makes it super easy to get around. Is your goal to be next to the slopes/village or are you okay a little further from the action?
If you can ($$$), I would stay in Vail Village as you will only need your car to go to the grocery store. So if you plan to shuttle to the mountain, staying in the village is a great choice. Staying almost anywhere in Vail Village or Lionshead will give you easy access to the mountain as well.
Vail Village is mostly hotels and condos so if you’re looking for a large house, those will be outside of the villages but still super close to everything.
Another thing to consider when staying a ride away from the slopes: you don’t have to lug your stuff around. There are plenty of ski valets and lockers to store your gear!
Where to Eat & Drink
Northside Kitchen – Further west of Vail in Edwards, this spot is great for grabbing something to go but you’re gonna want to sit down and dig in. Everything on the menu is delicious and once you see all those pastries you’re going to have a hard time deciding what to get.
Westside Cafe – Claiming to have the world’s best benedict, this is a hot spot for breakfast in Vail.
The Little Diner – All-day breakfast. Yes please!
Loaded Joe’s – Once you are in Vail Village and need something to eat, this is the spot!
This is post is part of a partnership with Visit Taos and I am so excited to share why Taos, New Mexico holds such a special place in my heart! In this post, I will go over all the fun activities Taos has to offer… basically everything! If you’re looking for where to stay and eat check out this post.
Destination: Taos, New Mexico
About: Located in north-central New Mexico along the San Di Cristo Mountains and Rio Grande River Valley.
Distance: 289 Miles from Denver
Time: 4h 30m from Denver (2h 30m from Albuquerque)
Trip Length: Overnight
Season: Year-round or Winter for skiing
Sleeping: Resort Living or Airbnb
The question really is what can’t you do in Taos?! No matter what time of year you visit Taos you will find something everyone can enjoy from cultural tours, skiing to shopping Taos has it all.
The Taos Pueblo is a must visit for everyone. You really get a sense of history and culture of the area by visiting The Pueblo. The Pueblo is over a 1,000 years old and the homes are often called the first apartments. Even today, people still live in the Taos Pueblo making it the longest inhabited place in North America. I highly suggest taking a guided tour of the Pueblo on your visit. Check out their website to learn more about tours and special events.
Museums & Gallery
Taos is known for their art so and the museums and galleries in the area are top notch. Whats really cool about most of the museums is that they are located in old homes. So you are not only seeing incredible southwestern art but also getting a taste of the area’s history and architecture.
Millicent Rogers Museum – My personal fav! Millicent Rogers has a fascinating life story and is integral to putting Taos on the map. The museum showcases art, pottery, blankets and more from her personal collection. She also has a stunning silver and turquoise jewelry collection that is just to die for!
The Hardwood Museum – Located in town on Ledoux Street, The Hardwood Museum showcases a collection of historical southwestern art as well as modern-day art. We visited The Hardwood Museum during The Lighting of Leduex were all the museums, shops and galleries line the street with paper lanterns and open their doors to visitors.
See a full list of Museums in the area here.
Taos is an outdoor lovers dream! Ski during the day then hit the single track in the afternoon. How about a long hike then a soak in the hot springs, or maybe an all-day float trip down The Box.
La Vista Verde Trail – To reach this trail you head to south Taos then make your way up the Rio Grande (directions here) This out and back trail gives you a totally different perspective as you are hiking inside of the gorge. On our hike we saw tons of bighorn sheep – watch my video at the bottom to see!
The Gorge Bridge – Hop in your car and take a drive out to The Gorge Bridge. On the far side of the bridge is a parking area that often has local vendors. From there you can walk to the middle of the bridge and take in the sheer depth of the gorge. There are also a few trails from the parking lot that lead you around the rim and are super easy, with fantastic views. Whenever I am in Taos I always make a trip to the Gorge Bridge.
There are some great outfitters in the area that can help plan your trip. If you’re looking for a mix of adventure & shopping or culture check out Heritage Inspiration Tours.
Skiing – Taos Ski Mountain is a quick 30 mins drive from Taos and offers the best skiing in New Mexico. With 101 runs there is something for everyone plus the ski school is consistently rated one of the best in the country.
Spa & Hot Springs
Along the Rio Grande River north of the Gorge Bridge are two natural hot springs, Black Rock and Mandy. Learn how to locate and hike to the hot springs here.
El Monte Sagrado – An eco-friendly resort and spa located in the heart of Taos offers world-class spa services in their award-winning “living Spa”. Read more here
Ojo Caliente Resort & Spa – Located an hour from Taos this beautiful resort and spa offers mineral springs, hot springs, mud baths, spa services, hiking, biking, and Yoga! I visited Ojo on a girls trip and it was so much fun – read more about it here.
You can’t explore Taos without shopping. The streets are lined with fabulous galleries, boutiques, and jewelry shops. Yes, some of the stores are a little touristy, but you just need to know where to look! Off the plaza check out Bent Street and John Dunn Street and north along Paseo Del Pueblo Norte for the best galleries and boutiques. East on Paseo Del Canõn you will find more galleries, museums and home goods.
Heritage Inspiration Tours
If you are a little overwhelmed with all the activities or prefer to have someone else plan everything for you check out Heritage Inspiration Tours. Angelisa, the owner, guided us around Taos for two days and was absolutely amazing. Angelisa knows the land, history and culture so well and does a great job showing and telling all Taos has to offer. Best hike? Best Coffee? The best place to watch a game? Best ski run for bumps? Angelisa knows!
Read more about Taos – Where to Stay and Eat Here – Comment, Tweet or DM me any questions about Taos! I’d love to help you plan a trip to this beautiful town!
This post is sponsored by Visit Taos, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
In partnership with Visit Taos, I have put together TWO guides on visiting Taos, New Mexico. In this guide, I will share the best places to stay and eat while visiting. My next guide will be all about what to do! I also have a blog post on how to plan a girls trip to Taos here.
Destination: Taos, New Mexico
About: Located in north-central New Mexico along the San De Cristo Mountains and Rio Grande River Valley.
Distance: 289 Miles from Denver
Time: 4h 3m from Denver (2h 30m from Albuquerque)
Trip Length: Overnight
Season: Year-round or Winter for skiing
Sleeping: Resort Living or Airbnb
I first visited Taos as a little girl on spring break with my family, where we spent most of our time in the Taos Ski Valley. It wasn’t until college that I really fell in love with New Mexico. My college, SMU, has a small campus south of Taos where I spent two, two-week sessions. We spent the mornings in class and the afternoons and weekends exploring the Taos Valley. My mother has also always had a southwestern flare both in interior design and jewelry, reasons why I love anything turquoise and wearing cowboy hats.
Taos is a magical place you will fall in love with on your first visit and plan to return again and again. The landscape, culture, and light of the area are totally different… I suppose a lot of New Mexico has this feeling, hence the state tagline “The Land of Enchantment”. Since its only a 4-hour drive from Denver and two hours from Albuquerque, it’s easy to make a weekend trip.
First, let’s discuss the layout of Taos. There is Taos proper then 30ish minutes north-east is the Taos Ski Valley. If you plan to ski then you may want to stay in the Ski Valley rather than the town of Taos. Also north of Taos is the Taos Pueblo a must visit! The Taos Pueblo it is the longest continually inhabited place in North America, over 1,000 years old!
Where to Stay
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa – The El Monte Segrado is a stunning resort right in the heart of Taos. El Monte Segrado is part of the Heritage Hotel & Resort collection and is consistently named one of the top luxury hotels not only the southwest but the US. The decor and architecture are quintessential Taos with a mix of American West, Native American, Mexican and Spanish influences. Not only is the resort and grounds beautiful it is also an eco-friendly resort. Check out my video to see how awesome our hotel room is.
This post is sponsored by Toyota, but all thoughts and opinions are my own
A three-day trip through the beautiful San Juan Mountains during the peak fall colors? YES PLEASE! When I was asked to test-drive some Toyota vehicles on the Million Dollar Highway I knew this was a trip I couldn’t pass up. Clay couldn’t take off work for the trip so my dear friend Ashley hopped a flight from NYC and joined me instead.
Our itinerary took us from Denver to Durango, Durango to Silverton, and Silverton to Telluride. The scenery was so beautiful with snow cap mountains and golden aspen trees everywhere you look.
I have been driving SUVs my entire life so I am not used to sitting low in sedans but the ride was so smooth and comfortable. For a six-hour drive that turned into eight, this was the perfect road trip car. I also got to test drive the Tacoma and Tundra, but more on them later!
One feature I really loved about the Avalon was the cruise control. Once you set your cruise control speed the Avalon practically drove itself! When the Avalon sensed another car in front of us, it magically slowed down and kept us a safe distance apart. As we drove through a small town and the speed limit dropped from 65 mph to 45 mph so did our cruise control as it followed the car in front of us. On our way out-of-town and the car in front of us sped up and so did the Avalon. Pretty crazy right!!
The second feature I loved, which was in all the Toyota’s we drove, was the gear shifting. When driving on crazy mountain roads like the Million Dollar Highway you have to know when and how to switch gears. The center console gear is super easy to use. Just pop it into S Mode, for manual shift, and then it’s just a slight bump up or down to go between gears.
Happy National Park Anniversary Day!! Today you can visit any National Park for FREE to celebrate the Parks 101 Birthday! To celebrate I am sharing some of my favorite apps and websites that help me plan my outdoor adventure
Adventure Planning Apps
The Outbound Collective – I love love love this app! It’s so great at finding adventures from hiking, camping, photography, kayaking, mountain biking even SUP. From the app you can search by map or activity, read trip reports & reviews and check out user generated photos of the area. Read more about the app here.
Hiking Project – I downloaded this app right before our backpacking trip and I am so happy I did. This is a great app to find new hikes but it can also track yourself on the hike by saving trips for offline use. We could see where we were on the trail, how much left to go and where we were on the elevation gain.
Gociety – If you are looking for friends to adventure with check out Gocitey. This adventure based social network connects those looking to get out and do something. Search for an event or create one and invite others in the community to join. You can also “swipe” through users to find people with similar interests to connect with.
Google Maps – DUH. Goole maps is the best. Do not use apple maps. Just don’t. If I see you using it on your phone I will take it and delete it and replace it with google maps. With Google maps you can also download a selected area to use when you are offline.
Notes – I could not live with out Notes. The standard iOS app is all I need to track my life. After researching for a trip I store everything in Notes and then share it with everyone going on the trip. I love that Notes can sync between your phone and computer so no matter which device I am doing research on everything is in one place.
Instagram – Yes, it great for sharing your adventure but it’s also a great resource for research. Long before the option to “Save a Post” I would screenshot and save places that looked interesting. Instagram is also great for checking out the conditions and weather of a location too. Want to see if the wildflowers are popping in Crested Butte search for CB and check out the most recent images. Want to see if there is still snow on the trail just type in the area you can probably find a photo from that day.
Adventure Planning Websites
Blogs – My blog duh!! I have a great road trip and day trip guides for Colorado and other city guides here as well!
Denver Day Hikes – This website is everything. Want a quick hike in the foothills, how about one that has waterfalls and is dog-friendly too? This website will have it. You can search by distance or driving time from Denver or search based on what you wanna see on your hike. Seriously, I have been using this site since I moved here and it’s such a great resource.
RootsRated – Not sure what you want to do? Check out this site for great round ups like the best swimming holes in Colorado or the best backpacking loops in the state.
State/City Tourism Websites – Some states and cities have fabulous trip planning websites. I use Colorado.com to get an overall history of the area and learn about events. Travel Crested Butte is amazing. Their trail guide included videos and basically turn by burn photos of the trail so you can see exactly what you will see on the trail.
Designated Campsites – To reserve a federally owned campsite you will use Recreation.gov. For both federally and privately owned campsites use Reserveamerica.com. Another site to check out is HipCamp, it’s like Airbnb for land, and wweirdlythey do not have an app. For RV rentals check out Outdoorsy.com from here you can rent nice RVs or even an adorable Tear Drop trailer for your next trip.
Dispersed Camping – For whatever reason Dispersed Camping information is sometimes really hard to find. But after years of planning I have figured it out. First I will google the area + ‘Dispersed Camping’ to see if there are any blog post about the area that mentions good spots. If not, your best bet is to figure out exactly what ranger district you will be in and go to their website. On the website, you will be able to find the Road Maps or MUV Maps. These maps will show you the roads were designated camping is allowed and often a little number to indicate where a site is. I have often called the Ranger to discuss options as well. Learn more about dispersed camping here.
P.S. I just realized my back is turned in all but one of these photos ¯\_(ツ)_/¯