Right before Labor Day, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Colorado and visited Denver, Breckenridge, and Boulder. It was a last minute trip: 3 weeks before departure, I saw that round-trip tickets from Philly to Denver were less than $250, so naturally, I pounced on those tickets and headed out west for our final summer vacation. It was a great way to relax right before New York Fashion Week, that’s for sure!
Unfortunately, we lost half of the photos from this trip, so I don’t have every single photoshoot we did, but we were able to salvage quite a few gems!
We tested out the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country while we were in Colorado, and it was an absolute delight. Space-wise, it was perfect for my boyfriend and me: he’s a professional photographer, so it was spacious enough to fit all of his gear, and it was ideal for me because I overpacked for the trip and had some pretty hefty luggage.
We started off in Denver, then drove to Boulder, then to Breckenridge and back to Denver. This was my first time in Colorado, and I had no idea frankly that driving 10,000+ feet above sea level could put a ton of stress on your car (we spotted a few broken down vehicles on our way from Boulder to Breckenridge!) However, the V90 had us completely covered.
The Volvo V90 had a ton of safety features that made me feel a million times safer during our road trip: it allowed us to cruise behind other vehicles at a set distance, it had a drowsy driver alert system, steering assist, a backup camera and blind spot monitoring. There were also several driving modes we could choose from: Eco, Comfort, Individual and an Off-Road mode. It was perfect to drive in the city, as well as in the mountains!
Our first stop in Colorado was Boulder. I’m pretty sure we were in town the first week that the University of Colorado Boulder in session, so this town was hopping. We pretty much hung around the Pearl Street Mall the entire time we were in Boulder, which was perfect for shopping and dining. We made a last-minute decision to go to Breckenridge after we wrapped up our shoots in Boulder and I did not pack properly, but there were a ton of stores on the Pearl Street Mall I could shop at that had super cute clothes to get me through the rest of my trip. On our way out, we made a quick stop on our way out to Upslope Brewing (which I highly recommend!)
We intended to drive back to Denver after our shoot in Boulder wrapped, but made a spur of the moment decision to drive to Breckenridge for a couple of days since Tom and I had never been. Breckenridge was my favorite stop on the entire trip, so I’m glad we spontaneously decided to go! Since it was the last week in August in a ski town, it was a little quiet in town — but it was super affordable to snag last-minute accommodations. We scored a great deal at The Lodge at Breckenridge, which was 10,000 feet above sea level and offered some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains. The price of rooms triples during ski season, so it was nice to stop by before it got too crazy!
Some of my favorite spots in Breck included:
- Breckenridge Distillery: This is the world’s highest distillery, and one of the best that I’ve ever been to as well. During the summer months, they press fresh Colorado Western slope fruits for their Brandies, Liqueurs, and Vodka flavorings. Year round, they make grain to bottle Whiskeys and Rum, distill botanicals, and blend Bourbon Whiskey. They offer a complimentary shuttle from downtown, and there’s also a restaurant inside the distillery, which makes it a great dinner option as well.
- The Hiking: When you’re 10,000+ feet above sea level, you’ve got to take a hike! Sadly, none of our hiking photos survived the memory card loss of 2017, but we’ll always have the memories of it. I’d recommend one of the three popular waterfall hikes in Breck: because honestly, how often do you get to chase waterfalls?
- Breckenridge Brewery: I would say this is more of a restaurant rather than a traditional brewery, but you have the options to either do a tasting right at your table or order full-sized, Colorado craft beers. The selection of beer was impressive, and they also have a ton of events happening every month as well (ex. beer dinners, “Meet the Brewer” events, tournaments, etc).
Ok, so most of my Denver photos are gone. I ended up spending about 36 hours in Denver, and I really, really want to go back ASAP since I think I needed to spend a little more time here! During our short time in the city, these were some of my favorite spots:
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre: Red Rocks is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to in my life (seriously, is it real?) It’s roughly a 25-minute drive from Downtown Denver, and it’s super easy to walk up (great for those of us who struggle to do hikes with the altitude!) They host concerts at night, but during the day it’s free and open to the public. I spotted a ton of people working out on the stairs, so if you enjoy your workouts with a killer view, this is a great option!
- Union Station: I thought Union Station in D.C. was pretty, but Denver’s version takes the cake. I never thought I would voluntarily hang out in a train station for hours, but Union Station is a stunning historic landmark packed with tons of amazing restaurants and bars — there’s even a hotel attached to the station as well.
- The Populist: Ok, I have to be completely candid here say I didn’t *love* most of the food in Colorado. However, I did stumble across a few gems, including The Populist. The cocktail list here was pretty incredible, and the menu changes seasonally. The only downside for me? The RiNo neighborhood shuts down pretty early — a lot of the bars and restaurants close at 10 pm, so we had to take an Uber elsewhere to continue our Saturday night.
Have you ever been to Colorado? What are your favorite spots?