Last month my dad and I trekked out to Colorado for our annual dad-daughter trip and decided to split our time between Denver and Estes Park. Admittedly, one of the main reasons we chose the location was wanting to stay at the famous and historic Stanley Hotel. And now that I’ve been, I can confidently say that if you find yourself planning a trip to Colorado, Estes Park is definitely the place to go and The Stanley Hotel is the place to stay!

Stanley Hotel

History

In the early 1900s, F.O. Stanley (founder of the Stanley Steamer car) and his wife had moved out to Estes Park from the east coast after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and only given six months to live. A few years later, Stanley seemed to be miraculously cured and decided to build The Stanley Hotel as a summer resort, which opened in 1909. Early guests included high-class families like the Rockefellers, Kennedys, and Vanderbuilts, who were friends of F.O. and his wife, and the rooms filled up quickly each summer, so much so that they had to turn people away!

At the time F.O. opened the hotel, there wasn’t much going on in Estes Park, so he set out to boost the local economy and tourism in the city. And boy did he succeed! Not only did he build a road from Lyons, another popular Colorado destination, but he also brought visitors in via the Stanley Steamer car versus having them take a train ride out to the resort (which was what people did back then). And by his last year (1940), he had established sewer, power, and water companies, Estes Park’s first bank, AND helped to restore wildlife to the area.

In more recent history, you might be familiar with The Stanley Hotel as the inspiration behind Stephen King’s The Shining. At the time Stephen King stayed at the famous hotel in the 1970s, it was still a summer-only resort and Estes Park hadn’t been the fully developed town it is today. Who knows, if you stay at the hotel maybe you’ll be inspired to write a best-selling novel! After all, the setting of The Stanley is absolutely STUNNING and oh so peaceful!

Location

The Stanley Hotel is tucked away in Estes Park, in the Rocky Mountains (check out the view from the hotel’s front yard!), about an hour and a half outside of Denver. Because it’s so far outside of the metro area, most people rent a car, but we opted to Uber out to the hotel, and take the Estes Park airport shuttle bus back. It ended up working out really well and saved us a lot of time and money!

The Room

Our room was located on the second floor in the main building and had a very historic look and feel, including photos from “back in the day” on property. How fun to imagine what life was like in the very places we stood!

We appreciated the mini-couches for sitting/luggage holding at the foot of each bed as well. I hate leaving my suitcase on the floor, and it helped us feel a little more at home being able to set up our own luggage station. The bathroom was more modernized with newer accessories and design, but you’ll notice the base of the sink is still a bit older. We could tell that while modernizing for guests is important, The Stanley is adamant about keeping those historic roots in place as well!

Dining

There are three places to dine at The Stanley Hotel – Steamer’s Cafe, Cascades, and Table. For breakfast or a quick bite, you can pop into Steamer’s. If you need to hop on the computer, this is the place to do, and you can also check out the incredible wildlife photos taken in Estes Park of all kinds of animals in the night!

The second, Cascades, a bar/restaurant, where we spent quite a bit of time! Let me start by saying if you’re an NFL fan and staying at The Stanley on a game day, you’ll be pleased to know the hotel has the football package so you won’t miss out on any football! As an Eagles fan, my dad was thrilled. Because despite being on vacation, watching the game was a must! And their bacon mac + cheese?! STELLAR, guys.

During our two-night stay at The Stanley Hotel, Cascades was hoppin’ day and night! And after our dinner in the restaurant, we totally see why. For starters, we ordered a caesar salad and grilled pear bruschetta. Both were different than the “standard” look of the dishes we’re used to seeing, but were absolutely delish, especially the seasonal pear bruschetta!

For the main course, I opted for a steak and my dad went for the game meatloaf. Both of these were gobbled up pretty quickly because they were SO good. In fact, my dad even stated that it was the best meatloaf he’d EVER had in a restaurant! By the time main courses were over, we shook our head at dessert, thinking we couldn’t possibly eat another bite. But our waitress assured us that dessert at Cascades shouldn’t be missed so we went for it. And boy am I glad we did! The raspberry sorbet crumble was out of this world!

Cascades is also home to the Whiskey Bar Colorado’s largest selection of whiskeys, bourbons, and scotch. And get this. Around 1,200 different whiskeys!! I had no idea so many varieties even existed! We sat down with one of the whiskey experts and were able to chat for a bit and do an international whiskey tasting which was really cool! I can’t even imagine how crazy it must be to be the keeper of the whiskeys!


Third and most unique, Table Restaurant, which is located in The Lodge, next to the main building. Each weekend, the hotel brings in a new chef to concoct a special themed menu for a five-course dinner. See the plates lining the top of the room? Those are all signed by guest chefs from Table!

Entertainment

There is SO much to do at The Stanley Hotel that you don’t even really need to leave the hotel grounds! My absolute favorite was the 90-minute Illusions of the Passed show by Aiden Sinclair (who appeared on America’s Got Talent)! Sinclair’s show consisted of historical and ghost stories and haunted artifacts, and kept the audience engaged and in awe the whole time. Not to mention EVERYONE in the room participated in some way, which was even more thrilling. I’m still trying to wrap my head around one of the parts I participated in!

On the hotel property, you can also take advantage of the REI Basecamp (yes, it’s on-site), which runs in summer and winter months. At the Basecamp, you can participate in guided hikes and take classes in things like first aid essentials and wilderness survival! While I don’t plan on ever getting lost in the wilderness, I’m fascinated by the man vs. wild life, and hey, it never hurts to be prepared! Plus, if the zombie apocalypse ever happens, you’d have a major leg up!

The Stanley also offers two tours for guests – a nightly ghost tour, and a historic tour. If you have extra time during your stay, I highly recommend taking one! We went on the historic tour and learned so much about not only the hotel’s history, but about life in the early 1900s, and about Estes Park. Plus, if you’re into hauntings, you’ll hear a story or two!

Interested in learning more about The Stanley Hotel? Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates!

This post is in partnership with The Stanley Hotel.

The countdown is REALLY on. Only 9 days until Christmas and oh boy, I can’t believe it. I still feel like there’s so much to do! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that I’ve been on-the-go on my third annual Europe at Christmas trip. It was absolutely incredible and quite the whirlwind, but with it being my favorite time of year, I’m also happy to be home to enjoy the next week of Christmas festivities and traditions!

To me, the Christmas season isn’t complete without the Peanuts gang. I love watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and of course kicking back and relaxing to “Christmas Time is Here,” the well-known song from the Christmas special.

The Giveaway

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle (plus last minute scramble for Christmas shopping), I’m excited to have this fabulous Peanuts Christmas giveaway for you guys (and yes, it will get to you in time for Christmas)! One lucky winner will receive:

  • A collectible Peanuts popcorn tin filled with 3 different flavors of popcorn (YUM!)
  • Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz, a book to celebrate the legacy of Charles Schulz through the eyes of some of the world’s world’s best-known names in comics, children’s books, comic strips, cartoons, and webcomics
  • Charlie Brown Christmas Coloring Kit, which includes 10 colored pencils and 40 illustrated cards connected by an accordion fold, featuring text on alternating cards so the story can be read as you bring this timeless favorite to life
  • A Snoopy Itty Bitty from Hallmark

Tell me, what are your favorite Christmas traditions. Have you finished your shopping yet?

While you’re out there shopping for friends, family, and coworkers this Christmas, don’t forget to pick some presents up for the pup(s) in your life! Looking to branch out from the normal toys and treats you get them? Check out some suggestions below – including a couple of Sheba’s favorites!

Don't forget your dog(s) this Christmas! Check out these gift ideas!

Pawprint Cookie Cutter

One of the things that’s been on my to-do list forever is try making some homemade dog treats for Sheba. While this gift isn’t something the pup(s) can play or eat right away, the pawprint cookie cutters ($7+) are affordable and an awesome gift that will get used year-round!

pawprint-cookie-cutter

Bulb with Treat Spot “Ball”

A festive toy for your pup, Planet Dog’s bulb toy ($16) is the perfect gift for Christmas. Sheba’s had this toy for quite some time and it’s stil one of the first one she picks up when she wants to play. So it comes highly recommended by my pup! Plus, it’s high-quality, made in the U.S. and floats in the water, for any dogs that like to go swimming!

The BEST toy for your pup!

Thundershirt

If your shopping for an anxious dog, check out the Thundershirt ($14+). It’s supposed to be a great product to help calm dogs who have anxiety, fear, and/or overexcitement from things like fireworks, thunder, and separation anxiety. I’ve been wanting to give this one a try for Sheba to help with some of her anxieties! Anxious dog? Check out the Thundershirt!

 

Gingersnaps Twist Me Treat Can

While us humans enjoy all of the Christmas season sweets and treats, it’s only fair to pick something festive up for the pups as well! I’m loving the look (and sound) of the Gingersnaps treat can ($15) filled with 10 oz. of yummy treats!

Festive dog treats!

Lamb Chop Toy

Remember the classic Lamb Chop show? This lamb chop toy ($4) brings back the memories and lets your pup get in on the fun. This is Sheba’s all-time favorite toy – fuzzy and filled with squeakers! We’ve probably gone through at least 10 of them in the four years I’ve had her, but I know she’ll be wishing for another one this Christmas!

Furry and filled with squeakers - a fave toy of my pup!

Have you picked up any presents for your pup(s) yet? What’s on their wish list this year?

This post contains affiliate links.