There are definitely a few benefits to living in a city that a lot of people consider to be a vacation destination.
Not only do I get to keep in touch with my friends from Georgia (because they want to check out Colorado ~ and see me, I guess, too), but I also get to host them while simultaneously acting as a tourist in my own city.
When my family and friends visit, I am always excited to show them everything I love about this city and this state. From the mountains to Denver, I get to revisit places all around Colorado and truly show them why I chose to move here in the first place. And every time I return to each place, I always find some newfound appreciation for it.
2 weeks ago, my good friend from college came for a visit. Before she came, I mapped out a multitude of things to do ~ yes, many free activities, too ~ and while some activities were ones I had already experienced, I was still able to find new adventures in each one. Moreover, I was able to see my initial enthusiasm for this state reflected in someone else’s reactions to it as well.
Of course, I took my friend to Boulder ~ the first place I fell in love with when I visited Colorado. We did all of the basic Boulder things: hiked the Flat Irons at Chautauqua Park, wandered around Pearl Street, and watched the sunset on Flagstaff Mountain. All these things I had done numerous times before; yet I was able to see them all in a different light. The Flat Irons were particularly icy and snowy – something I’d never experienced before, since I’d only been during the summertime, while Pearl Street was not as crowded as I would expect on a Friday evening, due to the chill. Rather, it was strangely quaint and beautiful, with Christmas lights still aglow. We walked through shops I’d never stepped foot in and ate at a restaurant I’d walked by numerous types, yet had never tried before.
And Flagstaff Mountain was definitely a pleasant trek, as we took a ‘wrong’ turn and ended up with an even better view than I had ever seen from all of the times I had gazed upon the sunset from that same mountain.
While in Denver, I continued to feel like a tourist as my friend and I visited the Denver Zoo on one of their free days of the year. If you live in Denver or are visiting, I strongly suggest visiting the zoo, as it has often been ranked in the top 10 to 20 zoos in the United States (#9 on Fodor’s Travel in 2015) – and for good reason as well.
After the zoo, I was able to show my friend around the city. Of course, we walked down 16th street; a street I have walked down many times during my lunch hour strolls while at work. But, just as every stroll down 16th street is completely different from the previous one, this time we walked down the street to go ice skating at Denver’s Skyline Park, which is free now through February 14th ~ or $2 to rent skates if you don’t have your own!
After struggling through ice skating (I’m really uncoordinated), we went to Avanti, a hip food and drink scene I had been wanting to check out for a few months. With multiple eateries and a bar throughout 2 stories of an eclectic, hip hang-out space, with an amazing view of the city from the roof, Avanti is truly a cool place to chill over good eats and drinks with your friends. Although the prices are not the cheapest, we’ll surely be going back just for the atmosphere!
Because I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, I’m not used to living in a place that people would call a destination. But, I’m really enjoying it. There is just so much to see and do in the city and all around Colorado ~ it’s made me realize that it’s not just when my friends come to visit when I feel like a tourist. Still trying to grasp onto the fact that I actually live here and have a plethora of unknown activities right outside my door at all times, I don’t know how long it will take me to stop feeling like a tourist in this beautiful state.
And let me tell you – that’s a great feeling.