Our Family Favorites in Estes Park, Colorado

Every year (for the last 8 years) we take a trip to Estes Park, Colorado.  This trip is such a blessing to us as a way to rest, recharge and just be together as a family.  We hike, eat delicious food and have movie nights and enjoy the slower pace. It is a trip my husband and I truly enjoy and as our kids are getting older, they look forward to their own favorite things about the trip, too.  We usually go over Memorial Day weekend as a chance to kick off summer, but this year we went over President’s Day.  We have also gone on Labor Day weekend and really any time of the year it’s beautiful.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of our family favorites we have learned over the years!

Sprague Lake:  This hike is a great one mile walk around Sprague Lake.  We usually start our trip off with this one because it can be short or you can explore off the gravel walk way for some back country hiking.  Two years ago we saw a moose here and it was definitely the highlight of this hike!

Alberta Falls:  This hike is another favorite because it is quite short- 1/2 mile to the falls and 1/2 mile back.  However the elevation change is quite steep, so take your time!  It isn’t too difficult but definitely be careful once you reach the falls, the drop off is steep. We didn’t get a chance to hike this one on our most recent trip but have every other time. It is one of our favorites and so beautiful all along the way.

Alluvial Fan:  This isn’t much of a hike if you don’t want it to be.  You can hop out of your car and walk a few hundred feet to the base of the Alluvial Fan or if you are more adventurous, you can hike the rocks and get an even better view of the waterfall.

Cub Lake: This hike is quite long for little ones but we have done it a few times.  The entire hike is beautiful with different scenery and usually quite a few elk along the way.  It is about 6-7 miles round trip depending on where you park.  It isn’t too big of a change in elevation but there are quite a few rocks and ‘steps’ along the way.  We usually start early in the day with this one and pack plenty of snacks and water.

Bear Lake: This hike is beautiful but usually snow packed until mid summer.  When we went this February the snow was several feet deep!  It is a nice walk around the lake and not far from parking.  We have also gone to Bierstadt Lake from here.

Favorite places to eat:

Penelope’s: Penelope’s has the best burgers and garlic parmesan fries!  This is a must stop every time we visit.  They also have a great kids menu if you have picky eaters.


Ed’s Cantina: We love Ed’s Cantina for their amazing and fast service, delicious margaritas, and great food.  This is always at the top of our kids list of places to go, too.  They do have healthier options to choose from as well!

Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ: Always great BBQ here! We always try to go early or at an off time because the wait can get quite long.  We love to split their different kinds of brisket, chicken, pulled pork. Some of our favorite sides are their BBQ baked beans, spiced apples, amazing corn bread and sautéed green beans.  We used to pass on desserts until one time we tried it and now have to share one (or three, let’s be honest here.) This is their Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie and it did not disappoint!

Caramel Crisp Shop: My favorite fudge comes from the Caramel Crisp Shop and if you don’t pay attention you might miss their entrance.  It is a small shop and we happened to stumble upon it one day.  We make sure to stop here each visit for their tiger butter fudge, dark chocolate and peanut butter fudge.  Tiger Butter is my absolute favorite!

Coffee on the Rocks: Coffee on the Rocks is our last stop, always. We grab coffee and our kids love feeding their ducks. This past visit we weren’t sure if their ducks would be out buy they were and in full force, waiting food. It is the best and they always have amazing coffee.

Scratch Bakery: Go early if you want to catch their amazing cinnamon or pecan rolls! They go fast. We like to take their delicious sandwiches into Rocky Mountain National Park for a picnic or breakfast in the park. Their portions are huge- we usually half everything and still have plenty left over!

Trendz at Estes Park: Trendz is a fun home and gift shop.  I usually stop in here a few times, once to check everything out and at least one or two more times to purchase something for someone or our home.  They have the most unique items and fun home decor, books and clothes.  Definitely a must stop.

Ink Well: A fun stationary and card shop in the heart of downtown Estes Park. We always stop to get coffee a few times here too!

Mary Jane’s: Another fun boutique. They usually have fun clothes, serving wear for entertaining, jewelry and home decor. My daughter and I always like to check this shop out together.


It was a fun trip and we are always excited to go back each year. Where are your favorite places to travel? Do you have any favorites you like to go back to year after year? Let me know in the comments!