Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Talk about getting away from it all. Go on a moonlight safari and take a walk on the wild side without leaving the Springs. It's a whole new zoo after dark. Book a "Wild Nights" overnight excursion to learn all about the fascinating, exotic wild things that inhabit our planet and see what they do while the city sleeps. Imagine hearing the chilling roar of a big cat in the dark. Or sleeping so close to these powerful creatures that you can almost feel their wild hearts beating. In a fun-filled night to remember, you can choose from four exciting custom overnight programs: original Nocturnal theme, African, Endangered Species or Zoo Careers themes. On your "Wild Night," you'll arrive at the Zoo at 6 p.m. and stay overnight until 8 a.m. the next day. Dinner and activities are provided; you bring your sleeping bag (or adults can rent cots), pajamas and other personal items. Cost is $45.25 per person. Note: Kids must be at least 5 years old to participate. Details: 633-9925, ext. 127, cmzoo.org.
Nature in the City
When it comes to a city as diverse and beautiful as Denver, there's no way to experience even a fraction of it in one trip. It must be taken in small morsels to truly savor the variety of wonders the city has to offer. So focus on a theme and plan a weekend getaway around that. For example, plan a weekend of exploring the wonders of nature. Of the many options, consider: The Wildlife Experience, with its unique blend of interactive exhibits, large-format Extreme Theatre, fine art, natural history and community educational programs and events (10035 Peoria St., 1-720-488-3300, thewildlifeexperience.com); at The Butterfly Pavilion, an invertebrate zoo, you can marvel at these ephemeral winged wonders in a tropical rainforest where 1,600 butterflies rule the sky (252 W. 104th Ave., 1-303-469-5441, butterflies.org); or the Denver Botanic Gardens, where you can experience plants from the four corners of the world while strolling through the gardens right here in Colorado (1007 York Street, 1-720-865-3500, botanicgatrdens.org). Find other exploration ideas and lodging options by calling 1-303-892-1112, or online at visitdenver.com.
So, in your family or group, you've got a fisherman, a hiker, a golfer, a skier, a mountain biker, a spelunker, a thrill seeker, a strawberry lover, a rafter and a relaxer - or maybe you're all those things. Summer, winter, spring or fall, Glenwood Springs is a family-friendly, affordable destination with something for all - close proximity to a variety of ski areas; a remarkable mix of geological wonders, including hot springs, vapor caves, two rivers and a canyon; the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, with Fairy Caves to explore and adrenaline-pushing rides and attractions such as the Alpine Coaster, Soaring Eagle Zip Ride and the Giant Canyon Swing (launches you out over Glenwood Canyon 1,300 feet above the Colorado River); and plenty of restaurants, historic hotels and entertainment. Of you can just savor the rare opportunity to simply do nothing but sit down and sink down into the good, hot, rejuvenating mineral waters of the hot springs pool and float your cares away. Details: 1-970-945-6589, visitglenwood.com.
On the "other side" of Rocky Mountain National Park, one of Colorado's crown jewels, is another sparkling gem - Grand Lake, the deepest natural lake in Colorado, dipping to 265 feet. For more than a century, families have been returning time and again for summer and winter vacations. From the sandy beach, you can swim, fish, kayak, paddle, row or just kick back and watch the waves lap the shore while marveling at the gorgeous views of high mountain peaks. Fall in love with the spirit of the West as you stroll the historic boardwalk, with its quaint shops, restaurants and galleries. The renowned Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre offers a full summer's worth of musical extravaganzas, including youth theatre and cabarets. The Grand Lake Yacht Club stands apart as one of the highest yacht anchorages in the world, sponsoring a Regatta Week each year, with fun-filled days of racing in mid-August. Plan a visit and discover for yourself what a treasure Grand Lake is. For trip planning, visit grandlakechamber.com, or call 1-970-627-3402.
Shambhala Mountain Center
Smart people know when to unplug and unwind. Even a short getaway to this peaceful retreat in a serene 600-acre valley surrounded by rocky peaks and pine and aspen forests allows you to temporarily disconnect from a hectic world and reconnect with yourself. The center, located in the Red Feather Lakes area of northern Colorado, welcomes all people of all personal beliefs. Experiencing the peace of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is worth the trip in itself. Take time out to relax, breathe and reflect on your own, or take advantage of more than 100 different programs offered per year, including a remarkable array of workshops, activities and retreats for all ages, or customize your own personal getaway. Affordable accommodations range from fine lodge rooms with private baths to shared dormitories and economically priced seasonal tent cabins on wooded hillsides. Meals, with vegetarian options, are included. Leave technology and your pets at home. Visit shambhalamountain.org or call 1-970-881-2184 to learn more or to request a catalog.