Estes Park is a beautiful town at the base of Rockies. Because of it’s proximity to the Rockies, it’s quite a popular tourist attraction.
Here’s what you need to know about Estes Park if you are planning a vacation:
Lodging: There are numerous cabins, hotels and condos available. We have always stayed there in a cabin by the river, with picnic areas, kids play area and close to both the downtown Estes Park and the entrance of RMNP.
Food Fun: Food is another way to explore a new town. That’s why I’m sharing our favorite food joints.
Indian : Nepal’s Cafe – decent Indian food
Italian : Mama Rose’s Restaurant ( clearly the best Italian in town )
Mexican : Peppers Mexican Grill , Ed’s Cantina
Chinese : China Garden ( Ambeince is ok, but good food )
Bakery: Notchtop Bakery – great vegetarian options for breakfast or brunch.
Ice Creams : Danish Cone Factory has lots of flavors.
Cookie Shop: Grandma’s Mountain Cookies. I bet you can’t resist their cookies.
Winery/ Breweries – Estes Park Brewery, Snowy Peak Winery
Popular fast food chains are also there.
There is a Safeway in case you want to buy groceries ( you will need if you have a kitchenette and plan to cook). It’s always crowded though. So keep atleast 15 minutes extra for grocery/miscellaneous shopping.
Things to do:
Rocky Mountain National Park – It’s an easy 10 – 15 minutes drive to the entrance of the RMNP. You can do plenty of things there – hiking, picnics, bird watching, horse rides, scenic drives – just to name a few. Check this link to find some kid friendly hikes and other hikes too.
Hiking ( all levels )
Scenic Strolls : Around Lily Lake, The Knoll Path, Lake Estes Loop Trail, Downtown River walk
Watch wildlife : Don’t forget your binoculars.
This is what we do in our 4-5 days of stay at Estes Park:
Rent a cabin with kitchenette – cooking by the riverside is like a dream come true.
Explore the RMNP in the morning and try to be back in Estes Park by 2.00 pm. Have lunch in downtown. Go back to cabin to rest ( we have small kids).
Enjoy evening tea/drinks by the river.
Head back to RMNP for scenic drives. Come back to the cabin. Cook dinner or walk to the downtown for dinner.
There is always a day or two when we skip going to RMNP in the evenings and walk around the town – to explore, to enrich our Rocky Mountains experience and just to admire the nature’s beauty !
We always walk from our cabin to the downtown. This gives us an opportunity for scenic strolls – our idea of exploring the town is to take the walking route whenever possible. The area is quite stroller friendly too.
All the above recommendations are based on our personal liking. And we have been there thrice – there is a reason we go back to those restaurants every – single- time.
We don’t try to ‘cover as much’ as we can in a day- be it Estes Park or any other destination. We take it easy and do whatever sightseeing we can do in a day and always always save some time to explore new cafeterias, restaurants, bookstores. Usually we aim for one good hike ( 2-3 miles ) or two shorter ones.
Make sure you have good hiking/walking shoes, water and some snack bars to take along during day hikes.
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In case you missed , here’s my previous article on Exploring Colorado -1.