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Driving from Chicago to Beaver Creek, CO -- Suggestions, Ideas?

Driving from Chicago to Beaver Creek, CO -- Suggestions, Ideas?

Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 06:26 AM
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Driving from Chicago to Beaver Creek, CO -- Suggestions, Ideas?

A friend very kindly gave us his week in a time-share condo in Beaver Creek, CO. We'll be driving there from Chicago in mid-July -- me, hubby and 2 teenage boys. I've read everything I could get my hands on about our destination. I was in CO as a teenager, but no one else in the party has been, and we're all excited.

What I'm interested in here is if anyone has any tips for the drive: places to stop, things to see. We'll be breaking up the trip with a night in Lincoln,NE. Just looking at the map, it looks like a long stretch of a whole lot of not much!

Also, anything that's a must-do in Beaver Creek? So far on our list:
-- Vail Farmer's Market the day after we arrive
-- Ride the chair lift at BC
-- Some kind of rafting/kayaking activity for the boys

We'll be there for a week. Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 06:45 AM
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I imagine you'll be taking I-80 west through Iowa to Colorado. If so, you might consider a stop at the Amana Colonies. They are a few miles north of I-80 at Exit 225 in Iowa, just west of Iowa City. They are especially noted for their great home-style restaurnts. Here's the link:

http://www.amanacolonies.com

There are a number of little villages (colonies) in the complex. Check out the various possibilities and then pick one to visit. I think you'll enjoy it.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 06:56 AM
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You sold me with home-style restaurants! That does sound interesting, thanks. I'll take a look.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 07:10 AM
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There are lots of things to see and do along the way but it takes time away from travel. And it is a full two day trip with min stoppage between Chicago and BCreek without stops for more than lunch and gas. If you are willing to take three, I could give you some other suggestions.

Once in BC you have far more exciting things to do than a Farmer's Market. BC itself is pretty sleepy but it is a decent base but you will have to drive some. You have the Mineral Belt loop in Leadville, Glenwood Canyon and Glenwood Springs, a day loop over Independence Pass, Aspen, Maroon Bells, and Glenwood. Georgetown and the Georgetown Railroad. Breckenridge has a lot of interesting things include a gold mine, Alpine slide, and some horseback riding, lots of bike trails in and around Frisco. At that time of year Vail is often overrun by many different sports competitions.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 07:23 AM
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Welcome to Colorado! You will love it. How nice to have a free week at Beaver Creek. fmpden gives you some good ideas for road trips. I especially recommend the idea of driving to Aspen. Independence Pass is narrow, and winding, so be prepared!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 07:45 AM
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Thanks -- I'll look into all of these suggestions. DH has stated a couple of times already that he doesn't want to drive too far from BC on any given day. I'd love to go to Aspen, though. I'd like to see the John Denver memorial (I know -- geek!)

The Alpine slide sounds great, though horseback riding is out. Only the boys would be interested in biking, but it might be worth looking into. I know on the BC chair lift you can haul bikes up to the top for a couple extra dollars.

And the Vail Farmers' Market is the one thing I won't let the others talk me out of. Since I'll go right when it opens on Sunday am, I can probably leave them lollygagging around the condo if they're not interested in joining me.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 08:06 AM
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fmpden, Mapquest has a warning about traffic on I-70 around Glenwood Canyon due to a rockslide and clean-up efforts. Do you know if it's still an issue? Thanks!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 05:07 AM
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It has been cleaned up for several weeks now. I didn't know a farmers' market could have such draw. Define, "drive too far."
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 05:25 AM
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Glad to hear the rock slide has been been cleared up, fmpden. If you haven't been introduced to the joys of a good farmer's market, you probably haven't been to the Dane County FM in Madison, Wisconsin. The best in the country, IMO. I love it for the vibe of the crowd as much as for browsing the stalls. The Vail market has 60 vendors, so it's a respectable size, but not as large as Madison's. I should be able to pick up some good produce for our stay.

How far is "too far"? I should be able to convince DH to take a trip to Aspen. That doesn't seem unreasonable. His problem with side trips lies more in the number than the distance. If I stick to 1 or 2 well-chosen ones, we should be fine. He's still recovering from our trip to Ft. Lauderdale last summer to visit his parents. We stayed on the beach, and they live inland. We all became thoroughly sick of spending 1-2 hours in the car every day shuttling back and forth. And I've already decided we're definitely visiting Glenwood Springs & Canyon. Thanks for the tip!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 08:32 AM
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Part of the problem is that you can spend a lot of time in the car and not go that far once you leave the interstate system. The mountains can be slow with a forty to fifty mile an hour average considered to be very good. There is a lot of truck farming around Denver and further south so we have farmer's markets every weekend and some week days in the metro area for local produce but no crafts.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for all the help, anyway. I'll post a trip report when we get back.

This will be a very low-key vacation for us. We weren't planning on taking one at all this year until this friend gave us his time share week. We need to keep the budget as low as possible, so there will be lots of just soaking up nature-type activities. It should be an adventure, as the longest road trip we've all taken together was Chicago to Minneapolis. I always joke that now that my boys are teenagers, the only time I get to spend with them is when we're in the car. This will be a good opportunity!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 08:55 AM
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Beaver Creek is great. You guys will love it. At the plaza there is a year-round outdoor ice skating rink, great shopping and a variety of good restaurants. At the base of the lifts there is miniature golfing and some other fun teen activities.

Plan to do some hiking and rafting. We had a nice visit to the Vail (I think) Botanical Gardens which are co-located with a performance venue that you should check into for shows. You might also check the schedule at Red Rocks in Denver which is an awesome place to see a concert.

The timeshares and condos are really mellow in the summer in Colorado. It is great for peaceful time at the pool.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Thanks, ChiDad. I've heard of Red Rocks -- doesn't U2 have a live album recorded there?

The boys always seek out the scariest roller coasters at amusement parks. Do you think we can find a rafting experience that's wild enough for them, yet not so wild that nervous-nellie Dad will nix it? Preferably within 60 miles or so of BC? (Is there a term for a rafting trip that's not-quite "white water"?)
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 10:25 AM
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Try the Minturn Market if you are there on Saturday. It's been around much longer than the Vail Market. Minturn is a little town in between BC and Vail. I certainly understand not wanting to spend time driving somewhere every day once you have driven so far to get there. Just relax and have fun in the BC and Vail areas. Glenwood Canyon is an easy drive from BC. Most of the shops and restaurants in BC are expensive. You will find more reasonable in Avon, Edwards and Eagle-Vail. One of my favorite restaurants is in Eagle-Vail on Hwy 6 (or is it 9?) and I think it is called the Vail Cafe. It has gas pumps out front but serves really good breakfast and lunch. They used to be open for dinner a couple of nights a week but don't know if they still do that. For Mexican go to Edwards to (darn it, I'm drawing blank on the name)! It's right off the highway, 6 or 9, in a strip shopping center. If you want a nice dinner or lunch in Vail try Sweet Basil. Hiking is a great activity and there a plenty of hikes of all levels in the area. The gondola at Vail used to do free rides on Friday or Saturday night and have food, drink and music at the top. We don't get to go this year so I will live vicariously thru your trip report! I
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 10:37 AM
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Good advice, PaigeS. I did notice the Minturn Market while researching the Vail market. You say it's been around longer, but is it better (in my mind, bigger is better)?

I also read about some of the restaurants you mention. The Mexican one in Edwards will probably be a hit with the family. I remember seeing something about it, though the name escapes me.

I'll have to look into the gondola ride in Vail. Free is much better than $22 pp! I'm not kidding about hubby being a nervous nellie, though -- he may even decline to ride a chair lift or gondola! Oh well, he can wait at the bottom for us if that's the case.

And tom18, I just checked out your link for the Amana Colonies. We're taking more time going home than driving out there, so it may be a good place to stop for a meal.

This is the shortest amount of lead time we've ever had between deciding on a trip and the departure date. I'm using the time between now and then making lists and looking at maps. It'll go fast!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 11:33 AM
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I'm sure the tourism folks at Beaver Creek or at one of the resorts can give you the lowdown on rafting. We were there for just a few days at a conference and weren't able to include it. I'd suggest getting a couple of recommendations, one for something tame and one for something wilder. Do the tamer one with Dad early in the trip. Then, if you and the boys want to do more, you can try it again before you head back.

Kevin
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Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 02:07 PM
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It is Hwy 6, parallels I-70 on the south side. It used to be US Hwy 6 when it was the only road through the mountains. State Hwy 9 runs north/south through Frisco, Breckenridge. The best rafting will be Brown's Canyon out of Salida. Best is relative since you are nearing the end of the white water rafting season. It is actually more dangerous at the end because the water level is lower and more rocks are exposed. Floating trips are the tame version of rafting. The are some float trips around Vail and out of Glenwood Springs. GS would be more scenic. And if your husband is the nervous type then the safety briefing prior to the rafting was end it for me. When through with the safety briefing you wonder how so many manage to survive each trip. And renting wet suits is not a bad idea unless it is very hot or you are wearing a lot of nylon clothing. Remember most of that water was snow eight hours earlier. The County Club (nothing to do with golf) in Minturn is a great, cook your own, steak house. Not cheap but not as expensive as most of BCreek. As someone mentioned BC is pricy.
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