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Colorado’s Best Place to (Repeatedly) Get Sick on Vacation: The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa

It was to be the perfect January vacation: My son Bode and I would have our first ever mother-son getaway. My husband Jamie and daughter would join us 24 hours later at the luxurious Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa nestled at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain along the Eagle River.

Thursday Night Lights

Thursday Night Lights

We had never skied Beaver Creek’s 1,800 skiable acres, host of the recent Alpine World Ski Championships. I picked up Bode after school and upon arriving at Beaver Creek, we kicked off our vacation with Thursday Night Lights, a free weekly parade for intermediate-level skiers or snowboarders. After registering at the Children’s Ski and Snowboard School, we were each given our own glow sticks and rode to the top of the Buckaroo gondola and down the Haymeadow run in a synchronized glow worm, only to be greeted at the bottom by fireworks.

High on life and artificial light, we grabbed a pizza from The Lift restaurant at the Westin. As we waited for our food, we played a heated game of “Sorry” and Bode’s dripping nose started, followed by a cough and fever.

sickBy morning, he was officially sick and I knew we had to cancel our trip but vowed to postpone until Spring Break. All was not lost, though. When we informed the front desk we were leaving two days early due to illness, they generously gave us extra-late check-out, a sweet note with a popcorn treat and we made lemons out of lemonade with a morning of snuggles in our Westin Heavenly® Bed, Westin’s crisp Egyptian-cotton linens and plush bedding, followed by a leisurely stroll along the 40-mile riverfront trail where we discovered a secret tree swing.

Fast-forward two months to Spring Break and this time, our entire family was going to Beaver Creek. Or so we thought.

A few days before departure, Hadley woke me up, announcing what no parent wants to hear at 4 a.m.: “Mom, I just threw up.” A violent stomach flu ensued. On the day of departure, she had turned the corner but was still weak so my husband volunteered to stay home and bring her later.  My friend Eva declared that Beaver Creek must be cursed. I can assure you it’s not. We are.

Enter: Mother-son Beaver Creek Round 2.

kidsBode and I assured each other this time would be different. I had originally arranged for both kids to go to the Westin Kids Club for a couple of hours so my husband and I could enjoy some alone-time.  I dropped Bode off to enjoy their smorgasbord of games and Colorado-themed “Safari” activities for lucky kids ages 5-12.

With two hours to kill, I opted for murder by attempting the Pilates Barre class at the Athletic Club at the Westin. Though I regularly attend a boot camp, I’ve never participated in Barre and haven’t done Pilates in years. It kicked my butt in all the best places.

As I limped into Kid’s Club, Bode dove into his bean-bag fort to hide (a good sign) as he raved about all the games and slime science experiments he did with his new BFF–nurturing and fun staffer Marla. I took a mental note to hire her to play Mother on days I’m overtired.

 Bode and I took the Westin’s shuttle that dropped us off at Beaver Creek Village where we had dinner at the Beaver Creek Chophouse. The restaurant was brimming with families and I soon found out why. Not only was the food delicious (particularly the meat and seafood) but the kid’s menu was expansive, a delightful magician circulated the room (until 8 p.m.) and kids that arrive before 6 p.m. get perks like a free sundae.

Bode was exhausted when we boarded the Restaurant Shuttle back to the Westin but there were no signs anything was amiss. Until I was woken up by crying at 12:30 a.m. I raced into his bedroom and he choked out, “I threw up.”

eagleriver1At this point I almost started laughing with the déjà vu of it all. He hadn’t made it to the bathroom and vomited on the carpet and the corner of his Heavenly-no-more bed. A call to housekeeping in the middle of the night is never good but the silver lining was our angelic housekeeper Felix who not only efficiently cleaned up the mess but was so kind and concerned about Bode.

When the sun rose, Bode felt better but I cautiously changed our schedule. We held off on enrolling him in Beaver Creek’s Children’s Ultimate 4 Ski School Lesson until Hadley arrived the following day.  We instead spent our morning snuggling in bed reading, watching silly Minecraft videos, marveling at our mountain views and soaking in the three riverside hot tubs. We rediscovered our hidden swing along the Eagle River and threw sticks through a rock obstacle course.

skikidsWhen Jamie and Hadley arrived at 4 p.m., we enjoyed Cookie Time in the lobby with complimentary hot chocolate, cookies and live music and then dined at the mouthwatering Maya, Westin’s modern Mexican kitchen by internationally-acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval–the best Mexican food I’ve had in years.

There was a happy ending. Well, kind of. Jamie wasn’t able to ski because he had to return home for work and Hadley and I had to skip out on our highly anticipated mother/daughter pedicures at the Westin Riverfront’s Spa Anjali. I had promised the kids we would go to Beaver Creek’s mid-mountain Candy Cabin following ski school, only to discover it closes at 3 p.m. And then, just as we laced up our skates to glide across the Black Family Ice Rink in Beaver Creek Village, the rink was closed for the Zamboni and we didn’t get to skate.

But in the end, it didn’t matter because the kids still had a fabulous day in ski school while I participated in their complimentary Women’s Social Ski Tour at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesdays-Fridays. We fell in love with Beaver Creek’s terrain, the Westin and surrounding activities, vowing to come back under more optimal circumstances.

I’ve stayed at plenty of resorts that provide top-notch service in the best of times.

But the AAA Four Diamond Westin Riverfront has my vote for delivering in the worst of them.

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Don’t miss 8 Reasons to Ski Beaver Creek Resort This Spring! (SpringFest, anyone?) Thanks to Beaver Creek/Westin for hosting.

8 Reasons to Ski Beaver Creek Resort This Spring! (SpringFest, anyone?)

I have wanted to ski Beaver Creek Resort since moving to Colorado 12  years ago and my family finally made it happen (but not without a few hilarious hiccups along the way as you’ll read here).
skikids

This 1,800-acre luxurious resort is comprised of three villages: The main European-inspired Beaver Creek Village, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead to the west, with a bevvy of family-friendly activities and perks. The resort’s closing day is on April 12, 2015. Whether you enjoy their fabulous spring skiing and events or wait until next season, check-out these reasons why Beaver Creek should be on your bucket list.

Beaver Creek SpringFest

Beaver Creek Loves Kids. You don’t need to see these signs around the resort to believe that Beaver Creek caters to kids. Their SpringFest is happening now through April 11 and offers free spring-themed activities, ranging from contests to parades to a carnival to American Juke Box Skate Night at the ice rink to storytime to family kickball to a science tent.  The 23rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt, featuring over 3,000 eggs, will be held on Saturday, April 4 in Creekside Park. Go here for the full line-up.

Ultimate 4 Ski  or Snowboard Lessons

After several years of attending ski schools in Colorado, my kids are aficionados. Their biggest complaint? Too-large classes.  At Beaver Creek’s Ultimate 4, classes are capped at 4 students, which means more time for instruction on the snow and a parent conference following the class–at a fraction of the cost of a private lesson.  My kids had a blast with one exception: Hadley complained that there were three boys in her “Ivy League of Ski Schools” I told her to enjoy her Ivy League experience where the odds were ever in her favor.

candycabinCandy Cabin
Want to feel like a kid in a candy store again? New this year, the Candy Cabin at the top of Strawberry Park Express Lift is an old-fashioned candy store with barrels of taffy, chocolate, hard and soft dispenser candy, custom-made chocolate bars, chocolate snowmen, ski boots, snowflakes and more. But here’s the catch: This cozy cabin is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. so when you promise your kids you’ll take them after ski school (which ends at 3:30 p.m.), well, you do the math. On the bright side, it is good for children to learn to deal with life’s great disappointments early in life. Cabin Cabin: We’ll see you next year.

Cookie Time Chefs

Do you want to know who the most popular people are at Beaver Creek? Find out every day at 3 p.m. when the Cookie Time Chefs stroll the base area in their white chef hats, distributing chocolate chip cookies from silver platters. More than half a million cookies are handed out every year and our Candy Cabin disappointments were appeased with a melt-in-your-mouth cookie.

Complimentary Boot-to-Slipper Exchange

cookiesI had an hour from the time I finished skiing to when I retrieved my kids from ski school. I desperately wanted to explore Beaver Creek Village’s charming shops, galleries and restaurants but I did not want to traipse around in my ski boots (though Beaver Creek’s escalators make navigating the area considerably easier; if you’ve ever tromped up and down stairs in ski boots, you understand). Enter: Beaver Creek’s complimentary Boot-to-Outdoor Slipper Exchange offered every afternoon from 3-6 p.m. I simply dropped by the Guest Service Center and traded in my ski boots for a pair of these light and comfortable village shoes. A perfect solution for après ski!

For next season:

Thursday Night Lights

Thursday Night Lights has wrapped for the season but guaranteed, your kids will have the time of their lives at this complimentary glow-stick parade held Thursday nights. After checking in at the Children’s Ski and Snowboard School, skiers and snowboarders Level 5 (intermediate) and up ride the Buckaroo Express Gondola and ski down with their glow stick. The grand finale is fireworks at the base!

Women’s Social Ski Tour

With my kids happily ensconced in Ultimate 4 Ski School, I even more happily joined this complimentary ski-along dedicated to women. With our two dynamic Ski Ambassadors Carrie and Lindsay, our group of five women bonded as we were given a fun and fabulous tour of the mountain. Offered Tuesdays-Fridays from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 a.m., we were given a small swag bag at the end and I vowed every resort should implement a similar program.

In the interim, I’ll enjoy Beaver Creek’s Women’s Social Ski Tour and their many other offerings.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up before Memorial Day for Vail Resorts’ new  “Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack,” the program that provides four days of free skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. Thanks to Beaver Creek for hosting!

Denver Deal: Denver Art Museum, Smashburger, YMCA of the Rockies and More

I recently watched a movie with my daughter. A Girl Like Her tells the story of bullying from both sides. I specifically waited until my kids were at my house so that we could watch it together. I thought the theme would give us an opportunity to talk about the topic. While I was a blubbering idiot crying (yes, I do that for Hallmark commercials too – what? You don’t?) my daughter–dry-eyed and somewhat annoyed that I made her sit through the movie–simply said, “Sheesh, Mom it’s just a movie.”  The movie claims to be loosely based on a million true stories – the plot is nothing new. Probably not an Academy award-winning movie – but certainly enough to get my teen kids talking about a very real problem and what they might do to stop it from happening near them.  

Vail Announces Epic School KidsFor years the ski areas in Colorado have given free passes to kids in 5th and 6th grade (some make you pay a nominal fee for the 6th grade) but now, Vail Resorts is offering FREE skiing for Colorado kids kindergarten through 5th Grade. Visit any Vail-owned retail locations (Colorado Ski & Golf; Colorado Ski & Sport; Boulder Sport; and Colorado Springs Sport) with your child. Have their school ID, report card, birth certificate or letter from the school to sign up for the FREE pass which will be good for four days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone plus, one free beginner’s lesson. These are ONLY available in the stores. 

Denver Art Museum. The Denver Art Museum (DAM) recently announced that kids 18 and under are entitled to FREE general admission every day for the next FIVE years thanks to Kaiser and Reiman Foundations. 

YMCA of the Rockies. As they say, the ‘Early Bird’ catches the worm and that rings true for booking cabins at both Colorado locations of the YMCA of the Rockies.The summer and fall cabin reservations for non-members at both locations (Estes Park & Snow Mountain Ranch) open on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Guests can book online starting at 12:01 a.m. http://ymcarockies.org – Estes Park Center  http://snowmountainranch.org/ – Snow Mountain Ranch or by phone at 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time by calling 888-613-9622.

Museums On Us. Bank of America’s Museums on Us is offering cardholders a way to embrace the spring season at some the most exciting venues in the U.S. This weekend, April 4 and 5, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders can get free access to 150 participating museums in 32 states and 98 cities. In Denver, participating museums include History Colorado and Denver Zoo.

Baskin-Robbins.  Baskin-Robbins is celebrating 31 this year! On March 31 you can get a single scoop of ice cream for just $1.31 (or get a two scoop sundae for just $3.31). It also appears that this promotion will be offered again May, July, August, October and December 31sts. Happy Birthday to Baskin Robbins. 

Smashburger Loves Avalanche. Join Bernie from the Avalanche at the Smashburger location on Arapahoe Road (9696 E. Arapahoe Road) from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31 for fun, face painting and prizes including tickets to an Avalanche Game and and Autographed Hockey Stick.

Consignment Sales. MileHighMamas has compiled the best of the best in kids consignment sales. The whole list can be found at: http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2015/02/11/denver-childrens-consignment-sales/  

Park Meadows. Park Meadows shopping center is running a great promotion. Present your receipt of $75 at a restaurant at the customer service center,  you will receive a $25 gift card to spend on whatever you want in the mall! 

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

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If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.

 

Foodie Friday: A Night in India via Arapahoe Basin Moonlight Dining

Ever since I heard about Arapahoe Basin’s special Moonlight Dining series, I have wanted to try it out. The ski area hosts this monthly special Moonlight meal at the Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain. 

We headed to Arapahoe Basin around 4:30 p.m. and check-in time is at 5 p.m. This particular dinner was lift-served (not all of them are) so we had a choice: We could either take the lift up to mid-mountain, hike up, snowshoe up, or skin up. We chose to hike. It was a beautiful night with the full moon and the sun just setting. I do want to warn you that hiking in Uggs (which I did) is not the best choice of footwear (I did have hiking boots – but chose to leave them in the car – not so smart). It is a winter hike so wear your ski pants, jacket, gloves, a hat and bring some water, too. (I downed a gallon of water when we got to the top because I forgot that detail).

Black Mountain Lodge All Decked Out

Black Mountain Lodge All Decked Out

When we arrived at mid-mountain the stars were beautiful and the Black Mountain Lodge had been transformed from some cafeteria-style utilitarian feeling to an elegant lodge complete with real linens and silverware. There was a lovely atmosphere including a local musician who played guitar and sang songs. It was a little bit of older rock and roll but certainly set the entertainment mood. The bar was open (lots of people drinking a bit of wine). Chef Rybak came out of the kitchen and addressed the group (of almost 100 people) what they had prepared. He also said that this was the first time they had done Indian food so he felt that he really pushed his staff. 

Chef Rybak describes the meal

Chef Rybak describes the meal

 

The meal was four courses including Hors d’Oeuvers; Soup & Salad; Entrees and Desserts. Each of these were delicious in their own right. I liked the idea that they didn’t go overboard when it came to spices (and I know that a lot of Indian food is very spicy). We had made a decision to try a little bit of everything. This also meant that we would have a LOT of eating to do! (Give me a challenge…)

Hors d’oeuvres included: Freshly made Paneer with dried fruits & nuts; Onion Bjajias; Fresh Coconut Chutney; Vegetable Samosas; Onion, Mango & Peanut Chaat; Spiced Potato and Chickpea cakes; Skewered Chicken Tikka; Cucumber & Yogurt; Goan-style Mussels.

 My favorite was the Paneer (the mounds at the bottom of this picture). Paneer is like a soft home-made cheese that is served with naan bread, dried fruits and nuts). 20150307_194116

Soup & Salad: Spiced Cauliflower Soup; Mango, Tomato and Red Onion Salad; Spinach and Mushroom Salad; Naan bread.

This must have been my favorite course. I honestly loved every one of the things on this course. I hear that cauliflower is the vegetable of the year (like Brussels Sprouts have been for the past couple years). 

Entrees: Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops; Fresh Tomato and Onion Chutney; Pea and Mushroom Pulao; Sweet and Sour Pineapple; Balti Chicken Vindaloo; Masal Chana; Dhal with Roasted Garlic; Mango Chutney; Monkfish and Okra Curry; Hot Lime Pickle; Vegetables with Almonds. 

Entree plate at Arapahoe Basin

Entree plate at Arapahoe Basin

All was good for different reasons. I would say my favorite was the lamb. It seemed to have a perfect flavor crust and was cooked perfectly. If I was going to go back for more or wish I could order one item on it’s own, it would be the lamb. 

Dessert: Creamy Rice Pudding; Carrot Halva; and Drunken Oranges – which also had a ginger cookie. (I totally forgot to take a photo of this because I was so darn full and was complaining about how my pants don’t fit anymore).  

I was sort of disappointed in the desserts but I was also sort of glad because I was full. The fact that the desserts weren’t my favorite – I didn’t have to feel bad about failing to clean my plate. 

We had left it up for discussion if we would hike back down or ride the lift. We opted to “slide” back down. We didn’t have sleds (and we didn’t steal any trays – despite someone suggesting that). So we slid down the mountain on our butts. It was totally fun. There were parts when we got going pretty quickly others we had to stand and get to the next steeper part of the mountain. 

I will go back for certain next year and try another theme (they also have Italian, Bavaria, New Year’s Eve, Spain and Randonee). http://www.arapahoebasin.com/ABasin/mountain/bml-dinners.aspx They sell out quickly so I better check my calendar now! Who wants to go with me? 

*As a side note, Arapahoe Basin does have an amazing new kids center but it is not open for this event. This is a date night/adults-only type of event. 

Your Guide to Celebrating Easter and Spring in Denver

When I was growing up, Easter meant that the crocuses were in bloom and we were going to look for a new dress to wear to mass and brunch on Easter Sunday. What I looked forward to the most, however, was the scavenger hunt my father put on for us, with challenging clues we had to answer to move on to our next treasure. And the fact that spring had arrived.

In the Christian faith, all over the world, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. This celebration merged with pagan beliefs in 15th century Germany. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. When German immigrants settled in the United States, they brought with them their Easter holiday traditions, which included the pagan rabbit hiding eggs in the garden.

In Denver, there are many fun ways to celebrate this important religious holiday with your family, whether to honor Christ, the pagan Eostra or merely, the coming of spring. Here are our top ten ideas:

1) Perform acts of kindness by celebrating Easter through community service. The Food Bank of the Rockies has a simple campaign: For every social media Easter post that includes #CEPGiving, CEP will donate a dozen eggs, up to 25,000 dozen, to Feeding Colorado food banks. Or volunteer with your family at the Bannock Youth Center’s Easter celebration for at-risk youth on April 4, 2015. The Colfax Community Network, Metro CareRing and others are always looking for food, toiletries, clothing and more. Check out their websites and make a plan with your family. You may want to clean out your closets for spring or call to see if they will accept Easter baskets for the children who come through their doors.

bunny2) Swim and dine with the Easter Bunny? Get some Spring shopping done and have an Easter Bunny Breakfast on Friday, April 3 at the Outlets at Castle Rock. Kids will stay busy with crafts, activities and admission is free but a canned food donation is appreciated. The Downtown Aquarium will host Easter breakfast with the Easter Bunny on April 4, 2015 (reservations are required). On April 5, the Easter Brunch will feature delicious buffet items, Easter egg hunts and photos with the Easter bunny.

3) Get inspired at sunrise. Unique to Colorado, you can attend the Sunrise Easter Service at Red Rocks on Sunday, April 5, 2015. Gates open at 4:30 a.m. The non-denominational service is open to all and is a wonderful way to celebrate.

4) Every holiday is an excuse to read with your children. Great books for Easter include: E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core by William Joyce (chapter book), Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, My First Easter by Tomie dePaola (for the youngest in the family) and Petook: An Easter Story by Caryll Houselander.

5) Throw a Cascarones Party. After a visit to Houston, our family now celebrates an Easter tradition celebrated there and adopted from Mexico. Cascarones are colorful, hollowed-out eggs filled with confetti. To celebrate Easter, friends throw the eggs or crush them over each other’s heads, showering each other with confetti. Having a cascaron broken over your head is supposed to bring you good luck. Be warned, while this is a huge hit with the kids, you will be picking up eggshells and confetti in your yard for the rest of the year. (You can purchase them online or turn it into a craft project.)

Colorado's largest Easter egg hunt at Copper Mountain

Colorado’s largest Easter egg hunt at Copper Mountain

6) Take in spring with a family walk through a park, open space, Hudson Gardens (free admission year-round) or around the 3-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden at the Botanic Gardens.

7) Be quick like a bunny and run in the Bunny Bolt (5K or 10K) in City Park on April 4, 2015  The event includes an Easter Egg Hunt for the golden egg, along with more eggs hidden along the race route, as well as face-painting, balloons, the Easter Bunny, and prizes. (http://www.runningguru.com/EventInformation.asp?eID=4755)

8) Hop along the bunny trail at the Children’s Museum. The Museum will host its annual “Bunny Trail EggVenture” on April 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Young children will enjoy dying eggs and creating fun Easter-themed crafts. Also, all aboard the Bunny Express Train on April 4 at the Colorado Railroad Museum where the Easter Bunny and Spike the Railyard Hound will be on-hand with special spring treats. 

9) Head up to the mountains for Colorado’s largest Easter egg hunt. For those EGGstreme youngsters 7-11 years old, check out Copper Mountain’s Center Village Egg Hunt with 65,000 eggs on April 4 at 10 a.m. Don’t worry big kids, there will be few special “Copper Eggs” for you to find hidden on the mountain. And little bitty peeps have their very own hunt around Copper’s Climbing Wall at 11 a.m. Get a photo with the Easter Bunny at at West Lake in Center Village. They’ll have tons of EGGcellent prizes and a Noon Egg Decorating party with all of your leftover treasure. P.S. If your kids (ages 6-14) want a real adventure, sign them up  for the Kids Adventure Games Winter Edition on April 5 in Breckenridge.

10) Decorate a flowerpot and then plant vegetable or flower seeds. A spring does not go by in our house without at least one attempt (many failed) at growing grass, pumpkins, or flowers in a paper cup. It is fun to watch the kids peek at them every morning to see if anything has sprouted.

And, of course, there are a number of Easter egg hunts so be sure to go here for a comprehensive list.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Denver Art Museum to offer free general admission for youth ages 18 and under

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) announced today that it will offer free general admission to all youth ages 18 and under for the next five years, thanks to a five-year gift from Scott Reiman and the Reiman Foundation. A one-year grant from Kaiser Permanente Colorado also will support the Free for Kids program. The Free for Kids program begins today, and will continue through spring 2020, with the goal of securing ongoing support for the program.

Free for Kids at the Denver Art Museum will fund general admission to all children, including school tours and other youth group visits. This incredible access opportunity also will seed a new transportation fund, providing bus funding assistance for Title I schools. Free for Kids funded admission gifts also enable the museum to cap youth pricing for all special ticketed exhibitions at $5 for the next five years.

Scott Reiman is a longtime Denver Art Museum trustee and donor, as well as the founder of Denver-based private equity firm Hexagon and president of Hexagon’s nonprofit Reiman Foundation. Additionally, Reiman serves as a trustee for the University of Denver, and is a board member for Graland Country Day School, ACE Scholarships and the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network.
“Denver’s arts and cultural facilities create tremendous opportunities for our kids,” said Scott Reiman. “The Denver Art Museum already does an outstanding job of welcoming families. Now we want to make sure every child has access to the creative experiences the museum has to offer.”

Family fun at DAM

The Denver Art Museum is renowned for its child-centric educational programming that includes hands-on activities in multi-generational spaces and integrated throughout the art galleries. The DAM has been named one of the most family friendly museums by USA Today.

Families who come to the DAM are presented with a Fun Things for Families to Do Today brochure in English or Spanish, which outlines all the activities for kids throughout the museum. The Family Activity Cart, included with admission, during weekends and school breaks, offers bilingual backpacks and Art Tubes filled with art-focused activities to for kids of all ages. The Just for Fun Center in Duncan Pavilion and Kids Corner spaces are filled with child-centric, creative activities that reference the museum’s collections, including costumes, memory games, architectural blocks, art making and more. Create Playdates and Fox Tale Sundays are programs designed for young children that include performances and special tours. Visit http://denverartmuseum.org/see-do-dam/kids-families for a full list of creative, family-centric opportunities at the DAM.

How Free for Kids works

For family visits, come to the Denver Art Museum welcome desk, and all members of your party ages 18 and under will receive a general admission ticket to the museum, paid for by our generous donors. For additional details on Free for Kids at the Denver Art Museum, visit www.denverartmuseum.org/freeforkids.

School groups wishing to take advantage of free visits to the museum should book their visit through our Group Services Department by calling 720-913-0088. Visit www.denverartmuseum.org/freeforkids for details on specific tours and programs for students, as well as for additional information on how to apply for bus underwriting through this program.

-Information courtesy of the Denver Art Museum. Photo credit: Elaine de Kooning, Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas; 77-5/8 x 13-1/4 x 1-1/8 in. Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund. Courtesy Mark Borghi Fine Art, New York, NY.

Mile High Mamas Spring Break Ideas (as seen on 9News)

Is Spring Break flying by too quickly?

Watch us on 9News My20 this morning during the 8 a.m. hour for some of our favorite and fun ways to spend Spring Break in Denver!

And in case you missed it:

Spring Break 2015 in Denver–Over 50 Activities Featured!

 

See the 9News segment here: http://www.9news.com/story/life/moms/2015/03/25/spring-break-ideas-for-kids/70380040/

Family Travel: Three Perfect Days in Banff National Park

Crunching snow. Flowing meltwater. Shallow breathing. These are the sounds of solitude, something I haven’t experienced with any regularity since becoming a mom almost 11 years ago. But here I am—hiking Johnston Canyon during my solo trip to relive my childhood in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

As an indomitable 18-year-old, I was ready to conquer the world so left Canada to attend college in the United States. I didn’t fully appreciate having a world-renowned destination like Banff National Park in my backyard…until now.

Kananaskis River

Kananaskis River

As the first national park in Canada, this 4,100-square-mile park is a gallimaufry of mountains, forests, lakes, world-class restaurants and hotels. I am here to “SkiBig3” the local catchphrase for skiing the park’s three ski areas—Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise–with a tri-area lift ticket.

After flying into Calgary International Airport, I rent a car and head 75 miles west to Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway, a speedy four-lane thoroughfare that puts Colorado’s bottle-necked I-70 to shame. As the Canadian Rockies appear in the horizon, I need a quick mountain high so veer off to briefly explore Kananaskis Country, the area’s foothills and front-range peaks that are equally as staggering.

A 45-minute drive later—past Lac Des Arc and Canmore—I’m in Banff. Nature is calling so I park the car, stand agape at the 360-degree views, stroll Banff Avenue and grab my rentals from the Banff Ski Hub. On a whim, I check-out Bow Falls near the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel as fuzzy childhood memories of playing in the Bow River become as clear as the ice that now ensconces it. I am home.

Day 1.

Tucked away on Tunnel Mountain, Buffalo Mountain Lodge’s cozy dining room is only a stone’s throw away from downtown Banff but is seemingly another world. I’ve been staying in so many large resorts that I had forgotten how charming boutique hotels like Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts’ can be and I enjoy spending a few nights in their two Alberta properties, Buffalo Mountain Lodge (Banff) and Deer Lodge (Lake Louise).

As I sit under a high wood-beam canopy, my waitress raves about CRMR’s ranch near Calgary that raises their own high quality elk, buffalo and beef products for their hotels and four popular restaurants in Calgary. I debate ordering the Wild Game Hash for breakfast (when in Rome, right?) but opt for scrumptious Huevos Rancheros.

View from North American lift

View from North American lift

I drive 10 minutes to Mount Norquay, the smallest and most family-friendly of Banff National Park’s ski resorts and the only to offer night skiing. I spend the day touring around the easy-to-navigate resort with Ski School Director Gord Fielding, a colorful character with deep roots in the community. “We know most people aren’t going to spend their entire vacation at Norquay but it’s an excellent place to start.”

To ski Mount Norquay is a lesson in Canadian ski history. Established in 1926, the 190-acre resort was the first to install a chairlift in 1948, and was famous for ski jumping and as the training ground for Olympic and World Cup athletes. Expecting sub-par conditions due to a lack of recent snowfall, I am delighted to learn their snowmaking system does an excellent job covering 85 percent of the terrain. We pay homage to Banff native Rob Bosinger as we ski down “Rob’s Run” that was named in his honor after he tragically passed away at 38 years old.

I have my favorite meal of the trip at Lone Pine Pub: Cheese risotto balls and fried Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha Aioli and a Bison Burger with bacon, Brie and blueberry jam.

Though I’m an advanced skier, I’m no expert and you’ll find some of North America’s steepest double-black diamond runs off the North American lift. My dad once had a wipeout near the top where he tumbled almost all the way down, ensnaring a beautiful woman along the way. It was his most painful pick-up ever.

When Gord suggests we ride up North American without skis, I am game. Once at the top, the views of Banff, Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle are so dazzling that, after being photographically satiated, I almost forget the chairlift ride of shame back down the mountain.

Norquay is home to “Tube Town,” a seven-lane tubing hill that claims to be the fastest tube park in Alberta. I’ve never been tubing without my kids but I brazenly ride up on the magic carpet, plop myself in the center of the tube, get a huge push, squeal like a kid, realize I’m a grown woman acting like a young’un and keep right on screaming.

Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon

I leave Norquay and spend the afternoon on a 1.7-mile ice walk to Upper Johnston Falls. Johnston Canyon is one of Banff’s most popular hikes in the summertime but is transformed in winter into a world of frozen waterfalls, pillow-mounds of snow and blue-ice pillars on limestone cliffs. The smartest hikers wear cleats to navigate the canyon-clinging catwalks and cliff-mounting staircases while the dumbest more adventurous (like me) do it in hiking boots with a whole lot of tree hugging. Despite the ice, I do not fall even once, which should automatically absolve me from a lifetime of clumsiness.

Back at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, I indulge in a carnivorous feast that would have made the Tasmanian Devil proud. I later attempt to light the wood fireplace in my room but it burns out within minutes (where’s my husband when you need him?) I indulgently soak in the old-fashioned porcelain tub while reading my first book in ages, husband and kids temporarily forgotten.buffalo

Day 2.

As I drive 20 minutes from Banff to Sunshine Village, the outlook is bright (forgive the pun). I first fell in love with skiing at this 3,300-acre resort that stretches across three sprawling mountains along the Continental Divide.

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Denver Deal: EpicSchoolKids, Jet’s Pizza, Denver Art Museum and More

I don’t love to stand on a soap box (weird being a blogger where I have a virtual soap box huh). I don’t get too deep into discussion of deep ideas. As parents, it is our job to teach our kids right from wrong. We all have our own ideas as to what that is and what details are contained. But, I do think we can all agree that bullying is wrong. Wrong to the core. I am so excited to view the movie A Girl Like Her (in theaters this Friday, March 27) with my 13-year-old daughter. Just to be straight I don’t think she is either a bully or being bullied – but still this is an imperative conversation to have. With a movie like this it may make the start of the discussion a bit easier. 

Vail Announces Epic School KidsFor years the ski areas in Colorado have given free passes to kids in 5th and 6th grade (some make you pay a nominal fee for the 6th grade) but now, Vail Resorts is offering FREE skiing for Colorado kids kindergarten through 5th Grade. Visit any Vail-owned retail Llcation (Colorado Ski & Golf; Colorado Ski & Sport; Boulder Sport; and Colorado Springs Sport) with your child. Have their school ID, report card, birth certificate or letter from the school to sign up for the FREE pass which will be good for four days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone plus, one free beginner’s lesson. These are ONLY available in the stores. 

Denver Art Museum. Kids 18 and under receive free general admission to the Denver Art Museum (DAM) during Spring Break from March 21 through April 5, 2015, and access to activities related to Joan Miró: Instinct & Imagination. This year’s Spring Break: Painting Dreams theme explores painting dreams with artmaking, special performances by Buntport Theater, Create-n-Takes and bilingual storytelling in the galleries. Plus, participate in fun special activities.

Jet’s Pizza: FREE PIZZA! To celebrate its official Grand Opening, Jet’s Pizza of Littleton will give away free slices of its signature Detroit-style, deep dish square pizza (one per person) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. The first 200 people will also receive a free gift. The store, located at 7935 South Broadway, is the first Colorado location for the Michigan-based company.

Consignment Sales. MileHighMamas has compiled the best of the best in kids consignment sales. The whole list can be found at: http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2015/02/11/denver-childrens-consignment-sales/  

Starbucks Raises a Cup on Monday: Members of Starbucks Rewards (it’s free to sign up) will get special deals on Mondays through the month from 2 p.m to 5 p.m. each Monday. 

InstaCart is in Denver. Instacart is a same-day grocery delivery service that delivers from King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods, and Costco (no need for a membership!) You place your order online or through their app, and their specially-trained personal shoppers goes to the grocery store and does your shopping for you. Instacart is great because it allows busy moms to do grocery shopping late at night (you can schedule an order to be delivered as far as 7 days in advance or as soon as 1-hour) and not have to take kids to the store. MHM readers get $5 off + free delivery on their first order by using  code MILEHIGHMAMAS or go to the link www.instacart.com/store?code=milehighmamas  to add the discount directly to your account.

Park Meadows. Park Meadows shopping center is running a great promotion. Present your receipt of $75 at a restaurant at the customer service center,  you will receive a $25 gift card to spend on whatever you want in the mall! 

 

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

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If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.

 

Soybu activewear: Our top picks for Spring 2015!

Who is excited for spring?

Soybu, our favorite Colorado-based clothing company for women’s activewear, recently launched their new lines Mykonos (channels the bright blue colors of Greece), Mod Nouveau transports you to Spain with rich, bold colors and Orchid Pond for late-summer leans heavily on black with several options of hues to bring the entire collection full circle.  The colors are vibrant, the designs are fresh and these comfy clothes will have you afflicted with SPRING FEVER!

What I love most about Soybu is I can wear yoga pants all day and instead of being deemed a slacker, I’m stylish. I practically live in their skirt and dresses all summer long. A few of my picks:

 soybucollage

Malia Dress Delicate (left) $64.00. This Tahiti dress is sporty, versatile and the solid color band around the waist adds shape for any body type. I posted a picture of me wearing the Malia Dress on Instagram and a friend commented how slimming it is!

 Jenny Skirt Delicate (top right) $45.00. The Jenny Skirt is versatility at its best because it’s reversible! With a unique cross over hi-lo hem, this burnout jersey skirt can be worn as a solid or print. Or rather, will be worn because it’s next on my bucket list.

Dhara Dress Mykonos (bottom right) $68.00. The Stretch Modal fabric makes this dress not only style forward but comfy and easy to wear. Braided detail at empire waist and straps just add to the already sleek and flowy look of this dress available in prints or solid colors.

Confession: I couldn’t wait to wear my Malia Dress until spring so the past several weeks, I paired it with the Teegan Legging Black Halftone and the Meryl Wrap ($62.00), which is the ultimate cardigan with 3/4″ length ruched sleeves and a button and zipper free style opening in the front.
collagesoybu

 Of course, Soybu is best known for its women’s activewear and a few of my favorites are:

 capris1

Camryn Tee Cyprus ($36, top right) is available in a number of colors, the Reece Tee Athens Sky ($40, bottom right) has mesh detailing sewn into the back. And finally, I am moderately obsessed with the Julie Capri ($60), made from their soft wispy woven fabric with flattering seams and a drawstring waist. I am so glad these pants come in a few different colors because I plan to collect them all.

These styles are available online at Soybu.com or in their flagship store  at 2500 E Orchard Rd #2500a, Greenwood Village, Colo. Thanks to Soybu for partnering.We’ll be back this summer to give yo a preview of more fashions and swimsuits!