Grand Lake, Colo. – As of 1PM on Saturday July 31, Grand Lake, Colorado Town Trustees came to the unanimous decision (6-0) to cancel the 4th of July Grand Lake Fireworks Extravaganza.  In the wake of the Golf Course Fire, 45 Grand Lake business owners also signed a petition for the cancellation of the show.  The motion stated that the show is cancelled “for the safety and wellbeing of the community and to protect the resources of the town of Grand Lake.”  Mayor Peterson stated “it is with a heavy heart but a clear conscience that the Town made the decision to cancel fireworks this year.  This decision was not taken lightly, and the town looks forward to celebrating the 4thwith a variety of activities.”

Family fun and entertainment is still scheduled in town and Grand Lake looks forward to providing an amazing experience to all of our guests over the next holiday week. New activities are being added throughout the day and old favorites, like the Rotary Pancake Breakfast will continue.  Please follow the Grand Lake Chamber Facebook page for updates and watch for new events.

Please feel free to keep guests informed about fire activity in Grand County with Grand County Office of Emergency Management and CodeRed.
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Like Father, Like Son—With Any Attraction Package Pass, Dad Gets One Too On Us


Dads are the best!—Purchase Any Attraction Package and Dad Gets One Too On Us
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Purchase any Attraction Package and Dad Receives the Same Pass for Free
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What We’re Offering
He may be more suited for a tie than a cape, and perhaps leaping tall buildings is totally out of the question—but that doesn’t mean that Dad is anything less than a true hero. Pay tribute to the super(man) in your life with a day of adventure and awesome attractions at Hinkle Family Fun Center on Father’s Day!

Our Father’s Day Special:

Purchase any Attraction Package Pass and Dad Receives the Same Pass for Free (up to a $31.99 value)
Attractions Include:

Go Karts
Lazer Tag
Miniature Golf
Bumper Boats
Bumper Cars
The Rock
Bungee Jump Trampoline
Lazer Frenzy
Light Space

Valid on Sunday, June 17, 2018 only.

Hinkle Family Fun Center
12931 Indian School Rd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112

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Birthday Blast— Enjoy 50 Game Room Credits When You Sign Up for Our Email Club



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Celebrate your special occasions with Hinkle Family Fun Center! Share the date, and we’ll send you a special offer.

Hinkle Family Fun Center
12931 Indian School Rd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112

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Rafting in 2017

Rafting in 2017

Last year, we went to Colorado but I got sick and we had to cut our trip short – it was downhill all the way for me, needless to say. But after beating Stage 4 mouth cancer and finally starting to get on my feet a little more everyday, I felt it necessary to do a write up for several people including our rafting expedition and others that I promised to do a write up for but never did due to illness.

I did go rafting though I was sick – never dreamed I had cancer – thought I had an abscess tooth causing my dilemma. Not so. It was oral mouth cancer.

Back to the rafting… Our first rafting trip started out with Acquired Tastes Rafting located in Buenna Vista, Colorado. When we arrived, we were greeted by several very friendly people including our guide who gave us instructions before we went out on the river. I felt confident that we were in good hands.

The trip down Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River was exciting, especially after the guide pointed out Justin Beaver’s summer home. My granddaughter wanted to pull in for a tour, in hopes of meeting the famous movie star. The rapids were pretty swift as the river was up a bit that week. Almost at the end of the trip, wet and shivering from the cold water, we were taken on a quick adventure like never before – when we went down that 6 foot water fall (at least it felt like it to me), it was all we could do to stay on the raft, even with our feet secured to the foot holders in the bottom of the raft. My six year old grandson flew off his seat and I managed to hold him on along with my paddle! One of the kids at the back of the raft lost their paddle so we were short one for the rest of the journey.

I don’t think I ever rafted with an experience such as this. That little waterfall/rapid was clearly unexpected but worth the wait as we floated along. If you have never been rafting before and you are planning a vacation to Colorado, you simply have to look for Acquired Tastes Rafting in Buenna Vista. Tell them, you want to go down Brown’s Canyon half day trip …  you get 2 extra miles and 2 extra rapids.

And be sure to let them know we sent you…

We’re headed back to Colorado in July so we’ll see you there.

family adventures

Acquired Tastes Rafting

Buena Vista Rafting Office

12918 Highway 24/285
Buena Vista, CO 81211



We went rafting a second time last year before heading home because of my tooth ache issues that turned out to be cancer – this time with Noah’s Ark… ‘enjoy’ is not quite the word I want to use when it comes to rafting but an ‘experience of a lifetime’ is more like it.

When it comes to the different rafting companies there only a few slight differences in how it’s done or where you’re rafting at. But there is a difference in the quality of each expedition but we’d like you to be the judge of that. Both expeditions we went on were great and everything we expected and more.

In Buena Vista, we rafted the Arkansas River both times at Brown’s Canyon.

So there are two that we highly recommend if you’re in the Buena Vista area – Acquired Taste Rafting and Noah’s Ark.

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Our Mini Vacation at Mountain Harbor Resort

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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DENVER  – In Colorado, nearly 40 percent of the state is comprised of federal public land, including four National Parks and eight National Monuments, 41 state parks, as well as hundreds of regional parks and open spaces. Public land is part of what makes the state’s landscape so breathtaking and lifestyle so rich offering outdoor recreation, wildlife habitats, clean air and water. Outdoor recreation, much of which takes place on public lands, accounts for more than $13 billion in economic activity in Colorado and supports some 125,000 jobs, according to the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association. From organizations providing voluntourism opportunities to improve and preserve public lands such as the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, to one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences and communities such as Buena Vista and Palisade embracing their public lands for outdoor recreation activities, there are a variety of ways to get involved in celebrating Colorado’s outdoors for everyone to enjoy. For more information, visit

Give Back With Voluntourism Opportunities:

Colorado Public Lands Day (May 19, 2018). Colorado was the first state in the nation to designate a state holiday celebrating public lands, Colorado Public Lands Day. Passed by bipartisan margins in the state legislature in 2016, the holiday will take place on May 19 this year. The state holiday is intended to encourage all Coloradans and visitors to the state to get outside and enjoy Colorado’s unparalleled public lands. Several voluntourism events take place across the state in celebration of the day including river cleanup, trash pickup and more.
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (Golden). Colorado boasts 58 peaks towering above 14,000 feet, and these mountains are popular for locals and visitors to climb. In an effort to preserve and protect the natural integrity of the state’s fourteeners, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative began in 1994. Visitors wanting to explore these peaks while also giving back can get involved with the initiative by volunteering on trail construction, maintenance and restoration projects from mid June through early October.
Trails 2000 (Durango). Trails 2000 is a non-profit that plans, builds and maintains Durango’s more than 300 miles of trails. In the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, trails are the number one access point to public lands, offering hundreds of miles of trails within minutes of town. Offerings available to visitors include volunteering at maintenance projects, helping remove deadfall and trail education along with a host of ongoing Public Land Trailwork days occurring throughout the season, which runs March through October.
Vail Nature Center (Vail). Operated by the Walking Mountains Science Center, the Vail Nature Center is a 1940s homestead perched between a mountain meadow and the forested banks of Gore Creek. On top of offering programs such as nature walks and hikes, wildflower walks, art in nature and more, Vail Nature Center hosts a weekly outdoor volunteer project. These projects include invasive species removal, planting native vegetation, trail restoration and more.
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (Denver). Established in 1984, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) has been active in motivating thousands of people annually to provide volunteer work for their outdoor stewardship projects from April through October. These projects take place across Colorado and include trail restoration, gardening, ecological restoration, invasive species management and more.

Unique Ways to Experience Colorado’s Public Lands:

Experience a canyoneering adventure in the Uncompahgre National Forest.  Local outfitter, Canyoning Colorado, offers canyoning/canyoneering descents and trainings in the quaint mountain town of Ouray, which has been frequented by seasoned canyoners for years due to its abundance of canyons and waterfalls. Adventurers have the chance to explore eight canyons in the Uncompahgre National Forest outside of Ouray on these expeditions. The tours and trainings are available to persons with no prior experience. Experienced climbers can take on more challenging tours or join a course to learn to canyoneer on their own.
Catch a glimpse of wildlife on the Colorado Birding Trail. The Colorado Birding Trail is comprised of outdoor recreation sites, hiking or walking paths, both public and private, along a designated driving route across the state. Each driving route offers unique trail names and is composed of several watchable wildlife sites including the Bobolink Trailhead in Boulder, a reliable nesting site for species along the Front Range or the Prairie Canyons Trail just south of La Junta, where visitors can see horned lizards, Cassin’s Kingbirds, roadrunners and more.
Cool off in the brisk water at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is something of a mystery. Each spring it emerges from the mountains behind the sand dunes to form a wide, shallow and gently flowing stream. Visitors wade into it to cool hot feet after tromping around the dunes, build sandcastles, boogie board and splash around in its rhythmic waves before it retreats back into the mountains just as quickly. The ideal combination of sultry desert and refreshing water is not the Alamosa-area park’s only charm — the dunes themselves are quite bewitching as well.
Marvel at the masonry of Colorado’s ancient people at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. So adept were the construction skills of the ancient Ancestral Puebloans who lived in southwest Colorado, that parts of their structures still stand more than 700 years later. Those who tour the area’s mesas and canyons today are left to speculate about the purpose of the multistory brick towers. Archeologists think they could have been homes, storage silos for crops, defensive forts or ceremonial structures. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez, contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures.
Utilize new tech toolkits from Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Colorado Parks & Wildlife has launched a fishing App for smart phones that enables anglers to check out mapping information for over 2,000 locations in the state, along with the most up-to-date regulations, details on fish species, seasonal flies, weather and more. A new State Park Pass Online Purchasing System allows travelers to purchase state park passes, make state park camping reservations and buy wildlife licenses online and with their mobile devices.
Raft the tumbling rapids of the Cache la Poudre River. Colorado’s only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre carves down Poudre Canyon through narrow sections flanked by alpine mountainsides and natural rock cliffs west of Fort Collins. The triumph of paddling over a rapid named Devil’s Staircase is second only to the views and the chance to spot bighorn sheep and deer scampering along its rocky hills. Rafting outfitters guide groups to rapids of all difficulty levels, so everyone gets just the right amount of adventure.
Walk in dinosaur footprints in Comanche National Grassland. Standing in Picketwire Canyon with your foot swallowed by a three-toed impression left in the bedrock by a brontosaurus 150 million years ago, one’s imagination runs wild picturing what it might have looked like when dinosaurs inhabited the area. The canyon was home to a lake during the Jurassic period, and the brontosaurus you’re tracking now used to frolic along its shores. The footprints are reached after a flat five-mile hike, bike or horse ride. Stop at the Comanche National Grassland Office in La Junta for directions to the tracks and to get tips for safely navigating this remote area.

Public Land Community Initiatives:

Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks 50th Anniversary. City staff celebrated the institution of the Open Space tax last November, but there will be events to celebrate most of the year. This tax was put in place in 1967 and has helped the city of Boulder residents to preserve the beautiful mountain backdrop. Boulder is located where the mountains meet the plains and it allows for both mountain and plains recreation. Perhaps the most iconic landmark are the flatirons located at Chautauqua trailhead, but, that’s only a small part of the trail system and 45,000 acres of open space.
Palisade Plunge (Grand Valley). Slated to begin construction in 2019 in the Grand Valley’s east end as part of Governor John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful Initiative, the Palisade Plunge Trail will allow visitors to mountain bike down a 32-mile trail that starts atop Grand Mesa in alpine tundra and ends up in the high-desert town of Palisade known for its wine and peaches, an elevation drop of 6,000 feet.
Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund (Steamboat Springs). Resident riders and trail-focused guests to Steamboat Springs continue to benefit from new trails created using public funding from initiative 2A. Another notable result is the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund. This permanent funding source supports specific non-motorized trail and trailhead maintenance projects on public lands within Routt and Moffat Counties. A diverse board determines trail maintenance priorities annually, and land managers use funds to fuel projects.
Whitewater Park (Buena Vista). With the Arkansas River flowing right through the heart of Buena Vista, the quaint mountain town is a hotbed for water sports and boasts one of the finest whitewater parks in Colorado. A brother and sister, who donated the land to the city of Buena Vista as permanent public parkland, saved the property that now holds the Whitewater Park from development. Through state grants, construction began on five water features from 2005 to the present. The park now draws recreational boaters and professional whitewater athletes from around the country.


Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 27 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.  For more information or a copy of the 2018 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit or call 1-800 COLORADO.
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Denver – Though Colorado may be a landlocked state, it offers an abundance of lakes, rivers and reservoirs for residents and visitors to explore. From repelling down waterfalls in Ouray to casting a line during a women’s fly fishing clinic in Breckenridge, Colorado does not fall short on activities for one to cool off and enjoy the water this summer. For more information, visit

70th Anniversary of Fibark Whitewater Festival (Salida): For those with a competitive edge, join in on the 70th anniversary of Fibark, a whitewater festival June 14-17. Contestants have the choice to participate in several river events including Raft Rodeo, downriver race and slalom race. This three-day event will also be accompanied by live music, lineup to be announced in April.
ATV and Rafting Blast with Mile Hi Rafting (Dumont): Clear Creek is the steepest rafted river in Colorado and conveniently located just 30 miles west of Denver. Mile Hi Rafting is offering a scenic one-hour ATV tour with lunch riverside, followed by a ‘Blast’ intermediate whitewater raft trip on Clear Creek. Starting mid-May through August, guests can enjoy this multi-activity offering for $149.
Canyoning with Canyoning Colorado (Ouray): Ouray, Colorado is known for its ice climbing in the winter, but in the summer months, the same waterfalls can be explored through canyoning. Canyoning entails repelling down waterfalls and exploring river canyons, and Canyoning Colorado is offering new half day and full day tours and trainings for all abilities this summer.
Fishing at Badger Creek Ranch (Cañon City): For those who love to fish and appreciate the comfort of a warm bed and good food, Badger Creek Ranch is just the place. The ranch is nestled in the high country of Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains.  By the nature of the landscape, many fishing opportunities are available within easy reach of the ranch including fly fishing on area rivers and streams as well as fishing in high mountain lakes and reservoirs.
Jet-Boating with Jet Boat Colorado (Grand Junction): Visitors can satisfy their need for speed on a jet-boating excursion with Jet Boat Colorado, the first company in the state to offer jet-propelled boating experiences of this magnitude. Launched in summer 2017, the company’s Wild Mustang jet boat — also equipped with a 420-horsepower, fuel-injected engine — takes passengers on exhilarating Colorado River adventures featuring fishtails, speed runs and “cowboy spins.”
Water Adventures at John Martin Reservoir State Park (Las Animas): Called the sapphire on the plains, the John Martin Reservoir is one for people and wildlife to enjoy with its peaceful surroundings. The reservoir provides visitors with uncrowded boating, fishing, wind water sports and amazing conditions for a wide variety of wind water sports.
New Belgium Timberline Cruiser Regatta at Frisco Bay Marina (Frisco): The Town of Frisco is known to celebrate several unique events at the Frisco Bay Marina. On June 23, Frisco Bay Marina will host the 11th annual New Belgium Timberline Cruiser Regatta, a fun sailing race open to anyone with a sailboat. Costumes and creativity are encouraged.
New Whitewater Park on the Eagle River (Eagle): The town of Eagle has announced The Eagle River Park will open summer 2018. The world-class whitewater park will feature an in-stream design optimizing the river’s natural morphology, which will also offer riverside recreation areas. Welcoming all athletes and visitors, its proximity to I-70 will make it an easy trip for people to visit.
Playing on the Beach at Medano Creek (Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve): Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is something of a mystery. Each spring it emerges from the mountains behind the sand dunes to form a wide, shallow and gently flowing stream. Visitors wade into it to cool hot feet after tromping around the dunes, build sandcastles, boogie board and splash around in its rhythmic waves before it retreats back into the mountains just as quickly. The peak of the creek’s annual flow is late May.
Scenic Tour with Twin Lakes & Interlaken Boat Tours (Twin Lakes): Twin Lakes and Interlaken Boat Tours provides narrated boat tours of Twin Lakes, located among the highest peaks in Colorado. The tours include both the upper and lower glacially formed lakes and the historic Interlaken resort, established in the late 1800’s as a getaway for wealthy mining tycoons. Tours run daily from May through September. Tickets start at $20 for adults, $10 for children.
Soaking in Hot Springs at Iron Mountain Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs): The Iron Mountain Hot Springs caters to all who appreciate relaxing with a warm soak surrounded by mountain views. Glenwood Springs’ newest hot spot offers 16 natural mineral hot springs soaking pools and a freshwater family pool with a jetted spa. All are located alongside the Colorado River with Rocky Mountain views that soothe and inspire.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding and Kayaking Adventures with Limelight Hotel Aspen (Aspen): Guests of the modern luxury Limelight Hotel will get the chance to go on a guided lesson with Charlie MacArthur, founder of Aspen Kayak Academy. This three-hour lesson is accompanied with a picturesque tour of the Nature Preserve located on the east side of Aspen. The paddle boarding and kayaking package will be offered every other Wednesday in May through September.
Stand-Up Paddleboard Rentals and Lessons with Rocky Mountain Paddleboard (Denver, Boulder and Longmont): Rocky Mountain Paddleboard is offering stand-up paddleboard rentals, adventure trips, full-moon paddles, and paddleboard rentals starting at $20 for one hour and $30 for two hours. Beginner lessons are also offered.
Water Activities in Grand Lake (Grand Lake): Colorado’s deepest and largest natural lake, Grand Lake lies just one mile from the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. From swimming at the beach, fishing or sightseeing at Cascade Falls, activities in Grand Lake won’t fall short on the list of water activities this summer. Nearby Lake Granby also offers delightfully cool water and boating opportunities.
Waterfalls at Rifle Falls State Park (Rifle): On a hot summer day, the mist that drifts from the exhilarating gush of water over 70-foot-high limestone cliffs and the dark caves below them in Rifle Falls State Park are a sublime natural air conditioner. These geologic attractions near Rifle draw photographers, spelunkers, fishers and campers to this singular state park.
Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic with Breckenridge Outfitters (Breckenridge): Breckenridge Outfitters, a local fly fishing adventure shop, is offering clinics this summer that are focused on getting women anglers out in the white waters with tight lines. The 2018 Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic class schedule has four scheduled clinics that will take place from May through August. Rates start at $129 per angler.
ABOUT COLORADO: Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 28 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet. For more information or a copy of the 2018 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit or call 1-800 COLORADO.
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Denver, CO  – In this part of the universe, Coloradoans are fools for camping — and nothing elevates a night under the stars like a fireside feast. Consider one of the state’s favorite campsites below, conveniently paired with ideas on where to pick up Colorado-made ingredients to prepare tasty eats.

Crow Valley Recreation Area, Briggsdale. Cradled by Pawnee National Grassland’s sun-kissed prairie, Crow Valley’s dark skies delight Milky Way chasers and solitude seekers. Choose from 10 spacious sites, and capture Insta-worthy views of the Pawnee Buttes — twin castle-like mesas that rise above the plains — from the nearby Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway. Supply stop: stock up on cans of Denver-based The Infinite Monkey Theorem wine at Pringle’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Fort Collins, then pick up some house made garlic brats to char over the campfire from Beavers’ Market, also in Fort Collins.

Pearl Lake State Park, Clark. Pearl Lake’s placid waters beckon travelers to answer the call of the wild, and nearly all of the park’s 36 campsites afford knockout vistas of the lake and surrounding peaks. Activities include kayaking, Gold Medal trout-fishing and frolicking in the surrounding forest via out-of-the-way trails. Supply stop: collect cured meats, cheeses and lovingly prepared chocolate bark (for extra-special s’mores) at Steamboat Springs’ The Homesteader, adored for its inventory of locally produced goods.

Ute Campground, near Pagosa Springs. This 26-site locale near Chimney Rock National Monument boasts glimpses of the monument’s archeological ruins, home to more than 200 seemingly frozen-in-time homes and structures built by ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. Choose a site shaded by soaring pines, and take a guided walking tour of the monument. Supply stop: dazzle the campers brood with picks from specialty food shop The Choke Cherry Tree in Pagosa Springs. Made onsite, delicious homemade fruit syrups in flavors like the namesake wild chokecherry or boysenberry are a perfect topping for campfire pancakes in the a.m., while Grandpa Bill’s Caramels make an excellent evening treat.

Mosca Campground, near Hooper. Tucked in the shadow of always-pretty Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis State Park’s 51-site campground is an ideal base for spying on shorebirds, songbirds and raptors, and hiking or biking amid the lower sand dunes as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower above. Supply stop: grab snack items like Salazar Meats smokehouse sausages (the small-scale livestock and meat-processing operation is family-run in nearby Manassa) and Blue Moose of Boulder dips at Alamosa’s Valley Food Co-Op. Though members can join the cooperative, it’s open to anyone for shopping.

Island Lake Campground near Delta & Cedaredge. Colorado’s Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, is the holy grail of outdoor playgrounds. Island Lake Campground’s 39 sites are situated at 10,000 feet, offering primo access to Grand Mesa’s 300 fishing lakes, 3,000 miles of trails and wildflower shrouded meadows. Supply stop: whip up a coveted cheeseburger supper with provisions from Homestead Natural Meats in Delta: patties made from their own expertly raised beef and a selection of Rocking W Cheese, an export from nearby Olathe.

More camping tips can be found at

For more information on the Colorado Tourism Office Destination Development Program, please contact: Sarah-Jane Johnson, 310 854-2408,


Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 28 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.  For more information or a copy of the 2018 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit orcall 1-800 COLORADO.

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Ready for the Summer? Come to Estes Park for Horseback Riding

via SK Horses, Ltd.

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Trivia Question Challenge

TRIVIA QUESTION CHALLENGE: Win 2 adult tickets and 2 children tickets to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Colorado Springs, Co

Here’s your chance to win 2 adult tickets and 2 children tickets to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Colorado Springs, Co.

Email your answer about the following trivia question to Family Traveler at We will draw the entry winner on Monday! Be sure to include email address, complete name and mailing address with your entry.

Contest Ends Monday May 21st at Noon!

Trivia question

What year was the oldest military post established in Colorado; what city, and by whom was it established?

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via Limited Time Offer—$5 Attractions When You Buy Five


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What To Pack For A Weekend Getaway

By Marcella Simmons

Deciding what to bring along on any outing whether it be for the weekend or the entire week depends on a number of things such as who all will be with you, if you’re going solo, or with a friend or mate, how long you will be staying and what is on your itinerary. If you’re off to the beach, the mountains, camping or just a weekend to a nearby city to take in a show or museum, there a few items that you can take along that makes traveling a little easier. No matter where you go, always carry your ID with you at all times.

If you are going on a rafting expedition or a boating trip, you’ll need waterproof bags for your camera, wallet, and other valuables.

If you’re going to a museum or movie, you want need much except money and your wallet. The less you carry, the easier for you.

If it’s summertime, bring along cool, comfortable clothes and walking shoes if you plan to walk around museums or gift shops. For the ladies, a light and festive dress with matching sandals might be appropriate for an evening on the town. A comfortable swimsuit with spandex for the best comfortable fit is ideal for swimming at the beach or swimming pool.

For beach goers, be sure to bring along plenty of sunscreen, sun glasses, an extra beach towel or two, a large canvas tote bag to carry your beach items in, a small tote size umbrella just in case you need a bit of shade, an extra pair of inexpensive flip flops in your bag (in case you break a strap!), pony tail holders or ‘scrunchies’ for your hair, and a small dispenser of disposable hand wipes for fast clean-ups and little messes. These come in handy with or without the kids. Hand sanitizer is also a good thing to carry in your purse or bag.

Carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated. A granola bar will make for a handy snack while you’re taking in the mid morning sun and scenery before lunch. Don’t forget the hat!

Bring along your camera, an extra battery pack or batteries, extra memory cards and a gallon size box of zip-lock bags for storage of smaller items. These come in handy when you need to keep something safe and dry.

Bring along breath fresheners for between brushing – you never know who you may want to talk to.

A backpack for the hike in the woods or the country made of water-resistant, coated nylon fabrics is your best bet for carrying stuff for this type of getaway. Always carry a long sleeve shirt, a of bottle of water, chewing gum, nuts, beef jerky and perhaps a few granola bars for your hike in the woods or up a mountain. Mosquito repellent and sun block are essential for this type of trip, as well.

If you take medication, always carry it with you. If you have to have it with you, put it in a water-proof bag and tuck it with your valuables.

Always let someone know where you are going and when you might be back. If you carry a cell phone, text someone close to you and let them know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you are expected to return.

Have a safe and fun trip where ever you go!

If you’re planning a weekend getaway, planning what to and what not to carry will ensure that you have exactly what you need on your trip.

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Our Summer Vacation in Lake City, Colorado

By Marcella Simmons

This past summer, we drove up to Lake City, Colorado where we spent five days at the Texan Resort. We had a two-story three bedroom cabin large enough we could all spread out and stretch without bumping into each other at every turn. With all the comforts of home at our fingertips, we rested and enjoyed ourselves.

While we were in Lake City, we had a picnic downtown at the park while the little ones played with the other kids.

In the evenings, back at the cabin we grilled hamburgers while the kids played horseshoes with some of the other guests at the resort. The kids were fortunate enough to meet up with some children who lived there year round who showed our clan some fun and adventure while we were there.

The mornings were rather cool but sitting on the front porch wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping hot coffee while the family slept soothed my nerves. At the end of our journey, it was me who cried because we had to leave. Staying at The Texan Resort was an experience of a lifetime. This was one time I wanted to stay the entire summer.

The Texan Resort has cabins to fit every group size and budget. They wash their linen and towels everyday and hang them out in the sun to dry. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my mother did the laundry. Fresh air-dried towels and linen are the best.

While we were in Lake City, we eased up the mountain to the Hard Tack Mine Tours & Museum. The tour into the mine shaft was cool and educational, but the gift shop caught their eye immediately. Fortunately for them, I had rolls of quarters on hand for them to spend at the gift shop! If you go up to the mine, wear shoes and take a light jacket. It is cold inside the tunnel.

Later in the week on Friday, we went to the Mountaineer Theatre downtown and saw Finding Dora. The theater is a one-of-a-kind gem nestled out at the corner of town, and the family running it are down-home good people.

Lake City is a relaxed, laid back little town. There are a few horseback outfitters in the area and backpacking, and rafting if you’re into that kind of thing.

For me, just relaxing and enjoying my week at the cabin is all I needed. We will be at the Texan Resort for many years to come.

Lake City, Colorado, a laid back quiet oasis in the Rocky Mountains is a perfect place to vacation with or without the kids. The Texan Resort is highly recommended by our family, kid-tested and kid approved. The Rocky Mountains is full of wonderful places to visit but if you’re looking for peace and quiet, Lake City has it all.

Marcella is the publisher of several travel websites for families such as The Family Travel Host USA at

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Traveling – Good Times On A Budget

By Marcella Simmons

I love to travel with my family as much as I love to eat! But sometimes finances (and lack there of) puts a damper on travel plans to some extent. Every year, we take off somewhere during the summer months and stay gone three or four weeks at a time. Yet we have a shoe string budget (no spending money at all except for money for essentials like food, gas and lodging.) We have been traveling as a family for many years. We seldom travel solo as some people do. There are always two or three car loads of kids, grand kids and friends and family and their kids who come along for a little fun! But we have a good time no matter where we end up. Let me tell you our little secret for a traveling good time on a budget.

While you’re traveling too and fro, find the cheapest gas available. Sometimes driving away from the Interstate you may be able to find gas as much as 12 or 15 cents cheaper, give or take. It pays to shop around.

#1: Book your rooms several months early or in advance to save money. Remember too that room rates are usually cheaper during the first part of the week and the prices go up on weekends. Every few dollars saved can be used for other things. Depending on what time of year it is, consider this: a motel with an inside or heated pool during the winter months is a good idea because the kids can swim. Even in the summer, an inside pool is ideal in case it rains. Have a little fun yourself. Grab your swim toys and hop in!

#2: If you plan on taking the family someplace fun and exciting, it’s best to plan ahead. Know where you are going. Let the Internet be your next best friend. Get familiar with your destination. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau and request brochures, travel guides and maps. Don’t be shy – ask questions. Find out all about the free festivities going on in town for the week of your planned stay. Remember your budget. If you are taking kids and other family members on the trip, the more you have to do the better. Sometimes the freebies is more fun than you think.

Next, decide on one or two paid activities (remember to stay within your budget) such as the zoo or an amusement park and book online. Some zoos/aquariums offers a combo package which can save about $10 or 12 a person – usually you can find some great deals online but be careful when buying tickets online – be sure to read the fine print.

If you have a question about what you are buying, call the number given and ask before you buy. If it’s unclear what you are purchasing online then it’s unclear what you’re getting.

A free adventure tip: If you are running out of things to do, and the kids are bored, take them to visit a local pet shop. It’s free to look. A domestic mini zoo! Sometimes pet shops have activities going on, sometimes not.

#3: Months before the trip, set aside at least two rolls of quarters per person for spending allowance. Tell each person how much money they have for the duration of the trip and stick to it. It’s hard giving in when the little ones spend all their allowance and whine for more. When you’re a budget sometimes you have to sacrifice a few little things to stay within your means.

Quarters spend as easily as dollars. They may seem a little bulkier but this a great way to keep your hands off the credit cards and out of your wallet every where you stop.

#4: Set aside several rolls of quarters to wash clothes every evening. It makes sense to start saving early. Shop at local dollar stores for laundry detergent. Buy a container that will last the duration of the trip. Whatever’s left over you can always take home.

Bring the kids a beach towel and swim suit. When they’re done at the pool hang the wet items over the shower stall for the next time they want to swim.

When we first started vacationing with the grand kids, I brought the towels and swim wear but they would go swimming several times a day and not wear the wet swim suit again because they were wet and cold. I’d have at least 4 washers full of wet clothes every day. Not happening now. It may be a little inconvenient for them and a bit cold but they’re going swimming and are going to be soaked in a matter of minutes.

Washing clothes is expensive if you’re budgeting your funds. Save the money for something else.

#5: Stay away from coffee shops. Starbucks is expensive. Why pay $4 or 5 for one cup of coffee when you bring along your own coffee pot and can of coffee. Bring the sugar and creamer too. Like tea? Bring your own. You can drink as little or as much as you want and you’re not spending a fortune on one single cup.

Bring a thermos on the trip. During the drive in and drove home, you can fill a large thermos for less than what a medium cup of coffee costs, usually around $1.59 per thermos. And it holds several cups.

#6: Carry the coolers. Stock them with plenty of water and your favorite drinks for the road trip ahead.

#7: If you are planning your trip months in advance, this is good. Remember though that you will have to eat. We eat out everyday, once a day usually at a fast food restaurant because of the Value Menus. But one way we do it and not have to take away from our trip budget is simple really. Restaurant gift cards. Every week, several months before our trip, I fudge $10 – $15 out of my grocery money and buy a gift card for Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, Dairy Queen, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Applebee’s, Denny’s or I-Hop. Cracker Barrel has cards available, too. There may be others but these are some of our favorites. You can find these gift cards at dollar stores or Walmart and they are redeemable any time.

Buying a card once a week isn’t as bad as it seems. You’ll probably never miss the $10 or $15 dollars you spend out of your grocery money any way.

I do this every week and when it’s time for the trip, I usually have enough gift cards for our family and we eat out in the evenings every day of the trip. It doesn’t come out of our living expense budget set aside for our trip.

I usually book motels that offer a deluxe breakfast (waffles, eggs, the works… ) so we don’t worry much about that. Besides, some assorted fruit, breakfast bars, a few boxes of cereal and milk kept in the room takes care of that and in between snacks during the day. Lunch is usually sandwiches and chips or a bowl of soup from a can.

It might seem like a little more work to be prepared but if you limited with spending money for eating out, this is the only way to go. I know. If you have a bunch of hungry kids and no money set aside to feed them a burger once in awhile, you will end up wishing you’d stay home. If they are ungrateful and think you’re cheap, so what? They will forget it and remember only the good times they had with you when it’s all over. Been there, done that!

#8: Take a few minutes for yourself while you are gone. Let someone watch the little ones while you take a dip in the pool, or a relaxing hour in the hot tub by yourself. Or stroll along the beach with your significant other and just enjoy some alone time with your favorite person or alone, whichever you prefer. It’s free, and good for the soul and it’s good for what ails you. Just because you are on a budget doesn’t man you can’t enjoy your trip. I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and each trip we take just gets better and better.

Enjoy a movie in the room while everyone else is down at the pool. Take a hot bubble bath and sip a glass of wine. Relaxation is free and revives the spirit!

That’s my tips for today, Guys! Traveling is fun and exciting and expensive but you can enjoy it on a budget. You just have to learn what works best for you.

Marcella is the publisher of several travel websites for families such as The Family Travel Host USA at

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Our Vacation Experience in Albuquerque, New Mexico

By Marcella Simmons
It was hot the afternoon we got into town. We had been driving all day – we were hot and tired and the A/C had quit in the front of the van. To make matters worse, somewhere between Blanding, Utah and Albuquerque, I had lost several hundred dollars out of my purse. It was a nightmare because we hadn’t eat anything since lunch and the kids were hungry. I didn’t want to put anything else on a credit card until we got to our motel. Money was already getting tight, especially since we had just spent three weeks in Colorado and Utah.

The first three nights we were supposed to stay at Hotel Cascada in Albuquerque but when we arrived, the lobby was dark and they had evacuated everyone, including the employees because of a transformer explosion that not only affected the electricity – it also blew out a water main or valve. To make matters worse, they had no computers up and running and couldn’t refund our money until a later date. By this time I was crying. There was no extra money to rent another motel for the next three nights so in a moment of nervousness and tears I asked to speak to a manager in charge. Some new arrivals were upset because they had driven for hours with their families, but things happen. There was one woman that came in and threw a fit and started cursing the handful of staff left handling the evacuation. A security officer was summoned and escorted her off the property.

It’s bad enough that the motel was in darkness – it was the weekend and both the power and water had been shut off, not to mention that it was already getting late in the evening.

The kids had their mind set on staying at the Hotel Cascada and had water park tickets for each day of our stay. But things happen and sometimes, you just have to make the best of any situation. That’s what we did.

The manager from the Hotel Cascada immediately made arrangements for us at Home2 Suites on University Blvd.

We spent the next three nights at Home2 Suites and let me tell you, they had the best beds I have ever slept on. The breakfast was super. The staff made sure we were comfortable. There was even a dishwasher and kitchenette with dishes in each room. The only complaint I had was that the pool was rather small. Other than that all was good and our stay was excellent. The rooms were large and spacious and bright. I wanted to stay longer but we already had four nights left at the Hyatt Place Albuquerque/Uptown on Arvada Ave paid for in advance so we moved on day four.

The pool Hyatt Place was awesome. The staff went out of their way to see to it we had a wonderful stay. Breakfast was not only good but everything was served fresh.

Hinkle Family Fun Center located at the northwest corner of Tramway and Indian School is one of our favorite places for fun. The good thing is, you can’t spend just one day there. We try to go as much as we can afford to.

We ride the bumper boats, the go-karts, and spend endless hours inside playing the arcade games. This place is awesome and it’s not just for kids. They have a spin wheel that is my favorite! Taking home the prizes afterwards is a lot of fun.

While we were in Albuquerque, we ventured out to the Albuquerque Zoo and Botanical Gardens one day; Cliff’s Amusement Park the next; we visited the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science on Mountain Road.

We walked around Old Town and ventured in the local shops. We ate at the Hacienda del Rio Restaurant & Cantina in Old Town section of Albuquerque.

Our trip home was long but not boring. The kids were already making plans for the next year and believe me, this ma-maw is ready to go! As I say, have grand children, will travel!!! We’ll see you there…

Albuquerque, New Mexico is a wonderful place to bring your family for a vacation of a lifetime. There are so many things to see and do – the kids will want to come back year after year.

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Friendly Places to Travel With Grandchildren

By Marcella Simmons
My yearning to travel goes way back as far as I can remember. School field trips was one of my favorite things to do because our class visited places that were sometimes taken for granted especially if they were in our town or city. We’d visit museums and interesting places like the Houston Planetarium, the Intercontinental Airport and Hermann Park Zoo field trips stick out in mind more than anything. Someday, I will venture back to Houston, Texas to revisit the places of my school days! My grandchildren would appreciate visiting some of these places as well.

Now, many years later, as an adult and an avid traveler, before leaving for a trip, I search out every museum in the town or city of our upcoming trip destination before hand. We fill every day with tons of activities, some of which is free or inexpensive, educational and all the while, we’re making memories as a family.

The Internet is a luxury I never had back in the seventies. Had it been around back those days, there’s no telling where I’d be today! Maps are easily at our disposal and GPS’s makes traveling so much easier. Nowadays, before arriving at a destination, I know exactly what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it. Nothing bothers me more than to hear a bunch of teenagers whining about being bored and not having anything to do! Especially on my trip! So I plan every day ahead of time, and make sure that slack times are in the evenings where we gather around the pool and enjoy a good swim or if we’re camping out, we all gather around the fire where we can roast wieners or marshmallows, make s’mores and have family time and share our thoughts and pictures of the day.

We’re not the perfect family and no, we don’t always have a perfect vacation… but we make memories and have fun trying and that’s what makes it so good! Because we are not rich and have to vacation on a shoe string budget every year makes us appreciate the things we do and see, and the places we go! It’s not all about theme parks, glitz and famous places – there’s something good even in the smallest museums. You just have to know ‘what’ and ‘where’ it is! It’s called research! If you travel with teens, nine times out of ten they carry cell phones. Keep them busy on Google looking for fun activities in the town you’re visiting. You’ll never know what you may find!

Let me tell you about our trip last year.

Day one, we started off here in the South, drove to Amarillo, where we spent the night in an affordable room that served breakfast. In the evening before retiring for the night, we ate sandwiches and chips, and swam for a while and ended the evening with a movie or two. The next day we spent the biggest part of our day driving on to Colorado Springs, Colorado where we spent the next few days having a blast before going on to the next destination on our itinerary.

Day three, while we were in Colorado Springs, our first visit was to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado.

They have a wonderful display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. In addition to vibrant graphics and life-restoration sculptures, visitors could venture around the museum reading the stories of each specimen. They also have a working fossil laboratory where important recently discovered paleontological specimens are being freed from their rock matrix and undergoing restoration, as well as a children’s area where they can brush off fossils in our dig box, there are books to read, a magnetic board for them to make their own imaginative dinosaur, and a rubbing station where they can take home their colorful drawings of dinosaurs. Everyone in the family will enjoy the Dinosaur Resource Center. If you have a few extra dollars to spend, there is a gift shop for souvenirs.

Later that evening we had dinner, swam at the pool at our motel and spent the remainder getting baths, and ready for bed so we could get a decent start the next day. Since we had such a large group with us, we got multiple rooms where everyone wouldn’t be too cramped and could enjoy a good nights sleep after the long drive the day before and the outing this day. Our motel wasn’t the best but it provided the essentials we needed at an affordable price, and it was clean and quiet. We were on a budget!

The next day, we packed a picnic lunch and headed off to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, five miles west of Colorado Springs.

We toured the Anasazi Museum. Impressive dioramas depicted the daily life of the Pueblo Anasazi. At the museum, we saw exhibits of tools, pottery, weapons, and informative videos that offered a glimpse of the mysterious people who left a remarkable architectural legacy on mesa tops and in cliff walls like the one at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Scientists still are unsure why the Anasazi left their cliff dwelling homes hundreds of years ago, but when you tour the dwellings and museum you’ll also become intrigued with finding out more about their lives as my family has.

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings was an all-time favorite. My grandchildren spent hours roaming through the cliff dwellings and climbing in and out the dwelling windows and outlets as the Anasazi children probably did hundreds of years ago. It was something we all found in common and most of the older grand kids are still in search of unanswered questions about the Anasazi of the Colorado Springs area that dwelt here many years ago.

Day five, we were on our way to Cripple Creek, Colorado for a one-night stay. We had a train ride the next day aboard the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge train was small in comparison to the ones that we’ve rode in the past, but it was a huge blast with the kids as we took a scenic tour up the mountain. They took turns helping the conductor steer the train up the mountain. The younger children were excited beyond degree and talked about their experience driving the train for days to come. Though we had to drive quite awhile to get there it was worth it in the end.

Day six, we headed over to Sugar Bush Camp Ground located in Howard, Colorado just a few minutes from Salida where we’d spend the next three days camping out and touring the countryside. We drove over to Canon City to the Royal Gorge Bridge, the world’s highest suspension bridge that was built back in 1929.

You’ll find some surprising adventure awaiting you at the bridge – a miniature train, a theatre and historical expo, a skycoaster, zip line, gondola and the bridge’s newest addition, children’s playland. Your admission ticket allows you peruse the entire park. It may seem a little scary but it is truly worth the visit. Personally I am afraid of heights and walking the 2,200 feet across the Royal Gorge over 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River really wasn’t my cup of tea. I walked across in the middle with my eyes shut with grand kids on both sides leading me on! I frantically made my way across without looking through the cracks! The quiet and scenic views made the walk memorable but being the scardie-cat that I am, I wasn’t ready for the return trip back across.

Day nine, we left the Salida area and ventured over to Leadville. We rode the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad later in the afternoon. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this scenic train trip lasted about two and a half hours. We traveled about 1,000 feet above the headwaters of the Arkansas River Valley. We chose the open car because the afternoon was cool and the kids enjoyed not being cooped up for the journey.

Day ten, we drove up to Lake City where we spent the next five days at TEXAN RESORT. We had a two-story three bedroom cabin large enough we could all spread out and stretch without bumping into each other at every turn. With all the comforts of home at our fingertips, we rested and enjoyed ourselves. While we were in Lake City, we had a picnic downtown at the park while the little ones played with the other kids. We grilled hamburgers in the evenings back at the cabin while the kids played horseshoes with some of the other guests at the resort. We were fortunate enough to meet up with some children who lived there year round who showed our clan some fun and adventure while we were there. The mornings were rather cool but sitting on the front porch wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping hot coffee while the family slept on soothed my nerves. I wasn’t ready to go home. I’m not sure I’d really want to be in Lake City in the dead of winter but at this moment when all was well with me, it was a wonderful thought!

This is our fifth year staying at the TEXAN RESORT – they have cabins to fit your group size. Be sure and tell I recommended them when you call. If you like to fish, hunt, hike or just want to get away for a few days, then The Texan Resort is the place to be.

While we were in Lake City, we took the kids to the park downtown, and we eased up the mountain to the Hard Tack Mine Tours & Museum. The tour into the mine shaft was cool and educational to say the least, but the gift shop caught their eye immediately. I handed out rolls of quarters and let them spend a few dollars on rocks and magnets, etc.

Later in the week on Friday, we went to the Mountaineer Theatre downtown and saw Finding Dora.

Lake City is a relaxed, laid back little town. There are a few horseback outfitters in the area and backpacking, and rafting if you’re into that kind of thing.

Our trip didn’t end there though.

On day sixteen, we left Lake City and decided to take a little longer getting home so we drove over South Fork, Colorado – camped out five days at River Bend Resort – the kids were utterly miserable because our cranky older neighbors kept yelling at them for playing in the water. Chevy Chase made a hit movie here back in the eighties and one would think it would be a family place. If you’ve got kids, this is not the place to be. It is filled with camper trailers and with that comes the older generation who don’t tolerate kids while they’re relaxing and fishing. We were comfortable and all that in our tents and with our air mattresses but the manager came down and threatened to make us leave if the kids kept throwing rocks in the water. So – next year, we won’t do that again.

Since there wasn’t a lot to do in South Fork, I drove the grand kids over to a little town called Mosca – we went to the Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

On Friday evening, we took the kids to the Star Drive-In theater a in Monte Vista about fifteen miles from South Fork. If you’re in the area, and want a real old-fashioned drive in experience, this is the place to be. There are two large screens and two different movies playing on the weekends.

We left South Fork and decided to stay several days in Blanding, Utah. We liked our motel, the Four Corners Inn – there was no pool but Lawrence, the general manager, made our stay comfortable and the breakfast every day were really good. Even though it didn’t have a pool, we were able to find a mini water park in town that was fairly reasonable and the kids loved it there. It stayed open from 1:00 in the afternoon until 7 p.m. We took a picnic lunch each day so that was really nice.

The kids enjoyed an outing at the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding.

We left Blanding and drove the few hundred miles to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The first three nights we were supposed to stay at Hotel Cascada but because of a transformer explosion that not only affected the electricity – it also blew out a water main – we were sent over to Home2 Suites. Everyone at the motel was evacuated and sent over to the other motel. Some new arrivals were upset because they had driven for hours with their families but things happen. It was not their fault that the transformer blew. Michelle, the manager of Hotel Cascada, was as nice and polite as any one person could be and she went out of her way to assist her customers.

We spent three nights there at Home2 Suites and let me tell you, they had the best beds I believe I have ever slept on. The breakfast was super good as well. The staff made sure we were comfortable. There was even a dishwasher and fully stocked kitchenette in each room. We had to buy our own food though!

The last four nights we stayed at Hyatt Place Albuquerque/Uptown – the pool was awesome. The staff went out of their way to see to it we had a wonderful stay. Breakfast was not only good but everything was served fresh.

The kids had a blast out at Hinkle Family Fun Center located at the northwest corner of Tramway and Indian School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We rode the bumper boats, the go-karts, and spent endless hours inside playing the arcade games. This place is awesome and it’s not just for kids. They have this wheel similar to the one on the game show The Price is Right that is my favorite! I played it so much that I hit the 1000 jackpot every time! When it was time to go, it was a lot of fun redeeming the tickets for our gifts. Having over 7000 tickets, I split them with the grand kids and they picked out a lot of stuff to take home.

We ventured out to the Albuquerque Zoo and Botanical Gardens one day; Cliff’s Amusement Park the next; we visited the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science located at 1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM. Phone: (505) 841-2800.

We walked around Old Town and ventured in the local shops. We ate at the HACIENDA DEL RIO RESTAURANT & CANTINA in Old Town section of Albuquerque.

We saved the best for last! Albuquerque NM is the place to be! Look out July 2018! Here we come!

Our trip home was long but not boring. The kids were already making plans for the next year and believe me, this ma-maw is ready to go! As I say, have grand children, will travel!!! We’ll see you there…

Marcella Simmons is the editor/publisher of She has been writing for over twenty years with hundreds of published credits in over three hundred publications worldwide. She loves traveling with her grandchildren.

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Vacationing (With Kids) On a Shoestring Budget

via Vacationing (With Kids) On a Shoestring Budget

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Vacationing (With Kids) On a Shoestring Budget

By Marcella Simmons


Traveling is expensive, and when you’re on a budget, you have to find ways to stay within your spending means. It’s not always easy because there are always fun and exciting things in front of you that is enticing and flattering for you as well as your family. It’s especially hard when you have kids along for the ride.

I know. I travel with kids a lot. It’s almost impossible saying no but sometimes, you just have to.

Sometimes we get into a town and find an unexpected theme park or carnival. The kids have a fit and whine and beg. Saying no is the hardest part. But when you have a budget and going over is taboo – especially if there just isn’t enough funds for the expected, you have to say no and stick with it.

When you have traveled as much as I have, you learn to stay away from toy stores, museum gift shops and expensive candy shops and things such as this. When we travel with the kids and they want to buy souvenirs for friends and family members, we go to Dollar Tree when we reach our destination. They can buy several items for five or six dollars and are able to take souvenirs back with them.

Planning is the key. Research your destination. The Internet gives way to thorough research. Find the free and less expensive places to go first and itemize each one so you’ll know how much you have to spend when you get there. If you have enough left over, go to the places that are a little more expensive. Keep in mind that sometimes the freebies are just as fun as the expensive places. Just have to know before you go.

Stop at a visitor center or chamber of commerce – ask for available discounts and coupons on activities going on while you’re in town. You might get surprised with a handful of free tickets from time to time, or better yet, discount coupons for a variety of fun stuff.

When you’re shopping for rooms, be sure to make sure they have a refrigerator, microwave and a coffee pot – unless you carry your own. You can make coffee, tea and hot chocolate for everyone with the coffee pot. Popcorn, microwavable foods and snacks come in handy between meals – I always stock the ‘frig’ with sandwich meat, hot pockets and pizza rolls. Sausage biscuits and pancakes on a stick are the grandkids favorite snack. The freezer isle at the grocery stores usually carry a variety of microwavable food. Eating out gets expensive so why not eat like you would at home?  Remember your budget and stick with it.

A reminder: there are hotel coupon books at truck stops and convenient stores in most places – be sure to browse and if you can, save a few dollars using the coupon available. We usually save about $20 or sometimes more, a night while we are traveling to our destination. If you are a senior, sign up for AARP before you leave home and take

advantage of that 10% off rooms. Tip: dollar stores will give you 10% off some items if you have AARP – ask for assistance in this area. Restaurants honor a 10% discount if you have AARP.

When we are traveling, we like to make sure that the motel where we stay for the night has FREE breakfast. When you have two or three kids along, this will save you about $10 or $15 that morning. Take advantage of the breakfast – it might be a bit early but you are traveling just like everybody else. Getting a free meal for the road not only saves you money but time as well.

When we stop for gas, we DO NOT buy soft drinks, candy or chips at convenient stores. I make sure we have plenty of snacks, especially animal crackers and apples, on hand and the cooler is always stocked while we are on the road. Learn to say no before you stop. Tell the family ‘bathroom break only.’

Setting aside a spending budget is not hard – staying within the budget is. If it’s possible, never carry large amounts of cash. Carry in what you are going to spend and don’t go over that.

These suggestions have been tried and tested many times and they work. I usually take three grandchildren with me on road trips and believe me, spending on odds and ends along the way can get expensive. Through trial and error I found a way to curb the spending and so can you. My money is too hard to make to spend on junk food and expensive souvenirs. I ant to spend my money on things that matter most and still have a wonderful time.

One last tip: if you are a coffee drinker like me, carry a thermos. You can refill it for the price of a refill on a cup of coffee and have several cups to share.

Have a safe trip…

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Estes Park Family Fun Host

DENVER (February 13, 2018) – Spring in Colorado offers sunshine, powder, ideal temperatures and a wide array of spring break deals for family adventures throughout the state. From swooshing down the slopes of iconic resorts such as Aspen or Vail or some of Colorado’s gem resorts such as Purgatory and Monarch Mountain to indulging in a true western experience at any one of the state’s dude and guest ranches, springtime in Colorado showcases a variety of experiences for a memorable spring family getaway. For more information, visit

Spring Ski Discounts:

Aspen Skiing Company. Known for it’s four diverse mountains, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass, Aspen offers a variety of terrain for any kind of skier or snowboarder. This spring, the resort is offering the Perfect Storm Package, allowing visitors to buy four days of skiing and get a fifth day free. With this package, skiers will also…

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Colorado Family Fun Guide

Denver, CO – Going off the beaten-path sometimes creates the most authentic connections and memories when traveling. Looking at an old favorite with new eyes and perspective can bring out the best in an often-visited location. Or, perhaps for the most well-traveled visitor to Colorado, time giving back to a non-profit or supporting the environment creates a new sense of appreciation for the outdoors and public lands. The Colorado Field Guide brings fresh exploratory ideas and opportunities to visitors this summer with new look-and-feel planning tools and more inspiration from all corners of the state.   

Here are eight ways to use the Colorado Field Guide to get to the lesser-known, travel like a local, and experience the unexpected on a Colorado visit this summer:

Plan Your Getaway: Build A Trip by Length, Region, City, Season or Activity. Heading to Colorado but for how many days? Looking for art galleries or…

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New ride for Magic Springs


via New ride for Magic Springs

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Paddling the Caddo River

via Paddling the Caddo River

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Hiking in Southwest Arkansas!

via Hiking in Southwest Arkansas!

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Mark Martin to host final annual Fan Appreciation Days in Batesville

Mark Martin to host final annual Fan Appreciation Days in Batesville

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Family Traveler to Launch Quarterly Tabloid in June 2018

Family Traveler to Launch Quarterly Tabloid in June 2018

Attention – Family Traveler Readers: We are printing a quarterly tabloid for Family Travel Host USA (printed every 4 months) – first issue debuts June 2018, then October 2018, February 2019, and again starting June 2019. The tabloid will be distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington – at this point – 25,000 copies per state. We will drop them at various convenient stores, motels and shops from one state to another every quarter (months printed above).

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The Top 5 Tips For Having The Perfect Family Vacation

By Thad Pickering

Having a successful and fun vacation requires planning and advance preparation anyway, but when it is a family vacation there is even more to consider on the family vacation getaway. Since you have more people involved and they are of different sizes and age groups, there will be differing needs and wants on the trip. So here are the top 5 tips for having the perfect family vacation:

1. You can keep boredom down to a minimum by thinking ahead and bringing some favorite games, videos and books along on the trip. This is very important for kids as they like to have things to do and the hours spent traveling to a faraway destination can seem to just drag for them. If traveling in a car, pull over regularly and let everyone stretch their legs and walk around a bit to help improve moods too.

2. Don’t try to do everything when you arrive at your destination. Some families just feel that they have to be constantly on the run to make it the perfect family vacation. But this is actually very wearing and at the end of the trip you can actually feel more tired and drained than if you had not had the vacation at all. It’s a good idea then to follow a high activity day with a low activity day to keep things balanced and avoid too much stress.

3. Be flexible in your scheduling. Some folks are extremely scheduled in their professional life and they bring that same mindset to their family vacation getaway. But things happen that you often can’t foresee and when they do you will only make the situation worse for all involved if you stick stubbornly to a preset routine or plan that does not allow for variation. Just relax, and enjoy your time together as circumstances allow.

4. Budget your vacation in advance and keep an eye on the money that is being spent each day. There is nothing that introduces more stress in parents that watching the money that they brought disappear way too quickly and not knowing where it is going. This can also lead to real frustration after the vacation is over too. However, those who have the best family vacations learn to establish clear budgets for each segment of the trip including the travel, lodging, meals, activities, souvenirs and so on. Then they watch the daily expenditures carefully to make sure that they do not exceed their budget limits.

5. You don’t have to do everything together as a family either. Of course, you also don’t want to do everything separately, but there is a happy medium where you can enjoy activities in smaller groups that may appeal to certain ones in the family, and then other activities can be things that everyone can enjoy together. Just trying to make every event fit everyone just usually doesn’t work too well.

These simple tips can contribute toward having fun family vacations that everyone can enjoy. That way you can look back after the trip is over and say that it was one of the best family vacations that you ever had.

Thad Pickering writes on many consumer related topics including vacation travel. You can find out more about finding the best family vacations [] and fun family vacations [] by visiting our Vacation Guide website.

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Read This If You Want To Find The Perfect Family Vacation Destination

By Morris Raymond

Family dynamics are an interesting thing, and given the types of chasms that can exist between kids and their parents, it would be a little surprising to see how any common ground could exist. Then again, there is one glorious thing that can bring the entire family together for one common goal – choosing the next family vacation destination.

Ah, the family vacation. It’s the one time of year that everyone in the household can set aside generational divides and complex social constructs for doing nothing more getting away from the hustle and bustle of life.

There really is only one real problem with choosing a family vacation destination – choosing the ‘perfect’ destination. Perfection, in reality, is not just not attainable, and to strive for it may end up taking the fun out of what should be the best time of the year for the whole family. It may be best to plan for great family vacation. Sure, there may be some possible hiccups along the way, but that’s part of the experience of a vacation.

Regardless, if you’re looking to choose the right place for your family getaway, you need to do some significant planning. Here are some things to consider:

Establish and Maintain A Budget – There was a time when families would have savings accounts dedicated to specific expenditures during the year (e.g., Christmas Club). The same goes for saving up money for the family vacation. When it comes to planning out the getaway, don’t allocate money you don’t have. Otherwise, you might be in for a rude awakening.

Look At Multiple Calendars – Sure, you might have a time of year that works for your whole family, but if you aren’t careful in checking as many calendars as possible, you might miss out on some cool stuff. For example, if you travel abroad & aren’t aware of major holidays, you may not be able to visit certain tourist sites as they may be closed for these holidays. Maybe you’re sticking to domestic travel, but if where you’re traveling is having a massive annual motorcycle rally that welcomes tens of thousands of riders, your family may not get the most out of your vacation.

Make A Working Itinerary – Vacations are supposed to be fun, but you also want to be sure to get the most out of your time away. You can be lazy at home. If you’ve taken the time to travel, make a plan. A working itinerary is helpful to make sure your family can stay on schedule, see a whole lot of things, and still have room for trying something new.

Communication – There’s not much to say here. You’re traveling as a family, and maintaining communication between each other will be key to get the most out of your getaway together.

A family vacation destination will mean something different to every single family. By maintaining open communication between family members and being proactive in your planning, it is possible to find a vacation destination that is about as perfect as possible. Just keep in mind that the notion of perfection may be a little too ambitious, and if you’re apt to fall apart when things aren’t ideal, you’d be missing out on the best part of the vacation – spending quality time with the ones you love.

Click here for a great family vacation destination near Taos, NM.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation 2016

Summertime is just right around the corner! It’s time for summer vacation!

Family Travel Host USA

leadville train 5by Marshall Lewis


     This summer was unlike any other that I have had.  I say this because I got to visit other states.  These states included Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and a little bit of Arizona.  It was an awesome experience!  I recommend going to these places even if you weren’t thinking about it. 

     We left my hometown of Gorum, Louisiana at 5:30 A.M., and we picked up Johnathon and Emmett Bull at Flora, Louisiana at 6;00 A.M.  Then we headed toward Amarillo, Texas.  We stopped at Shreveport for a Taco Bell breakfast, and then stopped at the Texas Tourist Bureau for maps and brochures.  When we got to Dallas, we took a wrong turn and had to get turned around.  We had driven about 13 hours when we arrived in Amarillo at the hotel.  We…

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Upcoming Trip To Santa Fe New Mexico in April

Upcoming Trip To Santa Fe New Mexico in April

By Marcella Simmons


In April, we are heading to Santa Fe, me, hubby-dearest and the three grandsons. This will be our second year doing the Santa Fe week getaway in the Spring in the spring and kind of know what to expect. But this year it will be a little different. Maybe.

I was diagnosed with stage 4 mouth cancer back in August 2017 and had surgery in October. The doctors removed the tumor and 98 lymph nodes which all came back negative at that time and said I was cancer free. I started taking radiation treatments on January 3rd 2018, and am finishing up next Tuesday. Our trip is just a month and a few days away.

My worries at this point is if I am going to be able to make such a long trip this soon. We’ll soon see. I just hope that I don’t get so tired or sick and ruin it all for everybody that’s going especially the grand kids. They have waited such a long time for a road trip.

We have a really nice motel already booked that is clean and comfortable and the beds are really good. To top that they have a deluxe breakfast (waffles!) We enjoy the breakfast bar a lot and that helps when you’re on a tight budget anyway.

We’ll be at the inn at Santa Fe… I’d like to say, The Inn at Santa Fe is our favorite place in all the world. The staff is friendly and supportive and go out of their way to make our stay one to remember.

The first day we arrive, you can bet I am going to rest. Hubby-dearest can take the grandsons down to the heated pool and let them splish and splash for the afternoon. Then we can go out to eat somewhere inexpensive and call it a day.

Day two, we can head over to Albuquerque and the kids can play at Hinkle Family Fun Center for the entire afternoon. Hubby and I enjoy being here as well and play as much as the kids do. At the end of the day, we share our tickets with the kids and they carry home several bags of loot!

Day three, we’re heading back to Albuquerque and we’re going go to the zoo and aquarium and spend the day. We’ll picnic somewhere in the zoo. At 3 o’clock we’ll take the little train back fro the aquarium to the zoo and head back to Santa Fe. We’ll probably eat pizza for supper!

Day four, we’re going to stick around Santa Fe and visit the old churches downtown as well as some of the other museums and shops in town. We’ll find a nice little Mexican restaurant and have a family dinner.

Day five, we’ll head over to Albuquerque, visit several second hand shops, and several free museums and later that afternoon go over to the dinosaur museum and watch a   movie at the dino-theatre and another one at the planetarium.

Day six, we’ll head back to Texas and stop for the night in Amarillo before starting home.
That’s our plans in a nutshell. I can’t hardly wait till time to go! Santa Fe, here we come!

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The Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum, National Register Historic District, will open for the 2018 season on May 5. It is open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and is located… Read More Here

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Keeping Kids Happy

Keeping Kids Happy

Let Deer Valley’s state-licensed children’s center entertain kids who are pre-ski (they’ll take 2 months to 12 years) or post-ski (i.e. tuckered out) so you can ski in peace. There’s also an award-winning ski school (not just for kids) so beginning skiers can learn the proper safety and technique for the best day ever. They’ll have more fun without you, too.

Read Full Story Here


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Join us on a History Tour of Downtown Tucson

Join us on a History Tour of Downtown Tucson

Sunday, February 18, 2018

When we will be in search of George Hand’s Tucson
as it was in the 1870’s.

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February Trailhead: Hydro Flask Giveaway | Sled Dogs | Aprés-ski | Surf Bend

via February Trailhead: Hydro Flask Giveaway | Sled Dogs | Aprés-ski | Surf Bend

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Get the New Mexico True Adventure Guide Here

via Get the New Mexico True Adventure Guide Here

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Smithsonian Exhibition Celebrating Sports in American Communities coming to the Pioneer Florida Museum

Smithsonian Exhibition Celebrating Sports in American Communities coming to the Pioneer Florida Museum

Baseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Kickball. Surfing. People around the country are drawn to compete in these sports and many others. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns. The Pioneer Florida Museum & Village in cooperation with […] Read More Here

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Experience everything the waters of Tampa Bay have to offer!

via Experience everything the waters of Tampa Bay have to offer!

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Attend The John’s Pass Seafood Festival

via Attend The John’s Pass Seafood Festival

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