Explore America’s favorite mountain town in all its glory through the lens of newlyweds. Visiting Estes Park left us feeling wild, free, and completely rejuvenated.
Estes Park is full of adventure, from shopping and dining in the heart of town to quick hiking access in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Everything is at your fingertips in this quaint town.
Estes Park, CO is a wonderful place to visit whether you’re visiting with family or honeymooning with your sweetheart. Last March, my husband and I eloped in Rocky Mountain National Park and stayed in Estes Park for our honeymoon.
Honeymooning in Estes Park was the best decision for an after-wedding getaway.
It was one of those vacations where you have plenty to do, but you’re also in the right atmosphere to just kick back and not have something scheduled on an itinerary every second of the day. It’s the best of both worlds.
Though I’m a bit biased as a frequent Colorado traveler, I think visiting Estes Park, CO was a perfect honeymoon.
After our nuptials, it was a true escape from our everyday lives.
When we went into the park (RMNP) we were freed of cell phone service. This was honestly a blessing in disguise… Especially when you just want to bask in newlywed bliss and don’t want to be bothered by people at home. Then there’s the fact that the air is so much cleaner, the town is quiet, and there’s just a true sense of serenity and calm in the air. There’s a variety of things to do for fun and it’s fairly affordable.
Here are a few things you can’t miss out on when visiting Estes Park, CO!
Places of Interest When Visiting Estes Park
Restaurants & Bars
The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern
I had my favorite meal here during our trip. They offer all kinds of American meals, focusing on high-quality fish and meats. Everything we ate here was divine! The ambiance was great because they have live music in the evenings. This made for such a positive experience.
This Irish Pub has such a friendly, casual atmosphere with lots of great drinks on the menu. I distinctly remember getting some sort of mixed drink and a shot here (can you blame me?). Plus, any place that has fries and veggie burgers has my heart.
Notchtop Bakery and Cafe
The is absolutely the best breakfast place in town. I ordered this delicious banana nut bread french toast, and since we were on vacation I also had to have a mimosa. A very pleasant morning surprise!
Mountain Home Cafe
Another great local breakfast joint. I think they serve lunch here, too, but we dined in for breakfast. Our meal here was particularly memorable because I ordered something I’d never had before but really enjoyed: German Potato Pancakes served with applesauce on the side. It was so unique!
Bird and Jim
This was the place we ate our first newlywed dinner at! My husband’s parents bought us a gift card for this restaurant, so we had to try it. It was the most highly-reviewed restaurant in town, and the atmosphere was so inviting. We of course ordered drinks to celebrate (they have whiskey flights that are out of this world) and noshed on gourmet burgers and fries. This was another favorite of ours! I would recommend making reservations, though, as this place gets super busy.
Antonio’s Real New York Pizza
This has to be the best pizza in town. There are so many specialty pizzas on the menu and they were so filling. I just remember us both pretty much saying we wished we were staying another day just so we could eat here again!
Casa Grande Mexicana
This Mexican restaurant boasts a large menu of traditional Mexican dishes. My husband was so happy they had authentic tamales on the menu. This was one of his favorite meals.
Sweet Basilico Italian Cuisine
If you’re a pasta fan like me you’ll love this place. We ordered take out from here and it was delicious! I’m not hard to please when it comes to pasta, but I could really tell it was house-made food from scratch. Try it!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking inside the park or elsewhere, Estes Park boasts many hiking trails. There are a few nature trails in town and many, many more outside of it, deep in the wilderness. We knew we’d be spending most of our free time here. Even with cold temperatures in the lower parts of the mountains, we were okay with just winter coats and nothing more.
It is a bit of a drive if you plan on driving toward the higher-altitude hiking trails, but they have so many beautiful lakes here. The sights are worth it!
Just be sure to dress in layers, and prepare for ice and snow if you’re hiking anytime other than summer. Weather up there can get crazy at the drop of a hat. Expect high winds and be smart hiking in colder temperatures.
Another thing I want to mention is that you’ll likely be able to walk on the frozen lakes if you come during the colder times of year like we did. Check with rangers at their stations near lake entrances, and they’ll be able to tell you if it’s safe that day.
We got so many pictures out on the snowy lakes and loved it, even when we were freezing our butts off.
Some mentionable places we explored in RMNP include:
• Bear Lake
• Sprague Lake
• Alluvial Fan
• Mummy Mountain
• Moraine Park
• Lily Lake (it’s technically not in the park, but it’s right outside of it)
You will need to purchase a park pass, but it is well worth the money, especially if you’ll be visiting daily like us. The weekly passes are very affordable.
Elements of Touch Wellness Spa & River Retreat
We visited this tiny spa that was just right for us. We purchased 90-minute packages that essentially included full body skin treatments. It included massage, aromatherapy, sauna blankets, and different masks they applied to us for detoxification purposes. They provide lots of water for guests to stay hydrated, and they let you shower afterward to get 100% clean.
When they heard it was our honeymoon, they presented us with a box of chocolates which was so thoughtful! I’d recommend this place if you’re interested in scheduling some relaxation in during your stay.
The Stanley Hotel
If you’re into spooky stuff, or just plain love history, this hotel is a must see. I’d visited here once before, but my husband had never been and ended up really enjoying it.
You can purchase tickets to a ghost tour in the evening or a historical tour during the daytime. Both will mention history and ghost sightings, but the ghost tour focuses more on the spooky aspects. You’ll tour several places on the grounds, and although it only lasts an hour it’s enough to make me not want to stay the night there…
Many mistakenly believe this was the hotel in the movie The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson. But it is actually the hotel Stephen King stayed in before he wrote the book The Shining. This hotel inspired him to write it because of all the creepy things that happened to him when he stayed. So although there was no filming of The Shining here, it’s still pretty cool that it inspired Stephen King’s fictional horror story.
Green Jeep Tours
Even if you don’t plan on doing any hiking in the park, this is an absolute must when you come to the area. Riding in the back of a Jeep, wind in your hair, is the best way to experience all the beauty of nature and wildlife without being too distracted by driving. This trip allows all riders to enjoy the experience safely.
The drivers of the Jeep will make several stops in the park and cover the best places on the west side of the park. You may see moose, deer, elk, and more on your travels down these winding roads, so be prepared with binoculars. You’ll also get some amazing photos of Long’s Peak at one of the stops, a delight to any adventure seeker or traveler.
Where to Stay When Visiting Estes Park
When we visited Estes Park, we knew we wanted something private, updated, and close to RMNP with gorgeous views right outside our windows.
We stayed in this cabin and couldn’t recommend it enough!
It was everything we hoped for. Every single day we’d have elk outside in the yard, and it felt like truly experiencing everything the mountains had to offer us.
The cabin had been renovated in the last couple of years and was very rustic. There was a canoe hanging from the kitchen ceiling, illuminating all the area had to offer. We had plenty of room to cook had we wanted to (we usually would opt for this, but wanted to treat ourselves on our honeymoon).
The cabin accommodates 4 people, with two bedrooms, so even if you’re wanting to book a family trip this could be a wonderful option. The spacious deck had a fire pit and the most breathtaking mountain views. It’s stocked with so many books and games to play when guests want to stay in and cozy up together, too.
The decor, the amenities, the location–everything was amazing here.
Final thoughts on visiting Estes Park…
As you can see, visiting Estes Park was filled with a multitude of magical experiences. From outdoor adventures to relaxing in a spa with gorgeous views of wildlife. It can truly be the perfect honeymoon experience for a couple, even if you don’t get married there like we did. There really is something for every couple to do here.
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Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
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