To paraphrase Proust, ‘discovery is not in the place, but in the eyes’.
As a rising senior and competitive skater, my free time is limited. Like many teenagers, I default to social media and Netflix. So, when my mom suggested turning our weekend into a “stay-cation”, I reluctantly agreed. It turns out, vacations are a state of mind more than a place. Also, vacation activities generally aren’t on your radar at home, so a little research is required to turn a stay-cation into an exotic getaway.
Day 1: Be flexible. Our weekend adventure began at the Broadmoor Hotel. We intended to eat at PLAY, the quirky dinner option with a menu suitable to my love of sushi and my sister’s pasta addiction, but my mom forgot to make reservations so we ended up eating fish and chips at the hotel’s Golden Bee, where we were pleasantly surprised by live music! Afterwards, we snagged a last-minute bowling lane at Play where we indulged in a decadent cookies-and-cream milkshake and I got victorious bragging rights for the rest of the weekend. A note to self: searching for Insta-worthy backgrounds in the hotel’s majestic stairways, hallways, ballrooms and picturesque lake is a great way to burn up post-sugar energy.
Day 2: Plan ahead, but don’t be afraid to stray from your itinerary. We made ourselves get up early for the Saturday Farm-and-Art Market at the Margarita Pines. People-watching from the patio with a breakfast burrito and cappuccino turned out to be a morning coup. We grabbed some fresh vegetables, homemade tamales and other provisions for our hike in Garden of the Gods where the red rock formations and views of the Rockies are breathtaking. The parking lot was packed, so we took dirt hiking trails instead of the concrete tourist paths to avoid the crowds. This made for better pictures and wild animal sightings! No wonder it was named one of the top public spaces in the United States. Continuing the wildlife theme, we headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo where we had pre-purchased tickets. If you’ve never fed or had a giraffe lick your hand, this is the zoo for you! For dinner, we tried The Airplane Restaurant for the sheer novelty of its being in an actual airplane.
Day 3: We all need a break. Driving to Manitou Springs – after acquiescing to a family stop at Dutch Bros. for a coffee and positive morning vibes — I couldn’t wait to leave family behind and hike “The Incline” with friends. The Incline is a rite of passage here in Colorado Springs encompassing 2744 steps and ascending almost 2000 feet in a mile with surreal mountaintop views. While I hiked, my mom and sister took the nearby Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak. When we regrouped, everyone was feeling civil. There are plenty of ways to recover from strenuous activity in Manitou. I like the little restaurants, boutiques and shops, but nothing beats Radiantly Raw for a free sample of the best organic raw chocolate in Colorado. However, my sister prefers the merry-go-round, bumper cars, and skee-ball at the arcade in the middle of town.
All in all, our stay-cation was a wonderful bit of family bonding, as well as a lens through which I now balance my free time. I was surprised by the fun we had. We pushed ourselves to try new things, but did plenty of activities we were sure to enjoy. It’s amazing how even the mundane becomes interesting when seen through tourist’s eyes.
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