Estes Park is about 65 miles northwest of Denver, CO as the Mapquest flies. “Estes” as it is known around the area here can be reached most easily by taking Highway 34 eastbound from Interstate 25. Though a major tourist trap in the summer, it is still a lovely little town with nice shops, great little restaurants and a wide variety of lodging. It is also the eastern gateway for Rocky Mountain National Park. Summer is a good time to stay in Estes Park as all the shops are open, there are lots of activities and all of the national park is open. This is not always the case in winter when they shut down most of the higher altitudes.
A couple of my favorite restaurants are Poppy’s as well as the Wild Rose. Bob and Tony’s Pizza is a mainstay in the town as well. For dessert you can stroll over to the Saltwater Taffy shop or head over to Carmel Crisp, both are excellent candy shops. Most of the shops close down in the late fall and winter, and most restaurants are closed on the weekdays also.
Estes Park is gorgeous in the fall when the aspen leaves turn a wonderful gold and fill the mountain side. From a distance the Colorado Blue Spruce and Ponderosa Pine look almost purple, and the mountains put on their most regal dress before being covered with snow. I would recommend seeing this at least once in your life.
As an interesting side note, Estes Park had an unofficial mascot for some time. A massive bull elk named Samson. The name fit him well. Unfortunately he was shot while within the city limits of Estes Park. The shooter was convicted of poaching, and rightly so.
The Stanley Hotel was also used in one of the longer external shots in Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining. (Thanks for the reminder sid.)
If you live in Colorado and are looking for a great weekend get-away, then Estes is the place for you.