Reading glasses anyone?
I had my 37th birthday last week, on January 27. The day before my birthday, I hopped a flight for a long weekend in Colorado to celebrate with my oldest and best friend. I knew I’d have a great time with her because we always do, but I didn’t have huge expectations for this birthday. In fact, in the days leading up I felt a bit of gloom seeping in. (What else is new, right?)
Well, this is apparently what besties are for, and mine is a cut above the rest. She planned an incredible long birthday weekend, and we had a freaking BLAST. I was left feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. This post is going to be all about our relaxing, luxurious, fun, chill, fucking awesome girls’ weekend in Colorado, so you can plan one too, if you want. This is a 5-day itinerary, but the last day was really just a flight home. There’s plenty of space to add activities, and our long weekend in CO had a good mix of things to do and doing nothing. What a treat.
If you want to read about the pre-birthday blues I mentioned above, check out the other post that I’m publishing in tandem with this one: Feelings are Liars: Beating the Birthday Blues.
Sunshine and rain, baby. Multifaceted, all the way into the late thirties.
For now, buckle up, we are making plans.
How To Spend A Kick-Ass Long Weekend in Colorado
Fly in to Denver, get a whole row to yourself on the plane, and feel like THAT bitch while you catch up on beauty rest.
Tea & Tarot
Have your cards read and sip herbal tea!
My bestie has some witchy & woo woo amidst her circle, and one of her good friends is a tarot reader. I’m not that witchy (despite being from the Salem, MA area) but I think it’s a lot of fun. And I have to say, the cards I pulled were very resonant.
Meditate in a Salt Cave
Apparently my bestie came up with this idea by searching “relaxing things to do near me”, and, indeed, it was relaxing. I’ve seen these salt cave experiences advertised on Groupon, but didn’t really know what it was all about. Now I do.
Spending time in salt caves is supposed to have health benefits for people with respiratory issues like asthma or bronchitis. It clears the airways and reduces inflammation—or so the information sign said. I’ve seen some internet assertions that the ionized salt can have positive effects on sleep, and mood, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Halotherapy is supposed to be detoxifying, which is a pretty broad term, but hey, who doesn’t love a little detox?
The experience went like this:
They recommended comfortable clothing and said it might get chilly in the cave, so we changed into comfy sweatpants and brought blankets to the appointment. Before going in, we were given hairnets and cloth covers to stretch around our feet, like the ones surgeons wear. Looking cute as hell in our salt cave getup, we entered the “cave”.
The salt “cave” was not really a cave at all, but rather a room in a building that had been converted to mimic one. The walls and floor were covered in coarse salt, so that it really looked like it had been built out of the material. A switch is flipped at the beginning of the 50-minute session, and a dim orange light glows in the “cave”. This is supposed to ionize the salt,
Several reclining armchairs filled the room. I curled up in one of them, snuggled under my blanket, and shut my eyes. And here we stayed for 50 minutes. Nothing profound happened. It wasn’t the same as a sauna or steam room where, due to the heat, you can physically feel the effect the room is having on your body. The temperature was slightly cool, the room was empty save for the chairs and salt, and a pleasant, subtle hum from the ionizing light provided ambient background noise. I can’t say whether this experience had any health or wellness effects for us, but it was relaxing and pleasant. In today’s go-go-go hustle culture, any activity that involves sitting quietly, especially without electronics, can feel like a positive experience for our health and wellbeing.
Birthdays are better with besties.
Day 2 of our girls’ weekend in Colorado was my actual birthday, and we had quite the day. We were supposed to venture to Sulphur Springs Hot Springs, but due to a storm on the Vail Pass, we didn’t feel safe driving there and back and opted to stay local. Don’t worry, we still got a very relaxing and fun girls’ day!
Coffee Time with Bestie
Few things feel better than a deep, emotional, thoughtful conversation over coffee with your bestie. We sat in our pajamas, sipping coffee, notebooks out with intentions to write morning pages (an essential part of my morning routine). We never did get to writing. Instead, morning pleasantries led to catch up chats, which led to deeper topics, and before we knew it two hours had passed. This is the type of friend I feel so lucky to have. One you can sit on the couch with and spill your guts and take side-street detours in conversation, where you never run out of things to say and you never feel like the time would have been better spent doing something else.
She also gave me a bunch of gifts that made me feel almost too special. I was borderline embarrassed, like too much fuss was being made of me. (And more so because I’d been going through my annual “I’m so lonely” bullshit in the lead up to my birthday.)
A Chilly Morning Run
This may not sound like the most fun thing to do on your birthday, but getting a little physical activity in the morning always makes me feel good for the rest of the day. The temperature was perfect, the warmest of my days in Colorado.
I felt so thrilled, so lucky, to be able to use this body in the way that I do, to still have full functionality of all my limbs and systems. (Though lets be real, glasses are on the horizon.) In this frame of mind, and with the mountains, snowcapped and magnificent, stretching up to the sky, lining the backdrop of my run, I couldn’t feel anything but privileged to be right where I was, doing just what I was doing. I felt sheer gratitude and bliss on my snowy morning run.
The most gorgeous morning run filled me with so much gratitude
Hit the town (But not like that)
Our first stop of my birthday was to downtown Lafayette, a town 25 minutes east of Boulder and 30 minutes North of Denver. It has an adorable downtown with funky shops and hip restaurants, and is also home to a peach fest every summer. And who can be mad at a peachfest? We stopped in the Little Herbal Apothecary and Vintrey Honest Goods, where I generously treated myself to two new birthday rings. We hit up the Chocotalerie Stam, a fancy chocolate shop, for lattes and bon bons (as one does) and then the Tip Top Savory Pie shop for some flaky, crusty, savory goodness for lunch. There is something about having no timeline, no agenda, and just moseying down city streets that feels so decadent, indulgent, and fun. Especially when you’re with your bestie.
Get Wet (But not like that)
Next up on our Colorado birthday weekend extravaganza was a soak in some hot, bubbling water. I mentioned that our hot spring plan got cancelled due to weather, but that didn’t mean we had to give up our want for hot water and relaxation. The recreation center in Layafette happens to have a huge outdoor hot tub that anyone can use. We bought a day pass for only $5.75 and had access to the hot tub, indoor pools, giant WATERSLIDE, sauna, and steam room.
I don’t think there is anything that can make you feel young like whooshing around the curves of a waterslide, unable to stifle your belly laughter. We went down this slide THREE times.
I love me a hot spring, but this rec center, so conveniently located and so affordable, was just as good. Arguably better, since we also got to slide, steam and sauna. We got our money’s worth, staying for hours, and we left feeling relaxed and so freaking content.
Dinner in pajamas, chilling on the couch, creepy shows on Netflix, and a chocolate cream pie with birthday candles, is how I ended the first day of my 37th year.
Lattes & bon bons with my Way Back Bestie
Birthday rings, a birthday tradition
Hot Springs or Hot Tub, splashing around is never a bad birthday idea.
We spent day 3 of my birthday weekend in Boulder, CO. Boulder is a great city, a college town with lots of good restaurants, funky shops, and solid bars (if you’re into that sort of thing.) It is also a city that contains mountains, and being able to hike without leaving the city is one of my heart-stopping favorite things. My bestie had planned a big surprise for Saturday, which I’ll get to shortly.
First things first, a lunch date to an awesome vegetarian restaurant called Leaf. Four menu items for two people is how my bestie and I roll, so we gorged ourselves on delicious vegetarian fare and enjoyed the bright & leafy vibe.
Surprise Spa Day
Next stop on our Boulder adventure was the big surprise. A foot soak and massage at the very fancy The Dragontree Spa. We were given cups of hot herbal tea and got to choose from a menu of foot soaks with varying ingredients. Some were for clarity and focus, some for energy. The mix I chose was supposed to encourage calm and ease. My girls’ weekend in Colorado was decidedly not a time for focus nor energy.
Not realizing a massage would come after the lengthy foot bath, I hopped up to leave once the big copper bowls of fragrant water and rocks were taken. “Where are you going?” Corey asked in a stern whisper. “You’re getting a foot massage!”
The foot massage was thorough and relaxing, and my attempted escape would provide some laughs for the remainder of our days.
Drive By Massage
After our foot massage, we found ourselves talking about how great it would be to have a full body massage. And since we are adults (37, yikes) and can do whatever we want, we decided to go ahead and get one. We drove to the Relaxing Station, a place I can best describe as ‘the fast food of massages’. You go in, put your name on a list, and wait to be called. No appointments necessary, no tranquil music filling the space, no aromatic herbs wafting through the air. This was a bare bones operation. There aren’t even separate rooms for each massage, rather it was like separate cubicles, or corrals. No nudity, you simply kept your clothes on and the masseuse draped a towel over you.
It was a very different experience to The Dragontree. But what Relaxing Station lacks in frills, it makes up for in efficiency. (And affordability—only $59 for a 60-minute massage!) I guess I would recommend this more for sports massage- strictly muscle relief rather than a treat-yourself spa experience. Just be careful about which level you select. Corey requested a 8 out of 10 and said she felt like she was getting beat up on the table.
Clean plate club at Leaf, Boulder
Getting fancy at the Dragontree Spa
Big Ol’ Sunday Brunch with the Ladies
My bestie Corey planned a special brunch at Jill’s Restaurant & Bistro at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. She informed me there would be some element of surprise and all my mind could think up was ‘Drag brunch?’. It wasn’t that. Instead, the surprise was that she’d invited her circle of close Colorado friends. I was thrilled to finally meet some of the women I’d heard about over the years and to enjoy a social hour with new and interesting people. The food was good, the company was great, and the snow fell outside in great, white puffs, only adding to the coziness.
Photo Shoot. Duh.
When the snow is falling this beautifully, you are almost obligated to get your ass outside for a fun wintry photo shoot. Especially when your makeup is done already from brunch. I can always count on my bestie Corey to take me to the best photo spots, and in Boulder there are plenty.
Old friends and new friends to ring in 37.
When in Boulder
It might look like we had a packed schedule for our Colorado Girls’ Weekend, but there was plenty of downtime, too. This included nightly Netflix sessions in matching pajamas, coffee talk in the morning, and plenty of snack attacks. I got to spend a couple hours reading in bed and finished the book I brought to Colorado. We also hung out with Corey’s elderly pug, Lucy, who I fondly nicknamed “Puggo” and “Gumby” due to her wobbly legs.
There is something so nice, so comforting, to be able to sit around doing nothing with one of your closest friends. One of those friendships where no one has to entertain or be entertained, simply being together is fun. There is also something indescribable about being with your oldest friend. The one who knows you from way back. Who’s seen your low moments and triumphs, who can easily compare and contrast the person you were and are without any explanation, with just their memory. It’s a feeling of peace and solidity. Makes you feel like the world isn’t so crazy and mixed up and terrifyingly divergent afterall. Makes you feel like you could lean back, if you needed to. Someone would be there for support. It’s a good feeling.
Sweetest gifts from the sweetest friend.
Fly home. Get your own row, like a boss. Recap all the wonderful things your bestie planned to make your 37th birthday—one you’d been dreading—one of the best birthdays you’ve ever had. Bask in the sweet, comforting feeling of knowing you’ve got the best friends in the world. Look out over the snowcapped mountains and the endless fields of white, thinking just how lucky you are.
I’ll be back in Colorado in April for another long girls’ weekend away, this time for my bestie’s birthday. So, check back for another Colorado post centered around Steamboat Springs. If you’re into hot springs or hiking (how could you not be?) then check out my post from a couple years ago: How to Have The Best Hot Springs & Hiking Tour in Colorado. That one is also an incredible itinerary for getting some of the best that Colorado has to offer. I’ll link some other long weekend getaway ideas from different destinations, too. If you’re planning something, I’ve got you.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by. If you reached out to me around my birthday, thank you for that, too. If you end up reading the gloomier “Birthday Blues” post after this one, know that I’m good now. And if you’re suffering your own birthday blues, lying feelings, or dread about aging, then I hope my self-indulgence makes you laugh, or at least feel less alone.
You are all the best.
Until next time!
More short getaway ideas:
Hope this sparks some fresh travel ideas, and if you like what I’m doing here please subscribe! Get all the travel tips and the juiciest flight attendant stories delivered straight to your inbox! Thanks again for stopping by.