Downtown Estes Park

For more than 100 years, Estes Park has been welcoming visitors. The rich wildlife and breathtaking scenery that lured travelers in the early 1900s still draw guests today. The crisp, mountain air; charming shops; and dozens of outdoors activities do not disappoint. This four-season destination delivers all of that and more.

Inside the village, you can stroll the Riverwalk, cast a line in Fall River, or make a stop for ice cream. Peaks rise all around, from 8,500 feet to more than 14,000 feet, rendering gorgeous views in every direction. In the warmer months, head to one of many nearby patios to enjoy those panoramas, plus good food and a locally-made bottle of wine. When the temperatures drop, move indoors, tucking into a table near a roaring fire to savor wild game, delicious ethnic dishes or maybe a hearty steak.

Shops and galleries present a variety that spins from practical to whimsical. Wildlife is still so plentiful that the elk wandering downtown seem like the official welcoming committee. Indeed, guests are as likely to run into an elk as one of the many artists who find inspiration here. Painters often set up on the sidewalks, in parks or along the river. Other artists work in galleries or studios, shaping bronze into animals or blowing glass into exquisite bowls.

More than 200 retailers, restaurants and attractions line the downtown along Elkhorn and Moraine avenues, a smattering that rivals any mall-especially when it comes to the signature sweets. One of the best parts: They're independently owned businesses. Chain stores won't be found here, which means guests find unique treasures, gifts and mementos. Some of the buildings feature rustic timber framing, reminiscent of Estes Park's homesteading era. Others have been updated and re-purposed, revealing the evolution of this unpretentious mountain village.

Wonderfully, the great outdoors is something guests cannot escape in Estes Park. So many downtown activities take place outside: jazz concerts, cowboy sing-a-alongs, Riverwalk strolls - even wine tastings. In the end, it's this combination of abundant wildlife, snowcapped mountain views, and charming amenities that makes the village of Estes Park a memorable getaway.