Day Trippin' in Palmer Lake 17

Heading’ south for rustic charm and friendly locals.

While it seems spring has been “springing” all winter, there’s nothing like the damp, fresh-cut smell of April that makes you want to grab your peeps for a road trip. Rather than putting it on auto-pilot and heading west, how about navigating south for just under an hour—35 miles to be exact —and stepping back in time? No need to pack supplies, and you’ll be home in plenty of time for evening plans. We did just that on a recent Saturday and were delighted by our easy, breezy day in Palmer Lake.

The Speed Trap Coffee Bar & Bistro

First order of business: coffee at the Speed Trap Bistro. I recommend a house latte called the “Entrapmint.” But the Speed Trap Bistro is so much more than a coffee shop! Come for coffee, lunch or dinner, and stay for live performances every Friday and Saturday night, for “musical talent that may provoke interesting conversations and/or comfortable silences.” The Speed Trap calls itself “a cozy place for nice people,” and it couldn’t be more true.

Finders Keepers by Peggy Rima

Next up: a coffee-fueled shopping trip to Finders Keepers, a clothing and gift boutique as quaint on the inside as it is on the outside. Note: both male and female visitors may find themselves basking contentedly on the sunny front porch. Founded in 2001 by Peggy Rima and now owned and operated by her son Mitch, this unique shop is chock full of great hats and scarves, works by local artists, and artisanal food items.

Lucretia Vaile Museum

Time for a mid-morning history lesson. Lucretia Vaile spent summers in Palmer Lake with her family starting in 1884 and was instrumental in starting Palmer Lake’s most popular annual event, the Yule Log Ceremony. The museum she helped fund—attached to the town library and open from just 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays—is the main repository for artifacts of the Tri-Lakes area. Permanent and special exhibits pay homage to a rich history of industry including early homesteading, ranching, farming, and ice harvesting from the lakes. Construction on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was begun in 1871 by the town’s namesake, General William J. Palmer.

O’Malley’s Steak Pub

Next up, lunch at O’Malley’s. I first discovered the character of O’Malley’s about 10 years ago when my daughters were still meat-eaters and delighted in the “make your own meat” community grill. Thankfully for us carnivores, the community grill is still one of main focal points for chatting with the locals and cooking your steak just right. While the inside bar and eating area are about as cozy and authentic as it gets, there’s much fun to be had on the festive outdoor patio in spring and summer.

Artisan’s Chic

Located in the Depot building on your way both in and out of town, the eclectic Artisan’s Chic is a consignment antique shop where you never know what you’ll find, but there’s always a story behind it. I fixated on the vintage typewriters and ended up leaving with an antique camera to add to my collection.