Southern Colorado for an educational and fun economical weekend trip!

Like many families, we have to squeeze in trips between work and other responsibilities – that and a budget make fun weekend trips challenging. However, we recently took one that I think a lot of families would enjoy!

Monte Vista is located in south Western Colorado – east of Alamosa – just south of The Great Sand Dunes. So you might ask – why Monte Vista? Because we were dying to check out the Best Western Movie Manor Motel – situated just outside of town, the Best Western Movie Manor is located on the same property as a historic drive-in movie theater, which means guests can watch G rated – family-friendly movies on the big screen from the comfort of most rooms every mid-May to mid-September, while enjoying fantastic mountain views. Check out more of my review on the motel on Mid-Century Style Magazine.

We were treated to a showing of “Madagascar 3” from the comfort of our room – the beds even face the screen! The sound is piped into the rooms and unlike the scratchy drive in movie sound it’s clear and wonderful. While the movie got started, I walked down to the snack bar across from the movie screen and got a variety of junk to enjoy while watching the movie!

There’s even a fantastic old fashioned playground under the screen for kids to enjoy while the movie starts or during the day (which is when our kids tried it out!).

So, what else is there to do in Monte Vista? Well the obvious choice is The Great Sand Dunes which are nearby just north of Alamosa. We spent the morning there browsing their amazing education center and gift shop followed by a hike up to the dunes themselves. The hike through the sand is not for the weak of heart – especially near noon (which is when we went) – but it was really fun! We even spotted a deer along the trail!

Just north of Alamosa are two fun sights, one is the Colorado Gator Farm – which while we thought would be silly was actually really educational and interesting. It originally started as a tilapia farm over a natural hot spring – they got their first gators to dispose of dead fish (great recycling eh?) and it grew as people dropped off alligators they didn’t know how to take care of. They now have 300 Alligators and about a third of them are rescue animals. If you’re interested, here’s a very cool video from Animal Planet – educational and pretty neat:

Rocky Mountain Gators from Colorado Gators on Vimeo.

They have other animals -this is one of their rescued turtles

If you’re trying to time your visit, August 4th and 5th is Gatorfest XVII and September 22nd is Sir Chomps O’Lot’s 15th birthday and they’re celebrating with free admission!

A little farther north on the road is the UFO Watchtower. We didn’t end up going because we were pressed for time, but the UFO watch tower is open daily in the summer from 9 am until dusk and is only open in the winter on weekends. The admission is $2 per person or $5 per car. There is also camping for $10 per night.  Judy’s favorite TV shows were “Sightings” &”X~Files”. After watching show after show, she realized she was hearing things like “Great Sand Dunes” &”San Luis Valley” on many episodes of these programs. With this in mind, Judy had an idea! She has created the first UFO WatchTower® to try to capture UFO sightings.

Enjoy your trip and if you find any other fantastic sights in the area be sure to let us know! I know we’ll be back to book a room at the Movie Manor again!



[…] Festival and witnessing the thrills of the Ski Hi Stampede Rodeo, one of the oldest in Colorado. There’s more information on what to do in the area on my review on Denver Parent. […]

[…] our family trip to Southern Colorado, we went to the Colorado Gator Farm and they supply the zoo with their alligators, so you’ll have to go check those out! We also […]

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