Trains and Christmas. They just go together, like hot chocolate and marshmallows, in the magical lore of childhood dreams and Chris Van Allsburg's beloved holiday-season picture book, The Polar Express, which was made into an animated flick co-produced and voiced by true believer Tom Hanks. And now Coloradans can hop on board our own Polar Express, when the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad hosts special November and December holiday rides for kids, complete with a storybook reading and high-country meet-up with Santa and his reindeer. Pajamas are encouraged. All aboard!
I drink I can, I drink I can. The Little Engine That Could doesn't have anything on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which has slated a series of very adult train trips this summer with its Winemaker Dinners. The monthly meals by chef Jeff McGlothin pair a five-course menu with wines from Colorado vineyards; the owner of each featured vineyard will be along for the ride to discuss the vintage. Each dinner is $125 per person -- but it comes with all the stunning Royal Gorge scenery you can drink in.
Red Ram Restaurant & Saloon
You've made it out of the Eisenhower Tunnel -- which means three more hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic into Denver. Time to head directly to Georgetown. Unlike I-70, on a Sunday night, the old mining town is eerily deserted -- except for the Red Ram. Inside, regulars are lined up at the long bar, sipping the Ram's own craft-brewed beer and talking with the bartender while watching football on vintage TVs. Local families and groups of skiers come in, chatting, then fall silent when their food arrives. After an hour or two at the Ram, you may still encounter traffic jams -- but you won't mind them nearly as much.
College Inn
The College Inn has great food and drink specials -- Monday is Tank-N-Tacos night, for example, with three tacos and a tank of any Bud or house marg for $4.50. It always has fine chicken wings. Ditto for boisterous crowds of off-duty nurses and working-the-crowd guys. And then it has all those large, flat-screen TVs hanging from the ceiling. So the College Inn looks like a sports bar -- but it doesn't sound like one. You don't hear the play-by-plays, the whistles or the announcers' banter -- though someone concentrating really hard might catch them. But for the rest of us, there's a constant flow of popular music -- just the right distraction for girls who want to feel like one of the guys but don't particularly care to watch the Rockies lose for three hours.

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