Disclosure: I was given a Toyota Rav4 to test drive for a week in exchange for a review. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.
Even though the Colorado weather this week is feeling more like summertime (hello 91 degrees!) we do know that the summer weekend trips to the mountains have come to an end for the season. School is back in session and we are back to our busy weekend sports and activities for the kids. So while we do still love to take some fall trips to the mountains to see the changing colors we did decide that on Labor Day weekend we would spend the extra long weekend away in Leadville and Buena Vista Colorado for one last weekend away.
Exploring Buena Vista Colorado
As we have shared before, we do have a family cabin in Leadville Colorado so when we do escape to the mountains we usually spend most of our time there. Thankfully, there are so many little mountain towns around this area that we can always plan a short day trip to a neighboring city. This trip we decided to spend sometime in Buena Vista. Buena Vista is located in central Colorado roughly midway between Salida and Leadville in the Upper Arkansas River Valley at an elevation of 7,965 feet. The name “Buena Vista” is Spanish for “Beautiful View” and the name certainly lives up to its meaning.
Even though the weather in downtown Colorado is HOT, the weather in Buena Vista was absolutely perfect, we were loving the fall weather and fresh air. Like I said we stay at our cabin in Leadville so to get to Buena Vista we left our cabin around 9am and took a little morning drive to Buena Vista. It is a beautiful drive, makes you thankful for living in such a pretty state.
What To Do In Buena Vista Colorado With Kids
Explore the Arkansas River
We made sure that the kids got sometime to carefully climb down to the river bank. The river was not very high or running quick at all so it was a perfect time for them to really get a close look at the river. Our daredevil Teagan was loving all of the rocks and climbing. She could have stayed at the river all day long.
There are a number of white water rafting companies in Buena Vista. If you are the adventurous type this is a must try. They even have trips that are more geared towards families.
Day At The Lake
Visit Cottonwood Lake for some beautiful views and fun water activities. Cottonwood Lake is less than thirty minutes from downtown Buena Vista and is an ideal location to make a splash with a kayak, stand up paddle board or canoe. Spending a day at the lake is a perfect way to kick-back, relax and enjoy the Rocky Mountain views.
Ariel Park & Zip Lines
Enjoy an action-packed day by zip-lining and maneuvering through the challenges of an aerial park. Arkansas Valley Adventures offers zip-line and aerial tours such as the Mountaintop Zipline Tour which has 7 zip-lines, totaling almost 4,000 feet of adventure. The Browns Canyon Adventure Park also gives a thrill with their 4 challenge courses and 66 elements which include 7 zip-lines and 2 high adrenaline challenges, known as the Leap of Faith and Big Drop Swing. Bring the whole family to participate in these exhilarating adventures and relish the breathtaking views as you whizz through the air.
The weekend we were in Buena Vista there was a huge music festival that was a bit pricey for our taste but we did enjoy the fun Farmers Market in the city. Small mountain towns like Buena Vista usually have some kind of local fair or event on the weekends to drive sales to local shops and vendors. We find it important to visit those events. At the Farmers Market we bought some fresh fruits and veggies and a pretty sunflower for Miss Teagan.
For an authentic western experience, consider enjoying Colorado’s breathtaking views and scenic trails on horseback. The skilled guides at Harvard City Riding Stables and Mount Princeton Hot Springs Stables will match a horse to your ability and direct the details of your trip – all you’ll have to do is drink in the sunshine and grandiose views. Horseback riding is an invigorating activity: enjoy the flowers in summer, the colors of fall, or the fresh Colorado snow in winter. Buckle up your bootstraps and get ready to be inspired by the breathtaking Rocky Mountains!
Take time to enjoy the many restaurants and breweries available in Buena Vista. Part of the fun of exploring a new city/town is going to lunch or dinner! The local cuisine at House Rock Kitchen and Simple Eatery are highly recommended. No matter where you decide to enjoy your meal out you will be full and happy!
My kids do not like shopping when we are at home but when we are out on vacation or in a new town they LOVE going to the local shops. Because we love supporting our local communities we usually let them pick a 5-10 dollar item from a NON chain vendor. I don’t know about you but I love walking down the main street of a quaint little mountain town.
Buena Vista Colorado really is a fun little town and now that the kids are a bit older we really do love going on these mountain day trips when we are staying at our cabin. Buena Vista will certainly be one we will be visiting again.
Let’s Go Places With The Toyota Rav4
Over that last few years we have had the opportunity to take some Toyota cars out for our explorations around Colorado. For our last trip of the summer we were able to take the Toyota Rav4 with us to Leadville and Buena Vista Colorado. If you have been reading this year you know that we ended up purchasing a Toyota Highlander after we experienced it last summer. We became a Toyota loving family. So, the Toyota Rav4 is pretty similar to the Toyota Highlander but does not have the 3rd row.
While our tester did not have all of the bells and whistles like XM Radio, leather seats or the in car DVD system it was the Adventure edition of the Rav4 so it was still fun and sporty. I drive a 3rd row SUV so the Rav4 is significantly smaller but for our family of 4 it worked well and I loved how zippy it felt when I was driving.
Our trip was for 4 days, we were able to pack all of our cabin necessities like a cooler, fishing poles, food and clothes in the Rav4, I was impressed. The car handled well on the mountain highways and cabin dirt roads. We felt comfortable and safe on our drives.
Our Review Of The Toyota Rav4
While the Adventure edition does have a prettier exterior we did miss the upgrades inside the car, which is part of the Adventure edition. I was worried that Jude and Jeremy would feel crushed in the car since we are so used to the 3rd row options but our tall boys were comfortable for the whole trip.
I will never drive a sedan car again, I will always want a vehicle that stands taller and has more room which means some kind of sports utility vehicle. If and when I ever do not need a 3rd row this would be a perfect option for me. I enjoyed the smaller car because I felt like it had a bit more pick up and was really fun to drive.
The Toyota Rav4 would be a great car for a family of 3 or 4 with younger kids. The storage available in the back was very surprising and I would recommend this vehicle to anyone looking for a mid size option. Like I said, we are a Toyota loving family now so it is hard to find anything we did not like about our experience.