Written by : Bonnie Olesen 

If You Want to Be Happy, Use Your Vacation Days

More than 50 percent of the American workforce leaves vacation days on the table every year, according to the latest survey from Project: Time Off. That equates to more than 200 million unused, well-deserved vacay days and a loss of $62.2 billion in benefits. Not wanting to contribute to this madness, I decided a little time off was in order. 

As a Viking living in very HOT Dallas, I really need to get out of the heat every so often. One of my favorite places to visit is Telluride, Colorado. Not only is Colorado a beautiful and relaxing state, but according to Project: Time Off, it also tops the nation in used vacation days. If anyone knows how to spend their time off wisely, it’s Coloradans.

This time my husband and I booked our trip with very short lead time, so our preferred flight destination into Montrose had sold out, leaving us flying in to Grand Junction. That added a beautiful and serene hour to the usual drive up to Telluride. Studies show that when we subject ourselves to the natural outdoor world, our stress levels decrease.

Arriving in Ridgway just in time for lunch, this very cute little town has its own small farmers market and a wonderful little dining spot, Eatery 66. Their Be Happy sandwich and wonderful lemonade are worth the stop anytime.

You feel relaxed (and cool!) the minute you drive into Telluride, even with a jazz festival in full swing. We started our long weekend off with amazing carrot cake and a great cup of coffee at The Butcher & The Baker Cafe. They also offer wonderful drinks, and their cinnamon roll is a must-have for breakfast. When in Telluride, we like to keep it local, so we stay at the New Sheridan, the oldest hotel in town. It also offers the small town’s best rooftop cocktail lounge, a perfect location for a cocktail before dinner.
We started our Saturday morning off with a trail hike up to Bear Creek Falls, about a 6-mile hike from the hotel with an easy to moderate climb. It was a busy trail, but the hike was gorgeous. We celebrated with a selection of pastries and coffee from The Butcher & The Baker Cafe. After a little rest, we got lunch at the Smugglers Brewpub, a spot with great food and wonderful brewed beer. We had dinner at The Tunnel, a throwback to the Prohibition era during Telluride’s mining days. It was a lot of fun, small, with great ambiance and lovely staff.
On Sunday, we fit in one more hike before heading to the airport with one last cinnamon roll to go from our favorite The Butcher & The Baker Cafe.
Katie Denis, the Vice President of Project: Time Off says that employees who use their vacation days to get away from their busy lives are much happier than those who don’t. I highly recommend a refreshing and relaxing weekend in Telluride to help you along on your summer happiness journey. If you go, share your favorite spots and don’t forget to tag #livehappy!
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