Ten years ago, Lakewood, Colorado's hotel scene consisted of a few chain inns—including a run-of-the-mill Best Western. Now, you'll find yourself face-to-face with a dinosaur-themed hotel, complete with some of the area's oldest residents (read: actual fossils and bones). Greg and Meredith Tally had the dream of turning their basic location into a destination worth traveling for—in their words: "We had a beige box commodity in our hotel,” says Greg. “But we didn’t want our hotel to taste like chicken. We wanted it to taste like pterodactyl.”
The area is a natural fit for such a treat. The hotel is minutes away from the Morrison Natural History Museum and Dinosaur Ridge, an area where many Jurassic specimens have been discovered. The couple spent $5 million to get the Best Western where they wanted it, investing in details such as a set of legs from a Brachiosaurus femora among many other dinosaur bone replicas. The hotel restaurant, Paleo Joe's, features the only petrified wood bar in Colorado and a full-size Tylosaur mounted to the ceiling—a replica that was first used as a prop for the movie Sea Monsters. It gets even better: guests are invited to interact with artifacts during breakfast at the hotel's fossil table.
Although the opportunity for kitsch is high, the entire hotel comes off more like a museum thanks to help from curators at the nearby history museum. For more information on the space and what guests can expect, head to the hotel's website.
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.