Updated on May 11, 2016
Moon Kats is hands down my favorite place to get a light lunch, enjoy a cup of tea, or forget my worries in one of their decadent desserts. It’s a place that I visit over and over again and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.
When you step into Moon Kats, it feels like house, no like a home, than a restaurant. Tables are casually scattered around and there’s a sitting area complete with a fireplace. It’s a comfy place that invites you to sit down and enjoy yourself for awhile.
Then you’ll begin to notice something. There are cats. Everywhere. Moon Kats is inspired by the owners two cats and they take this quite seriously. The cat lovers among us will love this and if you don’t like cats, well just concentrate on the food and tea.
The people who work here are fabulous. They’re so nice and accommodating and they’re also very knowledgeable about their tea selection and will help you find something that you’ll love.
Their tea menu is HUGE. There are two pages full of teas including black, Darjeeling, earl grey, oolong, chai, herbal, green, white, mate, and rooibos in just about every flavor and variety you can imagine. I’m not a big tea drinker but I always enjoy teas that I get here. You can order the tea by the cup or by the pot, and it’s served in adorable cups.
They have a simple lunch menu that includes sandwiches, salads, and soups. This food is delicious. I’ve tried quite a few of the sandwiches and soups and I’ve loved every one.
It’s the perfect portion for lunch. Enough to fill you up, but not enough so you have to roll yourself through town.
Now the desserts are truly something special. After you’ve had your lunch, you can go up to the counter and check out all the desserts. They have a wide range of sweets to tempt you including cake, cupcakes, cookies, scones, brownies, and they even have some gluten free items.
One of the more unique desserts they have is an Earl Grey cake served with lemon curd and coddled cream. It goes perfect with a cup of tea.
Moon Kats also serves a high tea where you can order tea sandwiches, scones, and tea. They also have a brunch on Sunday. I’ve yet to partake in either of these but you can bet I’ll get there as soon as I can.
Check the Moon Kats website for their current hours and updated menus.
Updated on January 30, 2016
Across the street from Sunrise Ridge, in the Knoll-Willows Nature Preserve, you’ll notice two interesting structures that have some interesting history to them and are both on on the state register of historic places.
Looking south up on the ridge, you’ll see a decaying stone structure – this is Birch Ruins. Albert Birch, then editor of the Denver Post, built the Birch Bungalow in 1907 and unfortunately shortly after it burned down from a house fire caused by the fire place. It was supposedly a stunning bungalow before the tragic accident, large windows showcasing the mountain view, a huge fireplace, and a wraparound stone porch made it a small but magnificent mountain getaway.
You can visit the Birch Ruins by the parking lot across from The Stanley Hotel on Wonderview Ave. A short walk over the ridge will take you to the ruins. It’s a short hike that I highly recommend, there are beautiful views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker as well as downtown Estes Park. You’ll may also see Abert’s squirrels, marmots, and the occasional mule deer or elk.
Shortly after Albert Birch’s bungalow burnt down, he build a cabin down in the willows, which you’ll see right across the street from Sunrise Ridge. Albert and his family lived here happily until the 1980’s.
You can hike to the cabin by taking the trail right behind the Estes Park police station or climb down the ridge from Birch Ruins. The trail runs across Black Canyon Creek, and you may get lucky and stumble across some mule deer or elk. From Mid-May to July, female elks like to give birth in the willows so keep a keen eye out. The mothers are very protective of their young and will charge.
Updated on March 7, 2017
Across the street from Sunrise Ridge, you can see a large open space with a rocky hill (the Knoll) dotted with trees and a bubbling stream called Black Canyon Creek and the wetland around it (the Willows) running across it.
This is called the Knoll-Willows Nature Preserve and it covers almost 20 acres. It was almost developed to become an outlet mall at one time, but it was thankfully saved in 2002 and turned into an open space for everyone, people and animals alike, to enjoy.
You’ll notice two structures in the open space, an old cabin known as The Birch Cabin and a decaying stone structure up at the top, called The Birch Ruins. These are important structures to Estes Park history and are preserved to give visitors a glimpse of the past.
Keep a keen eye on the nature preserve, almost daily we see mule deer walking in the trees. A neighbor told us that just last Spring there was a mama bear raising her cubs up there and they’d regularly see them climbing and playing up in the trees. Mother elk also use the shelter of the low trees to give birth to their calves. This happens around mid-May through July.
You can hike through the Knoll-Willows nature preserve and visit The Birch Ruins and The Birch Cabin. There’s a parking lot on Wonderview Avenue just across from The Stanley Hotel you can park in that takes you on the trail up on the ridge. You can access the willows by parking at the parking lot near the Estes Park Library and taking the trail behind the police station.
Here’s a video I found that takes you through the trail and gives you some great views from town. Even though you see a dog in this video, please note that dogs are not allowed in this open space area.