HOTSPOT LOVELAND, COLO.

The Baltimore Sun

This weekend, thoughts turn to love and a town made famous for its hand-stamped Valentine cards. Loveland, about an hour north of Denver, is perhaps best known for its Valentine Re-Mailing Program, where, every year, volunteers carefully stamp cards with the Loveland postmark and a verse before forwarding them to the intended recipients. But this town, nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, isn't just for romantics; it's for art lovers and nature lovers as well.

1

Scope out the sculptures. : More than 100 sculptures are on display at Benson Sculpture Park, which each August is the site of an international competition that draws hundreds of sculptors from across the world. More artwork can be seen around town. Since the mid-1980s, Loveland has embraced an art-in-public-places program, so sculptures and two-dimensional artwork complement public spaces such as buildings and parks.

2

Tour a bronze-casting foundry. : The sculptures are apt to pique your interest in how such works of art are made. Loveland is home to several bronze foundries, including Art Castings of Colorado, which offers public tours of its facilities.

3

Check out the local art scene. : The Loveland Museum/Gallery is a regional center for cultural events, including exhibits, art classes, workshops, poetry readings and demonstrations. Its 4,000-square-foot art gallery features regional, national and international exhibitions.

4

Visit the Rockies. : Take a break from man-made art to see Mother Nature's magnificent works in Rocky Mountain National Park, about 45 miles west of Loveland. There, you'll see moose, elk, big-horn sheep and some of the tallest peaks in the country.

5

Love your skis. : The family-oriented Loveland Ski Area, a resort with about 1,365 acres, is a two-hour drive from town. A local favorite, Loveland gets about 400 inches of snow a year and is known for its lack of crowds at lift lines.

More information: loveland.org, colorado.com

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