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Adventurous Eats: Unforgettable Winter Dining Experiences

Almost-too-perfect scenes of pines silvered by frost and mountainsides blanketed in ivory — the chance to partake in some of Colorado’s most epic cold-season pursuits and gourmet eats make these bucket-list dining excursions worth tacking onto your itinerary.

Adventurous Restaurants
Adventurous Restaurants
Après Ski With the Best of 'Em
Après Ski With the Best of 'Em
Dine in the Moonlight
Dine in the Moonlight
Enjoy Dinner From a Snowcat
Enjoy Dinner From a Snowcat

Aspen Peak CellarsBailey: Snowshoe and Fondue trips at this intimate winery in Bailey (southwest of Denver) are full-day snowshoeing or winter hiking tours (11am–3:30pm; all equipment is provided) that end with soul-soothing Swiss-cheese fondue, Colorado wine and a winery tour. Reserve your spot early — the popular events are offered on select dates January through mid-March and sell out quickly. 

Beano’s CabinBeaver Creek: An open-air sleigh pulled by a snowcat whisks bundled-up guests through Beaver Creek’s aspen groves to this swanky log hideaway for a five-course supper prepared in an inviting, open kitchen. Coffee-spiced roasted venison and banana sticky-toffee pudding crowned with brown-butter ice cream are just a couple delights that may grace the menu.

Magic Meadows YurtCrested Butte: Embark on a cross-country ski or snowshoe trip into the quiet backcountry to the wood-burning-stove-heated Magic Meadows Yurt, accessible only on skis or snowshoes via a 1-mile groomed trail through the Slate River Valley. Once you’re there, warm up with a cocktail made with local Montanya Distillers rum or a brew from Elevation Beer Company and tuck into a Colorado-inspired meal with groovy live music. 

Golden Horseshoe Tour Co.Breckenridge: Family-friendly Mining Camp Dinner Theater Sleigh Rides include a 30-minute cruise through the White River National Forest in a cherry-red sleigh pulled by Belgian draft horses, a rustic dinner cooked on an antique wood stove and an interactive dinner show that gives visitors the chance to rub elbows with characters from Colorado’s frontier (think: mountain men and dance-hall girls played by spirited reenactors). 

Tennessee Pass CookhouseLeadville: A four-course feast, with options like Colorado rack of lamb with fresh mint chimichurri and pan-seared risotto cakes topped with wild mushroom ragu, awaits those who snowshoe or cross-country ski one mile from the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center to the idyllic cookhouse, perched at 10,800 feet. Extend your visit by booking a night in one of their super-cozy sleep yurts to rest your head in a handcrafted log bed. 

Moonlight Dine + Ski at Copper MountainStart your evening with a ride up the American Eagle chairlift for a gourmet buffet, live acoustics from local artist Beau Thomas and gorgeous vistas dressed in white, then don a headlamp for a moonlit schuss down the mountain under a blanket of stars. Some events commence with skiing, then end with live tunes, drinks, dinner and dessert.

Cloud Nine Alpine BistroAspen: Book a Snowcat Dinner to be transported by open-air snowcat to an elegant Swiss restaurant in a picturesque cabin high in the Rockies. Ogle panoramas of the Maroon Bells, two of Colorado’s most iconic and eye-catching fourteeners (peaks higher than 14,000 feet), while you treat yourself to bites like lobster and king-crab bouillabaisse and chocolate hazelnut cake laced with bananas-foster sauce. 

Purgatory Snowcat AdventuresDurango: Take in views of the alpenglow on the Needles Mountains on an enclosed snowcat ride up to Powderhouse Restaurant at Purgatory Resort. Nurse a glass of mulled wine or Champagne, then relish a hearty five-course spread with hors d’oeuvres, fresh salad, a handcrafted soup, main course and dessert. 

Saddleback RanchSteamboat Springs: Cuddle up for a sleigh ride to the soundtrack of horses trotting through fresh powder with bells jingling on their harnesses to Double Dollar Lodge. After sipping steamy hot cocoa and cider and chowing down on a homecooked meal complemented by all of the fixins you can eat, cap off the evening with a roping lesson from the ranch’s cowboys and cowgirls and some country dancing. 

Brain Freeze: Icy Dessert Spots

Here’s where to taste mouthwatering sweet treats that remind us of Colorado’s winter magic. 

Delight in snowballs and snowshakes in flavors like wedding cake, dill pickle and lemon lime at Colorado Sno-Balls in Windfield (near Fort Carson).

Try taiyaki ice cream, a Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with a sweet filling and topped with silky soft serve in flavors like milk tea or matcha, at Snowl Cafe in Aurora.

Classic cones, shakes, sundaes and malts bring a smile to ice-cream lovers of all ages at Simkins Parlour in cute downtown Sterling.

High Point Creamery in Denver is known for inventive flavors like basil with blackberry swirl and cookies (three ways) and cream. Bonus: There are three locations around town.

Raspberry hibiscus and watermelon lime are two of the many fresh popsicle flavors at Revolution Artisan Pops in Fort Collins, where you can also get stellar gelato.

The old-fashioned malts and shakes rule at Tutti Scoops in Trinidad, which also delivers velvety homemade ice cream in more than a dozen flavors.

Charlie’s Frozen Treat Shop in Winter Park has frozen yogurt, Italian ice, custard, gelato and a toppings bar with dozens of options (we can’t get enough of the salted-caramel gelato).

Indulge in dairy-free shaved ice cream served in one-of-a-kind combinations like Oreo Peak — Oreo shaved snow, strawberries, crushed Oreos and condensed milk — at Denver’s Snowlab.

Photo Credits: Cloud Nine Bistro, Copper Mountain Moonlight Dine & Ski, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures