Magical Winter Activities for the Whole Family

In Colorado, winter is a season filled with wonder and magic. So, bundle up in your coziest gear, grab those nearest and dearest to you — whether that’s kids and parents or your chosen friend family — and get ready to explore a world of enchantment, warm-you-up foods and cozy lodgings.

Mules pulling a sleigh over snow

Dash through the snow with 2 Below Zero in Frisco.

Aspen trees decorated with holiday lights

Twinkling lights make the season bright at Denver Botanic Gardens.

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Sleigh Rides

2 Below Zero, Frisco 

Dash through the snow on a buckboard sleigh pulled by the smiliest mules you’ve ever seen on the Scenic Hot Cocoa Sleigh Ride. (Peppermint schnapps optional and BYOBlanket.) 

Dine: Spice things up with chilaquiles and Mexican pizza at Nuevo Vallarta or The Uptown on Main’s Inferno Burger — topped with pickled habanero, pepper jack and ghost-pepper aioli. 

Recline: Frisco Lodge Bed & Breakfast — a former 1880s stagecoach stop — offers boardgames, adjoining rooms, free homemade breakfasts and daily happy hours.

Purgatory Resort, Durango 

Majestic Belgian and Percheron draft horses whoosh you through frost-carpeted lands with breathtaking views of the Needles Mountain Range and its powder-filled crags. 

Dine: Pop Sushi delights with poke bowls and maki rolls (pair ’em with a lemongrass mojito), plus ramen and wontons for pickier palates. Sustainably sourced Grassburger flips up patties (beef, turkey or black bean) dripping with green chilies and cheddar. 

Recline: Thaw out in Durango Lodge’s hot tub, where you’ll have easy access to shops, restaurants, the historical downtown and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Pine Creek Cookhouse, Aspen 

Draft horses trot through Narnia-like scenery during a three-course lunch of locally sourced cheeses, meats or vegan-friendly fare. For extra magic, book the four-course dinner experience. 

Dine: Oatmeal pancakes (a local fave) and pistachio sausage start the day at Poppycock’s Café. Kenichi’s hoisin-and-brown-sugar baby-back ribs and yuzu-orange-glazed duck are treats for adventurous eaters. 

Recline: The Little Nell is big on extras. Kids will love in-room tents and pint-sized robes, while adults can enjoy babysitting and complimentary ski shuttles. 

YMCA of the Rockies/Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby 

Giddyup through the Rockies, marveling at mountain vistas and snow-flocked evergreens as you go. The best is saved for last: Your trip culminates with a cup o’ cocoa around a cheery campfire. 

Dine: Find breakfast goodies like bagels and lox, skillets and hash browns at Java Lava Cafe. Debbie’s Drive In brings the nostalgia with carhops serving chicken Love Me Tenders, burgers and crinkle fries. 

Recline: Stay where you play at Snow Mountain Ranch. Winter activities include skiing, climbing on an indoor or outdoor rock wall and ice skating. 

Monarch Dog Sled Rides, Salida 

Miniature horses whip you through alpine forests, past icy beaver ponds and an old miners’ cemetery. OK. They’re really dogs … your very own team of dogs! You’ll meet ’em, learn to harness ’em and mush with ’em on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Dine: Chicken-fried steak, omelets and, naturally, pancakes, are the name of the game at The Patio Pancake Place. With chili-cheese fries, veggie fajitas and pork carnitas, Las Camelinas has something for everyone. 

Recline: Recharge at the rustic and eco-conscious Creekside Chalets. Relax in a setting that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nature, while knowing Salida’s lively downtown is just 12 miles away.

Winter Night Delights

Jackson Lake State Park, Orchard 

The state’s newest International Dark Sky Park won’t disappoint. Enjoy star-studded indigo heavens reflected in the surface of the shimmering lake. 

Dine: Choose from cheese-blanketed breakfast burritos or steak and eggs at Home Plate Restaurant (Fort Morgan). Mariana’s Family Restaurant (Wiggins) serves three hearty squares, whether you want fried chicken or steak ranchero. 

Recline: Your home on the range is a campsite at Jackson Lake State Park. We recommend winter camping via RV or campervan for maximum comfort and minimum chilliness. 

Night Skiing, Steamboat Springs 

Make that sparkling Champagne Powder® fly on illuminated slopes, as you schuss through the wintry night. Five trails, ranging from beginner to advanced, make this primo terrain perfect for everyone. 

Dine: Fuel up with bacon-avocado scrambles and Chocolate Chipper Pancakes at The Egg, where 10 percent of all kids’ meals purchased go to local youth charities. Savor ski-themed pizzas at Slopeside Grill, where you can nosh while watching powderhounds carve. 

Recline: The gondolas at Trailhead Lodge take you straight to Steamboat’s base village, making it the perfect place to rest your pommed beanie at night.

WinterSkate, Louisville 

Glide across the ice under strings of twinkling lights on the outdoor rink in historic downtown Louisville. Time your trip for sunset to catch the sky at its rosiest. 

Dine: Farm-sourced latkes and chicken pot pie from The Huckleberry are A+ winter comfort foods. You’ll go crazy for griddled-cornmeal cakes packed with fillings at La Pupusa Loca — a one-woman food truck. (Tip: Bring cash and order ahead.) 

Recline: Stay at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield for spa treatments and heated outdoor pools that’ll keep your whole posse pleased. 

Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner or Brunch, Crested Butte 

Cross-country ski or snowshoe through a backdrop of moonlit peaks before enjoying a five-course, chef-curated dinner in a warmly lit yurt, or take a family trek to chow on a brunch menu of pastries, soups and juices. 

Dine: Sherpa Cafe’s fresh tandoor-baked naan and ginger-rich curries hit just right after a powder day. The Notorious F.I.G. pizza — fig, prosciutto and bleu cheese — is a must-try at Secret Stash

Recline: Slope-side Elevation Hotel & Spa has it all — from ski and bike rentals to an on-site tavern, with a few hot tubs tossed in for fun.

Festive Lights

Outdoor Menorah Lighting, Colorado Springs 

Celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of a giant, intricately carved ice menorah, followed by festivities with chocolate gelt (coins), latkes, donuts and Israeli food. 

Dine: Heart of Jerusalem’s manakeesh — grilled flatbread with feta, olives and tzatziki — is a savory symphony of flavors. At Santana’s Vegan Grill, tuck into plant-based bacon cheeseburgers. 

Recline: The indoor water park and cave-themed suites at Great Wolf Lodge are guaranteed fun for kids and adults alike. 

Blossoms of Light, Denver 

Brilliant orbs of light float above reflecting ponds, while flora of all shapes and sizes are adorned with bright strands of color. 

Dine: The kids’ menu at Acova features playful meals like I’m Not Hungry (cheeseburger) and Nothing (grilled cheese), so there’s always an answer to “What do you want to eat?” Cuba Cuba café & bar dishes up Cuban comfort foods like picadillo — ground beef, potatoes, olives and peppers over rice — and maduros, aka fried sweet plantains. 

Recline: Sleep in style at the plush Hotel Teatro — a quick walk from shopping and dining at Larimer Square and the 16th Street Mall. 

Franktown Festival of Lights, Franktown 

Each year, a mother-and-son duo string up 200,000-plus holiday lights and set them to music in shows that rotate during the season. Drive through or bundle up and walk Frosty’s Forest Trail. 

Dine: For traditional Mexican classics — like albondigas (meatball) soup and tacos al pastor — hit up El Cerrito Family Restaurant. The baseball-themed pies at Buzzard’s Big Mouth Pizza (Elizabeth) are a home run. 

Recline: Snooze at the aptly named Red Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast (Parker) for free warm cookies every evening, as well as chances to spot deer and foxes playing in the countryside.

More Happy Holiday Experiences

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