So maybe you’re not the “skier type,” and there’s no shame in that. Or, maybe your legs will be feeling like Jell-O for a week after one aggressive day of hitting the slopes. Home to towns like Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen, Winter Park, Keystone and more, northwest Colorado is America's most famous ski destination — but don’t let that stop you from discovering its other phenomenal features.
Day 1 in Grand County
Feel the rush of cold air on your cheeks as you zoom down the mountainside at Historic Fraser Tubing Hill in Fraser. Get there before the crowds and enjoy dozens of passes on an open slope. No lugging your big inner tube back up either, it’s just an easy ride to the top on the lift.
Just a short drive west on Highway 40, the naturally heated pools are as rich in minerals as they are in history — the Ute Indians believed the water had healing powers. The spa also offers an extensive spa menu — including hot rock massages and a vitamin C facial — if you’re in the mood to be pampered.
For an unforgettable evening activity, take a cozy, starlight horse-drawn sleigh ride with Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, just a short jaunt from Winter Park. Piled under plenty of blankets, you will glide through the Fraser Valley to a crackling campfire where you can sip hot cocoa.
Day 2 in Summit County
Start your day by joining the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance for a guided walking tour of the National Historic District of downtown Breckenridge or, for more adventure, try the interactive Miners’ Snowshoe Tour. There are also six museums to peruse, including the Barney Ford House Museum.
Before lunch, whet your appetite by making an appointment with a local brewmaster. At both Dillon Dam Brewery and Breckenridge Brewery you can schedule a session to learn about craft brewing from an expert. Afterward at the brewpubs’ restaurants, savor some of the most sought-after craft brews in the state, such as the Avalanche Ale at Breckenridge Brewery or the Wilderness Wheat at Dillon Dam Brewery.
For an enchanting evening experience, hop aboard the gondola at Keystone Resort to dine at Der Fondue Chessel atop North Peak. The atmosphere is warm and cheerful, so be prepared to laugh a lot and dance with the Bavarian-style band.
Day 3 in Eagle County
A cup of locally roasted joe from Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Co. will kickstart your morning of browsing through the upscale shops and galleries in Vail Village. Whether you’re in the market for souvenirs, ski gear or swanky art, this shopping hot spot delivers.
Spend your afternoon doing a different kind of searching — this time for red fox, squirrels and other alpine critters — at the Nature Discovery Center next to the Eagle's Nest gondola on Vail Mountain. Guided snowshoe tours with a naturalist are free. Groups depart daily at 2pm and equipment is provided.
Swap those snowshoes for skates in the evening at the Beaver Creek Ice Rink in heart of Beaver Creek Village. Don’t miss American Jukebox Skate Night every Sunday. It’s also one of the best places to sit near the outdoor fireplace with a big cup of hot chocolate to watch the other skaters whiz by.
Photo: A winter night in Breckenridge.