By Courtney Drake-McDonough
Whether Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are in your backyard, or out of state, they are a wonder to behold. Mountain towns abound, each with their own set of events, businesses and activities that show off their best. In this issue of Watchboom.com, we feature 3 destinations and 5 ways to enjoy each one.
- Jazz Aspen Snowmass runs throughout the summer with a big finish over Labor Day with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Duran Duran. There are special deals for kids that weekend too.
- Aspen Historical Society Tours make history come alive on walking tours of Victorian homes and ghost towns. Learn more about Aspen’s fascinating history with costumed guides or on self-guided tours.
- Aspen Art Museum (free admission!) & Anderson Ranch Arts Center (in Snowmass) allow you to become immersed in art, seeing it, making it and buying it. Take a tour at Aspen Art Museum to fully appreciate the exhibits. And take classes at Anderson Ranch (at any age) to ignite (or re-ignite) your artistic side.
- Aspen Words and Aspen Ideas Festival gets your creative and intellectual juices flowing and fresh. Both coincide with the jazz festival making for even more reasons to visit Aspen.
- EAT – Aspen has many restaurants with a variety of cuisines and price ranges including Mi Chola, Limelight Hotel’s lounge, weekend Farmers Market and various food vendors at Jazz Aspen Snowmass.
Where to Stay: Limelight Hotel – Right in the heart of town, the hotel has beautiful rooms, free adventure activities through the concierge program (plus bikes to check out) and a free and ample breakfast buffet. The Lounge is also a great place to grab a bite for lunch, happy hour or dinner.
- Kidtopia activities for kids such as gold panning, kite flying, crafts and strider balance bike races mean happy, happy kids and lots of great photo ops.
- Keystone Lake makes for one giant ice skating rink in the winter. In the summer, it’s the spot for a plethora of water sports including paddleboating, canoeing and standup paddleboating plus biking around the lake. Fish and ducks follow you around, hoping you bought a small bag of food for them at the Adventure Center counter.
- Festivals abound at Keystone with something for every interest from bacon to beer to bluegrass. Plan to attend several since keystone is only a 90 minute drive from Denver International Airport.
- Dercum Mountain activities including a summer tubing run, mountaintop yoga, games and amazing views are just a stunning gondola ride away. Half the fun is getting there. The other half awaits at the top.
- EAT – Enjoy a delicious, elegant farm-fresh meal in the rustic charm of a 1930’s homestead, with dessert served in the livingroom with views of the golf course and mountains at Keystone Ranch.
Where to Stay: River Run – Comfortable condos give you enough space and coziness to make for home base during all of your activities. The condos are walking distance to everything.
- Epic Discovery, created in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Nature Conservancy to encourage people to learn through play, offers the Game Creek Zip Line Tour, Forest Flyer ™ alpine coaster that winds its way down the mountain’s natural contours and Expanded Trail System offering directional signage to encourage more hiking.
- The Solaris area, at the base of some posh residences, offers a bunch of fun in one area. Play and dine in the sleekest bowling alley you’ve ever seen at Bol, get a good cup of coffee and a snack at Yeti’s Grind coffee, or a craft beer (or root beer) at Vail Brewing. The giant yard in the center is perfect for a taking a yoga or flyfishing class or for letting kiddos run off some energy while you observe from the comfort of a patio.
- Vail Farmers Market – Said to be the largest farmer’s market in the state (or darned close), this is one well-laid out market that takes you meandering the flower-laden streets of Vail shopping for produce, goods and lunch! Friendly vendors make for great one-on-one connection to the products and the people behind them.
- Betty Ford Alpine Gardens – An oasis, off the beaten track, winding paths, shaded alcoves and abundant flowers and trees bring out feelings of wonderment. Educational programs, special events, a charming children’s garden make it a must-stop for any age.
- EAT – You know you’ve had a good meal when you find yourself planning a trip out of town just to be able to dine there again. Such was our experience with Mountain Standard. So much thought goes into every dish without piling on unnecessary ingredients. Our return visit confirmed that it was as great as we remembered it. Sister restaurant, Sweet Basil, upstairs has been an institution in Vail for decades. For a taste of Paris, Vintage bistro serves a champagne brunch at charming café tables just like you’d see in France.
Where to Stay. Antlers at Vail, makes for a great home away from home. The all-condo units offer up to 4 bedrooms, impressive kitchens, fireplaces, balconies with grills and easy access to the free shuttle that goes around the area.
Courtney Drake-McDonough is a Colorado native, writer and editor for local and national publications. She is also the founder of www.InGoodTasteDenver.com, a news and reviews website. She never gets tired of (re)discovering her home state.