Hit the slopes and mountain trails on a Denver winter vacation. (Photo: Alamy)
Don’t let daylight savings or chilly temperatures get you down. Sure, some nights it’s definitely necessary to cue up Netflix and camp out on the couch. But in a city as cool as Denver, the biggest mistake you can make is missing out on all of the winter activities. Check out our list of to dos and see if you can squeeze them in before spring approaches.
Ice Skate at Southwest Rink
First things first. The most wintry thing you might find yourself doing is to lace up your skates and hit the ice. Head to Southwest Rink in downtown Denver for a day or night of skating, holiday tunes and good old-fashioned fun. Located at 16th and Arapahoe in Skyline Park, Southwest Rink welcomes you in free of charge.
Don’t have skates? No problem. Rent a pair and glide along to great music under sparkling lights. Kids and families tend to crowd the ice during the day, while the nighttime skate is more popular among adults.
Whether you’re here for a romantic date or a day of family fun, staff will be there to help anyone who may have a face full of ice (hey, we can’t all be Michelle Kwan), and they even offer crutches for those who are learning for the first time. On Friday and Saturday nights, the rink features DJs and live music. If you’re really serious about learning the craft, take advantage of free lessons on Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.
After you’ve skated your little heart out, stop by Christkindl Market to pick up some last-minute gifts or hot spiced wine, a.k.a Glühwein, for yourself. Also located in Skyline Park, this Denver holiday delight brings vendors from all over Germany to sell handmade gifts and homemade cuisine. You’ll also enjoy live German music, holiday carols, and best of all, free admission. M
Ski at Winter Park
You knew this one was coming. It’s almost impossible to come to Denver and not feel beckoned by the call of the mountains and some “fresh pow” just waiting to be shredded. Winter Park gets an average of 350 inches of snow per year.
With two mountains, a wide variety of terrain and countless family-friendly activities, this is one of those Denver winter activities that everyone can hop on board with. Skiers who prefer long, groomed trails should choose the Winter Park Mountain, and those who prefer winding through trees and mogul runs should go with Mary Jane.
Beginners can enroll in their MAX4 Program created for both kids and adults. There’s no need to worry about your little one getting lost during these semi-private ski lessons. Staff members put a GPS on every child to ensure that no one gets left behind.
And if skiing isn’t your thing, they have killer tubing at the Coca-Cola Tubing attraction. For $23 an hour, you can cruise down the snowy hill solo or tied to other tubers.
Once you’ve called it a day on the slopes, grab a slice and warm up at Pizza Pedal’r. Located in the Village at Winter Park, this new addition to the Winter Park dining scene serves up a delicious menu of pizzas, appetizers, salads and pastas.
Crowd favorites include the Bunny Hop barbecue pizza and the Snowmine, made with sweet chili Thai sauce, Thai chicken, broccoli and pineapple.
Rock out at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
If you’re lucky enough to be in Denver during the only winter concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, don’t miss out. Icelantic’s Winter on the Rocks hosts an annual concert event in Kanuary, in celebration of snow sports and the Colorado lifestyle. Great tunes, awesome views and the company of fellow music lovers make for an unforgettable night.
We recommend treating yourself to a good meal before the fun begins, and just 15 minutes from the Amphitheatre on U.S. Route 6 is a true, hole-in-wall gem. Frijoles Colorado consistently gets glowing reviews, offering up some of the best, most authentic Cuban food in the country.
If you’re a first timer, they’ll offer you free samples. Still plagued with indecision? Start with their pastelitos. For your entrée, opt for the lechon moro y yuca (pork with black beans and rice) or the ropa vieja (stewed beef with vegetables). What’s even better than the delicious menu is the cozy, family-owned vibe you get right when you walk in. People rave about the owners as much as they rave about the flavors.
Sample Local Beer at Winter Brew Fest
Last but certainly not least is Winter Brew Fest. Partake in this celebration of craft beer at Mile High Station in January. Enjoy local music and good eats — and of course, craft beer — while you benefit Swallow Hill Music Association, a Denver non-profit organization serving music lovers, performers and eager learners.
Just south of Winter Brew Fest you’ll find a great place to eat beforehand or continue the fun after. Original Brooklyn’s has that hometown, dive-y feel and a killer menu. T
ry one of their delicious burgers to get your carb load before the tasting, or come here after for more local beer options. This Denver bar is popular after Broncos games and during the summer when they welcome thirsty patrons to sip and socialize on their outdoor patio.
It’s no secret that in Denver, you don’t have to fake winter. The city is a winter wonderland by nature. Fresh snow, chilly temperatures and a slew of festive holiday activities make the Mile High City a major win.