Don’t let cold, snowy weather keep you from getting away. Say goodbye to the winter blues, gather the gang and head for Grand County, Colorado.
When a friend who’d landed in Grand County twenty-five years ago - and stayed - called to invite me to join her there for a winter girls’ getaway, I jumped at the chance.
Situated only 67 miles from Denver’s highlife, come-as-you-are Grand County bundles a world class ski resort, spas, yoga, alpine pursuits, and stunning mountain scenery into one of Colorado’s hometown favorites.
Take a little inspiration from these Grand County discoveries and launch your own escape.
For 30 years, Winter Park residents have fueled up on hot coffee and breakfast at Carvers Bakery Cafe. Rustic and relaxed, the homey eatery boasts the convivial sounds and baked-goods aroma of a small town favorite. Try the sumptuous cinnamon rolls and homemade bagels. 93 Cooper Creek Way.
Home sweet vacation home
Buying a vacation home might be out of the question (damn the recession), but renting someone else’s luxury mountain house, is not only budget friendly, it’s fun! You may think you’ll be missing out on hotel services. Not true. From arranging welcome meals and in-home grocery stocking, to lift tickets and rental equipment, The Grand Concierge service by Destinations West will coordinate your transportation, plan special activities, and customize an all-inclusive vacation that IS all about you. www.mtnlodging.com
For the cool cats
Not a skier or snowboarder? No need to miss out on the fun. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Winter Park Mountain in the heated comfort of a 13-passenger Snowcat. Two-hour tours depart daily at 10AM and 12PM, as well as 2PM Friday through Sunday. Travel across beginner, intermediate and expert trails, with scenic stops for photos and refreshment. www.winterparkresort.com
PS, I know where you are
Track your day on the mountain with a flaik™ GPS device. Winter Park resort offers private rentals and outfits every ski school student and instructor with one. View individual trails, enjoy video playback, share your day on facebook, or compare multiple days across various resorts. Data is available in near real time on the flaik Web site, www.flaik.com.
For thrill seekers craving something different, from 6PM to 9PM on Friday and Saturday nights at Winter Park Resort you can hop aboard a ski bike, strap on a head lamp and head out on the mountain under the night sky. Three-hour tours include instruction, a guide and use of a ski bike. Beginners welcome. www.winterparkresort.com
Custom-made Peruvian designs play front and center at The Seven Sisters, a sweet Winter Park boutique. Whether you’re looking for a gift or a souvenir for yourself, owner, Cheryl Key, offers a tightly edited crop of unique, handmade clothing, jewelry, lingerie, accessories and home decor. Better still, prices rock. 47 Cooper Creek Square. www.coopercreeksquare.com
Ready, set, dough
When life gives you virgin olive oil, fresh basil, tangy garlic, and Roma tomatoes, you make pizza. When life gives you a Winter Park vacation, you let Hernando’s Pizza Pub make it for you. Thing is, the local’s love Hernando’s, too. So make a reservation. www.hernandospizzapub.com
Feel the heat
Yeah, baby, it’s cold outside and a heated massage is just what a winter girl’s getaway calls for. Your too-many-ski-falls body will thank you for every minute of a Migun Thermal massage at Bella Vita day spa. www.bellavitagc.com
The devil’s in the details
Ooh, la, la. This is not your grandpa’s dude ranch. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is 5,000-acres of pure heaven. With 70-miles of groomed (and dog-friendly) cross-country trails, 12 miles of marked snowshoe trails, a 12,000 sq. ft. luxury spa and two gourmet restaurants, you’re welcome to play for the day, stay at the lodge, or bunk down in one of the ranch’s 16 sumptuousness cabins. Situated at an elevation of 8326 feet, your lungs will love the spa’s oxygen therapy room as much as the second story yoga studio with breathtaking mountain views is sure to seduce body, mind and spirit. www.devilsthumbranch.com
Bar with a buzz
It may look like a tavern and the bar may buzz like a tavern — but one glance at the menu and you know there’s more to this country saloon than meets the eye. From buffalo carpaccio and Barcelona paella to fine wines and scotch single malts, the Tabernash Tavern is country gone global. www.tabernashtavern.com
Rocky Mountain High
You can’t be in the neighborhood without heeding the call of the wild and majestic scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park. Pack your camera, glove warmers and hit the cross-country trails — the best way to see it all. On your way in or out of the park, swing by the community of Grand Lake, located a mile from the park’s west entrance. Charming and friendly any season, but, in winter, the snow coated, mountain ringed lake is a stunner. Borrow free ice skates at the Blue Water Bakery, then reward yourself from their delicious menu.
IF YOU GO
Only 67 miles from Denver, a Grand County, Colorado vacation is the ideal combination of authentic western adventure and unrivaled natural beauty. Learn more at www.grand-county.com
You’ve looked forward to hanging with the girls, so what’s up with the hammering headache, insomnia, and heavy breathing? Altitude sickness. It doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. The Safeway pharmacist saved the trip for my friend Melody by recommending the aptly named natural supplement, Altitude Adjustment. www.altitude-adjustment.com
Denver city break
Craving a little me-time? Postpone re-entry, or ease into the altitude with a Denver add-on. Indulge yourself with a pampered Denver escape at the Ritz Carton Denver, the city’s first and only AAA Five-diamond property. Try out the climbing wall at REI. Stock up on road reads at Tattered Covered bookstore. Or take home a Rockmount shirt, the original snap-button western shirt. Plan it all at, www.visitdenver.com
photo credits: all images © Ellen Barone, excepting Grand Lake photo by Jay Erikson via wiki commons.