Winter Park fits like a comfy old glove. It’s a place I’ve been going to since moving to Colorado in 1999, and Ryan, my husband, has been going there his entire life.
However, this was the first visit that we’d stayed in the village, and when I write “in the village” I mean we were just feet from the ski train and even closer to the new Gondola.
We were booked for two-nights at Zephyr Mountain Lodge in a one-bedroom condo overlooking the ice rink. The lodge is perfectly central, making it an excellent place to stay in Winter Park Village. It’s literally feet from the new Gondola that whisks riders up the mountain in less than six minutes. There are 75 gondolas in all and it’s substantially cut down wait times at the bottom of the mountain.
Of course, Ryan skied at Winter Park, and despite having skied this mountain a lot, discovered Eagle Wind, an area he loved. I went on a guided snowshoe tour with Rich and a young guide learning the ropes named Eric. Mike and Mary from Castle Rock were also on the tour.
On the outing, we rode a chairlift up and then snowshoed down learning about flora, fauna and the history of the area. I learned a few things about the history of Winter Park and the ski train, which was exciting because I love learning insider information. Our hike took us past the old ski patrol hut that now acts as a perfect backdrop for photos.
Our snowshoe trail led us in and out of the forest and we got to see the bike trestle park covered in snow, an interesting view at this iconic Colorado bike park. Some places were steep but for the most part, this snowshoe outing is accessible to everyone. Our Coloradan group did well.
After 4 p.m.the Gondola is free so we headed up for apres ski at Sunspot, the lodge on top of the mountain. We had the Mary Jane Ale specially made for Winter Park Resort by New Belgium Brewery. It’s just $6 a pint which is great for a craft beer on the mountain.
That evening, we dined at Vertical Bistro, located at the old Cheeky Monk location for those familiar with Winter Park. Vertical has a mountain-modern feel with dark wood and excellent hamburgers. Their macaroni and cheese looks scrumptious and I’m ordering it next time. It’s locally owned by the same person who owns Brickhouse 40 in Granby, which is delicious. The owner also owns Rudi’s Deli in downtown Winter Park.
The next day Ryan skied while I explored the village. I visited a few shops I’d never stepped in before and the Coffee & Tea Market. This tiny place features a little bar, baked goods and breakfast and lunch items. I drank a coffee on their deck while watching members of the adaptive ski program run a slalom course on the mountain in front of me. We came back for fabulous drinks before boarding the train on Sunday. Comfy and affordable, this is a new favorite of mine at Winter Park.
Speaking of affordable, a ski vacation doesn’t really fit the phrase, however, we did find affordable dining at Lime. The place was packed on a Saturday night and I understand why. We ordered entrees and drank top-shelf tequila and dinner cost $75 including a good tip. It was my second time dining at this location and not my last. This Lime is related to the one in Denver and is Colorado owned.
Earlier that day, we’d eaten breakfast at Goody’s, which has a line out the door every morning and for good reason. Their breakfast burrito was worth the wait. The line goes fast and the wait for food is short, so this is the perfect place to fuel up before hitting the slopes.
My other “have to tell you about” about dining experience occurred downtown at The Ditch. Apparently, this bar that serves up Mexican food covered in green chile has been there forever and a day, but I didn’t discover it until this trip.
It’s like this place was made with me in mind. You can’t go to The Ditch on 40 without having green chile. They feature a lot of craft beer and their food is smothered in green chile—heaven. As if you need another reason to go, the staff is ironically delightful.
We also went tubing at Winter Park. Instead of writing a paragraph, I’ll show you a video. I’ll say this, tubing is not just for kids.
Much of Winter Park is locally or Colorado-owned, and I think this is what sets them apart from other Colorado ski resort towns. This is a ski resort and town that has retained an authenticity that’s refreshing. There’s a reason that many Coloradans claim this as “their ski resort.” Let’s hope it stays this way.
Thank you to Winter Park Resort for hosting us on this visit.