Want to know why your dog will love Grand County? And you too? The average August temperature is 74 degrees.
We’ve been heading to Grand County, home to Winter Park, Granby, Grand Lake, and more, for many years. I’ve been visiting for about 23 years. Ryan’s been going most of his life.
However, I have never, until this trip to attend Winter Park Brew Fest, stayed so close to Rendevous Events Center at Hideaway Park. Our condo, at Trailhead Lodge, is across the street from this park and festival area. Conveniently located and not just for festival-going; it’s right in town. We brought along Fritzi. She is a fan of being across from a huge park with freshly cut grass.
Let’s talk about dogs in Winter Park, Colorado. You can go without one, but you’ll fit in better if you’re walking a dog around. True story. I think everyone staying at our condos had brought their dogs, and kids. Children are also a trendy Winter Park accessory. After all, this is where Ryan came as a kiddo. Winter Park is a family-friendly Colorado destination.
This may have been Fritzi’s favorite condo, and she’s stayed in quite a few, but I don’t think any have had a large balcony. The balcony was her favorite place. She spent almost all her time surveying her kingdom from high above, which included a lot of dogs walking by with their humans.
The park and condo may have been among the things Frizi liked the best about the weekend. However, she liked this trip for even more reasons. Everyone morning and evening we’d stroll the paved trail from our condo to Confluence Park where we’d walk the loop. “Walk” is without a doubt Fritzi’s favorite word and activity.
The light is just right during the early and late hours of the day, and this Winter Park trail is perfect with or without a happy dog.
I want to add a few nondog-related Winter Park details. We’ve always enjoyed the town because it feels like a real town. The ski resort is about 12 minutes south, and most of you will pass it on the way to Winter Park. This separation makes it feel less like just a ski destination and more like an authentic Colorado community.
This isn’t to say it isn’t touristy. We saw a lot of Texas license plates on the weekend we were there. And like in other Colorado mountain towns, there is a lack of staff here, and we saw many restaurants with empty tables even though there was a wait. This is a fact of life right now and I’m not sure how we can resolve it (or if we will).
We walked everywhere during this trip. We didn’t move the truck once, except for a quick trip to the grocery store. There is one in Winter Park now, but we were too early and ended up at the Safeway four miles down the road in Fraser. Since we had a full kitchen, I used it to cook excellent breakfasts that we ate on our balcony (much to Fritzi’s delight).
We were visiting to attend Winter Park Brew Festival, and lots of events take place in town during the summer. Here are some recommendations for a Winter Park weekend, whether heading up for a festival or escaping the late summer heat. Cooper Creek Square has an array of shopping and dining destinations. Every Saturday and Sunday, through September 2, live music takes place, as well as an open container policy in the square. It makes for a festival, summery feeling.
If you are in the mood for beer, or a distillery, Camber Brewing is a charming little spot in Fraser that we discovered on our last trip to the area. Camber reminds me of the old-school breweries from the early days that would fit into any little space they could afford.
Ryan bought me a Camber fanny pack at the Winter Park Brew Festival. By the way, this festival serves more than just beer. There are craft spirit tastings and hard seltzers too.
We haven’t tried it but we ran into the owner of Fraser Valley Distilling at the beer fest. They had a booth and we got to try their spirits. This Fraser restaurant and distillery is on our must-try list.
I really like The Ditch on 40. We discovered it a couple of visits ago. On this trip, we bellied up to the bar with some locals and enjoyed craft beer on tap and green chiles on everything. I’m not kidding! The Ditch is 100 percent my kind of place, but it is not fancy.
If you are looking for a slightly fancier dinner—you can still wear jeans, after all this is Winter Park—head to Deno’s Mountain Bistro. It’s a Winter Park staple and local favorite that’s been in town since I was born (1976). Here is where you can get a great steak or pasta entree, or just visit the bar for an excellent aprés ski cocktail.
Lastly, Hernando’s Pizza Pub is a throwback, and you’ll always have a wait, but it’s worth it. Ryan’s been dining here for his entire life as Winter Park was his family’s go-to ski resort, as it was for many Coloradans of his generation.
For the first time on a trip to Winter Park we didn’t visit, but we should have. We got pizza elsewhere and should have stuck with Hernando’s. Hot tip: If you are a group of two, squeeze in at the bar and you might not have to wait. By the way, this Winter Park pizza joint is 56 years old.
Need help planning a trip to Winter Park? I recommend going to PlayWinterPark.com or, ask me. I’ve been there more than a few times.
Full Disclosure: Winter Park Brew Fest, 2023, is an advertiser on HeidiTown.com