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Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado

Vail has grown on me over the years and I enjoy it now more than ever, so without further ado, here are five reasons to love Vail, Colorado.

1. It’s a BIG Mountain

You may stand in lift lines at the base of Vail ski area but once you are on the mountain it’s easy to get away from the crowds. The size of Vail ski area is what makes it tops with my husband, a lifelong Colorado skier. He loves getting into the back bowls where he’s far away from any slope traffic. Here’s a great Insider Guide to Vail Back Bowls on Snow.com.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado_Vail_BackBowls__Photo by Jack_Affleck

Vail Back Bowls, Photo by Jack Affleck (Vail Resorts)

The only problem with the sheer amount of acreage here is that you might be late to lunch with your wife because you underestimated how long it was going to take to ski back to Vail Village — so plan accordingly!

2. Truffle Fries

While my husband’s a lifelong fan of skiing, I’m a lifelong fan of truffle fries. There’s nothing better in this world than when they are done right and the truffle fries at Expert Burger in Vail’s Lionshead neighborhood are to die for. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado, Truffle fries from Expert Burger. HeidiTown.com

Take it from me, they make the perfect afternoon snack on your condo patio paired with a nice wine or a local craft beer.

3. It’s Adorable

Let’s face it, Vail Village is just plain adorable. I recently took my mom to Vail Village and her squeals of delight over the European Alps-like architecture reminded me of my first visit to the town.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado Vail Village

In the summer, Vail explodes with flowers of every kind and color. In the winter, snow embraces the village in a wintry hug that’s as photogenic as any alpine village in Europe, and that’s not a coincidence. Many of the town’s buildings were purposely modeled after European architecture such as the iconic Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer, home of Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant and the Sonnenalp, to name just a few.

4. Vail Brewing Company

For years I’ve been visiting Vail Brewing Company’s tent at beer festivals because I can always count on them to be pouring something delicious, but I hadn’t actually been to their brewery until earlier this year.

Technically, their brewery is a stone’s throw away from Vail in Avon, but Vail Brewing Company does have a tasting room in Vail Village.

We visited the brewery in Avon on a snowy afternoon and were delighted to discover that we like the brewery space as much as the beer. It’s a local waterhole that features the Rocky Mountain Tacos food truck, live music and more.

5. Shopping

Despite the rash of shopping posts recently on HeidiTown, I’m not a big shopper or big spender. However, I love interesting jewelry and while I don’t wear much, the jewelry I do wear usually has a story.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Shopping in Vail Village. HeidiTown.com

On the Vail shopping outing with my mom, I bought a ring that’s become part of my daily worn accessories. The cool story behind the ring is that Mary Jane’s Vail also has a store in Hawaii and one of their featured jewelry artists there makes a gorgeous silver and gold wave ring for that store. The owners of Mary Jane’s decided that the wave pattern could be tweaked into a great mountain motif and now the artist makes wave rings for Hawaii and mountain rings for Vail.

A LITTLE EXTRA – GETTING AROUND VAIL

If you aren’t familiar with the layout of the town, Vail Village is the old part that photographs well because it looks like a European ski hamlet. West Vail is home to the Lionshead area, and while it’s quieter than Vail Village it has a neighborhood feel that I really enjoy. We frequently stay in Lionshead.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Lionshead area. HeidiTown.com

Springtime in Lionshead at Vail Spa Condominiums.

A free bus connects all of Vail and the buses run frequently, so there’s never a problem getting around without a car.

Read more about Vail on HeidiTown.com, Things to do in Vail, Colorado When You’re Not Skiing.

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So there you have it, there are so many reasons to love Vail.

Feel free to leave a comment telling me why you love Vail!

Spring Break Festivals in the Colorado Rockies

Make your spring break experience extra special this year with these fantastic Colorado ski resort festivals.

Spring Break Festivals in the Colorado Rockies, Keystone photo by_jack_affleck_HighRes

Keystone Resort, Kidtopia Experience Week, photo by Jack Affleck.

Breckenridge

This town knows how to throw a party and spring break is no exception. There are lots of kids’ activities around Breckenridge from ice skating to arcade games at Downtown at Eric’s. See a full list of Breckenridge activities for kids here.

Spring Break Festivals in the Rockies, Breckenridge Spring Break courtesy of GoBreck

The Denver-based group, The Flobots, performs at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, Colorado for the ski mountain’s Spring Fever music series.

Orbital Flight is a big-air format freestyle event featuring music from Keys-N-Krates. Taking place on March 19, this will be a fantastic event to watch.

For the adults, Spring Breckenridge Beer Festival is April 8, 2017.

And don’t forget that April 1 through 23, 2017, it’s Spring Fever at Breckenridge Ski Resort, an event that includes everything from sports competitions to free concerts.

Copper Mountain

Copper is a great festival destination. Their annual Copper Uncorked wine event, occurring on March 25 this year, is one of my favorites. Continue reading

How to Avoid I70 Ski Traffic this Winter in Colorado

I love the towns along the I70 corridor, but let’s face it, ski traffic, and even summer traffic, has gotten terrible along this highway. If you can swing it, one of the best way to avoid traffic along this route is to plan your trip for Saturday to Monday. I realize this isn’t always possible, so here are some ways to avoid I70 ski traffic this winter.

Colorado is Open, photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Train

The Amtrak Winter Park Express is back. This is great news, if you’ve got the money. The cheapest fare I could find for a Saturday in mid-January was $108 for a round trip ride per person. For two people, riding the ski train is a rather expensive proposition, but taking the ski train would be a fun way to celebrate a special occasion this winter. Continue reading

Spring slopeside festivals in Colorado

Whether you ski or not, Colorado’s ski resorts put on fabulous springtime, slopeside parties that are worth a trip to the mountains. Nearly every resort has some sort of spring festival; some mountains host bands and others host competitions such as the Cardboard Classic in Steamboat Springs.

The Cardboard Classic, held during Steamboat’s Springalicious Festival, is a competition wherein teams build cardboard contraptions to get themselves down the mountain, and people get very creative. I’ve seen everything from a huge cardboard boat to a cardboard Volkswagen bug.

A number of years ago, I competed in the Cardboard Classic with some friends. We built a shotski and each of us were a different type of shot.

Cardboard Classic in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Cardboard Classic, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The Springalicious Festivals runs the first two weekends in April and you’ll find great lodging deals during the event that includes bands, a pond skimming competition and more. Continue reading

A Winter Weekend at Copper Mountain, Just a Short Drive Away

There are two great reasons to visit Copper Mountain other than the skiing. First, it’s so close to the Front Range. As seasoned Colorado travelers we arranged this trip Saturday to Monday to avoid ski traffic and getting back and forth from this resort was a breeze. Second, Copper has become a fun festival destination.

Festivals at Copper Mountain

Our first trip to Copper was to attend the summertime Genuine Wine & Jazz Festival.

This past weekend, we were back at Copper Mountain for Copper Uncorked, an annual, slopeside festival of wine and wings. This festival is an après ski event with a twist. Eight area restaurants compete in an all out war for your “best wing” vote. The wine flowed, the wings were incredible and the band, New Orleans Suspects kept the crowd dancing.

Copper Uncorked 2016, HeidiTown.com

I can honestly say that this was probably the best slopeside festival (both in value and presentation) that I’ve attended. A really good reason to book a ski trip in Copper on the third weekend in February (Copper Uncorked 2017 is scheduled for Saturday, March 25). Continue reading

Featured Festival: Leadville Ski Joring Weekend (Leadville, Colorado, March 2-3, 2013)

Skijoring in Leadville at Crystal Carnival

Skijoring competition during in Leadville, Colorado. Photo by Steve Sunday. (www.sundayphotography.com)

One of my favorite memories is waking up to six inches of fresh snow on my birthday, October 10, 2007. We were staying in Leadville, Colorado the highest town in the United States at 10,000 feet above sea level.

This small town provides a uniquely Colorado experience for several reasons. First, there’s no place like Leadville and when I say it’s one-of-a-kind, I mean it. Colorful characters, both past and present and colorful stories, both historical and modern day, plus lots of snow – that’s Leadville in a nutshell.

Leadville Ski Joring Weekend is March 2-3, 2012. Ski joring is the Scandinavian word for ski driving, and in Scandinavia individuals would ski behind reindeer as a method of transportation. More than a half century ago, two men from Leadville witnesses ski joring in Steamboat Springs and brought it back to Leadville where, in 1948, it became a serious competition.

Today, the Leadville Ski Joring completion is considered the preeminent event in the sport and has a $1,000 purse. If you’ve never watched skijoring, you in for a treat – watch the video from PLUM TV at the bottom of this post to get a taste of what it involves.

The event poster gives all the details on the ski joring events taking place in downtown Leadville. Click image to enlarge.

Leadville Skijoring poster 2013

For families that choose to make a weekend out of the event, Leadville has much to offer in the way of wintertime fun. There’s the groomed, free Dutch Henri Sledding Hill where families can either bring their own sleds (no metal allowed) or rent tubes for $7 on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hill is open every day from dawn to dusk.

There is also the 30,000 square foot outdoor Leiter Ice Skating Rink, an affordable way to spend the afternoon. Skate rentals plus skate time is just $3.25 for children and $4.25 for adults. Ice rink is open 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sunday and includes a warming hut, snack bar and sound system.

The Mineral Belt Trail is free, and is 12 miles of groomed trail for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. In fact, Leadville has a total of 50 miles of cross country skiing trails, including 12 kilometers of groomed trails on the golf course.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. This is the only federally chartered non-profit museum and if mining sounds boring to you, it did to me too. However, this museum is really impressive. My husband wanted to go and I tagged along, and I was so glad that I did.  Find them online at MiningHallofFame.org.

Leadville Ski Joring Weekend

March 2-3, 2013

www.VisitLeadvilleCo.com

 

A Day in Ski School at Breckenridge Resort

Photo courtesy Breckenridge Resort. Downhill skier in powder.

I have a red & white ski coat, but this is NOT ME. (Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort)

An embarrassing truth is going to be revealed in this post – I’m a novice downhill skier, and by novice I mean that I’ve been downhill skiing twice in my life.

At my first lesson, I was stuck with a bunch of daring teenagers who begged the instructor to take them straight to the big hill and I trailed along in mortal fear. By the end of that lesson I did manage to ski a few greens, but I learned the rather painful lesson that one, I am not a natural born skier and two, I can’t seem to get off a chairlift without falling flat on my face.

Fast forward a number of years, and I had the opportunity to attend Ski & Ride School at Breckenridge Resort this past January. This ski school experience was very different from my first introduction to skiing. First of all, I’ve been cross country skiing for the past three years, so I’m more comfortable wearing skis. Second, everyone else in my class, with the exception of a gal from Boston, had never  been on a pair of skis before.

Looking like a dork at Breckenridge Ski & Ride School. HeidiTown.com

Looking less than cool at ski school. I know I'm not supposed to wear anything under the helmet, but we were on the bunny hill & my ears were cold!

The class was made up of sweet, friendly and slightly terrified Texan girls. They all looked the part, having splurged on fashionable ski gear for the occasion, but several of them were suffering from altitude sickness. Honestly – their fear gave me comfort. I passed out Tylenol from the stash in my pocket and felt pretty good about not being the newbie in ski school. Note: Tylenol helps alleviate some of the symptoms of altitude sickness, but you should also drink plenty of water. Get more tips here.

Our instructor was Darrin Hart, a guy with an Australian accent and matching chill attitude. As a true beginners class we first learned about our boots and skis, and then practiced clipping in and out of our skis, which is a lot harder than it sounds if you’ve never done it before.

We walked to the top of the first bunny hill and stood alongside kids that barely came up to my knees. If they can do it, I can, I thought as I snapped my boots into my skis and took a deep breath of thin air.

After learning a few basic mountain rules and skills, we learned the mechanics of the snow plow and then, one by one, we slid down the bunny hill, legs awkwardly splayed, applying the use of muscles we didn’t know we had. Within minutes, a Texan was down, but being fairly athletic she was back up in no time.

Halfway through the morning we “graduated” to the larger bunny hill which required a short ride on a J-bar ski lift – the kind you put between your legs and hold on as it slides you up the hill. It turns out the J-bar was a challenge for many of my ski school buddies as one after another went down on her way up.

ski school at Breckenridge Resort. HeidiTown.com

The red & white coat. That's me in Ski School. My nice husband took this photo from the chairlift as he was heading up to ski the real mountain.

After a few runs down the larger hill, even making our way into real ski traffic once or twice, we were dismissed for an hour lunch. My husband, Ryan, had been out skiing real mountains all morning where he’d ran into a friend. They were drinking beers when I showed up in very good spirits.

“I think I’m turning into a real skier,” I announced.

This was, perhaps, a bit of an exaggeration coming from someone who’d been snow plowing down the bunny hill all morning.

Awesome downhill skier at Breckenridge Resort. Courtesy photo.

This is what a "real skier" looks like. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort.

After a lunch of hot and delicious green chili at The Maggie, I joined back up with the other students. The afternoon was going to involve some real mountain skiing on Peak 9, which meant I was going to have to ride a chairlift. My previously high spirits began to dissipate.

Fact: I’ve never fallen while skiing, but I’ve never gotten off a ski lift without falling. This day was no exception.

This is no mark against my ski instructor, Darrin. He gave us very good advice about holding our ski poles in one hand and pushing off with the other hand. His wise words worked for the four other gals on our chairlift, but not me and down I went. Fortunately, I’m skilled at ducking and waiting for the chairlift operator to pull me up and plop me down unceremoniously, but upright on my skis. I rejoined my class, who were watching with no trace of amusement. After all, they’d all spent time on the ground that day, just not in front of so many people.

Peak 7 now open at Breckenridge Resort. Courtesy photo.

Peak 7 is now open. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort.

The other skiers and snowboarders gave us a wide berth as we trailed down the mountain following our patient and faithful leader, Darrin. Back and forth we went, and occasionally I gained more speed than I felt was appropriate and I snow plowed the heck out of the hill.

I didn’t have time to do a second big run with the rest of the class because I had to head back to my condo to get ready for the Ullr Festival Parade, but I’m not sure my muscles could have handled it. After a day of snow plowing bunny hills, my legs felt like cement and my ski boots felt like torture devices.

Despite the chairlift incident, I felt pretty good about my day at the Breckenridge Resort Ski School. Darrin was a supportive instructor who made us feel confident before moving to the next level. I’m definitely not a real skier yet, but I did manage to make it down the mountain in one piece. Now, if only I could conquer that dang chairlift. I plan to take on that challenge on my next ski adventure.

While sitting in the hot tub back at our condo that evening, we were regaled with a story from a young couple who spent three hours getting down the mountain earlier that day. He thought he could teach her to snowboard, but he was wrong. Take it from me, if you are a newbie skier or snowboarder, a lesson is the way to go. It might even save your relationship.  

To learn more about Breckenridge Ski & Ride School click HERE.

To learn more about all the fun Breckenridge has to offer year-round go to GoBreck.com.

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I’d like to send out a big thank you to Darrin and Kristen at Breckenridge Resort and Rachel, Jessie and the rest of the team at GoBreck.com. It’s the people who make or break a ski town and you all do an awesome job at making Breckenridge, Colorado an extra special place to visit!    

Featured Festival: Grand Park Dog Days of Winter (Feb. 16-17, 2013 in Winter Park, CO)

 

sled dogI’ve been a fan of dog sled racing since I was just a little girl. Growing up in the far northern reaches of Washington State – let’s face it, it was practically Canada – there were quite a few Alaska connections around my community. This meant that throughout my childhood I had roundabout connections to the Iditerod, and therefore I never missed the race on television.

Since moving to Colorado in 2000, it’s been on my bucket list to make it to one of the many sled dog festivals that are held in the Rocky Mountains. This February I finally get my chance, not only to fulfill my childhood dream of riding in a dog sled with Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park, but also to witnesses sanctioned sled dog races.

I’ll be attending the Grand Park Dog Days of Winter over Presidents Day weekend in Grand Park, Colorado, just outside of Winter Park.

This is a two-day event, sanctioned by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. Races will offer slots for sled teams of four, six and eight dogs, a three-dog junior division and one and two-dog skijoring, where the mushers, wearing cross-country skis, are pulled by their dogs.

A skijoring clinic will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. and people are encouraged to bring their dogs and give it a try. Harnesses and gear will be provided, but you need skis and a willing dog. In addition to the races there will be vendors and other entertainment at the race site.

In addition to the spectacle of the dog sled races, the area will be bustling with activity over Presidents Day Weekend. On Saturday night, visitors can experience Winter Park Comedy Night at Winter Park Resort. Learn more about winterparkcomedynight.com.

Grand Park Dog Days of Winter

Grand Park, Colorado

(between Winter Park & Fraser)

Feb. 16-17, 2013

www.playwinterpark.com/dogdaysofwinter

 

Official event poster (click to enlarge):

Grand Park Dog Days of Winter 2013 poster

HeidiTown on the Radio – Colorado winter festivals not to miss this February

This week’s radio segment is a little embarrassing. My voice is so husky that I sound like my other job might be at one of those late night phone chat establishments. The truth is that last week I was knocked on my butt with a terrible head cold/flu thing that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

sled dogs winter park

Photo from PlayWinterPark.com. Click the picture for more information on Grand Dog Days in Winter Park in February.

Anyway, I’m just about back to normal, whatever normal is, and you should totally listen to this week’s radio show. Not only to laugh at my sex-phone voice, but to learn about new dinner theater productions in the works and some Colorado winter festivals this February that should definitely be on your radar.

To hear this week’s HeidiTown segment on KRFC 88.9 FM >>>  CLICK HERE.

Photos of the 2013 Ullr Festival Parade (Breckenridge, Colorado)

If you’ve been paying attention, by now you probably know that I was invited by GoBreck to judge the 50th Annual Ullr Festival parade last week in Breckenridge, Colorado.

After looking through our parade photos, taken mostly by my husband, Ryan, I just had to share a few of our favorites with you.

Here are photos from the Ullr Festival parade on Thursday, January 10, 2013:

kids in sleds at Ullr Parade HeidiTown 2013

If there had been a prize for “cutest float,” this would have won it.

fat guy on bike Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

This is a good time to tell you that it was COLD out! Really, really cold.

Guys riding keg skis Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

The Ullr Festival parade is way more entertaining than your average 4th of July parade.

Heid Judging at Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

It’s fun being a judge! My hands were cold, but my helmet was AWESOME!

Dancing viking woman Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

This gal was having A LOT of fun!

Viking gals at Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

There are lots of viking women at Ullr Festival in very little clothing.

Grand Lodge float the 1000 dollar winner at Ullr parade 2013 Heiditown

This float by Grand Lodge took home first place & won $1000.

Snow Globe at Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

The Good Times Adventures Snow Globe float was my favorite & they won 2nd place.

filled float Ullr parade 2013 Heiditown

Floats full of shiny, happy people.

not really a fire dancer cool shot at Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

One of my favorite photos from Ullr Festival parade.

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A huge thank you to GoBreck for asking me to participate in this wacky week of fun in Breckenridge, Colorado!!!

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