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MOUNTAIN VIEWS TO CITYSCAPES

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THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO COLORADO’S BEST GOLF COURSES

by DAVID R. HOLLAND

Miller Barber, the late PGA Tour player with 11 championships, said it best about travel and golf. “I’m happiest when I have a hotel room key in my pocket.”

Denver’s golf lineup has it all – beauty, challenge, history and perfect summer weather that extends well into late fall. But many visitors don’t know that golf can be played year round in the Denver area as long as the snow stays away.

17th at Inverness, sunrise

Get me talking about golf in the Denver metro area and I always return to the glory days of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club, which brought together three modern golf legends: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. If you know a member of Cherry Hills, try to snag an invitation.

After the crash and burn of The International, a long-running PGA Tour event held at the Golf Club at Castle Pines, welcome news came following the return of the PGA Tour to Cherry Hills with the BMW Championship in 2014. And one can’t forget that Parker hosted the 2013 Solheim Cup at the private Colorado Golf Club.

So what’s the good news? A couple of years ago it was announced that the state’s first new golf course in years will be built in Windsor, north of Denver. RainDance National Golf Club, designed by Fred Funk, will be located less than three miles from its sister course – the 27-hole Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Here in Denver, where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains, a travel golfer can stage his or her own bit of Colorado golf glory at a multitude of daily-fee and municipal golf courses. Here are some of my favorites.

Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton

You could wander the planet for 100 years and might not find a setting so incredible for a golf course. Located in Roxborough State Park just south of Denver, geologists say it took 300 million years for the slanted, jagged cerise rocks to form.

420 yd par 4

It took Robert Trent Jones Jr. a fraction of that time to design Arrowhead Golf Club, one of the most-photographed golf courses in the world. Jones said the cathedral-like conglomerate rocks and the rolling terrain make it a must-play.

“When I first saw the site of the golf course at Roxborough Park, I was overwhelmed by the magnificent gifts that nature has bestowed on the property. The cathedral-like rocks that jut up from the rolling terrain at the foothills of the Rockies is a majestic setting in which to establish a unique golf course,” Jones said.

Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield

Built in 1999 by David Graham and Gary Panks, the Omni Interlocken Resort has inspiring vistas of the Rockies between Denver and Boulder and is a year-round resort with only the best hotel amenities.

Eighteen-hole combinations measure more than 7,000 yards with the nines named Eldorado, Vista and Sunshine. The terrain is rolling hills and more than 300 acres, but was almost treeless until nearly 3,000 were planted.

CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora

CommonGround Golf Course is a prime example of what happens when you take an old Air Force base golf course that has already been renamed once and put it in the hands of Tom Doak, one of America’s best classical, minimalist course architects.

What you get is a parkland/links mixture that is walkable and affordable – just what the Colorado Golf Association, owners of the course, ordered.

This plot of land was once the Lowry AFB Golf Course, but when the base closed in the mid-1990s, the course morphed into Mira Vista Golf Course. The CGA’s and CWGA’s dream, however, was a completely new golf course. That’s when Doak and his Michigan-based Renaissance Golf Design team were hired to transform the 350-acre site.

Today CommonGround is dedicated to growing the game with a learning center for kids and adults, plus a caddie program for girls and boys who have finished the eighth grade.

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course is a dream course that gathers sweeping views of the front range from Long’s Peak to Pike’s Peak. High points, rocky buttes, thick native grasses and scrub oak feature lots of wildlife. Fairways are wide with big landing areas framed by large, grassy moguls, bunkers, greenside lakes bumped against sand and stacked rock, and massive, contoured, bentgrass greens with tough, thick collars.

The City of Castle Rock wanted a fun course, and that’s what golf course architect Jim Engh delivered. Engh took city administrators to a high ridgeline that defined the back nine and pointed to placement of holes. The vision transferred from Engh to the administrators. Light bulbs went off in their heads – fun.

Fossil Trace Golf Course Club in Golden

Busy and fun, Fossil Trace Golf Club is in the shadows of Table Moutain, within sight of the Coors Brewery, and it only takes one stroke to notice the history of this land. The chimney of a brick kiln remains in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 first hole – right in the sightline of your second stroke.

Examine the 20-foot pillars of sandstone positioned in the fairway of the par-5 12th, and then determine how to hit over them on your journey to the green. This hole serves as a reminder of the property’s quarry history. Clay-mining equipment remains in place where, 64 million years ago, bird tracks, palm fronds and triceratops footprints were frozen in time. A split-rail fence near the green leads to a viewing area for the fossils.

Golf course architect Jim Engh, a native of North Dakota, built an impressive portfolio, beginning with offices in Colorado and now known throughout the world. His award-winners in Colorado besides Fossil Trace include the ultra-exclusive private Sanctuary in Sedalia; Red Hawk Ridge in Castle Rock; Four Mile Ranch in Canon City; Lakota Canyon in Newcastle; Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction; Harmony Club in Tinmath; and Pradera in Parker.

The Ridge at Castle Pines North in Castle Rock

Some dime novelists say Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody once described the area where The Ridge at Castle Pines North sits as one of their favorite stomping grounds.

The Ridge at Castle Pines North is considered by many as the premier upscale, public-access golf course in Colorado. Since opening in July 1997, the Tom Weiskopf design has won awards from just about every golf population – national and statewide – and was once ranked No. 49 on Golf Magazine’s list of top 100 public-access golf courses.

Look west and the panorama includes Pikes Peak, Devil’s Head and Mt. Evans. Look closer and you find front-range foothill scenes that feature sandstone rock formations, gambel oaks, Ponderosa pines and many varieties of wildlife. In fact, The Ridge left room to roam for migrating elk. Its double-loop layout preserves wildlife corridors.

Hilton Denver Inverness in Englewood

One of the only semi-private golf courses in the Denver area, this J. Press Maxwell championship course is beautiful, playable and challenging. It requires strategy and a thoughtful approach, thanks to gentle but unforgiving slopes, rolling hills and deep bunkers. Water comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes, and the golf course’s par-3 holes test the precision of even the best golfers.

As for the hotel, there’s a view of the Rocky Mountains in its front yard and an 18-hole championship golf course in its backyard. President Bill Clinton slept here and took on the tight, sloping fairways, rolling hills and fast, undulating greens.

Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Tom Babb opened the course in 1973 and did plenty for Colorado golf during his 27 years of working here. Babb served as director of golf at Inverness from 1973 to 2000. He was there from the very beginning, helping prepare the course for its opening, even to the point of operating some heavy earth-moving equipment as the holes were constructed.

Shortly after John Elway arrived to play quarterback for the Denver Broncos, his first contact to improve his game was Babb. The friendship evolved into the John Elway Celebrity Classic.

Today you can enjoy all the work and landscaping beauty of Babb and his associates with this classic golf course south of downtown Denver.

Did you know there are two excellent daily-fee golf courses near Denver International Airport? Here’s a synopsis of the two awesome layouts.

Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora

Bring your “A” game when you play Murphy Creek, a high-plains gem just minutes from the airport. It was opened in 2000 and was designed by Ken Kavanaugh of Arizona.

Murphy Creek is a high-plains test. It will also reward you with one of the most enjoyable, affordable rounds of golf you will find in a new golf course today. Watch out for its arroyos, wiry and thick fescue rough, and bunkers surrounded by more rough.

Be sure to spend some time in the clubhouse, dine in Murphy’s Tavern, and see the sites. The 1920s farmhouse decor includes white siding with steep-pitched green roofs, and the cart barn replicates a real barn. The range ball machine is housed in a silo, and former alfalfa fields are littered with old, rusting farm equipment, a horse-drawn wagon and an original barn.

Murphy Creek was ranked in Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 10 Best New Courses for 2002” and was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver

Welcome to Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Denver’s premiere golf facility. Just minutes from DIA, this beauty is home to an award-winning 18-hole Championship course, the popular 9-hole par-3 course, and a great practice facility.

It has also hosted the Colorado Open numerous times and was designed by Denver’s Perry Dye, son of legendary designer Pete Dye. This is big, bold prairie golf that was 12 years in the making.

The drive to the course is all prairie, then suddenly here’s a wall of old cottonwoods and wetlands. Six holes are sculpted around the protected native areas and offer strategic shots. No. 10, a 417-yard par4, is encircled by dense growth. Other holes present open prairie tests running along a ridge.

“Golf courses near DIA are just a natural for businessmen and their clients flying to Denver,” Dye said. “And at Green Valley Ranch you can’t even hear an airline. You are going to see more businessmen playing morning golf, then leaving for the airport and arriving at their gate in 30-40 minutes.”

Longing For Some Competition?

The Colorado Open heads a list of many tournaments scheduled each year in the Denver Metro area. The Colorado Open is a yearly championship staged for seniors, women and adults. 2017 marks the 14th men’s running of this championship at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.

City Park Golf Course also hosts the Denver City Amateur Championships each summer with men’s and senior’s divisions. Call for information.

There are also countless charity events, so if you want to play Sanctuary, a bucket list golf course, just give them a call and ask about scheduled charity events.

Sky Ridge Medical Center is also hosting a tournament series this summer that includes four separate events staged at Inverness, The Ridge at Castle Pines North, Blackstone Country Club and Colorado National Golf Club. Another worthy tournament is the 15th Annual Ortho Colorado Triple Play Golf Tournament benefiting The First Tee of Denver, set for June at City Park Golf Courses.

Welcome To The Home Ranch

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SUMMER VACATION AWAITS IN CLARK, COLORADO

by MONICA PARPAL STOCKBRIDGE

When it comes to vacation, many people just want to get away from it all. Whether that means powering down from a high-stress job in the city, or physically abandoning day-to-day obligations, we often feel compelled to leave home in order to relax, rest and perhaps even enjoy a new adventure.

Arriving for the first time at The Home Ranch – the state’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch and all-inclusive, family-friendly summer vacation destination – there’s a very real, very refreshing sense of isolation. Nestled in the heart of the Elk River Valley, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs and bordering thousands of acres of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest land, you immediately feel a long distance from wherever you journeyed. But that distance is welcome. You begin to unwind from the bustling, city-light drenched, mile-a-minute lives we lead. Fresh mountain air expands your lungs, and blue skies dazzle your view. As General Manager Brooks Bradbury and Guest Services Manager Selina Heintz greet you upon check-in, they take your bags with warm smiles and a delightfully unexpected greeting: “Welcome Home.”

Finding Home in Clark, Colorado

It all began nearly 40 years ago, when Toledo, Ohio residents Ann and Steve Stranahan (brother of George Stranahan of Colorado whiskey fame) met Ken and Sharon Jones, cattle ranchers from Montana. The four decided they would start their own ranch. The Stranahans were vacationing in Steamboat Springs with their four children when they discovered a 580-acre swath of alpine ranchland in the Elk River Valley, in a small settlement called Clark. This was during what locals call a “Three-wire-winter” – meaning the snow was so high that it reached the tops of the barbed-wire fences separating the roads from the cattle ranches.

From first glance, the Stranahans were transfixed with the area. Later, Ann would write a poem about the experience of seeing the land for the first time, exploring the several hundred acres on cross-country skis with Steve.

The Stranahans purchased that land, “laying impermanent claim,” as Ann writes,  to the natural beauty they discovered there. The land they would eventually transform into a guest ranch would change their lives, and change the face of Clark itself. It was here they established The Home Ranch.

Staying at The Home Ranch

The owners intentionally modeled the ranch after early western homesteads – not the imitation ski chalets popular in the late 1970s, but a more rustic, low-lying look somewhere between a high-country cabin and a farm cottage. As the property has grown, they have added private cabins alongside the main lodge house. Today, there’s a barn that hosts Wednesday night dances, and a spot for weekly bonfire cookouts. There’s a garden and greenhouse, a downright swanky chicken coop, and a hay pasture for grazing horses – 78 of them to be precise, including an irritable yet adorable miniature horse and a beloved donkey named Poncho.

All of this creates a summertime playground for guests of all ages and abilities, who plan their weeklong stays with equal parts respite and recreation. You might learn to fly fish in the gently babbling Elk River, or perfect your horsemanship skills on long back-country rides. You might choose to join a guided hiking trip along the 11-mile Zirkel Circle – practically untouched by Front Range 14er-baggers – or charter a hot air balloon ride for an exhilarating journey high above the rugged peaks. There are constant diversions for kids, from horseback riding to pond fishing to arts and crafts – and, of course, plenty of afternoon ice cream breaks at the local Clark Store.             

For many, simply wandering the property between hearty gourmet meals proves fulfilling. That’s because The Home Ranch treats guests to all-inclusive haute cuisine by Executive Chef Jonathon Gillespie, who sources locally (and we mean locally) as much as possible. Beef comes from neighboring Sand Mountain Cattle Company, and charcuterie is made in-house. Pork, poultry and produce, including lettuce, carrots, corn, peas and radishes, along with herbs and flowers, are raised and grown onsite. Plus, desserts by Pastry Chef Douglas Short round out every meal, and freshly baked cookies stacked on a platter in the foyer make irresistible late-night snacks.

During meals, guests sit at long community tables, sipping rare wines and Colorado craft beers, unwittingly laying the foundation for lifelong friendships. What might begin as a conversation over breakfast flapjacks and fresh-squeezed orange juice will often continue over barbecued chicken and grilled whitefish on the patio at lunch. By dinnertime, over dishes of Colorado lamb chops or Parisian-style gnocchi with Home Ranch garden greens, those same guests are exchanging family photos and email addresses, already making plans for a return trip at the same time next year.

The Ranching Way of Life

Part of the magic of The Home Ranch is how it trots the line between high-class and high-country. There’s an admirable success in providing a luxury experience on an otherwise harsh landscape (the growing season is an impossible 59 days, and winters regularly reach 40 degrees below zero). Yet, that unflinching emphasis on hospitality lives alongside an undying respect for the land and those who have lived and worked it for generations.

In fact, the Home Ranch and its neighboring ranches have made it a mission over the years not only to create a destination getaway for discerning travelers, but to protect and preserve the surrounding land and ranching way of life by placing more than 8,000 acres of the Upper Elk River Valley into a permanent conservation easement, meaning the land will remain undeveloped for generations to come.

This wasn’t always a popular notion in a place where land developers mine profits in hills that were once mined for gold. Finding like-minded individuals to keep the land pure and undeveloped, however, has enhanced the beauty of the landscape. Over its lifetime, The Home Ranch has grown from 580 acres to 4,000 – land that encompasses hayfields and hillsides where horses graze and calves are born in the spring, where herds of deer gather and graze, and where guests can hike, bike, and fish on land that likely will remain this beautiful for centuries.

Welcome Home

It may seem impossible that this place – with its vibrant green hills, distant frosted peaks, gentle horses and graceful river – could ever truly be home. But in the communities that form over meals and around bonfires, in the shared experiences on the land, and in the stories of days gone by, there lies an inescapable sense of belonging. You may be far from home, but you’re right where you need to be.

Learn more and book your stay at homeranch.com

A Home of Your Own

Some guests visit The Home Ranch year after year before finally deciding to move permanently to Clark. For those who cannot imagine life anywhere else, there’s the Murphy-Larsen Ranch: a conservation-oriented residential project managed by The Home Ranch that offers ownership opportunities in a breathtaking setting. Learn more at www.murphy-larsen.com

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

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A GUIDE TO COLORADO’S TOP SUMMER FESTIVALS

by MARIAN TUIN

Picture yourself surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains; a pristine mountain breeze whispers across your skin, and rays from Colorado’s warm summer sunshine engulf you. You stand in the open air, perhaps holding a locally crafted beer or a crisp glass of wine. The music reverberates; sounds authored by the likes of Grammy award-winning country sensation Keith Urban, or the bluesy funk of Colorado’s own Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats.

Summer is the epicenter of Colorado’s festival season! It’s a place where your senses are stimulated by the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences embedded in our beautiful, sundrenched days and warm, star-filled nights. There are plenty of offerings from the city limits to the mountain valleys. And the collective 2017 lineup promises something for everyone: from music and bike enthusiasts to brewers, balloonists and wine connoisseurs … we even tracked down festivals for yogis!
If you’re ready for the freedom that the vibe of summer and outdoor experience brings, you don’t have to miss a beat researching and planning because we’ve done the work for you. We have compiled a list that highlights some of Colorado’s unique festivals scheduled for 2017, and captured exclusive insight from some of the state’s leading festival founders and producers.
So whether you find yourself surrounded by the peaks of Telluride or the lofty cityscape of Denver, you are bound to have a memorable experience.

FOR THE MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL SEEKER:

Jazz Aspen Snowmass
June Experience – Aspen
“The festival that we do at the end of June is how Jazz Aspen started back in 1991,” according to Jim Horowitz, founder and curator of the elite Jazz Aspen Snowmass June and Labor Day Experiences.
The experience features four nights of headline concerts at the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen. In addition, there are multiple shows at the JAS Cafe upstairs at the Aspen Art Museum and downstairs at The Little Nell. They also host nightly complimentary Lawn Parties on the music tent grounds before the main shows, featuring live bands and an upscale array of food and beverage.
June 23 – July 1, 2017
jazzaspensnowmass.org/june-experience.html

July 1 – August 4, 2017
BRAVO! VAIL Music Festival – Vail
The festival’s 30th season features four of the world’s greatest orchestras, internationally renowned musicians and acclaimed soloists. In the breathtaking setting of the Rocky Mountains, revel in classical masterworks, soulful jazz and electrifying pops programs. Featuring residencies by four returning ensembles: The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Simone Lamsma, James Ehnes, Gil Shaham and Leonida Kavakos; cellist Steven Isserlis; trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling; and pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman and Inon Barnatan.

Hot Air Balloon Rodeo – Steamboat Springs
The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park events explore the beauty of artistry and color both on canvas and in the sky. This stunningly visual weekend brings the sleepy offseason to life in Steamboat Springs and is a celebration of summertime.
July 8-9, 2017
steamboatchamber.com/info/events

Telluride Yoga Festival
This four-day event is a paradise for yogis and features more than 100 different activities including yoga, meditation, music, hiking, dining, SUP yoga and more. Guests have access to more than 50 inspiring and motivating presenters contrasted by the intimate and historic venues throughout the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village.
July 20-23 | tellurideyogafestival.com

Rockygrass Festival – Lyons
Rockygrass is the second of three events Planet Bluegrass produces annually and serves as a celebration of the town of Lyons’ strength and resilience. Originally held just 10 months after historic 500-year floods devastated the town, it is known today as one of the great traditional bluegrass festivals in the world.
Planet Bluegrass’ Brian Eyster gave us more insight into the history saying, “In 1992, the volunteer-run Rocky Mountain Bluegrass reached out to Planet Bluegrass to keep the festival alive. We found a property in Lyons along the St. Vrain River to host that event and two years later we purchased the property, known today as the Planet Bluegrass Ranch.”
July 28-20, 2017 | bluegrass.com/rockygrass

Breckenridge Food & Wine -Breckenridge
Breckenridge’s Main Street Station Plaza transforms into a charming mountainside vineyard each year to host the Food and Wine Festival. Delivering a unique wine-tasting experience, you’ll find an array of varietals created by fine wineries. From the soft and smooth to the unabashedly bold, wine lovers will get more than their fair share of delicious sips.
July 29, 2017
rockymtnevents.com/breckenridge-food-wine

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival – Lyons
Rounding out the three events produced by Planet Bluegrass, the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is dedicated to spending a glorious summer weekend celebrating songs and stories from around the musical and geographic world.
Brian Eyster shared that community is at the heart of the event. “I love to walk through the crowd or the campgrounds and watch this unique spirit of community,” he says. “At our festivals, there is only one single stage. Guests set up their tarps and spend the entire day sharing music, making lasting friendships with their neighbors and reconnecting with friends from past festivals. People aren’t on their phones, they’re very present, connecting with their fellow Festivarians through this communal music experience in this profoundly beautiful place.”
August 18-20, 2017 | bluegrass.com/folks

Vail Jazz Party – Vail
The Vail Jazz Party could be considered a maestro ushering in the grand finale of the Vail Jazz Festival and the beautiful Colorado summer season. It serves its patrons a jam-packed lineup with more than 35 headliners, who join together to play in group performances, multi-artist jam sessions, and inspiring multimedia tributes to jazz legends.
Aug 31 – Sep 4, 2017 | vailjazz.org

Jazz Aspen Snowmass – Snowmass

Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Experience is nestled in the ethereal setting of Snowmass Village Town Park. This luxurious open-air event is a dance-oriented extravaganza of popular, R&B, rock, funk, blues, world, and soul music. With the spectacular Elk Mountain Range as a backdrop, this three-day experience welcomes to the stage Keith Urban andMaroon Five, among others in 2017.
Event visionary and mastermind Jim Horo-witz disclosed, “The biggest challenges over the years is what it takes to put together a stellar, world-class program of artists. We’ve managed, but clearly that’s the hardest part of what we do. It all flows from there because if the program isn’t good enough, then the people don’t come, or they don’t buy as many tickets.” Summarizing, “That really is our DNA. We are a music presenter, whether it is for 150 people listening to jazz or 10,000 people listening to Stevie Wonder. People are coming to us to hear a great musical performance.”
September 1-4, 2017 | jazzaspensnowmass.org

Telluride Blues & Brews – Telluride
Known as the festival capital of Colorado, Telluride begins to wind down its festival season with Blues & Brews. This celebration of blues, funk, jam bands, indie, rock, gospel and soul performances is paired with some of the best microbreweries in the country.
September 15-17, 2017 | tellurideblues.com

FOR THE URBAN FESTIVAL GOER:

Opening Night at Central City Opera. Featured in Central City Opera’s 75th anniversary book, “Theatre of Dreams, The Glorious Central City Opera- Celebrating 75 Years.”

Central City Opera 2017 Festival
This acclaimed summer festival features Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, performed in repertory in the historic Central City Opera House, and three one-act operas with limited runs: Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace, Douglas Moore’s Gallantry, and Amy Beach’s Cabildo, performed in smaller venues in Central City. Founded in 1932, Central City Opera is the fifth-oldest professional opera company in the country, renowned for its exquisite world-class productions. Just 35 miles west of Denver in the charming mountain town of Central City, the company owns 28 Victorian-era properties, including the 550-seat jewel box opera house built in 1878. This is a must-see for opera aficionados!

July 8 – August 6, 2017

Greeley Stampede – Greeley
Greeley boasts one of Colorado’s largest and most historic summer festivals and rodeos. Dating back to the 1800’s, Greeley’s Fourth of July celebration keeps the “Yeehaw!” in Colorado’s Western culture.
June 23 – July 4, 2017 | greeleystampede.org

Global Dance Festival – Denver
Global Dance showcases Colorado’s passion for dance music annually and has grown to become one of the premiere summer music festivals statewide. After spending years at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the dance party expands its boundaries and finds a new home at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in 2017!
July 21-22, 2017 | globaldancefestival.com

Underground Music Showcase (UMS) – Denver
The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase marks its 17th anniversary in 2017. It lays claim as the biggest independent music festival in the Rocky Mountain region and, more importantly, is the premiere showcase for Denver’s incredible local music!
July 27-30, 2017 | theums.com

ARISE Music Festival – Loveland
Arise boasts that it is more than a music festival, rather a movement. It is a music, yoga, activism and co-creative camping event located 65 miles north of Denver, at Sunrise Ranch. Now in its fifth year, it is proving its staying power, and this year’s lineup includes headliners Atmosphere and Ani DeFranco.
August 4-7, 2017 | arisefestival.com

Velorama – RiNo Arts District, Denver
This three-day biking, food, music, shopping and crafting extravaganza will overtake 12 blocks of the RiNo Art District for a street party that celebrates biking culture in Colorado. Daily family-friendly festivities are offered, making this an all-ages event that promises something for everyone.
August 11-13, 2017 | veloramacolorado.com

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest – Fort Collins
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a free music festival held in historic downtown Fort Collins. Prominently featuring a Colorado-based lineup, they host a variety of genres, including a one-of-a-kind, family-centered Kids’ Music Adventure.
August 11-13,2017 | bohemiannights.org/
bohemian-nights-at-newsfest.html

A Taste of Colorado – Denver
One of Denver’s most delicious weekends serves up some of the state’s favorite food. More than 50 Colorado restaurants and food establishments gather in downtown Denver’s streets over Labor Day weekend to give patrons A Taste of Colorado. Combined with six stages playing live music, carnival rides, shopping and much more, this is hands down one of Colorado’s biggest celebrations of the year.
September 1-4, 2017 | atasteofcolorado.com

Marijuana in the Mile High City

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BY MELANIE LOCKE

Denver has been a tourist destination for decades. With beautiful views, a thriving culture, and a plethora of activities and events constantly occurring within the bustling metropolis, it’s no surprise that people flock to the Mile High City. But with the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2014, the typical tourist may have a new reason to travel to higher altitudes.

 

Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, on November 6th, 2012. The amendment went into effect in January of 2014. Since then, dispensaries have appeared in droves across Colorado and anyone over the age of twenty-one can stop in to purchase the drug. In 2014 alone, retailers sold three-hundred-and-thirteen million dollars of recreational marijuana according to Colorado tax data from the Department of Revenue.

 

We spoke with the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the recreational marijuana dispensary, Euflora, to see how the marijuana industry has affected the equally thriving tourist trade.

 

In 2015, many tourists who participated in marijuana-related activities indicated that it was a motivation in their decision to travel to Colorado. By 2016, reports of marijuana participation had risen, although the number of people citing marijuana as a primary influencer in their decision to come to Colorado had decreased. With record-setting tourist growth in Colorado both before and after marijuana legalization, according to the CTO, the drug is not a primary influencer in tourists’ travels. The cannabis industry is one of many attractions in Colorado, and tourists are drawn to the state for more than the legal drug.

 

While tourists are visiting Denver for more than its bustling cannabis industry, once visitors arrive many seem to be partaking in the marijuana culture. Euflora, located on 16th street mall, welcomes many tourists into their store — about 75% of their clientele. And while they have customers who stop in simply to look, most of their customers, including visitors to the state, make a purchase.

 

The Colorado Tourism Office reports that travellers between the ages of 25 and 34 were most likely to report that marijuana had positively influenced their decision to visit Colorado, but Euflora sees customers ages 21 to 91. The cannabis industry appeals to visitors of any (legal) age and is one of many attractions Denver can offer.

 

With visitors travelling to Colorado from places where marijuana oftentimes isn’t legal, it’s important for tourists to educate themselves about marijuana usage and safety before partaking of the drug. Euflora owner Jamie Perino has noticed that out-of-state visitors oftentimes need more education from Euflora employees about marijuana — the difference between strains, proper usage and dosing, and cost.

 

The cannabis industry has become an integral part of Colorado’s economy, and its reach extends into the bustling tourist trade. While marijuana is not the primary motivation behind tourist’s travel plans, many visitors to the city are enjoying a high other than the altitude in Denver.

Reader’s Choice: Best Golf Courses in Colorado

in Activities/Attractions/Front Range Activities/Front Range Attractions/Mountain Activities/Mountain Attractions/The Colorado Blog/Uncategorized by

Help us find the best golf courses in Colorado! Take our survey and vote for your favorites in our three categories: Best Overall Golf Course, Prettiest Golf Course, and Most Challenging Golf Course. Our top Reader’s Choice Picks will be included in the Summer issue of Colorado Hotel Magazine.

 

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Going to Great X-tremes

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BY PAIGE SLAUGHT

Let your heart not be troubled, the 2017 ESPN Winter X Games are returning to Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain on January 26-29!

With all competitions free and open to the public, what better way to start off the new year than watching the world’s best action sports and music live and on ice?

(Photo by Tomas Zuccareno / ESPN Images)
(Photo by Tomas Zuccareno / ESPN Images)

On the music side, there will be performances by Bassnectar, Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, The Chainsmokers and G-Eazy. While admission to the action sports competitions will be free, X Games musical performances require a ticket purchase. Music fans can buy individual concert tickets, or purchase an All-Music pass for $125.

On the sports side, the top ski, snowboard, and snowmobile athletes will compete in 18 different disciplines during four days of extreme action and festivals. While a full list of athletes can be found online, here are some interesting athletes to watch for:

JOSSIE WELLSA

New Zealand native, this five-time X Games medalist is known as one of the planet’s most versatile skiers. Wells won his first X Games gold medal in 2016 for his Slope Style performance, marking him as the first athlete from New Zealand to win at an X Games.

CHLOE KIM

Front and center in women’s snowboarding, Kim is on course to win her fourth consecutive X Games gold medal. After earning her first X Games medal at age 13, she is the only X Games athlete ever to win three gold medals before age 16. A trilingual, first-generation American, she is the youngest member of the U.S. Snowboard Halfpipe Team.

ROBBIE MADDISON

Most people know this daredevil Aussie for his record-breaking jumps and creative stunts. One of his most famous leaps was in 2011, when he jumped more than 378 feet, setting a new world record distance jump during the Red Bull New Year’s event.

We also are excited about our local faves, including Bobby Brown, Gus Kenworthy, Alex Ferreira and Arielle Gold, Taylor Gold, Matt Ladley, and Torin Yater-Wallace. These Colorado athletes really know how to wow a crowd!

A special addition to this year’s docket is the Women’s Ski and Snowboard Big Air Finals. Previously held in Europe, this event makes its domestic debut for the first time at X Games Aspen.

Additionally, the 2017 Games feature the introduction of a brand-new event, Snow Bike racing. This competition uses modified dirt bikes, which replace the front wheel with a front ski, and the back wheel with a snowmobile track! On that note, Snowmobile Best Trick will also return to the lineup for the first time since 2013.

(Photo by Joe Wiegele / ESPN Images)
(Photo by Joe Wiegele / ESPN Images)

All medalists from the 2016 X Games Aspen are invited to return this year, so don’t miss your chance to see your favorite athletes do what they do best! With any luck, you just may stumble upon a meet-and-greet or autograph signing somewhere in Buttermilk Village. This weekend is destined to meet your full “X-Pectations”!

For more information visit: www.xgames.com

Altitude with Attitude

in Mountain Activities by
Arapahoe Basin May 14, 2016 - Spring Fun. (Photo by Dave Camara)
Arapahoe Basin May 14, 2016 – Spring Fun.
(Photo by Dave Camara)

BY COURTNEY DRAKE-McDONOUGH

A Look at What’s New at Colorado Resorts.

ARAPHOE BASIN

A-Basin has been a local’s favorite for as long as we can remember, beloved as much for its proximity to Denver as for its atmosphere of sheer fun. The trails are good, the locals are entertaining, and now there’s even a kids’ program that will entice familites to try it out.

As this unique ski area prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, there will be a lot going on that will be posted on the website. In the meantime, much is being made about a phenomenal expansion that will elevate the guest experience to  new heights, including lifts, added terrain and great renovations. Stay tuned!

Kids can ski for free at A-Basin, because this is the one resort that believes all kids should try out skiing or snowboarding before their elders commit a lot of money to the sport. The program gives kids ages 6-12 two free days on the mountain … no blackout dates, no purchase necessary. And by the way, kids 5 and under ski free every day of the season!

The popular Araphoe Sports retail shop is now double the size, with new vendors offering state-of-the-art everything. Check out Colorado-based Icelantic Skis, who will create a custom ski just for guests!

Arapahoe.Basin.com

Arapahoe Basin April 2, 2016 - .(Photo by Dave Camara)

ASPEN

The town is as known for its skiing and charming vibe as it is for the world-renowned Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School, embracing renewal of the mind, body and spirit through music, art and education.

Take dinner to new heights with Full Moon Dinners at the Cliffhouse restaurant located on top of Buttermilk Mountain. Enjoy dinner including grilled trout, roast duck and house-made chili. Or, enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner mid-mountain at the newly remodeled Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant at sister resort, Snowmass. Sample cocktails from Colorado distillers, food and DJ at après ski parties at Lynn Britt Cabin.

Save money on the slopes with 4-day or 7-day Classic Passes for highly discounted rates through the winter. Return in the summer and use the pass to ride up and down the mountain, enjoying green hillsides of wildflowers.

In March, Aspen hosts the 2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals, returning to the U.S. after 20 years. The races will feature the best men’s and ladies’ alpine skiing athletes in the world competing in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and nation’s team events.

AspenSnowmass.com

colorado-hotel-vail-burton-us-open-snowboarding-championchips-daniel-milchev

BEAVER CREEK

Three o’clock is cookie time with 495,000 freshly baked cookies being served yearly. As if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, the variety of terrain appeals to beginners on up to World Cup Racers who frequent the resort. 

Become a member of the White Carpet Club for a few days, a week, or more and enjoy spacious lockers, food and beverage service, cozy seating and an on-site concierge. Have a gourmet breakfast and sunrise tour of the slopes with White Glove First Tracks.

Hop in an open-air sleigh for Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners. Cozy lodge slippers, views of the village below and a three-course buffet dinner await. Or, combine snowshoeing with wine tasting during the Winter Wine Excursions. Learn about Beaver Creek’s history, winding down at the Osprey Fireside Grill for mountain-modern culinary and wine pairings. The Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend in January includes cooking demonstrations, wine and spirit events, and pairing dinners with world-renowned guest chefs.

Enjoy holiday traditions including the Tree Lighting Ceremony, ice skating and fireworks show, Family FunFest Carnival and New Year’s Eve Bash. A stop at Beaver Creek Candy Cabin is a must at 9,840 feet, serving treats by a local, fifth-generation chocolatier.

BeaverCreek.com

colorado-hotel-copper-mountain-photo-courtesy-ccoppermountain

BRECKENRIDGE

With five peaks and 2,908 acres, “Breck” is also a lively mountain town with more than 200 restaurants, bars and shops, plus a thriving art scene.

Feast your eyes on dramatic views of Summit Country while you feast at Pioneer Crossing, opening in December, set atop the Independence SuperChair on Peak 7. The new restaurant highlights Breckenridge’s mining history while catering to skiers with fresh-made options including a Mediterranean station. Breckenridge Distillery is also opening a restaurant this winter, offering an intimate and modern farm-to-table experience.

There’s room for everyone at the Breckenridge Theater, thanks to a 3,000-square-foot expansion, in time for its 42nd season. The overhaul is the final piece in the town’s major Arts District expansion.

The annual Snow Sculpture Festival in the new year goes way beyond simple snowmen! See enormous works of art sculpted from 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of Colorado snow. Artists from around the world work against time and the sun’s rays to achieve stunning finished pieces without the use of power tools or internal support structures.

Breckenridge.com

COPPER MOUNTAIN

With an average of 280 inches of snowfall during the ski season, Copper has naturally divided terrain with gentle runs on the west, getting progressively steeper to the east. Off-mountain, The Village offers restaurants, bars, family activities and lodging.

Get to know Colorado craft whiskeys and beers at On the Rockies, Copper’s new entertainment hotspot. Located steps away from the American Eagle chairlift in the resort’s Center Village, the restaurant also serves lunch, dinner and a late-night menu.

Save some room for brisket chili, pork ribs or smoked chicken at The Eagle BBQ. The patio is as close to the snow as possible, making it an easy après ski spot.

While you’re recharging with hearty fare, Copper is recharging guests’ cars at the new Electric Car Charging Station. Just schedule an appointment time through a smartphone app, then use the charging station free of charge.

CopperColorado/Winter.com

KEYSTONE RESORT

Said to have the largest night skiing operation in Colorado, Keystone also has the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America on five acres.

Kidtopia programming offers families a variety of free, daily activities including crafts, scavenger hunts and the world’s largest snow fort. Mid-December, attend the new Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular, a Kidtopia showcase with nightly fireworks displays, a torchlight ski parade, snow tubing, live music and more. The fun happens again in March at the Kidtopia Experience, starting Spring Break a little early.

Keystone’s Kids Ski Free 5th Birthday Celebration will party all season with special events honoring the program that lets kids ages 5-12 ski free when families stay in Keystone two or more nights. 

Learn to ski or snowboard and bond at the same time with Family Private Lessons taught by instructors specializing in working with families of different levels of ability. Or skip the skis and boards with on-mountain Family Adventures like tubing, snowcat tours, gondola rides and dinner at 11,640 feet at Der Fondue Chessel. Mountain House, Keystone’s Base Camp for families, lets you cozy up with smaller crowds, free parking, food and a family ski and ride zone.

KeystoneResort.com

Arapahoe Basin May 14, 2016 - Spring Fun. (Photo by Dave Camara)
Arapahoe Basin May 14, 2016 – Spring Fun.
(Photo by Dave Camara)

TELLURIDE

Even beginner and intermediate skiers can enjoy the highest peaks, terrain and views usually reserved for expert skiers on Telluride’s trails. Make your way between the towns of Mountain Village and Telluride via gondola, the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the U.S.

Improved flight options make getting to Telluride easier. Starting mid-December, Great Lakes Airlines will fly direct into Telluride Regional Airport from Denver International Airport all year-round. There also will be increased access from Dallas, New York City, Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco.

Enjoy the ride up and down the mountain a little more in the bright red, 20th Anniversary Telluride Gondola Cabin where lucky riders might win spur-of-the-moment contests. When the lifts stop for the day, the fun continues with Off-Hill Programming like the Kids Zone’s inflatable slide and kid-size mechanical bull or holiday events including ice skating, sleigh rides and a holiday-themed movie marathon.

Take in some of the best views of Telluride at the new Altezza at the Peaks restaurant, aptly named for the Italian word meaning “height,” serving Italian-inspired dishes and Colorado-inspired specialties like striped bass.

TellurideSkiResort.com

colorado-hotel-telluride-photo-credit-ctellurideskiresort

WINTER PARK

Seventy-five years young, Winter Park Resort is considered Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort with 3,081 acres of skiable trails. Twenty-five lifts can get 40,000 riders uphill/hour.

Enjoy a scenic and relaxing two-hour ride from Denver with the Winter Park Express ski train which made a triumphant return for the 2016/17 ski season. That means skiers can hit the slopes stress-free and enjoy immaculately groomed trails thanks to four new state-of-the-art snowcats. Also new is the Email Kid’s Club, alerting kids to trails, contests, games and other kid-centric activities at the resort.

During the holidays, join in Winter Park’s special events including the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade with 100 skiers and snowboarders traversing down the mountain carrying torches as fireworks launch.

In February, Winter Park hosts the Wells Fargo Cup with the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Some of the country’s best Paralympic athletes compete in three days of inspiring competition, fun and fundraising. WinterParkResort.com

VAIL

With elevations ranging from 8,120-11,570 feet, the resort in the center of the state is accessible by road or via Eagle Airport. Inside the resort, it’s easy to get around by foot and the free shuttle bus transportation system. 

Hit the slopes faster with the new Sun Up Express Chair Lift #9 that seats four. It’s the primary lift serving intermediate and advanced terrain and sending skiers and snowboarders into Vail’s back bowls.

Off the mountain, Vail Snow Daze in December celebrates the start of winter with live music, après ski parties and gear demos. During Vail Holidaze, get in the spirit with the annual tree lighting ceremony and lantern walk.

In February and March, it’s the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships with Olympic-level slopestyle and halfpipe snowboarding competitions by day and headliner acts by night. Stay in-the-know while in Vail by visiting the Mountain Information Center, your resource for reservations and recommendations on the best-kept secrets in town.

Vail.com

See? Looking west to the mountains is a great tip for knowing exactly where to go for fun at Colorado’s resorts.

Fairway to Heaven

in Activities/Front Range Activities/Mountain Activities by

by Brian Howell

Hitting a golf ball with absolute purity creates an unmistakable sound and delivers an unquestioned sense of satisfaction. The sight of the ball dropping into the middle of the green at the conclusion of that swing is the sweet reward.

    About the only thing that can dampen that elation is to approach the green and discover a major hazard to navigate. A 700-pound hazard with a stunning rack of antlers standing on the fringe.

    Welcome to golf in Colorado.

    The Centennial State is known for its ski slopes, breweries and the Denver Broncos. Yet the golfing experience in Colorado is truly spectacular, unique and always enjoyable.

    “The cool part about Colorado golf is the golf courses are awesome to look at it, that’s for sure,” said Adam Finch, first assistant golf pro at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden. “And, most of them are awesome to play, too.”

    Whether you’re a serious player with a single-digit handicap or a weekend hacker, there’s a wide variety of experiences for the golfer in Colorado.

    The more well-known courses in Colorado are private clubs, such as Cherry Hills Country Club or The Country Club at Castle Pines, which have hosted PGA Tour events over the years. But rest assured, there are a wide variety of sensational public courses as well. Here are a few of the best:

The Golf Club at Bear Dance

The Golf Club at Bear Dance
The Golf Club at Bear Dance

Nestled between Denver and Colorado Springs, in Larkspur, Bear Dance has been recognized as the top public course in Colorado and one of the best in

the country.

      Bear Dance offers a significant challenge to any golfer, with pine and oak trees surrounding each hole, as well as eight ponds scattered throughout. Accuracy off the tee is essential to find success here. At just under 7,000 feet in elevation, it also features great length that can seem a bit intimidating to those who aren’t used to playing at such an altitude.

      It’s difficult to beat the atmosphere at Bear Dance. Although located just off the interstate and less than an hour away from downtown Denver, views of the Rocky Mountains and famous Castle Rock are spectacular. With hundreds of trees dotting the course, it’s also common to encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, during your round.

      Green fees vary, but golfers can find Bear Dance quite affordable, especially when you factor in the opportunity to play one of Colorado’s most pristine courses.

6630 Bear Dance Road, Larkspur

303.681.4653

beardancegolf.com

Fossil Trace Golf Club

#12Hole Golden Green Scape FT
Fossil Trace #12 Hole

Located on an old clay mine in Golden, Fossil Trace is a unique course on an historic piece of land. The club, which opened in 2003, is proud of its rich history that dates back millions of years.

     Dinosaur fossils and footprints of Triceratops were discovered on this land, and the club has preserved much of that history. In addition to golf, patrons of Fossil Trace can view prehistoric relics and learn about tracks and fossils that were uncovered. Old clay mining equipment still sits throughout the course, offering guests a fun glimpse into the area’s fascinating history.

      “What makes this golf course unique, it’s multiple things,” Finch says. “We’ve got a really neat layout, something you don’t often see this close to an urban area like Denver. That’s part of the allure, that you can get a mountain-like golf experience only 20 minutes from downtown Denver. That’s really the big part of the allure.

     The history of the property and the story of the property, in terms of how it was once a clay mine where dinosaur trace fossils were found when excavating, that’s all part of it, as well.”

      From a golfing standpoint, Fossil Trace is a challenging and picturesque course. The first hole has often been recognized as one of the top starting holes in Colorado, and serves as a warmup for a truly spectacular experience around the whole course.

      Green fees are reasonable, with non-residents able to play 18 holes for as low as $80 during the week. For the golfer on a budget who wants just a taste of the Fossil Trace experience, sunset rates are available at $30 for nine holes.

Colorado Golf Club

     The Championship Course at Colorado Golf Club in Parker opened in 2007 to international acclaim. The course has challenged some of the world’s top golfers, hosting tournaments such as the 71st Senior PGA Championship won by Tom Lehman and the 2013 Solheim Cup, which was won by Team Europe. This unique course,

Colorado Golf Club
Colorado Golf Club

designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, provides a strategic and natural layout featuring multiple lines of play and approach. T&L Golf named it one of the world’s top 10 new courses, and GOLF Magazine named it the top new private course of the year and one of “10 to Watch” worldwide. Relish the thought of living where you play? Betts Lake at Colorado Golf Club combines serene lakefront living with dramatic mountain views, just steps away from the award-winning links! Four beautiful floorplans are offered, along with a few custom homesites offering more than two acres each of stunning topography.

8000 Preservation Trail, Parker

303.840.5400

coloradogolfclub.com

The Broadmoor

The Five-Star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs attracts visitors from around the globe. The rooms are spectacular, the food delicious and the amenities unparalleled. And then there’s the golf.

Style: "D2X.2.0"
Mountain Course at The Broadmoor

     Majestically nestled in the Cheyenne Mountain foothills, three championship courses challenge golfers of all abilities. The East Course – home of the 2008 US Senior Open and the 2011 US Women’s Open, and the West Course were a collaborative design by Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones Sr. The Mountain Course, by Nicklaus Design, offers an additional 18 holes and exquisite panoramic views. The courses are consistently ranked among the world’s best by respected analysts and publications.

1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs

719.577.5894

broadmoor.com

Estes Park Golf Course

This course does not come with the reputation and accolades that others carry, but it’s a fun and unique experience in one of Colorado’s most popular destinations.

      Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top tourist attractions in the state, with Estes Park being one of its great mountain towns.

      Estes Park Golf Course offers an added way to have fun in the area. This is where elk – those 700-pound behemoths with antlers – might join your foursome. During the heart of the summer, it’s more likely you’ll be able to play through without company, but the spring and fall might feature quite a few moving hazards.

      Considering the gorgeous views and location of this course, you’ll hardly mind skipping a shot or two to get out of the way of these impressive animals. For right around $50, it’s tough to beat the price for the experience.

River Valley Ranch Golf Club

The Western Slope features some of the state’s prettiest courses, and River Valley Ranch, located in Carbondale, is definitely among them. Colorado Golfer Magazine once rated it the best mountain course in the state.

River Valley Ranch Golf Club
River Valley Ranch Golf Club

      River Valley Ranch offers a variety of views. Several holes sit along the Crystal River, and beautiful Mt. Sopris can be seen throughout the course. The award-winning Jay Morrish design features striking bunkers, large greens, exciting elevation changes and unique water features. It is also situated in a great location for tourists, less than a half hour from Glenwood Springs and just 45 minutes from Aspen. 

  “RVR is truly a jewel in the Rockies. Come play a great round of golf and then enjoy fabulous dining on the deck overlooking Mt. Sopris,” says director of golf Alden Richards.

      The course at River Valley Ranch is known for being kept in great shape. The layout is challenging enough for the elite golfer, but not overbearing for the inexperienced player. Morning rates can climb to $90, but green fees are cheaper in the afternoon.

303 River Valley Ranch Drive, Carbondale

970.963.3625

rvrgolf.com

Wellshire Golf Course

For the bargain hunter or the golfer who wants to stay within the metro area, Wellshire is a fantastic option and one of the true gems of the metro area.

     Located just minutes from downtown Denver, Wellshire opened in 1926 and was designed by Donald Ross, a well-known course designer from Scotland.

      Surrounded by large trees, Wellshire boasts a “country club atmosphere at a municipal course price.” A course that can play short, Wellshire offers just the right amount of challenges for the novice, and a good amount of fun for golfers of any level. At just under $30 (and only $20 for seniors), the price is just right, too.

Family Fun

in Activities/Mountain Activities/Mountain Attractions by

In Vail, CO

Over the Mountains and Through the Woods

By Rebecca Treon

Insider’s tip: the best time of year to visit Vail isn’t necessarily during the winter. It’s in early summer, a virtual shoulder season the locals jockingly refer to as ‘mud season’. Vail’s appeal is really year round, but take away the crowds that flock to the alpine-style mountain village in the winter and summer months and you’re left with a family friendly high-country getaway without the traffic and the hassle. Even better – many places in town offer special pricing during the off-season on everything from lodging to happy hour and activities; just ask around for the details. Below, our suggestions for an unforgettable mountain family weekend.

STAY
The Solaris residences are located right in the heart of it all, and the complex has created its own mini-epicenter of activity. The luxe, spacious suites are welcoming and include a kitchen for those evenings you want to stay in for dinner, (you can even bring in a chef to make your meal, or teach a cooking class), making it the ideal hub for the family’s activity. In winter, an ice-skating rink is right out the door, while in summer it becomes a green for kids to run around (or free morning yoga!). The Solaris complex is also home to CineBistro, where you can catch a movie and a meal, and Bol, a restaurant with a bowling alley in the back. Best of all, each residence comes with its own personal concierge, who will stock the fridge before your arrival, arrange everything from children’s day camps to spa visits, and even schedule family excursions for mountain biking or rafting trips!
www.solarisvail.com

EAT
Sometimes a big diner breakfast is just the thing to stave off the ailments of altitude sickness, and The Little Diner does just that. With epic portion sizes, classics from pancakes to omelets to huevos rancheros, and fast service, the made-from-scratch breakfasts are totally satisfying. It’s tiny and tucked away, but nevertheless, it’s a popular spot and there’s usually a wait. Ther specialty is the Dutch Baby, a giant pancake-like soufflé.
www.thelittlediner.com

Root & Flower is a little wine bar tucked away on a side street in the center of town near the creek. The ideal place for a pre-dinner aperitif – their carefully crafted cocktails (made with one of the locally distilled spirits like 10th Mountain vodka from up the valley) will hit the spot before you have your evening meal. Owner Jeremy, a friendly sommelier, also offers weekly wine classes on Wednesdays and Sundays. The wine list is simple but carefully selected, and the menu is small but full of noshable bites like charcuterie and cheese plates.

Southern food is having a revival, and Mountain Standard rises to the occasion. (Beloved Vail staple Sweet Basil is a sister restaurant). The no-frills menu focuses on wood-fired options, like the hangar steak and the rotisserie chicken. Pair it with the “Standard” wedge salad, topped with crisp prosciutto and crunchy puffed rice with garlicky dressing. The must-order menu item though? Mountain Standard’s addictive southern pimento cheese appetizer, served with bacon jam and pickled celery on toast.
www.mtnstandard.com

VailResorts_JMA_20140727_FamilyHike332_HighRes

The Four Season’s resident restaurant, Flame, offers groups of six or less a totally mind-blowing burger experience. The Back of the House Burger Bar is a square table located right in the center of the bustling kitchen. While the chefs run around, you’re treated to an intimate view of the inner workings of a restaurant from behind the scenes. First build your own ultimate burger (with everything from fried jalepeño coins to avocado and sriracha aioli), then be treated to DIY milkshakes with all the add-ins from marshmallows to oreos, including boozy add-ins for mom and dad.
www.fourseasons.com

PLAY
Just down the valley in Wolcott lies 4 Eagle Ranch, offering a slew of activities for everyone in the family. If a western experience is your thing, they host a monthly western dance, weekly family nights (think steak dinner, wagon rides, lawn games, and s’mores) and rodeo (bull riding, bronc busting, barrel racing, and mutton bustin’); but they also have horseback riding and are home to a zipline adventure. With six ziplines that whisk you through forests, canyons, and over creeks, it’s an adrenaline-pumping ride of a lifetime. Insider tip: 4 Eagle Ranch is also a boutique winery that sources grapes from California for their Vines at Vail label, and offers tastings to their guests – the perfect way to end a long day of western adventure with the kids!
www.4eagleranch.com

There are great science programs in the high country at Walking Mountains Science Center. They offer nature walks for all ages focusing on learning about the local flora and fauna, and they even have free evening program night hikes to explore the area when wildlife becomes more active; some culminate with s’mores around a campfire. Bonus: Their kids’ science day camps are full of adventures and ecology, and keep the kids busy learning about mother nature for hours.
www.walkingmountains.org

The family that’s fit together stays together, and nowhere in the Valley makes it easier and more fun than the Vail Vitality Center. They have a full schedule of fitness classes from weights to indoor cycling and even outdoor options (join a group trail run). They offer pilates, yoga, and meditations for grownups seeking Zen, and they have Vail’s only indoor climbing wall. People of all ages can hop on the wall to climb for a couple hours, or take a climbing course. Best of all – the full-service spa offering everything from facials to massage. For a truly decadent afternoon, get the Nature, Body & Spirit treatment – 100 minutes of bliss. It includes a foot bath, dry brushing, a massage with pure essential oils and a scalp treatment for a head-to-toe glow.

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