Winter is certainly what Winter Park is known for, but it’s spring that often gets the locals excited. The days are longer, the sun shines brighter, and everyone is just downright happy. Not to mention the promise of new adventure comes into view with every sun-warmed trail, every powder run and every clear mountain sunrise. Winter Park local, and The Town of Winter Park’s Ambassador, Maria Chavez, knows and loves this season well. And, as a true local does with every season, she embraces it with excitement, adventure, and of course, the best food and drink around.
Here’s her 5-day guide to help you enjoy spring in the mountains as much as the locals do.
Morning: Local Coffee + Breakfast
As with most things in life, start with coffee. Catch the sunrise and a cup of joe at Rocky Mountain Roastery. My favorite is their Tanzania Fresh Roast, which pairs perfectly with an egg and potato burrito. This is the perfect spot to read the newspaper and chat with locals.
Midday: Fraser Trail Stroll
From breakfast, get the blood flowing and acclimate to the altitude! Plus, take in the local beauty from across the street on the Fraser River Trail. Or walk along the paved trail following the meadow in Grand Park. I still take laps in each spot regularly, and I have yet to get tired of that view: the snow-capped Continental Divide glistening in the sun.
Afternoon: Cross Country Exploration at Pole Creek
For a local’s secret location to cross-country ski, visit Pole Creek Golf Course. Their front and back nine’s offer a fun evening and sunset skies.
Evening: Dinner at Doc’s Roadhouse at Winter Park Resort
Close out your first day of adventure with a hearty dinner at Doc’s Roadhouse. Located in the Village at Winter Park Resort it’s perfect for all dining style. The tavern-style meals are sure to offer you a fulfilling mean to keep your energy level high after an adventurous day. I am a huge fan of their burgers which come in a variety of styles that don’t disappoint.
Morning: Prep for the Day
Get up and grab a delicious breakfast at Moffat Market. While you’re there grab a to-go lunch from Einstein’s, and store it in your pack to be enjoyed at a one-of-a-kind spot later in the day. Last thing before you head out on your day of adventure: stop at the Tour Center to grab snowshoes and poles.
All day: Hike to the Broome Hut
Did you know that the support of the #GrandFoundation made the Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass a reality? The Broom Hut, originally called the Second Creek Hut, in the Second Creek Basin on the west side of Berthoud Pass, was the first project completed by the Grand Huts Association. Ease of access to this hut and relative safety from avalanches makes for excellent backcountry recreation opportunities. Head to GrandHuts.org to reserve the Hut for your next Back Country Adventure!
And you’re off! Head to the Second Creek Trail Head, strap on those snowshoes and take off. The trail is less than a mile in, though it is fairly steep and might have you panting a little at the top – that’s normal! Even for locals. When this backcountry hut (more of a mansion) comes into view, I recommend eating your lunch at the elevated picnic table just to the right before heading inside. Then, walk into the hut to peak around and sign the guest book, or walk around out back to see a local-favorite area for backcountry skiing.
Evening: Aprés at Leo’s
Catch the sunset from the top of the mountain, then head back down for well-deserved aprés drinks and dinner. Take your happy hour at Leo’s Kitchen. They have one of the best happy hours in town, with insane price discounts on both drinks and food. After a long day burning calories, you’ve earned some pasta alfredo with your choice of a protein add-on, my favorite off their menu.
Morning: Rise and Shine
Visit Rise and Shine Bakery for the absolute best bagels in town. A bagel sandwich is my go-to, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t often snag a donut as well on my way out – treat yo’self!
Midday: Soak in Hot Sulphur Springs
The small town of Hot Sulpher Springs offers the R and R we need on a day like today. After filling up on breakfast, drive out about 30 minutes to Hot Sulphur Springs, and soak in a variety of hot pools, all ranging in temperature and style.
Afternoon: Head Back and Mow on Fontenot’s!
Go back to town for Fontenot’s famous Cajun-style grub. If you’re up for it, get my favorite: the chicken dynamite wrap and some of those French Fries done the way only Fontenot’s knows how. For the rest of the afternoon, catch a movie at The Foundry, or get a massage at Alpenglow. Whatever helps you unwind.
Evening: A Local AND Visitor’s Favorite
Hernando’s is one of those restaurants that’s adored by locals and visitors alike. This is a must-stop place to get salad, pizza, calzones, and wine. It’s warm and welcoming the second you walk-in, and feels like a place your Italian grandfather dreamed up on his first visit to Winter Park.
Morning and Afternoon: SKI SKI SKI
You can’t come to Winter Park and not spend a day hitting the home of the Seven Territories. Winter Park Resort has something to offer all skill level of skiers. From meandering runs off the Gemini Lift, to taking on the steep terrain of Eagle Wind Territory, you won’t be disappointed with where you explore. When you need to stop for a bite to eat midday, stop in mid-mountain at Lunch Rock for a lunch with spectacular views. After your legs are sore and heart full from an incredible day, you deserve to treat yourself tonight.
Evening: Dinner at Derailer with a Stroll through The Village
You won’t need to go far from the ski lifts to find your dinner plans after your day skiing. Derailer sits mere feet from the runs meaning you can begin your evening of relaxation and dining, as soon as you’d like. Derailer always offers a great deal and an even better drink.
After you’re full and reenergized for the night, take a walk through the Village. It’s full of numerous shops, perfect to browse for a souvenir or a sweet treat. James and Parry’s offers an eclectic variety of goods and Goody’s is the spot for ice cream.
Night: Party Like a Local
Partying in the area is all about the live music, and man, do I love live music! Ullr’s Tavern tends to bring live music at least 2 nights a week. Or hit up The Basement on a Friday night to, as I like to say, “release your inner shower” with karaoke.
Don’t go! That’s how most of us ended up here. We came out, we adventured, we partied, and on the last day we decided we wanted more. So we stayed. For a year, for ten years, for 30 years. We decided that this place is too beautiful, the people are too kind, and the adventure is too real to ever want to escape.
Sit on The Ditch’s patio in the sunshine on your last day, and after just two Margarita’s, the tequila will give you that same “mountain state of mind”. You’ll be thinkin’ about how you can make this permanent as well.