A perfect girl’s getaway is the right balance of exploring new sights, savoring yummy regional food, getting outside to exercise, mixed with a hit of shopping and pampering. Recently , I enjoyed all of the above and more in Grand County, Colorado, so I can advise you on where to stay, suggest what to do, see and where to shop and eat. After flying into Denver airport, Grand County is a mere two hour drive North.
We stayed in a rented townhouse directly across from Winter Park Ski Resort. The views were fabulous, and the location was central for easy access to Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, and Rocky Mountain National Park. We only had to cross the street to ski, snowboard or take a snow cat tour (highly recommended). Because we were staying in a house instead of a hotel, it was great to be able to hang out with the other girls in our pj’s by the fireplace chatting, watching tv and eating popcorn. A wonderful antidote to a day spent outside! Destinations West has approximately 60 rental properties on their books, giving you a wide range of choices. It is nice to have a base to sightsee from, make breakfast in, and have snacks on hand to take with you. Advertising their rentals as “Luxury Mountain Lodging”, they have homes in Winter Park, Grand Elk, and Grand Lake. 800-545-9378, http://www.mtnlodging.com
Winter Park Resort: we took a tour on a Snowcat, a 13 passenger heated bus like vehicle on huge treads, taking 2 hours for a scenic tour traveling across the beginning, intermediate and expert trails, with stops for photo ops. So much fun and incredibly informative. $49.00 per person. WinterPark Resort has numerous trails for beginners and experts, but if you don’t snowboard or ski, you can also take ski bike lessons or a snowmobile tour. Reservations: 1-800-979-0332. www.winterparkresort.com
Rocky Mountain National Park: The Kawuneeche Visitor Center is located within the park, 1 ½ miles north of Grand Lake on Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34). It is a great spot to hike around, or take part in their organized activities offered including a cross country ski tour with a park ranger, and snowshoeing tours. 970-627-3471
Grand Lake is a tiny village where the main street is lined with stores and cafes built from logs. This adorable place is worth a visit, even if you just go to the bakery-café for lunch. The aromas will lure you in, and the selection of freshly baked goods will keep you there. We ate lunch perched on willow furniture, admiring the mountain views. www.bluewaterbakers.com. I am looking forward to checking it out in warmer weather to take in plays at the newly built Rep theatre, do some sailing and fishing.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch: this stunning, enormous ranch situated on 5,000 acres offers so much to see and do with 125 kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiing. If you don’t know how to, sign up for a class with very patient instructors. I forgot how much fun cross country skiing is and experienced a curious combination of bitter cold threatening to snap my nose off at every step, with full body sweat from the physical exertion. After spending a couple of hours cross country skiing, we were pampered in their luxurious spa, then staggered into Heck’s restaurant to enjoy unique dishes featuring local meats, and cheeses. Yoga classes are held in a sunny room, surrounded by windows with mountain views. Mountain pose with a mountain view is a wonderfully relaxing end to an enchanting day. They also offer horseback riding, sleigh rides, and ice skating. If you are too tired to leave, you can stay in one of their beautifully rustic rooms, or rent a cabin with your family. Next time I am definitely going to stay overnight! 3530 County Rd 83, Tabernash, Colorado, 800-933-4339, www.devilsthumbranch.com
Bella Vita Spa: we popped in for a relaxing massage, but there are many other treatments to choose from, 970-531-7370
Shopping is a mandatory part of a girl’s getaway and the shopping in Grand County was just the ticket.
The Seven Sisters: The owner, Cheryl Key is also a travel agent, evidenced by the eclectic mix of offerings her store stocks from all over the world. The longer we stayed, the more treasures we discovered and coveted, Cooper Creek Square, 47 Cooper Creek Way, Winter Park, 970-726-9059
Peezie Marie: Stocked to the corners with eye popping jewellery, scarves, hats and gifts. Cooper Creek Square, Winter Park, 970-726-8494
Allow time before you head back to Denver airport, so you can check out Cherry Creek Mall downtown. The anchor store is Nordstroms to get you going, with spoiling opportunities at Eddie Bauer, Sephora, Cole and Haan, Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, Talbots, J Jill. Saks 5th Avenue is sadly closing down, but if you hurry you might be able to catch their incredible sale.
A big part of any holiday for me is eating, and discovering new tastes:
De Antonio’s Pizza and Pasta: this isn’t just any old pizza place. Scrumptious wood fired pizzas custom ordered with a huge assortment of fresh toppings available. We quickly warmed up sitting beside an open fire surrounded by picnic tables, Park Plaza, Winter Park, 970-726-9999
Tabernash Tavern: from the outside it is so unassuming, you wouldn’t guess they serve killer food inside. With a lively pub atmosphere, and the ubiquitous wall televisions, you are sure to feel welcome, and awed by the unusual menu choices. Heavy on game choices on the menu, I savored Antelope sliders served with cranberry salsa – my first foray into Antelope, and they were cooked to perfection. 72287 US Hwy 40, Tabernash, Colorado, 970-726-4430, email@example.com
Star of India, this modest restaurant was full of surprises. With authentic décor and music, the quality and taste was some of the best Indian food I have ever tasted. The servers were chatty and delightful, and the prices hard to beat. 47 Cooper Creek Square, Winter Park, Colorado. 970-726-5991, www.starofindiawp.com
Carvers Bakery and Café, filled with personality, this is a definite must for breakfast or just a coffee and gigantic melt in your mouth, freshly baked cinnamon bun. The atmosphere and menu invite you to set a spell, and indulge. Hand rolled bagels are made fresh every morning “ while listening to loud music and drinking lots of coffee.” Hearty Colorado fare include biscuits served with sausage gravy that can be washed down with a “Lindsay Lohan .” It’s a shot of Gran Marnier poured into a glass of Miller high life: “a little bit of high class (granny) with a whole lot of white trash (hence the name). “970-726-8202, www.carversbakery.com
The high elevation is nothing to ignore, as it can affect you physically with headaches, dizziness and fatigue. A pharmacist at the local Safeway recommended “Altitude Adjustment”, an all natural remedy, which combined with Aspirin and drinking lots of fluids did the trick.
Melody’s trip was sponsored by Grand County Tourism, http://www.visitGrandcounty.com