Best Summer Vacation ever!
Here are eight family- friendly ways to have the Colorado trip of a lifetime
TAKE A CHAIRLIFT TO LUNCH AT 11,375 FEET
Every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can hop on Copper Mountain’s American Eagle chairlift for free with a $12 purchase in Copper Village. Then, take in the awesome alpine views of the Gore and Ten Mile ranges on your way up. Unload at the top and grab a hearty pulled pork sandwich (lunch is just $5 more) on the patio at nearby Solitude Station Mountain Grill.
Next, explore the mountainside on a vast network of trails; try the A-Road trail for an out-and-back jaunt up to ski patrol headquarters—a cool new perspective if you’re used to seeing it blanketed in snow—before the lift whisks you back to the village. And if you’re more of a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-view kind of explorer, there’s no need to hit the trails; just take it all in and soak up the mountaintop vibes before hopping back on the lift down to the village.
BIKE DOWN A SINGLETRACK MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Ready for something a little more adventurous right off the chair-lift? Get the blood pumping with the two-wheeled approach. The American Eagle will carry you and your bike up the mountainside so you can get your scenery with a side of bumps, ruts and twisting trails on the way down. Hit up Copper Mountain rental shops to get fitted for a bike, helmet and knee/elbow pads, and you’re ready to ride. Your $20 bike haul pass is good for unlimited trips all day long, so you can loop the family-friendly trails—choose from beginner, intermediate and advanced—for as long as your legs will let you.
CHEER ON THE PIG RACES AT FRISCO’S COLORADO BBQ CHALLENGE (JUNE)
The 70+ barbecue vendors from around the country that line Frisco’s Main Street for your gastronomic delight are pretty attractive. Everyone loves a good barbecue fest. But the real attraction? A bunch of piglets zooming around a tiny track—race bibs and all. Actual crowds gather in the stands every two hours on Friday and Saturday between the sampling (think mouth-watering ribs, tangy pulled pork, artisan sausages and smoked turkey legs from the best BBQ pitmasters in the country), live music, cook-offs and chef demos to watch the waves of piglets hustle toward their treats, so make sure you get a spot so the kids can pick a favorite.
CHOW DOWN AT COPPER MOUNTAIN’S MAC & CHEESE FEST (JULY)
Three words: Free. Eating. Contest. We know, it’s like a dream—that is, if you want to wolf down a couple pounds of ooey, gooey mac & cheese in two minutes (um, who doesn’t?). But that’s just one part of the festival; the whole fam can sample to their hearts’ content (you’ll need a stash of "Mini Macs," or $1 tickets, for samples) at Copper’s Center Village smorgasbord of local mac & cheese purveyors trying to earn your vote for "Best Mac & Cheese in Summit County." Whether you like your noodles and cheese fried and stuffed in a chile relleno with applewood smoked brisket or traditional and topped with sloppy Joe fixins, there’s a dish for every cheesy-mac lover. Even better: Restaurants serve their version of the decadent comfort food with suggestions for boozy libations, from craft beers to cocktails. And for the kids: live music, face painting and straight-up yum. If you miss the event, try Mountain Melt- Copper’s mac and cheese eatery.
GO BOATING ON DILLON RESERVOIR
At the Frisco Bay Marina, it’s a treat just to take in the postcard-like backdrop across the expanse of water while relaxing on the sandy beach; but to actually cruise out to the middle of the lake for a 360-degree view of the Rockies while you’re floating in the sun? Magical. Take your pick of watercraft rentals: zip around in a runabout, reel in some trout in a fishing boat, take a leisurely cruise for up to 14 in a pontoon boat or charter a sailboat (captain your own 18- or 22-footer if you can pass a sailing test) through Windrider of the Rockies to sit back and soak in the surreal experience of sailing in the mountains. More of a hands-on family? Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes are all at your fingertips at the marina, not to mention this year’s newest apparatus: the Hobie stand-up pedalboard for those who want to try SUPing but crave a smidge more stability. Whatever your vessel, pack picnic snacks but leave room to grab a cold one and some bites back at the waterside Island Grill when you’re done.
PLAY A ROUND OF DISC GOLF ON A MOUNTAIN COURSE
Get your disc golf on (for free!) at Copper Mountain (nine holes) or Peak One Disc Golf Course at Frisco Adventure Park (18 holes). Though it’s shorter, you’ll get more of a workout at Copper, where you’ll play across ski runs with major elevation changes—wear appropriate footwear to handle uneven terrain at times. Peak One may be less challenging, but it attracts more crowds, so be prepared, especially on weekends. But the sweet lakeshore play along Dillon Reservoir is worth it.
HIT THE BEACH FOR THE KIDS’ SANDCASTLE COMPETITION (AUGUST)
Turns out sandcastles aren’t just a coastal thing; in fact, they’re a pretty big deal on the shores of Dillon Reservoir. Every year, the Frisco Bay Marina hosts a sandcastle contest for kids up to 12. Each team will get a free bucket and shovel, but kids should come equipped with any other tools, props and supplies they want to use to build and decorate their masterpieces—think motes, spires, windows, towers, flags ... the works. PLUS: Summit County’s favorite four-legged friends, the avalanche rescue dogs, will be on hand to help the judges award first, second and third place for each age division. Sunny morning, breezy shores, sandy beach, occupied kiddos? What more can you ask for?
GO AIRBORNE ON TWO WHEELS AT THE FRISCO BIKE PARK
If the kids (or you!) want to brush up their skills (read: tricks, jumps and all manner of awesome mountain biking feats), take the fam to the biking play-ground at the Frisco Adventure Park, where riders of all ages and abilities can get dusty on the berms, bumps and slopes of four different courses. Choose your adrenaline level: Want some easy rollers in a continuous loop? Head for the pump track. Dirt jumps and mountain-bike terrain for beginners through experts? Hit the slopestyle course. Getting serious about catching some air? Go for the dirt jump facility. And when you’re ready to race, let it loose on the dual slalom course. Don’t forget protective gear, especially a helmet, rentable at area bike shops.