Healthy Travel Guide: Winter Park, Colorado
Not a skier? Not a problem. There are still plenty of ways to have fun and break a sweat at Colorado's mountain playground
Got cabin fever? The mountains are calling, and you should go to Colorado.
The name says it all: Winter Park is a cold-weather fun-land that'll make you fall in love with the snow (instead of dreading it) even if you don't ski. This central Rockies town is just 65 miles outside of Denver and home to one of Colorado's most down-to-earth resorts. That means the overall culture is laid-back with a total lack of pretentiousness-ideal for couples, families, or even a solo winter getaway.
Nowhere is this vibe better exemplified than on the mountain, where there are a ton of fit-friendly activities including alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing. To top it off, there's no shortage of off-mountain sweat sessions as well (think: free ice-skating lessons, cross-country skiing, fat biking, and yoga classes). Ready to satisfy your wanderlust? Here's a rundown on how to make the most out of this winter wonderland. (Can't get enough of the snow? Shape up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming!)
What to Pack
Whether you plan to ski or simply explore the mountains, snow gear is key. We love: Helly Hansen outerwear, Giro helmets, Smith goggles, and Phunkshun accessories. No matter which activities you choose, if you're heading outdoors, base layers are also a must. Try: Skins A 200 Thermal Compression gear. The advanced fleece-lined fabric will keep you warm in the cold without overheating and wick away sweat. Pack it all up in a cute carry-on like Dakine Heli Series Pack in Haze, which will double as the perfect day bag on the mountain as it's loaded with technical features. (And don't forget a pair of Snow Boots That Actually Keep You Warm.)
For the most convenient and comfortable accommodations, the Zephyr Mountain Lodge (pictured above) offers cozy, renovated condos (starting at just $262 per night), four outdoor hot tubs, free ski lockers, and a fitness room. Plus, it's located just 110 feet from the slopes and mere minutes from a variety of dining locations (from sit-down restaurants to quickie cafés) and shopping spots. The proximity to the Village is what will make your stay so enjoyable. Anything you need is located within walking distance, so you can maximize your time indulging in fun winter activities rather than being stuck in a car.
Stay In Shape
You don't need to ski to enjoy the snow at Winter Park (though if you do, you'll love the slope-side lodging, multiple mountain access, and the variety of runs). Thanks to its low-key vibe, there are plenty of snowboarders represented on the mountain. You can also hit up the newest tube park in Colorado at Coca-Cola Tubing. How many calories you'll burn depends on the amount of back-and-forth trips you make and the steepness of the hill, but the average person can burn an estimated 480 calories on a medium-height hill during an hour of tubing (and that doesn't take into account the calories burned from laughing). This tube park boasts four individual lanes, exciting banked curves, and a comfortable Hill Housewarming lodge. (After just a few hours, we guarantee you'll relate to these 11 Things Every Woman Experiences After a Ski Day.)
If you'd like to steer clear of anything alpine, the nearby Devil's Thumb Ranch offers more than 100km of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing or plenty of packed snow for fat biking (full-day rentals are just $45, and that includes a helmet).
For a change of pace, head to the outdoor Village Ice Rink. Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., there's ample opportunity to sharpen your skills on the ice. In fact, plenty of guests of all ages can be seen skating straight into the night. Plus, Winter Park is offering free ice skating lessons from 4-5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays now through March 20.
Fuel Your Trip
Ski resorts can have a bad rep for serving up greasy cafeteria food, but at Winter Park, you'll enjoy endless fresh and health-conscious options. From breakfast to dessert (hey, you've earned it), check out Goody's Mountain Creperie (pictured above, left) for an American twist on the cuisine served in the French Alps. Natural ingredients and the rustic atmosphere will give you a taste of home cooking away from home. Pro tip: You can order the all-day breakfast to-go the night before and utilize your condo's kitchen to heat it up the next day-a surefire way to enjoy a quiet morning in the mountains away from the crowds.
For a mid-day meal, check out Back Bowl Soup Company. You'll taste the difference and the freshness in their handmade sandwiches and daily assortment of homemade soups (including vegetarian and gluten-free options). It's a perfect spot to take a break from the slopes or to take out.
For a higher-end experience, don't miss Vertical. This American-style bistro and tap room offers a relaxed atmosphere and ambiance that's perfect for après or a dinner date. Featuring locally sourced ingredients, the menu offers select small bites and shared plates, palate-pleasing salads and entrees, and signature cocktails (pictured above, right), wine, and beer from around the world, so there's something for everyone.
Winter Park's four outdoor hot tubs will certainly help you relax and ease tired muscles from a day spent in the snow. But for nature's version of a hot tub, head to Hot Sulphur Springs. These mineral springs created by the heat of volcanic rock released through cracks in the earth's crust were once used by the Ute Indians, who believed in their healing powers. Now, you can access 23 different pools that range from around 100°F to 126°F, which means you have options to suit your personal preference. Looking for something more indulgent? Head inside to the Hot Sulphur Springs Spa for a relaxing Hot Rock Massage or Body Treatment. (Ready to book a trip? Read up on these 10 Ways to Make Your Ski Trip Healthier first.)