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Hot chocolate, twinkling lights, caroling…all of the things that make the holiday bright and cheery! We’ve put together a list of Colorado’s most festive and fun towns to visit for the holidays. Without further ado, in no particular order:
Nestled within a box canyon, Telluride is one of the most picturesque towns in Colorado. Telluride has a colorful history as an old mining town and was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. The town is an interesting mix of Victorian-era homes and European architecture. Due to its remote location, Telluride has stayed small and is just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long.
Despite its smaller size, Telluride boasts an impressive dining scene with more than 50 restaurants and bars. The town has become known as a foodie destination. If you’re staying in Mountain Village, check out Alfred’s. This contemporary fine-dining spot offers such dishes as Colorado rack of lamb, blistered shishito peppers, yellowtail hamachi crudo, and sticky toffee pudding.
Telluride also hosts many fun events during the holiday season. One of the more well-known events is the lighting of Telluride’s Ski Tree. This “tree” is constructed of recycled skis donated by the community. Other holidays events include Trip to the North Pole (on a gondola!), Santa’s Pajama Breakfast, a pop-up holiday market, North Pole on Ice, and train rides for kids.
Manitou Springs is a charming, small mountain town that’s been a tourist destination since the 1870s. That’s when visitors discovered the mineral waters that they believed had healing properties. The mineral waters are still around today, and there are several locations around Manitou Spring where guests can sip on the naturally effervescent water.
During the holiday season, Manitou Springs offers visitors unique shopping experiences throughout the historic downtown district. Stop by Anna’s Apothecary when you can enjoy the tea of the day and then continue to Theo’s Toys and Games. This independent toy store is the perfect place to shop for the children in your life.
While in Manitou Springs, you can also enjoy the Manitou Christmas parade, visits with Santa, live holiday music, and exhilarating train rides up Pikes Peak.
If you need an activity that the whole family can enjoy, downtown Colorado Springs is just a ten-minute drive away. Take a food tour to enjoy the culinary sights and hear about the local history from you tour guide. There are several types of tours available, but the original tour is family-friendly, and a delicious way to spend an afternoon!
With its snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, and cobblestone streets, Vail is the perfect setting for a magical holiday. This snowy ski town is famous for its powdered slopes, but skiing is not all that Vails offers. There are several other outdoor winter activity options including ice-skating, snowmobiling, dogsledding, ski biking, tubing, and sleigh rides. Between November 19 and January 5, visitors can also enjoy strolling through The Magic of Lights. This family-friendly outdoor experience features an array of majestic light displays along a half-mile walking loop. And be sure to stop by the popular German restaurant Alpenrose for some delicious Gluehwein (mulled wine) to warm you up!
This small town is located right in the heart of the Beautiful San Juan Mountains. At nearly 8,000 ft in elevation and surrounded by towering mountains, Ouray is often referred to as the “Switzerland of America.” Every December, Ouray hosts their Yule Celebration, which includes an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, tree-lighting and parade, “S’mores-gasbord,” community chili supper, and of course visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Ouray is also known as an ice-climbing mecca, they have the world’s first ice climbing park, and in January they host the Ouray Ice Festival to celebrate the sport of ice climbing.
Want to relax and unwind? Head over to the town’s famous mineral hot springs. Ouray’s hot springs are open year-round and include five pools that range in temperature from 75-104 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s an adults-only pool, a lap pool, and three family-friendly pools with two waterslides, a climbing wall, and an inflatable obstacle course. Enjoy soaking in the warm, mineral-rich water as you take in the stunning views of the snowy mountains around you.
Breckenridge is an authentic mountain town with a rich heritage dating back to the mid 1800’s. There’s so much to explore in the historic downtown area with more than ten local museums and historic sites, plus a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Make time to stop by the French bakery La Francaise—the chocolate beignets are divine!
Of course, Breckenridge also offers world-class skiing and snowboarding, along with an endless array of outdoor recreation options. Currently, Breckenridge is decked in holiday lights and decorations, ready for another holiday season full of merriment and cheer. Along with traditional Christmas and winter activities, Breckenridge also hosts the Festival of Ullr, the God of Snow. During the festival, enjoy a parade, bonfire, and polar plunge. As the year ends, Breckenridge celebrates New Year’s Eve with their annual torchlight parade down the mountain and fireworks show.
Best known for being home to the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Town of Morrison sits just west of Denver. This small town offers year-round hiking and nature walks. During the holiday season, the Bandimere Speedway transforms into a technicolor drive-through light show. Christmas in Color features millions of synchronized lights with huge archways and holiday scenes that are set to music.
Also practicing social distancing, Red Rocks Amphitheater is hosting holiday drive-in shows including Love Actually, Scrooged, and a Christmas Story. And don’t miss the event the town itself puts on, Caroling by Candlelight, which is nostalgic as it gets for this quaint old-world town!
Celebrate the holidays in Aspen with the 12 Days of Aspen festival. This festival brings the whole community together as local businesses, hotels, creative venues, and churches all team up to make this a magical holiday event.
Here’s just a sampling of the festival’s attractions: teddy bear story hour, visits with Santa, holiday crafting, family theater shows, cabaret performances, professional singers performing carols, cookies and hot cocoa evening, historical tours, movie marathon, and live concerts. There are also several exciting dining events, like the Festive Chef’s Dinner at the Hotel Jerome featuring canapés, amuse-bouches, and a five-course menu, all with optional wine-pairings. The 12 Days of Aspen festival kicks off on December 20 and ends with fireworks welcoming the New Year on December 31.
Castle Rock is a hidden gem located in between two of Colorado’s largest two cities, Denver and Colorado Springs. The holidays are the perfect time to experience this little town! The season kicks off with the annual Castle Rock Starlighting, which started in 1936 to give hope and joy to local residents.
Throughout the month of December, there are horse-drawn carriage rides down the holiday-lit streets of downtown. Festival Park is also home to the Starlight Market where local vendors sell their wares just in time for Christmas gift-giving. The town also hosts a “Storytellers and S’mores” event where the main attraction is the Big Man himself reading stories from an oversized chair in Festival Park.
Are you now dreaming of spending the holidays in one of Colorado’s quaint towns? We certainly are! Happy Holidays to you and yours!
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