The Colorado mountain towns are enchanting. It’s hard to see them in the distance from Denver’s city center, beckoning weekend go-getters and warriors to traverse its beauty while working the grind. It’s a nice treat for anyone to explore the Rocky Mountains, and Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat Spinrgs, all world-renowned ski destinations are equally awesome places to visit in the summer.
We picked 4th of July weekend for a visit. The traffic up the mountain on 70 West was treacherous, but the scenery more than made up for it. The first stop was Frisco, a fun little mountain town with a scenic lake and trail system. After hunkering down accommodations for the night, it was off to Breckenridge for a little exploring.
What a town! The gondola runs right through it and its as if you are living in a snow globe, minus the snow in the summer, of course. We parked and took a stroll through town. The river runs through it and there are several restaurant and bar patios that over look the river. Even the touristy Bubba Gump’s had a quaint charm!
Lunch was at Downstairs at Eric’s, a divey family fun joint located downstairs on the main drag. It was like a local’s version of Dave and Buster’s. The good news was that they had cheap pitchers of PBR ($6!) and the most delicious Thai peanut wings I’ve ever tasted.
After strolling up and down the main drag, enjoying the scenery, we took a gondola ride up to the resort. Some mountain towns charge an arm and a leg for a lift up the mountain (Steamboat Springs in the summer is $22 one way per adult!), but in Breckenridge, it’s free! We enjoyed some mountain scenery, climbing up and up, and eventually riding down and down.
Next we took the scenic drive to Vail. Vail was charming in a European Resort town sort of way. Everything is ritzy, glitzy and glamorous. The hoi paloi sit around eating $18 BLT sandwiches, rocking their Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. If you can get past the dichotomy of rich mountain living, Vail is a cool spot to cruise on the free shuttle between the villages, catch some live music in the square and people watch.
We opted to save our hard-earned money on a not-so affordable-anyhow sushi dinner back in Frisco. The catch to mountain towns? Everything’s expensive! Pack groceries from home if you want to save a buck!
Instead of calling it quits and heading back to the city limits the next day, we made the pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs for the day. I love Steamboat Springs because it’s off the beaten path. Breck and Vail are relatively close to Denver, but Steamboat is a good 3 hour haul. The drive out there is unbelievably scenic, rustic and full of western charm.
Upon arriving, it being the fourth of July and all, the city was bustling with activity! Old cars revved up and down downtown Steamboat. The Yampa River, which courses through the city, was teeming with tubers, rafters and kayakers. BBQ smoke could make even a vegetarian salivate and red, white and blue adorned street lights and corners all over town.
We grabbed lunch at a nifty family deli and butcher called Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. They serve up tasty Boar’s Head sandwiches, cold cuts, seafood and steaks. We enjoyed lunch on the patio, watching families float the Yampa. It was a quintessential All-American afternoon.
Facing a daunting 3 hour journey back to Denver, we called it quits and relished in the views of the rolling mountains and hills on the way back to the city limits. Calmed by the country’s placating effects, we watched fireworks from our apartment window that were being blown off over Coor’s Field. One can say that this was on the of the best 4th of July’s in recent memories.