The Gaylord. Courtesy photo

Winter Staycations Near Boulder


Yeah, we’re biased. We think Boulder is the best place to enjoy your winter break, with the twinkling lights on the Pearl Street Mall, the glowing star on the Flatirons and the old-fashioned cheer at Chautauqua’s historic cottages and ice-skating rink.

But if you want to break free of the Boulder snow globe bubble this winter, you don’t have to go far for fun. Here’s where to plan a winter staycation near Boulder.


Pork fondu at Elway’s. Courtesy photo

If all you’ve got is an evening to celebrate, warm up at Elway’s, 1881 Curtis St., Denver. This is where to go to get the best steak in the state.

Elway’s is named after Denver Bronco’s famous quarterback, John Elway. As the story goes, he and a friend started the restaurant because he wanted a place for great food that was also unpretentious. You can dress up or dress Colorado style (you know, a polo or flannel and nice jeans) and fit in either way.

Elways’ has four locations: Cherry Creek, Vail, at the airport and in downtown Denver inside the Ritz-Carlton, Denver. The latter is our favorite spot, because after you dine, you can stroll through downtown, the 16th Street Mall and get some shopping in.

USDA Prime, hand-cut steaks are the highlight on the menu; our favorite is the NY strip, ordered “Elway’s style.” However, the restaurant offers other options just as strong. The ahi tuna with a wasabi pea crust is perfect when paired with a French Rose’ wine, selected by the restaurant’s expert sommelier Monica Dubar. The restaurant’s wine list is impressive, and made even more spectacular by Dubar’s knowledge.

Another not-miss is the lamb chop fondu. Wrap up your dinner with a fancy Ding Dong for dessert.

Beet salad at Elway’s. Courtesy photo

Elway’s and the Ritz-Carlton, Denver, have several special holiday events for 2019. On Dec. 14, sip Tea with Santa, a family-friendly afternoon tea, with champagne, sandwiches, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, a holiday market, photos with Santa and letters to the North Pole.

If you don’t want to cook on Christmas day, Elway’s is open for dinner from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., featuring classic holiday fare. Elway’s is also open for New Year’s Eve. Enjoy a three-course menu to musical entertainment, plus a champagne toast, of course. If you’d rather celebrate New Year’s Day (or can’t stay up that late), Elway’s is serving a New Year’s Day Bubbly Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Music and bubbly will help you ring in 2020. Not to mention table-side massage, compliments of the Ritz-Carlton Spa.

Gaylord Rockies

The Gaylord Rockies. Courtesy photo

The holiday destination this December is the Gaylord Rockies in Aurora, which transforms into a magical winter wonderland beginning on Nov. 22 and running for 45 days. Stay at this luxurious hotel with your family and have easy access to all kinds of seasonal activities and incredible decorations. The goal of the Gaylord: to bring everything Christmas to one place.

Gaylord’s Christmas in the Rockies includes a critically-acclaimed Broadway musical and Cirque adventure called Cirque Dreams Holidaze. It brings aerialists, singers and dancers to the theater for 75 minutes of flying soldiers, reindeer, snowmen and other holiday costumed characters.

Cirque Dreams. Photo by Evan Semón Photography

Then, don’t miss ICE!, a unique show featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. ICE tells the story of Rudolph via two-story ice slides and massive ice sculptures. Walk through this chilly attraction (note: Bring a jacket or borrow one of the complimentary parkas, because it’s kept at 9 degrees) and be awed by the transformative fantasyland of ice and snow. This impressive set was carved out of more than 2 million pounds of colorful ice. Expert carvers dedicated nearly a month to design this icy world.

You’ll want to set aside plenty of time at the Gaylord, because it also presents a special, holiday-themed Naughty & Nice Escape Room, where guests must work together to solve puzzles and try to escape before their names end up on Santa’s “naughty list.”

A nutcracker at the Gaylord. Courtesy photo

For the season, the Gaylord also has a massive, 30-foot Christmas tree glowing in the Grand Lodge; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his costumed friends at a special holiday breakfast sing-a-long; a Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt for kids (try to find the Misfit Toys hiding around the resort); Mistletoe Village with seasonal food and beverage; plenty of shopping and a Build-A-Bear Workshop; holiday stories and Christmas carol singing at Mrs. Claus’s Christmas Traditions; gingerbread decorating (meet the Gingerbread Man); Father Christmas’s Library, where Santa hangs out (feel free to take a picture and tell him what you want); and an outdoor ice-skating rink and snow tubing down four slides.

In addition to the holiday entertainment, the Gaylord features a spa and salon, quality fitness center, eight restaurants on-site and even an indoor water complex. You won’t need to leave (or want to leave) once you step through the doors.

Chapungu Sculpture Park

Chapungu Sculpture Park. Photo by Aimee Heckel

Escape to Loveland for a colorful holiday getaway. Visit Winter Wonderlights at the Chapungu Sculpture Park through Jan. 1, and watch holiday lights illuminate African stone sculptures. Every night, the lights are coordinated to a music show that encompasses a huge, 20-foot Christmas tree. Throughout the season, you can find special events, as well as a beautifully decorated park. If you’re lucky, you might see Santa and his reindeer from Jessen Reindeer Ranch, or Colorado’s largest inflatable igloo.

While in Loveland, stay the night at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott, a new hotel for 2019 in downtown Loveland. Take a dip in the indoor pool and explore Loveland’s new Foundry area.

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