11 Irresistible Things to Do Near Denver this Winter

That Don't Involve Buying a Lift Ticket!

With COVID-19, this sure has been an interesting year for adventure to say the least.

If you’re a Colorado resident, you’re probably feeling this deeply right now as we get into what is usually the best part of the season for skiing and snowboarding.

Many of the resorts are requiring reservations for those wishing to get on the mountain. At some resorts, weekends almost immediately booked up for the entire season! 

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who also found out late that the reservation systems went live—me too. I feel ya.

It sure puts a damper on what’s usually one of the best parts of winter.

With weekend snowboarding opportunities looking minimal, I set out to find some other options for adventure.

If you’re looking to avoid the madness on the slopes this year as well, here are 11 irresistible things you can do near Denver this winter that don’t involve buying a lift ticket!

1. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is a blast and if you disagree just look at how much fun I had wobbling around in Minnesota.

Day 1 - Limp Noodle
Day 2 - (Almost) Al Dente Noodle

Colorado has a plethora of ice skating rinks open for the season.

Here are several options you can check out this winter.

Outdoor Skating Rinks

  • WinterSkate @ Northfield
    • Entrance: $10
    • Rentals: Included!
    • Reservation required? Yes
    • Note: The rink is open until February 28th.
  • WinterSkate @ Historic Downtown Louisville
    • Entrance: $10
    • Rentals: Included!
    • Reservation required? Yes
  • The FrozenFIRE Ice Rink @ Digger Field
    • Entrance: $7
    • Rentals: $3
    • Reservation Required? Yes
  • Evergreen Lake
    • Entrance: $40, this fee reserves your own individual rink for up to 10 people.
    • Rentals: $7
    • Reservation Required? Yes
    • Warning: Please be cautious when ice skating on lakes. Research the ice conditions before going to confirm the ice is thick enough.
  • Highline Lake State Park Reservoir
    • Entrance: $9 park entrance fee per vehicle
    • Rentals: Not available
    • Reservation Required? No
    • Warning: Please be cautious when ice skating on lakes. Research the ice conditions before going to confirm the ice is thick enough.
  • Eleven Mile State Park Reservoir
    • Entrance: $9 park entrance fee per vehicle
    • Rentals: Not available
    • Reservation Required? No
    • Warning: Please be cautious when ice skating on lakes. Research the ice conditions before going to confirm the ice is thick enough.
  • The Pond @ Southlands
    • Entrance: $12
    • Rentals: Included!
    • Reservation Required? Yes
    • Note: The rink is open until February 28th.

Indoor Skating Rinks

If indoor skating sounds more like your thing, check out Big Bear Ice Arena. The website lists their public skate times.

  • Entrance fee: $11
  • Rentals: $3
  • Reservation Required? Yes

2. Drink Denver's Best Hot Chocolate

I’m absolutely blown away by the number of restaurants in Denver that have bougee hot chocolate. There are SO many. Oh how I love this city!

The pictures I came across while researching the best spots were so enticing that I may or may not be drinking hot chocolate right now as I write this.

I strongly encourage you to do your own research and taste test each of these to confirm which is indeed the best hot chocolate in Denver. 😉

Tag me as you try them and let me know the winner!

At the time of this article, all of these places are open. However, some are open for takeout only which makes this the perfect occasion for you to do #3 on this list…

3. Take a Scenic Stroll

Hailing from Minnesota, I know how lucky we are here in Colorado to have such sunny winters (shhh we musn’t tell the other states). Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside!

Bundle up in your favorite layers, get a warm drink in hand (perhaps a Collagen Latte), and take a scenic stroll.

Sloan’s Lake is one of my favorites. 

Enjoy the fresh air and soak up the Vitamin D as you admire the B-E-A-utiful views of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Denver skyline to the east.

11 Irresistible Things To Do In Denver This Winter - Sloan's Lake - Scenic Stroll - Picture Worth Walk - Get Outside - Outdoor Activities
#thatskyline
11 Irresistible Things To Do In Denver This Winter - Sloan's Lake - Go For A Walk - Beautiful Walk - Winter Outdoor Activities
#thosemountains

You’ll clock 2.8 miles (hello steps!) if you complete the full loop around the paved path.

Other great options for a scenic stroll near Denver are:

4. Warm up by a Fire

When was the last time you stashed your phone away, freed your mind of worries, and soaked in the warmth of a crackling fire?

The sensation of the heat warming your skin is delightful.

If you don’t have a fire place in your house, or a fire pit in your yard, here are a couple public fire places you can cozy up next to while you enjoy a drink or a meal.

These last two are very fancy and you’ll pay a premium to experience them. More than the cost of buying yourself a shiny new fire pit (disclaimer: I may have a very skewed idea of what a fire pit costs).

However, I have a feeling this would be an evening your taste buds won’t soon forget!

p.s. Don’t forget to make a reservation!

5. Go Sledding!

Who says adults can't have fun sledding?

Let’s be real. You’re never too old to go screaming. I mean sledding.

Sledding is definitely a Type 1 fun for all ages. Just try to make it down the hill without screaming or giggling your head off. I dare you.

This one will likely take some spontaneity. Since snow in Denver typically doesn’t last long, be ready to grab that sled and head out when the inches start piling up!

Here are some great sledding hills near Denver. Use the links below for more information such as directions and where to park.

6. Snowshoeing

Summer hiking gets way more love than winter hiking which is just so unfair to winter, am I right?!

Winter hiking can be absolutely beautiful with the frosty trees and crisp air.

Grab those snowshoes–or rent some from REI–and check out these trails near Denver:

Looking for a snowshoeing adventure the whole family can do? Sign up for a Georgetown family trip!

11 Irresistible Things to do in Denver this Winter - Snowshoeing - Snowshoe - Boreas Pass - Ideas for Winter - Activities - Winter Hike
A snowshoe adventure up Boreas Pass. I wouldn't recommend carrying a snowboard up. Lots of effort. Little reward.

7. Visit the Indian Hot Springs

Tired from your snowshoeing adventure? Make a stop at the Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs. 

For $20, you can book an hour to relax and soak in the 125 degree mineral water.

Let your mind wander as the warm water releases the tension from your muscles.

Yes. Please.

8. Spend a Weekend in a Tiny Home with Few of Your Favorite Humans!

Is quality time one of your love languages? If so, this is the perfect weekend adventure for you!

Pick a couple of your favorite humans (did someone say girls trip?) and spend the weekend in a cozy tiny home.

Enjoy the change of scenery while you play games, drink hot chocolate (maybe with a little extra something special), and laugh until your cheeks hurt!

Here are some beautiful tiny homes in or near Denver that sleep 3-4 people:

9. Snowmobiling

If you’re itching for some thrill in the mountains, snowmobiling is the activity for you!

Pack up your winter gear and schedule a tour with one of the companies listed below:

10. Go Dog Sledding

Dog Sledding always reminds me of Iron Will. Have you seen that movie?

I’ve wanted to try dog-sledding since seeing it, but in a much less intense environment and without the fear of getting frostbite, of course.

There are a few places around Summit County that are still operating this year and have open reservations: 

If you go, please tag me in the adorable dog pictures!

11 Irresistible Things to do in Denver this Winter - Dog Sledding - Ideas for Winter - Activities - Summit County - Outdoor Adventure - Explore
This is my parent's dog, Odie, practicing to be a sled dog.

11. Go On a Sleigh Ride

Dashing through the snow, in a two-horse open sleigh, o’er the streets we go, bundled up in a flannel blanket the whole way.

Can you picture it? 

Beautiful horses trotting in front of you. 

Snowy mountain views in every direction.

What a sight!

Here are a few companies that can make your sleigh ride dreams come true:

There you have it, friends! 11 irresistible things to do near Denver this winter that don’t involve buying a lift ticket!

Tag me in your adventures to let me know how it went!

Already planning ahead to spring? If so, check out some of my favorite adventures from last year, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

11 Irresistible Things to do in Denver this Winter - Ideas for Winter Activities - Fun - Adventure - Colorado - Snow - Outside - Outdoor
What is your favorite winter activity? Leave a comment below!

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