Traveler's guide to visiting Colorado - United Hub
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A travelers guide to visiting Colorado

By The Hub team, February 29, 2016

Friends, travel experts and social media will tell you — Colorado makes an epic winter getaway. Snow-capped summits and breathtaking landscapes come together to make Colorado one of the best places for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Throw in celebrated attractions, winter activities, lodging and eateries, and you'll know why the Centennial State consistently tops the charts for winter vacation experiences. From secluded winter wonderlands to the best après-ski spots and urban delights, each of these cities offers its own take on cold-weather fun.

Durango: Day tripping, historic train rides and old west elegance

Durango, southwestern Colorado's largest town (population 15,000), is perched at 6,512 feet above sea level and flanked by snow-blanketed red sandstone cliffs. The city is just 20 miles from the Four Corners, 56 miles from Mesa Verde National Park and 70 miles from Ouray Ice Park and its 200-plus climbs.

With accolades from National Geographic and The Denver Post, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been a top attraction since the late 19th century. The 1920s steam engine pulls refurbished, circa 1882 heated coaches at 18 mph through pristine snowy forests and past wildlife galore.

Afterwards, head two blocks north to the Strater Hotel in Durango's Historic Downtown district, where you can find award-winning restaurants to dine at and catch a live show at the world-famous Henry Strater Theatre.

Denver: Museums, gardens and specialty eats

The Mile-High City is the capital and cultural epicenter of Colorado, where you'll enjoy a rare combination of metropolitan culture and Western charm. Its museums display some of the nation's top Native American and Western art. Learn about Colorado's astounding sights at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, or see some floral eye candy at Denver Botanic Garden's Blossoms of Light.

Honor your taste buds and enjoy the surroundings at The Source, one of the hottest eateries in Denver. Converted from a 19th-century warehouse, The Source marketplace houses local bakers, specialty grocers, crafts and more.

After you eat, rent skates and take a loop around the outdoor rink that overlooks downtown Denver. Or, you can bring your skates a few miles west into the mountains to 40-acre Evergreen Lake, which also boasts a boardwalk and warming hut.

Vail: Carriage rides, ski lodges and romance

Fashioned after villages in the Swiss Alps, Vail's cobblestone streets and limited number of cars create a winter wonderland for travelers. The carriages with soft jingle bells add to the wintry scene. While you're there, take in the European-style architecture, shop Vail's unique boutiques and dine at its award-winning restaurants. As for skiing, Vail Resort is the largest in the nation with a vast 5,289 acres of snow to explore.

Vail's private gondola rides and romantic restaurants make it especially popular with honeymooners. Stroll through fine-art galleries and museums like the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. For a romantic escape, try The Sebastian, where you can enjoy one of four hot tubs, or the creek-side Vail Mountain Lodge, where a full-service spa awaits.

Steamboat Springs: Skiing, hot springs and sleigh rides

Head up to Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado to enjoy powder snow and ski the state's longest-running slopes at Howelsen Hill. If you're looking for ski lessons, you'll find some of the best instructors at Steamboat Springs Resort, one of the world's finest ski and snowboard schools. If you're into freestyle or cross-country skiing, the resort offers a mogul field and plenty of trails.

After a day on the slopes, take a 15-minute shuttle or ride a four wheeler down to Strawberry Hot Springs, where man-made pools blend with nature. After a day of exploring, unwind with a massage and sleep fireside in one of the springs' cabins.

Back in town you'll find distinctive accommodations, eateries and shops. Snuggle up under a blanket while stargazing in a Percheron horse-drawn sleigh then stop for dinner at family-friendly Hahn's Peak Roadhouse. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, saddle up for a horseback guided tour at The Home Ranch. Visit the Steamboat Springs website for more ideas, including an eclectic mix of winter events — think cowboys on skis.

Aspen: Après ski, Snowmass and nature

Those searching for a naturalist-led snowshoe and other excursions will find an abundance of activities at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Enjoy the silence of snow-covered spruce and fir forests as you explore one of 25 nature trails by foot with a knowledgeable Naturalist tour guide. During your excursion learn about wildlife, tracking, mountain ecology, avalanches, winter habitats and Aspen history.

Après ski in Aspen and Snowmass Village is a lifestyle, and Condé Nast Traveler calls it the best in North America. During the day, ski one of four mountain ranges that make up Snowmass and at night enjoy one of the many activities offered. Dubbed as one of America's Best Ski Resorts, Snowmass is the most spacious of the Aspen ski areas with runs to suit every level, from kid-friendly trails to a mountain range that is home to the Winter X Games.

Head back into town where you'll find plenty of folks grabbing drinks and swapping ski stories at one of the many resorts. To bring a beautiful end to your day, unwind near the fireside gazing upon the mountain sunset, enjoying the Aspen glow John Denver sang about.

No matter which locale you visit, Colorado offers plenty of memorable experiences. Visit united.com or use the United app to start planning your Colorado ski adventure today.

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