Usually just a stopover for people headed to the mountains, but there are some great things to do and see with kids.
Where to stay:
Without a doubt, Hyatt House in Lakewood if you’re looking for a nice but inexpensive hotel. It’s close to downtown (we avoid hotels there since they’re pricier and parking is high dollar as well). It also includes a great complimentary hot breakfast, which when you have a family of 4 is a wonderful thing. In winter, there is ice skating walking distance!
BEAVER CREEK / EDWARDS
This is not our usual ski hangout, but it’s one of my favorites. The trick is to come at a non-peak time and negotiate a longer term rental via vrbo/airbnb/other site. The mountain is rarely crowded, and if you buy a season pass early in the year, you’ll save a ton of money.
Where to stay: get a local rental or stay at the Westin (gondola to the slopes and great heated pool!) Email me for a connection to a condo owned by a friend’s boss.
Zino (we saw lots of locals and kids here! My aunt and uncle eat here almost weekly. Amazing Italian food)
Beaver Creek is our favorite place to ski if you can plan far enough ahead to get the season pass. Otherwise it’s so expensive, and really lodging on site is out of reach. But driving and parking there is so easy (we like parking at Arrowhead, which has a lift a block away from free parking). Pack your lunch and stash snacks in your ski jacket, or you’re going to spend a million dollars. This mountain is ritzy, but it’s far enough from Denver that it never really draws big crowds.
Best place to meet on the mountain: Spruce Saddle Lodge. You can’t picnic everywhere, but you can do it here.
Head west toward Eagle, CO for some great hikes. There’s a page that lists a bunch in the area west of Avon. some of these are 1.5 hr drive one day, so plan for some all day trips.
Some of the best thrift shopping can be found in the Vail Valley. Here’s a list of some options.