Ever since we’ve been together, Alex and I have tried to go skiing every year. While that hasn’t always happened (I’ve had three fall babies), we’ve been fortunate to ski most years since 2011! This year, we met my brother and sister-in-law for a long weekend in Winter Park. It was our second visit to ski in the area as we skied in Winter Park with both of our families back in 2013. Since my brother is temporarily living in the area, it was fun to go with a somewhat local guide who had already scoped out the best runs, breweries, and restaurants. Below, I’ll tell you all about our favorites from the weekend. But first, if you’re reading this and planning a trip to Winter Park, make sure you download the IkonPass app. It tracks your stats and location on the mountain and has a great map. If you’re buying a multi-day pass like we did, rather than a season pass, buy it as far ahead of time as you can for the best price and to avoid having to get single-day lift tickets.
Lodging: We booked a condo through Vacasa at Fraser Crossing. The location could not have been more perfect. It was a short walk to the Winter Park Village base. From there, we could easily access the Gondola or Gemini Express lift to access other parts of the mountain. The condo itself was perfect for two people and might even work for a family with one or two kids as there is a pullout couch in addition to the bed. The kitchenette was equipped for the basics – there is a microwave, stovetop (no oven), refrigerator, and dishwasher. We were able to make a hot breakfast every day, as well as store ingredients for lunches, snacks, and hot tub drinks. We also enjoyed having a parking garage (no scraping snow off the car!) and ski locker to store our skis and poles overnight. The condo has a large hot tub in the middle of the courtyard, which we enjoyed every evening!
Rentals: We booked our rentals (boots, skis, and poles) at the Ski4Less at Winter Park Mountain Lodge, which is located across the street from Fraser Crossing. The staff was so helpful and got us our rentals in record time. They also have rentals for ski clothing and even soft boots – as they said, you could literally get off the plane from Florida in shorts and flip flops and they could completely outfit you for your trip.
Runs: Our favorite runs were in the Parsenn Bowl at the top of the Panoramic Express lift. So often at ski resorts, all of the terrain in the bowl is expert only. I love that at Winter Park, you can do several intermediate blue and blue/black runs and still enjoy the experience (and views!) of skiing in a bowl. There are also a number of great blues off of Parry’s Peek if you follow the ridgeline around. Both Parry’s Peek and Foreva Eva were excellent.
Winter Park has no shortage of great blue and blue-black runs. Some of our other favorite intermediate runs were:
- Edelweiss, Bluebell, and Roundhouse (Blue runs off of Sunnyside lift)
- Mary Jane is the most famous blue on the mountain and for good reason.
- Cranmer is difficult to get to, but was a great run once we found it (at the top of Explorer lift).
- Jabberwocky, White Rabbit (off of Olympia Express)
- Hughes/Lower Hughes/Norwegian (off of the Gondola) – these are great if you want to try some blacks/blue-blacks as they are big-wide open runs.
Mountain Amenities: Winter Park has several restaurants on the mountain and at the base. We packed our lunches every day so only used the restaurant seating areas to use the restrooms, get water, and eat our packed lunches. Lunch Rock was quite crowded and we even had to wait for open seats, but the Mary Jane base was less popular. There’s also a designated Sack Lunch Zone at Winter Park base. As skiers who usually pack our lunch to save both time and money, I appreciated having a designated area since some of the other seating areas are for people who purchase lunch only. There was even a microwave at the Sack Lunch Zone if you wanted to reheat something. One of my favorite mountain amenities was the Waffle Cabin at the bottom of the Looking Glass and Olympia Express lifts. I ordered a waffle with chocolate sauce and ate it in the warming hut next door – perfect ski snack!
Restaurants: Since we ate breakfast at our condo and lunch on the mountain, we went out to dinner each night. With the help of my “local” brother and sister-in-law, everywhere we went was a winner! Rudi’s Deli offers dine-in or carry-out sandwiches, soups and desserts. My broccoli cheddar soup was fantastic, as was my pressed pesto chicken wrap. This is an excellent stop if you want something quick and aren’t looking to break the bank. We picked up sandwiches to bring with us for a beer at Vicious Cycle Brewing on our first night in Winter Park. While the beer was good, my favorite thing about the brewery is their story. The owners named the brewery after the “vicious cycle” of routine that they were caught in. They broke out by quitting their jobs, selling all of their possessions, and traveling. When they returned to the states, they decided to move to the mountains and open this brewery. We should all be so brave! The brewery also has a food truck, but it was open sporadically in January (it looks like they have a more permanent food truck scheduled for March).
For our “fanciest” dinner, we joined my brother and sister-in-law at Deno’s Mountain Bistro, Winter Park’s original chophouse and watering hole. It is the longest running family restaurant in Winter Park and has not only fantastic food, a robust wine menu, and excellent cocktails, but also a warm and inviting atmosphere. We loved our dinner. You can’t miss it!
Another night, after a long day of skiing, we went to The Ditch for burgers. The Ditch doesn’t make just any burger though; they use red and green hatch chiles as their signature ingredient. If you’re not in the mood for heat, you can get “The Bitch” burger, and if you’re not in the mood for a burger at all, they also have sandwiches and New Mexican food.
Finally, on our last night, we picked up pizza from Lina’s Pizza in nearby Granby. There’s not much better than a hot, cheesy slice of pizza after a chilly day on the mountain and Lina’s hit the spot!
We are looking forward to our next ski trip and thinking it might be time to bring our kids for their first mountain experience. Where should we go? Where is your favorite place to ski? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.