Norwegians have a term for enjoying time outdoors, regardless of the weather. Friluftsliv, or open-air living, takes on new meaning in 2021.
Here in Colorado, we’re certainly accustomed to bundling up on powder days and hitting the slopes. We’re also no strangers to après ski culture. But other cold-weather activities have been harder to come by — until now.
Get ready for rooftop winter games, outdoor dining with 360-degree views and bundled up drive-in movies to break up your winter indoors. And don’t forget the option of a spiked drink or two amid the elements. In Norway, they’d call this utepils, or outside beer. (Don’t worry: Colorado’s version includes wine and spirits, too.)
Here are nine distanced options for open-air living in Colorado, including a few for when you want to warm up (safely) indoors.
Food & Drink
The latest trend in outdoor dining structures? Utah-made Alpenglobes, which are like snow globes but reversed. From inside, you can watch the snow fall all around your private dining observatory. You can find them already set up in Colorado at Boulder’s Frasca ($170+ per person), Telluride’s La Marmotte ($95+ per person) and outside of both Ember and Piante in Breckenridge. But we have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of them soon.
After raising $30,000 for local charities with the Miracle pop-up last month, the owners of Bittersweet Cafe in Louisville are transforming their courtyard once again for a new, 1980s-themed après ski bar, called apra ske. “It’s what you would get if you crossed a Swiss chalet with an ’80s disco and a neon onesie,” a release said. Expect “gnarly” craft cocktails like the Retro Fashioned (Eagle Rare Bourbon and smokey spiced demerara sugar), and ski lodge fare like a charcuterie-topped soft pretzel with bacon-cheese dip. ($5 per person to reserve, which then goes to charity; food and drink are separate)
The upstairs bar at Brass Tacks on Blake Street can be reserved for private parties this winter. (Annie Dent, Provided by Brass Tacks)
A private bar
The building housing Blake Street’s Brass Tacks dates to 1863, and you’ll feel like you’re drinking in your eclectic great-aunt’s attic when you get up to the second floor. You can reserve the lofted lounge space with a small group of friends (but pay attention to Denver’s current party size and household gathering restrictions when you do). Then it’s straight to the bar and food counter for pro cocktails and snacks (order a Paloma with nachos, for example). There’s no cost to book, but there is a $300 minimum on weekdays (that’s higher on the weekends, and fluctuates).
For a warming date night, look to a local winery and book a private tour and tasting session for two. Infinite Monkey Theorem will give you and your date a winery tour, with four wines to taste, a meat and cheese board and local chocolates for dessert ($89 per couple). Meanwhile, Carboy Winery offers tours and tastings across its three facilities (Denver, Littleton, Breckenridge) for $60 per pair. At the Denver location, you’ll get to see inside the “Bubble Barn,” where the brand’s Colorado sparkling wines are made, and then get to try five different styles in the tasting room.
Curling on the rooftop of the Halcyon hotel in Cherry Creek. Après in the Clouds will continue throughout the winter with games, cabanas and stargazing at night. (Provided by Halcyon)
Après in the Clouds
The Halcyon hotel in Cherry Creek has transformed its rooftop with winter cabanas, cold-weather games, snacks and drinks. Of all the options available, you’ll probably want to book the iceless curling rink first. You and three friends will have 90 minutes to play, with the help of a bucket of Coors Light, Modelo or Snowmelt to drink ($100/four people).
“What’s better than putting your friends in a cage and giving them axes?” According to Class Axe Throwing’s winter pop-up Sweaty Yeti, “Nothing!” At this outdoor range in Elyria Swansea, you’ll find guided group games with fire pits, cocktails and beers on the side. Groups of up to three pay a flat fee for the throwing ($99.99 for 1½ hours), while groups of four or more pay $32.99 a head.
Drive-in (with goats!)
First, we did yoga with goats. Then we did everything with goats, including going to the movies and letting them in the car with us. So far, Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga has shown “Neverending Story,” “Zombieland” and “Dumb and Dumber” with goats hanging around. So you go to the drive-in and they give you a goat to watch for the duration of the movie ($50 per car). You can even go for Valentine’s Day, with a goat as your third wheel.
Hotel for getting lost
One of the more secluded hotels in Colorado (with a price tag to match), The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch includes its own private chairlift for hitting the slopes with your travel pod. Once you come down the mountain, you’ll want to check out the heated patios with views and fresh sushi (among other options) plus cocktails to pair. Guests also can reserve a table in one of the site’s private indoor dining rooms. (guest rooms start at $750/night in the high season)
An entire inn
If a small bed and breakfast is more your speed, you can always book a room or rent a cabin just far enough from town. We’ve been eyeing Evergreen’s Juniper Mountain House. Recently renovated, it has five guest rooms and a spacious deck with a hot tub and fire pit. You can grab a drink from the honesty bar, and take out a board game or play a round of pool. Private trails around the property make for peaceful (but chilly) morning strolls. (rooms start at $175/night; the whole lodge rents for $1,010)