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Family Travel / Restaurants / Ski

Where to pull off I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic

Where to pull off I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic

When you have to get off I-70, what are you supposed to do? We know why it happens—the nature of the beast, Broncos aren’t playing Sundays in January, there’s a pack of mountain goats on the side of the road, accidents, I could go on. Here’s some “Plan Bs” that don’t require a detour, just a comfortable pit stop. Here are the top exits in order of West to East. Great FREE options as well.


EXIT: 201

WHAT TO DO: More Snow Thrills or Noshballs



Kick back before the battle to the tunnel, especially if you’ve battled just to get to the tunnel. There’s a new bar/restaurant that just opened in Frisco called The Clubhouse that has indoor simulated golfing, perfect for spring right around the corner. You know you’re a true Coloradan when you’ve golfed and skied in the same day. The Clubhouse is located on the second floor of a building on Main Street, so it’s a great place to enjoy amazing views, food and drinks while waiting for traffic to die down.

However, what if you’ve gotten to Frisco, the kids are still full of energy and it’s a beautiful, gentle snow that is snarling traffic, but enjoyable to play in—what do you do? Pull off at the same exit and hit the town’s tubing hill. The Day Lodge sits at the base of the tubing hill, so you can go inside to warm up and grab hot chocolate between thrills. It’s appropriate for almost any age, takes advantage of the awesome snow conditions and atmosphere, and saves you three hours of sitting in a smelly car.

EXIT: 226

WHAT TO DO: Grab a adult or child cocktail at Bread Barbreadbar



Silver Plume’s Bread Bar at 1010 Main Street opened in the former Dram Apothecary space in the historic mining town this past summer, and already entertains a loyal following as a peaceful mountain stop-off for classic cocktails and socializing. Swing by on a weekend afternoon or evening on your way to or from the high country for a welcome refuge from the highway congestion.

EXIT: 240

WHAT TO DO: Eat, Drink, Playground Action

WHERE: Idaho Springs


Well, you’ve gotten to Idaho Springs one way or another. Either you’re trying to make it up or down, it doesn’t matter, you’re not getting to your destination. Everyone thinks, I’m not pulling off at Idaho Springs to go to Beau Jos, that’s OK. There’s a new game in town and it’s Westbound & Down Brewing Company. It’s located right on the main drag, and it’s pretty hard to miss.idahosprings1

This place is so pleasing and kid-friendly, my husband has pulled off the highway to go there even without traffic. It’s his new favorite place to take the kids and grab some cool local cans of beer to go up to the mountains or take home. When I finally tagged along in January 2016, I was extremely pleased with the new spot. In fact, I was downright surprised by this level of hipster urbanism in this charming, Victorian-era town. It’s enormous, has brewing and beer canning for kiddos to watch, a simple, yet easy menu, and FAST service. What’s more to say, go Westbound & Down. A year later, and I’m still loving it every bit! 

Also in the town of Idaho Springs are two gold mine tours. Clear Creek is known for their historical mine operations and this one fascinates the kiddos. Amber, my editor adds that Clear Creek is awesome (there’s a park with a playground right on it, that my kiddos love to burn off steam – train pun intended.)

EXIT: 252

WHAT TO DO: Stretch, Lake Walk, Fresh Air, Freedom

Evergreen Lake

Evergreen Lake

WHERE: Evergreen


But, wait, there’s more. My editor, who has children a few years older than my little ones also has some awesome recommendations. “So many choices like the Wild Game Arcade in Evergreen or strolling around Evergreen Lake (EXIT 252 from West / 252 from East).” Just down the mountain from Evergreen, near Genesse is the Lookout Nature Center. This is a great free family option with plenty of acre to run those legs. ( ) “When I pull off from I-70 due traffic, I want to place where kids can run around and burn some energy!” 

EXIT: 269

WHAT TO DO: Eat because you’re hungry and home



This makes for a convenient stop for dining-in or ordering to-go on your way to the slopes. Located just minutes from the intersection of I-70 and I-76, it’s the second outpost of the Uptown Denver favorite and offers soul-soothing comfort food to start your getaway right—regardless of the westbound traffic. Stop in to enjoy classics like the award-winning fried chicken, the famed mac ’n cheese or the Friday fish & chips special. On the go? We love the Dinner for Four deal with 12 deviled eggs or Brussels sprouts, salad, 8 pieces of fried, herb-roasted, or Nashville hot chicken, sides, and even a pint of homemade ice cream or 4 cupcakes for dessert. At $55, this makes dinner easy for the whole family—or your group of powder-hungry pals.winterpark


AND . . . if you’re keen to avoid the traffic altogether, then head to Denver’s Union Station where you can hop aboard the Winter Park Express Ski Train ( or Front Range Ski Bus ( to Loveland Ski Area and Copper Mountain Resort. After a long and satisfying day on the slopes, Happy Hour and dinner will be waiting for you at Hopdoddy Burger Bar (1747 Wynkoop Street –, just steps from the train or bus drop-off. Hopdoddy’s $5 Happy Hour features craft drafts, signature cocktails, fries and seasonal special burgers each for $5. Dinner seekers will recharge with all-natural, handmade burgers such as the seasonal Roast Beast Burger, prepared with all the classics of Christmas dinner: green beans, smoky sweet yam casserole, and “Who Hash” on an Akaushi Kobe beef patty smothered in steak sauce. Wash it down with a local draft or canned beer. The perfect Colorado ending to a Colorado ski day.

Julie Bielenberg
Author: Julie Bielenberg

Julie is a mama of three who travels in search of fields, farms, families and more. Sometimes . . . she finds herself in often uncovered, or understated locales, which has since become her niche.

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Julie is a mama of three who travels in search of fields, farms, families and more. Sometimes . . . she finds herself in often uncovered, or understated locales, which has since become her niche.

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