Family Travel: 40+ Holiday Vacation Ideas in Colorado
posted by: Guest Blogger
For a romantic snowy getaway or a winter wonderland family vacation, destinations across Colorado offer opportunities to create holiday memories to last a lifetime. These holiday travel itineraries will have visitors of all ages dreaming of sugarplums in no time.
Also, don’t miss Denver guide to the holidays: Santa Arrivals & Christmas events!
Stay and Play at Gaylord Rockies in Aurora
Transformed into a holiday wonderland, Gaylord Rockies features a variety of seasonal activities, live entertainment and grand décor. Gaylord Rockies showcases Colorado’s alpine charm and offers an all-in-one vacation with luxury amenities, eight restaurants, an indoor water complex, spa and salon and state-of-the-art fitness center.
Guests can experience Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a critically-acclaimed Broadway musical and new Cirque adventure wrapped into the ultimate gift for the entire family. Performances begin Nov. 22, 2019 and run through Jan. 4, 2020. Gaylord Rockies also presents ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, an experience with two-story ice slides and larger-than-life ice sculptures that tell Rudolph’s story in this winter wonderland carved from more than two million pounds of colorful ice.
Where to stay: Gravity Haus
Gravity Haus Breckenridge is a completely renovated ski-in/ski-out hotel located at the Base of Peak 9 and opening in December 2019. With 60 distinctly curated rooms and a host of amenities tailored to the modern outdoor enthusiast, Gravity Haus embodies the crafted Colorado experience.
Ways to play:
Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas – Dec. 7, 2019
The first weekend in December begins Breckenridge’s annual transformation into a sparkling holiday scene. The Race of the Santas is a jolly event with hundreds of Kris Kringle look-alikes racing along Main Street. Guests can watch as Santa uses his magic to light up the town for the season. The festive day also includes a holiday dog parade and meet-and-greet with Santa.
Ullr Fest – Dec. 11-15, 2019
This annual festival celebrates Norse mythology and features a downtown parade and bonfire, a town-wide talent show, the Ullr Ice Plunge, ice skating and fat bike racing. Attendees often dress in Viking-themed garb.
New Years Eve Celebration– Dec. 31, 2019
Guests can ring in the New Year with a bang and a boom at Breckenridge Mountain Resort. Breck hosts an on-mountain Torchlight Parade, Reggae on the Blue and more than 100 bars and restaurants to take the celebration into 2020.
Breckenridge Sleigh Rides – Ongoing
There are few better ways to get in the holiday spirit than via a horse-drawn sleigh ride. In Breckenridge, visitors can choose from scenic sleigh rides, dinner sleigh rides and even a sleigh ride that features dinner and a show.
Where to stay: The Broadmoor
This iconic five-star and five-diamond property offers impeccable service in a gorgeous location that incorporates the spirit of the West. Plus, the Broadmoor decks the halls with spectacular gingerbread house displays to add to the festive atmosphere.
Families looking for a luxurious getaway can book Cloud Camp at the Broadmoor, which is available for either a three- or four night stay over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. The holiday package includes reservation of the entire camp, including the main lodge and all seven of its guest rooms. All meals, beverages and alcohol are included, and Cloud Camp’s staff and culinary team will ensure that no need goes unmet.
Ways to play:
Cripple Creek Gold Camp Christmas – Dec. 13-14, 2019
Cripple Creek, a historic gambling and mining town, offers Lighted Headframe Tours that give visitors the opportunity to visit the area’s historic mines decked with impressive light displays. Tours begin at the Aspen Mine Center and a shuttle will transport guests through the lighted headframes and arrive in Victor for the Victor Parade of Lights and the Victor Gold Bowl. Self-guided tours are also available.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari – Dec. 6, 2019 – Jan. 1, 2020
Tis the season for lights, animals and holiday cheer at America’s only mountain zoo. Guests can take in nearly one million sparkling lights illuminating the night, then stop in and see Santa. Select animal exhibits are open during the event.
30th Annual Colorado Springs Citywide Kwanzaa Celebration – Dec. 26-28, 2019
Kwanzaa celebrates the best and highest of the values, history, culture, philosophy and achievements of African people (living in America and in other parts of the world). Held at the Hillside Community Center, this three-day celebration of family, community and culture is presented by the Kuumba Cultural Collective of Southern Colorado.
Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole – Open year round
This Christmas-themed family amusement park has delighted families for more than 60 years and is a year-round regional staple that is extraordinarily special in the winter months. Guests enjoy holiday music in the quaint village, gift shops with unique selections of toys and gifts and Santa’s House for a chance to greet the jolly old elf himself. Plus, amusement rides suitable for guests of all ages can be enjoyed throughout the park.
Where to stay: The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa is Denver’s premiere hotel for the holidays with gorgeous décor and a prime downtown location. This historical hotel has hosted almost every U.S. president since 1905 and offers six on-site restaurants. Plus, it hosts the annual Champagne Cascade to kick off the holiday season on Nov. 24, 2019.
Ways to play:
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens – Nov. 29, 2019 – Jan. 3, 2020
The Gardens’ signature event for more than three decades, this annual holiday lights extravaganza transforms the York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland. This year brings fresh and exciting new features including a 360-degree immersive light experience.
The Nutcracker presented by Colorado Ballet – Nov. 30, 2019 – Dec. 29, 2019
The Colorado Ballet performs The Nutcracker for the 59th season this year. This holiday classic sells out every year and is performed at the beautiful Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the heart of downtown Denver.
Ice Skating at the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park – Nov. 26, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020
Families can take a spin on the ice for free at this outdoor, public rink in downtown Denver. This affordable, family-friendly activitiy gives kids and adults alike the chance to try something new with lessons on Saturday mornings—plus Friday night DJs, Saturday night concerts and Sunday afternoon family entertainment.
Tesoro ushers in the holiday season and honors a member of the community who has enlightened the hearts and minds of others. Feel the warmth and watch as pinecones are tossed into the courtyard fire, sending good thoughts into the night sky. Sing along to carols from the 1830s and 1840s with music students from the Colorado School of Mines and other strolling musicians. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate, hot cider and traditional biscochitos.
Where to stay: The Rochester Hotel
The Rochester Hotel in downtown Durango is a historic property built in 1892. This hotel is family owned and operated and the downtown hotel’s warm, friendly service and convenient amenities ensure guests have a pleasant and memorable stay in the charming community of Durango.
Ways to play:
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – Nov. 14, 2019 – Jan. 2, 2020
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride that brings the classic children’s story alive through the chefs, conductor and all of the beloved characters from the tale. Santa visits each car and chefs on-board lead guests in specially selected Christmas carols. Plus, all little ones aboard receive a special gift from Santa.
45th Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Festival – Dec. 8, 2019
This annual fest brings together a variety of creative vendors from the surrounding four corners with handcrafted arts and crafts for sale to help visitors find the perfect gift for everyone on their shopping list. From homemade jellies, sauces, dips, and treats, to blown, fused and stain glass, embroidered art, clothing, holiday decor, barnwood pieces, pottery, body and beauty products, Native American ware and so much more.
Santa Claus on the Mountain at Purgatory – Dec. 21, 2019
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on the beach at Purgatory giving out candy canes and finding out who has been naughty or nice. After a day of skiing, tubing, sleigh rides and more, enjoy the festive holiday atmosphere in the base area.
Where to stay: Hotel Chateau Chamonix
This European-style, boutique hotel is set along beautiful Clear Creek. The charming chalet lodging offers superb guest services including a welcome glass of wine upon guests’ arrival.
Ways to play:
Santa’s North Pole Adventure on the Georgetown Loop Railroad – Nov. 16, 2019 to Dec. 24, 2019
The Georgetown Loop Railroad offers festive holiday experiences for travelers. Families can experience Santa’s North Pole Adventure from mid-November until December 24. On this train ride, Santa passes out presents, treats and goodies to the little ones. Join Santa and his helpers aboard decorated, enclosed, heated coaches throughout the holiday season until December 24, 2019. Santa’s North Pole Adventure is a round-trip train ride that lasts approximately 50-60 minutes.
After Santa retires on December, the train kicks off its Victorian Holiday Celebration from Dec. 26, 2019 through Jan. 6, 2020.
60th Annual Georgetown Christmas Market – Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15, 2019
Each December the town of Georgetown transforms for two weekends into a bustling Christmas scene reminiscent of Christmas of long ago. In Georgetown, Christmas hasn’t changed in 100 years: roasted chestnuts, holiday shopping, horse-drawn wagon rides through the historic district and wonderful sights and smells. Visitors enjoy appearances by St. Nicholas in his traditional dress and the daily procession of the Santa Lucia. Carolers in Victorian costume, dancers and other family entertainment provide hours of memorable performances.
49th Annual Christmas at the Hamill House – Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, 2019
The home of silver baron Willam Arthur Hamill is decorated in Victorian splendor for the holiday season for all adults to enjoy. Open from 6 to 9 p.m., the annual celebration ceremony includes the lighting of the Christmas Tree, story and presentation of the Yule Log, a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ libations, small plate buffet to feast on the Wassail Bowl Punch with toasts to all.
Where to stay: TownePlace Suites by Marriott
Located at the hip, new Foundry district, this hotel opened in 2019 and is part of the city’s long-term vision to revitalize the historic downtown region. The hotel features an indoor pool, lounge, fitness center and access to The Foundry’s eateries and entertainment options.
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Loveland’s Winter Wonderlights at Chapungu Sculpture Park – Nov. 15, 2019 – Jan. 1, 2020
Revel in the holiday glow at Loveland’s Winter Wonderlights, a unique holiday lighting attraction at Chapungu Sculpture Park in Centerra, the only permanent exhibit of Zimbabwe stone sculpture in the U.S. Enjoy holiday lights, illuminated African stone sculptures and a nightly light and music show featuring a 20’ LED Christmas Tree. Guests can enjoy special entertainment, activities, giveaways and more, including Colorado’s largest inflatable igloo. New for 2019, Santa and Reindeer from Loveland’s Jessen Reindeer Ranch will be available during weekends in November.
Downtown Loveland’s Festival of Lights – Nov. 22, 2019
Visitors can step into the magic of the holidays with the traditional Downtown Loveland tree-lighting ceremony and 4th Annual Festival of Lights. The free Festival of Lights, presented by the Loveland Downtown Partnership, brings holiday music and activities, Santa and Mrs. Claus, kids area and performance stage, holiday spirits beer garden, horse-drawn carriage rides, local food vendors and local holiday shopping.
Centerra’s New Year’s Eve Bash – Dec. 31, 6 – 9 p.m.
Ring in 2020 at northern Colorado’s signature lifestyle and shopping center – Centerra. From 6-9 p.m., enjoy family-friendly activities and ice skating and fun at the Promenade Shops at Centerra. A celebratory fireworks show is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Where to stay: Tennessee Pass Sleep Yurts
Tennessee Pass offers a unique experience with sleep yurts, a cookhouse and Nordic center on the property. The luxury sleep yurts are outfitted with soapstone wood stoves, down comforters, handcrafted log beds and kitchenettes. Lunch and dinner room service and morning breakfast baskets are available. Overnight stays include passes to 27 km of groomed cross-country ski and fat biking trails.
Ways to play:
Leadville Parade of Lights – Dec. 6, 2019
Leadville will host its annual Parade of Lights the evening of Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Santa and Mrs. Claus will join many other brightly lit floats and groups in a parade down Harrison Avenue, through the heart of the National Historic Landmark District. Guests can warm up with hot cocoa and cookies on the Courthouse lawn.
Ski with Santa at Ski Cooper – Dec. 24, 2019
On Dec. 24, 2019, Santa will make a stop at Ski Cooper before his big night. Skiers can take photos with Santa, who will be skiing with the kids in the beginner area.
Snowmobile Trails Abound at 10,200 Feet – Ongoing
Snowmobiling is one of the most thrilling ways to experience America’s snow-lined backcountry. And Leadville, with its abundance of snow and national forest land, is the quintessential snowmobiling destination. Snowmobile enthusiasts can find level tracks for beginners, rolling terrain for intermediates and hair-raising deep powder for advanced riders.
Where to stay: The Steamboat Grand
Located just steps from the chairlift, the Steamboat Grand is festively decorated for the season and offers a variety of lodging offerings for parties of all sizes including hotel rooms, studios, condos and penthouses.
Ways to play:
Santa in His Study on Main Street – Saturdays from Dec. 7-21, 2019
Families have the chance to visit Santa in his study on Main Street. Little ones can pose for a cost-free photo and give Saint Nick their wish list in-person. Santa can be found from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or children can leave a letter in his mailbox while he’s off duty.
Steamboat Holiday Festival – Dec. 22, 2019
Guests can celebrate the holiday season Steamboat-style in Gondola Square as Santa rides down the slopes on horseback. The stocking scramble offers free holiday treats at surrounding stores and restaurants. Additional festivities include cookie decorating, story-time and a special holiday concert. The party continues after dark with a torchlight parade and fireworks followed by night skiing.
Torchlight Parade and Fireworks – Dec. 22 and 31, 2019
The local SnowSports School treats holiday guests to spectacular on-snow parades down the mountain lit only by torches. In conjunction with the torchlight parades, a fireworks display will illuminate the sky providing a perfect ending to the evening.
For more holiday travel ideas, visit Colorado.com.