The peak of summer that includes lounging on the shores or adventures that take thousands of miles to finally arrive at might be over. One looming adventure is the trek to a nine to five desk job or hauling children back to school. However, being in Colorado lends itself to the possibility of mini staycations just over the ridge — and maybe a mountain or two. A mountain escape alleviates the chaos of Denver International Airport and the conspiracies that come with it. Thus a scenic route over to Beaver Creek can be the last hurrah before the thrill of summer migrates into fall. Here is how to spends three days in Beaver Creek.
Along I-70 signs of Idaho Springs, A-Basin, Keystone and Vail have passed, the next mountain in view is Beaver Creek with lush greenery accompanied by the white out of Aspen trees. The town of Avon shelters the little treasure of Beaver Creek, but passing through the regal gates, it opens up in front of your eyes.
Check-in begins at Beaver Creek’s unique boutique hotels among the Marriott Autograph Collection curated by Richard Kessler. Beaver Creek Lodge‘s thoughtfully curated art parallels a gallery with its showcase of southwestern and mountain-style themes. It wouldn’t be a mountain town without the tribute to nature, which prompts the first expedition of the mountain that lays just beyond the hotel’s estate.
The gondola isn’t only a shelter to get up the mountain in the winter, but it constantly takes visitors to mid-mountain with the 360 views appearing as if floating among the low-hanging clouds. The weather, as nice as it is, invites the more daunting freedom of being on a chairlift to be enticing.
The doll-like town begins to fade in the back with the rest of the mountains growing large. The gondola reaches the end of its route and the doors let patrons take their first steps 3,000 feet above the Mile High City. A quick stop at one of the many picnic tables or lawn chairs tends to be longer than expected with cloud watching and munching on a local brand of bars like Tru Bars, Bobo’s or Patter.
Even in the summer, the comforting smell of the holidays and pine fills each step of the winding hike down. Similar to their skiing and snowboarding trails in the winter, there’s a range in difficulty for all experiences. A common choice is Overlook Trail.
From the gondola, a walk along the creek is cobblestones away. The exploring continues after going across the bridge and the avenues of the quaint town that come into view. The ice rink is replaced with corn hole boards atop turf for extra space to get the gang together. The guitar from the live music playing strums with the beat of ping pong balls bouncing over the end of the rink.
A bit of time to unwind and dinner at the hotel makes for the easiest walk of the day. Alpine and Antlers incorporates the freshness from local ingredients to solidify their diverse menu. The Proscuitto & Peach Flatbread ($17) gets a finishing touch of aged balsamic for a note of tanginess to add to the sweet slices of peach and salty prosciutto. The Lamb Meatball ($15) fuses the traditional Colorado protein with its greek roots by pairing a spiced harissa tomato sauce and herbed yogurt beneath it.
The Ruby Red Trout ($34) arrives with crisp skin ready to crack. The filet sits atop roasted vegetables with a crunch of their own for a light finish to the night. A full day could also finish with the richness of the risotto. The Venison ($45) plays to the earthiness of the mushrooms enveloped in the rice. The brandied cherries add a touch of sourness to cut through the hearty plate.
With the soreness from hiking setting in, try yoga in the park — or in this case, rink — to offer a stretch session. The ice rink at the epicenter of the village is overtaken by turf and picnic tables as a grassy area for people to pass time. Events take place ranging from art projects to silent discos. That or a revitalizing cup from Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea with a flight of 3 Mini Beignets ($4.25) for good measure.
Leave the walking for the horses with a horseback riding trek that ventures the other side of the mountain. After riding the bus right from the hotel, a round-up of horses directed by cowboys and cowgirls are corralled until their next ride.
Each gentle steed knows the path but doesn’t often remember the trail flowers aren’t lunch. A slight slay back and forth is natural but they’ve gotten good at gliding through the thick muddied track. Beaver Creek Stables offer a one-hour ride or a riverside lunch break during the three-hour excursion. Both loop back to the beginning providing new sights the entire way.
Hearing the horse’s names called — Brownie, Ginger and Cappuccino — sounds an alert for lunchtime. A sought-after spot resides in a plaza down in Avon, just a short ride away — by car this time. Hopefully, a late lunch arrival cuts Avon Bakery and Deli’s notorious line by just a bit. The sandwiches are as supreme as expected with a house favorite being The Pounder Rueben ($20.99). Marble rye is relied upon tremendously to hold either corned beef, pastrami or turkey alongside the expected necessities. A Jewish deli collides with Italian roots as they offer Polidori Sweet Sausage and Pepper ($11.99) hot sandwiches.
After the afternoon bite, an unwinding is in order at the Kessler pool. The array of lounge chairs encourages a mountain of rest especially with the sun past its peak yet still warm enough to soak in.
A late dinner reservation leaves time to cozy up by the fire pits located around the village before enjoying Mediterranean fare from Toscanini. Beaver Creek regulars might know this as the Italian spot in town with homemade pasta and thin-crust pizza dough being a family hit.
The Shrimp Bucatini ($20) and a classic Margarita Pizza ($17), fresh basil and all, still make the menu, but with a new season comes a refreshed concept. Toscanini now takes influence from all the countries that feed into the Mediterranean sea. North African Spiced Halibut ($44) shows this meaty fish can take on some heat. The blend of spices creates a beautiful crust on the fish for texture against the flaky fish and stewed chickpeas beneath. They pull in more flavor and spice with the Moroccan Braised Lamb Shoulder ($39). A bath in braising liquid makes the lamb fall apart like barbecue. The parsley-driven tabbouleh and mint among the smear of labneh uplift this hardier dish with lightness.
The open carry policy in Beaver Creek can take the festivities outside with one last star gazing session alongside a glass of wine or one of their craft cocktails. An Aperol spritz meets a margarita in the Skinny Dip ($13) featuring a tajin rim. The Amalfi Coast ($13) features a homemade lavender-rosemary simple syrup to compliment the blooming season.
A bit of sleeping seems in order after loading up the last couple of days. Plus, it’s easy when snuggling up with the fur blanket at the end of each bed. Room service features morning favorites like a Breakfast Burrito ($12) layering crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and potatoes together; or on the lighter side try Honey Almond Ricotta Toast ($12).
Beaver Creek’s mountain is too large to explore on foot — even by horse. One last trek through the trees needs a Jeep thanks to 4 x 4 Mountain Tours. A mutant wrangler is modified with a cabana-covered top and cushion seats surrounding the perimeter. safari voyages through glades shredded by skiers and the animals that tend to shy away in the snow. Riders receive a new view on the white glazed trails they only view in the winter. This tour gives a look at the newest addition to Beaver Creek’s vast mountain — McCoy Park.
This expansion offers families another 17 trails at the beginner and intermediate levels to begin their skiing and snowboarding journey. It joins Beaver Creek’s signature parks collection striving to provide terrain for all.
This expedition highlights competition terrain by showing the downhill race track — Birds of Prey. Interestingly enough, a hawk or two can be seen during the trip as well. An array of wildflowers line the path and marmot pop up behind fallen branches to say hello as well. One peak holds a warming hut for winter that smells of cookie dough from constant baking during ski season.
A visit to the top of Beaver Creek’s peaks leads to heading down to sea level for lunch at Hooked right in town. Chef and owner Riley Romanin can be thanked for bypassing the once perceived limitations of getting the freshest provisions out to mountain town. A constant trek to the airport is worth it when customers try fish flown in straight from oceanside markets. These catches even come tableside when the waitstaff presents the daily offerings.
A sushi restaurant’s favorites include salmon, tuna and yellowtail — a menu expectation by now. Hooked allows patrons to look their fish in the eye and pick its raw or cooked preparation. Both the lunch and all-day menu are ready to pick from. The lunch menu brings in more casual seafood interpretations that belong by the beach. Their Mama’s Tuna Melt Sandwich ($18.50) features confit tuna — instead of packing tuna in oil, it’s slowly cooked to remain buttery and flakey. The slight tanginess of sourdough rounds out this homestyle sandwich. They an upgrade from their fish n’ chips, when opting for the Fried Fisherman Bento ($21.50 – $25.50) — a box filled with fried seafood of choice, fries, slaw, tartar sauce and a buttered dinner roll. This might be the ultimate lunch box.
As for the sushi aspect, the Caterpillar Roll ($19.50) forgoes cooked eel for Colorado Trout — receiving a similar barbecue preparation. The signature Hooked Roll ($24.50) showcases the turf that represents Colorado with the lobster tempura roll being shingled with rare slices of beef.
The sushi won’t make the voyage home; their tiki mugs — ranging in shapes and colors — are the ideal souvenir. Fans take home the flavors of Colorado when stopping at Chef Romanin’s artisanal store in Avon — R Farmer’s Market. Even though the Vail Farmer’s market is on the route home, this small store packs local provisions and produce on every shelf — pasta, chocolates, maple syrups, honey, canned fish. They elevate the grocery store staples by ensuring local, organic and thoughtful curation. The store is quaint enough to hold only those that qualify.
The in-house butchery and whole fish available prize this market. It entices the idea of coming back to cook with it in a condo. The pre-made frozen meals are made by the chef and his team themselves. They are a fit for more than TV watching — with wild game chili, carnitas and more making the menu. However, a golden peach from Palisade to nibble on is the perfect treat to end this trip.
The lush, green-covered mountains wisp by, replaced soon with peaks of white, insisting ski season commencement. Each trip to the mountains affirms folks come for the winters but stay for the summer. But that doesn’t mean that the excitement for winter and shredding the slopes doesn’t still get locals giddy.
All photography by Haley Paez.