As a long-time local, I’ve found that winters here can be REALLY long. I still love to snowboard but since Eli was born I’ve searched out other fun things to do to fill the long winters. I’ve found that there are so many fun things to do in Keystone Colorado in the winter besides skiing.
Planning a trip to Keystone in the summer? Read about the free things to do in and around Keystone in the summer.
Keystone is one of the best family-friendly ski destinations in North America. But, you don’t have to ski every day (or at all) to have an amazing vacation in Keystone.
Things to do in Keystone Colorado in the Winter Besides Skiing
Yes, skiing with kids at Keystone is lots of fun. If you have younger kids who are just learning, the ski school and daycare centers are top-notch.
For more information about ski school and daycare read Booking Tips for a (Mostly) Stress-Free Family Ski Vacation.
But, if you are visiting for a week, there will most likely be days you want to take a break from skiing. Luckily, there are so many amazing family-friendly things to do in Keystone besides skiing.
Tubing At Adventure Point
Growing up in Utah, I’ve always loved sledding in the winter. But, the sledding hills of my childhood are nothing compared to tubing at the top of Keystone Mountain. Tubing is the perfect activity for both kids and adults. It is one of my favorite things to do in Keystone Colorado in the winter.
Because the tubing hill is at the top of Keystone Mountain, you get the added bonus of riding the gondola up.
After a brief introduction film in the tubing hill yurt, you can grab a tube and pick a lane to go down. Everyone has to be in their own tube but you can hold onto each other and go down the hill together. If you are feeling extra adventurous you can ask the attendant to spin you. The hill is unbelievably steep and long, the ride down is quite the adrenaline rush.
The best part is you get to ride a covered magic carpet lift back to the top with your tube.
Children must be at least 42 inches to participate.
Adventure Point tubing is just past the gigantic snow fort. Arrive early to allow for playtime in the fort before your tubing session.
Visit Keystone’s Website for current prices and to make your tubing reservation.
Play In The Gigantic Snow Fort
The snow fort at the top of Keystone is a huge playground made out of tons and tons of snow. It contains slides, tunnels, ropes for climbing, and mazes. When we go skiing early in the season we love to see the snow fort taking shape. It’s always completed and open for playing before Christmas.
If you want to bring your kids on a gondola ride but they are too small to go tubing, the snow fort is the perfect activity. Kids under five ride the gondola for free.
Even on days when the weather is nice at the base area, it can be really windy and cold at the top of the mountain. Make sure to bundle up.
When you are done playing, go into the Summit house (the lodge at the top) for hot chocolate and to warm up before you take the gondola back down. The views from the Summit House are stunning. Plan your visit in the evening to catch the sunset from the top of the mountain. If you visit the snow fort on an evening that has night skiing, the Summit House has a pizza special after 5:00. Sixteen dollars for a whole cheese or pepperoni pizza.
*If you plan to go to dinner at the Fondue restaurant, your gondola ride is included in the price of dinner. You can ride the gondola up early to allow some playtime at the snow fort before taking the next gondola to the restaurant.
Ice Skating on Keystone Lake
Keystone Lake offers the most picturesque ice skating in Colorado. The five-acre lake is surrounded by Lakeside village on three sides with a beautiful mountain backdrop.
Ice skates are available for rent in the adventure center. Kid-sized ice skating trainers (it looks like a walker) are also available for kids learning to skate. Kids four years old and younger skate for free.
Because the lake is so big, it doesn’t ever seem crowded. It is so much more fun than ice skating on a small rink where you go around and around in a circle.
Did I mention that Keystone is one of the most kid-friendly resorts in North America? Keystone’s Kidtopia program provides different kid-friendly activities every single day throughout the ski season. The activities include face painting, parades, meeting and petting an avalanche dog, crafts, and movies. The best part….. most activities are completely free! I know, hard to believe anything is free at a ski resort.
One of my family’s favorite Kidtopia activities is watching the Keystone fireworks. You can view them from the River Run Village every Saturday evening throughout the ski season. Or, plan your visit to the snow fort or tubing on Saturday night and you can watch them from the top of the mountain.
Check out the Kidtopia schedule so you don’t miss out on any of the fun activities going on during your stay in Keystone. You can also stop at the Kidtopia Headquarters in River Run Village for foosball, legos, and crafts.
If you are like us and traveling with an only child, the Kidtopia activities are a great way to give your child the opportunity to interact with other kids while on vacation.
Brunch at the Haywood Cafe
Spending several consecutive days waking up early to go skiing can be exhausting. What you need is a relaxing day off from skiing. Sleep in and enjoy brunch at the Haywood Cafe, my favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Keystone. The Haywood has a variety of unique and delicious benedicts from the Sexy Mexy Bennie with avocado, pico, and chorizo; to the BBQ Pulled Pork Bennie with slow-cooked pulled pork on cornbread with bbq sauce drizzled on the hollandaise. Yum. There are plenty of options on the kid’s menu (my son loves the french toast with fresh fruit). And, because you are on vacation, why not try one of the Haywood Cafe’s famous bacon bloody marys or a mimosa.
The Haywood is located in the Gateway Building on Highway six near the entrance to River Run Village. It’s open from seven until two and breakfast is served all day so you can sleep in and don’t have to rush to get there. The Haywood Cafe is definitely one of the can’t-be-missed things to do in Keystone Colorado.
Dinner Sleigh Ride
The Keystone dinner sleigh ride just might be the most memorable part of your trip. This isn’t a ride around a golf course, you actually go to an old ranch deep within the national forest. The setting is absolutely stunning.
The meeting point for the sleigh ride is at the Adventure Center in Lakeside Village (next to the ice-skating lake). From there you take a ten-minute bus ride to the starting point at the very end of the paved road.
After the bus ride, you load up on a sleigh pulled by two huge draft horses. The horses pull the sleigh to the Back Ranch through a beautiful snow-covered valley. Thick blankets are provided to keep you warm along the way.
When you arrive at the ranch, the tables are set up with steaming soup, biscuits, and hot chocolate. Dinner follows along with an entertainer singing and playing the guitar and interacting with the dinner crowd.
The adventure ends with a sleigh ride back to the bus and the bus back to the adventure center.
Tips for a Fabulous Keystone Sleigh Ride
-Book the early sleigh ride. It might seem early for dinner but keep in mind that it takes a while to get to the Back Ranch. The early ride is ideal because it’s still light on your way out so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Reservations can be made by calling 970-496-4386.
-Dress warmly in easy-to-remove layers. The sleigh ride will be cold but the cabin at the ranch is toasty warm.
-Bring cash to tip the server, entertainer, and sleigh driver.
Dillon Ice Castles
The Dillon Ice Castles are a fun attraction for the entire family located in the neighboring town of Dillon. The Dillon city park is turned into a gigantic ice castle complete with tunnels, fountains, and slides. At night it is lit up with different color LED-lights. It is such a unique experience and shouldn’t be missed.
Make sure to buy your tickets to the Dillon Ice Castles in advance. To control the crowds, there are a limited number of tickets sold each evening and it does sell out, especially on the weekends.
For the best price on tickets, plan to see the Dillon Ice Castles on a Monday through Thursday. Ticket prices go up on the weekends. For current prices and to purchase tickets, visit the Dillon Ice Castles website.
Walking the Groomed Trail on Lake Dillon
New for the 2020-2021 winter season, the town of Dillon is now grooming a walking/cross country ski/fat bike trail on the ice of Lake Dillon. This is the perfect social distancing activity and is also a lot of fun and free.
If you have never walked on a frozen lake this is something you will have to try. The ice makes crazy cracking sounds and it is a little disconcerting but there is no need to worry. The town of Dillon measures the ice thickness weekly to make sure it is thick enough to support people and the grooming snowmobile.
There are several places to park and access the trail. Lodgepole street, the Dillon Marina, and the Eagle statue along Highway 6 between Dillon and Keystone. The trail is marked with bamboo poles.
As you can see there is a lot to do in Keystone Colorado in the winter besides skiing.
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