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You’ve carved the turkey and are down to the worst, er, the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Perhaps you’ve even dug out your menorah or lugged home your tree from the lot. But if you’re still rolling your eyes whenever Michael Bublé comes on the radio and dreading the impending festivities, we know just the thing to grow your little Grinch heart: a holiday getaway. But you don’t need a mansion like the McCallisters to afford one of these seasonal adventures. Below, we’ve rounded up a quartet of trips at different price points designed to spark some holiday cheer into even the most somber scrooges among us.
- Where: Granby
- Price tier: $
Want a weekend away in a winter wonderland but working with a post-Black-Friday budget? Book a few affordable nights at Snow Mountain Ranch. This extensive YMCA branch nestled between Winter Park Ski Resort and Rocky Mountain National Park offers indoor activities (free with lodging reservation) sure to spur some holiday spirit, including painting cookie plates for Santa, but the real magic happens outside on the 5,100-acre wooded property.
That's only $1 per issue!
Channel your inner Clark Griswold and head into the wild with kith and kin for your own Christmas Tree Cutting Experience (tree-cutting supplies and a permit are included with an overnight stay). Or, jingle all the way on an hourlong horse-drawn sleigh ride with Rocky Mountain Stables, which winds through the ranch’s snow-covered pine forests ($60 per adult; $50 per child). If you forget your gloves, the complimentary cup of steaming hot cocoa should keep you warm. Those who prefer huskies to horses should arrange a Yuletide ride with the Snow Mountain Ranch dog sled team (starting at $35 per person) or just set aside time to greet the team’s newest puppy members.
Celebrate the holidays with a little heart-thumping exertion by renting a pair of poles, boots, and skinny skis from Snow Mountain Ranch’s Nordic Center and exploring the property’s more than 50 miles of groomed trails. Consider making this a Christmas excursion and traverse the trails on December 25 for the ranch’s annual Candy Cane Ski event, where you’ll find red-and-white striped sticks dangling from the evergreens (ski rentals starting at $16 for adults, $8 for children for a half-day).
Nightly rates starting at $104 for lodge rooms and $199 for a two-bedroom cabin
- Where: Denver
- Price tier: $$
The eight-story ceiling and marble pillars of the historic Brown Palace Hotel and Spa atrium impress visitors on any occasion. During the holidays, however, Denver’s Grand Dame goes above—literally—and beyond to create an opulent display crowned by a 25-by-25-foot, two-ton chandelier adorned with 250,000 crystal beads, 60,000 LED lights, 4,800 ornaments, and 500 pounds of glitter. Eloise would be envious.
It’s amidst this grandeur that guests experience the hotel’s signature Holiday Tea, which runs through January 21 ($75 per adult, $35 per child). In true high-tea fashion, waitstaff deliver “properly brewed” English tea served alongside a silver platter with three tiers of savory sandwiches, an array of classic pastries, and scones with Devonshire cream and preserves. Savor the spread while a pianist plays seasonal favorites.
On December 13 and 17 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the Rocky Mountain region’s top men’s a cappella chorus, Sound of the Rockies, sings alongside sister chorus the Timberliners for “Carols Around the World” and a retelling of the Christmas story in song (starting at $45). Later in the month, experience a decadent, buffet-style Christmas Eve or Christmas Day brunch at on-site restaurant Ellyngton’s, complete with prime rib and oven-roasted ham carving stations and festive indulgences like an almond raspberry yule log and praline pine cone truffle ($119 per person). On December 31, Latin Jazz legend Raul Murciano and the Colorado Mambo Orchestra ring in the New Year with hip-swinging flair ($250 per person).
The Yuletide spirit extends beyond the walls of the Brown Palace, too. Check out Downtown Denver’s ice skating rink and the 110-foot-tall Mile High Tree. Both attractions are less than a mile from the hotel.
Nightly rates starting at $181
- Where: Aurora
- Price tier: $$$
We’d say you should book a room at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, but after you see these lavish decorations, you might never want to leave the lobby. Multiple 10-foot (and taller) Christmas trees trimmed with bright-red ornaments, glittering ribbons, and thousands of lights greet you in the resort’s entryway. After checking into your room and changing into your gaudiest Christmas sweater, head to Mistletoe Village, the hotel’s holiday hub.
Here, you’ll find the main attraction: ICE! featuring A Christmas Story (starting at $30 per adult; $20 per child). Experience life-size scenes from the film (including a frozen, and thus especially “frah-gee-lay,” leg lamp) expertly sculpted by a team of 40 master artisans. Dress warmly: Walking amidst roughly 1,000 tons of ice and sliding down a glacial two-story slide is cold, even when wearing the provided blue parka.
Beyond ICE!, Mistletoe Village offers kids from one to 92 a chance to ice, sprinkle, and otherwise bedazzle gingerbread cutouts and complete elf-in-training exercises like making a toy to gift a loved one on the Nice List. The Man in Red will be on hand to hear Christmas wishes and pose for the camera in his wood-paneled library. (Warning: Anyone who takes their own photos of Santa’s private nook gets put on the Naughty List.) On select days, guests can experience Cirque: Spirit of Christmas, a Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatics show with a catchy holiday soundtrack and an impressive lineup of trapeze artists, roller skaters, unicyclists, and more (starting at $40). And of course, that’s all in addition to the Gaylord’s standard (if you can call them that) offerings, such as the heated Arapahoe Springs Water Park with its multistory indoor waterslide, Relâche Spa, and multiple restaurant options.
Nightly rates starting at $289
- Where: Vail
- Price tier: $$$$
From the reception area’s festive floral arrangements by premier local flower shop A Secret Garden to the warm, almond-scented bath products by L’Occitane en Provence, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail offers elevated holiday celebrations at elevation.
All winter long, guests can relax in the oversize captain’s chairs at its modern mountain steakhouse, Flame, while tucking into a hearty steak or sipping the Four Seasons’ signature Haut Chocolat, poured tableside with a house-made marshmallow and handcrafted chocolate lattice. On December 24, 25, and 31 and January 1, however, the Flame culinary team ups the ante with brunch and dinner specials like pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras, pepper- and rosemary-crusted Colorado lamb, and a Dom Pérignon champagne toast to 2024 (check the resort’s website for pricing). Upstairs at the Remedy Bar, patrons mingle over season-specific beverages (menu set to debut in early December) while taking in uninterrupted views of intermediate-level ski run Bear Tree or catching Broncos game highlights on the 165-inch TV. Those who prefer a cozy night in can relax with in-room dining (two mugs of mulled cider, perhaps?) and bask in the glow of their personal stone fireplace (found in every room).
Did you even go on vacation if you don’t snap a pic for your ’gram grid? The resort’s Dr. Seuss–inspired WhoVail gingerbread house façade beside the Remedy Bar is the perfect backdrop for this year’s holiday card. Be there December 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. to enjoy complimentary green eggnog, an assortment of freshly baked cookies, Christmas carols sung by a local choir, and a costumed Grinch.
Since Vail Ski Resort’s Gondola One is just a 12-minute walk from the hotel (and the Four Seasons’ helpful ski concierge will deliver your equipment right to the slopes), you’ll want to carve out a bit of time for turns down beginner-friendly Swingsville and blue-level Ramshorn. (Alas, the Legendary Back Bowls may not be open until late December or early January.) Friday afternoons December 8 through January 5, opt to après with a Silent Disco at the Sunbird Park Playground in Lionshead Village or rock out mid-mountain with the live DJ set up near Chairs 3 and 4 on December 30 and 31.
Nightly rates starting at $550