For many Coloradans—and out-of-towners—Presidents Day (February 19) means hitting the slopes. In fact, the holiday is often resorts’ busiest day of the year. So, when some you inevitably head to higher ground this month, may we suggest breaking up the barrage of pizza-learning toddlers (if you know, you know), jacked-up cafeteria prices, and lift lines with some relaxing diversions? Or, avoid the crowds entirely and skip town another weekend this month. Rest assured there’ll be loads to do, from a wine and chocolate festival to a citywide winter carnival.

Summit County

Eat, Ski, and Be Merry
There are two kinds of skiers: the speed-racers that barrel down the mountain as though they’re being chased by a yeti and the meanderers that amble down the slopes and enjoy the view. Those in the latter camp will delight in this relaxing candlelit skiing adventure, hosted by Frisco Nordic Center. Over the 2.5k course around the Frisco peninsula, there will be four cozy stops by a bonfire stocked with snacks, adult beverages, and nonalcoholic drinks. Feb. 3; 5:30–9:30 p.m.; $45–$80

Photo by Todd Powell/Frisco Nordic Ski Race

Gold Rush Nordic Races
No matter your skill level or age, you’re invited to partake in this 53-year-old Nordic race—the longest running in the state. Opt for a 5k, 10k, or 20k course across Frisco, and make sure to pick up your free BOCO Gear neck gaiter, Chris Cakes of Colorado grub, and Highside Brewing beer. Stick around town for the Spontaneous Combustion Bonfire and Fireworks during which about 300 Christmas trees are used as fuel for a massive (controlled) blaze. Feb. 10; starting at 10 a.m.; $10–$65

In Plain Sight: Queer Rural Narratives from the Water and the Land
Walk the halls of any major Mountain West gallery, and you’ll likely see stunning representations of life this side of the Mississippi. What’s been largely missing from that body of work, however, is depictions of how queer identities and rural environments overlap. In this five-artist exhibition, see visual depictions of the often-underrepresented queer existence, resistance, and endurance in rural and remote areas of our country, including pieces from mixed-media artist Janie Stamm and painter Robert Martin. Don’t miss opportunities to see the artists talk on February 14. Jan. 27–April 28; Tuesdays 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; free

Vail and Beaver Creek

Dine with the Dogs
Not only do the Vail Ski Patrol Dogs keep skiers safe from avalanches—they look unbearably cute while doing it. Every Sunday through the end of March, families can meet the professionals (both human and canine) who keep guests safe on the mountain and ask them questions about dog training and avalanche safety. Visit on January 14, January 28, and March 31 to receive a free bite to eat, plus the chance to win giveaways from Helly Hansen, which sponsors the event. Through March 31; Sundays 10:30–11:30 a.m.; free

Vail Legacy Weekend
No, those Fireball shooters haven’t gone straight to your head. During this beloved annual event, you’ll actually see an Army Black Hawk helicopter land on Vail Mountain. To honor its heritage—the mountain was founded by veterans of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division—each year Vail welcomes current members of the division, holds a parade of veterans dressed in traditional uniforms, and has a “ski down” of Riva Ridge, one of Vail’s most iconic runs. Feb. 24–25; noon–5 p.m.; free, on-mountain events require lift ticket or pass

Why Do Dinosaurs Matter?
Channel your inner Alan Grant and dig into the backstory of the Brontosaurus at this scientific lecture. Kenneth Lacovara, a professor at Rowan University, author of Why Dinosaurs Matter, and discoverer of the Dreadnoughtus dino, will talk about the ancient reptiles, climate change, and history, plus answer all of the questions you’ve had since childhood—like why were T. rexs’ arms so tiny? Feb. 29; 6–7:30 p.m.; $10–$25

Crested Butte and Gunnison

Brett Dennen’s Lift Series
Each year, singer-songwriter Brett Dennen makes it a point to hit some of America’s finest mountain towns on his Lift Series tour—because what’s better than skiing and a show? In Crested Butte, the “Ain’t No Reason” folk-pop singer will play the Center for the Arts. If you miss him at this stop, maybe you can catch him at another show in Steamboat Springs, Durango, or Beaver Creek. Feb. 17; 8–11 p.m.; $45–$260

Estes Park

Photo courtesy of Estes Park Wine and Chocolate Festival

Wine and Chocolate Festival
Even if you’re going stag this Valentine’s Day, you’ll get your fill of chocolate and wine during this high-altitude fest. Pair rich bite-sized confections with wines from the likes of Snowy Peaks Winery and Climb Hard Cider, plus a complimentary wine glass and tote bag. You don’t need a sweetheart to serenade you this year as there will be plenty of live music on-site. To really treat yourself, reserve a table at Twin Owls Steakhouse for a four-course, chocolate-infused dinner with wine pairings curated by Snowy Peaks Winery’s Erik Mohr. Feb. 3; noon–5 p.m.; $15–$125

Winter Park

Winter Wonderland
If a performance from the Talking Swifty Heads (a Talking Heads and Taylor Swift cover band) isn’t enough to pique your interest, we give up. This frosty afternoon bash includes that amusing musical group, plus a hot cocoa bar, sledding, and crafts. The centerpiece of the day isn’t a Taylor Swift and David Byrne duet—although we’d love to see that—it’s an over-the-snow 5k, in which participants will race on snowshoes, cross-country skis, fat-tire bikes, and snow cleats. Feb. 3; 1–4 p.m.; $20

The Winter Park Express in the snowy mountains
Winter Park Express. Photo courtesy of Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Express
This seasonal Amtrak offering could be classified under “transportation”—but we like to think of it as an exclusive event unto itself. For three months each year, Amtrak runs the Winter Park Express (also known as the “ski train”), which takes passengers from Denver Union Station straight to Winter Park. During the two-hour-long locomotive ride, families can enjoy stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and Moffat Tunnel—all while circumventing the blood-pressure-spiking I-70 traffic. (Bonus: Skis ride free.) Jan. 12–March 31; Fridays through Sundays: Train departs Denver at 7 a.m. and departs Winter Park at 4:30 p.m.; starting at $59

Mountaintop Après and Glow Night Ice Skating
Families visiting the mountains for the weekend often hit an age-related fork in the road after unbuckling their ski boots for the day: Should we opt for adult-style food-and-alcohol diversions or kid-friendly fun? Those skiing at Winter Park can do both. Start at 4 p.m. by watching the sunset at Mountaintop Sunset Lodge, where you’ll be greeted with small bites, drinks, and live music. After darkness falls, corral the fam and head to the Village Pond for cosmic-themed Glow Night Ice Skating soundtracked by live DJ tunes. Jan. 4–March 30; Mountaintop Après: 4–7 p.m., Glow Night Ice Skating: 5–7 p.m.; attendance free, rentals and food and drink prices vary

Black Hawk and Nederland

Guanella Pass Brewery Pig Roast
No need to hit the grocery store or scramble for a reservation after shredding all day. Instead, veer off I-70 to this Georgetown brewery for a pig-roasting party. Pair your tender pork with darts, billiards, and a thirst-quenching IPA. Don’t leave before taking a guess at the guest of honor’s weight (the pig, silly). The most accurate estimate receives a mystery gift from Guanella Pass Brewery. Feb. 17; starting at 3 p.m.; free attendance

Buena Vista and Salida

The Melt Goes on Forever
Instead of spending the evening in your vacation rental scrolling TikTok, head to the theater to get a memorable dose of cinema. This documentary follows African-American artist David Hammons, whose multidisciplinary (and hard-to-define) works dissect race and American society. Hammons’ art (including iconic works like “How Ya Like Me Now”) has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but you can see a wide array of his work in this film at the Steamplant Event Center. Feb. 4; 4:30–6 p.m.; $11

Steamboat Springs

Photo courtesy of Steamboat Springs Chamber

Steamboat Winter Carnival
You may think you’ve seen every iteration of winter-focused festivals—gatherings dedicated to the Norse god of snow, ice carving, and even a frozen dead dude—but have you ever seen one centered around a donkey jump and a shovel race? If the answer is no, head to Steamboat to partake in this iconic event. Besides the aforementioned contests, there will be ski ballet competitions, an on-snow dual slalom bicycle race, a s’mores party, and so much more. Feb. 7–11; times vary; some events ticketed

Aspen

Mother of All Ascensions
The Centennial State does Mardi Gras a bit differently than the Big Easy. For one, we’re all wearing Patagonia puffers and sipping Coors Light instead of Sazerac. Secondly, one of our most beloved celebrations involves willing participants racing up a 2,073-foot snow-packed mountain as fast as they can. Register and complete the course on Mardi Gras or at any point until noon on Friday the 23rd. But there is a mandatory dress code of purple, gold, or green ski ’fits. Feb. 13–23; times vary; $40

Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series
If you broke the bank on the Aspen hotel and ski pass, you’re in luck. This annual concert series, which starts its yearlong run this month, brings national acts to downtown Aspen for free. This month, see Greeley-born group the Burroughs perform their whimsical spin on soul music. In March, stay tuned for Shakey Graves and his mixture of blues, rock, country, and folk. Starting Feb. 13; 3:30 p.m.; free

Chefs and Somms Series with Hakan Thörnström
After scarfing down ski-lift PB&Js all day, treat yourself to this upscale aprés dinner at the Michelin Guide–recommended Element 47 inside the Little Nell hotel. Swedish chef Hakan Thörnström is collaborating with the Little Nell’s culinary director and wine director to create an indulgent menu that includes lobster panna cotta, smoked scallop tartare with Jerusalem artichoke, and charcoal-grilled, gratinated wagyu with Madeira sauce and parsley root purée. Feb. 22–24; reservation times vary; $145 per person, plus $100 for optional wine pairing