Our Week in Winter Park

in , by Lavender Elizabeth, February 09, 2022
Last month, I went on one of the best trips of my life. I finally had the opportunity to visit Colorado and it did not disappoint. It truly is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Throughout the week, I kept telling my friends that it felt like I was in another world. As someone who absolutely loves winter, Colorado in January was paradise.

One of the best parts of that week, however, were the people I got to experience it with. I went with some of my closes friends, but also met some new friends. We went on adventures, tried new things, and bonded in the best way. Below, I'm sharing our complete itinerary and all the fun we had!

Friday was our travel and prep day. The seven of us from Chicago all flew together, meeting the others at the Denver airport. We opted to stop for a late lunch at GVR Beer Garden, about 15-minutes from the airport. It was fun in the winter, but I just know it's a blast in the summer with its huge outdoor space. We then went grocery shopping, got settled into the cabin, and played some games.  

Snowmobiling was so much fun! We paired up on our rented snowmobiles and went all through Grand Lake trails, ending in an open field to play around in. Embarrassing moment: I crashed within the first five minutes. I did the same thing the first time I drove an ATV, so I think it's just tradition. ;) After that, I was completely fine, but what a way to start! As the day went on, our group had a couple more falls and stuck snowmobiles, but we had an amazing time, surrounded by some incredible views!

We had packed lunch the night before and opted to picnic on Grand Lake. We stayed there for a while, making snow angels, playing football, and freaking out that we were walking on a frozen lake.

I've been skiing twice before (once in Wisconsin, once in Michigan), but this was by far the most fun I've ever had. Four of us opted to take private lessons for the morning and it was the best decision we made. Our instructor was wonderful and so patient with each of our skill levels. We all said we felt the most confident skiing we ever had and really enjoyed ourselves for the first time.

Funny story: During the afternoon, Paige and I went skiing with two of our other friends. For the final run, we split, them to do a blue run, us a green. Part way down, we decided to try a different run, assuming we'd end at the original meet-up spot. As it turned out, it led to another lift, where the only option was up. And up and up. We both kept asking: "how far does this thing go?" and "holy crap, how are we're going to ski down this?" The lift stopped at the top of the mountain. We skied down the entire way and I'm still so freaking proud of us!
That night, after dinner, we made a fire in the cabin and stayed up talking. We turned off all the lights, watched the stars from the windows, and talked about everything from ghosts to philosophy. It was honestly one of my favorite nights.

My original plan was to only ski one day, but after rocking the day before, I knew I had to ski again. I am so glad I did because I had a blast! I stayed on the easier slopes the first half of the day, which was a nice way to feel 100% comfortable as the day went on. We stopped for lunch at Sunspot, which had an amazing view of Winter Park (and some very tasty Irish coffees). The second half of the day was hard, but in the best way. The only way I can describe it: we skied the bluest-greens we could have. I had one epic fall, but otherwise, had a great day on the slopes.
Over the weekend, we had a total of thirteen of us, but by Monday night, we were back to our original eight. We made dinner, played games, and stayed up until 3AM talking in the hot tub.

Since we stayed up very late the night before, we had an easy-going morning. A couple people went to the Winter Park Village to explore for an hour and a few of us stayed back. I sat by the window, doing crossword puzzles, which was the perfect morning. Once everyone was back at the house, we decided to go sledding down the driveway and have a snowball fight. Sledding was hilarious. We struggled to get down the driveway, and when we did, crashed into each other along the way.

This was the one night we had scheduled to go out for dinner. We went to Deno's Bistro, which was the perfect choice. The food was great and the staff was so nice. The pictures we took at the restaurant are some of my favorites from the trip. I think they truly capture our friendship and personalities.

Early on in the itinerary planning, we had all voted that driving three hours to Strawberry Hot Springs was worth it to us and man was it! Not only did we have a beautiful drive up there, but the springs were incredible. There were different heat-levels that you could bounce between, including a very cold one. We all dared each other to take a dip in the cold spring, which ended with strangers cheering us on.

On the way home, we stopped at a lookout to take photos with our beloved van, Cleatus. When I tell you this van was janky, it was janky, but we loved it.

It was so bittersweet saying goodbye to our cabin and Cleatus. The week went by so quickly and none of us wanted to leave. We made it to the airport with time to spare, despite the snowstorm, and caught our flights home.

What I Packed

Pin for future travel inspiration!

I was truly happy in Colorado, being surrounded by incredible views, amazing friends, and constant adventure. I'm already planning my next trip back.
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