The Best Après Ski Spots in ColoradoPublished on 12/13/2022 · 10 min readPlanning a ski trip to Colorado and wondering where to go after skiing? Ski Expert Lauren Dobbins gives her top après spots to visit once you've finished on the slopes.
All photos by Lauren Dobbins
The one thing all skiers seem to agree on is the importance of a good après ski. In case you don’t know, après ski is French for “after ski” and it is the ritual of treating yourself after burning out your legs. Whether it’s your first day on the slopes or another full day of bombing the backcountry, nothing feels better than the taste of a post-skiing treat. Many people ski just for the après, and I can’t help but smile at my “I Love Après” sticker from Flylow that can be seen on my computer, water bottle, Thule, and so on. My personal favorite place to après is in a free parking lot out the back of my 4Runner (I’m looking at you, Mary Jane side of Winter Park). Did I miss any “I live in Colorado” clichés?
When I’m too cold to sit outside and/or too exhausted to pour my own hard cider, I always have my go-to places in mind. This list contains my personal 12 favorite spots, all of which I have visited many, many, many times (all photos are by yours truly). I have broken them up into three categories based on the type. First up will be breweries, because this list is about Colorado after all! Next will be bars and cocktail spots for those who are tired of hearing about IPAs. Lastly, I’ve included dessert and coffee shops for those who want a treat without the potential headache.
1. Outer Range Brewing Co.: King of the IPAs
- Location: Frisco
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Copper, Keystone, Breck, A-Basin, Loveland
- My Go-to Beer: In the Steep
- Number of IPAs on Tap: 11
Spot Overview Outer Range is an easy après spot for many ski areas since it is located in Frisco. It features an enormous two-level indoor space and a flexible outdoor spot with space heaters. Their IPAs are their superstars, but they also have delicious sours and stouts, and they serve wine for the non-beer drinkers. Outer Range also stands out because of the other businesses in their location. They have a coffee shop on the other side of the bar, and make sure you don’t miss out on some Thai-inspired fried chicken from Bird Craft.
2. Broken Compass Brewing Company: #1 Spot for Man’s Best Friend
- Location: Breckenridge
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Breck, Keystone
- My Go-to Beer: Strawberry Blonde
- Number of Dogs to Pet: Thousands
Spot Overview Broken Compass is the place to bring your dog (at the brewery location). Make sure you stock up on their “Drink Beer. Pet Dogs.” shirts and swag. While their IPAs are good, this is the place to go in Summit County if you prefer light beer. Their brewery location is away from the heart of Breckenridge, so it often is quieter and has ample free parking. They also have a taproom on Main Street, if you are looking to go straight from the slopes. Broken Compass also has super friendly employees that are quick to give local tips and share humorous stories (hint: ask about what other pets people wanted to bring into the brewery).
3. Westbound & Down Brewing Company: Because Beer Is Better than Traffic
- Location: Idaho Springs
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Loveland, Echo
- My Go-to Beer: Spirit of the West
- Nearby Scenic Road: I-70
Spot Overview This is a true story. I took a PTO (paid time off) day on a Friday in March to go skiing at Loveland. Even though I checked I-70 traffic beforehand, a semi-truck flipped over while I was on my way there. I tried taking a detour through Idaho Springs, and I covered three blocks over the span of an hour. I said to my husband, “If it wasn’t 8:30 a.m., I would just go to a brewery and ski another day.” By some miracle, Westbound & Down was a block away and opened at 8 a.m. While they are open daily at that time to serve coffee, they happily sat us and served us beer. They are lifesavers! Oh yeah, they win numerous awards every year for their beer too.
4. Bierstadt Lagerhaus: Home of Lawn Games Galore
- Location: Denver
- Nearby Ski Area(s): All (assuming you are coming from Denver International Airport)
- My Go-to Beer: Helles
- Favorite Game on Location: Barrel Beer Pong
Spot Overview I know, I know. You’re wondering why there is a spot in Denver on this list. Since many ski resort visitors here either live in Denver or fly in through Denver International Airport (DIA), I wanted to include a spot near where many people live or stay. Bierstadt Lagerhaus is my go-to place to bring people who visit from out of town. While the beer is always an easy drinker, the highlight here is the giant lawn games in the warehouse. Cornhole is played with bean bag chairs, and Mario Kart is projected on the wall for all to see!
Bars & Restaurants
1. Bonez: Where Tequila Reigns Supreme
- Location: Crested Butte
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Crested Butte
- My Go-to Drink: Watermelon Margarita with a Mezcal floater
- Most Expensive Tequila: Clase Azul Anejo ($75 for a 2oz pour)
Spot Overview I debated putting a place on this list that wasn’t a day trip from Denver, but Bonez is just too good to not mention! Located in the town of Crested Butte, Bonez has tacos and margs that rival anything I’ve had in the city. They are one of the largest open spaces in Crested Butte, so it’s a perfect spot if you are traveling with a lot of people. You better like tequila though…they have 55 options to choose from—and that doesn’t even include the super top shelf.
2. The George: Known for Vodka Red Bulls & King Crab Legs
- Location: Vail
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Vail, Beaver Creek
- My Go-to Drink: Nutty Irish
- Number of Different Red Bull Flavors: 6
Spot Overview The George wins the award for my favorite dive bar. Located in the basement of a hotel, you would think it would be a secret spot right? Wrong. The George opens at 3 p.m., but the line starts forming at 2:45 p.m. Their happy hour is the stuff of legends, featuring $5 drinks to pair with the King Crab Legs special. The walls are adorned with vintage ski posters (my personal favorite is the K2 parody of the Lange “hot girl” poster). The Red Bull slushies are boozy, so make sure to get a duck quesadilla in your stomach before you order another round.
3. Carboy Winery/Gold Pan Saloon: Proof Colorado Makes Good Wine
- Location: Breckenridge (also in Littleton, Denver, and Palisade)
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Breck, Powderhorn (for the Palisade location)
- My Go-to Drink: Albariño
- Number of Bottles of Carboy Wine in My Home: An Appropriate Amount
Spot Overview Carboy Winery and Gold Pan Saloon sit side-by-side on Main Street in Breckenridge. Although they are owned by the same company, they have very different vibes. Gold Pan Saloon has been around for over a hundred years and offers great cocktails. Carboy is the spot for light bites and most importantly, Colorado-made wine. While Gold Pan Saloon is based only in Breckenridge, Carboy has tasting rooms in the Denver area and in Palisade. I’m a member of their wine club, and I highly recommend it if you live near one of their locations.
4. 6th Alley Bar & Grill: The ONLY On-Mountain Place Worth Mentioning
- Location: Arapahoe Basin
- Nearby Ski Area(s): A-Basin, Loveland, Keystone
- My Go-to Drink: Bloody Mary (duh)
- Favorite Meal for Adults: Crispy Chicken Finger Platter
Spot Overview When you think of on-mountain or base area dining, you usually assume it’s overpriced garbage (thanks for the $8 Diet Coke, Beaver Creek). A-Basin’s 6th Alley is so good, I’ve gone there for food and drinks after skiing or biking at Keystone. You also won't go broke if you want an entrée! While A-Basin is known as “the legend” for its skiing, many people would argue that it is actually for the Bloody Mary. If those aren’t your thing, you can get a giant mule to split with three of your friends. Shout out to my favorite bartender, Fatty!
Coffee & Desserts
1. Two Arrows: A Place to Start & End Your Day
- Location: Vail
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Vail, Beaver Creek
- My Go-to Treat: Matcha Latte
- Awards Won: Weirdest Cocktail (Awarded by Me)
Spot Overview Two Arrows is technically cheating by being on this portion of the list because I would also recommend their cocktails. They are quick with turning out well-crafted coffees that you can take with you as you walk around Vail, and they have delicious tea and cocoa as well. If you want a cocktail that will make people wonder if you’re a weirdo when you consume it, try their Whiskey Scratch and Sniff. You literally have to “scratch and sniff” the bottle. It looks crazy, but the taste is worth it!
2. Clint’s Bakery & Coffee House: Walk Past Starbucks and Go Here
- Location: Breckenridge
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Breck
- My Go-to Treat: Caramello
- Calories Consumed Per Visit: 5,000
Spot Overview Clint’s has the full spectrum of sweet treats in their shop. If you have picky kids (or difficult adults) in tow, take them here. They have cookies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, ice cream, cocoa, and of course, non-sweet coffee and tea. They also have many vegan options for their baked goods. How can you tell that Clint’s is worth your money? They’ve stayed in business while being a block away from Starbucks.
3. I Scream Gelato: You Call It Dessert. I Call It A Meal.
- Location: Breckenridge, Frisco, and Denver
- Nearby Ski Area(s): Breck, Keystone, Copper, Loveland, A-Basin
- My Go-to Treat: Chocolate Gelato in a Bubble Waffle
- I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For: Gelato (apparently)
Spot Overview Do you want something you can Instagram that still actually tastes good? I Scream Gelato is the place to go for pretty yet delicious gelato! Did a picture of my order get more likes than any selfie I took that year? You betcha! Did I eat gelato for dinner after skiing instead of a nutritious meal? Shamelessly! Do I eat my feelings? If unbridled joy counts, then yes I do!
4. Little Man Ice Cream Co.: Saving the World, One Scoop at a Time
- Location: Denver
- Nearby Ski Area(s): All (assuming you are coming from DIA)
- My Go-to Treat: Chocolate Peanut Butter in a Cake Cone
- Length of the Line: Obscene
Spot Overview Yes, I know, this is in Denver too. Little Man Ice Cream takes the guilt out of the guilty pleasure. For every scoop sold, they donate a scoop of rice or beans to a community in need. Not only are they doing good, but their ice cream is also just plain good! Although they have seven locations across the metro area (and in DIA), you can’t beat their original location at the giant milk can. Be warned, the line can get insanely long even in the winter.
When it comes to skiing, rewarding yourself at the end of the day is key! Whether you prefer a Hazy IPA or eight scoops of ice cream, there is no wrong way to après ski. Having a hard time deciding where to go? Don’t worry, so did I! If you want to know more about any of my favorite spots or need new gear to flaunt at the après scene, you can always chat with me or another Winter Sports Expert here on Curated!