Aspen – Glamorous Aspen has four mountains accessible from one lift ticket, each offering a different flavour: there’s Snowmass (best all- around choice), Aspen itself (intermediate/expert), the Highlands (expert) and Buttermilk (beginner/terrain parks) – all connected by free shuttles.
Breckenridge – One of the oldest towns in the state, Breckenridge counts miners’ cabins and a saloon among its heritage structures. The ski area spans five mountains, with great beginner and intermediate terrain, as well as exhilarating high-alpine runs. Lift passes of three days or longer allow some skiing at Vail and Beaver Creek, an hour’s drive northwest.
Steamboat – Low-rise charm and a lovely natural setting are key to the appeal of down-to-earth Steamboat Springs (the ‘Springs’ bit is often truncated). With 165 trails for all levels, it’s one of the top winter resorts in the U S, and is also renowned for tree skiing. The town’s springs are warm rather than hot – Strawberry Park is best for bathing.
Denver Museum – The DAM has one of the largest Native American art collections in the US, and its Western American Art section is justifiably famous. The Frederic C Hamilton wing, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is simply awesome, whether you see it as crystals, mountains or just architectural indulgence.
Boulder – Few US towns have Boulder’s combination of nature, culture and dining, making it a playground for students, bohemians, hikers and mountain-bikers. Stop first at Chautauqua Park, under the sharp peaks of the Flatirons, before heading to Pearl Street Mall to explore Boulder’s historic downtown. Partake in the city’s caffeine explosion with a brew at The Cup, a groovy loft-like space that opens onto Pearl Street, pouring forth a tempting whiff of good coffee.
Rocky Mountain National Park – Since 1915, this national park has protected a (relatively) small but majestic tract of the Colorado Rockies. Winter brings a wonderful solitude to this much – visited preserve; although the Trail Ridge Road is not open for all its length in the snowy season, high-altitude views are still easy to reach by car, while snows hoeing and cross-country skiing open up routes not usually experienced by summer hikers.
Denver Microbrews – Beer aficionados might mistake Denver for a foamy, malty comer of heaven, as the brewing culture around here is world-class. Get inside the scene on the popular LoDo tour, which samples craft beers from the boutique makers in the Lower Downtown. Tours kick off at the Rock Bottom Brewery, Wynkoop Brewing Company or Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery.
Winona’s – Arriving at this Steamboat eatery during the peak morning hours is a mistake: Winona’s creative dishes have made it the most popular breakfast joint in town. And for good reason: gooey, monstrous cinnamon rolls and plump French toast are balanced by savouries such as crab eggs Benedict. Come at lunch for wraps and other sandwiches.
Justice Snow’s – In Aspen’s historic Wheeler Opera House, Justice Snow’s is a retrofitted old saloon with antique wooden furnishings and a deft touch. Although nominally a bar -the speakeasy cocktails (from £11) are the soul of the place -the eclectic, locally sourced menu is what keeps locals coming back.