19. Frisco, Colorado
Where else can you go skiing, sailing, and mountain biking in the same day? Frisco is one of the only towns in Colorado’s Ski Towns Association without an actual ski area. But with Copper Mountain 5 minutes away, Breckenridge 10 minutes, and Vail 25 minutes, it’s got all the ski-town advantages without the overwhelming crush of tourism.
Summer brings a buffet of outdoor recreation — mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, fly fishing, camping, cycling, sailing — and idyllic weather.
Why it’s so cool?
Visitors, second homeowners, and locals peacefully coexist in this impossibly quaint alpine playground complete with a pedestrian-friendly main street.
Eggs, croissants, and dark-roasted coffee at the Butterhorn Bakery provide fuel for a day of skiing at Copper Mountain in winter — take the free bus — and an evening of tubing under the lights at the Friso Adventure Park.
In summer, hike up Mount Royal (2-3 hrs) or Peak One (4-6 hrs), or mountain bike Peaks Trail (beware of moose!). Spend the afternoon on the water: Run class-II/III Ten Mile Creek, ending at the town’s wave park — Ten Mile Creek Kayaks provides transport and rentals. For flat-water fun, rent a boat at the Frisco Marina on Lake Dillon.
Come evening, take a self-guided tour through Frisco Historic Park for a glimpse of Rocky Mountain pioneer life. Dine on sausage sampler, cucumber salad, soft-baked pretzels, and one-liter Stiegls at Prost. Revel late into the night at almost-famous dive bar, the Moose Jaw.