Know that person who’s just so hard to buy for? Want to create memories that will last much longer than another sweater? This is the year to give the gift of experience. After all, we live in a city and state where people flock to check off their bucket list dreams. Here are 52 ideas for Colorado gift experiences to make someone’s holiday season—maybe their entire year.
Note: All prices per person unless noted otherwise.
1. Skip the Lift and Heli-Ski
You have two options in Colorado to live out your epic heli-skiing fantasy. Silverton Mountain offers single runs with or without a guide ($184), six-run tickets ($1,190), or a fully private heli-ski day ($11,990) on its lift-accessible backcountry. silvertonmountain.com
Helitrax Telluride offers a full day of guided skiing or boarding in 200 square miles of San Juan backcountry, including avalanche safety gear, lunch, snacks and aprés ($1,345). A private, custom tour will run you $7,000 per hour.
2. Take High Tea in a Castle
Head to Glen Eyrie for formal tea service in Queen Palmer’s former manor. The abundant menu changes seasonally, and December features the popular Yule Tea. Make your reservations early!
3. Drive a Lambo
Get behind the wheel of a rare and powerful Lamborghini Murciélago for a 15- to 60-mile drive with the Lamborghini Driving Experience at Overdrive Raceway. Or you can just ride along in that Italian leather passenger seat.
4. Tour COS by Helicopter
Get a true bird’s-eye view of Pikes Peak and the Royal Gorge ($49-$369) with Colorado Vertical. Or board the jet-powered Robinson R66 chopper in December for a private Christmas lights tour of Colorado Springs ($64-$199).
5. Go to a House Concert
Talk about an intimate venue. Join Friends House Concerts to hear nationally touring artists in the living room.
6. Blend Your Own Custom Wine
Want a heavily-oaked chardonnay with an apricot finish? D’Vine Wine will create a 28-bottle batch, complete with a bottling party for you and your friends.
7. Go to the Dogs(sledding)
Head into the backcountry around Breckenridge behind a team of Siberian huskies. Good Times Adventures will take you on a 6-mile tour around the Swan River Valley that rotates you through mushing the dogs, riding in the sled and riding in a snowmobile sled in front of the pack (perfect for pictures). Get there early to cuddle with the dogs.
8. Learn to Cook Like a Chef
So you want to cook a legit Indian chana massala, Vietnamese beef pho or Cajun jambalaya? Or baking bread, puff pastries and chocolates is more your style? Chef Blandine Mazéran and her team at the French Kitchen will teach you how in a full array of classes. If you have kids, check out parent-child 4 Hands classes.
9. Catch a Big One on the Ice
Head out on a guided ice fishing expedition with IceFish Colorado, and you might just land a trophy northern pike or kokanee salmon from 11 Mile Reservoir or Blue Mesa Reservoir.
$300-$500 for half or whole day up to four people
10. Get Scuba Certified—in Cozumel
Start at home, then complete your dive certification in Cozumel with Underwater Connection. You’ll get boat dives and shore dives in warm, crystal-clear waters teeming with sea life during five days in the Caribbean ($1,099). Not sure if scuba is for you? Give it a trial in UWC’s heated pool for just $35.
11. Swim With the Sharks
Plunge into the Sunken Shipwreck at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, where you’ll swim with sand tiger, brown and zebra sharks, plus sawfish, barracuda and sea turtles—if you’re dive certified. If not, you can go down in a glass shark cage.
12. Have a Spa Day—or Overnight
Book a Blissed Out package at Garden of the Gods Resort & Club and you’ll get $150 credit at the onsite Strata Integrated Wellness Spa. That means you can add an array of individual or couple’s treatments to those stunning Garden of the Gods views. Don’t miss the weightless relaxation of a float on the unique Austrian Pure Sense Soft Pack bed.
From $344 double occupancy
13. Watch the Sunrise—From a Hot Air Balloon
Float up, up and away with Adventures Out West as the winds carry you aloft for spectacular Front Range views. No two flight patterns are the same, but you can count on a champagne toast after landing.
14. Swing Over the Royal Gorge
Soar Superman-style 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River on the Royal Rush Skycoaster. The massive bungee swing sends you on 50 mph free fall and pendulum arc out over the rim of the Royal Gorge.
$25 adult general admission plus $30-$75 for one to three tandem riders royalgorgebridge.com
15. Ride the Rails
Book a ticket in the Royal Gorge Railroad’s glass-topped Vista Dome car for the best views of those towering Gorge walls. Take the whole fam for the Santa Express Train, or make it a romantic ride with your S.O. on the New Year’s Eve Dinner Train.
$79-$134, kids free on select Santa Express dates
16. Ranch and Spa
Get out there without leaving any luxury behind at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash. The signature Ranch Relax & Play Getaway package includes Colorado mountain-style lodging, all-day farm-to-fork dining and adventure activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, yoga and more. Be sure to add a therapeutic soak, wrap or massage in the 18,000 square-foot spa. $599 double occupancy in Main Lodge, $1,059 in luxury two-bedroom cabin.
17. Go Skydiving
“Want to do something fun for my 50th birthday?” a new friend asked. “Of course,” I replied, thinking we might go to a nice restaurant or maybe Vegas. Three months later, however, we’re both on a small, loud plane, with strangers strapped to our backs, scooting toward a gaping opening where—with little opportunity to consider what on earth compelled us to be here—we leap out of an airplane. The intense force of cold air takes my breath away, but then I look up at the horizon. It’s then that the magnificent view of Pikes Peak and the Front Range takes my breath away even more.
Tandem jumping is quite simple: Just listen to the instructor who you are attached to for about 15 minutes. Breathe. Open your arms like you’re calling a touchdown. Look up at the horizon. Take it all in. I still can’t believe I did it. Skydiving had never made it to my bucket list. But I couldn’t resist helping someone celebrate the auspicious occasion of living for half a century. By the way, she’s my best friend now—because nothing says lifelong friendship like falling through the air at 10,000 feet.
Skydive Colorado, tandem jump $215, skydiveco.com
18. Explore All the State Parks
Discover the 41 Colorado State Parks all year long. An annual pass delivers access to hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, snowshoeing, horseback riding and more.
$80 affixed vehicle pass, $120 transferable hang tag
19. Follow the Iron Way
20. Float Away Your Cares
Leave it all behind in a sensory-deprivation float tank at R.E.S.T. Float Solutions. Think of it as your weightless, aquatic meditation.
21. Soar Over the Springs
Want to know what those Air Force cadets feel like—or birds? Ride along in a glider, aka sailplane, with High Flights Soaring.
22. Take an Art Class
Learn to draw, paint or throw pottery. Or take your photography or mixed media to the next level. Bemis School of Art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College has a broad menu of classes for adults and children.
Free to $340, artschool.csfineartscenter.org
23. Believe in Magic
24. Splash Into a Tropical Escape—in Town
Take the family to Great Wolf Lodge to splash and slide in the 84-degree indoor water park. Make it an overnight or weekend for the full howlin’ good experience. Or snag a limited-quantity day pass: $55-$80. $119 and up for overnight stays.
25. Appreciate the Arts All Season
Be inspired by concerts and theater, and support the arts with subscriptions and season ticket packages from UCCS Presents, the Fine Arts Center Theatre or the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. Starting at $109, $140 and $132, respectively.
uccspresents.org, fac.coloradocollege.edu, csphilharmonic.org
26. Dine at the Chef’s Table
Indulge with a reservation at the private Chef’s Table in The Broadmoor’s elegant Penrose Room, one of Colorado’s only two Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond restaurants. Up to 16 guests are treated to cooking and wine demonstrations, set against spectacular mountain views from the top of the South Tower.
Chef’s Tasting Menu $156, with wines $240
27. Ride a Sleigh to Dinner
Get cozy in Frisco’s winter wonderland as the draft-mules from Two Below Zero pull you on a three-course dinner sleigh ride. It’s like stepping into a Colorado Christmas card scene, complete with musical entertainment.
$84-$89 adults, $45-$49 kids, dinnersleighrides.com
28. Create Craft Cocktails
Learn the art and history of mixology with local favorite bartender Montana Horsfall and Craft Cocktail, Inc. Join a small class or schedule your own based on your favorite flavors.
29. Learn to Fly Fish
No matter your skill level, you can find a class at Angler’s Covey, the 2019 Orvis Fly Shop of the Year. Start with a free one-hour introductory class or jump in for four hours of instruction on the river with a guide, $295 for one, $197 each for two.
30. Saddle Up and Horseback Ride
Ride the forests and mountains above Cheyenne Cañon at Old Stage Riding Stables. One- to two-hour trail rides vary by ability and explore trails and views overlooking the Springs.
If you or your immediate family have valid military I.D., you can trail ride at the Air Force Academy Equestrian Center for $35 first hour, $15 per additional hour or $75 all day.
31. Take an Artistic Wine Tasting
On a cold Wednesday night, the windows of the Kreuser Gallery downtown glow onto Boulder Street. I’m sitting among original art with two dozen new friends, five glasses of Bordeaux wines set before me, learning from a certified local sommelier about the namesake wines of the region.
My previous skill set has hinged more on which box is cheaper at Weber Street Liquors: Bota or Black Box. But a glamorous gallery-owning friend has given me the gift experience with the Curious Palate Tasting Club, and I’m relishing the opportunity to learn more about wine.
Our sommelier-teacher Michaela Hightower radiates knowledge and deep enjoyment as she teaches us how to sniff, swirl, sip, swish and savor our wines. In addition to the full-bodied reds I knew I loved, there was a (new-to-me) white Bordeaux, a sweet dessert Bordeaux and paired food bites for each course. All of Hightower’s selections are from smaller vineyards and available in local wine shops. As we taste, ask questions and share our impressions, I find wine more accessible than ever before. Now I’m ready to sniff-swirl-savor my way through the holiday season.
Wine classes $30, spirits tastings $35. Private in-home tastings available too. wineeventsbymichaela.com
—Heather Powell Browne
32. Snowshoe to Dinner
Strap on Nordic skis or snowshoes. Flip on your headlamp, and follow the 1-mile trail through the woods to your gourmet dinner in a cozy off-the-grid yurt with Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, Cookhouse & Sleep Yurts.
$95 per person
33. Sip and Paint
Get instruction and toast your take-home masterpiece with a beer or glass of wine at Sip and Paint. Choose your class online by the project you want to create.
34. Ride the Divide on a Snowmobile
Choose from family-friendly to performance tours outside of Leadville with White Mountain Snowmobile Tours ($135-$400 driver, $30-$65 passenger). You can even combine a zip line course at 11,200, with side-by-side zips and 14er views ($250-$275 driver, $165-$250 passenger).
35. Learn to Cut a Rug
Put your feet in rhythm, and feel at home on the dance floor. USA Dance Pikes Peak Chapter can point you to local instructors and social dancing groups. If swing sounds like your thing, head to The Loft where $8 includes a beginner lesson to start the Wednesday Night Swing Dances. The Broadmoor Waltz Club offers free weekly waltz lessons. And if you want to try private lessons, Springs Rhythm has a new student special: one group lesson, one private lesson and one social dance for $45.
ppusadance.org, loftmusicvenue.com, broadmoorwaltzclub.com, springsrhythm.com
36. Rise Above It All at Cloud Camp
You won’t exactly be roughing it during an all-inclusive stay at The Broadmoor’s Cloud Camp, though you can choose to ride a mule to your luxe lodge accommodations perched atop Cheyenne Mountain. Enjoy those spectacular 360-degree views, 3,000 feet above the city.
Packages start at $875 a night.
37. Zip Line Over Manitou
Clip in and zip 100 feet above the cliffs and canyons surrounding Manitou Springs with Adventures Out West. Ride upside down or Superman style, or create your own adrenaline-inducing pose.
$90-$110, $50 for summer family nights
38. Rock (Climb) On
Head to a climbing gym for fitness and fun. From the downtown epicenter CityRock to the Westside bouldering hub, Pure Bouldering, you can try a day pass or 10-session punch card that includes gear rental. Or choose from a variety of classes. On the north-side, the new 21,000-square-foot Gripstone Climbing and Fitness opens in December, including a 50-foot Olympic speed climbing wall. You can still catch a discounted founding membership before Dec. 6.
Day pass $13-$20, 10-pass punchcard $100-$180, individual membership $40-$67 a month
climbcityrock.com, pureboulderinggym.com, gripstonecs.com
39. Realign on a Yoga Retreat
Escape to the SunMountain Center where you’ll stay in a historic bed and breakfast, practice consciousness and discover renewal through yoga. Watch for options of year-end reflection and writing and wellness for moms.
$720-$1,255 all inclusive
40. Pamper Yourself
Why wait for a special occasion? Choose an updo or hair braiding, plus makeup application and lashes for a whole new level of style from Veda Salon & Spa ($50-$70 each). Or indulge with a signature facial or massage ($78-$170).
41. Howl With the Wolves
As I stand near the fence at Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center at the end of a tour, I gaze upon three of the rescue’s residents: Keyni, a Tundra wolf with intense yellow eyes and graying fur; and Raksha and Isha, white Arctic wolf brothers. Our guide quiets the group to silence, then opens her mouth. She howls. We howl. The three wolves howl, as do wolves in their enclosures all across the 35-acre Divide property.
In that moment, I don’t contemplate the many individual animals we’ve met over the hour, or what I learned about the nonprofit’s conservation and preservation work. I simply become a part of a pack of wild creatures, joined through primordial sound.
I don’t want to leave. But I know I’ll return soon—perhaps in the dead of winter, when our guide says the wolves are often even more active because they’re most at home in the cold and snow.
Standard, feeding and full moon tours $15-$35. VIP encounters $120-$450. wolfeducation.org
42. Drink and Let Someone Else Drive
Join one of Colorado Craft Tours’ weekly microbrewery and distillery tours. Get behind-the-scenes tours and sample flights with cicerone-in-training guides.
43. Skate in the Park
Bring the whole family or make it a date night as you Skate in the Park beneath the twinkling downtown holiday lights.
44. Put Yourself on Ice (Climbing)
The expert guides at Pikes Peak Alpine School will lead you on intro to advanced ice climbing classes around Colorado Springs, or guided ice and mixed climbs on Pikes Peak or Long’s Peak.
45. Learn to Fly
Think you might want to pursue a private pilot license? Take an introductory instructional flight where you get to handle the controls with Peak Aviation.
46. Get Crafty Together
Make some custom stylish home decor at Anders Ruff Workshop. Choose your project, such as wood signs, chunky knit blankets or canvas pillows; then get all the supplies and instruction in the workshop.
47. Eat on the Farm
Head to the Frost Livestock Company’s ranch in Fountain for A Grazing Life’s farm-to-table feasts prepared by local chefs.
48. Race the Track
Want to see how fast that sports car will really go? Head to Pikes Peak International Raceway for lessons and laps in a Performance Driving Experience ($149-$295). Or buckle up and drift around the course with a professional driver ($95-$165).
49. Soak in the Beauty at SunWater Spa
Relax in the solar-heated, mineral waters of SunWater Spa’s eight cedar tubs in Manitou Springs. Go for a two-hour soak, including use of traditional and infrared saunas ($25), or add a soak to any spa treatment for an additional $15.
50. Cheer Your Team With Season Tickets
Your favorite sports fan doesn’t have to miss a game, whether their team is Switchbacks FC, Colorado College hockey, Air Force football or the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
Packages vary but start at $99. They’ll provide gift experiences all season long.
switchbacksfc.com, cctigers.com, goairforcefalcons.com, milb.com/rocky-mountain
Not sure about actually leaping out of an airplane? Take your flight inside a giant wind tunnel at iFly Denver.
$60-$96 for two to four flights
52. Spend a Night at the Zoo
Make it a sleepover, and watch the wild animals beneath the moonlight with WildNights at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Make it a family adventure, kids party or unique group gathering, complete with pizza dinner, s’mores, animal encounters and more.