Spring break without breaking the bank | SummitDaily.com

Spring break without breaking the bank

Seth Moore

It’s easy to spend money in Summit County with all of its lavish resorts, expensive eateries and high-priced extras. For people with limited funds, it may seem like an unlikely destination, but they can enjoy Summit on a budget. It just takes collegiate crusaders and weekend warriors a little savvy to navigate the money maze.

It’s easy to dish out dough at resorts, but with a little planning you can avoid overspending. Purchasing lift tickets from grocery stores or local and Front Range businesses can save $10 to $40 a day. Also try the internet for cyber deals.

Before hitting the slopes, pack your pockets with granola bars, water and even a sandwich. Resist cafeteria food ” it can break your budget.

Hotel packages, the internet and http://www.rentskis.com, offer the best deals on renting gear. Ski shops on the mountain usually range from $30 to $40 a day for rentals. Other local outlets range from $15 to $20 a day with package deals.

As for getting to the mountain, most resorts have free parking and shuttles to take you to the chairlifts. The county also has a free bus system, The Summit Stage, which goes to all of the resorts.

Another cheap option is heading into the backcountry and finding your own lines. But you must have the right equipment, which is pricey, as well as knowledge, because finding your own tracks can be life-threatening.

Besides world-class skiing, Summit provides plenty of affordable attractions.

The Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic centers collectively give skiers more than 50 miles of trails at about half the cost of a lift ticket. Gear and a trail pass are $29. The Nordic centers also offer another great winter activity: snow shoeing. For $14 you can rent a pair and head to the trails. Instead of paying for a trail pass, go to a resort where they let shoers use the mountain trails for no charge, or peruse local author Mary Ellen Gilliland’s “The Summit Hiker” for tips on the best snowshoeing spots. The Raven Golf Course in Silverthorne also grooms its snow-covered greens in the winter, and it’s free.

For a little more adrenaline-rush, try tubing at Copper Mountain or other ski areas. Slide down the five runs of Stinger Hill at Copper on an innertube for $20 an hour. It’s a great mid-week break from the slopes. Sledding opportunities also abound in Summit County. The locals take their sleds to Carter Park in Breckenridge or to the Frisco Peninsula Area.

Six ice rinks shimmer throughout the county. Keystone Village caters to hockey players and ice skaters with a 5-acre lake complete with 30-foot lit trees adorning the ice. It’s North America’s largest and highest Zamboni-maintained ice rink. Copper Mountain’s West Lake measures 55,000-square-feet, and it’s a great place to glide on a horizontal surface while friends or family tackle the vertical ski runs. In Breckenridge, visitors will find Maggie Pond, which is open daily from dawn to dusk. Or discover a laid-back setting at the unlit Meadow Creek Pond in Frisco, which is located behind Wal-Mart by the Frisco Transfer Center. And this season, be the first to experience ice skating at Silverthorne’s North Pond Park, which the town upgraded last summer. If you’re tired of the great outdoors, there’s always the public indoor Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge.

If you want more indoor fun, look no further than the recreation centers in Breckenridge and Silverthorne. Enjoy their pool, indoor tracks, racquetball courts, weight rooms, saunas and other amenities. Both offer day passes for $10 or less. Here’s how you work it: Go to the Silverthorne Recreation Center in the late morning, take a class or something to actually increase your pulse rate, then get your hand stamped so you can come back in the evening for a dip in the hot tub, or squeeze into to the Breck rec center during the last hour it’s open for $5.

One of the easiest ways to break your budget is overindulging in the county’s nightlife. It’s hard to avoid the traps, but you can still have a good time without splurging.

Almost every restaurant and bar has happy hours from 3-6 p.m. daily. Specials include discounted domestic beers, well drinks and house wine. Two-for-one appetizers and special apres menus are popular too.

If you’re in the mood for some culture, two local theater companies perform on the weekends. Backstage Theatre and Lake Dillon Theatre cost about $15, and the cast is phenomenal ” occasionally our local Broadway star, Douglas Webster, pops up in a play.

A great way to save some cash is finding fun that is free. Po Boy’s in Frisco has karaoke night every Wednesday. A variety of bars host open mic nights. Read a little poetry or sing a song; not only is it a good time, but it gives you a great story to go home with. Bars also have live music ” most with reasonable cover charges.

So come enjoy Colorado’s playground. No matter how much you have in the bank, there is something for everyone.

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