Off the “main drag” of Colorado resorts, this tucked-away town packs in family fun without all the hassle.
Crested Butte is arguably one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado. It's overflowing with valley and mountain views, charming shops, and delicious restaurants. The best part? You’ll feel like a local not a tourist.
If you're visiting during spring, summer or fall, read on. If you're headed to Crested Butte in the winter, click here.
Photo courtesy: Trent Bona
What to to?
The Adventure Park is where it’s at for families at Crested Butte. You can buy tickets for a single activity, but your best bet is to buy a day pass for them all. My daughter wouldn’t get off the bungee trampoline jump! Then she convinced my husband and I to try it. We had a blast! When we finally convinced her that it was someone else’s turn, we headed over to the rock climbing wall, then mini golf, and then panning for gems. She’s still playing with her bag of treasures. There’s also ziplining. It does have weight requirements, so it’s better suited for bigger kids. And next door, you can jump onto a giant inflatable bubble. There are two platforms; my husband and I would only leap from the lower one. (The higher is high!) It’s like jumping onto a giant marshmallow. Little kids can jump from the lower platform, but my 3-year old still found it a bit intimidating. Next year! The adventure pass also includes a scenic ride up the chairlift. Pass cost: Youth (6 & under) $34; Youth $38; Adult $45.
If you prefer to see the sights on foot, the hiking in Crested Butte is top-notch. Grab a map from the information center and go on your own. Or sign up for a guided family summit hike. Cost: $185 for 5 people.
KidTripster Tip: Put on your hiking shoes and head from the top of the lift down to the Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks. It’s all downhill, and you’ll be treated to epic views. Sip on a cocktail or order cheese fondue and enjoy the scenery before hiking back down to the base. Or if your little ones aren’t too keen on walking all that way (I learned that the hard way!), you can drive up to the Umbrella Bar.
We did find an amazing hike for toddlers. It’s called the Story Walk, and it’s in town. This flat, dirt trail is less than a mile, and every 100 yards or so, there’s a sign with a different page from a storybook. When we hiked, the book was about bugs. It was interactive and, most importantly, fun!
Crested Butte is known for its top-rated mountain biking trails. They are all over and range from easy to difficult. You also can buy a pass to ride up the lift with your bike and then explore Evolution Bike Park. It has more than 30 miles of single track trails for both beginners and advanced riders. Most are downhill trails, but some are cross-country and will connect you to the town’s mountain biking trails. Can’t travel with your bike? Crested Butte offers bike rentals, lessons, and tours.
When the kids tire of hiking and biking with you, you can drop them off at Camp CB. It’s geared toward kids (ages 3-14) and includes a packed day of nature walks, chairlift rides, and other Adventure Park activities. Kids need to be potty-trained to attend. Crested Butte also offers a nursery for those younger than 3. Camp cost: $99/day; $450/5-pack; $750/10-pack.
KidTripster Tip: Book in advance online to save up to $75!
At Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Grand Lodge is a surprisingly affordable option just 100 yards from the mountain's base. It has everything from hotel-style rooms to bigger condos with kitchenettes, plus an onsite restaurant with games and a pool table, spa, and fitness center. But my family and I spent most of our time at the indoor/outdoor pool and gigantic hot tub! We were excited to find that the Grand Lodge is pet-friendly, so our dog made the trip with us. Rates start at $99/night.
Or opt to stay in the middle of all the action at Mountaineer Square. It’s located in the base area and is equipped with a fitness center, indoor/outdoor heated pool, outdoor fire pit, and restaurant. A hotel room can fit a family or you can book a one-, two-, or three-bedroom condo for a little more space. Sorry Fido, you’ll have to stay home; Mountaineer Square is not pet-friendly. Rates begin at $200/night.
KidTripster Tip: If your family’s schedule allows for it, you’ll save money by heading to Crested Butte at the end of summer or early fall.
There also are family-friendly options in the town of Crested Butte, like the Old Town Inn. Situated within walking distance of shopping and dining, this affordable downtown hotel offers a continental breakfast, free cookies in the afternoon, an outdoor picnic area, and an outdoor hot tub. It also allows pets! Rates start at $149/night.
KidTripster Tip: No matter where you stay, getting from the town to the resort is easy via the free town shuttle. Each bus was painted by a different local artist. See if you can spot the cow bus with the tail on the back! It’s our favorite.
Photo courtesy: Grand Lodge
Where to eat?
For breakfast, head to the base area for Camp 4 Coffee. My husband votes its breakfast sandwich as “the best in town.” It also brews some pretty good espresso drinks or you can skip the line and grab some express coffee from the pot; just be sure to leave some money.
For bigger appetites, hit the breakfast buffet at Woodstone Grill (6 Emmons Rd.) inside the Grand Lodge. It’s all-you-can-eat for only $13! It has basically everything that you’d ever want for breakfast including pastries, an omelette station, and more. The Woodstone Grill also serves dinner and, if you’re staying at the hotel, you can order snacks from here to enjoy at the pool.
For lunch with a view, head up the stairs to Butte 66 Roadhouse and Grill (10 Crested Butte Way). This is one of my favorite spots because it has adult milkshakes. Yes, you read that right. Delicious concoctions (think: peach cobbler) with a special kick (think: schnapps). Don’t worry, there are some without alcohol for the kids! Enjoy your shakes, burger, nachos, and my favorite - buffalo blue tater tots - on the expansive deck overlooking the chairlifts. There’s no better spot on a warm summer day!
A few steps away is 9380' Prime (500 Gothic Rd.). At lunch, it has an outdoor grill firing up personal-sized pizzas (my toddler didn’t even share with me!), beers, and sandwiches. It’s a great people-watching spot and even has a large fire pit, if it's a bit chilly.
A new addition to the base area is Crested Butte Burger Company (22 Crested Mountain Ln.). The menu isn’t expansive; it has four signature burgers and fries. But my husband went back twice during our stay because he loved the burgers so much!
For an afternoon pick-me-up, the Waffle Cabin is not to be missed. My family was fighting over the warm, hand-held waffle drizzled with chocolate sauce, so we went back for another one! The prices are cheap, and the waffles are heavenly. It’s perfect treat during a fun-filled day.
For dinner, the Secret Stash (303 Elk Ave.) is the place to go. If you only eat one dinner out during your stay, make it this place. It has the best pizza that I’ve ever had - anywhere! The eclectic pizza joint is on the main drag in the town of Crested Butte and has unique décor and just as unique pizza. French fries on pizza?! Yes. Figs and truffle oil?! Absolutely! In fact, the Notorious F.I.G. (mozzarella, blue cheese, asiago cheese, prosciutto, figs, and truffle oil) even won an award. My husband tried to order a boring pepperoni pizza, but I stopped him! The salad bar also is no joke, and the ranch dressing is served from a pump because it’s that good!
For family-friendly dinner spot on the mountain, head to Avalanche Bar and Grill (15 Emmons Rd.). It has all the family favorites - sandwiches, burgers, fajitas, steak, pasta, and bottomless chips and salsa. The kids’ menu has a ton of options including ribs. It has daily happy hour specials and is convenient to all the base activities.
For dessert, stroll down Elk Avenue in town to grab some mini donuts at Niky’s Mini Donuts (327 Elk Ave.). Watch them being made and then pick out your favorite toppings. My 3-year old opted for a sprinkle-ladened, “worms in dirt” complete with a gummy worm on top. The donuts are small, so you won’t feel like you’re overindulging… unless of course, you eat a dozen by yourself!
Photo courtesy: Secret Stash
Crested Butte is a good 4-hour drive from Denver, but it’s a pretty one! You also can fly into Crested Butte direct from major cities like Dallas, Houston, and Denver.
Amy Sward lives in the foothills west of Denver and is inching her way closer to living in the mountains full-time. Until then, she enjoys visiting as much as she can with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.
Photo courtesy: Tom Stillo
This writer received a complimentary stay and some activities for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.