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Best of Colorado 2023 — Recreation

Many of this year’s Best of Colorado winners embody the art of specialization. They don’t pretend to be something they are not, rather they concentrate on one element and aim to perfect it. That in turn has clearly helped them make a name for themselves.

Our readers (Best of Colorado customers) not only remember them but make a concerted effort to vote for them. That’s a tremendous accomplishment in this era of overwhelming messages, marketing and mindshare. But that takes time. Here at ColoradoBiz, we’ve heard many serial entrepreneurs and CEOs depict their success as a climb rather than a meandering journey. After all, the highest summits are always uphill and rarely scaled on the first day.

So, here’s to this year’s Best of Colorado winners. They have found a way to perfect their craft, grow their brand, and be recognized for their specialization. They have scaled the summit of success.

Check out our Best of Colorado 2023 issue here!

BEST ANNUAL FESTIVAL EVENT 

GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL

Hailed by brewers and serious beer connoisseurs as the country’s premier gathering of its kind, the Great American Beer Festival celebrates its 40th year Sept. 21-23 at the Colorado Convention Center. The annual event is a festival, professional competition and cultural phenomenon, presenting the largest collection of U.S. beer in a public tasting event plus a private competition. 

Tasting sessions allow attendees to tour America’s brewing landscape, one ounce at a time, with access to more than 2,000 different beers from 500 of the nation’s finest breweries. 

Runners-up:

BEST ATTRACTION FOR IMPRESSING VISITORS TO DENVER 

Inside Meow Wolf's psychedelic cavern and castle exhibit. Arial shot
Meow Wolf art exhibit

RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE  

Widely regarded as one of the world’s great music venues, Red Rocks in Morrison sits between towering sandstone rocks that bracket the stage to create a natural amphitheater. Meanwhile, concert-goers are treated to spectacular views of downtown Denver and the surrounding foothills. 

Runners-up:

BEST ATTRACTION FOR IMPRESSING VISITORS TO THE EASTERN PLAINS 

KIT CARSON COUNTY CAROUSEL

Of the nearly 2,500 wooden carousels carved in the U.S. between 1885 and the 1930s, fewer than 150 are still in existence. One of the finest survivors can be found on the county fairgrounds in Burlington. 

Kit Carson County Carousel also is the only antique carousel in the U.S. with its original paint on both the scenery panels and on the animals. The sixth of 74 carousels manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. between 1904 and 1933, the Kit County attraction is the only surviving menagerie (having other animals in addition to horses) carousel made by PTC. And it’s fully operational! 

BEST ATTRACTION FOR IMPRESSING VISITORS TO THE WESTERN SLOPE 

COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT 

Located near the town of Fruita, Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau-and-canyon panorama. Visitors can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive. 

Reservations are not needed to enter the park, but they are recommended
for camping. 

Runners-up:

BEST PLACE TO HIKE 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass a spectacular range of mountain environments, from glistening alpine lakes to towering mountain peaks. There are more than 300 miles of hiking trails and spectacular wildlife viewing. The most popular entrance is near Estes Park. 

Park entrance fees range from a one-day-per person $15 for walk-ins and bicycles, $30 for a one-day vehicle pass, $35 for a seven-day vehicle pass, $70 for an annual Rocky Mountain National Park pass, or $80 for an annual pass valid at all U.S. national parks and federal lands. Passes can be purchased online at nps.gov. 

Runners-up:

BEST PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE 

COPPER MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT  

Copper Mountain’s lift service allows riders of all fitness levels to enjoy the downhill thrill of riding without the usual toil of getting to the mountaintop. Rental bikes of all kinds are also available. The choices in riding terrain are just as varied: easy-riding lush meadows teeming with wildflowers; exhilarating singletracks; bridges over mountain streams, and more.  

Runners-up:

BEST PLACE TO PLAY HOOKY 

DENVER ZOO

What better place to spend the day – after calling in sick (cough, cough). The Denver Zoo encompasses 84 acres on the edge of City Park and boasts more than 3,000 wild animals that enchant visitors while serving as ambassadors for their wild counterparts all over the world. The zoo’s award-winning education and outreach teams spark curiosity for learners of all ages. 

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online timed ticket reservations are required for entry.  

Runners-up:

BEST PLACE TO RIVER RAFT 

Family on a white water rafting trip in Colorado. Blue raft and paddles, rocks behind the raft.

BUENA VISTA 

Just an hour and a half drive from Denver, Buena Vista boasts the highest concentration of 14ers in the state and is a jumping-off point for a number of rafting options on the Arkansas River. It’s also home to experienced river-rafting guide services that offer numerous packages for rafting with varying degrees of difficulty and duration – from half-days to 10 days.    

Runners-up:

BEST PLACE TO SKI 

Large group of skiers and snowboarders, including someone dressed in a beaver suit, at Beaver Creek resort. Snow covering the ground.

BEAVER RUN RESORT BRECKENRIDGE

For ski-in, ski-out access, it doesn’t get any better than Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, conveniently located at the base of Peak 9 of the Breckenridge Ski Resort. There are also on-site rental shops, a lift-ticket office, retail shops and dining. In the summer, Beaver Run serves as a base camp for hiking, biking, fly fishing and outdoor adventures. 

Runners-up:

BEST CASINO 

MONARCH CASINO RESORT SPA BLACK HAWK 

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Denver, Monarch Casino boasts more than 1,000 slot machines, 42 table games, additional high-stakes games and amenities for high rollers, and the new state-of-the-art Sportsbook Lounge where you can make straight wagers or bet on parlays, teasers, futures, prop bets and more. 

Runners-up:

BEST COUNTRY CLUB 

GLENMOOR COUNTRY CLUB

Located in Cherry Hills Village, Glenmoor Country Club features an 18-hole Pete Dye championship golf course, restaurant, three bars, an expansive patio area, a 10-court tennis facility, fitness gym, kids’ activity room and outdoor playground, as well two swimming pools. Members enjoy a sense of community, spectacular cuisine, junior programs, and events throughout the year.   

Runners-up:

BEST SPORTS STADIUM OR VENUE 

COORS FIELD

A day at Coors Field in downtown Denver is enjoyable no matter what, thanks largely to the cool nights and palatable summer days (compared to most cities), but also thanks to the stadium’s fan-friendly design that allows for easy walking around and a range of ticket prices, from behind home plate to the Rock Pile in center field, to accommodate most budgets. The stadium, which opened in 1995 and holds 50,000 people, was designed with fans in mind, and they show up no matter how the Rockies are doing. Indeed, in their 30-year history, the Rockies have never won the NL West title, yet they consistently rank among the top franchises in Major League Baseball for attendance.  

Runners-up:

BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE 

FOSSIL TRACE GOLF CLUB 

Located in Golden, just 20 minutes from downtown Denver, Fossil Trace gives golfers a mountain course feel in an urban setting. The Jim Engh-designed course opened in the summer of 2003, and in its relatively short history, it has come to be considered one of the finest courses and golf experiences in Colorado. 

There’s also a prehistoric flavor, as dinosaur footprints and other ancient creatures’ fossils are visible adjacent to the golf course’s 12th green. 

Runners-up:

BEST PRIVATE GOLF COURSE 

THE SANCTUARY

The brainchild of RE/MAX Chairman and co-founder Dave Liniger, The Sanctuary was designed by award-winning architect Jim Engh and opened for play (for those lucky enough to get an invite) in 1996. The course in Castle Pines, south of Denver, occupies 220 stunning acres, and traffic is limited to 9,000 rounds per year, mostly for charity events, to preserve an ecosystem that black bears, bobcats and mountain lions also call home. 

Runners-up:

BEST ONLINE SPORTS BETTING PLATFORM (TIE) 

DRAFTKINGS

Sports wagering is legal in an increasing number of states, including Colorado. It’s fitting that DraftKings and FanDuel would tie for Best Online Sports Betting Platform. Both got started as fantasy sports sites, which most states considered activities of skill rather than chance (gambling). In Nov. 2016, the two companies reached an agreement to merge, but that was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission to prevent a potential monopoly, as the combined company would have controlled 90 percent of the market for daily fantasy sports. Now they’re the two biggest names in an increasingly accepted (and legal) online sports betting industry.  

FANDUEL 

Like its rival DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook, currently available in 17 states, offers wagering on all major U.S. sports and betting formats that include spreads, money lines, NFL team odds, prop bets, single bets or same-game team parlays. “If you can dream it, you can (probably) bet it,” FanDuel says. All from your phone 

Runners-up:

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This article is part of the 2023 Best of Colorado Business Choice Awards. Explore all the winners and runners-up:
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES | TECHNOLOGY/ELECTRONICS | TRANSPORTATION | FINANCE
FOOD/BEVERAGE | LODGING/ACCOMMODATIONS | MAINTENANCE | REAL ESTATE
HEALTH | LIFESTYLEPERSONAL FULFILLMENT | OFFICE | RECREATION