First Time Guide: Frisco, Colorado – 5280

First Time Guide: Frisco, Colorado – 5280

Rainbow Lake Trail in Frisco, Colorado. Photo by Todd Powell

Fairy tale

Planning your Summit County trip? Do not forget Frisco, a hidden gem with year-round activities, a budding art scene and plenty of tasty eateries that nourish the fun.

Frisco has traditionally been considered a starting point for other destinations. Are you planning to ski at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Saturday? Book a hotel in Frisco at a lower price. Are you preparing for a backpacking trip in the White River National Forest? Fill up the wittle at Frisco Whole Foods. Are you returning from a weekend at Western Slope? Grab an early dinner on Frisco’s Main Street.

But we think the view overlooks Summit County town’s own charm. With plenty of recreational, cultural and dining opportunities (many of them located on or near the city’s picturesque main street), this all too often overlooked mountain paradise has enough to be a destination in itself.

Get outside

With trails, bike paths, a marina and campgrounds all within a few minutes of town, Frisco is more than a base camp for exploring elsewhere. Exhibition A: Frisco Adventure Park. Just one mile up Highway 9 from Main Street and conveniently located on the Recreation Way, this multifaceted playground offers many ways to get after it, whatever the season. Winter guests can check out the groomed snake hill (reservation required), traditional sled hill or book a sleigh ride through the wooded terrain along the Frisco Peninsula. Skinny skiers (and snowshoes) who want to sweat can explore more than 8,000 acres of trails around the Frisco Nordic Center – and those who are not into it because of the calorie burn can let Fido drag them instead of skiing . This summer, Adventure Parks takes Free Bike Park to the center with its pump track, slopestyle track, dirt jumps and a double slalom track.

Tubing Frisco Adventure
Slangebakken at Frisco Adventure Park. Photo by Todd Powell

The two-wheeled options do not stop there. Those with a fully suspended rig should also take the time to hike along the intermediate / advanced Peaks Trail. This eight-kilometer stretch (one-way) of singletrack meanders through aspen groves and lodge pole pine trees as it rolls from the center of Frisco to Breckenridge’s Peak 7. Resume your pedal strokes for twice as many kilometers (it’s net downhill on the way back ), or hop on the free Summit Stage bus Purple Route for a faster and less strenuous ride back to Frisco. Roadies and e-cyclists (hire either from Rebel Sports) should earmark the ascent along the Ten Mile Canyon National Recreation Trail up to the Vail Pass as a must-do fun. The legions of aspen trees visible from both of these paths make them perfect leafy excursions.

If biking is not your speed, Frisco Bay Marina might float your boat. Located next to the Dillon Reservoir (Denver Water’s largest water storage facility), the marina allows canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, boating and fishing – and if you do not have the equipment (or just did not have room in the car to carry it) along), there are plenty of rental options. There is also a sandy beach and a playground at Marina Park, where children can dig, swing and monkey around as they please.

Are you planning to do it hard? Book a spot at the Pine Cove or Peak One campsites, both located on the Frisco Peninsula.

Arts & Culture

With a strategic five-year plan for the arts on the way, Frisco’s formal art scene is admittedly in its infancy. That is not to say that it does not exist. There’s the summer-long Concert in the Park Series, which brings a mix of local, regional and national artists to the Frisco Historic Park gazebo every Thursday night. Feel free to bring children, well-behaved dogs and appetizers, but plan to buy a drink on the spot – the proceeds are donated to another non-profit organization each week. When the temperature drops and the snow starts to fly, music lovers can enjoy an indoor show in the new 2019 2019 Mile Music Hall.

On the visual arts page, you will find seven galleries that offer everything from photography to milling. Sign up for a lesson at GatherHouse Glassblowing Studio & Gallery owner John Hudnut for an unforgettable date night. Also, be sure to look down as you cross the intersection of Main Street and Third Avenue, where a cheerful flower filled with handprints from visitors and residents smiles up at you.

Frisco Historic Park and Museum
Frisco Historic Park and Museum. Photo by Joe Kusumoto

Those interested in history – and those just looking for a nice place to picnic – will appreciate the Frisco Historic Park & ​​Museum, a collection of homes dating back to the late 1800s, as well as a chapel and prison, located near the west end of Main Street. Free admission, green areas around these buildings live up to its name as a park. Stop by the Schoolhouse Museum to see artifacts, exhibits and photos, and take a few neighborhoods with you to get the train’s diorama going.

Eat & Drink

Frisco may not be on your radar as a place to eat. It should be. Tavern West’s ownership brings a combined 94 years of restaurant experience to the kitchen scene, and it shows in meaty delicacies like Double Bone-In Pork Chop and Rocky Mountain Bolognese, made with a delicious trio of lamb, bison and elk. Meat growers will also enjoy food from farm to fork at Frisco Prime, which is known for its steak du jour. Food allergy? You will have no problem finding a taste experience on the Pure Kitchen menu. A practical key indicates which items are gluten-free, vegan and NAE (an abbreviation for No Antibiotics Ever).

For breakfast and lunch, Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe and Bread + Salt are both choices that can not go wrong. At the former, it is almost necessary to order a cinnamon snout the size of a bear’s paw, which can be split with the rest of the party; by the latter, a Bloody Mary made with house-infused pepperoncini vodka makes drinking your vegetables a delectable option.


If there’s only time (or money) to get into one store, make it Next Page Books & Nosh, the only independent bookstore in Summit County. Order one of the 40 teas on their menu and enjoy while you shop. Of course, you can also stop at the Outlets at Silverthorne a few miles down I-70.

However, those who prefer a more authentic look than the mountain lifestyle should stick to Frisco’s Main Street. It offers a triangle of retailers – Rivers Clothing Company, Colisco Wearables and Shoe Inn Boutique – styles as functional as they are fashionable. If you feel down in the landfills, a stop at Stay Sunny Goods with its hand-designed leggings and mood-enhancing sticker wall will definitely lift your spirits.


If you are traveling with a larger group or looking for a luxury home, Summit Mountain Rentals is a great resource. Its search function is similar to other short-term rental sites (ahem, AirBnB), but homes available through Summit Mountain Rentals are carefully researched and often nicer than those listed elsewhere. For a full-service experience, the quaint Frisco Inn on Galena serves a gourmet breakfast and hosts an afternoon “Aperitivo Time” with wine and apps. Both are included in the room rate for direct bookings.

If you do one thing

Walk the five blocks from Main Street to the trailhead off South Cabin Green (locals know it as Zach’s Stop) and embark on the 1.5 mile hike to Rainbow Lake. This easy, back-and-forth trail provides scenic views of Peak One, Mount Victoria and Mount Royal to the south. Time it right and photographers can even capture the reflection of the peaks in the water. It also often hosts moose munching willow trees along the shores of the lake.

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