Frisco, CO - Base for Skiing Summit County

On a ski vacation, we like to try a number of mountains. It isn't worth paying to stay at the base of one when half the time we'll be driving off to another. Frisco looked like a good base.

Holiday Inn Summit County

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 8, 2003

The Holiday is a good base for those looking to sample Summit County skiing. It's right off I-70 at exit 203, which puts it within a half-hour of Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Copper, Beaver Creek, Vail and Breckenridge. There are plenty of quick/cheap eats spots in the strip mall area of Route 9 on the way to Frisco center, a small assortment of places in Frisco itself, and all the nightlife you need about 8 miles down the road in Breckenridge.

This hotel understands their clientele. Our typical Holiday Inn room had a couple extras--a small fridge and microwave, perfect for skiers on a budget because Safeway is just down the street. The room also had a rack which could hold four pairs of skis for those who didn't feel comfortable leaving them out on the car overnight. The front desk sells discounted lift tickets--at the same price as all the other discounters--and will just add the cost to your room charges, same as if you ordered room service. And there's a small ski shop in the hotel... prices are reasonable, but you can do a bit better at the independent shops along Route 9. We used Antlers Ski Shop for a rental... price was about the same as in the hotel, but we found a coupon giving us 15% off.

The 'Holidome' has an indoor pool with two hot tubs--one warmer than the other--a small exercise room, and a game room. Unfortunately, this area always had a stale cigarette smell about it, probably from teens sneaking a smoke in the game room while the 'rents weren't around.

If you're not looking for luxury or to stay right at the mountain base, but are looking for a family-friendly place at a reasonable rate, you'll like the Holiday Inn Summit County.

Holiday Inn Frisco Summit County
1129 N Summit Blvd
Frisco, Colorado, 80443

Pika Bagel and Bakery Cafe

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 5, 2003

The Pika is a bagel joint, pure and simple. It's popular place with locals--ski bums, Summit County EMTs, Frisco workers. It's the kind of place where people come in and their bagel is already toasted, cream cheesed and wrapped, waiting for them. The kind of place that has free doggie bagels for your favorite four-footed friend. The kind of place where skiers hurrying to get first tracks swing into, grab breakfast and charge off.

You might be able to get some really good information on slopes and trail conditions from people eating here... but some of them will steer you away from their favorite runs. They don't want you churning up their snow!

Pika's proud of their bagels. They claim to be, at 9100' above sea level, the highest specialty bagel shop in the US. While this is great if you want a bagel and local character, if you want more choices for breakfast, try the Butterhorn, just across the street.

Pika Bagel and Bakery Cafe
401 Main Street
Frisco, Colorado, 80443
(970) 668-0902

Butterhorn Cafe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 5, 2003

The Butterhorn is a light and airy place for breakfast on Frisco's Main Street. The menu covers all the usual breakfast possibilites and combinations of eggs, pancakes, bacon and toast seemed to be the popular choices.

Unlike the Pika across the street, which attracts a stream of locals grabbing breakfast and heading out to face the day, the Butterhorn had more of a vacationing crowd. This is a place for people who want to have a leisurely breakfast while skimming the newspaper and planning the day. Not that the service is slow! It's a comfortable spot to hang out and relax with just one more refill on that coffee before heading out.

Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe
408 West Main Street
Frisco, Colorado, 80443
(970) 668-3997

Breckenridge Cattle and Fish Co.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 6, 2003

Every so often we want to splurge a bit. We decided to try the Breckenridge Cattle and Fish Co. in The Village at Breckenridge Resort for a top-notch dinner.

The restaurant tries for an air of elegance, but somehow falls short. The waitstaff is attentive, yet not quite there when you look for them. The view of Maggie Pond and the Ten Mile Range might be inspiring in daylight, but at night not much more than some hotel and condo buildings are visible. Lastly, the dining room is nice and tries for plush, but falls short without any real character.

Our food was tasty and attractively presented but somehow soulless, a generic "good quality hotel restaurant dinner" similar to what you'd get for the price anywhere. Almond baked brie served with berries, walnuts and dried fig bits had some interesting tastes and textures, but the main courses--salmon and filet mignon--were good, but undistinguished.

For the price, it's hard to rate this place higher than 'somewhat recommended.'

Breckenridge Cattle and Fish Comoany
655 South Park Avenue
Frisco, Colorado

Mi Zoppo

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 6, 2003

Looking for cheap eats that'll warm you up? Try Mi Zoppo in the strip mall section of Frisco on Route 9, just off the I-70 interchange.

Mi Zoppo specializes in rich, hearty soups with bread and salads. The eight varieties of soup steaming away during our visit were full of vegetables, meat and fish--no watery broths here! The Cajun seafood chowder was thick and spicy, perfectly offset by the filling but somewhat bland small bread loaf that accompanied it. Mini-bread loaves were big sellers the evening we stopped by; the shop eventually ran out an hour before closing time. Rather than fire up the oven or serve soup without bread, a worker scampered next door to the Safeway for rolls.

For $5 you get 16 oz. of soup, a small bread loaf and a cookie. But wait, my impoverished ski bum friends, there's more! From 4pm to closing, $5.95 buys one quart of soup and two mini-bread loaves. It's a good deal and the food is a lot healthier than those cheese smothered fries from the A&W stand across the street!

Mi Zoppo
Route 9
Frisco, Colorado

Silverheels at the Ore House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 8, 2003

Silverheels at the Ore House is a lively bar and reastaurant specializing in "creative southwestern fare." The bar, separated from the main dining area, features tapas from 11:30am to 11pm daily. These small treats were continously being prepared and gobbled up by the good sized crowd that filled the lounge early on a Wednesday night.

The dining room is calmer and quieter. We tried the Chicken Anasazi, highlighted on the menu as a Bon Appetit Magazine requested recipe. It was fabulous! Boneless chicken breast topped with crab, cream cheese and tomato covered with a chipotle cream sauce... each bite cycled though a number of different yet complimentary flavors and a little spicy kick. We're still not sure how the Anasazi got their crab, but we don't care.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this place on our last night in Frisco. Our biggest disappointment was that we wouldn't be able to return during this trip!

Silverheels at the Ore House
603 Main Street
Frisco, Colorado, 80443
(970) 668-0345

Discount ski tickets and other general stuff

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 5, 2003

DO NOT under any circumstances buy lift tickets at the mountains. Discounted tickets for Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin were available at our hotel and at most ski shops throughout the area. The savings can be considerable. For example, a one-day ticket for Breckenridge is $63 at the mountain; Keystone is $61. The discounted rate is $55. For more skiing, prices are even better. Tickets good for three days of skiing out of five are $135, or $45 a day, and may be used at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe. You can even use the multi-day ticket one of the three days at the obscenely overpriced Vail ($71 for a one day ticket) or Beaver Creek ($67).

We ski out west each year, but forgot how the Summit County altitude affects us. When you ski the Salt Lake City areas, at the end of the day you head down to the city, elevation about 4500'. If you ski Lake Tahoe, in the evening you come down to 6500'. But if you ski Summit County and stay in Frisco, you come down to 9100' overnight... and this can be a hardship for people who live near sea level! You don't have as much oxygen available at this altitude to fully recharge your body. It's clearly not as much of an issue for folks who live in Denver, but simply turning over in bed occasionally had us gasping for breath.

Frisco was selected one of the best towns for ski bums by Ski Magazine. We took that to mean that prices for food and lodging would be more affordable than other places and there'd be plenty of skiing available. Well, I guess that's true. We also expected there'd be an active night life. There isn't... but it's available 8 miles down the road in Breckenridge.

We were last in Frisco 12 years ago, and the town has changed. Where it used to be a slightly raggy Western town with one main street, a lot of the run down buildings are gone, replaced with generic Western ski town buildings. They're newer and cleaner, but the essential character, the comfortable funkyness of Frisco, is gone. Route 9 off I-70 is showing some unattractive suburban strip malling, too.

But we came to ski, planning to bounce around to a couple of mountains. We'd feel pretty dumb to have a pricey slope-side condo at Keystone then start half our days by strapping skis onto the roofrack and driving away. Better to economize by staying in Frisco and drive out each morning to wherever we felt like going.

Unfortunately, our trip followed a major storm which limited our options. Loveland had problems with power, as avalances took out electric lines to the area. We also stayed away from Arapahoe Basin, since so much of the skiing is above timberline and we needed the protection of the trees. Breckenridge and Keystone were both worth skiing more than once though!

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