The Top 6 ways to Spend the Day in Dillon
Dillon, Colorado, has a lot to offer, and not just for a small town. Whether you like to climb big peaks, listen to live music, enjoy the finer things in life (like food and beer), or spend the day on the water—it’s a mountain paradise. No matter what you love to do, you’re surrounded by natural beauty.
Ready for a getaway that suits you perfectly? Here are six options for organizing a trip to this unforgettable town, catered to all the different outdoor personalities.
1. The Hardcore Outdoorsman
Aptly named Summit County is a mountain lover’s paradise. It’s one of the highest-elevation counties in the United States, and from Dillon, you’ll get 360-degree views of mountains just waiting to be climbed. Get an alpine start and hike one of several Fourteeners within a short drive of Dillon—Quandary Peak is very close and affords phenomenal views of the rest of the Tenmile Range. For a twofer, head east and bag Grays and Torreys Peaks.
Since you’ll have to get an early start to beat the afternoon thunderstorms, you’ll have plenty of daylight left after you make it back to the trailhead. Make it a two-sport day with a mountain bike ride on the Tenderfoot Mountain Trail or around the Dillon Reservoir. You’ll definitely be ready for a cold one after all that, so make for Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company when you’re ready for some suds.
2. The Foodie
One of the most important parts of any adventure is eating well afterward, and Dillon has you covered. It’s not just the usual post-hike bar fare, although there’s plenty of that (and hearty portions of it) at the Dillon DAM Brewery. You’ll find lots of ways to please your palate in Dillon, including the hole-in-the-wall-style Cafe ProFusion. The best food in a small town is also often the best-kept secret, and this pan-Asian cuisine found in an unassuming space is no exception. You also find a wide variety of food- and spirits-related festivals in Summit County throughout the year, including the Bacon and Bourbon Festival, the Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival, and the Wine & Jazz Festival, just to name a few. You can even indulge in the Mac & Cheese Festival at Cooper Mountain each July.
The Dillon Farmers Market is held every Friday between the beginning of June and the middle of September. You can buy more than just veggies there—handmade bath products, local honey, and crafted items are among its offerings. Even if you’re not stocking up, stop by the market for breakfast or lunch, as you’ll find prepared foods ranging from all manner of baked goods to sandwiches and tamales.
For a longer foodie festival experience, spend the latter part of Labor Day weekend a few miles down the road at the Taste of Keystone Festival.
3. The Arts Connoisseur
Who says you can’t experience culture in a little mountain town? Dillon may not be large, but there’s no shortage of art and music to experience, like the Lake Dillon Fall Arts Festival. Running for three days in late August and early September, admission is free, and you’ll have a chance to see offerings from more than 50 local artists (including jewelry, stoneware, ceramics, and photography!). Those looking for unique bargains can take advantage of Dillon’s four thrift stores, which offer apparel, home goods, toys, furniture, and other hidden treasures.
Take a walk along the Lake Dillon shoreline to be inspired by Summit County’s natural beauty, then gear up to take in some more music in the evening. The freshly renovated Dillon Amphitheater, right on the shores of the reservoir, offers free concerts all summer long, ending in early September. Show up on a weekend evening, and you can top off the night with live music and beer with the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop.
4. The Water Lover
In Dillon, you don’t have to choose between big mountains and big water! It may not be an ocean, but the Dillon Reservoir is home to the highest-elevation deepwater marina in the world. With more than 3,200 surface acres, the reservoir is an excellent spot for water-lovers of all stripes. Kick your day off with a lesson from a certified instructor at the Dillon Marina Sailing School, which offers both private and group lessons.
Once you’ve had your fill of knot-tying and rigging, rent a SUP or kayak and spend the afternoon making your way around the lake under your own power. The reservoir has more than 25 miles of shoreline, so even if you’re looking to stick fairly close to the edge, there’s plenty to explore. After your day on the water, you’ll have worked up a serious appetite. Head to Pug Ryan’s Tiki Bar, which is right on the shore and, according to the Denver Post, is one of the best beach bars in all of Colorado. It’s also where you catch the water shuttle to the Frisco Marina across the lake. Many people hike or bike to Frisco and then take the water shuttle back to Dillon, where it’s easy to top the day off with a drink at the Tiki Bar.
5. The History Buff
Between miners striking gold and the eventual flooding of the former Dillon townsite, the Dillon area is chock-full of colorful history, and there are plenty of ways for history buffs to find out all about the characters who once inhabited this little mountain town. Kick things off with an overview of Dillon’s history at the weekly “Dillon, Denver, and the Dam” program, held every Thursday morning during the summer months. The Summit Historical Society also offers mine tours throughout the summer, some of which include lunch.
After your tour, take a walk to the Dillon Schoolhouse Museum, which was once at the old Dillon townsite before the dam was created. It was moved to present-day Dillon and set up much as it was when it was built in 1883. Visitors can also see historical artifacts in the adjacent country store. Start the day with an historical boat tour on the lake hosted by the historical society held twice weekly in the morning throughout the summer.
6. The Whole Family
Dillon is an incredible place to bring the whole family. Start the day off with a walk on the Dillon Rec Path, which you can pick up at the Dillon Amphitheater. The path circumnavigates Lake Dillon, which means you and your kid crew can make your walk as long or short as you want. Make a stop in Marina Park or Dillon Town Park, which is undergoing a major renovation and is a great spot for kids. On Dillon’s “Northshore,” you can enjoy beach activities together.
Cool off by renting a pontoon boat from the Dillon Marina and taking a quick self-guided tour of the lake. Kids of all ages (and dogs) are allowed on the marina’s rental boats so everyone can enjoy the view from the water. Off the lake, the Dillon Disc Golf Course is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
After your water adventure, head to Lakeside Bowling for a game or two. Once everyone’s worked up an appetite, head to the Dillon Tavern and Pizza Co. There, parents can enjoy an award-winning craft beer, and little ones can order from the kids’ menu. Watch sports on the big screens, play a game of pool, or simply relax in the outdoor space.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with Town of Dillon.
- Updated: 12/12/2019