The town of Dillon lies in the heart of Summit County, Colorado, with easy access from I-70 at Exit 205. The town and the surrounding communities of Silverthorne and Frisco make for an outdoor adventure mecca year round, but in the summer, the Dillon Reservoir (known by locals as Lake Dillon) is the crown jewel, beckoning with inviting watersports that are unique in this landlocked state. The alpine lake is an inviting attraction for boating, rafting, and fishing—and simply enjoying the laid-back lifestyle of a water community.
Like so much Colorado history, Lake Dillon’s story dates back to the Gold Rush. Prospectors discovered gold near the headwaters of the Blue River in 1859, and modern-day Summit County’s population skyrocketed as hopeful miners flocked to the area to make their fortunes. Dillon itself was incorporated in the early 1880s, but the idea to dam the Blue River and create Lake Dillon didn’t take shape until the early 20th century. The earth-filled dam wasn’t actually completed until 60 years later.
In the summer, Dillon becomes one of the country’s most unique lake towns, as 26 miles of shoreline along Dillon Reservoir give the destination a decidedly beach-like feel. At the Dillon Marina—the highest deep-water marina in North America—you can rent water toys galore, from personal watercraft to sailboats. Themed boat tours include Women and Wine on the Water and Historic Boat Tours, which tells the fascinating story of the area’s rich history. It’s possible to book a charter cruise here, and the marina even has a sailing school, where you can take an introduction to sailing course or get basic keelboat instruction. There’s also a water shuttle that takes people (and their bikes) back and forth between the marinas in Dillon and Frisco. It’s a great way to spend some time on the water and enjoy a one-way bike ride back to your home base.
Catch a free lakeside concert at the newly renovated Dillon Amphitheatre every Friday and Saturday night from June through early September. Taking place each weekend, the concerts feature a wide variety of acts, including national headliners like George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic in addition to local favorites. You’ll find rock, jazz, folk, and orchestral offerings throughout the summer. Dillon also offers Movies on the Water, Sundays in July and August, classic films shown at the amphitheater weekly.
Visitors can also rent fishing and pontoon boats in addition to waterski-ready craft. A water taxi is available to take visitors back and forth between the two marinas, or enjoy a scenic bike ride around the lake to get there. Behind the amphitheater, you’ll find a sandy beach known as Dillon’s North Shore, which is a great spot for relaxing and enjoying the lake. The Dillon Disc Golf Course is a fun option just off the water—and it includes a kid’s course.
The Dillon Farmers Market features a wide variety of Colorado-grown produce, artisan goods, and crafts, with live music giving it a festive flair. The Dillon Farmers Market runs every Friday from June through September, making it the perfect place to grab something to go for a picnic on the reservoir. Visitors will find one of the state’s best-known farmers markets with lots of Colorado-grown produce in addition to locally produced cheeses, meats, honey, confections, and bread, just to name a few. Local artists exhibit unique clothes and jewelry, handmade pottery and crafts, health/beauty products, and even home goods. Live music gives the market a festival-like atmosphere, and a kid’s area with games, entertainment, and live performances make it a family-friendly way to spend the morning. You can even start the day right with Yoga in the Park, which is available just as the market opens at 9 a.m.
Bring the kiddos to Marina Park, a great spot to play and lunch with the family. You can also learn and observe at Dillon’s Nature Preserve or relax at Dillon Town Park. If the Wild West has you hungry for knowledge, check out the Summit Historical Society’s Schoolhouse Museum. Don’t forget to check out the numerous tennis courts, basketball courts, bocce ball courts and more. If the Wild West has you hungry for knowledge, check out the Summit Historical Society’s Schoolhouse Museum. Don’t forget to check out the numerous tennis courts, basketball courts, bocce ball courts and more.
Lake Dillon > Centrally located in Summit County, Lake Dillon attracts thousands of people, even during the winter. Ice fishing, cross country skiing and kite skiing are a few popular activities that take place after the lake freezes.
Mountain Biking > Summit County offers some of the best single track in Colorado, with many of the most accessible trails within easy distance from Dillon and Silverthorne. Take the Dillon Reservoir Loop right in town, or try the Frisco to Farmers Korner Rec Path with kids. The Frisco Adventure Park is ideal for those wanting to learn new skills. More challenging single track can be found a short drive away in Breckenridge, and Keystone Mountain Resort offers some of the best lift-served terrain in the area.
Indoor Activities > Need a break from all the outdoor adventure? Indoor fun in town includes a trip to Lakeside Bowl (where you can enjoy Cameez Frozen Yogurt and Tacos Tequila in the same building) or the Skyline Cinema. For a cultured experience, the Lake Dillon Theater Company offers live performances all summer.
Shopping > The shopping scene in Dillon, Silverthorne, and Frisco is casual and mountain town-friendly year-round. Find deals at the outlets at Silverthorne, which features more than 50 different stores. Or shop for outdoor gear and mountain style at Christy Sports, Wilderness Sports or REI. Area thrift stores include Goldmine Thrift and Summit Thrift and Treasure.
Skiing > In winter, skiing reigns supreme, with downhill options just minutes from Dillon at Keystone and Breckenridge. It’s also very close to Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, and Cooper—and a short drive to Vail.
Dillon Ice Castles > Back for its second season the impressive ice castle, is perfect for all ages, features tall walls and turrets, slides, interactive features, colorful lighting and live entertainment all within the castle walls! Feel free to bring a small sled to pull the kiddos around and slide down the castles numerous features. Look for opening mid-winter 2018 and running through Presidents Day holiday week. (Weather dependent.)
Dining > Dillon’s favorite and classic eateries, Pug Ryan’s and Arapahoe Cafe. Favorites with locals and visitors alike these Summit County staples are great for the whole family and affordable. Arapahoe Café, or “A Café” as the locals call it, is family owned and operated. You’ll find A Café in an original building from the town of Dillon back in the 1800’s. It was moved from the bottom of the lake before it was flooded in the 1950’s. Be sure not to miss their signature burger night and taco Tuesdays! Pug’s opened in 1975 and in 2012, expanded to double their size and focus on seasonal brews. Their extensive and award winning craft brewery beer menu and tasty favorites like their steaks and seafood has something for everyone. Be sure not to miss their daily food and brews specials! Want to find that authentic, tucked-away place? Try Cafe Profusion offers gluten-free curries and other pan-Asian dishes. For fresh Hispanic cuisine, try White Boots or Tacos Tequila.
Where to Stay > For families wanting outdoor adventure, the Best Western in Dillon puts you within close proximity to everything, and it has nice outdoor space, too. You also have lots of options when it comes to renting condos and private homes. You also may consider camping along the reservoir: Prospector Campground offers a rustic experience (no hookups for RVs) but Heaton Bay is closer to the action of town. For all campground options, check out Dillon’s camping information.
The area also offers excellent health and wellness options, including massage at Auth Vitality Center, Ariel yoga at Body Essentials, and a variety of yoga at Peak Yoga.
You don’t need to spend much time in the Lake Dillon region to discover its draw as a welcoming mountain community. Whether it’s for a weekend getaway or a week’s vacation, you’ll find plenty to love in and around Dillon.