BackCountry Blog

Top 5 Local Restaurants We Recommend

Colorado is known as an outdoor destination, but over the past few years, it has quickly become one of the top dining destinations in the country. And you don’t even have to drive up to Denver or Boulder to find award-winning chefs and restauranteurs anymore. (Or good coffee!) The culinary scene is thriving around BackCountry and Highlands Ranch, so put on your nicest duds, pile the family (or your date) into the car, and check out all of these fantastic dining establishments.

Indulge Wine Bar

This charming, elegant bistro has the ambiance of a European café, a really nice wine selection, and the best patio view of mountain sunsets. Open for lunch and dinner, the seasonal menu is varied, offering a selection of every taste and size. This venue is perfect for business lunches, date-night, or getting together with friends.

Old Blinking Light

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing lunch, a family-friendly dinner, or a night out to enjoy excellent margaritas, this stone-accented restaurant is an ideal choice. Named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, Chef Joseph Wrede has introduced a fresh new taste to the Highlands Ranch community. Influenced by Taos, New Mexico, the menu offers a wide range of fresh flavors and superb dishes.

Il Fornaio

Not too far away in Greenwood Village is an elegant dining space that features authentic, award-winning Italian cuisine as well as an extensive dessert menu. On the menu you’ll find wood-fired pizzas, fresh pastas made in-house daily, rotisserie meats, and their award-winning crostini di polenta. Open for lunch and dinner every day, this space is perfect for large parties, private dining groups, and special events.

Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria

Come enjoy authentic Cuban sandwiches on fresh Cuban bread, as well as plantains and empanadas. Then pair them with popular cocktails like Mojitos, caipirinhas, sangrias, and piña coladas. This eatery is a fun, lively place to gather with friends, celebrate a birthday, and enjoy Cuban culture.

Hangry Ohana

Where else are you going to find a Texas-Hawaiian fusion fast-casual restaurant? This onolicious (Hawaiian term for “delicious”) Hawaiian BBQ cuisine comes with a Texas twist. Inside, you’ll find a large, family-friendly space, generous portions of food, and Hawaiian music. And don’t be surprised to see Spam on the menu – it’s a very popular food item in Hawaii!

Celebrate Back to School with FUN 101!

Now that summer vacation is winding down and you’re getting inundated with “Back to School” commercials and sales flyers, you might notice a certain lack of enthusiasm from the school-attending residents of your household. But instead of forcing them to trudge sullenly to the bus stop every morning (or the carpool), try getting them excited instead. Your friends at BackCountry have discovered ways to make the new school season something to look forward to.

First Day of School Photos

If you’re already on Facebook, you know this is a tradition — parents posting pics of their kids about to leave the house for their first day at school. Even if you’re not on social media, these photos are fun to have for the family photo album. And it gives you and your kid(s) a creative outlet for this significant event. From signage to T-shirts to chalk art, you’ll find several inspiring ideas on this list. And promise you’ll share your first day photos with us — we’d love to see them!

Back to School Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? And imagine the delight if these school-themed treats were found into someone’s lunch bag? Or kept as a surprise when they get home at the end of the day? These are easy to make and the cute-factor is huge.

Sandwich-Free Lunches (that are nut-free!)

One thing you can give your kids to look forward to is a new lunch box variation. Instead of the usual bread-and-meat with chips combo, try food on a stick, spring rolls, or even breakfast for lunch. These recipes should get you started, but feel free to improvise according to your kids’ tastes and dietary restrictions.

Homework Station

Homework? Ugh! Even that word makes us cringe. But one way to take the edge off is to enlist your kids in creating a homework station. Stock it with vitals like pencils, highlighters, erasers, sticky notes, etc. Get your future graduates to pick out the mason jars or containers they like in their favorite colors or team logos so that they feel the station is “theirs.”

Brand New Backpack

While new threads and kicks are important, remember that the backpack is also a major fashion statement. But in-store and online, you’ll find so many styles and functions to choose from. Luckily, Forbes is down with the school bag trend for 2018 in case you need help narrowing the field. You’ll find suggestions for all ages.

We hope these ideas make the transition from summer freedom to classroom schedules a bit easier. If you have your own ways of getting kids excited about the new school year, we’d love to hear them! And don’t forget to send us those first day pics! Just tag @BackCountryCo on Instagram.


Beat the Heat For Your Summer Workouts

Hey – remember back in January when you made the resolution that THIS was the year you were going to lose weight / get back in shape / train for that 14er? Well, we assume you’ve been killing it at the gym and on the Backcountry trails ever since, right?

Now that it’s summer, you’re most likely taking that workout outdoors. And why not? Colorado summers are the best – so many warm sunny days! However, that sunny weather also brings a lot of dry heat. And if you’re not careful, you could get dehydrated, dizzy, and possibly even injured. We can’t have that happen, so here are pointers for exercising in the Colorado climate.


Rule #1. Dehydration can cause dizziness, stomach cramps, and headaches. And since we live in a particularly dry climate, you should always carry water with you when you set out. In fact, drink a glass or two of water before you even leave the house and drink again when you get home. Carry a bottle of water or a hydration pack (like the ones in your backpack) and scout out any places ahead of time that would have water in an emergency, like a nearby gas station or restaurant. It’s also a good idea to keep emergency water in your car.


It seems weird to shower before a workout, but a German study found that a pre-workout cooldown improves performance in the heat. Leave your hair wet for additional coolness. If showering isn’t feasible for you, try cooling your head and neck with an ice pack instead.


The time of day you work out is important. Avoid exercising between 10am and 3pm because that is the hottest part of the day. If it’s going to be a scorcher that day, definitely exercise in the early morning hours. If you have to run in the afternoon, wear a hat and find the shady spots. If you’re cross-training, maybe switch to swimming laps in a pool on a hotter day.


You definitely want to wear lightweight, breathable, and wicking materials this season. They’ll pull moisture away from your skin and cool you off. Wearing a hat to keep the sun rays off your head also helps. If you’re biking, consider wearing a helmet with deep vents to provide a breezy airflow.


This is so important. If you’re feeling dizzy, faint, or nauseous, take it down to a walk and/or find a shady spot to cool off in. Pushing yourself in the heat rarely has a happy ending. If you don’t reach your mileage or elevation that day, it’s okay. Tomorrow’s another day.

Please follow these tips as you rev up your summer workouts. We want to see you hit your exercise goals but only if you do it safely! And remember, you can always come cool off post-workout (and the subsequent post-shower) in the pool at the Sundial House.

Events For An Uneventful August

August is named after Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. His uncle, Julius Caesar, was the one famous for getting stabbed by his own friends (not to be confused with the Caesar who created the Caesar Salad Dressing). After his uncle’s death, Augustus stepped up to the throne and led a prosperous and peaceful rule for his entire reign.

If you’re looking to make your August prosperous and peaceful as well, your friends at BackCountry have a few suggestions to make the most of this month. As always, we hope to see you taking advantage of our wonderful parks and trails but we also hope to see you at any of these fun events coming up:


Friday, August 3,10 & 17, 8:30pm, Civic Green Park

Bring blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy these family-friendly movies on select nights in August. Showtime is around dusk and admission is free! August 3 Moana, August 10 – Despicable Me 3, and August 17 – Coco. Characters will be available in the park for photos from 7-9pm. Remember to bring your camera!


Friday, August 24, 6-9pm, Eastridge Rec Center

This very popular class teaches women age 16 and older the art of fly fishing. Expert instructors lead this workshop that covers all of the basics of fly fishing: casting, reading the water, entomology, conservation, tying knots, landing and releasing, and plenty of hands-on practice.


Wednesday, August 29, 6:30-8pm, Highlands Ranch Mansion

Stop by for Jazz at the Mansion featuring Lannie Garrett performing her Great Women of Song show. The historic Highlands Ranch Mansion provides the perfect backdrop for a jazz performance as well as the proper atmosphere for a casual, comfortable event in the great hall. Get tickets.


Sundays through October 28, 10am-2pm, Town Center South

Peruse and purchase the freshest in breads, fruits, and vegetables for your family to enjoy all season long. As produce comes in, the market explodes with the colors, smells, and varieties of Colorado’s best bounties. Remember to bring your own canvas shopping bag or basket from home.


August 17-19, Coors Field Parking Lot

This music-and-bicycle festival is the musical counterpart to the Colorado Classic Bicycle Race. This lively event will feature live bands, beer, games, and more, and will take over Denver’s RiNo neighborhood in the parking lots for Coors Field. Bike storage will be available. Get tickets.


For dream-home inspiration, look to the stars

If you’re sharp and adventurous enough to make Colorado your home, then you’re the kind of person who can see the value of a new home in the BackCountry community. Not only have we been awarded the prestigious Community of the Year award by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, we offer fantastic amenities like parks and trails, an award-winning club house, and access to an 8,200 acre outdoor adventure known as the Backcountry Wilderness Area.

If you’re in the market for a fantastic Shea-built home that’s close to everything wonderful about Colorado, we invite you to tour the Painted Sky Collection at BackCountry. This collection features three exceptional ranch homes with open-concept living, 2-bay garages, patios, and basement finish options.

One of the most popular plans in the Painted Sky Collection is the Stargazer. Spacious, stylish, and flexible, the Stargazer has everything you need and more. This inviting ranch-style home is full of thoughtful design, including an open U-shaped kitchen and a seamless flow from the kitchen to the dining room. Standing in the great room, you’ll be greeted with lots of natural light and a beautiful fireplace. The laundry room down the hall is the perfect place to drop bags and shoes on your way inside from the garage.

This floorplan features three to four bedrooms, including a master suite with sizable walk-in closet, a spa-like bath, and a large shower. A secondary suite on the first floor can serve as an additional bedroom or an office. In front of the home, you’ll find a covered front porch, large patio, and two-bay garage with extra storage space. Looking for additional square footage? This home features a finished basement with two additional bedrooms, a full bath, and media room with options for a bar and fireplace.

If the Stargazer floorplan has potential to be the home of your dreams, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a tour. We encourage you to come out and see for yourself what makes us one of Colorado’s most breathtaking communities.

Make Your Space Special

One of the amazing things about your beautiful home at BackCountry is the open-concept floorplan designed in every house. No more walls between rooms, cutting off natural light, casual conversations, and all-around ambiance. With your big open kitchen, dining, and living space, you can embrace a more cohesive environment and all of the sunshine and elbow room that comes with it.

You’ll also find that having an open-concept design provides endless opportunities for creativity – from colors to textures to furniture placement. Here are several suggestions to help you make your lofty area uniquely you.

Decorate with a monochromatic color/texture scheme

When deciding wall paint colors, it’s a good idea to stick to one or a few that are varying shades of the same color. Choose a lighter, neutral tone to help bounce the natural light around the walls, making your already large space seem even larger. You’ll definitely want to paint the trim the same color, even if you vary wall colors. Keep your textures consistent as well. If your textures include a certain type of wood, use that wood throughout the entire space. Consistent geometric shapes can also help tie a large space together.

Break up and define spaces

To separate different areas in a large space, use rugs to divide the dining from the sitting room. Architectural details, such as wainscoting, can also divide a dining room from an adjoining area. Move furniture away from the walls and create seating and conversation areas. Bookcases and screens can also break up a larger space.

Don’t allow clutter

Sometimes having so much open space almost feels like there’s room for every little thing. But visual clutter can distract your view and feel untidy. The more minimalist you go, the better the whole area could look. Create covered storage that is consistent with the colors and textures of the room. This will help keep your surrounding aesthetic consistent and calm.

Keep it simple

It’s a good idea to keep the wall color, the window shades, and the flooring neutral and let your creativity shine through the furniture pieces that you choose, as well as your pillows, rugs, countertops, stools, light fixtures, and wall art.

Your kitchen is a focal point – so treat it that way

In every open-concept space, the kitchen is the heart of the room and where a majority of your time is spent. Make sure your kitchen looks good from every angle – from the living room, the dining room, the entry room, and the stairway above. Here are a few tips for a modern, inviting kitchen if you need some pointers.

Keep it casual

This is the room where the family will spend a majority of the time, so don’t set out all of your fragile family heirlooms, fancy china, or dainty linens for display. An open-concept floorplan marries well to a laid-back lifestyle, so hard-wearing choices such as hardwood floors, leather furniture, canvas pillows, and heavy wood tables and bookcases work best here.

Are you inspired? We hope so. With so many ways to work with the beautiful designs and floorplans of your BackCountry home, you can make it feel even larger than it is. And don’t neglect the areas just outside the door, either – your back patio would be perfect for an outdoor kitchen, which works as an extension of your inside one. See? Your house just got bigger. If you decide to implement any of these ideas, please send us your photos! We love seeing all of the creativity our residents put in their homes at BackCountry.


This July, embrace the balmy outdoors

July is here, which means summer weather is in full swing! Most residents head to the BackCountry pool or the mountains to beat the heat, but it’s always good enjoy the warmth while we can. We’re sharing events that will get you outside or at least get you out of the house during this warm, sunny month. And best of all, these events are free!


Wednesday, July 4, 4-9:30pm, Highland Heritage Regional Park

Grab the family and join the fun with balloon twisters, face painters, games, inflatables, live music, food trucks, and of course, fireworks! Shuttle parking is available to and from the event from Highlands Ranch High School and Rock Canyon High School. The celebration starts at 4pm and concludes with a spectacular fireworks show at 9:30.


Thursdays, July 5-26, 6:30-8pm, Highland Heritage Regional Park

Pack a picnic and enjoy toe-tapping live music at the park every Thursday evening in July. Kona Ice will be there serving shaved ice. Admission is free but please leave the doggies at home. The lineup features cover bands as well as R&B and horns. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, July 10, 7-10pm, Denver Performing Arts Complex

This year’s Sunset Cinema season is dedicated to Wes Anderson, and in July the featured movie is “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” This stop-action film and its director will be celebrated with movie trivia, themed craft cocktails, a photo experience, and a costume contest. This is an outdoor event, so bring a chair and be prepared for any kind of weather.


On exhibit through August 25, ATC DEN Gallery

Three Denver artists — Emma Balder, Bonnie Ferrill Roman and Yoshitomo Saito — are featured in this exhibition. It promises to be uplifting and beautiful to look at, whether your attention is directed toward Balder’s organic fiber paintings, Roman’s sculptural installation constructed from paper, or Saito’s nature-inspired bronze sculpture and wall installations. Make this a date night with dinner next door at critically acclaimed restaurant Hop Alley.

Are you looking for a big KABOOM?

One of the favorite festivities involved with the July 4th holiday is a spectacular fireworks display. And we’re talking real fireworks, not bottle rockets and hand-held sparklers. Fortunately, you’ll find several displays to choose from around town every year. If you’re looking to get the family out to see an explosive light show in the sky, here are several recommendations from your friends here at BackCountry.

Rockies Fireworks Game

July 3-4, 6:10 pm, Coors Field

This year’s fireworks games are Tuesday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 4. The Rockies are going up against the Giants, so let’s all go root for the home team, and then stay for the fireworks after! Tickets range from $25-$190 each, but if they sell out, there are plenty of restaurant and bar patios around the stadium where you can catch the fireworks display.

Independence Eve Celebration

July 3, 8 pm, Civic Center Park

This annual celebration features a free concert, an innovative light show on the Denver City and County building, and a stunning fireworks finale. Lawn seating is available, so bring a picnic, your blankets, and low-rise concert chairs. Your best bet is to take the light rail into downtown to avoid traffic and parking fiascos.

Elitch Gardens Fireworks

July 4, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

Spend the day at Elitch Gardens’ 53 rides and attractions, followed by a massive fireworks extravaganza that will light up the downtown skyline! Located in downtown Denver, Elitch Gardens offers roller coasters, cool water slides (perfect for a hot July day), dive-in movies, free concerts, and plenty of pint-sized adventures for smaller kids.

4th of July Festival & Fireworks in Englewood

July 4, 3-10 pm, Cornerstone and Belleview Parks

If you don’t want to make the trek to downtown, enjoy fireworks displays closer to home. The cities of Englewood, Littleton, and Sheridan, along with South Suburban Parks & Recreation District and Arapahoe County are holding their 2018 4th of July Festival and Fireworks celebrations again this year. This event will take place at Cornerstone and Belleview Parks. Kids’ activities, food trucks, and live music will be part of the festivities.

Parker Stars & Stripes Celebration

July 4, 6-10 pm, Salisbury Park

Pack up your blankets and lawn chairs and then set up for an evening jammed with family fun! Kids and parents alike will love the bounce houses, slides, games, and more. Older kids can check out the big slide or try their skills on the climbing wall. Six Million Dollar Band will be jamming out ‘80s hits until 9:15 p.m. and then Parker’s biggest fireworks display goes on at 9:30 pm.

We hope you and your family and friends find a spectacular light show to watch together this July 4th. And if you need a place to hold a barbeque or social gathering, don’t forget we have the Sundial House available for your July 4th party needs. Happy Independence Day!

Ranch Living in BackCountry.

Want a big home, but don’t want to climb stairs all the time? Well, the Daybreak model at BackCountry may be exactly what you’re looking for. As part of the Painted Sky Collection by Shea Homes, Daybreak offers main floor living with an optional finished basement.

Outside, you can choose between two gorgeous exteriors: High Plains Territorial or BackCountry Ranch. Inside you’ll have the options of 2-4 bedrooms as well as several fireplace models to decide between.

When you first walk in to your Daybreak home, you’ll find a guest bedroom to your left and then a library and powder room to your right. The library is perfect as a work-from-home office and features built-in shelves for all of your collections. Both the bedroom and the library face a cozy courtyard.

Perfect for entertaining, Daybreak features an open-concept living space with a kitchen that opens to the dining area and great room with fireplace. The spacious kitchen has ample cabinets and countertops as well as double pantries and a generous island with an eating bar.

Behind the kitchen is the master suite, tucked quietly at the back of the home for privacy. The master bath features a spa-like bathroom with a large, walk-in shower, dual vanities, and a room-sized master closet.

On the other side of the kitchen is a combined laundry room and owner’s entry, featuring cabinets and an optional bench where you can drop off coats, shoes, bags, etc. when you come in from the 2-bay garage.

Downstairs, the basement can be finished with two additional bedrooms and a full bath. You can also add a large media room with a bar and fireplace, perfect for an in-house movie theater or a game room.

Come see what it would be like to live in this beautiful ranch-style home in the award-winning BackCountry community. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

How to find (or make) the perfect Father’s Day gift

Dad is probably the hardest person to shop for, isn’t he? I mean, you could buy a tie, but that’s so … expected. And what if he has a casual-dress-policy job where he doesn’t have to dress up? That tie will just gather dust in his closet. But don’t worry — your friends at  BackCountry are here to help you find a few truly unique and special gifts for Dad this year.

Remember that Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17 this year (mark your calendar!) so plan ahead. Whether you’re taking your dad somewhere fun or just staying in for a family barbeque, we’ve got you covered on the gift end of things.

JEF Collapsible Chipping Net

Does your dad live to walk the greens? This collapsible golf net is perfect for any dads who love to practice chip shots all day long. This portable net provides a 3-dimensional bullseye for his short, airborne shots. Set it up in the backyard, hand him a club, and let him perfect his tournament skills.

USA Beer Cap Trap

We live in the Napa Valley of craft beer, so if Pops partakes in all things microbrewed, this laser-cut, wooden wall map of the U.S. will make a fun display of his beer tastes. This map has holes made to display the caps of memorable brews from all across the country. You can even choose a particular state shape instead of the entire country if you want.

Apple Air Pods

Wireless headphones may be one of the greatest inventions of the past 10 years and these babies are the best! Not only are they perfect for the gym, they also pair with any Bluetooth devices so Dad can quietly watch TV late at night (or early in the morning) when everyone else is asleep.

Popsicle Stick Frames

If you have young kids who want to get involved in making something for Father’s Day, here’s an easy craft to get the attention spans focused and the creative juices flowing. Who knew popsicle sticks could come together and create such a pretty frame! Just make sure you pick out what photos you want to use first so you get the size just right.

Mustard Peppercorn Rubbed Rib Eye Steak

This year, make Dad a meal he’ll never forget. Who can resist a rib eye steak rubbed with a blend of dark grain mustard and cracked black peppercorns, and then grilled to perfection? Is your mouth watering yet? Add a side of Bacon Potato Salad and Triple Chocolate Jack Daniel’s Cupcakes and you have the perfect Father’s Day feast he’ll probably ask for again next year.

We hope you found something perfect for your dad this year. If you take photos of your celebration, please share! We’d love to see them. And as always, our Sundial House is available for family gatherings. See you at the pool soon!