A couple of weeks ago, Kevin and I were itching to get away for a few days. After looking into various options, we decided to take off for Durango, which is roughly six hours southwest of Colorado Springs. Quite a long drive for just a two day excursion, but we were both up for the adventure!
Durango, which was founded by a railroad company in the late 1880’s, sits peacefully along the Animas river just south of the San Juan mountain range. About half way through our trip, I said to Kevin, “This place makes me feel like nothing else exists outside of this little city.” I rarely get this feeling, but Kevin also agreed with the sentiment. There was just something magical about being surrounded by snowy mountains, yet knowing we were only miles away from the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. I suppose you will have to check it out for yourself!
Although we were only in Durango for a weekend, we sure squeezed in quite a bit of activities and most importantly, a whole lot of yummy food! Here are some suggestions for a fun weekend in this cute, little town!
What to Do
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. This was by far my favorite part of the entire weekend. The train itself is a coal-fired, steam-operated locomotive. The route from Durango to Silverton was originally created in the 1880’s to transport gold and silver. It didn’t take long for the locals to realize how scenic this route was and before long, the train was also transporting passengers as well.
During the winter, instead of taking passengers to Silverton, the route goes through the San Juan mountains to Cascade Canyon and back to Durango. It was about a two hour ride each way with a one-hour visit to Cascade Canyon. The cars are heated but there are also open-air cars if you’re hoping to breathe in some of that fresh, mountain air or take some stunning photos. There is also a concession car that offers light snacks and beverages. I’d recommend the Apple Jack Cider to keep you nice and warm! Tickets are $62 per person and definitely worth every cent!
Main Street. After the train journey, we decided to stick around Durango and wander around the historic downtown area. Main Street is brimming with restaurants, cute boutiques, unique sporting goods stores and remarkable, old-fashioned hotels. Here are some of my favorite spots:
Animas Trading Co. is a fairly large boutique offering men’s and women’s bohemian clothing, home decor items from around the world, jewelry, fun gifts and even a large selection of bumper stickers! For a boutique, the prices were extremely affordable.
I love bookstores. Can you tell? Maria’s Bookshop especially resonated with me because they had a wonderful travel section. There’s also an entire section dedicated to Colorado and Durango. Even if you don’t purchase anything, what’s better than browsing the aisles of a bookstore on a Saturday afternoon?
Pub Church at the Irish Embassy. You read that right: Church at the pub! We were so happy to have stumbled upon this little church in the basement of the Irish Embassy on Main Street. The message was great, the Gaelic music was spectacular and the company was even better. Afterwards, there is a traditional Irish music session upstairs at the bar, which is a must-see!
Where to Eat
Steamworks Brewery. It’s no secret that there’s a ton of breweries in Colorado. When I planned this trip to Durango I was overwhelmed with the amount of brewery options we had to choose from. This one had awesome reviews, so we decided to check it out. The atmosphere is very relaxed and rustic. The bartenders were extremely helpful and friendly. And to top it off, the food was outstanding! I tried one of their specialties, The Rico Burger, and was not disappointed!
Fired Up Pizzeria. Neapolitan pizza baked in a wood fired oven – Need I say more? This joint is right in the heart of downtown Durango. They have an awesome happy hour during the week, too!
Durango Diner. I’ll admit, our brunch plans fell through, which is how we ended up here. We certainly weren’t let down though. Expect traditional diner options, large servings and exceptionally quick service. It might not have been what we had planned, but it hit the spot!
Where to Stay
Originally, I had found a Groupon for the historic Strater Hotel in downtown Durango. By the time I went to book it, there were no available rooms. Although we didn’t stay there, we ended up walking around the hotel and it was nothing short of amazing. If you’re able to stay at the Stater, I would definitely do it. Walking around the lobby and hallways was like time traveling to the early 1900’s. Oh and rumor has it that the hotel is haunted – even better!
We ended up staying at a lovely AirBnb on a ranch just outside of Durango. We had an entire casita to ourselves, fireplace and all! The hosts were so accommodating and we had everything we needed. For both nights we spent a whopping total of $133. A darn spanking good deal if you ask me! Here is a link to their listing if you’re interested in checking it out.
If you’ve never used AirBnb and are interested in giving it a shot, let me know. I can send you my coupon code for a discount on your first stay. In my personal experience, AirBnb has exceeded my expectations and created such an authentic experience. I highly recommend it!
Durango Coffee Co. Out of the three shops that we went to, this one definitely had the best coffee. Their cortado was confusingly the size of a large latte, but it was still scrumptious none the less. I also got a cup of their Papua New Guinea daily brew and it was delicious. There is also a small market inside the coffee shop that offers gifts and kitchen wares.
Steaming Bean Coffee Co. One day, when I have my own coffee shop, this is what I want it to be like! This warm, inviting spot was the coziest place to enjoy our coffee on a snowy morning. The barista was friendly and the tunes were on point. By on point, I mean light classical. Doesn’t get much better than that!
81301 Coffee. We stopped by this shop on the way out of town. Again, the baristas were extremely helpful and friendly. It’s a cycling focused shop so there’s a lot of bike related items on the walls, tables, etc. This shop seemed like a great place to get down to business and get some serious work done.
Well, we scratched another Colorado city off our bucket list! Quite honestly, I won’t be surprised if we find ourselves there again this year. It’s one of those places that people travel to and find themselves living there years later. At the very least, it’s certainly a must-visit town if you’re traveling through Colorado!