Live, Play, Travel

What to do in Durango, Colorado

February 22, 2016

Hello out there in Blog-land! It’s been quiet around here lately (have you seen the tumbleweeds go rolling by? Because I certainly have.) but I have so much to share with you! First up … a recap of my recent trip to Durango.

Durango may be in Colorado but it is a LONG way from where I live and for some reason in nine years of living here I had never made it to that corner of the state. And then for Christmas this year my husband signed me up for a winter photography tour on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (tell me he’s not the best husband ever?!) and before I knew it I was off to the Four Corners region.

To be honest, I mostly winged this trip. The photography tour was planned and I had some vague ideas of what I wanted to do with my time but I left most of it up to chance – and let me tell you that it worked out just fine. In fact, I’m not sure that it could have gone better. So with all that in mind, here is the perfect long weekend itinerary for beer-loving outdoorsy folks!

Day 1: Arrive in Durango. Put up your tent/Check into your hotel/Show up at your AirBnB. Get the lay of the land … and then hit your first brew pub.

I typically prefer to camp when I travel in the mountains but seeing as I was by myself and it was the dead of winter in Colorado, I hotel-ed it. Since the main reason I was in Durango was to ride the train, the General Palmer Hotel was the perfect place to stay. If you love old hotels, this place will be right up your alley! The General Palmer is located right next to the train station in the hoppin’ downtown area, which means that you can walk to pretty much everywhere you want to go. The hotel is really nice and loaded with character. The rooms were pristine, the staff was super friendly, and the fresh baked cookies in the afternoons were (obviously!) much appreciated. The hotel had a nice continental breakfast and the coffee was surprisingly good. I am a bit of a coffee snob and rarely drink hotel coffee but I made an exception this time – their coffee was excellent! The General Palmer gets an A+ on all accounts.

Pro Tip: If the bellboy asks if you need help with your luggage, SAY YES. The hotel’s old elevator is super charming but totally impractical. You’ll see what I mean when you arrive!

Eat and Drink: On my first night in town I had dinner and beer at Steamworks which is right downtown. It was a Friday night and the place was packed but I managed to find a seat at the bar. I had the fish tacos and a Third Eye P.A. Both were very good.

Day 2: Mesa Verde and more beer!

On my first full day in town I made the short drive from Durango up to Mesa Verde National Park. I’m not sure what I was expecting but Mesa Verde kind of blew me away. Seeing the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people was incredibly cool and gave me a new appreciation for this area’s history and the people who have called it home. If you go during the summer you can take a walking tour through the cliff dwellings but, because it was winter, I had to view them from afar. It was still totally worth it. Take the main road through the park, stop at the museum, and be sure to hit all of the sites along the roadside. Like many other parks in the southwest, this is a place where you will do more driving than hiking (think Arches vs. Glacier) but there is still some hiking to be had. It was hot and sunny when I was there but I really wished I had snowshoes or skis because attempted to hike and mostly ended up postholing on the soft snow!

Eat and Drink: On my second night in town I hit up Ska Brewing which was the one place I knew I HAD to eat while I was in Durango. Ska’s Modus Hoperandi is one of my all time favorite beers and I had to go to visit the Motherland where it is made. Ska has a super laid back vibe – it was the kind of place that we would go to all the time if we lived in Durango (and by the way, I could totally live in Durango). I had a grilled cheese sandwich with prosciutto and a flight. I wish I could remember what was in my flight (I blame the beer!) but it was all hoppy and delicious. If you’ve never tried Modus before you are totally missing out!

Pro Tip: Ska has limited hours and is outside of the downtown area so plan your trip accordingly! Trust me, it’s worth it.

Day 3: Ridin’ that train! And more beer.

On my second full day in Durango I got to board the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and spend my whole day riding around taking pictures. It was awesome and I highly recommend a train trip for anyone visiting Durango. Buy a ticket, grab a seat, and watch the scenery go by. Everyone that works on and for the train is exceptionally friendly and you can just tell that they LOVE sharing the old railroad with visitors. They only run the photography trains a few times a year (more about that in another post!) but regular train trips run year round. It’s well worth it.

Eat and Drink: For my final brewery stop of the trip I hit up Carver. I twas tired, cold, and hungry after being out in the snow all day and I desperately needed something to eat. I ponied up to the bar at Carver an hour or so before they closed for the night and ended up hanging out with a bunch of the staff for the better part of the evening. We had a blast (although by the end of the night I was feeling very, very old …). On the recommendation from my new friends I had the stuffed poblano, an IPA, and a Red Ale. So good!

Day 4: Pack up. Say goodbye. Start planning your return.

Durango is a pretty special place and I was sad to leave. I was there just long enough to hit some of the major sites (and a bunch of breweries!) … and to realize that I need to get back sooner than later!

Ok, travelers, who has been to Durango? What’d you think? What did I miss?!



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