In 2012, my parents bought a home in Durango, much to our dismay, as we were rooting for a lake house in Austin. We are now so glad they ignored our pleas, as this old-timey city has definitely won over our hearts (and the lack of Texas humidity is a huge bonus). Durango has everything you could possibly need in a getaway city – great food and drinks, amazing views, fun activities, good shopping (well, not high fashion), and perfect weather (ahem, except perhaps the freezing cold winters). We’re fortunate enough to live just two streets over from Main Avenue, which is where most of the restaurants and shops are found. Given that most things in Texas are driving distance, it’s nice to be able to walk to dinner. We also take advantage of the proximity to the mountains and Animas river, and spend the days outside hiking, biking, rafting, running, etc.
If you’re looking for a fun Colorado vacation spot, I highly recommend making a trip to Durango. And if you come, I suggest trying some of the following restaurants, juice bars, ice cream shops, parks and adventure centers. If you have already been to Durango, am I missing anything?
Food and Drinks
Carver’s Brewing Co.: This brewery is a favorite in our family, as it’s just two streets over from my parent’s house and the food is delicious. I typically order the Sesame Seared Ahi Stir Fry (substitute tofu for Ahi) or the veggie burger without the bun and a salad versus fries. Both options are delicious. Sasha normally gets the Tatanka (buffalo) burger and also loves it. They have big to-go beers called “Growlers” (discounted refills), so naturally Sasha and Dad have to drink one or two of those to prove their Colorado manliness.
Grassburger: This grass-fed beef burger restaurant has the most simplistic menu around. You can literally order a beef burger, veggie burger, garden salad and fries (and some drinks). Although I’ve never had a beef burger, they get two thumbs up from all of the carnivores in my life, and I can vouch that the black bean burger is delicious. The salad is not the most exciting ever, but the fries allegedly make up for it!
Thai Kitchen and Sizzling Siam: Do not judge these restaurants by their appearances. Both Asian spots never cease to deliver tasty (and incredibly spicy – do not order high spice!) meals. I recommend doing take-away from both places if you’re looking for a great meal to eat at home without having to cook.
Eolus: The rooftop patio at Eolus provides an escape from the Main Street of Durango. The views of the mountains are incredible, and the food is equally spectacular. Sasha and I ate here on our wedding anniversary, and are saving it for special occasions like this, as it’s one of the nicer restaurants in the city. The warm beet salad is so good.
Animas Brewery: We love getting a cool drink and snack at Animas Brewery, right off the river, next to Rotary Park. In the summer months, the outdoor patio will get busy, and the atmosphere is really lively.
Eno Wine Bar: This quiet wine bar is next to Cyprus Cafe (see below), and is a nice little spot for a glass of wine with your girlfriends or for a date night.
Guido’s Italian Market: If you’re in Durango, don’t leave without eating the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Cap at Guido’s. It is phenomenal. We get it as an appetizer, but I always consider ordering another as my entree. The only negative feedback for Guido’s is that you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s directly across from Buckley Park, so it’s a good Thursday night dinner spot during the summer, as you can hear the concert taking place across the street (more details below).
Fired Up Pizza: I hadn’t eaten pizza in over 10 years until ordering it multiple times at Fired Up. I’ve eaten both the vegan and regular cheese margherita pizzas, as well as the Vesuvius (perfectly spicy). I highly recommend eating in the back patio area at Fired Up too!
Cyprus Cafe: The outdoor patio area here is perfect for a Durango restaurant. There is live music and amazing Mediterranean food. We order the falafel and feta to start, and I always get the Warm Spinach Salad as my entree. I highly recommend that exact order!
Himalayan Kitchen: At first, I was skeptical about a Tibetan restaurant in Colorado, but my concerns were unjustified – the food and drinks are so incredibly good here (Sasha’s favorite spot in the city – maybe mine too, but I can’t pick #1).
Jean Pierre’s Bakery: This beautiful French restaurant lures you in with the smell of fresh bread and keeps you there with a great wine selection. You can drink on the front patio area and have some amazing people watching.
Top That! Frozen Yogurt: This Main Avenue spot offers a wide selection of frozen yogurt (and some vegan flavors too). It’s conveniently located amongst some of the best restaurants and next to the most popular restaurant in Durango – the Strater Hotel.
Cream Bean Berry: Our absolute favorite sweet treat to get. This Artisan ice cream is so good, no matter what flavor you order. My favorite is definitely the coconut milk chocolate flavor though, which is so creamy and soft and ugh, just writing about it makes me want some!
Saturday Farmer’s Market: The market is held in the parking lot of the First National Bank of Durango. It is held on Saturdays from 8am until noon (I recommend getting there as early as possible) from the second weekend of May through the last weekend of October. You can get gorgeous flowers, delicious food (especially the spicy hatched peppers), and green juice from Durango Juice Bar (mentioned above).
Durango Fish Hatchery: If you’ve got kids, this is an easy way to pass some time outside in the gorgeous weather. You can park near Rotary Park and walk across the bridge, then go to see and feed the fish in the raceways. Bring quarters for the food dispensers, and you can toss the grains to the fish.
Full Blast Adventure Center (Ziplining): So. much. fun. Opt-in for the slightly more expensive Ponderosa Grande – you won’t regret it for a second. It’s definitely the best ziplining experience I’ve ever had.
Hiking: Animas Mountain Trail – A 3.1 mile hike up the mountain leads you to breathtaking views. It’s a tough hike, but we always doing it. Smelter Mountain Trail – Definitely a less intimidating hike than Animas, this one takes less time and has amazing views of the city of Durango. Fort Lewis College Trail – This is a short walk (but relatively steep) from the neighborhoods east of downtown to the Chapel at Fort Lewis College. You can access the trail at the intersection of East 10th Street and East 6th Avenue. Horse Gulch – There are multiple trails to take (follow the trailhead map at the base). Make sure to watch out for mountain bikers, as this a very popular cycling trail.
Durango Mountain Resort: This resort is popular for skiing in the winter, but turns into a playground for adults in the summer months, when you can fly down the mountain on the alpine ski, ride the zipline, or do the bungee trampoline (which is so much fun). There are plenty of other activities to choose from too.
Durango Train: The train is one of the most iconic things in Durango, as you cannot miss it coming and going in the morning and evening. It runs parallel to Main Avenue, and makes so much noise. You can buy a fancy shmancy first class ticket and get drinks in the covered cabins, or buy a cheaper ticket and sit in the uncovered sections. The train takes you to Silverton in the mornings, when you can eat, shop and visit the mining museum before heading on the scenic journey back.
Mountain Waters Rafting Co.: Do the two-man kayak (also known as the “ducky”) – take the front if you want to get soaked and have the best view of the rapids. We now own our own kayaks, and spend lots of time going down the rapids when we’re here. It’s a lot of fun (even when the water is freezing!).
Parks: Buckley Park (Located on the East side of Main Avenue between 12th and 13th Street) on Thursdays in the summer (info here) is our favorite! They just redid the park at Santa Rita park and the play center is a perfect for kids.
Sutcliffe Vineyard: I adore this little taste of Napa amongst the mountains (read my related post here). We are friends with the owner, John, who is seriously one of the most interesting men alive. The fact that the wine is delicious is another big plus.