Whether you decide to go this winter or summer, taking a trip west across Colorado to arrive at beautiful Telluride will make memories.
Although it is amongst the state’s top destinations from all around the world, the town has worked hard to maintain its authentic, western, small town, historical ambiance. A visit to Telluride will quickly become one of your all-time favorites in Colorado.
History of Telluride
Founded in 1878, Telluride’s history is as intriguing as the homes from the Victorian Era that line its streets.
The town is only eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long. Originally named Columbia, the fledgling town had to make a quick name change in 1887 because of confusion with another namesake town of Columbia, California. It was that same year when it became known as a promising mining town.
Because of its significant role in the history of the American West, the central area of Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964.
Telluride is about a six-hour drive from Colorado Springs. It is hidden within a box canyon amongst the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in all of North America.
Bridal Veil Falls – Telluride is home to Colorado’s highest free-falling waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls. The striking backdrop is undeniably one of the most breathtaking in the Rockies.
Bluegrass Festival – Every June, musicians and festival lovers from around the world make a pilgrimage to Telluride for four days of music, mountains, and magic in the breathtaking box canyon at 8,750 feet. It’s the perfect sampling of bluegrass, even if you’re not familiar with the genre. This event is surprisingly kid-friendly (family camping area, craft and music activities, hula hoop area, parade, kid-friendly artists and a talent show). This summer’s festival is June 21-24, 2018. Too soon? Start planning. Festivals are always around the summer solstice.
Pet-Friendly/Puppy Parking – Traveling with a pet? Free two-hour puppy parking can be found in front of many Telluride shops and restaurants, earning the resort town a “Paw of Approval” in National Geographic’s Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel.
Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch – On your drive into Telluride, be sure and look for Double RL Ranch entrance off the side of the CO-62 Highway. It is the 17,000-acre Colorado ranch where American designer Ralph Lauren and his family vacation. You won’t be able to enter onto the property but the view is nothing short of spectacular.
Gondola Ride – One of the best ways to see the town is to take a gondola ride. It’s not your typical ride. It is the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the United States. The electricity used to operate the gondola comes from wind power. The 13-minute ride links the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, affording you an awe-inspiring view at 10,500 feet. It runs daily from 7 am to midnight during summer and winter.
Five Family-Friendly Activities
Telluride is an unbeatable outdoor playground full of options. After spending many of summers in Telluride, our COSMB’s friend, Jennifer LaRue, offers a few of her personal takes on many of the must-dos and eateries in Telluride.
Wilkinson Public Library – Be sure and check out Telluride’s 5-star library, placing it in the top 1 percent of public libraries in the country. It’s an amazing community resource with a great kids’ room.
Gravity Play – If you need a break from biking, hiking, and golf, take the kids to the Kids Outdoor Adventure Center in Mountain Village. Let them explore with Gravity Play, a set of three activities including a Ropes Course, Water Walkers, and a Bungee Trampoline.
Kid’s Fishing Pond – Take the kids fishing in Town Park. Use of the fishing pond is free and available for kids 12 years old and younger. Fishing rods may be checked out for no charge at the Information Center.
Hiking – anywhere and everywhere. There are some relatively short hikes that can be done right from town. From Town Park, head up the 1.5-mile (one way) Idarado Legacy Trail for clear views of Bridal Veil Falls.
Scenic Drive: Lizard Head Pass is a gorgeous scenic drive with family-friendly hiking trails surrounding it.
It is also worth checking out Telluride’s art walks, festivals, bands and local productions at the Sheridan Opera House.
Five Great Places to Stay
Lodging in Telluride is expensive but worth every penny to experience this picturesque town. Here is a range of accommodations that will suit any budget.
The Hotel Telluride – Situated in downtown Telluride, this boutique, chalet-style resort offers all-inclusive vacation packages. At approximately $230/night, they offer some great personal touches such as shuttle service, bathrobes, board games, fresh cookies and live music.
The Peaks Resort & Spa – Located in Mountain Village, it is a short walk from the free gondola, offers Telluride’s only ski-in/ski-out and golf-in/golf-out lodging accommodations, on-site restaurant and bar, fitness center and spa. Great for weddings and kid friendly and runs approximately $200/night.
The Mountain Lodge – Rustic resort located in Mountain Village. Pets are allowed and there is a restaurant, outdoor pool and laundry facilities on property for an average of $150/night.
VRBO – Affordable finds for families can be found at VRBO for under $175/night. Book early and mid-week to get the best price and beat the summer rush.
Camping – If hotel costs are out of the budget, camping in the heart of the San Juan Mountains is a great option as it will typically cost $30/night. From May to September, camping in Telluride is truly an unbeatable experience. For a family-friendly camping experience, give Telluride Town Park Campground a try.
Restaurants line the street, dressed and set for cool evenings with blankets on each seat so you can cozy up next to a fire to further enjoy the beautiful outdoors just about any time of year.
We couldn’t just narrow our list to a top five. There are just too many to name, but here are some mainstays to check out:
221 Oak – Looking for an upscale dining experience? This is a must stop. Their award-winning chef and owner earned a spot in Season 10 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” competition.
Allred’s Restaurant — Telluride’s flagship restaurant at the top of the gondola. It offers a unique mountain-top dining experience with incredible views and a magnificent spot to watch the sunset.
Baked in Telluride — A fun stop for a variety of baked goods and pizza. Don’t forget to take home a loaf of their sourdough wheat bread.
Brown Dog Pizza – Looking for good pizza? Check this place out. It is family friendly and has an extensive kids menu.
Butcher & Baker — This bakery/café specializes in handcrafted, fresh and local cuisine. Their handmade bread is to die for.
Cornerhouse Bar + Grille – If you want to feel like you are back at home, check out the Cornerhouse. The restaurant feels a bit like home because it is, in fact, located in the bottom floor of a house. Locals and visitors alike come to relax, watch their favorite sports and kick back with some hearty comfort food. Be sure to try the “tacos.”
Over the Moon — Great cheeses and the best lobster roll outside of New England.
Rustico — Great place to dine al fresco under a tent. This casual, authentic Italian restaurant features an open kitchen, stone walls and fireplace. It is one of the only restaurants open year round.
Taco Del Gnar (aka Gnarly Tacos) – Put this on your list. With a variety of gourmet tacos each under four dollars, this is a great place to go for lunch or dinner.
Telluride Bistro — One of Telluride’s best-kept secrets with wonderful staff, a great patio, and occasional music.
Telluride Truffle — A perfect spot for great chocolates and sundaes in the summer.
The Phoenix Bean – A quaint coffee shop housed in a historical building. Definitely try the spicy chai and their famous “bad-a**” sticky buns.” If you stop in around lunchtime, the Sonoran hot dogs (bacon-wrapped with pico de gallo) are a must.
There Bar – A great place to stop for some good food and yummy drinks. The kids will love the fried Brussels Sprouts and mom will fall in love with the grapefruit martini.