Tucked away in southwestern Colorado amid the rugged San Juan Mountains is Telluride. Mining brought this town to life in the late 1800s. Today, Telluride is a mountain mecca for outdoor activities that maintains its quaint charm and rich history.
Telluride itself consists of a main street (Colorado Avenue) with small side streets all lined with local shops, vibrant restaurants, and charming houses. An extension of Telluride is Mountain Village, easily accessible via the town’s free gondola. The 8-mile gondola is the first of its kind and the only free public transportation system in the country.
Things To Do In Telluride
Whatever season you are visiting, there is no shortage of activities in Telluride. In the summer, you can go paddle boarding, mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, paragliding, and fishing (just to name a few)! In the winter, most everyone heads to the ski resort, but there’s also snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling.
Exhilaration Like No Other
Terrifying yet exhilarating may be the best way to describe a Jeep tour up Imogene Pass. The 4x4 Jeep takes you up a rocky and narrow road with no guardrails (so don’t look down)! You’ll learn about the mining activity that helped develop Telluride into the town it is today. And at the top, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of the San Juans and beyond. The tour will set you back about $90 a person, but the experience is unparalleled and worth it. Our guide from Telluride Outside was amazing!
In the winter, Telluride Ski Resort has more than 2,000 skiable acres with a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. The resort offers lessons for all ages but also has classes unique to the mountain. The Silver Skiers Program is aimed at those 50 and older and runs on Thursdays in January and February. There’s also the Women’s Week clinic that includes skiing, plus apres-ski events like spa treatments, shopping, and fine dining.
Other Snow Activities
If you’d rather stay on level ground during the winter, Telluride Nordic has trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It offers lessons and can also help with rentals. You can go ice skating and sledding here, too.
See that ice covering the mountains? Those are some of the best ice climbing routes in the country, and they attract top athletes. There are some easier routes if you want to try it out. And there are even tour companies that will rent you gear and guide you on some pretty spectacular routes.
Biking is a year-round activity in Telluride. In the summer, the Telluride Bike Park is a series of trails within the ski resort accessed via the gondola or the Village Express Chairlift. For $40 a day, the lifts will haul your bikes up and you will ride them down on anything from beginner to expert trails. Elsewhere in town, there are free biking trails that will either take you on a more leisurely ride along the San Miguel River or a hefty climb up to nearly 10,000 feet! In the winter, try out fat biking. It’s literally a mountain bike with fatter tires that are better equipped to grip the snow. Grab a rental in town and hit the free trails nearby.
Elevate your golf game at the Telluride Golf Club. Sitting at around 9,500 feet, this 18-hole, par-70 course is among the highest courses in the world. Beware that with that elevation come some walking challenges. The first tee, for instance, is one of the highest tees in the country, and the number 17 tee is a 92-step climb from the cart path.
Where To Eat
All that outdoor activity will have your stomach rumbling, and there’s no shortage of places to fill it up.
Eating In Telluride
Follow your nose to The Butcher and the Baker on the main drag for homemade bread and filling omelets. This shop is owned by a longtime local and also serves lunch and has deli items to go. Pizza lovers, head to Brown Dog Pizza -- also on the main street -- to choose from Chicago deep dish, Detroit-style, or traditional Italian pizza. Or try out one of their pastas; all the sauces are made in-house.
No trip to Colorado would be complete without trying out that famous Colorado craft beer. And Smuggler Union Restaurant and Brewery is where you’ll find it. They brew their own beer, which wins awards year after year. Try several with their sampler offerings to find your favorite. Then pair a pint with the pub’s specialties, which include locally sourced meat dishes and house-made fried pickles. Feel like a burger? Steamies Burger Bar is a must! This joint along Colorado Avenue steams its locally-sourced burgers instead of frying them, so they’re healthier! Try one of their creations or build your own. And be sure to wash it all down with a handmade milkshake for dessert.
The absolute best tacos can be found at Taco Del Gnar on Oak Street. It dubs itself an “elevated fast food restaurant” that combines good food with a laid-back atmosphere. Tacos filled with Kobe beef, cod, shrimp, and portabella mushrooms or tempura avocado await your tastebuds. And don’t forget the margaritas, but be careful, they are strong!
Eating In Mountain Village
Telluride Coffee Company is a quick stop before hitting the hill for skiing or hiking. Get one of the pastries -- you won’t be disappointed. For Colorado-inspired bar food, head to Tomboy Tavern at the base of Lift 4. With ample indoor and outdoor seating including a wrap-around bar, it’s an excellent spot for people watching in the afternoon. It’s a laid back atmosphere with live music most days. Dessert is a must at Black Iron Kitchen and Bar, where you can enjoy your own personal s’mores roasting kit, complete with a chocolate bar from the candy store next door.
Eating On The Mountain
In the winter, you can take a break from the slopes and dine on the mountain. For a quick bite, locals head to Giuseppe’s at the top of the Plunge Lift (#9). It’s known for its black bean saute -- a local favorite. And you can’t beat the view. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Utah! Toast to a great day at Alpino Vino, the country’s highest fine-dining restaurant. Situated below the Gold Hill Express Lift (#14), this is the go-to spot for fine wine, cheeses, and appetizers while looking out at the Mount Wilson range. At night, you can take an enclosed snow coach to Alpino Vino for a delicious five-course Italian meal.
Where To Shop
A stroll down Telluride’s main drag will have you in a shopper’s dream. Pop into Telluride Naturals for local, unique gifts like candles, jewelry, and bath products. Hook is an upscale home decor shop known for its display of various wall hooks (you just have to see it to understand!). And if you need something to hang on those hooks, meander through art shops like Lustre and Gold Mountain Gallery. This shop also sells authentic Navajo rugs. Shirtworks of Telluride or Paradise Resort Wear are good places to find that souvenir t-shirt or hat. Between the Covers has been the town’s cozy bookstore since the mid-70s. It’s the perfect spot to peruse while sipping on coffee from the coffee bar in the back of the shop.
Where To Stay
Staying on Colorado Avenue in Telluride will allow you to ditch your car and walk everywhere during your stay. Experience the town’s history firsthand by staying at the New Sheridan Hotel. This 26-room boutique hotel has pieces dating back to the late 1800s and is home to one of the oldest bars in the West. A room will run you about $250 a night, and they do fill up quickly.
The Victorian Inn is a great value within walking distance of the town’s main street and gondola. All of its cottages or private rooms come with complimentary breakfast every morning, in-room ski racks, and access to the outdoor hot tub.
Staying in Mountain Village allows you to be away from the hustle and bustle but still able to get to the main street using the free gondola. The Inn at Lost Creek advertises itself as a ski- and golf-in and out hotel. The rooms range from studios to multi-room condos with kitchenettes perfect for family gatherings. In the winter, it has a ski valet where you can store your skis and boots overnight; attendants will put your skis out in the snow in the morning so they’re there waiting for you! In the summer, the hotel has direct access to the Telluride Golf Club. And it’s surprisingly affordable, starting at just over $200 a night.
Pro Tip: Some of the best food in town comes on wheels. Just take a walk around town, and you’ll see all kinds of food carts. A personal favorite is the Grilled Cheese Cart. Across the way, you’ll spot Diggity Dogs, which has pork, beef, turkey, and even tofu dogs! See someone biking with a food cart? That’s Biking Burrito, which sells burritos and quesadillas. Other carts include a pretzel stand and Slurp, which dishes out Vietnamese food.
Still considering where to enjoy your time in Colorado? Here’s how to spend a long weekend in Glenwood Springs.