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10 Of Colorado's Most Quaint Towns For A Laid-Back Vacation

TheTravel logo TheTravel 1/19/2023 Lisa Wright
© Provided by TheTravel

Colorado’s large cities are bustling tourist destinations well-known for their abundance of recreational opportunities, scenic natural beauty, and Rocky Mountain charm that makes them some of the best places to visit in the Centennial State. However, Colorado’s small villages and tiny towns have no shortage of dramatic scenery, outdoor adventures, and bustling, eclectic spots to both stay and dine—and with a charm all their own, these cozy mountain hamlets are some of the coolest ways to experience the very best of Colorado.

Paonia

Consistently ranked one of Colorado’s coolest small towns, Paonia is an agricultural haven whose optimal climate makes it an up-and-coming spot for both wine-making and a delish farm-to-table foodie scene. And when they’re not noshing or sipping on the town’s fresh wares, visitors can also find a bustling creative district and a scenic setting perfect for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers alike.

  • Things To Do: Cider Fest (fall); Creative District; Paonia Winery Tour; Paonia State Park; West Elk Loop Scenic Drive
  • Spend The Night: Bross Hotel Bed & Breakfast; Wiseheart Springs Inn
  • Wine & Dine: Paonia United Brewing Co; Berg Harvest Farm and Mercantile; Root & Vine Market

RELATED: Forget Aspen: Why You Should Visit Colorado's Breckenridge Instead

Crested Butte

Colorado is world-renowned for its top ski destinations like Vail and Aspen—however, those looking for epic Centennial State skiing without the huge crowds will find a home in the cozy town of Crested Butte. A quaint downtown with access to year-round recreational opportunities, this small-town gem is the perfect off-the-beaten-track spot for R&R and outdoor adventure.

  • Things To Do: Elk Avenue; Kebler Pass; Nordic Center; Gunnison National Forest; Wildflower Festival (July)
  • Spend The Night: Crested Butte Mountain Resort; Elevation Hotel & Spa
  • Wine & Dine: Soupçon; Secret Stash Pizza; Slogar Bar & Restaurant

Snowmass Village

The cozy picture-perfect town of Snowmass Village may only be a mere 15 minutes from Aspen, but it might as well be a million miles away. Complete with a picturesque Elk Mountain backdrop; this quaint Alpine village also hosts plenty of year-round outdoor recreational activities, too.

  • Things To Do: Elk Mountains; The Lost Forest; Snowmass Village Hiking Trails; Aspen Snowmass
  • Spend The Night: Limelight Hotel; Viceroy Snowmass
  • Wine & Dine: Venga Venga; Slice of Italy; Big Hoss Grill

Silverton

A historic tiny town perched at over 9,000 feet above sea level, Silverton is so much more than its dramatic mountain scenery. Once a mining town, this historic San Juan Mountain gem is bursting with CO small-town character—and is the perfect home base for epic outdoor adventures.

  • Things To Do: Alpine Loop Scenic Byway; Old Hundred Gold Mine; Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Silverton Mountain Ski Area
  • Spend The Night: Grand Imperial Hotel; The Benson
  • Wine & Dine: Eureka Station; Golden Block Brewery; Natalia’s 1912 Restaurant

RELATED: Rocky Mountain Road Trip: Best Things To See & Do From Denver To Telluride

Salida

A small town less than three hours south of Denver, the scenic hamlet of Salida is an off-the-beaten-track bastion for epic outdoor adventures. However, its laidback Rocky Mountain vibes are also perfect for maxing and relaxing while strolling its artsy and historic downtown.

  • Things To Do: Sawatch Range; Salida Whitewater Park; Monarch Mountain; Browns Canyon National Monument; Arkansas River
  • Spend The Night: Manhattan Hotel; Blue Coyote Ranch
  • Wine & Dine: The Fritz; Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub; Sprockets Burger Place

Estes Park

With a location among the boundaries of the breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park, the small town gem of Estes Park is the place to be for those who want some of CO’s most stunning natural beauty on their doorstep—literally. The perfect spot for amazing outdoor adventures and cozy, small-town vibes, Estes Park is an idyllic mountain escape.

  • Things To Do: Estes Park Aerial Tramway (opens Memorial Day); Rocky Mountain National Park; Peak to Peak Scenic Byway; Historic Park Theatre
  • Spend The Night: The Stanley Hotel; The Estes Park Resort
  • Wine & Dine: Seasoned; Hunter’s Chophouse; The Wild Rose Restaurant

Pagosa Springs

For those looking for a small-town escape that’s low maintenance and made for R&R, there’s nowhere better than the bucolic Pagosa Springs. Surrounded by the San Juan National Forest and situated over 7,000-feet above sea level, the breathtaking natural scenery on display only adds to the small town’s relaxing vibes.

  • Things To Do: Overlook Hot Springs; Treasure Falls; San Juan River Walk; Wold Creek Ski Area
  • Spend The Night: The Springs Resort & Spa; The Nightingale Motel
  • Wine & Dine: Riff Raff Brewing Co; Alley House Grille; Meander Riverside Eatery

RELATED: These Colorado Hot Springs Are Waiting To Soothe Your Stresses

Carbondale

Located in the heart of central Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the cozy and scenic Carbondale is the perfect getaway to rest, relax, and “take it easy.” But the tiny town is not just for maxing and relaxing—it’s also known for its plethora of adventurous year-round outdoor activities.

  • Things To Do: Roaring Fork River; Prince Creek Trail System; Spring Gulch; Penny Hot Springs
  • Spend The Night: The Distillery Inn; Avalanche Ranch (25 minutes)
  • Wine & Dine: Brass Anvil; Honey Butter; Marble Distilling Co.

Trinidad

A historic haven known for its artsy vibes and off-the-beaten-track appeal, the scenic southern town of Trinidad is known for its bustling Creative District. But the former ranching and trading hub is also known for its ample outdoor recreation and scenic surroundings, too.

  • Things To Do: Highway of Legends Byway; Trinidad History Museum; Trinidad Lake State Park; Purgatoire River
  • Spend The Night: Tarabino Inn; Trails End Motel
  • Wine & Dine: Las Animas Grill; Trinidad Smokehouse; Moose’s Social Club & Martini Bar

Steamboat Springs

The perfect place to hit the trails (hiking, biking, and skiing!), then sit back and soak in relaxing hot springs, the scenic Steamboat Springs is both picturesque and pretty. Complete with laidback, relaxing vibes, vacationers will have no trouble finding their Zen amid the stellar Rocky Mountain scenery.

  • Things To Do: Fish Creek Falls; Strawberry Park Hot Springs; Yampa River Botanic Park; Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area
  • Spend The Night: Steamboat Resort; The Steamboat Grand
  • Wine & Dine: Harwigs; Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails; Salt & Lime
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