An excursion to southwest Colorado with several other journalists this fall demonstrated the wide variety of experiences groups can access in Durango, Cortez and Mancos. The Durango Area Tourism Office put together an impressive itinerary that highlighted the craft beverage and culinary scenes and a nice range of activities in partnership with several local entities and the Colorado Tourism Office.
First, let’s talk beverages. We weren’t able to check out all the beer, wine, spirit and hard cider producers (which hints at the large number), but were fortunate to enjoy tastings and/or behind-the-scenes tours at Honey House Distillery, Sutcliffe Vineyards, Durango Craft Spirits and Fenceline Cider. Also, attending the 23rd anniversary party hosted by Ska Brewing meant live music and dancing and 35 breweries offering samples.
The culinary side of the gathering focused on restaurants that have plugged into the local foods movement, such as Ore House Steakhouse in Durango, Farm Bistro in Cortez, and Olio Mancos in Mancos. A stop by Animas Chocolate Company in downtown Durango was bliss for chocolate lovers like me. The husband-and-wife duo that owns the business is dedicated to creating high quality, handcrafted chocolate confections (that can be personalized for business clientele), hot chocolate and bean-to-bar chocolate.
Mix in activities like visiting Crow Canyon Archeological Center and seeing a dig site, riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton for lunch and shopping, and stand up paddle boarding at Durango’s Lake Nighthorse, which opened to the public in 2018, and it was a cocktail of memorable moments.
Downtown Durango is an ideal place to base a group. Three terrific historic hotels provide easy access to all sorts of shops, restaurants and coffee houses and the nearby DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Durango overlooks the Animas River and a paved recreation path. We stayed at the charming and historic Rochester Hotel, with a lobby/bar space and the Secret Garden available for meetings and events as well as the RSpace co-working space next door. The Leland House, a sister property across the street, has lodging only and a fleet of cruiser bikes to borrow outside.
Looking for something different? Check out southwest Colorado!