Crested Butte: Travel Guide
It has been a long time since I've fallen in love with a place the way I did with Crested Butte, Colorado. Last weekend, I surprised Ross with a mini-vacation in the mountains, and I didn't tell him where we were going until the morning of! I had found a great hotel deal in Crested Butte a few weeks prior, and so many of my friends have raved about this little ski town, so I had to see for myself what it was all about. I say this wholeheartedly with no exaggeration - it did not disappoint.
Crested Butte is about 4 hours west of Colorado Springs, and the drive there is gorgeous (and full of very curvy mountain roads). When you arrive, you are greeted by the unbelievably lush landscape, which is fitting since it is the wildflower capitol of Colorado. There are streams running through town, snowcapped mountains in every direction, and one tiny street, Elk Avenue, that makes up the village. Our hotel, The Lodge at Mountaineer Square, was in Mt. Crested Butte, about four miles up towards the ski resort, but the town itself is where the magic happens. There are no chain restaurants, everything is walking distance, and bikers and hikers take over town. Even though this is their busy season, it was still unbelievably quiet and reminded me of a European mountain town nestled in the Alps. It's safe to say, I can't wait to go back, and I haven't even told you about the food, yet!
Breakfast and Brunch
We were only in town from Saturday morning - Monday morning, but we didn't let that stop us from hitting all the local eateries we could manage. I got a wealth of recommendations from friends, and they were all spot on. First, we stopped at The Guild Cafe, which is home to First Ascent Coffee Roasters and Mountain Oven Bakery. It's kind of confusing that the place can be referred to by 3 different names, but it's 100% delicious. They have a tiny coffeehouse, but they roast their own beans, have house-made almond milk, and vegan baked goods to add to their already inventive menu. I got a frittata, and Ross had fried eggs, toast, and some of the best sausage we've ever had. Plus, the atmosphere was the perfect level of coffee shop cozy.
The next place that was recommended to us was Izzy's, which looks like a little hole in the wall but has unbelievably good breakfasts (especially the bagels). I got a scramble, and Ross got a breakfast sandwich, and they kept us full through 2+ hours of hiking and running along trails. This is a feat for me since I can always eat, but their big portions and unique take on breakfast (like breakfast latkes) held me over!
We also went to Coal Creek Grill in the middle of town, which is right next to a gushing stream that sounds more wonderful than the sound machine we sleep with every night! I wasn't starving at this meal, so I got granola with yogurt, but it was delicious. The granola was freshly baked and warm, and I scarfed it down. The ambiance at this place was definitely the selling point.
Drinks & Dinner
I will preface this part by saying that I had the BEST Thai Food in the world during this trip, and Ross and I highly considered going back to that restaurant for every meal. It was that delicious. But, we did try a couple of places, and they were all worth bragging about.
First up, Montanya Distillers is a great distillery that offers free rum tastings (woah, strong) and distills everything in house. Their honey lemonade cocktail with raspberries was so good, and I went back for it again the second night. There was live music across the street, and they have a cute little patio that looks out on Elk Avenue.
On the first night, we went to Ginger Cafe after Montanya, which also had great cocktails! We ordered veggie spring rolls for an appetizer and the BEST pad thai I have ever had. When I say that we spent 90% of the meal talking about how good it was as we inhaled it, I am not kidding. I don't even know how to describe why it was so good, but the flavor was spot on, it wasn't greasy or slimy as some pad thais can be, and it had the perfect level of spice. I want it again right now.
On Sunday night, we hit up Secret Stash, the most popular pizza place in town, per everyone's recommendations. There is actually another pizza place pretty close to it, but the amount of friends who recommended Secret Stash definitely sealed the deal. We got margaritas, built our own pizza with truffle oil (duh), and ordered a brownie the size of my face for dessert. The decor was really funky, and it was definitely a family friendly place as well as a cool spot for drinks/late night.
Hiking & Biking
I'm going to be honest when I say that I have a very poor sense of direction, so I cannot tell you what hikes we did. I can tell you the embarrassing story that, upon our arrival into town, I asked the man in the wine store, "Where can I go to see the wildflowers?!" and he looked at me like I was an idiot, since the wildflowers are literally everywhere. We spent the first half of Sunday hiking and trail running through Aspen groves, huge open meadows, and gorgeous views! There were definitely an unending amount of hiking options, including full day hikes, but we wanted time to lounge and explore the shops, too. There is a great little bookstore in town with plenty of hiking guides, as well as a local, organic market if you need snacks!
After lunch, we browsed the Sunday Farmer's Market in town and then rented mountain bikes (help). Ross is a great mountain biker, but I get on a bike once a year in Hilton Head Island, which is full of flat roads and no rocks. He took me on a very beginner trail, but I balked before we got to any of the steep uphill climbs. Thankfully, you can ride your bikes on most of the hiking trails we did and around town, and there's even a paved path from town to Mt. Crested Butte, so there's plenty to do if you're more fearful of extreme sports like me! You can also go on very pretty drives to see the wealth of wildflowers, but hiking and biking make the experience more immersive and fun.
Overall, I feel like we barely tapped into the amount of views and activities that are available in Crested Butte. I cannot wait to go back - I would literally return this weekend if it were possible! Please let me know if you have more recommendations, and if you are in Colorado, just drive there now and see it for yourself!