Romance in the old wild west? You bet. Durango is the perfect getaway for a weekend of old treasures, new adventures, and decadent food.
Durango, CO is one of the most wild west towns you can find in Colorado. Lined with classic architecture from the 1880s, this old mining town is more than just a one-time hot spot for the gold rush. It’s now a living museum. From the Strater Hotel to the antique shops that line the streets, every place in town has ancient relics signifying the city’s humble beginnings as an old mining town. Yet, the town is full of new and exciting places to explore. It was an ideal location for my Valentine's Day getaway.
My boyfriend and I went to Durango for Valentine’s Day weekend ( which was the best choice ever by the way). We were able to do things together and separately in this historic and picturesque place. The town had a romantic and ancient feel for Valentine’s Day and gave us both opportunities to have a little fun on our own. Here’s what you can do for a romantic weekend in Durango.
What to do:
Take a ride in the historic Durango-Silverton Train
Get a panoramic view of Durango's breathtaking landscape on the Durango-Silverton Train. You can jump on this classic yellow train and cruise through the downtown area all the way to Silverton, a neighboring mountain town. It’s a nice trip if you want hours of scenic landscapes in a winding mountain range. We were thrilled by the conductor’s periodic steam release and the classic sounds of a vintage train. We gazed out of the old, slim windows and marveled at the view.
2. Relax at the Durango Hot Springs and Resort
One of the highlights of our romantic Valentine’s Day getaway was our relaxing and picturesque experience at the Durango Hot Springs. They have 16 natural mineral pools with varying heat levels. Some pools were up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit! When we went, it was snowing outside so we felt the icy chill of snowflakes all around us and the contrasting, cozy heat from the hot springs. To make your time even more worth it, you can soak in the springs before a rejuvenating deep tissue massage at their Spa (if you go, ask for Crystal, she was fantastic!). Then, you can jump right back into the hot springs for another hour. This part of the trip sold us on the magic of Durango’s natural waters and what it can offer for a romantic escape.
Get a birds-eye view of Durango on Sky Steps
Just a few blocks east of Main Street is a mysterious set of steps leading up a mountainous hillside. The evenly spaced wooden Sky Steps lead you up a mountain path that rewards you with a gorgeous view of the town. February is still in the middle of winter, so I was rewarded with the view of snow-topped mountains, steaming chimneys from houses below, and people strolling on Main Street. The 400 step climb was something I did on my own, but I loved getting away from the town’s bustle and having one of the best views of Durango all to myself.
4. Ski Purgatory Mountain
The Purgatory Resort is a popular ski resort about 35 minutes north of Durango. Fortunately, on Valentine’s Day weekend, a huge snowstorm came through and dumped a bunch of snow in the area. My boyfriend is a huge skier and he loves to take advantage of any opportunity to shred on freshly powdered snow. Although I didn’t ski Purgatory, my boyfriend said after a nice snow day, it was one of the best ski experiences he had all season. He skied for 5-7 hours and came back to town feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and fulfilled.
Where to stay:
The Strater Hotel
The only place I would recommend to stay in Durango is the historic Strater Hotel. Named a “living museum", the Strater was built in 1887 and is the oldest hotel in Durango. When you walk in, you immediately notice the classic wild west vibe that’s been beautifully preserved. Gold patterned wallpaper, bronze hand railings, vintage chandeliers, and gorgeous winding hallways with original artifacts hanging on the walls are just a few aspects of the Strater’s charm. The best part of the Strater is you know that your room is 100% unique. Each of the 93 historic rooms is furnished with authentic, vintage furniture with each room having its own special characteristics. I recommend room 321 but I also hear room 226 has a fantastic view. Whichever room you choose, the rich history, chivalrous staff, and beautiful layout will make you feel like you just walked into the 1880s as the guest of honor.
Where to eat:
Coffee: The Durango Coffee Company
Just feet from the Strater Hotel, the Durango Coffee Company is the most popular coffee shop in town. With large glass windows, vintage furniture, and an old-west meets London feel, you’ll get the royal treatment in this shop. Their coffee is absolutely delicious and they make a mean vanilla latte. Come to enjoy a peaceful morning coffee with your partner.
Breakfast: Jean Pierre's French Bakery
If you’re craving a darn good croissant, Jean Pierre’s has the best french baked goods in town. Jean Pierre’s loves to remind their guests that they’re not just a “french” bakery. They’re a “french french” bakery, meaning they’re owned and operated by someone from France and they take their baked goods very seriously. You can taste the difference between these goods and others. They’re soft, fresh, and buttery in all the right ways. You won’t be disappointed with their wide selection of french baked goods ranging from simple butter croissants to ones filled with homemade jams.
Lunch or Dinner: Himalayan Restaurant
You may be wondering, why there would be a Himalayan restaurant in Durango? It seems a bit far from Nepal, right? Well, someone in the Himalayan Restaurant liked Durango enough to make it a home away from home. This lunch and dinner spot offer delicious, authentic Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine. It’s reasonably priced and is a great place for a date night. The restaurant is spacious with historic Himalayan relics lining every corner. Its ambiance and food will make your stay in Durango warm and unforgettable.
Dessert: Cream Bean Berry
Hands down, the best ice cream shop in Durango is the Cream Bean Berry. This local dessert shop has a curated selection of smooth and rich homemade ice cream. But this isn’t just any ice cream shop. Their ice cream isn’t that thick, heart attack inducing stuff that’s hard to swallow. It has the flavor of ice cream but the lightness of gelato. Perfect for the dessert lover that likes light yet flavorful ice cream. They also have very delectable vegan flavors that rotate out every so often. My boyfriend and I got our own little taste of heaven and went for an evening stroll with our ice cream cones in hand.
Drinks: The Bookcase and Barber
Told to me by a local resident, The Bookcase and Barber is one of the best-kept secrets in Durango. It’s a barbershop by day, speakeasy by night. This spot is so top-secret, that the only way to get into the bar is to go through a hidden door in the bookcase. If you’re channeling your inner Nancy Drew and happen to find the hidden entrance to the speakeasy, you still need the secret password. This place is a local spot and only those in the “know” can find a way in. But once you do, you’ll enjoy the best cocktails in Durango.
What to buy:
One of the coolest things about Durango is the immense amount of antiques. There are several antique shops on Main Street that have ancient relics from as early as the 1800s. If you’re a history nut and love vintage clothes, clocks, and books, you’ll love getting lost in Durango’s numerous antique shops.
Clothing from Local Boutiques
Not everything in Durango is antiquated. If you’re someone who wants a cute outfit for date night, there are definitely boutiques in town that offer fresh and modern styles for men and women. For Valentine’s Day, I was determined to get a cute ensemble for our special dinner, so I stopped by Sparrow Mercantile and got a nice 25% off holiday discount. I walked out with a super cute two-piece sweater set and something nice to go underneath. ;)
Chocolate, Chocolate, and More Chocolate
Craving chocolate? Me too! The one place that can give you your chocolate fix is the Animas Chocolate and Coffee Company. This place is unlike any other. They craft beautiful and delicious truffles as well as rich hot chocolate drinks. I loved drinking El Bandito, the Mexican-style mocha made from their smooth, in-house chocolate recipe. Come for the chocolate but stay for the ambiance. Like most shops in Durango, vintage artifacts fill the space with charming additions like original bar seating on classic swivel stools. The helpful staff go above and beyond to make you feel at home from the moment you walk in. This place should not be missed. Trust me, I was in here every day in Durango and never wanted to leave.
Well, that’s it, folks. The best of the best for your romantic getaway in Durango.
I’ve shared the best places, eateries, and activities in Durango from my 3-day stay. This place is a gem in the Rockies. We went in winter, but this spot is probably just as amazing in any other season. Whenever you decide to go, visit these places mentioned, and your weekend getaway in Durango will be a truly magical experience.