From the snow-capped mountains to the magical food scene, Telluride is nothing short of a fairytale land.
I feel starry-eyed just writing this post. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of the place until one of my best friends visited a few summers ago and raved about its beauty. I had never been skiing before let alone stepped foot in the glorious state of Colorado, so this trip was full of firsts!
I believe that aside from the obvious that is scrumptious food, travel is all about exploring beyond your comfort zone. As someone who frankly loathes the cold and anything having to do with winter, Telluride was one of the prettiest, friendliest, and all around most amazing place I've ever been. We're already itching to go back!
First thing's first. In addition to being one of the best ski resorts in the country, it's also one of the most difficult to get to. But that's part of what makes this European-style town so enchanting! Since it's not a hop skip and a jump from anywhere, it doesn't ever get too crowded. A hundred miles from the nearest stoplight, the whole place felt blissfully untouched. Uncommercialized. It's full of tourists yet it's remarkably un-touristy. We didn't mean anyone that wasn't extremely friendly.
We flew from Columbus into Denver, then from Denver to Durango, and then drove two hours to Telluride. I assure you that it was well worth the wait. You can find direct flights to Telluride; however they're much more expensive. Another option is flying from Denver to Montrose, which is typically a bit pricier but will cut down the driving portion by at least an hour. The drive to Telluride is absolutely gorgeous, though!
Where to Stay
Telluride is actually separate from Mountain Village, which is home to Telluride Ski Resort and most of the ski slopes. You can easily bounce from one to the other on the gondola, the town's free transportation system that conveniently runs until midnight.
We stayed at the Peaks Resort and Spa and pretty much lost our breath (literally and figuratively) when we saw the 14,000 foot Rocky Mountains view from our room. Hello, altitude!
The hotel is famed for it's 42,000 square foot luxury spa and fitness center, which unfortunately we didn't get to experience. Next time!
The Peaks also has its own restaurant and bar called Altezza (complete with insane panoramic views) where we enjoyed a delish breakfast on our last day. My favorite part about the resort was that we could strap on our skis and and head right onto the slopes. It's the only ski-in/ski-out hotel in Telluride! The hot tub experience after a long day of skiing was also touch notch, might I add.
I've also heard lovely things about The Madeline, Inn at Lost Creek, and Hotel Columbia.
What to Do
Telluride Ski Resort is famed for having some of the steepest and most diverse terrain of any ski resort in the country. Perhaps that's why everyone looked at me like I had three heads when I told them I was skiing there for the first time. Truth be told, Telluride has excellent terrain for all skiers, from beginner to advanced.
We were lucky to have the best ever ski instructor (hi, Ken!) all to ourselves for both days. I felt really confident in my skiing by the end of the second day and even went on a run that was four miles! Lettuce not forget that Ken had also taught Oprah Winfrey to ski so I was in good company.
The little kiddos in ski school...I could not handle the cuteness.
We would typically wake up, grab breakfast, ski for a couple hours, grab lunch, ski a little more, then sit in the hot tub or grab a cocktail before heading to dinner in Telluride. There's tons to explore in town, so we spent the majority of one of the days shopping, eating, and strolling down historic Colorado Avenue.
We found an adorable jewelry store and art gallery called Mixx that's definitely worth a stop. It was fun to walk around the Patagonia store, too!
Telluride isn't only a winer wonderland. Home to the famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival and scenic hiking trails galore, it's also a beloved destination in the summer.
Where to Eat
Let me begin by saying that Telluride is an absolute foodie mecca. It was by far some of the best food I've had on any trip I've been on thus far. Telluride gets plenty of swanky folk visiting from all over the world so the food really is top notch. Mostly everything is chef-inspired, local, organic, and the like. We were in heaven!
For breakfast we typically stayed up in Mountain Village. Grab steel cut oats, fruit, eggs, and crepes at Siam's Talay or Altezza.
Don't forget hot java at Telluride Coffee Company!
Down in Telluride, Coffee Cowboy and Butcher and Baker are delish breakfast spots.
We also grabbed the most amazing (and organic!) avocado toast, smoothies, and almond milk lattes at Ghost Town Cafe, an eccentric little hole in the wall that we adored.
The New Sheridan is another local brunch favorite. Low and behold it's also a great bar!
We mostly took the gondola down to Telluride for lunch, but on the second day we enjoyed delish salads, truffle fries, and burgers at Tomboy Tavern which is right near the slopes in Mountain Village. I got the Baby Kale and Quinoa Salad with grapes, almonds, chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, and red wine vinaigrette and it totally hit the spot. They have a divine beer garden and patio, too.
We were dying to try some of the on-mountain dining options in Mountain Village like Alpino Vino at 11,966 feet and Bon Vivant (can you imagine those views?!), but unfortunately I wasn't a good enough skier to get there. Boo!
In Tellluride our favorite lunch of all was at Tacos Del Gnar. The taco selection was fun and innovative with bright flavors and loads of options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
Other spots the locals raved about include High Pie, La Cocina Del Luz, Floradora, Oak, and The Brown Bag.
Fresh ginger snap cookies the size of my face from Baked In Telluride plus the most decadent dark chocolate truffles from Telluride Truffle were a must.
What are the odds of me running into my friend from high school walking down the street?!
The first dinner experience we had was at Cosmo, a divine restaurant located just off the gondola. This was the first taste of just how delicious the food in Telluride was going to be.
After a dirty pomelo, fresh bread and olive oil plus coconut curry mussels to start, I ordered the barramundi entree with asparagus and risotto. For dessert we shared creme brûlée and a wild blueberry hand pie. I licked my plate clean, obviously.
The second night we dined at Allred's, Telluride's flagship on-mountain dining experience at the top of the gondola. Locally grown, sustainably harvested food, award winning wine, the most adorable and friendly general manager...you name it, Allred's has got it. From the exceptional food to the attentive service, we were absolutely blown away by our experience there.
It's a gorgeous, rustic space with a romantic ambience and views that I know would be just breathtaking in the daylight.
After cocktails and warm bread and butter, we started with the crispy shishito peppers appetizer that I would order again in a heartbeat. Salty, spicy, crispy perfection. The couple we were with ordered the potato croutons with grana padano cheese, chives, and truffle aioli. Basically drool-worthy adult tater tots on steroids. Since I had fish the night before, I decided to go with the crispy sous vide cauliflower entree with red pepper carrot puree, fennel potato croquettes, caramelized carrots, apple compote, vegetable demi-glace, and fennel pollen. It was as amazing and innovative as it sounds!
We shared several desserts that were just as good as the main course along with Telluride's signature drink, the Flatliner! It's a magical blend of espresso, rum, and Bailey's.
On the last night in Telluride we went to 221 South Oak, an adorable restaurant situated in a cozy old home. The chef and owner Aliza Gavin was on season ten of Top Chef so we knew we were in for a treat. I thought it was especially cool that they had an entire vegetarian menu. We started off with the arugula salad with blueberries, ginger, and cilantro lime vinaigrette followed by the tofu with blueberry and coffee crust on farrota with asparagus. We enjoyed our meals overall but weren't quite as impressed as we were with the prior night's choices.
Next time we'd love to visit Siam, La Marmotte, and Rustico.
We're already looking so forward to our next trip back to this winter oasis! I'll end with this perfect quote I saw on Instagram last week: "We travel because we need to. Because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same but something in our minds has changed and that changes everything."