Settling Down in Salida, Colorado
You might recall an article I wrote recently, The Struggles of an Un-American Dreamer, where I explained my desires to live a life outside of the norm. To screw the nine to five, the white-picket fence and everything that society tells you is the “next step” and continue to live a life on the road – traveling the world one country at a time. Well, then something unexpected happened. It was one of those open-mouth-insert-foot situations. I almost had to eat my words…
We were not even a week into our Colorado road trip. We first stopped in the sleepy town of Cripple Creek – yes, its an actual place and not just song lyrics – for a few nights where we tried our hand at black jack and a number of quirky slot machines. We were already falling in love with Colorado and we hadn’t seen hardly anything yet. We then proceeded to our next destination. The place that made me re-think everything. The place that had me questioning that American Dream I thought I wanted no part of.
This is Salida.
It took us just a few minutes to drive from one side of town to the other. We didn’t even need to pull up Google Maps to find our accommodations for the evening. We checked into the lovely Mountain Motel and immediately we wished we were staying longer than just 3 nights. The Mountain Motel was just the kind of place we’d hoped for. In addition to the beautiful mountain views outside of our window (hence the name), there were multiple deer grazing the field right outside of our room. The rooms were spacious and clean, but even better, they were oozing with rustic charm. The staff that checked us in greeted us with such hospitality, it felt like they were old friends we just haven’t seen in a while. They were knowledgeable about the area and gave us plenty of recommendations to keep us busy for a few days (see video for tour of the room at bottom of post).
As if we weren’t already smitten enough, we decided to check out the historical district along the Arkansas River. At first it was the charming neighborhoods that sucked us in as we made our way into town. And then it was the beautiful red brick architecture lining the pedestrian-filled streets. When we found ourselves at the popular bar alongside the river watching the tubers float their way under the bridge, I could no longer deny the thoughts that were conjuring up in my head. All of those things I thought I didn’t want were all of a sudden flooding my mind with a vengeance. I pictured our quaint little cottage-style house with a front porch. I imagined being the most fit mom on the face of the planet. We would definitely have a lab. Or maybe a Golden Retriever. I could see it all so perfectly clear. Me, yes me, living out that American Dream in the colorful town of Salida, Colorado.
In a town where hippies and rednecks co-exist, kids roam the streets on their bicycles, physical activity is something that everyone takes part in, and traffic doesn’t exist, I found my happy place. I’ve never been to such a jaw-dropping beautiful town where the people are even more beautiful. And while it does seem to draw a young and physically fit crowd, the beauty of these locals lies within. Every person we encountered was so friendly and hospitable, how could you not fall in love with a place like that?
Although its a small town it has everything to offer. From mountain biking to fly fishing, kayaking and hiking, skiing and snow-boarding, it seems impossible to not stay active. At some point I even blurted out to Charlie “I want to get into mountain biking. And hiking.” For anyone that knows me, you know I’ve never been much for a lot of physical activity. Yeah, he laughed at me. But Salida just seems to have that effect. In addition to the outdoor activity, Salida is full of adorable mom and pop shops, art galleries, outdoor sports stores, fresh food markets, trendy upscale restaurants and casual local eateries. We had some of the best meals since we’ve been back in the US while in Salida, including an exquisite dinner at Shallots and quite possibly the best pizza ever at Moonlight Pizza Company.
Do you understand my dilemma yet? Hold on…check these out.
Yes, Salida did have me re-thinking everything. And not just me, Charlie too. He already picked out his vehicle – obviously a Jeep – and his toys – at least one dirt bike. And I’m pretty sure he was already coming up with potential dog names in his head. We’ve actually had some very serious discussions about settling down for a bit in Salida. And you know what? If we did decide that’s what we wanted to do, that would be okay. It’s all about what makes us happy. But we realized we still aren’t ready to settle down quite yet. Salida will still be there in another year, or two, or five. And if and when we decide to settle down somewhere, Salida will be definitely be on our mind.
Things to do in Salida, Colorado: Salida Travel Guide
Mountain Motel: great for families or couples. Large, spacious rooms. Free washer and dryer available for use. Located on the main highway, across from a 7-11 and a liquor store onsite (see video for tour of the rooms)
Palace Hotel: We can’t vouch for this hotel ourselves, but it came highly recommended to us. The Palace Hotel is perfectly situated in the historic district close to the river and a number of shops and restaurants.
Boathouse Cantina: a great place for drinks, appetizers and people-watching along the river
The Fritz: tapas, drinks and fantastic bartenders
Moonlight Pizza Company: a quirky pizza pub with a large variety of delicious pizzas and sandwiches and home-brewed beer and sodas
Shallots: everything about this place is great, from the appetizer to the desserts and the lovely staff. Try the spinach salad and the chicken marsala!
Rivers Edge: great spot for a fancy breakfast outside along the river
The Country Bounty: local family restaurant with a great breakfast. Try the Country Bennie!
Ploughboys: a local, fresh food market and deli. This place is a must! A large variety of salsas, jams, cheese, meat, cider, etc. all locally produced.
Beeyond the Hive: local honey producers and bee-keepers for over 100 years. Beeyond the Hive sells a number of pure honey products, from edibles to soaps, candles and more.
Things to Do
Rocky Mountain Jeep Rentals: rent a jeep and head off-road. Tin Cup pass was a wonderful scenic route (see our video for proof!).
Absolute Bikes: mountain bike tours and rentals
Also available: kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing, brewery tours, hot springs and more. Check out nowthisiscolorado.com for more information!
A huge thanks to NowThisIsColorado for hosting us while in Salida!