If you’re looking for a picturesque Coloradan town that boasts fantastic cuisine and world-class adventure activities—but also remains a bit more off-the-beaten-path than, say, nearby Aspen—then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Carbondale.
Carbondale is as charming as small mountain towns come. Located on the Crystal and Roaring Forks River, it’s a hot-spot for outdoor enthusiasts. What’s more, it’s easy to walk around the entirety of the downtown, where along the way you’ll pass local art galleries, ceramic shops, coffee bars and a handful of diverse (and excellent) restaurants.
Perhaps the most dramatic characteristic of Carbondale is its backdrop, the stunning and majestic Mt. Sopris. The white-capped mountain, towering high at 12,953 feet, is a favorite spot for hiking, climbing and mountaineering, or simply gazing out at from the comfort of your hotel room.
Photo by Scott Ingram via Flickr
What’s more, Carbondale is just a stone’s throw from Aspen and Glenwood Springs, ensuring you’ll have plenty of ways to stay occupied without having to spend your precious vacation time traveling from place to place.
Photo by Van Corey via Flickr
Whether you choose to base your adventures in Carbondale or simply stop by for a leisurely afternoon, here’s what you’ll need to know to plan your stay:
Where To Stay
Don’t miss the opportunity to stay at Carbondale’s first boutique hotel, the Distillery Inn. Located above the fantastic Marble Distilling Co, this charming small hotel features five rooms, each luxuriously outfitted with a king-size bed, mini-bar, organic bath products, private balcony and—best of all—a view of Mt. Sopris. My group of four girlfriends easily shared one room.
Extra tip: Be sure to stop into the Marble Distilling Co for a complimentary drink with your stay (after you like the hotel on Facebook.)
Where To Drink
Whether or not you choose to stay at the Distillery Inn, it would be a shame to bypass the Marble Distilling Co. This mouthwatering distillery features “artisan spirits, pot distilled using Colorado-grown grains and pure Crystal River spring water using 100 percent American-made distilling equipment.” Their gingercello is always a crowd favorite; If you’re up for a kick, I recommend trying the jalapeño vodka.
Of course, beer lovers won’t want to miss the chance to sample great, Coloradan craft beers. In Carbondale, look no further than the Roaring Fork. This brewery is dedicated to “fresh, approachable and flavorful beers.” When available, the Octoberfest is my brew of choice. For an in-depth beer experience, try a brewery tour.
For a non-alcoholic fix, try Bonfire Coffee. This small but sweet coffee shop is the perfect spot to stop for a refresher after an afternoon of shopping or yoga. Try the cold-brew nitro coffee, some of the best I tried in Colorado.
Photo by Nic Wise via Flickr
Where To Eat
Carbondale might be small, but it offers a surprisingly vast array of ethnic cuisine. The Goat Kitchen and Bar is perfect for a casual restaurant with a homey feel and a great menu. Expect salads, sandwiches and burgers.
For Thai fusion cuisine, Phat Thai is the obvious choice. I recommend the Massaman lamb curry paired with sweet coconut rice.
If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast to get you through a day of adventures, head to the Village Smithy Restaurant. I love their “legendary” huevos rancheros, but you also can’t go wrong with their hash brown skillets.
What To Do
Photo by Tony Webster via Flickr
There are endless opportunities for adventure in the area surrounding Carbondale. For a family-friendly activity, try white water rafting the Colorado River. World-renowned skiing is just a short drive away in Aspen. Grab your mountain bike for a variety of bike loops ranging from beginner to advanced trails. Or, of course, enjoy the stunning vistas via any number of easy hikes and mountain trails.
If you prefer something a bit more relaxing, don’t miss the drive from Carbondale to Crested Butte on the West Elk Loop Scenic Bypass. The pass isn’t accessible in the winter, so be sure to check about road access depending on the time of your visit.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to combine adventure travel with fantastic accommodation, mouthwatering eats, and chic cocktails, then Carbondale should be at the top of your vacation wish-list.
Have you visited Carbondale, Colorado? What did you think