Do you seek out adventure? Or would you rather soak in hot springs all day? Does rappelling into a waterfall sound exhilarating? Or would you rather sit on a sun-soaked, rooftop patio drinking a beer? You can do all of these things and more in Ouray, Colorado.
Ryan and I visited Ouray in March and we fell in love with the town. I hadn’t been to Ouray since my parents made the road trip from the Oregon Coast to Colorado in a Volkswagen Rabbit in 1978. The most memorable photo from the trip is of me at age two, sitting on a snowbank, surrounded by wildflowers.
Ouray is nestled between high mountain peaks, giving it the deserved nickname of Little Switzerland. The town still has many unpaved streets, adding to its unpretentious charm. Here are highlights from our March trip, and I hope that they will help you make the most out of your Ouray experience.
Does the idea of rolling out of bed and into a hot springs pool every morning sound appealing? This experience awaits you at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings. The Wiesbaden is unique because, in addition to a hot springs-fed pool, they have a vapor cave, something my husband enjoyed enormously.
They also have a private hot spring called the Lorelei. It is magical, and I highly recommend booking the Lorelei when you stay at the Wiesbaden and be sure to ask if they are running any discounts for hotel guests.
There are several different types of lodging options at Wiesbaden. We had apartment-style accommodations complete with a kitchen. Eating in is a great way to save money if you are staying somewhere for more than two days.
The Wiesbaden is retro but has all the accouterments of modern living such as flat-screen televisions. The big bonus is that it is within walking distance of everything downtown Ouray has to offer.
Museums in Ouray:
On our first morning in Ouray, I had arranged a tour with the director of the Ouray County Museum. Housed in an 1886 Miner’s Hospital, the museum oozes with character and history. Named the “Best of the West” by the Smithsonian Institute, it truly lives up to the hype.
We also visited the new Ouray Alchemist Museum, and if you think pharmaceutical history sounds boring, you’re wrong. Plan to spend about an hour on this fascinating tour.
Breakfast at Backstreet Bistro is worth the wait. Restaurants in Ouray aren’t cheap, but the bagel sandwich and coffee deal here can’t be beaten.
Dine on the famous rooftop patio at Ouray Brewing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t warm enough for dining alfresco while we were there, but I hope it will be on your trip.
I give the Guinness Beef Stew at O’Brien’s Pub two thumbs way up. This is a good place for an affordable dinner in Ouray.
For a quick lunch grab a handmade sandwich at Artisan Bakery & Cafe.
Be sure to pop into Mouse’s Chocolates. The owner’s name is Heidi, but this isn’t the only reason you should go. Get some chocolates and then stop back by for a scrap cookie. Don’t ask why just do it.
Craving a margarita? Buen Tiempo Mexican Restaurant & Cantina was a favorite on this trip. The fajita platter is enough food for two, especially when preceded by the shrimp stuffed jalapenos.
Climb in Ouray: We went ice climbing with San Juan Mountain Guides, and I’ve written all about the experience here, but they also lead summer climbs and canyoning – that’s rappelling into waterfalls. We plan to go back and do this with SJMG this summer.
Shop in Ouray: Ouray has a nice array of stores to browse, from t-shirt shops to high-end galleries. I especially loved Khristopher’s Culinaire, a boutique kitchen store with a fabulous selection of aprons and specialty food.
Soak in Ouray: A visit to Ouray isn’t complete without a good, long soak at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. After a morning of ice climbing, we spent the afternoon in the pool enjoying the warmth as snow fell lightly on our heads. There are pools of varying temperatures here, from hot to quite cool.
Be Entertained in Ouray: I love small-town theater, and Ryan and I enjoy catching local shows while we are traveling. The Wright Opera House in downtown Ouray features music, movies, and plays. We saw a rousing production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern while we were in town.
This trip was sponsored in part by the Ouray Chamber Resort Association.