I’ve been visiting the South Park region of Colorado for nearly 20 years. You see, there’s a family cabin there so we “escape” the Front Range occasionally and head for the hills.
While we spend a lot of time relaxing at the cabin, we do venture into town sometimes and I’ve become well acquainted with Fairplay, Colorado. Located in Park County, it’s about 40 minutes directly south of Breckenridge via Hoosier Pass.
It’s a small town that has its own brewery, museum, and the best tamales I’ve had in Colorado. So without further ado, here’s why you should stop in Fairplay.
1. Dorothy’s Tamales: We’ve been buying these tamales since the place opened next to a delicious soup and sandwich shop. It’s tucked into a strip mall with the Soup Pot and a wine tasting room (Continental Divide Winery). See? There are several reasons to stop here and maybe I should just make the strip mall a must-stop!
Recently, Dorothy’s has expanded into a restaurant two doors down from their old location. I haven’t tried the restaurant yet but did stop in on our last trip for a couple of dozen frozen tamales. If my freezer is out of Dorothy’s tamales, like it was recently, it’s completely unacceptable. When you taste these tamales, you’ll know why.
2. South Park City Museum: We’ve stopped at this place many times over the years. You might remember the big sign that soars over the entry.
The sign is down right now while they move a new building into the “city.” This is without a doubt one of the most fantastic museums in Colorado. It’s a replica of an 1859 mining town in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. However, the most amazing thing about South Park City is that every building here is real.
There are more than 44 authentic buildings from around the region that have been housed here for safekeeping and to educate the world about the way it was. The ideal time to visit is during one of their living history days or during Burro Days, held each July in Fairplay. This festival is centered around a burro race, the beginning of which should be witnessed at least once in one’s lifetime.
3. Snitching Lady Distillery: This is a recent addition to Fairplay. I think it’s been open for several years, but we just visited for the first time last month. It is the highest distillery in the world and the whiskey made here has already won awards.
We had a lot of fun—petting the distillery dog, drinking a flight, and buying whiskey—we did it all. I’d highly recommend stepping back in time and into the Snitching Lady. It’s in an old bank building and if you drink a few whiskey drinks, the wooden planked floor will tilt.
4. South Park Brewing: I know I am talking about a lot of booze, but Fairplay isn’t a dry town and I highly doubt that Prohibition ever made it to 9,953 feet above sea level. Yes, that’s the elevation of Fairplay. It had a population of 762 in 2018.
We were so happy when this place opened in 2014. We recently stopped in for a beer and they feature a rather food menu now. It used to be plates of cheese and now they have scrumptious looking nachos as well as sandwiches and burrito bowls.
We got a growler of the Poblano Amber Lager and just cracked it open a couple of nights ago. It’s a good beer that’s not too hot but definitely celebrates the chile taste. I hope they start sourcing their chiles from Pueblo, Colorado. Right now they get them in New Mexico (sigh).
Fairplay is a small town that you’ve probably passed on Hwy 285. I’ve always believed that every town has a story and Fairplay’s story is worth checking out.
Enjoyed this article so much. My aunt and uncle owned several businesses there in Fairplay in the late forties until the late sixties. I would go stay with them for a month or so and went to Huck Finn/Becky Thatcher Days and the Burro Race. One of my aunt’s friends was Edna Miller who ran that race into her 70;s I believe. In South Park City Museum they had on display some of my Father’s gold he had mined in Creede. There were mementos of my aunt and uncles their legacy was Fairplay and Alma, somewhat. As you have probably guessed ,I am in my 7o’s now.
Thank you for the step back to my childhood.