I want to start this post by telling you who it is not for. It is not for those with wee children looking for face painting and parade information. It’s also not for those who think green beer, whiskey shots, and a DJ make an excellent St. Patrick’s Day.
To me, a good St. Patrick’s Day means old friends and new friends, a bar where talking to new and old friends is encouraged, and a rousing round of “Oh, Danny Boy” breaks out ever so often. This is my holiday. I love it. While I grew up going to Scottish festivals, and with the Scottish last name of Kerr, my grandmother on my father’s side was as Irish as potatoes.
I am well aware that St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a religious holiday. However, I do not live in Ireland, I live in Colorado. So we’re going to do it my way.
These are the top 3 Colorado towns where I think you should spend a friend St. Patrick’s Day holiday. I guarantee a good time will be had by all. Of course, you don’t have to go on March 17, you and your friends can pick another date, but March would be grand. By the way, St. Patrick’s Day is on a Thursday, so ask the boss for Friday off right after you read this post. (St. Patrick’s Day is on a FRIDAY in 2023!).
Grand Lake, Colorado
I had the great pleasure of spending a St. Patrick’s Day with our friends, Karen and Steve Clark, in Grand Lake several years ago. As most of you know, it’s one of my favorite little towns, and the lake is by far my favorite Colorado lake.
In March, the snow was deep and icicles shot down from eves all the way to the ground below. It’s a magical time to be in Grand Lake.
There are two guest houses I would recommend by Western Riviera, but if those are booked, the Western Riv’s Lakeside Cabins would be great with friends too. They also have a motel with lakeside rooms. Located in the middle of town, all of these properties are near everywhere you want to be.
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We spent some time doing cartwheels and taking photos in Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Lake is near the entrance to the park, and while you can’t drive all the way through the park in March, you can access part. The burn is a reminder of the Troublesome Fire that ripped through the area in 2020, but eventually, as you drive, you’ll leave the reminders behind as large peaks rise in the landscape.
We hit all three places where you’ll want to wet your whistle and dance a jig on St. Patrick’s Day in Grand Lake; Lariat Bar & Grill, White Buffalo (which has surprisingly great pizza), and Charlie’s Sports Bar (formerly Poncho & Lefty’s). I haven’t made it there yet, but The World’s End Brewpub sounds like a good time too.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Grand Lake. The beauty of Grand Lake in the sparkling snow must be seen to be believed.
I first traveled to Leadville back before HeidiTown was even a twinkle in my eye. So, we’ve always had a soft spot for this rough and tumble town even though it’s a tiny bit posher since our first visit.
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I’d recommend securing a tiny home with friends at Tiny House Leadville. The ease of the location is perfect for getting around on foot. Plus, they may be tiny, but there are several that sleep four adults.
You have to go to the Silver Dollar Saloon. They say Doc Holiday killed a man there. It’s classic Leadville and I would even go as far as calling it classic Colorado. It’s the way things used to be before the state got a bit fancy pants. Hey, just stating the facts!
By the way, spending St. Patrick’s Day in Leadville comes with bragging rights. North American’s highest altitude Irish pub sits at 10,500 feet above sea level at Ski Cooper. That’s right. Ski Cooper is just minutes from Leadville, and Katie O’Rourke’s Irish Pub is the perfect place to sip a pint on St. Paddy’s Day.
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I actually haven’t been to Leadville in a couple of years, so there’s probably some new stuff in town. However, for a little St. Patrick’s Day fun I’d hit Manhattan Bar and Scarlet Tavern. For some of the best cuisine in the Colorado mountains, reserve a table at Treeline Kitchen. Or, if pizza is more the vibe after a few whiskey shots, High Mountain Pies is known throughout the Rocky Mountains as the place to go, and I agree.
By the way, if a tiny house won’t work for the group, we absolutely LOVE The Majestic.
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For an outing, I recommend snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the Mineral Belt Trail, accessible from town. In the winter, it is snowcat-groomed. Or, hit the slopes and Ski Cooper.
Some of our best HeidiTown memories have been made in this Southwest Colorado town, my introduction to pozole at The Strater Hotel, for instance. And cuddling puppies at Durango Dog Ranch, and our ride on the train to Soaring Tree Top Adventures, and the best zipline experience of my life. Not to mention getting a can of Modus Hoperandi right off the canning line during our tour at Ska Brewing Company.
The last time we were in town for Snowdown 2019, one of Colorado’s best winter festivals.
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We’ve spent several happy times at The Irish Embassy Pub downtown. I’d send you there for St. Patrick’s Day, but it closed in 2020. This is sad, especially for St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Durango.
Thankfully, Durango is a college town so there’s no shortage of watering holes. I do not have any home rentals to recommend, but we’ve stayed at several hotels over the years, and there are quite a few to choose from, whether you and your friends want a historic hotel or a chain hotel. It’s all here for you.
Durango is a delicious town. It’s a good thing there are other things to do, or else I’d spend all my time eating my way through town. I have had many wonderful meals in Durango, but you can’t go wrong with a burger and beer at Steamworks Brewing or anything at El Morro Tavern.
I could go on and on about St. Patrick’s Day and these three towns, so I’ll stop writing. Just go. Go!