Sitting in the southwestern corner of Colorado, Durango can entertain the entire family for days on end. With hip restaurants and plenty of sights to see, this old west-style city is certainly idyllic. To give you a taste of this Colorado paradise, we’ve put together a list of the most popular attractions and things to do in Durango.
Incorporated in 1881, Durango's downtown features a combination of historic and more modern buildings. With over 200 great places to shop, eat, and be entertained, it's easy to spend a whole day lazily wandering your way through the charming streets.
In the back of an old rail yard, you’ll find the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum. This 12,000-square foot space is home to antique trucks, tractors, vintage coaches, full-scale locomotives, and tiny model railroads.
While you're there, be sure to walk along the model railroad tracks and check out the 1913 Curtis Headless Pusher Aircraft. If the museum leaves you inspired to ride the rails, hop on a coal-fired locomotive and travel the Narrow Gauge Railroad, which passes southwest Colorado landmarks like Mesa Verde.
Raft or Kayak Down the Animas River
Southwest Colorado is a go-to destination for water sports—so head to one of the many local rafting and kayaking shops near the Animas River if you're looking to get in on the action.
These shops can set you up with kayaking and white water rafting equipment; share the best spots on the river; or take you out on a guided journey, which is the best and safest way to experience the Animas.
Purgatory Resort is a go-to destination every season of the year. In the winter, it's home to several different ski and snowboard runs, while the summer months see hiking, mountain biking, and speedy rides on a mountain roller coaster known as "The Inferno."
But there’s much more to the area than just mountains to zoom down. The Resort features fine dining options, shopping, a spa, and luxurious accommodations—so you can get a healthy mix of both pampering and adventure during your stay.
Enjoy Wildlife and Scenery Along the Animas River Trail
Winding nearly 10 miles along the banks of the Animas, the Animas River Trail is a popular spot for walking, biking, and bird watching. Since it snakes its way through parks, open spaces, and local points of interest, this well-maintained path will certainly help you explore many different parts of Durango.
The Durango Fish Hatchery raises many of the fish destined for the state parks' lakes and streams. At the oldest state-owned hatchery in Colorado, you can see how caretakers look after the cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, and other types of fish for the ecosystems and anglers of southwest Colorado.
The Wildlife Museum features dioramas of mounted fish, birds, and other wildlife native to the area. Both you and your kids will be mesmerized by the rows of tanks and gulping fish at the Durango Fish Hatchery. Be sure to bring quarters to feed the fish.
AddressSan Juan National Forest, Colorado 81301, USA
To the north of Durango, the San Juan National Forest is a great area to explore southwest Colorado’s natural beauty. The forest includes 1.8 million acres of wilderness, high desert plains, and alpine scenery.
This national forest caters to just about every outdoor hobby: fishing, hiking, camping, backcountry skiing, horseback riding, hunting, and plenty more. If you want the most out of your trip, you should visit during the summer (though backcountry and cross-country skiers should save their visit for the winter).
If you have a child that is obsessed with learning how things work, the Powerhouse Science Center is a goldmine. Housed in a historic power generation building, the interactive science and maker center is packed with hands-on exhibits, learning experiences, and challenges for kids who like to make, tinker, and construct.
You can look at 3D models, make air rockets, or play around in the augmented reality sandbox. The Powerhouse Science Center will captivate any kid’s imagination, and makes for plenty of fun for moms and dads too.
The Colorado microbrewery scene is huge, and while Durango doesn’t have as many breweries as the Front Range, it does have Animas Brewing Company.
This family-friendly brewpub serves up standard American pub fare like onion rings and burgers, plus house specialty pasties (pronounced pas-tees), a meat-filled pie. Wash it all down with one of a few dozen in-house brews like C3PA Pale Ale or Lederhosen Lager. Animas Brewing Co. is a great place to stop by after a day on its namesake river.
Visit Pinkerton Hot Springs
AddressPinkerton Hot Springs, Colorado 81301, USA
These unique hot springs bubble up to create a geological formation that looks like it belongs on another planet. In the early 1800s, James Harvey Pinkerton even advertised the springs as a roadside attraction, directing people to drink the water for its healing properties. In reality, the rocks at Pinkerton Hot Springs are man-made, and the springs are borne of snowfall trickling deep into the earth.