Colorado Staycation in Charming Crested Butte

Colorado Staycation Idea

By Eileen Wright July 22, 2015

Outdoorsy, laid back, and charming.

Three ways I would explain the quaint mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado. Each year, we enjoy taking a family vacation over the July 4th holiday and this year we chose to do a staycation in this wonderful mountain town. We had never been, but had heard great comments about the activities and scenic views that surround the community. In the winter, it becomes a well-known ski resort but during the summer months it is teeming with exciting options to explore.

We loved that Crested Butte did not have the glitz and "tourist" factor of other ski communities. It felt very homey and casual. Most businesses seemed to be locally owned and folks were very friendly and helpful.

There are several routes for reaching Crested Butte from the Denver area, each taking close to 4 1/2 hours. We actually drove there from The Great Sand Dunes National Park but drove home via US-285. Being a holiday weekend, traffic was very heavy heading back to Denver and added about an hour to our drive, so keep that in mind when planning your schedule.

Where to Stay

  • Mount Crested Butte, Crested Butte South, and Downtown Crested Butte. These are the three main designated areas. We rented a house through VRBO in the downtown area on Sopris Ave., just one block from the main drag of Elk Avenue, where many of the shops and restaurants are located. We were within walking or biking distance of many in-town activities. The Mount Crested Butte area is at the base of the ski resort and includes many condo and home options, while the area to the South is away from the hustle and bustle but within minutes of the activities downtown.
  • Accommodations. Definitely do your research to find a place that is right for you. Holiday weekends, such as July 4th, tend to fill up quickly and rates are higher than other periods of the summer. In addition to VRBO, Home Away also offers a multitude of rental options including cabins, houses, condos, and chalets.

What to Do

  • July 4th Festival and Parade. We first enjoyed the annual Pancake Breakfast sponsored by the local Fire Department. My kids had the unique opportunity to ride up in the basket of the fire truck's aerial ladder. We then watched a fun, small-town parade including local groups and entertainment, followed by the Crested Butte Music Festival and activities including face painting and jump rope. Other events held during the Summer months include the Wine and Food Festival, Wildflower Festival, and The Pinnacle Mountain Bike Race Series.
  • Mountain Biking. Being an avid biker, my husband made sure to check out many of the bike trails and we joined him a bit, too. There are trails for all levels but many of them are single track, which can be challenging for children or those with less experience (like me!). However, the views are breathtaking and this is an activity not to be missed! We took our own bikes but rentals are also available.
  • Hiking. The trails used for Mountain Biking are also great for hiking. We had planned to hike the Upper Loop on our last morning but Mother Nature had other thoughts. This trail is quite narrow and rocky, so better for boots then bike tires!
  • Fishing. If you love to fish, there are several angler outfitters in town available to take you on a guided trip or at least steer you towards the fish. Trips were sold out over July 4th so we took the kids to Roaring Judy, a fish hatchery operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They have a stocked pond open to the public. My son had two fish jump from his line before they could be reeled in and my daughter caught two at the end of our visit. There were lots of fish and it wasn't crowded. A great option outside the rivers.
  • Additional Activities that we did not have an opportunity to try include horseback riding, zip line, adventure park, rafting, and jeep tours. Learn more about Summer Fun in Crested Butte.

Places to Eat

There are plenty of eateries around town, from coffee shops to diners and fine restaurants. Below is just a sampling...

  • 4th Street Bakery & Diner, 411 4th Street, Saguache, CO 81149. This isn't in Crested Butte but we stopped here for breakfast on our way from Great Sand Dunes National Park and we must give it a shout out! Locally owned in Saguache, they serve breakfast and lunch daily, and also offer catering and fresh baked goods. Everything was made from scratch using natural ingredients from local growers. We enjoyed pancakes filled with blueberries and apples, and my husband had the best breakfast burrito! On Wednesday nights they sponsor a soup kitchen. If you are passing anywhere near this area, you must stop in!
  • Pitas in Paradise. A great place for lunch or dinner, they specialize in Greek fare but have something for everyone. We tried the Original Gyro, a Bombay Rice Bowl (Indian dish), Kids Cheese Pita and Cheeseburger. It offers outdoor seating on a patio right on the main street of Elk Avenue.
  • Bonez. Bonez is a Tequila Bar and Grill and we chose to dine here on July 4th for dinner. It has an extensive menu and several options for kids as well. Being a holiday, it was very busy and we waited over an hour for our meals. Although we enjoyed our food once it came, such as my Quesadilla Salad, we throw caution on an extra busy night.
  • The Last Steep Bar & Grill. Located in the heart of downtown, this family-friendly restaurant has wonderful selections and a tasty drink menu. We sat on the back deck for dinner, and the kids enjoyed playing Corn Hole while my husband and I relaxed with a couple adult beverages. Service was great and the meals were quite tasty.
  • Camp 4 Coffee. I couldn't begin to count all the coffee shops within a couple square blocks of our house. The one closest to us was Camp 4 Coffee so I visited them one morning to grab a couple cups of Joe. Although the coffee was tasty, the line was quite long and moved slowly, and the friendliness of the staff was less than desirable.

Crested Butte is a great summer staycation destination within a few hours of Denver, ideal for a weekend stay (or longer) within Colorado. If you love the outdoors, you'll enjoy taking advantage of everything it has to offer. It also offers Performing Arts productions, a movie theater, and ongoing children's activities.