The Armstrong Hotel
Reputation: Cool and casual, staying at the Armstrong is the second best thing to being a local.
For years, Fort Collins lacked the one thing that good downtowns need: a hip boutique hotel. Eight years ago, the Armstrong was rehabbed and life was put back into the 1923-built hotel. The rooms are a mix of old and new—and guests can pick whether they prefer a vintage or modern room. Below the hotel, you’ll find Ace Gillette’s, a speak-easy style bar with live jazz music. Ask Ray to make you a Singapore sling. There is a coffee shop, a dessert bar and Choice City Deli in the same building as well, so you don’t have to wander far. But you might want to: The Armstrong sits in the heart of the city, so there is no lack of entertainment, good food and culture.
What to Do When You Get There: Fort Collins specializes in summer events, including the Rocky Mountain Brewers’ Festival and NewWestFest Aug. 10-12. Hit up the flagship Rio Grande or the third Jax Fish House; try CooperSmith’s or Crown Pub if you want something local. This is a beer town, so take your pick of New Belgium, Odell, Fort Collins, Equinox, Pateros Creek and Funkwerks breweries.
Strawberry Hot Springs
Reputation: The best place to soak.
Stay in a covered wagon, or a train caboose—yep, that’s right—and spend your days soaking in the luscious waters of the Strawberry Hot Springs. Not too shabby, right? This spot just outside of Steamboat Springs is rustic and totally eclectic. The outdoor mineral water springs are the epitome of picturesque, tucked into a mountain valley. And there are multiple pools to choose from (all lovely and intimate). While there are wagons and train cabooses available for your stay, you can also rent a cabin or a tent site.
What to Do When You Get There: Soaking is best done after skiing or hiking, and you’ll find a number of recreational opportunities in and around Steamboat: In the summer, Steamboat’s mountain runs become hiking and mountain biking trails. Or learn about local fly-fishing at the Steamboat Fly Fisher downtown. In August, you’ll want to hit up the Steamboat Wine Festival, a beloved event for winos, or the annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park on July 7 and 8.
Reputation: The charm of the wild West in a centrally located stunner.
To say the Strater Hotel is a favorite in Durango is a vast understatement. It’s the town’s iconic centerpiece, a calling card of the area’s wild past, and a stunning landmark. You can find quaint, comfortable bed and breakfasts in town or guest ranches on the outskirts, but the Strater is the best way to experience Durango’s culture and history. Built in 1887, the Strater has undergone tons of updates as well as a serious concentration on renovation. It boosts one of the world’s largest collections of American Victorian-era walnut furniture. So, the hotel emanates with a historic, quirky charm that’s magnifying: have drinks at the lavish Office Spiritorium, stay in ornate rooms decorated with antiques and catch a melodrama at the Henry Strater Theatre.
What to Do When You Get There: Durango has a nice diversity to its offerings. Ride the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or take a jaunt through Mesa Verde National Park, the ancient cliff dwellings. You can go all Western at Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers with a Western stage show and barbecue dinner. If you really aren’t into the history thing, play 18 holes at the Hillcrest Golf Club, mountain bike Hoffheins Connection on the Colorado Trail, a 20-mile single-track loop, take a tour of Ska Brewery or have lunch at Steamworks Brewing Company.
Fresh & Wyld
Reputation: A foodie’s dream set in a quiet 1908 farmhouse.
With gardens, chickens, a berry patch and Heirloom apple trees, Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse Inn inspires the feeling of respite in a casual, beautiful setting. No traffic, no nightclubs, no suits. Just a farmstead with tremendous views of rocky peaks. The food is the highlight here: you’ll dine on organic and locally grown food during the Friday night communal-style dinners and the heaping morning breakfasts. You’ll find gracious hosts (Dava Parr, the owner, is also the chef) and wake up to a rooster’s crow.
What to Do When You Get There: The Roaring Fork Valley offers great hikes in the Black Canyon as well as killer mountain biking. Check out an indie flick at the Paradise Theater in Paonia.
Box Canyon Lodge
Reputation: A hot-spring sanctuary in a beautiful Colorado town.
Nestled in the awe-inspiring gloriousness of Ouray, the Box Canyon Lodge aptly reflects the small mountain town personality. Not only is it one of the most environmentally friendly hotels around, the rooms here are cozy and warm, and the service is friendly and eager. The hot springs here are the main attraction—with 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains.
What to Do When You Get There: Horse-back riding, rock climbing, hiking, biking and more. Have lunch at the Ouray Café, dinner at the Outlaw Restaurant and fudge at Mouse’s.