Durango is one of those places you see on the Internet as a great small town to visit…and I would have to agree. Durango’s downtown has a variety of restaurants, shops, and cultural entertainment, and there are plenty of opportunities for adventure for adrenaline junkies too. The architecture catches your eye and the old buildings give you that cowboy feel.
My husband loves train museums and Durango has a good one. I have learned to scout out a nearby eatery in case I lose him to the details of every exhibit, and he has learned where to find me if I vanish. On one of our travels, we once went to a Laundromat together. I set out to find change at the local eatery. The server said I could only get change if I ordered something. I ended up sitting on the deck of the restaurant with a beer and a dessert with a gorgeous view.
My husband showed up some time later sweating and dirty. I don’t think my explanation of the sacrifice I had to make to get change helped the situation, but it gave me the idea of what to do when I’m finished with an exhibit or a tour and know he might be awhile.
The museum was at the depot where we were supposed to catch the train to Silverton. We mistakenly confused our day to take the train, but this accident had a silver lining. The museum is not as extensive as some we have visited, but held my interest for about an hour. My husband spent about an hour and half, and could have added another half an hour if we didn’t have travelers that were less enthusiastic about the smell of engine oil. I think the Durango Train Museum is a must stop for all ages. They take donations, but otherwise admittance is free. The gift shop is handy for a unique gift for yourself or that person in your life that loves trains. Check out their website for more details (www.durangotrain.com) as well as info on the train rides and special events.
For those who seek a more physical experience in Durango, there are plenty of things you can do. I did see a lot of rafting and kayaking outfits. Yelp.com lists Mountain Waters Rafting as its first choice based on customer reviews and ratings. Soaring Tree Tops also had great reviews for their zip line tours. There are jeep and ATV tours as well, and I saw a lot of people just hanging out on the side of the river. A word of caution: The riverbank at Durango may not be the best place for children. Although it could be a fun way to spend a hot afternoon, but on the way back on the train we did notice some folks that thought clothing was optional and a few mooned us. When traveling with adults, it could be seen as funny, but a parent might not feel that way.
Okay, foodies—I haven’t forgotten about you. I think of myself as one of you. After we finished with our lesson on how a steam engine locomotive works, we set out to find sustenance. There was a nice gentleman at an information booth who recommended the restaurant next to the train depot called The Palace Restaurant (see www.palacedurango.com). It was very nice looking, outside seating was comfortable, and the menu looked appetizing and had something for everyone. Customer service was decent, but it did take a long time for food to arrive. When it did arrive, the food was good—not great—but good. After we finished our meal, I headed to find the restroom. There were three single-stall restrooms; I used the one at the end. I was very confused when I walked in. The restroom had two toilets facing each other with about six feet between and a shower against the other wall. I chalked it up to an “only in Colorado” sight.
We decided to use the day we took the train as the one night to eat out. We made reservations because it is always wise to make them in a tourist town during peak season. We chose Mutu’s Italian Kitchen on 2nd Ave. It was in a great location in the middle of town. (To find out more about their location and menu, check out their website www.atmutusitaliankitchen.com. The atmosphere here was very pleasant, and the outside seating and lighting made it feel cozy. We chose inside because rain clouds loomed. Inside seating was open and a bit too close together for my comfort. The staff was friendly and eager to assist us with food and wine selections.
If you’ve just returned from a trip to Italy and loved the food there, you might not be as enthused with the food at Mutu’s. We all agreed that our chosen dish was pleasant to the palate, but lacked the flavor that you expect from Italian dishes. The prices were reasonable, though, and I would still recommend Mutu’s, as the options for good Italian restaurants in Durango were limited. This is a nice place to go as adults, but I’m not sure the little ones would enjoy the atmosphere or food selection.
We loved our day in Durango, and I’m sure you’ll find your favorite memory there as well. I think next time I might even try a zip line tour or travel a little out of the way and see Mesa Verde. I guess I better start planning that trip and encourage the kids to come with us.