Ouray, Colorado, known as the Switzerland of America, is such a beautiful and unique place to visit. We always like to take a winter vacation after Christmas and I discovered this little gem last minute while searching for hot springs. Pronounced “you-ray”, this winter paradise is surrounded by 13,000-foot snowy peaks from the San Juan mountain range, and has lots of relaxation and adventure to offer.
The town of Ouray seemed especially quiet after Christmas, which we loved. Having no traffic lights just made this snowy town all the more charming, and as long as you’re bundled up nice and warm a large majority of the town is walkable. There is so much to see and do, and I’m really excited to share all our hot and cold adventures with you! Ouray instantly has become one of my favorite Colorado towns.
In 2021, we’re still dealing with Covid, so of course not everything was open and that was fine with us. Just keep in mind if you’re reading this post-Covid there should be even more things available.
THINGS TO DO
SHOP ON MAIN STREET
I really enjoyed Khristopher’s Culinaire and the Ouray Bookshop was another favorite. There are lots of quirky stores and souvenir, clothing, and gear shops to choose from. There is also a small grocery store if you need to pick up a few items.
SOAK IN THE HOT SPRINGS
I’m definitely addicted to hot springs! Soaking in a 104-degree mineral pool is just heavenly. There are many hot springs to enjoy in the area including the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa, where we stayed. They have a main hot spring pool and a private hot spring that is available by reservation. They also have a vapor cave which sounds amazing (but it’s closed currently due to Covid) and a spa below. Orvis Hot Springs is just a short drive to Ridgeway and gorgeous. There’s also the Ouray Hot Springs, which is perfect for the entire family with several pools to choose from and waterslides. The Twin Peaks Lodge also has a hot spring on site.
GO ICE CLIMBING
Ice climbing was another thing that excited me about visiting Ouray, they’re known for some of the best ice climbing terrain around. Seasoned ice climbers can climb for free at the Ouray Ice Park. If you’re a beginner like me have no fear. You can take a lesson from the San Juan Mountain Guides and have fun climbing the beginner route. It’s really fun to watch others climb too.
Ice climbing was actually easier than I thought it would be, that is once you get the moves down. It’s fun, but also a bit exhausting… and cold. The day we climbed was one of the coldest days, and it was heavily snowing. Having said that, Brian and I both loved it and can’t wait to do it again.
HIKE TO THE FALLS
I just love waterfalls, even if they’re frozen. Cascade Falls is an easy walk from the parking lot, even in the snow. Those who have hiking poles can walk up a little farther like we did. There is a surrounding trail nearby too. Box Canyon Falls is located near the Ouray Ice Park and quite impressive from what I hear but sadly it was closed the day we tried to visit. That’s okay, it’s just another excuse to visit again, right?
ADMIRE THE GORGEOUS ARCHITECTURE
There are lots of beautiful and unique historic homes and buildings all throughout Ouray. I just couldn’t get enough, I took photos of so many places! Driving and walking around the town looking at all the gorgeous architecture was really fun.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Telluride is a little over an hour away and makes a great day trip to ski, dine, or shop. Be sure to take the free gondola to Mountain Village it was the best gondola rides we’ve done.
The Wright Opera House is currently closed due to Covid but they plan to re-open when it’s safe. There are a few interesting museums in the area, and plenty of spas available too, which we didn’t have time to enjoy.
WHERE TO EAT
We had so many delicious meals, here are our favorite places where we ate.
Bon Ton Restaurant – Delicious Italian food with a neat underground location. Try the scallop pot pie appetizer!
Artisan Bakery and Cafe – Yummy breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Try the turkey salad sandwich!
Thai Chili Restaurant – Great views out the restaurant windows, food was great too.
Ouray Meat and Cheese Market – A lovely place to shop and grab a quick meal.
Colorado Boy Southwest Pub – Locals say they have some of the best pizza in Colorado. We agree it was delicious!
Brickhouse 737 – Okay, we didn’t get to eat here but locals say it’s one of the best restaurants so I had to include it. Next time we visit (can’t wait) we’ll be sure to eat here.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at The Wiesbaden to take advantage of their private hot spring pool. The rooms were charming and sweet and the water felt amazing. Currently there is no breakfast or coffee due to Covid. The Artisan Bakery and Cafe was a short walk from our hotel, there is also another nearby coffee shop as well.
I can’t really speak for other lodging in the area since we only stayed at the Wiesbaden, but the Beaumont Hotel and Spa looked wonderful, as well as the St. Elmo Hotel. The Twin Peaks Lodge also has their own hot spring on site so that’s a bonus. When it’s possible we love to book through Hotels.com because you find the best price and you earn points for free nights.
Have I convinced you to visit Ouray? It’s such a unique charming town to visit in the winter and we can’t wait to visit again!