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Telluride: The Sassy Mama Guide

TravelPost Category - TravelTravel - Post Category - By CountryBy Country

One look at Telluride in 1993 and Gweneth Rehnborg was hooked. Here she shares her top tips for enjoying Telluride during all seasons!

Describe Telluride in 3 words:
As my eleven year old put it, “Bloody Good Fun!”

Best hotel/ place to stay in Telluride when traveling with kids:
Telluride has many great houses and condos for rent, and I think that’s the way to go. I like to have a kitchen for the inevitable midnight jetlag snacking and breakfast for early bird kids without having to have everyone up and ready to go before coffee. I’d recommend River Watch and Icehouse condos in Telluride – there are many. Most of the hotels in town are boutique and really nice. Hotel Telluride, the New Sheridan and the Hotel Columbia are the top, but for larger hotels with more amenities many people like to stay at The Peaks or the Fairmont Heritage Place in Mountain Village. Fancier people love Mountain Village on the other side; I’m more of a town girl myself.

Your favourite place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why?
There are too many great restaurants to choose just one for each meal! If I had to choose, I’d say you can’t miss these…

The Coffee Cowboy is all you need in the morning for a cup of coffee, a muffin and a chance to see everyone else in Telluride doing the same thing. Grab the Daily Planet newspaper and a table in the sunshine and you’re all set!

Right next door you can enjoy casual, healthy Mexican food at La Cocina de Luz. Delicious, creative and very kid-friendly restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a cart with smoothies and home-made ice cream, La Cocina is a local favorite.

Baked in Telluride, another local institution (and in it’s new and improved building after a crazy fire last year), is an absolute don’t miss with kids.

The taco truck on the East end of town has delicious and cheap tacos on the go, but if you’re looking for a restaurant for lunch to warm up and enjoy great food while the kiddies are happy, our old family favorites include Rustico’s, Smuggler’s and The Butcher & Baker.

Rustico’s is great for dinner too, but the real treat in Telluride is to get a sitter and head out to one of the really wonderful places like 221 Oak, Honga’s, Allred’s, Cosmopolitan or La Marmotte. All are kid-friendly enough, but maybe more relaxing without them.

And, for late night fun try Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, The Last Dollar and newcomer “There” (opened by former Nobu mixologist).

Don’t forget the greatest kid incentive in the world; ice cream at Sweet Life!

What is your favourite thing to do with kids in Telluride ?
Winter: Ski, of course. The ski schools are terrific and very convenient, and it’s one of the best ski mountains anywhere. But that’s not the only thing to do. One year my son had a broken arm, so we explored other options like snowshoes, dog sleds, winter hiking and the three great ice skating rinks.

Summer: Nothing beats Telluride Academy! Started in the 1970’s by Telluride darling Wendy Brooks, Telluride Academy offers kids the opportunity for adventure and outdoor exploration under the guidance of skilled and very cool counselors. Offering everything from rock climbing, camping, white water rafting and theatre to further afield trips all over the Southwest and the world, it is the best summer camp I know.

Kid friendly location?
Absolutely! Kids have the run of the place. It’s one of those towns where kids can take off on their bicycles by themselves to the town park and be safe. The speed limit in town is 15 mph! The public library is unbeatable and runs regular programs for kids. Even teenagers like to hang out in the teen-only section. Telluride has two skate parks, a huge town park with a swimming pool, volleyball courts, baseball fields and a great wonderland playground. Kids can horseback ride nearby and explore the mines of Tomboy up above Telluride town, as well as the local museum for the real scoop on the town’s storied history.

Best outdoor activity?
I love to hike, so I’d choose the many hiking trails, but mountain bikers, kayakers, runners, paragliders, and more claim Telluride is best for all of these adventure sports. There’s even a Via Ferrata, “Iron Way” in Italian, a rock face traverse high above the town. Telluride is all about being outside and exploring the gorgeous countryside.

Favourite spa?
The Peaks at Mountain Village.

Best place to rent gear?
Paragon and Telluride Sports are both good. For high performance ski gear and custom boots, Boot Doctors in Mountain Village is where my family goes.

I get my hair done at…
Never. It’s all about the ponytail in Telluride. Ditto the mani/pedi. Telluride is a casual town where boots and jeans are fine everywhere. If you’re a fur coat type of family, try another ski town (or at least Mountain Village). That said, you will definitely need some maintenance in Telluride, as the dry air and high altitude wreck havoc on delicate skin. The Peaks in Mountain Village and Atmosphere Spa in town do a good job keeping you looking your finest.

The three shops I can’t live without are…
The hardware store has absolutely everything you might need. Seriously, from rafts to float down the river, to Christmas tree lights, plug adaptors and fishing poles, you can find it all at the hardware store. For city girls, Scarpe and Two Skirts have all the latest threads, but at a premium. Still, the buyers have a great eye and can put together an après ski outfit in a flash. My all-time favorite store in town is Between the Covers, the independent bookstore with opinionated staff (in a good way!), a coffee shop in back and a reading table to occupy the kiddies.

Who I have on my Telluride speed dial and why…
Lucas from La Cocina de Luz. Some days I just don’t feel like cooking for a crowd, so Lucas will deliver food that everyone loves and he mixes up a mean margarita!

Best place for yoga
Telluride Yoga Center in the historic Nugget Building right in the center of town has great instructors and flexible schedules. Drop-ins are very welcome. Also, don’t miss the Telluride Yoga Festival in mid-July. It’s yoga in the most beautiful place on earth.

Your favourite souvenirs
I buy my adventure gear in Telluride because there’s so much good quality stuff and knowledgeable sales people who actually use the equipment on their days off. Otherwise, I’m too busy having fun to shop, but you can’t go wrong with a Baked in Telluride t-shirt.

An unforgettable moment?
I have to say, my wedding at 11,000 feet on the deck of Gorrono Ranch over Fourth of July weekend in 1997 was my most unforgettable moment in Telluride. Our guests rode the ski gondola to the wedding and enjoyed a whole weekend of fun exploring the town.

Can’t live without…
The festivals all summer long! There is always something to do in Telluride. Whether you’re looking for live music, lectures, extreme sports, a quiet hike or a nice meal Telluride has it, but it’s all casual and relaxed.

Don’t miss…
Fourth of July in Telluride. The parade, fireman’s picnic in town park and the greatest fireworks show make it the perfect place to spend the independence day holiday. Also The Bluegrass Festival in June and the Film Festival in September are unrivaled!

Favourite time of year in Telluride why and what do you love to do?
It’s a tough call, but I love summer in Telluride. There’s a festival every weekend, the hiking is insanely beautiful, the restaurants are great and the kids go to camp all day so I can get out and enjoy myself too.

What advice would you give families visiting Telluride
Winter: Ski school, the library, Annie’s Nannies for babysitters, and movies at the Nugget Theatre.
Summer: Telluride Academy, Pinhead Punk Science programs, festivals, the River Trail, the Tomboy mine tour, Ouray hot springs, the trampolines at Mt. Village, hiking, the library, Town Park etc, etc, etc!

Tell us one thing about Telluride we don’t know
TO-HELL-U-RIDE, as it’s affectionately known, is not easy to get to, but it’s worth it when you arrive. Telluride has the highest airport in the continental US and the runway is on a mesa, so flying in is an experience. Many, including myself, opt to fly to Montrose, an hour and fifteen minutes away and then get Mountain Limo or Telluride Express to take you to Telluride. You can sometimes even talk them into stopping at the market on the way up so you can load up on supplies before you get to town.


Gweneth Rehnborg
Gweneth Rehnborg has a Master’s degree in law and diplomacy, but she’s neither a lawyer nor diplomat. She’s a mom, busy applying all those professional skills to raising her three children in Hong Kong. One look at Telluride in 1993 and she was hooked. Gweneth has been a regular ever since.

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