I’ve lived in Colorado my entire life and because of that…I hate being cold. So I usually stay down in Denver and don’t make my way up to the mountains very often. But since Colorado has been so incredibly dry this winter and my sister-in-law is always happy to explore somewhere new in Colorado, we decided to make our way to a little mountain town that neither one of us had ever been: Crested Butte. Since it’s only about 4 hours from where I live, it was an easy decision. Still on our future mountain list – Steamboat, Telluride and Ouray. But I’ll wait until it’s summer in those towns. Because driving the easy 4 hours turned into a bit of a nightmare on the way back. I’ll get to that later.
Crested Butte is unlike any other mountain town I’ve been to. I grew up going to the mountains most weekends, snowboarding and eating peanut butter sandwiches since the food was so expensive at the resorts, then sitting in traffic for hours on the way home. And all the mountain towns I’ve been to are filled with tiny shops with t-shirts that say Colorado on them and little bars that have sh*tty drink specials like a hot toddy. These ski towns are usually made up of crappy restaurants and bars OR super expensive restaurants and bars. There’s not much in between. But Crested Butte is totally different.
Crested Butte started off as a little coal mining town back in the 1800’s and then evolved into a ski town over time. In the heart of downtown Crested Butte, you’ll find a Main Street lined with shops, restaurants and unique bars. Then if you drive 5 minutes up the mountain, you have the ski resort with more shops, hotels and restaurants. We decided to stay on the mountain since it’s such an easy drive, but if I could do it over again, I would definitely stay downtown at a Bed & Breakfast so we could easily walk to dinner and drinks without worrying about driving later on. Since we didn’t snowboard, it was kind of pointless to be on the mountains, but still pretty! We booked our room at the Elevation Spa & Hotel which walks right out onto the ski slope which is awesome if you’re a skier or snowboarder!
As soon as we drove into Crested Butte and dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we went straight back down the mountain to get drinks at Dogwood. This little cocktail bar makes some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. I always mention on here that I’m not a huge drinker because, well, vodka sodas and sh*tty margaritas just aren’t my interest. I’m not going to waste calories on something that doesn’t taste wonderful. But the drinks at Dogwood are something special. Something worth wasting calories over. When I opened the cocktail menu, I immediately saw the Beetnik which includes beet infused vodka, lemon, and ginger and I was sold. It was truly fantastic, that is, if you like beets. My SIL thought it tasted like dirt. What a dummy. And for my second drink, I ordered the Beesting which comes with habañero infused tequila, honey, mint and lemon. It was fantastic. We left feeling giggly, happy and ready to come back another night.
After our drinks, we wandered just down the block to Public House where it looked welcoming and comfortable. No one had recommended this restaurant to me which was super surprising because their menu is filled with delicious grass-fed burgers topped with farm fresh eggs. This little restaurant has delicious food, live music, and once I did a little more research about it, I found out that they also have beautiful lofts that you rent! I totally would have stayed there if I knew about it! The food was amazing and the ambiance was even better there!
The next morning, we started our day off at Revelden (previously known as Sunflower). This restaurant was recommend by sooooo many people and I really wish we could have eaten there for dinner, but brunch was still amazing! This restaurant is so warm, cozy and quaint inside and the menu is created with items found from local farms. They even write the farms on a chalk board when you walk in. I had a simple breakfast of eggs, sausage, potatoes and tomatoes and ate every last bit!
For our main full day in Crested Butte, instead of skiing or snowboarding like most people, we wandered the town and checked out all the shops. Earlier in the morning, we talked to someone who mentioned that you could book a ticket to have someone on the ski staff take you to Uley’s Ice Bar & Cabin (which you normally just ski to yourself) and we were totally pumped to do that, but turns out you need to book your tickets 24 hours ahead and we had done that. So downtown went to shop and eat more!
The main store I came across and fell in love with was Casa Bella. This little bath, beauty and bed shop had the absolute cutest home items and I wanted to buy SO MUCH while I was there. They had amazing kitchenware, amazing candles, and some of the coolest plates I’ve ever come across. I honestly regret not purchasing a few of the plates because they would have been beautiful in food photos!
After checking out all the stores, we wandered into Montanya Distillers for an afternoon cocktail and some lunch. This place was recommended by multiple people for drinks, but I was pleasantly surprised how good the food was, too! I don’t personally drink rum unless I’m in Jamaica or Mexico, so I was a little hesitant to try their drinks, but I’m SO glad I did because everything I tried was amazing.
I tried the Fiery Passion which is made from habañero and pineapple infused Montanya Platino Rum, passionfruit, fresh lime and mint, agave, and seltzer. After sipping on this outstanding cocktail, we ordered from their menu which specifies which items are gluten free, vegan and dairy free. We ordered the winter bowl which had local greens, braised brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, sweet potato croutons, pineapple- turmeric kraut, walnuts, and miso maple vinaigrette. And we also ordered the animal fries which come with chilean sweet potato fries topped with bulgogi beef, Banh Mi sauce, grated parmesan, and green onion. It was SO DAMN GOOD. We sat at the bar and watched them make every drink and it’s obvious they really care about the food AND the drinks they are putting out into their community. I seriously loved this place!
Later in the evening, we did what we seemed to be the best at…we went back to Dogwood to try more of their cocktails. This time around I ordered the Beetnik AGAIN and then also tried the Poco Loco with habanero infused vodka, lemon and honey. SO DAMN BOMB. This time we sat at the bar and tried to get to know the bartender but he was about as exciting as a bed pan.
For dinner, we ended up going to a restaurant that was recommend by a reader – Django’s. This restaurant serves small plates that are perfect for sharing and they also include tip in the price of menu item, which is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. We ended up ordering the brussels sprouts (which were some of the best brussels sprout I’ve ever had), the risotto cakes, steak frites and duck breast and all of it was delicious. BUT I wish I would have stopped in Django’s for an appetizer then went to another restaurant for dinner just to experience more places in the short amount of time we had. I definitely plan to reinvent those brussels sprouts at home because they were seriously so outstanding!
And to end our last night in Crested Butte, we walked across the street to Bonez to grab a cocktail. We tried to go the night before but it was closed for a wedding so we made sure to drop by for a quick drink. The margaritas were amazing but the ambiance was pure perfection. I’ve been told that their food is awesome and I saw a few plates that looked amazing, but we stuck to drinks instead.
The next morning, before we headed back home to Denver, we stopped in at the cutest coffee shop in the entire world – Camp 4 Coffee. This coffee shop has delicious coffee and treats, but the outside area is the best part of all. We left while it was snowing which made the little house with the dogs waiting for their owners outside, even more adorable.
You know what wasn’t adorable? Driving back home. We went over Monarch Pass and took Highway 285 home and at the start of the drive, we almost went over a bridge then almost hit a guard rail. And that was only 30 minutes in. So the next 5 hours were pure fear. I could barely see the car in front of me and even at 15 mph, we were still sliding all over the road. It was awful. So I’ve decided that the next time I go to the mountains, it will be in the summer when the roads are dry and the sun is shining the whole time! And Crested Butte looks like it is stunning in the summer anyways! I honestly can’t wait to go back. This little mountain town is step above the rest and they are proving that they care about their community and they want people to remember their town. And I definitely will!
Quick Summary of Crested Butte Favorites:
- Elevation Spa & Hotel
- Casa Bella
- Public House
- Montanya Distillers
- Camp 4 Coffee
In case you want to check out some of the restaurants recommended by readers, here’s the places I missed:
Shop My Crested Butte Looks