Family Vacations to Telluride, Colorado

Sleigh Ride Telluride, Colorado
Sleigh Ride (courtesy, Tony Demin-Telluride Ski Resort)

Telluride Family Travel Tips

  • Get inspired in art classes for adults or kids at Ah Haa.
  • Ride horses with Telluride's famously colorful cowboy.
  • Go on a family hike led by San Juan Outdoor School.
  • Take in a play or musical performance at the Sheridan Opera House.
  • Learn fly-fishing on the San Miguel River.

Telluride is really two towns separated by 800 vertical feet and 109 years. Historic Telluride was founded in 1878 with all of the color and questionable taste of rough-and-tumble mining towns of its era. Mountain Village, founded in 1987, is all about exquisite taste, from luxury lodging to upscale boutiques and spas. The historic town has caught up these days, holding on to its rugged past while embracing newfound elegance. Together, the two offer world-class skiing along with a summer playground that USA Weekend named as one of the "Top 10 Places America Goes to Have Fun." A free gondola connects them, giving visitors the best of both worlds.

Justifiably proud of its arts, Telluride has two theater groups and the historic Sheridan Opera House, with summer performances for adults and kids. Explore your own creative side at Ah Haa, a school for the arts housed Telluride-style in a transformed brothel. Kid's summer workshops for ages four to 12 include a three- or four-day Art Camp and Clay Camp, and ongoing Fabulous Fridays whose different themes have kids crafting wind chimes, masks, and other fun things to take home.

The bottom line with Telluride, though, is the great outdoors. The San Miguel River offers excellent fly-fishing (and plenty of wily Colorado trout to challenge you) on one of the last undammed rivers in the Rocky Mountains. And who doesn't want to play golf at 9,300 feet in the San Juan Mountains? Or round up the kids and go horseback riding with Roudy Roudebush, one of Telluride's truly colorful characters, whose slogan is, "Gentle horses for gentle people, fast horses for fast people, and for people who don't like to ride, horses that don't like to be rode." Then sign up with San Juan Outdoor School for family hiking adventures, kid's rock climbing, teen mountaineering camps, or multi-activity camps for ages five and older. Winter programs include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Telluride Ski Resort's Children's Ski School teaches ages three to 12 and offers a nursery for ages two months to three years. For kids five and older there's also Kid's Night Out, including supervised night sledding, movies, and dinner. The most exhilarating place for families to play together is Thrill Hill. Hop on a tube and race your kids down the slippery slope.

As for lodging, there's no shortage of condos in all price ranges, plus many unique hotels. In town, the New Sheridan Hotel has family suites in both its historic and new buildings, and a complimentary breakfast that may be the best in town. On the mountain, the Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa is child- and pooch-friendly. It has its own programs for infants/toddlers and kids aged two-and-a-half to 12. There's also a Day at the Spa for girls eight to 14. The Peaks can arrange activities from hiking and riding to rafting or fishing, plus there's tennis, golf, and an indoor climbing wall right on site. There's a Doggie Spa, too, to keep Fido from feeling left out, with "pawdicures," ear and teeth cleaning, brushing, and massage.

Tips: This is high altitude, even for city-living Coloradoans. It's no myth that you should drink lots of extra water to avoid the effects of altitude. Remember, thirst is not a good indicator of the need for water, so drink even if you don't feel parched. Also take it easy the first day (meander around Telluride's boutiques) and limit alcohol, the effects of which are greater at altitude.

Recommended Side Trips: San Juan Skyway, Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Durango's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 3 Oct 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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