Orpah and Kelly Ripa are onto something.
Maybe you know Telluride from that Vanity Fair cover with Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and baby Suri. Maybe you know it because Mount Wilson, the mountain made famous by the Coors Light can, is perpetually IRL in your line of sight when you’re in Telluride. Maybe you know it because Kelly Ripa, Oprah, and Jerry Seinfeld all have homes there—and Ralph Lauren’s famous Double RL ranch is a stone’s throw away. Maybe because of the film festival, which, this weekend, will host just about every actor and director vying for an Oscar this year. In short, for a town with just 3,000 people, there’s a lot of celebrity to be had. Or maybe you know it because, you know, you’ve heard about the world-class skiing and biking and rafting. Maybe you’re that person.
I’m most certainly not that person. I also didn’t know a whole lot about Telluride other than it’s in Colorado and it’s a ski-resort town—and I was going in summertime when skiing would most definitely not be on the itinerary. But after spending a long weekend in the mountain town and putting my journalistic sleuthing *skills* to use, I can confidently say that Oprah, Cruise, Ripa, Seinfeld, et al. are very much onto something and that Telluride, any time of year, is quite possibly the most luxurious place while simultaneously being incredibly down to earth and chill (for lack of a better word—that really is the vibe). This isn’t your outdoorsy adventurers guide—you’ll have to go elsewhere for that—but I’m here to tell you that there’s much more to this coal-mining-town-turned-one-part-ski-bum-one-part-star-power paradise. Here’s how to eat, drink, shop, spa and generally make merry in Telluride.
The Telluride airport was made private only some years ago (which honestly tells you something), so unless you have a private jet, there’s no flying direct (but if you do, I’ll totally hitch a ride from Teterboro). Instead, fly to Montrose and take an hour-and-a-half shuttle or private car to Telluride. Keep your eyes peeled for the Double RL gate as you approach. The other views are pretty all right too (as in effing stunning ranch land meeting snow-capped mountains).
The Madeline Hotel & Residences (568 Mountain Village Boulevard) is pretty much the place to stay in Telluride. It’s located in Mountain Village, which is a 15-minute gondola ride away from “downtown,” but it’s the area in which everyone stays; it’s ski-in, ski-out, and it’s where all the celebs have homes (Kelly Ripa gets her hair done at the Madeline’s in-house salon). The other thing about the Madeline? If you really want to chill the eff out, you don’t have to leave, like, ever. The restaurants, Black Iron (alfresco lunch beside the fire) and M Club (a cozy dinner), are pretty darn excellent. For lunch, get the beet and amaranth salad; for dinner, get, well, everything, but especially the trout tartare and the whole roasted cauliflower. There’s also a spa that offers just about everything you’d ever need to relax and feel good about yourself (it’s also the site of a gemstone massage that made even my inner skeptic believe in the power of crystals). Oh, and there’s a stunning pool deck that’s open year round with views that’ll make your Instagram account’s year. Just trust me and stay there.
(aka what’s what on and around Telluride’s main drag)
You’re not going to find major designer shopping in Telluride, but you have Barneys for that, and that’s not why we’re here. What you do have is sweetly and smartly curated boutiques, galleries, and apothecaries (and a dispensary or two) that you’ll only find here. And there’s a lot more to find, from the Opera House (opened in 1913) to a truffle shop, if you give yourself some time to explore. Here are the must-sees.
Gold Mountain Gallery (135 West Colorado Avenue) is the kind of place where you can find classic Rockies furniture and art—it looks like a Ralph Lauren showroom only it’s the real deal.
If you’re missing your reformer, go to Studio Telluride (135 South Spruce Street) for a traditional Pilates workout. Be prepared to feel it after.
Forgot to pack your favorite jeans? Or maybe all this fresh mountain air is giving you shopping withdrawal. Go to Scarpe (250 East Pacific Avenue), where you can find Raquel Allegra, Frame Denim, and Steven Alan. Plus, you can rationalize any purchase as a souvenir.
If you want a real taste of Telluride hippie, hit up Medicine Ranch (615 West Pacific Avenue), which sells tinctures that can cure just about any ailment that you might suffer from, elixirs and crystals, and offers acupuncture. If you’re anything like me, you’ll walk out with something.
Mixx (307 East Colorado Avenue), at the end of the main street, has a sophisticated and expertly curated mélange of art, jewelry and furniture. Of any of the stores in Telluride, they sell the stuff you actually want to ship back for your apartment.
You can’t go to Colorado without at least looking in on a dispensary (whether or not you buy any goods I’ll leave to your discretion). Delilah (115 West Colorado Avenue) is the place to go—the staff are extremely friendly (no question is too dumb), and they have everything from pre-rolled joints to hemp salve for sore muscles.
EAT & DRINK
Unexpectedly, there’s a lot of world-class food in Telluride, from pizza to Thai to local farm (river, ranch, lake) to table. You’ll roll out of town by the end of the weekend.
Tucked away just east of the main strip, Siam (200 South Davis Street) looks kitschily eccentric from the outside, but it makes seriously great Thai food (some with a particularly Colorado twist, like elk curry).
Across the street from Siam is There (627 West Pacific Avenue), a very friendly tiny bar that serves bizarre but totally delicious jam drinks—quite literally different flavored jams mixed into liquor concoctions of your choosing.
The New Sheridan Hotel (231 West Colorado Avenue) is the new(ish) version of the first hotel in Telluride, and it was built in 1895 when the only people coming to town were those hoping to strike it rich mining for gold. Come here for a bourbon or a beer with the rowdy local crowd and you’ll feel like you’re in an old Western.
221 South Oak (221 S Oak St) is the place to eat dinner in Telluride. It’s gourmet food and wine with a significant vegetarian menu, all from the genius that is Eliza Gavin, a former Top Chef star. And it’s in an unassuming house off the main drag. Eat outside in the backyard—I highly recommend the mountain trout.
Last Dollar Saloon (100 East Colorado Avenue), known as the Buck, is seemingly where everyone in Telluride ends up late at night. And that’s all you need to know.
Everyone you meet in Telluride will tell you about Brown Dog Pizza (110 East Colorado Avenue) and that it won a Pizza World Championship in Italy, no less. Suffice it to say the pizza is good.
Go to The Butcher & Baker Cafe (201 East Colorado Avenue) if you’re craving a gourmet sandwich or salad—it’s the most delicious (and adorable) place for lunch in town.
Illustrations by Meghann Stephenson