Anyone up for a holiday road trip?
Hallmark movies this time of year are dripping with charming communities, love, and a hefty helping of yuletide joy. No matter how world-weary and practical you are, you can't deny that you've at least once wished that such a place existed in real life.
Well, according to The Washington Post, it does—and it's right here in the Centennial State!
The Washington Post recently put out a list of Hallmark movie towns across the nation, and our very own Durango made the top of the list.
Full disclosure, I was born and raised in Durango, and my parents still live there, so I can personally attest to its charm and beauty in the holiday season. Because it's held to much of its roots in terms of architecture and overall ambiance, the town's main street still looks a little like a step back in time at all times of year, but especially when all lit up for the holidays.
And The Washington Post agrees:
"Welcome to Durango, a town so lovely in the wintertime that its website says it could be the best time of year to visit. You see this from the moment you arrive," says the article.
You can start enjoying the apres-ski scene at Purgatory Resort, which is north of town and easily reachable by one of the most beautiful winter mountain drives you will ever see. Ranches, pine trees, and miles of snowy peaks (on the right year, of course; Durango, unfortunately, can go through a snow drought just like the rest of the state) frame your view as you head up to hit the slopes and then enjoy the after-glow of a fun day while sipping a beverage.
The Post thinks this is also one of your best places to find that holiday love that Hallmark is so famous for.
"In the background: the San Juan Mountains under a blanket of snow. In the foreground: cozy locals bundled up in lounge chairs around fire pits enjoying the après-ski scene. You nestle in with them, doing your best to blend in while also standing out to a potential 'special someone.'"
Courtesy of Purgatory Resort (Facebook)
The article also points to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's Polar Express train as pure seasonal charm, and points you to downtown if you are still looking for that certain someone who will share a hot chocolate and your heart.
"Mosey over to food-and-drink court 11th Street Station or the bar El Moro for more opportunities to meet your soul mate. If that doesn’t pan out like you and Hallmark hoped, try Noel Night on Dec. 6. Everyone in town comes out for the evening, where shops offer food, wine, games, and discounts," the reporter writes.
I agree with all of those things, and also suggest a few more. For families or those who want to snuggle up with a new love, check out Rapp Corral's Sleigh Rides. It's right on your way to or from Purgatory resort, and it takes a fun, sleigh-bell-filled trip around the wintery scene of Haviland Lake. I worked a short season when home from college driving the sleighs here, and it's a blast for both the drivers and the riders (and the horses are well-loved and taken care of), not to mention a good way to get closer to a love interest! Buck's Livery is also a great place to catch a sleigh ride near Purgatory Resort!
Can't beat a winter sleigh ride. Courtesy of Rapp Corral (Facebook)
The Strater Hotel is a wonderful, Victorian-era hotel that has quite the ambiance during the holiday season. Before you head out for the evening, stop by the Diamond Belle Saloon for a few drinks, the Old West Saloon atmosphere (including saloon girls and ragtime piano), and a glimpse into Durango's past. If you want more of a speakeasy vibe, hit up The Bookcase & Barber for a haircut and/or a drink at the bar behind the books (if you know the password).
My final recommendation is to just explore Durango! You can find snowmobile tours from several companies, dog sled tours, take a winter ride on the train to Cascade (a different trip from the Polar Express), and shop some of the amazing local shops on Main. Or, get active and ski or tube at Purgatory or the nearby, small and family-friendly Hesperus Hill. Ski, sled, or ice skate right on the edge of town at Chapman Hill. Then, cap your day off with a wood-fired pizza and local brew from Fired-Up Pizzeria, one of my favs.
So, stop watching those Hallmark movies, and live it instead in Durango! Maybe I'll see you there this holiday season!
Have you visited Durango in the winter? Let us know some of your favorite activities to do while you are there in the comments below.