Here at DMMB, we know that Denver has pretty much everything you could ever want or need for your family. We also know that our state is bursting at the seams with other amazing places to raise a family! Which is why we are embarking on this new “Mountain Mama” series–to introduce you to the ways families work, play, live, and grow across Colorado.
In this series, you’ll get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a parent in small-town Colorado, and the ups and downs that come with it. And, as a bonus, these Mountain Mama guides can help you discover the “locals-only” gems around these small mountain towns! Perfect for the next time you want to visit!
I’ll be kicking things off with a guide to Salida, CO, my new hometown! Located an easy 2.5 hours away from Denver, Salida is an amazing little town right on the banks of the Arkansas River. If you want to play in the river, mountain bike, soak in the hot springs, hike, or browse countless art galleries and public art displays around town, Salida is the place to be.
1. Tell us about you and what took you away from the big city!
Okay, you already know a lot about me since, I’m a regular contributor, but a little back story to how I ended up in Salida: We were in Denver for three years while my husband completed his family medicine residency at the University of Colorado. After spending a month here last year, a job opening came up and we decided my husband should jump on it! We’ve been here full time since the end of June, with our just-turned-2-year-old daughter and two dogs, and we absolutely love it here.
2. Favorite resources in your town for kids?
There are tons of great playgrounds around town that are clean and beautiful and really fun. Our favorite is Alpine Park, located just a few blocks from our house. We go almost every day, so our daughter can get her wiggles out and every Saturday morning for the amazing farmers market. Salida also has an awesome regional library, right across the street from Alpine Park. One amazing thing we discovered when we moved here is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library–all you have to do is sign up at the library and your child receives a free book in the mail every month until they turn 5! Another big draw about Salida is the public school system–we have one elementary, middle, and high school, all of which are some of the strongest in the state. Plus, we have a K-8 Montessori school that just got it’s public charter this year!
3. Best time of year to visit?
The summer is definitely the busiest tourist season of the year. Pretty much every weekend since we’ve moved here, there’s been some kind of festival happening bringing in tons of people from all over the place. A couple weekends ago was the real highlight of the year: the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, featuring Mumford and Sons, Flaming Lips, Jenny Lewis, Dawes, and so many more amazing acts. It brought in 20,000 people to our little town of 5,500! It was such an awesome experience. The beginning of fall is amazing too, when the colors really start to change. A lot of people stay in Salida if they come over to ski at Monarch, only about 20 minutes away.
4. Not-to-miss activities or attractions?
- Walk up and down F street and around downtown for great shopping, eating, and gallery hopping.
- Drive up “S” mountain for a drop-dead gorgeous view of the entire valley.
- Go to the river! Doesn’t matter what you do, even if you’re just sitting and watching the professional kayakers show off their crazy skills in the rapids!
- Go to Elevation Beer Company for great beer and grab some amazing food at the Poco food truck.
- Take a day trip to one of the many hot springs surrounding Salida, or if you want to stay in town, just head over to the local hot springs pool!
- Make sure that whatever you do while you’re in Salida, you’re riding your bike to and from while doing it–biking is the official mode of transportation here.
5. What do you miss about the city?
Two words: TRADER JOES. I’m still getting used to not having every single thing I could ever need within a short arms reach. Also, the haul to an airport proves tricky for planning out of town travel (2.5 hours to Colorado Springs, and 3 hours to DIA!).
6. Reasons you love raising a family in your town?
Definitely the small town feel, the security, the simplicity, the amazing contributions of everyone in the community to making this town really awesome. Everyone we’ve met so far has been so welcoming and inclusive and passionate about this town. That sense of pride and responsibility toward our town and our neighbors is something I’m so excited for my daughter to grow up learning.