Charming Small Towns for Colorado Meetings
Photos: Visit Pagosa Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Colorado Mountain Winefest, Stanley Pavilion by Studio JK, Arkansas River near Buena Vista and Salida by Scott Peterson, Golden Welcome Sign/Visit Golden, Ouray Hot Springs Pool/Classic Visions Photography
Find additional ideas and information about iconic places for a Colorado meeting and search for meeting venues by region or statewide.
By Beth Buehler
In addition to being a state that is rich with beautiful views and experiences, Colorado has many charming small towns that are well versed at welcoming groups and have the venues and amenities to impress. If you haven’t already, branch out and consider this curated sampling of towns to consider. Talented and friendly locals will help craft one of your most memorable meetings yet!
First, let’s look at hot springs, as it’s pretty safe to say that most people welcome the chance to soak in soothing and restorative waters that aren’t available in most places. Glenwood Springs, Ouray and Pagosa Springs all have more than one hot springs option in town and are in close proximity to skiing. Plus, there are a whole host of noteworthy ski towns around the state that are always small-town favorites for groups.
Glenwood Hot Springs (the largest hot springs pool in the world) and nearby Hotel Colorado were established within five years of each other (1888 and 1893) and are still among standout assets in Glenwood Springs. Today, Glenwood Hot Springs also has a lodge, spa and athletic club, and Hotel Colorado is undergoing renovation with new ownership. The Hotel Denver is another classic property, and newer attractions like Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park add nicely to the mix. Sunlight Mountain Resort is a small but worthy and budget-friendly local ski hill, and four more ski areas are located just down the road in Aspen and Snowmass. Glenwood Springs Community Center and Morgridge Commons Glenwood Springs Conference Center provide additional places to gather.
Often referred to as “Little Switzerland,” Ouray in southwestern Colorado is surrounded by peaks and is one of the state’s most picturesque destinations. Ouray Hot Springs Pool is by far the largest hot springs option in Ouray, but two hotels and the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings have warm waters and a vapor cave to indulge in as well. The historic and beautifully restored Beaumont Hotel & Spa is best equipped to host groups, and Ouray Community Center offers additional possibilities. Ouray Brewery has tasty brews and bites, as well as a great rooftop patio, and not far away in Telluride are ski slopes, a golf course and more.
Also in southwest Colorado, Pagosa Springs has an active brewery scene and one of the best bakeries around, which also happens to cater. The Springs Resort & Spa is one of the star attractions along with Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts and Ross Aragon Community Center, which are available for rent. Pagosa Brewing Company has a spacious patio and lawn and recently expanded the indoor event space for groups, and Wolf Creek Ski Area is nearby.
Ski towns are typically small in size but big on character, rich in history and blessed with distinct shops restaurants, venues, and lodging choices. Consider the likes of Aspen, Crested Butte, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Telluride and Winter Park, all with fun downtowns and loads of options and name recognition.
Chaffee County has one destination marketing organization, which makes it handy to plan meetings that can tap the many resources of Buena Vista and Salida. The area has a nice selection of hot springs as well as the popular Arkansas River for additional water fun. Both have downtowns with fun shops, eateries and coffee houses, and Monarch Mountain is just up the hill for skiing.
The attractive SteamPlant Event Center was originally built in 1887 to house the Salida Edison Electric Light Company and was thoughtfully renovated with meetings and events in mind. Overlooking the river, it’s a terrific place to meet, and consider other unique options for group gatherings such as Hutchinson Ranch, Riverside Park Bandshell, and Integrate. Outside of town, Goat Mountain Lodge presents cheese-making classes, goat yoga and other learning opportunities, as well as limited accommodations and lots of opportunities to interact with the on-site goat herd.
In Buena Vista, the historic courthouse now serves as the Buena Vista Heritage Museum and features an attractive ballroom, while Surf Hotel is new on the scene. Don’t forget a stop at Eddyline Brewery!
Colorado’s Western Slope is known for its laid-back vibe, friendliness and outrageous beauty. Envision mesas, mountains, recreation, and the majority of Colorado’s vineyards, fruit orchards and lavender fields. Plus, there is easy access through regional airports located in Grand Junction and Montrose. For small-town charm, head straight for Palisade and Montrose.
Located in the heart of Colorado’s wine, peach and lavender country, Palisade has an abundance of outdoor options like rafting on the Colorado River, exploring the Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa National Forest, and skiing Powderhorn Ski Resort not far away. Groups can stay and meet alongside a vineyard at Wine Country Inn and host events and tastings at many of 25+ wineries in the area and Peach Street Distillers. Palisade River Ranch and Palisade Wine Valley Inn provide additional options with limited lodging but loads of appeal. Palisade makes up a fair share of the Fruit & Wine Byway and hosts the popular Palisade Peach Festival, Colorado Mountain Winefest and Colorado Lavender Festival.
In southwest Colorado, Montrose has the benefit of being slightly larger, which translates into venues that have more extensive capacities. Montrose Pavilion Event Center and Montrose County Fairgrounds & Event Center are good examples, and for groups that want golf as part of the itinerary or simply as a picturesque backdrop, head to The Bridges and Cobble Creek Golf Community. Or provide attendees with a memorable taste of local history by booking the Ute Indian Museum and Turn of the Century Saloon. Don’t forget to block out time to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
For a more central location closer to cities, Golden and Estes Park deliver memorable venues, hotels and outings that are sure to inspire attendees. Rich community heritage aligned with new opportunities keep groups returning to both destinations.
With the added bonus of close proximity to Denver by car and light rail, Golden has more than 20 cultural attractions and classic Colorado activities like hiking, mountain biking and water sports. The arched “Howdy Folks Welcome to Golden – Where the West Lives” spans the width of the community’s lively main street and signals what attendees can expect. Don’t miss the Coors Brewery Tour to see the world’s largest single-site brewery and book distinct venues like the American Mountaineering Center, Foothills Art Center and Boettcher Mansion. The Golden Hotel and Table Mountain Inn provide nice meeting/lodging combinations, and for outside-the-meeting fun consider Oxotic Supercar Driving Experience, which also has event space.
As one of the gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park has long been a group favorite. The Stanley Hotel is one of Colorado’s grand dames that just keeps getting better with age especially with the recent addition of The Pavilion featuring a 250-seat, glass-door auditorium and 8,000+ square feet of banquet space and the upcoming 40,000-square-foot Stanley Film Center. Recently renovated, The Ridgeline Hotel features the Estes Park Conference Center with two ballrooms, breakout spaces and an outdoor courtyard, while Estes Park Events Center has the largest capacity and even a meeting room in a silo. YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, Taharaa Mountain Lodge and 800 Moraine Event Center provide a wealth of other great options.
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa
John Hendricks, founder of the Discovery Channel and Discovery Communications, was the dreamer behind this property located in the small burg of Gateway, only one hour south of Grand Junction. Expect amazing experiences, premiere facilities and even a curator of curiosity on staff.
Photo: Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa
Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort
Situated between Salida and Buena Vista, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort has an assortment of meeting spaces and multiple lodging options, ranging from cabins and new creek-side suites to lodge rooms. The quiet mountain setting is both productive and relaxing, with divine hot springs as a welcome reward.
Photo: Scott Peterson
Constructed in 1902 for coal baron John Cleveland Osgood, Redstone Castle was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and recently reopened as an unforgettable event venue and lodging property with seven specialty suites. Groups of up to 150 guests can be hosted.