Travel Like a Local: Telluride

Travel Like a Local: Telluride
Words by Jessica Proffitt Bracken

When it takes several flights and a two-hour drive to get to a destination, you know you’re in for something magical. Telluride is just that—pure magic. Picture something out of a storybook. The views, the charm, the weather, the character, the quaintness of such a beautiful town mesh seamlessly together to paint the perfect backdrop for a TV show or a movie. It’s as if Colorado handpicked its favorite place and nestled it in the San Juan mountains. But what sets this place apart from a film scene is the people and the genuine beauty that the activities, restaurants, and shops so effortlessly exude.

My relationship with Telluride began almost a decade ago when my now-husband and I visited for the first time with friends and family to go skiing. We proceeded to go back every year to get a taste of the mountain air and escape the heat and humidity of Florida. We would swap summers and winters to be able to enjoy all that the mountain town had to offer. The minute my husband proposed seven years ago, the first word out of my mouth (besides yes!) was Telluride. A year later, we were surrounded by 65 of our closest friends and family, 8,750 feet up, overlooking the town of Telluride as we said “I do.”  

The terrain of the San Juan mountains offers the best skiing in the world, but our favorite season to visit Telluride is the summer. From hiking to biking to the countless festivals to horseback riding, there is never a lack of things to do for the entire family. Foodies will rejoice because the local restaurants and bars offer the best quality food and beverage this palate has ever tasted. The local brewery serves some of the hoppiest and most full flavored ice cold brews that are the perfect ending to a day of golfing Telluride’s beautiful golf course. Everything just tastes better in Telluride.

Whether you’re hoping for a workout or simply looking for pristine nature, hiking the San Juan mountains will challenge you with breathtaking views while you take in the sights and smells of nature. If you’re not in the mood to traverse the trails on foot, try it from horseback. Or for the thrill seeker, give paragliding from the top of the mountain a try. Watch the sunset with live music, as Telluride hosts a plethora of festivals each year that bring musicians and artists from around the world. Water sports such as rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, and tubing are a go-to when it’s the peak of summer. 

Everything is a work of art, from the cuisine to the architecture. One can’t forget to mention the free gondola. This high-flying snow globe offers panoramic views of the town while you float in total silence for a solid 15 minutes. Friendly puppies welcome you at every turn, and the shopping is something to write home about.  

This historic mining town holds a special piece of my heart, our fondest memories, the most beautiful family portraits, our wedding, and a second place we call home. I may not be an official local, but I feel as though I am one because Telluride and its beautiful people welcome my family with open arms every year we venture back. Below is my humble opinion on the best food to eat, things to do, and places to stay when visiting the town of Telluride, Colorado, in the summer. Enjoy!



Breakfast – Baked in Telluride and Butcher & The Baker. Coffee at the Phoenix Bean.

Lunch – Pizza at Brown Dog Pizza (world-famous), burger at the Floradora Saloon, great local beers at Smuggler’s Brewpub, a grilled cheese from the Grilled Cheese Cart on Main Street, or a post-hike healthy meal at Ghost Town Coffee on Main Street. 

Happy Hour – Margaritas at Last Dollar Saloon (fondly known to locals as The Buck)—they have a new rooftop bar with panoramic views of Telluride. Flatliners at Allred’s Restaurant. Rooftop cocktails at New Sheridan Hotel.

Dinner – Siam, 221 South Oak, Sidework Speakeasy Lounge, There, Cosmopolitan Restaurant 

After Dinner Drinks – Liberty Bar and New Sheridan Hotel 


Hike -- Jud Wiebe Memorial Trail, Cornet Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Blue Lake and Bear Creek

Farmers Market -- in town on Fridays and in Mountain Village on Wednesdays

Free Concerts -- on the lawn in Mountain Village on Wednesdays

Gondola riding -- is always one of the first things I do when I get to town. It’s the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the United States. It’s an eight-mile, 13-minute ride of epic silence that offers 365-degree views of the town of Telluride and of the San Juan Mountains.

Shop -- at the incredible local boutiques, such as Two Skirts for fabulous finds, MiXX Projects + Atelier for the most unique jewelry, and Overland Sheepskin Co. for the best hats, bags, and leather goods.

Ride Horses -- through the mountains with Telluride Wranglers.

Paragliding -- from the top of the mountain. Float through the mountains and over the town, and land in Town Park.

Rent a Jeep -- and drive Imogene Pass, then visit neighboring towns such as Ouray and Silverton.

Festivals -- are in abundance in Telluride. There’s a different type of festival almost every weekend, from music, to wine, to hot-air balloons, to yoga.

Spa -- at The Peaks Resort & Spa in Mountain Village

Church on Sundays – Visit Alpine Chapel, the most beautiful and quaint church in the heart of town. And it’s even puppy friendly!


Element 52 – an Auberge Resort, is our go-to. My father-in-law owned a condo here for 20 years and coincidentally sold it the week of our wedding. We still go back every summer and stay at Element 52.. It offers the best concierge service, a great location, an amazing hot tub, and it is ski in/out for the winter. (Pro tip:  Fresh-baked cookies are served at 3 p.m. every day and free beer and wine is served at happy hour!) If we don’t stay at Element 52, we either Airbnb a house in town or stay at The Peaks in Mountain Village, which is equally as beautiful.