Sitting right in the middle of the San Luis Valley, with the San Juan Mountains on one side, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the other, and the Rio Grande River snaking through town, Alamosa is a recreational wonderland. Read on for outdoor activities, historic sightseeing, and places to eat for a beautiful weekend in Alamosa, Colorado.
Day 1 – Culture, Coffee, and Charity
Start your day with a stroll around downtown. Alamosa’s main street is brimming with beautiful buildings – late Victorian, commercial brick, Mission Revival, and Art Deco – which makes it possible to track the history of this small town through the buildings alone. The Alamosa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has a historical walking tour brochure which you can download here.
The best place to start your self-guided tours is with a coffee at the awesome Milagros Coffeehouse. As for Milagros, which means miracle in Spanish, the coffeehouse is a social enterprise by local charity La Puente, so get a good coffee and some instant karma at the same time. Formerly the Emperius building, the red brick building was constructed by the Emperius family and is a good representation of the architectural style typical of commercial buildings in Alamosa in the early 1900s. The building was also home to well-known Colorado photographer O.T. Davis for a time.
As you make your way around, keep an eye open for museums: the Luther E. Bean Museum, which has a collection of Native American pottery, Navajo weavings as well as painting and bronzes; the Fort Garland Museum, which is dedicated to the garrison of men who protected the earliest settlers in the San Luis Valley; and the Jack Dempsey Museum that honors the “World’s Greatest Heavyweight Boxer – the Manassa Mauler.” The San Luis Valley Museum Association has info on another 17 museums.
As for food, Alamosa has plenty of Mexican restaurants, with Calvillo’s ranking highly. They have an all-day buffet and occasional mariachi music; what more could you want? Burgers and the like can be found at the highly recommended Rubi Slipper, there is of course pizza at San Luis Valley Pizza, which in addition to human sized pizzas offers the Grand Daddy Challenge. All you (and just you) have to do is eat a 28-inch, 15-pound pizza with 10 toppings in one hour and you win $500. The catch is, if you can’t finish, it will cost you $100.
Day 2 – Explore the Region
Given its location, Alamosa is a jumping off point for all kinds of outdoor adventures, whether you want to give yourself a real workout or just sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery.
For the latter, hop aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. The train has several scenic excursions as well as the Mountain Rails live concert series every summer that sees musicians perform both aboard the train and at the Fir Summit Amphitheater in La Veta. If you’re coming from the Front Range, you can board in Fort Garland.
The undisputed gem when it comes to the great outdoors in this region is Great Sand Dunes National Park. Home of the tallest dunes in North America, almost 400,000 visitors visit every year to sandboard, camp, and hike. Just 35 miles from downtown Alamosa, it is an absolute must visit.
Zapata Falls is on the way to Sand Dunes and is worth a stop. A bumpy three-mile drive from the road and a 10-minute hike along Zapata Falls Trail is a small price to pay to see this lovely little waterfall.
There are also lots of festivals every year in and around Alamosa. In June every year, the town hosts Summer Fest on the Rio, a weekend festival that was originally conceived to showcase the area’s thriving arts and crafts community. There is no admission and proceeds will go toward the Valley Humane League.
Alamosa is first host town for the 32nd installment of Ride the Rockies, the seven-day, 450-mile endurance ride across Colorado, June 10-17, 2017. Click here to explore Pagosa Springs, the second Ride the Rockies host town!