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Celia Roberts

4 Ways to Explore Paonia Like a True Local

Surrounded by mountains, downtown Paonia could be in a Hallmark movie. With colorful, low-slung buildings occupied by local shops and restaurants, it’s no surprise this town is a Certified Colorado Creative District and part of the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition.

Feel like a local with these insider tips to seeing all there is to see in this precious western Colorado town.

Things to See & Do

The best way to start your journey in the cherry capital of Colorado is by taking a stroll along Grand Avenue. The shops and galleries you’ll pass are housed in buildings built in the late 1800s. Pop into The Refinery, which showcases clothing and accessories made from reclaimed fabrics right here in Paonia. Trader Mags, a resale vintage boutique with clothing, jewelry and fine art. The Cirque Boutique & Gallery selling handmade artists produced, jewelry, gifts and apparel along with a full gallery rotating artist monthly.

Colorado Creative Corridor
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Blue Sage Center for the Arts offers concerts, classes and a gallery for everyone’s enjoyment. Stop into the gift shop to pick up a North Fork Valley resident’s artwork. Want even more culture? Built in 1928, the Paradise Theatre is the place in town to catch a movie, live music show or the occasional film festival.

Now that you’ve shopped until you could drop, it’s time for some wine tastings. Azura Cellars not only makes boutique wines but also sells fine art. Indulge in a glass of merlot and their signature cheese board on the terrace overlooking the bountiful North Fork Valley.

Black Bridge Winery’s tasting room is in the Orchard Valley Farms Market. But their full-flavored fruit wines aren’t all they have to offer — sample 18-year-old balsamic vinegars and infused olive oils at the tasting bar.

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Finish off your grape tour with Stone Cottage Cellars, which produces European-style wines like Gewürztraminer on top of the Garvin Mesa. Wine just tastes better at 6,300 feet.

Mountain Harvest Festival

North Fork Valley Creative Coalition is thrilled to announce the 21st Annual Mountain Harvest Festival on September 22-25, 2022 in Paonia, Colorado.

The festival kicks off on Thursday night with the Harvest of Voices at Blue Sage Center for the Arts.

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Friday’s festivities begin with a costume bike parade from downtown Poulos Park to Town Park. North Fork School of Integrated Studies students perform Festival of Courage - a play on the park stage. Then, we roll into two community favorites, the Chili Cook-Off hosted by Paonia Experiential Leadership Academy and Pie Contest hosted by Lambert Grange. Friday night continues with a downtown Pub Crawl to our local breweries and bars, including local acts and specials. Big B’s Delicious Orchards will host live music with Albert Cummings and AJ Fullerton - hop on the free shuttle to and from town.

Saturday 9/24 features activities at Town Park including an arts and crafts market, food court, drink locally tent, kids’ creative zone hosted by Arts For All, and lots of local music on the town stage. North Fork Valley farms tours & wine tasting will continue throughout the day. On Saturday evening, the party moves to Downtown Dinner & Dancing on the 200 block of Grand Ave. Dine out with specials from our local restaurants and pop-ups. Denver based band Devotchka will headline the grand stage with Tropo Magica from San Diego, Greg Schochet & Little America, and the North Fork Community Parade Band. Late night entertainment continues at Chrysalis, Paradise Theatre of Paonia, and The Hearth.

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Town Park opens on Sunday with the VOGA Farmer’s Market and Annual Tasting Event, along with an arts and crafts market, food court, drink locally tent, kids’ creative zone hosted by Arts For All, and lots of local music on the town stage. Mountain Harvest Festival is small town americana at its best!

A big thank you to our main sponsors: Colorado Creative Industries, West Elk Community Fund, Kampe Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation, West Elks AVA, EmJ’s Paonia, Valley High Dispensary, Atlasta Solar, Sally Kane, Big B’s, Cirque Boutique, Pickin’ Productions, SITE, Paradise Theatre, Shadescapes Americas, The Farm Collaborative, Edible Aspen, and Zephyros Farm and Garden.

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Dine Out

Paonia doesn’t just make crisp wines; they have a budding dining scene just waiting to be explored. Start your day at the newest eatery by former Courdon Bleu chef and teacher, Aimee Olsen at Sweetgrass Paonia. Sourcing local ingredients like eggs, produce and homemade cheeses, every week presents and new menu to delight in! Try a variety of coffee & pastries;

Nido Tacos packs a huge punch for a tiny storefront on Grand. Their tacos and tamales are loaded with fresh ingredients and with a variety of meats & vegetables combinations not to mention the fabulous sauces.

Delight in house-made baked goods at Paonia Breadworks. Featuring espresso, chai, and bagel sandwiches.

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Get Outside

Bring your bike for back-road travel and thrill in the bucolic settings that greet you along with fresh mountain air. The town’s roads are excellent for biking and e-biking.

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Make your way to Jumbo Mountain for hiking & mountain biking trails with views of hunter-green-covered mountains for miles around. The trailheads are accessible through Apple Valley where you can park and ride/walk to trails.

Since it’s a birder’s paradise, see if you can spot one of the peregrine falcons that call the place home before exiting the canyon.

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Head off the Beaten Path

Spend the night in a family-operated inn on 40 acres of arid valley space that’s just far enough out of town for the peace and quiet. But don’t worry, the metal-roofed turrets of the Wisehart Springs Inn are still close enough to grab provisions in town so you can use one of their kitchens to prepare a farm-to-table meal.

Want More?

Download a map as well as a five-day itinerary spanning several artsy towns featured in the Colorado Creative Corridor.