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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sweet treats at Ollie’s Ice Cream, open May thru September. They feature creamy concoctions from Anne & Mann and Enstrom, plus homemade waffle cones, dairy-free options and crispy gluten-free cones.
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.
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.
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.
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