I highly recommend a weekend in Glenwood Springs if you’re visiting Colorado from far away and if you live here, too. The main attraction for me and my crew is the enormous hot springs pool. I’ve been going to Glenwood for years and years — my parents took the family there when I was a kid, my sister lived there for awhile after college so I’d drive up for visits, and my husband and I make a point of an annual visit with our kids – 8 years and counting!
The three-hour drive from Denver is gorgeous. I-70 passes through many of the major ski towns including Vail. When we were coming through (early October) the aspens had already lost their golden leaves along the mountain passes, but back at the lower elevation in Glenwood the colors were lovely.
We lucked out with the weather for our weekend – no rain, highs in the mid-70s. Perfect temperature for spending hours and hours poolside, and nice for walking from the lodge to town as well. Walkability is a big perk of our visits to Glenwood – we like to park the car and not use it again until we head home (rare to be able to do this in car-centric Colorado!). Glenwood has a nice, wide pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River and I-70 that gets you from the pool side of town to the downtown area with blocks of businesses, cute houses and restaurants.
The pool is not the only thing going in town — a great dry activity is the half mile walk up to Doc Holliday’s grave and the historic Linwood Cemetery. It’s a short hike, but a bit steep – just take it slow if you’re not used to thin air. Great views of the valley as you hike up, and neat to see the old gravestones and think about the people who lived in those hills in the 1800s. There’s also an amusement park and caves accessible by a gondola – Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park isn’t something we’ve tried yet, but it has good reviews on TripAdvisor.
For many years the dining options in Glenwood were fair but limited. Recently, however, a lot of great new options have sprung up — including Smoke Modern Barbecue, where you must try the Burnt Ends Mac ‘n Cheese and the smoked beef brisket was miraculously tender and delicious.
Another new one for us was Slope & Hatch, where we all had hot dogs that were out of this world. My husband got the Chicago dog, I had the Big Valley Mac with special sauce, lettuce, cheddar, pickles, onions and black sesame seeds (above). Next time I’ll try the Seoul Dog (grilled kimchi, mango and mustard) or one of the many delicious-sounding tacos (grilled jerk chicken, chorizo hash, crispy calamari and margarita grilled shrimp were a few of the options). Bonus: the French fries (included on the side) were so good! I doused mine in malt vinegar. Hubba hubba!
Other favorites in town: The Chocolate Moose for ice cream cones, Daily Bread for eggs Benedict (and other delicious breakfast fare) and Bluebird Café for the best lattes in town. Eateries that made our short list but that we didn’t have time to try out this time include Colorado Ranch House, The Pullman and The Riviera Supper Club. They have good reviews, interesting menus and walking past, they looked inviting (if maybe a tad too fancy for kids who just spent the day in the pool).
If you go…
Consider staying at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. It’s the only hotel associated directly with the hot springs pool, which means your pool admission is included. The free breakfast is a step above usual hotel fare, with omelettes and pancakes made to order as well as a daily special (biscuits and gravy or chicken fried steak, for example). Lodge guests also get towels for the pool.
Other things to know: the pool allows you to bring pool toys! They also have a gift shop where you can purchase pool noodles and floaties or replacement swim clothes should the need arise. The pool allows you to bring in your own coolers, so we always bring in bottled waters, other drinks and snacks even though they do have a grill that opens for lunch. The main pool is 90-degrees and the smaller therapy pool is 104. It’s really nice to come back to the pool after dinner until they close at 10PM. They offer a reduced admission rate at 9PM for people who just want to soak for an hour before bedtime.
Other hotels we have stayed at in the past include Best Western Antlers (they often offer cheap rates through Groupon) and Hotel Glenwood Springs (which has an indoor water park for the kids – great if you’ll be in Glenwood during iffy weather). I would say that the Best Western is walkable for adults to go to the pool and town, but the Hotel Glenwood Springs will require a drive. There are lots of cute houses in town that you can rent through Air BnB as well – here’s one that we stayed in a couple of years ago (we were the first guests!). Finally, when my parents go to Glenwood they stay at the Hotel Denver.
Let me know what you find when you go to Glenwood or if you’ve been there before!