An interesting thing happens every Spring in the downtown Welcome Center. Local residents stressed out by nervous anticipation of relatives are looking for information on what to do with family and friends soon headed for Durango. Because, a good host needs to be well-prepared with a planned itinerary to keep everyone busy and happy, locals have to quickly brush up on their tour guiding knowledge.
Since groups of relatives include children of all ages, here are a few suggestions for free activities that everyone will find fun and memorable. Originally an oversized collection of old train stuff, the Train Museum has evolved into a first-class Durango attraction. Recently renamed the Roundhouse Museum, this 12,000 square foot facility now promotes the colorful history of railroading, transportation and mining in the Old West. The museum staff is knowledgeable and the exhibits are genuine treasures and artifacts from our untamed history. The free Roundhouse Museum is located just behind the Train Station and open daily.
Remember to bring some quarters to feed the fish when visiting the free Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum. Wildlife native to Colorado is displayed in life-like settings and exhibits are interactive. Enter the Fish Hatchery off Main Avenue, first driveway east side, north of the river and call 970-247-0855 for information.
Local non-skiers, as well as skiers and snowboarders who have not been up to Purgatory Resort in the summertime are in for a pleasant surprise by the amount and variety of more than 15 activities, food and shopping for all ages. The ever-popular Alpine Slide is free for children 3-5 with a paying adult. Purgatory is open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and is just a 30 minute drive north on Hwy 550.
On the way up or back from Purgatory Resort stop to see the bees and taste the honey at Honeyville, just 15 minutes north of downtown. A long-time visitor attraction and souvenir stop, Honeyville has been impressively expanded in size and in product-line adding distilled honey based whiskey, vodka, and rum. Challenge the kids to find the Queen Bee and reward them with a honey stick.
Show the family your adventurous spirit, by taking the 16-mile ride southwest of Durango up Wildcat Canyon to Pleasant Journeys Alpacas. Glenn and Susan Kacsh are the hosts of this working alpaca ranch and home to more than 40 alpacas. The fleece of the alpacas is considered a luxury fiber and is processed by the alpaca owners themselves or by small mills. Alpaca fleece products are available for purchase in their ranch store. Call ahead to let them know you’re coming at 970 259-3384.
Admission to the above activities can be enjoyed for free and are family friendly. Don’t forget to encourage visiting relatives to properly adjust to Colorado elevation with plenty of water and sunscreen. Got visiting relatives coming, need help? Stop into the downtown Welcome Center, 802 Main Avenue and we’ll recognize the look on your face.
email@example.com. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.