Daycations: Enjoying the day in historic Minturn

This town that was formed in the late 1800s has a lot of charm and access to outdoor recreation

Editor’s Note: “Daycations” is a series we are doing through the month of May showcasing what our local towns have to offer in the shoulder season.

Minturn has a long history dating back to the 1800s and was incorporated in 1904.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Minturn is a quaint, quiet little town nestled between the world-class resorts, Vail and Beaver Creek. Minturn was established in the late 1800s and was incorporated in 1904. The Rio Grande railroad line spanned the state of Colorado and Minturn was a key stop. The railroad and mining industries were the main sources of jobs in Minturn.

Today, the industry is more tourism based, but hints of the past are there. Look for it in the historical architecture and nods to the past on Main Street and beyond. Minturn is now home to many restaurants and shops and gives you great access to outdoor recreation. Come along as we explore Minturn in today’s edition of our Daycation series.

Tea it up

To get the day started, I stopped into Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company and Roastery Café. VMCT was started by locals Chris Chantler and Craig Arseneau when they moved here and started The Daily Grind Coffee Company in 1989. Today, they can be found at the Roastery Café, chatting it up with customers or hosting a tea tasting event, like what Chris Chantler was doing the morning I was there.

I made a departure from my normal chai latte order and decided to do a tea flight and sample the goods VMCT is known for. One of the managers, Chris Allen, helped me pick out three teas from their vast selection. Soon, I had a tray with Silver Needle Jasmine, which is a white tea, a Fancy Formosa Bai Hao, an Oolong tea and Egyptian chamomile an herbal infusion. Allen sent me off with the tray and the timer and I grabbed a seat and waited for my teas to steep.

Support Local Journalism

In Swenson’s tea flight at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company, she chose Silver Needle Jasmine, a Fancy Formosa Bai Hao and Egyptian chamomile.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

VMCT is just north of the town of Minturn on Highway 24 and the café offers a great place to do a little work on your laptop or meet friends with plenty of seating and a great vibe. It’s fun to see all the bags of beans through the glass and all the inner workings of the roastery. VMCT supplies coffee and tea to retailers throughout Colorado and its neighboring states, so it is more than a coffee shop. If you do love coffee, they can make it a few ways for you. Besides daily drip, ask about the Chemex, V-60 and of course the French Press.

Hiking near Minturn

After my tea flight, time to go across Highway 24 and start my hike up Grouse Creek Loop. This is almost a 5.5 mile hike that has an elevation gain of just under 1,200 vertical feet. Don’t forget to bring water, and hiking poles are nice to have for any creek crossings this time of year. Take your time and enjoy how green it is this spring with the recent precipitation. When you do the hike in a clockwise direction and are descending through a few aspen groves near the end of the loop, keep an eye over your right shoulder to see some intricate aspen carvings. You might have a mermaid peeking over you. Legend has it that this carving and many others were created by sheep headers who made their way through the area long ago.

Tree carvings found on the Grouse Creek Loop trail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Now that the hike is over, time to recharge with a late breakfast at Sunrise Minturn, which serves breakfast and lunch at its location on Main Street. I try the breakfast sandwich and you can order online if you want to save some time and take it to go. I walk around the corner and to the picnic tables that are along the Eagle River, which is on the rise right now. Just upriver from where I’m eating sits Minturn Anglers, so if you love flyfishing or want to get into the sport, this shop doesn’t get any closer to the water.

Shopping adventures

Next up: shopping. Minturn has a fun collection of boutiques and antiques, like the ones you’ll find in Antique Accents on Main Street near Sunrise Minturn. Step back in time and pick out some jewelry, old west artifacts, artwork and home décor. Speaking of home décor, more of that can be found across the street at Gemini Gardens. Here you’ll find all sorts of fun accents and gifts for others or yourself.

I saved my favorite shop for last because I knew I’d be spending a lot of time here. Holy Toledo is on the corner of Main Street and Toledo and it is an old church that’s been converted into a fun consignment shop. The Vail Valley has a lot of fabulous closets and some of those clothes end up here. Find name brands like Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Louis Vitton, Dior, Gucci, Missoni and more.

This is what I call adventure shopping because you never know what you are going to find, so going in with a strategy is good. If you are in the market for something in particular, like a dress for a special occasion, ask either the owner, Heather Schultz or another Heather who is there most days, Heather Hotard, to point you to the right rack. If you don’t have something special in mind, take a lap around the store, then take another and then start getting a stack of clothes together to try on and outfits will start to form. They have clothing, shoes and all sorts of accessories that appeal to all ages.

Swenson tries on a Missoni dress at Holy Toledo in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Minturn Bike Park

After leaving with my purchases, it’s time to head to the Minturn Bike Park. I’m not going to exert myself too much because I already did the hike in the morning, but I haven’t been here before so I packed my bike so I could check it out. The Minturn Bike Park is near the Little Beach Park and Amphitheater, just keep driving past and the signs will tell you where to go.

I don’t have a BMX bike, but a mountain bike will do. The trail difficulty is marked like ski trails with green being the easiest, with gentle corners and rolling terrain. The terrain marked in blue is for intermediate riders and has bigger rollers, table-tops and more technical features and jumps. Experts can test their skills on the trails marked black, which brings higher jumps, tall drops and requires faster speeds. I take a few laps on the easy runs and can’t wipe the smile from my face. Try the Minturn Bike Park, it’s super fun! I felt like I’d returned to my childhood and the freedom that biking provides.

Swenson checks out the Minturn Bike Park on her Daycation in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

BBQ to the rescue

Time to eat again! I leave the Bike Park and head to Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar on Main Street, a classic stop when in Minturn. I look for owner, Mark Tamberino but he has left for the day. Tamberino serves up the barbecue styles from Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. Before this was Kirby Cosmo’s, it was JB’s BBQ and Tamberino still holds on to those flavors, but has added other items to the menu as well. I order a pulled chicken sandwich and a basket of hand-cut French fries.

The pulled chicken sandwich at Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The day is winding down in Minturn, and there’s still more to explore, but I’ll leave that for another Daycation.

Support Local Journalism