How to plan a day trip to Salida
There’s plenty of fun things to do in Summit County in the summer, but if you want to mix things up and get away for a day, nearby Salida is famous for its natural hot springs. Located south of Summit County, the charming, old mining town of Salida is a two-hour drive away, and it’s perfect for when Summit County is experiencing a cold spell, as Salida tends to be warmer.
While Salida’s hot springs are a must-see, there are other activities to add to your day trip and plenty of great eateries to check out.
What to do
You can’t visit Salida and not visit the hot springs. Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers two types of day passes to obtain access to the springs: general admission and spa and club pricing. Visit MTPrinceton.com for the latest pricing and hours.
General admission gets you access to several pools including the Chalk Creek Hotsprings, which contains dozens of small geothermal pools alongside the cool water of the creek. Before you go, check to make sure the creek is open as it closes for a period of time when the creek flow is too strong due to snowmelt.
This closure typically occurs in late May, according to Jerianna Bennetts, director of guest relations. General admission also provides access to the historic bathhouse, which dates back to 1867, and the infinity pool, which is located in the upper pools.
“The infinity pool spills over toward the mountains and on the south toward the resort,” Bennetts said. “It creates a really beautiful atmosphere.”
Linda McMillin, guest ambassador at the Salida Chamber of Commerce, recommended the jewelry-making shop Riveting Experience Jewelry for a family-friendly activity.
“It’s a real cool place …” McMillin said. “You can go in there and make your own jewelry.”
McMillin added that even young children can make professional-looking jewelry at the store.
Staff members at Riveting Experience Jewelry help visitors make earrings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, hat labels, wine charms, key chains and pet tags.
As another crafty activity, McMillin recommends The Maverick Potter pottery shop that is also family friendly. Visitors can drop in and select a handmade pottery item to paint and have fired, which can then be shipped.
Salida sits along the Arkansas River, a major multistate waterway. McMillin recommends the Mount Shavano Fish Hatchery as an educational place to bring kids and to interact with this natural resource.
Where to eat
Amicas Pizza has been a staple for good, casual food in Salida since 2002. Specializing in pizza with dough made from scratch, the menu carries 18 types of pizza.
“Pizzas are kind of our signature dish,” manager Chris Bowers said. “We do your classic pizza, and then we do stuff that’s more off the wall.”
While Amicas serves several classic Italian pizzas, there are also pizzas like the Thai pizza with peanut sauce and the Mediterraneo pizza with pine nuts and feta.
“We’re also really popular with our salads and our paninis,” Bowers said. “One of our best salads, if you ask me, is our Vern’s Mountain Salad.”
The salad consists of mixed greens and shredded carrots topped with roasted chicken, feta, avocado, olives, pine nuts and tahini dressing.
Amicas also partners with Soulcraft Brewing to make some of its original beer recipes. Bowers said many of the beers on tap come from Soulcraft Brewing, but others are from regional breweries. Bowers said two of the restaurant’s staples are the Headwaters IPA and the Green Chile Ale.
“If you don’t mind something different, it’s an excellent choice,” Bowers said about the ale.
For a scenic eatery, McMillin recommended the Boathouse Cantina.
“The boathouse is right on the river. It’s a beautiful spot,” McMillin said.
Described as an American and Baja Mexican restaurant, the cantina prioritizes sustainability by sourcing many local and organic foods. The restaurant also makes 98% of its products from scratch.
Restaurant manager Becca Eggleston said the most popular items on the menu are the fish tacos, raw oysters and green chile chorizo mussels. Eggleston said that while the menu changes seasonally, these items are staples.
The Patio Pancake Place
If you get an early start and are looking for brunch, The Patio Pancake Place is a local favorite. The restaurant serves brunch classics like buttermilk pancakes, omelets and biscuits and gravy in addition to getting creative with dishes like the cheesecake pancake and the smothered green chile burger.
To get to Salida from Summit County, take Interstate 70 west to Copper Mountain and turn onto Colorado Highway 91 south. Highway 91 will turn into U.S. Highway 24 at Leadville and then U.S. Highway 285 at Johnson Village. Exit Highway 285 onto Colorado Highway 291 to Salida. The drive is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
This story previously published in the summer edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.
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