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Downtown Salida is a great place to kill a summer afternoon. For a town of just 5,500 people it has some of the best art galleries in the state, and its colorful downtown district of restaurants, theaters, and little shops is built for tourists — with a little extra artistic oomph from pastel-colored restaurants and galleries with things like life-size, wrought-iron animals spilling onto the sidewalks outside. Salida's other great advantage is its proximity to extremely tall mountains, particularly the Sawatch Range, which seems to pop out of nowhere as you head north along U.S. 285. The Collegiate Peaks line the half-hour stretch of road ...

Downtown Salida is a great place to kill a summer afternoon. For a town of just 5,500 people it has some of the best art galleries in the state, and its colorful downtown district of restaurants, theaters, and little shops is built for tourists — with a little extra artistic oomph from pastel-colored restaurants and galleries with things like life-size, wrought-iron animals spilling onto the sidewalks outside. Salida's other great advantage is its proximity to extremely tall mountains, particularly the Sawatch Range, which seems to pop out of nowhere as you head north along U.S. 285. The Collegiate Peaks line the half-hour stretch of road from here to equally tiny Buena Vista, and on your left is a series of 14,000-foot peaks, including Mount Shavano, Tabeguache Peak, Mount Antero, and Mount Princeton. In addition to the 15 "fourteeners" surrounding Salida, the Arkansas River runs through town, the Sangre de Cristo Range is to the south, and the climate is so consistently mild that residents have dubbed it the "Banana Belt."

Steve Knopper
About the Expert

Steve Knopper is the Denver-based author of Moon Handbooks Colorado as well as a contributor to numerous Fodor's city guides.

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Steve Knopper for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer