Buena Vista CO: 7+ of the Very Best Things To Do

Buena Vista CO is the a perfect central Colorado base for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, this Colorado city has great restaurants, charming shops and and plenty of great things to do.

After experiencing the pride and excitement of locals – one who invited us to stay with him and his wife the next time we were in town – I’m captivated by this friendly gem tucked in the heart of the Rocky Mountains

7+ of the Very Best Things To Do in Buena Vista CO
Downtown Buena Vista, CO (photo by Scott Peterson)

 

COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN BUENA VISTA CO

Mount Princeton Hot Springs
Mount Princeton Hot Springs
  • Best With Hot Springs: Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers a variety of lodging types for any party. This expansive 70-acre resort is surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks with incredible views of the Chalk Cliffs of Mount Princeton. Your stay includes free hot springs entry and VIP access to their Spa & Club. We loved our stay here!
  • Best Views: Welcome to the Surf Hotel, a boutique hotel in the adventure town of Buena Vista, Colorado. Inspired by the understated elegance of European hospitality and the spectacular natural beauty of their home in the Rocky Mountains, their unique perspective and location offer guests a sense of luxury without pretension.
  • Best Tried and True: The Best Western Vista Inn is where guests will find all of the amenities and outstanding service customers expect from the Best Western name. Guests staying at this Buena Vista hotel will enjoy well appointed guest rooms, a complimentary breakfast buffet, an indoor swimming pool and spa, and an onsite restaurant. 
  • Campgrounds. Another popular lodging option in the area is tent and RV camping. Eighty percent of Chaffee County is managed by Federal and State agencies, so there is no shortage of places to escape to nature. Choose between locally run campgrounds, KOA and RV parks, as well as ranger district recreation areas. 

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN BUENA VISTA CO

Simple Eatery & Spoon It Up is a little of everything. Simple is a bakery and frozen yogurt shop that offers fresh salads, warming soups, sandwiches, and some interesting and delicious main dishes. Plus you can relax with a glass of wine or craft beer. My son had the Bison Ravioli on our first trip, a solid choice, but we went back for the steak stroganoff that was a clear menu highlight. 

Do not miss locally owned Loback’s Bakery for applesauce donuts. This historic bakery sells the sugary bites from heaven only on Saturdays, so get there early before they are gone.

THINGS TO DO IN BUENA VISTA CO

Buena Vista CO: 7+ of the Very Best Things To Do
Photo by Scott Peterson

MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS

Buena Vista is a perfect hub for mountain bikers. There are 832 miles of trails, most are intermediate to difficult, but there are some easy trails.

Downtown Buena Vista has a pump track at the end of Main Street on the Arkansas River to help get your legs warmed up before hitting the trails.

BUENA VISTA WHITE WATER PARK

Buena Vista River Park stretches from the end of Main Street in the historic district to the South Main section of town and offers any number of outdoor activities. Try kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or whitewater rafting. Visit during Memorial Day weekend for the annual CKS Paddlefest.

It is also a popular area for locals to walk and bike along the Arkansas River. A stunning loop takes you over the river via two bridges.

FLY FISHING

Buena Vista is best known for its whitewater and endless mountain biking, but it is also a fly fishing mecca. Cast a line in the ‘Ark’ or book a guided trip with one of the many local guides in Buena Vista and Salida.

COTTONWOOD HOT SPRINGS

Soak in Colorado’s purest, geothermal, gravity-fed mineral waters at Cottonwood Hot Springs. Enjoy soaking tubs, spa services, a dry sauna, and more. You’ll also find lodging, including lodge rooms, dormitories, and tent camping sites.

BROWNS CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT

Browns Canyon National Monument includes 11,836 acres of the San Isabel National Forest and 9,750 acres of Bureau of Land Management land. Stretched between Buena Vista and Salida, this area offers a backdrop for stunning views of the Arkansas Valley and the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Rafting, hiking trails, scenic driving, and camping are especially popular here.

BUENA VISTA HERITAGE MUSEUM

I’m a sucker for local history, and Buena Vista has some colorful tales. You can learn all about it at one of the Buena Vista Heritage sites. The main museum is located in the 1882 Historic Chaffee County Courthouse.

Learn more about the areas agrarian past at the Historic Turner Farm and Apple Orchard. During the summer months, check out the Friday and the Farm concert series.

The Depot & Transportation Museum show the importance of the rail systems and stagecoach history that created Buena Vista.

ST ELMO GHOST TOWN

St Elmo is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns, with 43 buildings including a saloon, courthouse, and general store. The general store is actually open for business in the summer months!

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

Close to Buena Vista is the downhill ski resort, Monarch Mountain. But there is also good cross country skiing in the area.

A favorite local trail is at the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Campground. There is a main ski loop suitable for beginners. Don’t have cross country skis? You can rent them at The Trailhead in downtown Buena Vista.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO

WHERE TO STAY IN BUENA VISTA CO

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Buena Vista CO: 7+ of the Very Best Things To Do