Grand Junction: Capital of the Western Slope 13

Family Fun, Food, Wine & Outdoor Adventures

As Interstate 70 crosses Vail Pass and heads into Mesa County, the freeway begins winding along the Colorado River with steep and rocky valleys on either side. Grand Junction is only four and a half hours from Parker, and the scenery change reminds travelers of Colorado’s diversity.

Many people think of the Grand Junction area as a region that produces wine and Palisade peaches, but visitors will find a variety of family fun in addition to the vineyards and orchards situated where the Colorado and Gunnison rivers meet.

Grand Junction, or the River City, has culinary delights for every palate.  Located on Main Street in historic downtown since 1973,  patrons enter The Winery Restaurant and feel like they have arrived. This beautifully-restored, 100-year-old building features custom stained glass artwork, barn wood and brick. The menu features all-natural aged beef, pork and wild seafood offerings prepared and served in a manner that is sure to entertain your inner gourmet in a unique and comfortable environment.

General Manager Steve Thoms was excited to recently receive The Daily Sentinel’s readers’ choice as “Grand Junction’s Special Occasion Restaurant” and for having “The Best Restaurant Wine List.”

Thoms’ summarizes what patrons can expect, “We are a classic restaurant where Grand Junction comes to celebrate life. We define Grand Junction’s culinary excellence by offering seasonal local offerings and local wines in an atmosphere that represents the Grand Junction’s Western Colorado lifestyle. Great food and atmosphere that you can enjoy in a pair of jeans. Please check your spurs and mountain bikes at the door.”

Another excellent dinner option is Bin 707 Foodbar, located on North Fifth Street just off of Main Street downtown, which offers American cuisine for brunch, lunch and dinner.  The moderately-priced restaurant has a solid variety of wines, including local selections.  While reservations are not accepted, the experience gives diners fun and lively environment with a great selection.

For the visitor looking for organic, local and natural ingredients, try Cafe Sol, which is also located on Main Street. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, patrons will experience healthy dining options made from scratch.  And when it comes to sustainable dining, Cafe Sol is leading the way.

After grabbing dinner, visitors should plan their trips around the monthly First Friday Art Opening Reception. Enjoy strolling Main Street while experiencing art, live music and refreshments at multiple studios for free.  For more information about participating studios, call the Art Center at 970.243.7337.

For the adventurous family, outdoor activities include guided tours to see wild horses, rafting the Colorado River, hiking, biking, ATV tours and dirt bikes.  For a more scenic view, take a must-see drive during sunrise along the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive in the Colorado National Monument.  More than 11 canyons along the steep cliffs showcase amazing views and offer potential sightings of bighorn sheep, eagles and other wildlife.

Other family-friendly adventures include the Dinosaur Journey Museum, the Museums of Western Colorado, the Botanical Gardens or an evening at the Avalon Theater.

After experiencing food and outdoor adventures, don’t forget to experience some of the 22 tasting rooms. Wineries are open year-round and typically use 99 percent Colorado grapes for creations that include sweet and dry wines.  For more information about the region’s wineries, go to ColoradoWineCountry.com.

You can even leave the driving to someone else. For horse-drawn carriage or limo services, contact JR’s Carriages at JRsCarriageService.com or Absolute Prestige at Aplimo.com.

Some wineries of interest include:

Plum Creek Cellars. Operating since 1984, this winery is the oldest in Colorado and moved to Palisade in 1989. Owner Sue Phillips uses 100 percent of her grapes from the state. Info: PlumCreekWinery.com

Two Rivers Winery & Chateau. Family owned and operated, this boutique winery and French chateau offers award-winning wines, a conference/events center, and a bed and breakfast. Bob and Billie Witham are owners who will take you through an understanding of the tasting process – from dry to sweet. Info: TwoRiversWinery.com.

Grande River Vineyards. Established in 1990, this winery is the fourth oldest in the region and the fifth in the state. The variety of wines, including “Havin’ A Cow” will impress most connoisseurs. Info: GrandeRiverVineyards.com.

From wine to festivals, national parks and outdoor adventures, visitors will be pleased that Grand Junction has so much to offer and is only a short drive away from the Parker area.

Special thanks to the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau.