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3 Hours (and Activities) in Grand Junction, Colorado

On my birthday, I was able to spend a few hours in Grand Junction, Colorado, and I was more than happy about the chance to do so. It’s about an hour-ish away from our house and is the closest big city to us on the Western Slope. Best of all, my parents live there, in a beautiful home tucked into the sights of the Colorado National Monument.

There are a lot of things to do in GJ, between a thriving downtown, a desert-oasis outdoor recreation scene, and a whole area of wineries and distilleries. With less than a day, we had to choose wisely with how to spend our time. For us, we have the added benefit of a home base. At my parents’ house, we were able to have fun chatting and opening gifts (thanks Mom and Dad!!), and also hang out with the pups and even take a dip in the hot tub, as well as explore and have fun in the area.

If you don’t happen to have a home to hang out at, here are some activities to spend the time and get the most out of a quick visit to Grand Junction.

Activity One: Colorado National Monument

Even if you don’t have a lot of time, a visit to the Colorado National Monument is a must. The area is gorgeous, with cliff formations and towering views of the entire Grand Junction valley.

My favorite is driving from one end to the other, and stopping at overlook areas to take photos and admire the staggering beauty of the monument. If you have a few hours to spare, you can also go on a hike. There are several to choose from, for all fitness levels.

Activity Two: Distillery

The booze scene in Grand Junction is thriving. They have wineries, breweries, and distilleries to choose from, each offering a different on local creation. On my birthday, we decided to head to Highlands Distillery.

As a distillery, Highlands had two main focuses: vodka and gin. Their menu was full of craft cocktails starring each liquor, as well as an exciting range of flavor combinations. As a vodka girl, their take on a Moscow Mule was tempting. Instead, I went for the Aspen-inspired “Maroon Bell,” made with vodka, cranberry juice, juniper syrup, and a lime for garnish. It was scrumptious.

My mom and I at Highlands Distillery

Even after my dad forced the entire room into singing me (and two other patrons) happy birthday, I would definitely return. The atmosphere is fun, warm, and inviting, and the summer months allow for some good, old-fashioned porch seating.

Highlands Distillery was the right choice for an early evening drink.

Activity Three: Tapas for Supper

I’m a pretty big fan of the food scene in Grand Junction. In addition to having some fast food restaurants I can’t get anywhere else close (like Freddy’s, or my guilt-ridden fries from Chik-Fil-A), GJ has some delicious and one-of-a-kind local options.

Our usual round-up usually consists of Marias, a downtown Mexican restaurant with delicious margaritas and a likelihood for live music. We also have gone to our fair share of dinners at Bin 707 and 626 on Rood, which are higher-end options with large menus, flights of booze, and hard-to-pass-up desserts.

On my birthday we decided to mix things up and try somewhere new-to-me: MX Tapas Bar. This delicious restaurant had both small mix-and-match plates and traditionally larger meals, plus heat-infused salsas and many mouth-watering margaritas. I was happy and full by the end of our meal, which was announced with yet another quiet rendition of “Happy Birthday” and enough fried ice cream to share—just the way I like it.

My tapas meal.

Tapas is a nice option for anyone looking to try new and exciting Mexcian foods, in a cool and trendy atmosphere. We’ll be back, and won’t wait around for a birthday dinner to do so.

Return, If You Can

The best trick to maximizing your time and efforts is to return. Grand Junction has much to offer, and a few days is necessary to squeeze in those essentials. For me, though, those few birthday hours made my day one to remember.

 

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49 thoughts on “3 Hours (and Activities) in Grand Junction, Colorado

  1. Happy Birthday Savannah! Glad you were able to do something that resonates closely to you and home πŸ™‚ It’s one of the best ways to enjoy your birthday and create memories that you don’t take for granted

    P.S. That Tapas πŸ‘ŒπŸΎ

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures
    https://johnnystraventures.com

  2. Glad you enjoyed your birthday trip! I’ve only been to Colorado once for, but I loved it. I was only able to go to Red Rock Park, but now I know I need to check out Grand Junction if for nothing else but the booze scene, lol. I can’t resist a good wine or cocktail. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Denver is awesome and so is Red Rocks! I went to a concert there last summer and loved it. I hope you’re able to come back to Colorado and explore the western side of the state; I’m going to a giant wine fest in Grand Junction in September and I’m so so so excited. Thank you so much for reading!

      1. We didn’t go all the way to the top to see the amphitheatre, but I can only imagine how AMAZING it is to go to a concert there!! I will definitely plan a real trip and keep that in mind. I can’t wait to read all about that wine festival.

  3. It looks like you had so much fun!! I’d love to visit but being from the UK I doubt I’ll get a chance. The distillery sounds awesome & the drink you choose sounds perfect. Happy birthday too xx

    1. Traveling to the US is a huge task in itself, let alone getting to Colorado. Denver, I think, is more of an international destination in the state, or Aspen. The distillery was delicious! Thank you very much for the birthday wishes, as well as reading and commenting! xx

    1. I hope you’re able to make it to the US and hit up a bunch of incredible spots! I imagine that would be quite a large holiday to fit everything in :). I still have a lot of exploring to do within the country as well! I hope someday you’re able to make it to Colorado. Thank you so much for reading! xx

  4. I hope you had a great birthday! This sounds like so much fun. You definitely managed to cram a lot into a small window of time. Your photos look incredible too x

    Sophie

    1. I did, thank you! And it was a blast, though definitely busy. I could see myself spending a lot more time at these places, especially the distillery with a few samples of drinks. Thank you so much for reading! x

  5. Happy birthday! Sounds like you had a great day. I’m really surprised you were able to get all that in in such a short period of time. Those tapas look delicious. I’ve never had tapas before, but I hope to try them one day.

    1. It was a great time! I could definitely see myself spending much more time outside or sipping a few more cocktails. And I hope you’re able to try tapas! Thank you very much for reading.

  6. Happy birthday! It sounds like you had an amazing time. It looks like a great place to visit, which I will definitely be adding to my list. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Wow that view is amazing, it reminds me of the scenery on Red Dead Redemption! Oh god having a restaurant sing happy birthday to you is the worst haha but the tapas looks so good. Happy belated birthday!πŸŽ‰

  8. I love that you got to spend some time in Colorado. Oooh, I know I would appreciate learning about the history of COlorado. Oh man, this is DEFINITELY the place to go on a hike. Pretty cool that there is a distillery out there. I know I would take advantage of their mules, hehe. Oooh, I like that there are tapas out there. I LOVE THEM! They’re easy to consume, hehe. Glad you enjoyed your time out there!

    Nancy β™₯ exquisitely.me

    1. I feel very lucky to live in Colorado, for sure! It has a super rich history all around, and I feel like it’s easy to learn something new every day. Aren’t tapas delicious?! Thank you so much for reading! πŸ™‚

    1. That’s a huge compliment! I hope you’re able to make it to Colorado soon. It’s a super diverse state, between Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Sand Dunes, and the western mountain side, with hot springs and Aspen and the Monument. Thank you so much for reading!

  9. What an amazing birthday trip! Such beautiful photos too! I would love to travel to Colorado, it looks stunning xxx

  10. Happy Belated Birthday. It looks like you had a wonderful trip to Colorado! It’s never been on my travel list but the stunning scenery in that first photo is enough to tempt me.

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  12. Hi, we have moved to Colorado (Fort Collins) from California, and it seems like there is an amazing array of things to do and see here … but I have to ask … do you know why there’s so many booze making establishments? I mean I really think we have 5-10 times as many as anywhere else I’ve lived (and that’s a few places including 2 foreign countries.) I find myself wondering if “it’s the water” as they used to sing on a TV ad campaign when I was a kid. What do you think? Observations?

    1. Hello there! Welcome to Colorado. πŸ™‚ That’s a really real and true observation; there are SO many places to grab a drink in the state. It’s considered a craft market for all alcohol, for just about everything from beer to distilled booze to wine (more on the western slope). I think it has to do with the growing conditions (hops, fruits, etc.) and a long history (the Coors factory, for example, opened in 1873), and exactly what your said, the water. It’s mountain fresh, and some of the best you can possibly get, which is reflected in the drinks it makes. Last, the Colorado lifestyle has always had an element of quirky fun to it; I think grabbing a drink after playing in the sun sells really, really well. Thanks for your comment and prompt to think about this topic a little harder!

      1. Thanks for your thoughts, this is very interesting. I have begun to think of the Coloradoans as “the party people.” That’s a good thing.

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