Grand Lake, Colorado: A Little Town that Knows How to Entertain

Nestled at one end of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake has become a very popular, delicious vacation spot

You won’t have to look (or walk) far as everything is located within just a few short blocks within Grand Lake.

heart of the Rocky Mountains. Its location, nestled at one end of Rocky Mountain National Park, has made it a very popular vacation spot. Surrounded by majestic mountains and a national forest and anchored by the largest natural lake (400 feet deep, 1.5 miles long and 2 miles wide) in Colorado also makes Grand Lake one of the most beautiful areas as well as one of the state’s grandest natural outdoor water playgrounds.  

With more than 60 shops, galleries, and restaurants, visitors can stroll down the historic boardwalk on Grand Avenue. Many of the buildings date back to the town’s founding in 1881. Here, the spirit of the old West lives on with hitching posts still a part of the modern landscape.

And as for food, you won’t have to look (or walk) far as everything is located within just a few short blocks. For breakfast, the Fat Cat Cafe has hearty, affordable lumberjack-style meals. They also feature wonderful scones, which were some of the best I’ve had this side of the U.K.

If you like barbecue, the Sagebrush BBQ & Grill just down the block has a wide selection of mouth-watering taste temptations. The walls are adorned with western memorabilia as well as the original city jail doors that date from the 19th century.

For relaxing with views of the lake along with some great Tex-Mex, I found Pancho and Lefty’s the place to go. I tried their chicken fajitas, which were enough for two, and their combination of lightly seasoned chicken together with their sautéed peppers was awesome. They also serve all manner of cocktails and are quite generous with the size of their beverages.

For an upscale dinner, The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant gets its name from its proximity to the Tonahutu River and the cascading rapids right outside the window. The sight and soothing sound of the flowing waters go quite well with the cuisine, which features items like seasonal beef tenderloin, ruby red trout, and elk medallions. Each entrée comes with a jumbo-sized shrimp cocktail and a salad — delicious!

Ron Stern

Finally, if you like microbrews, try the Grand Lake Brewing Co. brewery and Tap House. They currently have two locations for their brewery and I visited their newest one located at the edge of town off Highway 34. They have come up with some unusual names (and stories) for their brews including Wooley Booger Nut Brown Ale, Plaid Bastard, and my favorite: Hoppy’s One Ton Pale Ale. The latter is named after a real one ton head bull involved in recycling their grain. Just sidle up to the bar and ask to hear the stories while you grab a brew. You won’t be disappointed.

With a beautiful lake, mountain scenery, shopping, great food, and loads of activities, this is one little town that knows how to entertain. If you are planning a trip to Colorado, take the high road over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and spend some time on the other end in the grandest town of them all, Grand Lake. 


This is an excerpt from a story originally published by KDVR.