Denver

6 Reasons to Drive to Palisade, Colorado

This small town rivals Napa's wine scene and has Mile High adventure.

Colorado Mountain Winefest
Colorado Mountain Winefest
Colorado Mountain Winefest

Trade in the Rocky Mountains for the high desert, about three-and-a-half hours west of Denver. Only 40 miles out from the Utah border, the terrain will begin to change as you zig-zag through Mesa County’s massive canyons. Tucked in between Mt. Garfield and the sprawling Grand Mesa, Palisade, The Peach Capital of Colorado, is calling your name. While this may not be everyone’s favorite fruit, the fresh peaches are worth a pitstop, and the miles of vineyards, orchards, and trails are reasons to stay a few days.

Break up the trip by stopping in Glenwood Springs, the home of Doc Holiday, to enjoy the mineral hot springs and impressive Hanging Lake Hike, or make it a full blown roadtrip on your way out to Moab. Either way, here are six reasons why Palisade should be on your to-hit list:

Vines79 Wine Barn
Vines79 Wine Barn
Vines79 Wine Barn

Sip your way around Colorado’s ‘wine country’

Home to 33 vineyards (that’s over a quarter of Colorado’s wineries) there is no shortage of top-tier wines in this town. Situated in the Grand Valley Viticultural Area, a designated wine grape-growing region, the winemakers in Palisade are churning out quality blends and using some unique grapes you won’t find elsewhere. You’ll be surprised to see the uncommon Cabernet Franc on several menus. “It’s Colorado’s grape,” explained Juliann Adams, owner of Vines 79, “because it grows especially well in this area, taking on a vegative taste, which is why so many of the local spots use it to really capitalize on that earthy, true, Coloradian taste.” Be sure to sample it, and a few other classics, at Vines 79 Wine Barn. The 100-year-old peach-packing barn, located in the Vinelands, plays up a Western flair with their rustic tasting room and outdoor patio.

If you really want to take your tastebuds on a trip, a stop at Winery of the Year, Sauvage Spectrum, is a must. Winemaker Patric Matysiewski comes from a brewery background, which shows in the brand’s line of funky sparkling wines. Matysiewski and grapegrower Kaibab Sauvage are juicing pure creativity, challenging the industry on what Colorado wine truly is while staying true to their high desert fruit roots. On their menu you’ll find cold hearty hybrid grapes like Verona and Petite Pearl, but we’d encourage you to try something super unique like the Natural Sparkling Tasting Flight, which features funky hazy natural wines with flavors like orange rind, honeydew, and tart berry and a skin-contact RosĂ©.

Next, kick it into high gear above the Colorado River at Restoration Vineyards, a chic, car-themed winery with incredible views of the Grand Mesa and Bookcliff Mountains. When the owner was laid off from his job at Mercedes-Benz, he and his wife turned their passion for wine, Palisade, and restoration projects into this retirement project. You have to take home a bottle (or box) of their non-traditional red wine, Barbera-they’re one of only two vineyards to grow it and the only one to bottle it.

Talbott's Cider Company
Talbott’s Cider Company
Talbott’s Cider Company

Swap out the grapes for a cold one

Not a wine lover? Not a problem. Head across the river and up the road to the mecca, Talbott’s Farmstand where you’re sure to find something to fall in love with. Since 1907, the farmstand has managed 350 acres of peaches, pressed fresh apple juice and stocked locally grown fruits, vegetables, preserves, and more in their zero-waste facility. Now operated by sixth-generation Charles Talbott, the farmstand has expanded into a Hard Cider Tap Room with an outdoor music venue and incredible lineup of hard ciders that really tip a glass to Colorado, like the Alpine Start, Rafter IPC (a take on an India Pale Cider), ColoMosa, and the Summer Sunset, canned to perfectly depict the Palisade sun setting over Mt. Garfield.

Downtown, Peach Street Distillers and Palisade Brewing Company are also best in class for those seeking a non-wine option. Conveniently located on The Happiest Block in the West, the two institutions are in good company with a dispensary, winery, and tasting room all within a minute walk of each other.

Palisade Cycle & Shuttle formerly Rapid Creek Cycles & Sports
Palisade Cycle & Shuttle formerly Rapid Creek Cycles & Sports
Palisade Cycle & Shuttle formerly Rapid Creek Cycles & Sports

Embrace the outdoors

There’s no better way to sweat out your hangover (or avoid one altogether) than heading out on one of Palisade’s various trails.

Biking is by far the best way to get around town whether you are cruising between wineries, along the Colorado river, or exploring the outskirts of town in the East Orchard Mesa Loop. The Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway is a great place to get a taste of it all. Separated into three different routes you’ll pass various orchards, vineyards, fresh fruit stands, and get a tour of the historic downtown. Head to Rapid Creek Cycles to rent E-bikes, beach cruisers, road bikes, mountain bikes, and for those who are really looking for a thrill, sign up for the shop’s Palisade Plunge shuttle which takes you to an elevation of 10,700 feet on top of the Grand Mesa. The famous 32-mile mountain bike trail weaves you 6,000 feet down into town offering stunning views of Palisade and Mt. Lincoln.

For sunrise hikers (if you’re not a morning person you may want to become one on this trip because the temperatures heat up fast), Mt. Garfield or the 8.8 mile Palisade Rim trail are ideal ways to start your day. And if it’s so hot that gazing at the Colorado River isn’t reprieve enough, then hop in and raft it or rent a SUP.

PĂȘche.Restaurant
PĂȘche.Restaurant
PĂȘche.Restaurant

Indulge in peach pie, peach cobbler, peach everything, plus an esteemed culinary institution

Peach shacks line the streets of Palisade selling fruit fresh off the tree in baskets, as well as pies, breads, jams, salsas, ice cream, and just about every variation you can imagine.

Once you’ve had your fill of fruit, head downtown to the new hautespot Fidel’s Cocina & Bar. Their spicy cucumber margarita, extensive tequila collection, and a la carte tacos make this the perfect spot to get a group together for happy hour or a laid back dinner.

If you really want to make your trip to Palisade one to remember, a coveted reservation at PĂȘche. Restaurant will do just that. The owners wear their Michelin-starred background lightly. With a bustling, exposed kitchen and humble menu that turns simple ingredients into stunning dishes, PĂȘche. Restaurant is a must-hit for a thick loaf of sourdough bread topped with fresh Palisade heirloom tomatoes
 to start.

Colorado Wine Country Inn
Colorado Wine Country Inn
Colorado Wine Country Inn

Stay in a quaint local spot or camp out

After pulling off I-70 you’ll be instantly greeted by The Wine Country Inn, and we suggest pulling over if you want to stay in Palisade’s most accommodating establishment. Surrounded by vineyards, the Victorian-style hotel makes guests feel as though time has slowed down, with their rocking chair-lined patios, top-of-line-breakfast buffet, and daily complimentary wine tastings.

For a more modern stay, despite the name, is the Spoke & Vine Motel. Renovated in 2019, the motel wins guests over with its minimalist approach and attention to detail-think locally roasted coffee, a light breakfast delivered to your door, local artists on display, and of course, a beer garden.

But if you came to Palisade on a mountain biking, river rafting mission then Palisade Basecamp RV Resort or the North Fruita Desert Campground are the top spots for camping, pulling up an RV and kicking back with fellow adrenaline junkies.

Colorado Mountain Winefest
Colorado Mountain Winefest
Colorado Mountain Winefest

Plan a trip around one of the town’s acclaimed food, drink and music festivals

If those five reasons weren’t enough to get you on the road, then plan a trip around one of their famous fests:

Colorado Mountain Winefest, voted one of the best wine festivals in the country, happens in mid-September. Aside from the festival’s wine tastings, chef demos, and live music, this is a great time to pop into Palisade since all of the surrounding wineries have their own sets of programming, specials, music lineups, and more to celebrate this yearly event.

The Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Festival, taking place at the beginning of June right along the river, is a great way to kick off summer jamming out to some of the country’s most talented bluegrass artists without any obligation to imbibe in a single style of beverage.

And just when you didn’t think Palisade could get any peachier, the annual Palisade Peach Festival will prove you wrong. As you can imagine, the weekend-long event celebrates farmers and business owners that give Palisade its reputation as The Peach Capital of Colorado. Eat, drink, dance, and don’t miss the annual crowning of the Peach Queen & Peach Court.

Abby Maddigan is the social media manager at Thrillist, who recently relocated to Denver and is accepting all local coffee shop recommendations. Follow her on Instagram.

Denver

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Denver This Year

For a successful St. Patrick's Day, hit these parades, barcrawls, parties, and festivals.

VISIT DENVER
VISIT DENVER
VISIT DENVER

Grab your green and your Guinness-St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and there’s fun to be had. In addition to being the first big celebratory holiday after New Year’s, St. Paddy’s is also a signal of spring; more hours of sunshine, T-shirt temps, and filling Blake, Market, and Larimer with drunken revelry make up a particularly Denver type of equinox. However you plan to celebrate-with family friendly activities or for those over the legal drinking age only-there are parades to be watched, playful drinks to be sipped, and a whole lot of shamrock-ing to do.

Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits

Dance a jig or two at Mile High Spirits’ Shamrock Shenanigans

March 17
If you’re ready to put your dancing shoes to good use, wiggle your way on over to Mile High Spirits-doors are opening at 12 pm and there’s no cover ‘til 10. Enjoy MHS’ drinks, big dance floor, and even bigger outdoor patio for all the Irish pride and shenanigans you can handle.

Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts

Whip up steak for a St. Paddy’s Date Night

March 17
Cook Street’s special St. Paddy’s Day class involves making the perfect steak while sipping on Irish whiskey. On Friday only, learn about proteins, cooking methods, and choosing side dishes carefully while cooking up traditional Irish cuisine.

Crawl around town. You know, figuratively


March 17 – 18
Is it a drinking holiday in Denver if there aren’t a handful of bar crawls happening? Probably not. St. Paddy’s Day is no different; you can start crawling from a number of bars, but a few in particular have everything plotted out for you (for a small fee). Start at the Ginn Mill and receive a map of over 10 pub locations you’ll be crawling to either Friday or Saturday, plus drink special vouchers. There’s also a crawl departing from Nola Jane (Friday only) with its own food and drink specials, plus a scavenger hunt and some St. Paddy’s merch, too.

The Fainting Goat
The Fainting Goat
The Fainting Goat

Visit one of Denver’s Irish Pubs

March 17 – 18
If you can’t think of a better place to spend St. Paddy’s Day then at a local Irish pub, we salute you-just be prepared to throw a few elbows making your way to the bar. Denver’s got several good ol’ pubs from Broadway to Larimer Square that’ll be in full swing this weekend, pouring fresh pints as far as the eye can see. Check out Scruffy Murphy’s, Nallen’s, The Irish Rover, Finley’s, The Celtic on Market, or the Fainting Goat for that SPD revelry you know, love, and trekked out for.

Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square
Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square
Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square

Sip and savour St. Paddy’s themed bevvies

Through March 17
Everyone pulls out the green food dye and mint flavouring for St. Paddy’s, but there are some other creative drink specials to sample, too. The OG’s got a boozy milkshake for the occasion, aptly named “Who’s Your Paddy,” a mix of vanilla ice cream, CrĂšme de Menthe, Tullamore Dew, Bailey’s, and whipped cream. BEZEL’s Irish Matcha Man is pretty unique, with Teeling Small Batch whiskey, lime, thyme-infused honey, and matcha powder. And then Slater’s 50/50 takes it to another level (unsurprisingly) with its Lucky Mint Green Shake: mint-flavored ice cream in a frosting-rimmed glass with Lucky Charm marshmallows, rainbow stripe sour strips, whipped cream and green sprinkles. Other notable specials can be found at Poka Lola Social Club, Dairy Block’s Moo Bar, and Seven Grand.

Sing along and cheers to live music

March 17
Denver’s The Monkey Barrel is known for its regular live performances, and this St. Patrick’s Day you can tune in to Elijah Petty & The Part-Times and other musical guests if you’re in search of a chiller spot to sip your Guinness. Or, have one of the best burgers in town while relishing the shenanigans and live music of Cherry Cricket Cherry Creek this St. Paddy’s Day. Food and drink specials will also be available through the holiday weekend, so leave extra room or wear your stretchy (green) pants.

HRCA Race Series
HRCA Race Series
HRCA Race Series

Show your St. Paddy’s spirit by
 running?

March 18
Feeling restless? Or maybe you’re itching to get a few laps in before hammering down several pints this Saturday? Either way, Highlands Ranch is hosting its St. Patrick’s Day 5K where finishing the race gets you St. Patrick’s Day merch, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, and of course, a complimentary pint courtesy of Living the Dream Brewing.

Holidaily Brewing Company
Holidaily Brewing Company
Holidaily Brewing Company

Drink and do good at Holidaily Brewing Co.

March 17
This St. Paddy’s Day, Holidaily and the Gluten Intolerance Group are putting on their Raise a Pint, Lend a Hand fundraiser. A special glitter and green Firkin tapping is happening at 4 pm at both taprooms, with special (and gluten-free) treats available at the Golden location, thanks to Farmhouse 5280 and Waive the Grain bakery. 10% of all St. Patrick’s Day sales will be donated to the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Talnua Distillery
Talnua Distillery
Talnua Distillery

Party at a local distillery

March 17 – 18
Talnua Distillery is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day bash to remember this year, featuring food trucks, live music, special themed cocktails, and more. Limited bottles of Talnua’s exclusive Olde Saint’s Keep whiskey will be available for purchase, which you can hang onto while you dance along to pipe bands or eat a brat or two from El Jefe’s.

Watch some Irish step dancing

March 17
Head on over to Stanley Marketplace to witness the talent and skill of the students at the Wick School of Irish Dance at 12 pm, and follow it up with a green cerveza at Cheluna Brewing Co. Of course, plenty of tasty lunch and dinner options are available around the marketplace so you can soak up a bit of that beer.

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Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.

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