Buena Vista is a small and charming town that’s located about 25 miles (or a 30-minute drive) northwest of Salida. It’s nestled at the base of the stunning Collegiate Peaks and perfectly located for a variety of fun activities. From hiking and hot springs to dining and shopping, there’s a little something for every type of traveler. There will be plenty to keep you busy whether you want to spend a few hours or a whole day exploring the town and the surrounding area. We’ve put together a list of the locals’ top picks for the best of Buena Vista so you can get a quick look at all that awaits you on your trip.
Okay, so this doesn’t really qualify as “Best of Buena Vista,” but this video does a wonderful job of giving visitors a quick look at what they can expect while in town. Main Street Buena Vista is quaint and full of historic buildings. Here, you’ll find unique coffee shops, bakeries, galleries, souvenir shops, bars, and more. It’s also where you’ll find summer festivals, concerts, and other events.
“Buena Vista is a historic mountain town with easy access to outdoor adventure and a charming downtown, without a big-box store or fast-food restaurant in sight. Recreation is in the hearts of locals and visitors.”
From the Colorado Tourism Office
Best Hikes In and Near Buena Vista
“…umerous beginner and intermediate hikes are available in the Buena Vista area and serve as great family options. These hikes offer stunning views of the Collegiate Peaks. The many lakes near Buena Vista also offer beautiful hiking destinations, such as Ptarmigan Lake, Hartenstein Lake, Clear Creek Reservoir, and Twin Lakes. You can even hike the amazing trails at the end of East Main Street in downtown Buena Vista…”
From the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
For even more options, take a look at the Buena Vista section of the AllTrails website. Here, you’ll find 22 trail options that run the gamut from easy to challenging. The website includes user reviews, information on elevation gains, photos, and directions to the trailhead so you’ll know exactly what to expect before heading out.
“Buena Vista is home to endless miles of mountain biking terrain and is particularly known for its Fourmile Recreation Area, Midland Hill and Barbara Whipple Trail System.”
From The Trailhead
“House Rock Kitchen is a fast casual, from scratch, healthy, fun option in Buena Vista, Colorado. With an open kitchen, full bar, friendly staff and great tunes, the atmosphere promises to be a truly positive, energetic experience. We serve sandwiches, burritos, hamburgers, soups, and bowls.”
“What is simple? Think all natural, local, fresh, clean eating recipes. Prepared ‘to order’ with no MSG, no chemicals, no preservatives, no sugar…just back to the basics.“
“Over the past 8 years we have been fans of Eddie Sandoval’s Asian Palate, even when it began on a limited basis on weekends in a breakfast-lunch diner. Eddie has brought the dining experience in Buena Vista to a new level, including the expansion of his most interesting menu. Friends from large metropolitan areas say the AP’s sushi is as good if not better than any they have had. A first class dining experience.”
“The Buena Viking will invade and conquer your face in the most delicious way. Consider no taste bud safe, a flavor takeover is imminent. With Anna at the helm and Evan on the oars, their burgers take no prisoners.”
*Please note – the Buena Viking is open only during the summer months. It’s located right by the Deerhammer Distillery, so you’ll be able to enjoy some amazing craft cocktails along with a hearty burger.
Best Coffee Shops
“For over 17 years we’ve been all about serving AWESOME COFFEE, TEA, PASTRIES AND LUNCHES TO OUR CUSTOMERS WITH A SMILE. Formally the original Bongo Billy’s Café, we have been a favorite of Buena Vista and Salida locals and travelers alike since 1995. Brown Dog Coffee Company is dedicated to offering our customers the absolute best customer service and the BEST product quality there is.”
“We can fix you up with your favorite drinks, one of our baked goods, a view of the town and the mountains, and then send you on your way with a pound of coffee roasted just down the street by The Buena Vista Roastery and Bongo Billy’s Coffees. Fuel up for your next adventure with a drink and a smile and come back to see us in the heart of the Rocky Mountains!”
Best Gear Shops
“Since 1978, CKS Main Street has been converting people to paddler’s one customer at a time by providing impeccable service and high quality product selection. CKS Main Street strives to exemplify the best in the paddlesports community, and to provide our customers with the most positive experience possible. When people shop with CKS Main Street, we consider them a customer and friend for life.”
“These guys are at the heart of the community and couldn’t be any more helpful. No one else I’d rather give my business to.” CKS Facebook Review
“We’re a locally owned and operated outdoor specialty retailer in Buena Vista, Colorado. Since 1972, The Trailhead has been a leading expert in outdoor knowledge and gear expertise. Our staff is equipped to help you find the gear you need and offer knowledge of the backcountry; we’ll explain route directions and offer tips for local hiking, camping, rock climbing, running, snowshoeing and skiing.”
“Hi Rocky is the place for everything outdoors in beautiful central Colorado. We have a store full of anything from Sporting Goods, Gifts, T-Shirts, Jewelry and Souvenirs to Electronics; anything you need you will find here, also popular fishing and hunting reports, and local area information.”
Best Zipline Tours in Buena Vista
“The most incredible way to see the Arkansas River valley – from clifftop and treetop on our 44-acre private Zipline course at our Granite Outpost north of Buena Vista, CO. Seven lines take you over 3500′ total feet of zooming cable flying! Finish off your adventure with our 900-foot dual race line that will leave you breathless and smiling from ear to ear!”
“Designed by Adventure Experiences Inc. (AEI), an industry leader since 1970, this aerial adventure park features state-of-the-art challenge course technology and creative thrill elements, such as broken bridges, wobble logs, and 7 zip-lines.“
Other Activities for Seeing the Best of Buena Vista
“Come on up to Colorado Trail Rides as we have horses for all experienced riders. All of our rides provide plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy Colorado’s high country.”
“Experience Colorado high-country at it’s finest from the back of a horse! We have a variety of the prettiest high lakes in Colorado available to you for trail rides, fishing, and pack trips.”
“The Collegiate Peaks Golf Course is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful golf courses in Colorado. Nestled in the upper Arkansas Valley the golf course features dramatic views of the Collegiate Peaks Mountain Range. Our 9 hole golf course offers two sets of tee boxes that provide golfers of all abilities a chance to maximize their enjoyment and appreciation of the course. Situated at an elevation of 8,000 feet Buena Vista is known for mild temperatures and beautiful views.”
“Experience the wonders of Buena Vista Colorado’s highest backcountry and have a fantastic time getting there! Enjoy exploring historic ghost towns, taking in the local wildlife, riding the continental divide. We will provide you with outdoor fun that is sure to turn your vacation into an adventure.”
“The Buena Vista Whitewater Park has recently been expanded downstream into the South Main Neighborhood development. With 5 main whitewater structures and numerous eddy and trail improvements, as well as climbing walls and trails, it is quickly becoming the premier whitewater park in Colorado. All of the features have been fine-tuned to optimize hydraulic performance and better the park for everyone who uses it!”