Pueblo Colorado Weekend Get-Away

People and boats on Pueblo's Riverwalk
People and boats on Pueblo’s Riverwalk

Pueblo for its charming Downtown, History, Art and a Slopper

By Tab Hauser
GoNOMAD Senior Writer

Pueblo Colorado makes a fun weekend escape and with the right lodging, throws a little romance in the mix.

Located 100 miles south of Denver, this city of 111,000 people offers a charming Union Street with boutiques, restaurants, and antique shops.

Downtown also has the Riverwalk surrounded by restaurants and sculptures. For the outdoorsy types, you can surf or kayak in their whitewater park or bike miles of trails. Indoor activities include museums and art galleries.

Pueblo’s Riverwalk

A unique feature of Pueblo is its Riverwalk.  This is a 36-acre section of downtown that was converted into what is said to be a mini version of the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  The Riverwalk is a 1.3-mile loop around a slow-moving river.

I recommend a leisurely 30-minute stroll to enjoy the dozens of sculptures on the walkway.  You can take a break at one of the benches, shops, restaurants, or bars on the path. The Riverwalk also offers a pleasant 20-minute boat ride.

Take the cruise for its narration about the river and area history. The boat circles two small manmade islands with animal sculptures that represent local wildlife.   www.puebloriverwalk.org/

South Union Avenue

Much of the Union Avenue Historic Business District is located on South Union between the Arkansas River just past the Riverwalk. The area was placed on the National Register in 1982.  Lining the streets of South Union are classical-looking two and three-story buildings from the late 1800s that you see in many other Western historical districts.

Pueblo retro signs
Western-themed old advertisements on Union Avenue

South Union is lined with inviting boutiques, bars, antique shops, and restaurants.  We liked Seabell’s. This is Pueblo’s oldest woman-owned company. It has clothes, coffee, gift items, and jewelry. To fill your western fix mosey down to the Pueblo Western Store.  (His sign may be seen outside the store). Here you will find Indian dolls, toy horses, and western comic books to name just some of his stock.

A unusual place with a name to match is The Bite Me Cake Store / Flip A Coin Arcade located on two levels.  The street level serves coffee, ice cream, and pastries alongside several pinball games.  Downstairs there is a bar on one wall and pinball machines on the other.  For antiques visit the Cotton’s Antique Emporium.

On the corner near the river is the Fuel and Iron Food Hall located in a repositioned old brick warehouse. Inside are six food vendors and a long bar. The side rooms are galleries for local artists.  Historic Pueblo

Pueblo Home of Heroes Association

Medal of Honor receipients recognized in Pueblo
Medal of Honor recipients recognized in Pueblo

Pueblo is the hometown of four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.

An organization was formed to honor them and others who received the medal.  Their mission is to preserve and expand the memorial dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients; to advance the history of the Medal of Honor; honor the legacy of those who have received the Award nationwide…”

The Medal of Honor Plaza has life-sized bronze statues of four local heros. What makes these statues unique is that each man was asked how they would like to be depicted for eternity as they consulted the artist before it was cast.

Near the statues is a wall listing the names and periods of when the medals were earned since the medal first started.  Inside is a large screen with a keyboard to get information on anyone who received the medal.  Home of Heroes

Victorian Era Mansion

Pueblo's Rosemount Mansion
“Colorado’s Crown Jewel”, Rosemount Mansion

Pueblo had many beautiful homes and mansions built during the Victorian era. One of the homes that survived is called the Rosemount and is open to tours.  The Rosemount was completed in 1893. It is a 24,000-square-foot, three-story mansion with thirty-seven rooms. There is a carriage house of 6,000 square feet adjacent to it.

Pueblo Rosemount
The Grand Staircase with its beautiful stained glass window

What makes visiting the Rosemount unusual is that nearly all furnishings, woodwork, drapes, and art are original.

This is because the grandson lived in the mansion until he died in 1968.  He donated the mansion to a trust to keep it preserved. Docents give 90-minute tours that describe the home, history, and the Thatcher family. They also tell you about the beautiful painted glass windows not to be missed.

On the third floor, you will find a quirky mini-natural history museum that is a bit out of place. It includes a well-preserved Egyptian mummy (which was considered a curiosity back then) Information on “Colorado’s Crown Jewel” can be found at: https://www.rosemount.org/

Surfs Up in Pueblo!

The Pueblo Whitewater Park is where experienced surfers and kayakers go.  The half-mile section of the Arkansas River has eight drops that allow people to surf. Kayaks can also be seen running up and down the rapids.

A city warning states: This is a real river and not an amusement play park and it’s free but you tackle it at your own risk.”  After seeing the water speed drops and feeling the icy water, I can say this is not a place for beginners during snow meltoff.

Pueblo Art Mural
Record-breaking Pueblo art mural

Guinness Book Art Record Holder in Pueblo

To view what was certified as the “world’s farthest stretching artwork”, drive to the 4th Street Bridge and walk over it.  Looking to your right you will see the Pueblo Whitewater Park.  Looking straight and to the left is the start of the mural. These are done by local artists who must paint at a 45-degree angle.

Pueblo’s  Art Scene

Blo Back Gallery Pueblo
Jeff Madeen of Blo Back Gallery Pueblo.

Pueblo has a good art scene. The Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center and its five exhibit galleries is a good place to start. Our visit occurred during the city’s first Friday evening artwalk.

 Pueblo Art Alliance
Sidewalk art demonstated at the Pueblo Art Alliance

Visitors can take the free “Van Gogh Shuttle” to six stops featuring dozens of artists.  (To save time I recommend driving yourself.) Highlights of the evening included the museum art center listed above, the Pueblo Arts Alliance and our favorite single place being the Blo Back Gallery.

Wiesbrod Aircraft Museum

For fans of military aircraft and history consider a stop at the Wisesbrod Aircraft Museum.

Here you will find three hangers full of vintage planes of all genres.  I was impressed by the collection of large older bombers and early jets. If you are a fan of the show MASH, don’t miss the Bell OH-13E H-47 Sioux M.A.S.H. 14941.  There are also two dozen military vehicles and a small collection of rocketry. https://pwam.org/

Neon Alley

Puebo Neon Alley Batman
Batman and Robin in Neon Alley

Located in Pueblo’s historic district near the impressive 1889 Richardsonian Romanesque Union Station is Neon Alley.

Stroll here at night and you will see over 100 neon signs. Some are very retro. The signs have been placed on several buildings that are close together.

The neon signs of different colors represent products, places, restaurants, a police station, and tires.  My favorite is from the 1960’s Batman  TV series showing the “cape crusaders” climbing sideways on a building.

This is a colorful place to stroll around for 15 minutes when it is dark.

Lake and Beach

If your Pueblo stays allow for some outdoor time, visit Lake Pueblo State Park.  The 4600-acre lake and beach is a good place to cool off during the hot summers here. Inquire at one of the marinas about boat rentals. The area has hiking and biking paths.

Lodging in Pueblo

Orman Mansion Pueblo
The Orman Mansion

To put a little romance into your Pueblo stay check into the historic Orman Mansion. This is a 10,000-square-foot Manitou red sandstone mansion that was built in 1889.  It is named after Colorado’s first governor who built it.

Orman Mansion Pueblo
A sitting room was part of our suite

Inside you can relax in their large parlors and library. The mansion is furnished with antique rugs with a mix of old and new furnishings in the Victorian style.

Our suite was large with a separate airy pattered sitting room and spacious bathroom complete with a whirlpool tub.  Guests have access to coffee and bottled water anytime. Suites come with a tray full of snacks. https://ormanmansion.com/

Food in Pueblo

The Pueblo Chile

Coors Tavern Pueblo Slopper
Terra serving up a double slopper

People are passionate in Pueblo about their home town chile (as opposed to the hatch green chile that is used all over Colorado.) A few differences about the Pueblo chile include it pointing up when it grows and having a more consistent,  higher level of heat. It also produces a thicker skin making it perfect for roasting. The annual Pueblo Chile Festival is around the third weekend each September.

The Slopper!

Gray’s Coors Tavern is one of the oldest pubs in town. Where Philadelphia has the cheese steak sub and New Orleans has the Muffuletta, Pueblo has the slopper. Our Coors Tavern slopper ordered had two burgers served on an open bun. Laid on them was cheese, onions and fries smothered in Pueblo green chile sauce. The portion was very satisfying and large enough to share.

 

Brue Ale Pueblo
Cara serving up a house-infused blackberry Margarita at Pueblo’s Brues Ale House

Brues Ale House located directly on the Riverwalk is one of the more popular and lively places in town.

They are a microbrew – gastro pub producing their own beers as well as having a good selection of craft cocktails.  Dinners can opt to eat on the patio, dining room and at the friendly bar. www.bruesalehouse.com

The Brues Ale House is in a repurposed old police station. It is also used as an unusual boutique hotel and trendy bar.  I recommend a nightcap at the “The Clink”

For all things Pueblo go to Visitpueblo.org and Pueblochamber.org

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