Art, nature, and a tight-knit community all coexist in Carbondale in the central Rockies, about 30 miles northwest of Aspen. For some, it seems too good to be true. Spectacular outdoor recreation? Exciting culinary creations that highlight the locavore lifestyle? Friendly neighbors that gather every first Friday of the month to enjoy the town? Carbondale has it all.
Carbondale’s deep roots with art, nature, and commune living are traced back to its 19th century beginnings. The town originated as a farming and ranching community that provided food for the area. As Aspen rose in popularity, so did Carbondale, but as a more grounded and laidback alternative. Arts came into the community, and so did wellness pursuits, so much so that transplants who once proclaimed to be city dwellers shed their suits and devoted themselves to outdoor recreation and eating extremely well, with gusto.
The housing market in Carbondale chronicles the town and its residents’ down-home attitude and affinity for all things creative and open. Apartments and single-family residences can be found in historic Downtown Carbondale. Farther from the town center are acreage properties on rolling, rugged hills. Late Victorian, Nordic, split-level, and contemporary mountain homes are all well-represented in the local real estate— a callback to Carbondale’s agricultural past as well as a testament to the locals’ design sensibilities.

Locavore Lifestyle

Ranching and farming are still well and alive in Carbondale, and the best way to sample the goods is through the town’s top restaurants. The Goat Kitchen and Bar, for instance, uses locally sourced ingredients crowd favorites, which include their signature elk burger. It’s to the same tune that Allegria serves their French-Mediterranean fare in a fine-dining setting. For brunch, there is the Village Smithy, a favorite gathering place since 1975. Other notable restaurants in Carbondale include Brass Anvil and Tiny Pine Bistro.

Unique Arts and Crafts

Carbondale is a Certified Colorado Creative District and artists’ haven. Many art galleries and spaces are scattered throughout town, including the Rio Grande ARTWay, a one-mile public arts venue along the Rio Grande Trail. The Powers Art Center doubles as a memorial to art enthusiast John G. Powers and a permanent exhibit of his extensive collection. For crafts, notable attractions include Carbondale Clay Center and Paradise Art Glass.

Year-round Outdoor Recreation

When residents are not enjoying Carbondale’s local restaurants or art scene, they are out exploring the surrounding mountain wilderness. Some outdoor recreation to be had in and around town include camping in Paonia State Park, fishing for trout at Roaring Fork River, hiking in nearby trails like Grizzly Creek Trail and Smuggle Mountain Trail, and of course, skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Highly Anticipated Local Events

Carbondale residents always find reasons to gather and celebrate. Every first Friday of the month, the town hosts First Friday, which comes complete with games, live entertainment, and food down the length of Main Street. Locals also look forward to Carbondale Mountain Fair, an arts and music festival held every summer at Sopris Park. This event has been around for over 50 years.

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