On an epic tour of Western Colorado, we stopped in Grand Junction. We were sizing it up for livability and so were eager for our date! We had not heard anything about Grand Junction except that it was a jumping off point for seeing the Colorado Monument (which we were eager to do!).
What made it a contender? Well, it has a super cute downtown, with a lovely bookstore, several breweries, vineyards and wineries, the Colorado River runs through it…all good signs!
We bunked up at the Hampton Inn by the Convention Center and within walking distance of Main Street. We arrived at the hottest part of the day during a two-week stretch of 100*+ weather in Grand Junction and zoomed straight to the pool. The pool was refreshingly and surprisingly cold which was hugely welcomed. Frankly, there was nothing special to the pool: no charm, no plants, or flowers, or water features. Just a rectangular pool inside a brick-walled containment. Nevertheless, it was a perfect way to take a short break between our activities. The hotel was just as you’d expect a Hampton Inn to be–clean and comfortable with their predictable breakfast offerings.
We decided to head to The Kannah Creek at their Edgewater Brewhouse. We were quickly shown a table, offered prompt and friendly service, and enjoyed an IPA and a Pilsner. They have an enormous outdoor space with games and activities. It was hotter than Hades the day we visited, so we prefer the comfort of the indoor space (as did nearly everyone. Hades, I tell you!). We didn’t stay for more than a beer as we had a lot of ground to cover in Grand Junction!
After that we took a little detour to Fruita before popping back downtown to visit the lovely bookstore: Grand Valley Books. We were greeted warmly and chatted with the sales person (who may have been the owner?) about Dating America. She shared her thoughts about Grand Junction with us and made a very compelling argument for the charm of Grand Junction, I must say! They have an eclectic collection of new and used books.
Their section on Native American history and Native American fiction was stellar, perhaps rivaling that of the Gallup Library (where many rare titles are behind lock and key!). We browsed for a bit and when we were ready to leave, she insisted that we take some of the peaches and apricots she picked from her tree that very morning! They were, by far, the best peaches and apricots I’ve eaten…well…maybe ever!
From there, we popped over to Rockslide Brewery. There was a sizable wait, and it was really very busy, but as usual, we were able to find a spot right away at the bar. We had their IPA and decided to leave right after that. The best way to describe the brewery was “generic”. It didn’t feel any different than a chain restaurant. Perhaps that is why they are successful–you know what you are going to get and you get what you expect. We appreciate breweries that have a local feel and where you can sense the personality of the brewer and the community. We didn’t get that here.
So, we ended up having a one-night-stand with Grand Junction. Why didn’t it work for us? Well, perhaps we are looking for that greener grass. Grand Junction felt a lot like Farmington, NM, with its industry-based economy, conservative-leaning sentimentality and vibe, nearly all white (91%!) and in-need-of-revitalization feeling. There are a lot of pockets of lovely homes and charming parks and we did like that the downtown is as bustling as it is. But, that charm seems to end at the outskirts of the town. Even homes in downtown have a walk score of just 33. In all, the bookstore was not enough to win us over!