Enjoy a long weekend with this guide to cultural happenings around Grand Junction
Grand Junction is an art-lover’s paradise. This relatively undiscovered jewel is home to more than 275 working artists and 75 arts and cultural organizations. In fact, Grand Junction was the recipient of the 2007 Governor’s Arts Award, which recognizes a Colorado city or town that effectively employs the arts to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of its community.
Here’s an itinerary to fill three days with artistic inspiration and entertainment in the Grand Valley.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
To get a comprehensive calendar of what’s shakin’ on Grand Junction’s cultural scene, check out Visit Grand Junction's Events Calendar.
10 a.m. — When you first enter the Grand Valley, be sure to tune your car radio to KAFM, Grand Junction’s Community Radio. Then head out the door for a leisurely stroll down Main Street. Here, you’ll discover an outdoor art exhibit like no other. The city’s Art on the Corner sculpture exhibit is the first of its kind in Colorado, and one of the first in the country. The exhibit boasts more than 100 original sculptures created in everything from bronze, iron and chrome to other unusual materials, and is one of the largest outdoor art collections in the nation. While you’re viewing the wonderful sculptures along tree-lined streets, be sure to pop into any of the shops, galleries and more along the way. Check out the Working Artists Gallery and Studio on Main Street, as well as Unique Expressions, Fat Cat Pottery, and Uncanny Valley Art Gallery (all three on Main Street) to explore a wonderful collection of jewelry, pottery and gifts by fine artists. Stop to grab lunch at any of the inviting and varied restaurants downtown.
2 p.m. — Head over to the Museum of the West on Ute Avenue downtown. (It’s just a few blocks from Main Street; ask anyone for directions). Here, you’ll discover the real Wild West in a thousand years of history. With everything from exhibits on Colorado’s most famous cannibal, Alfred Packer, to an Adobe dwelling filled with one of the country’s finest collections of Southwest pottery.
4 p.m. — Visit Java Junction on Main, or Main Street Bagels for a latte, tea or other liquid concoction to raise your spirits. While you enjoy your drink, take in the stunning photos of the area displayed at Main Street Bagels.
Evening — Grand Valley’s wide assortment of entertainment includes checking out a concert or movie at The Avalon Theatre, listening to a concert by the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, attending a live theatrical production by Two Chairs Theater Company or Colorado Mesa University or taking in quality performances by the High Desert Opera.
10 a.m.— The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens is a good way to start the day amid the beauty of botanicals and butterflies. Located just south of downtown, the gardens offer 600 varieties of tropical plants as well as numerous themed gardens and a butterfly house. Turtles and fish meander about in freshwater ponds.
Noon — With more than 275 working artists in the Grand Valley, there are plenty of opportunities to see incredible photography, paintings, sculpture and ceramics by creative types who show in galleries all over the country. Visit the largest gallery in the valley, The Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade (open every day except Monday) and view work by more than 30 of the area’s finest artists. If you want to see more, feel free to ask whoever is working for phone numbers to arrange other studio visits.
While you’re at The Blue Pig, be sure to buy a copy of The Grand Valley Magazine, which is packed with wonderful photos, recipes, happenings, stories and more — all pertaining to the Grand Valley.
If you check out Chef Wayne’s Food & Wine itinerary, you’ll see that his suggestions coincide geographically with this itinerary, so you can do them all.
Evening — Check out the local events calendar (also available in the local papers (The Daily Sentinel and the Grand Junction Free Press) or Visit Grand Junction’s online Events Calendar to decide what trips to embark on. There are a multitude of entertainment and cultural options waiting to be discovered.
A cultural tour of Grand Junction just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Western Colorado Center for the Arts (affectionately called The Art Center by locals). Here you’ll discover a minimum of three exhibits at any given time. The fine art variety is vast — from contemporary to traditional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, even an occasional bonsai exhibit. The Art Center also houses a wonderful gift shop featuring arts and crafts from several of the area’s artists. The center is a visual delight and cultural oasis.
With so many wonderful artists who love to share their talents, the Grand Valley truly is an artists’ haven.