Things to do in Durango on Thanksgiving Break

Cliff House at Mesa Verde National Park. Photo: NPS

Every year it’s the same thing: When children have a break from school, it’s hardly a break for parents who are left scrambling to find fun things to do in Durango for kids. This Thanksgiving break is no different, whether you live in Durango or will be visiting Durango for Thanksgiving.

We feel your pain. Durango has a ton of great stuff to do with the kiddos, but here are some things to do in Durango on Thanksgiving break:

Powerhouse Science Center

Just because the kiddos won’t be in school doesn’t mean they can’t learn some new things — and they don’t even have to realize it. The Powerhouse Science Center (formerly Durango Discovery Museum) is packed with fun, educational exhibits that allow kids to learn about all sorts of science-y stuff. The center is housed in a historic coal-fired, steam-generated power plant on the banks of the Animas River, making it the perfect setting to learn about energy, physics and technology through a wide range of hands-on exhibits and interactive programs.


Animas Museum

Your kids will have a couple days off school, but you can still send them to class — a restored 1908 classroom, that is, complete with wood desks and slate boards. That’s one of the many exhibits at the Animas Museum, which is housed in the original 1904 Animas City School building. The museum features exhibits that delve into the history and heritage of Durango and Animas County, such as “Law and Disorder,” which tells the true story of life in the Wild West, and  the Native American gallery that showcases selections of pottery, baskets, beadwork and weavings from tribes in Four Corners region.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. That means it’s open the all those days before and after Thanksgiving that your kids will be out of school and talking about how boooooored they are. Pack ’em up in the car and take ’em to Mesa Verde, quite possibly the coolest place in Southwest Colorado. The National Park Service starts scaling back its hours as well as the frequency of tours, hikes and programs in early September, but that just means now is the perfect time to go and avoid those summer crowds. Mesa Verde is home to 5,000 known archeological sites of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived there between 600 A.D. and 1300 A.D. The park preserves and protects about 600 cliff dwellings, several of which are open to the public for tours. Guided tours of Cliff PalaceBalcony House and Long House are available, although Spruce Tree House is currently closed due to concerns about rock falls, and Step House and Long House close to tours after Labor Day.


Durango Train

Although the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, the Durango train will be running its special Polar Express train the day before Thanksgiving and Friday, Saturday and Sunday after. The Polar Express trips often sell out, so you should reserve your seats today. The Polar Express train will make its debut trip on Nov. 19 and will run through Jan. 3. During the ride, passengers of all ages will enjoy hot chocolate, a special treat and Christmas carols well as a reading of The Polar Express story as the train makes its way to the “North Pole” to pick up Santa. On the way back, Santa visits kids in each car, and each kid will receive a special gift from Santa.

Whether you’re in town visiting family for Thanksgiving and are looking at Durango hotels, or you have family in town that you need to get out of your house, the doors at the Quality Inn Durango are always open! Check out the Durango Quality Inn and book your room today for your Thanksgiving vacation.





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