Our family looooves Durango!! It's wonderful there!!
When we go (we went last weekend..and go a few times a month it seems) my dp takes the older one tubing on the river (he's 8 and loves it! 6 and 7 yr old liked it, but it was a bit too much for them). You can drop in anywhere (even your hotel, depending on which one you stay at). Tubing from the Rec Center area to Santa Rita Park can take 2-3 hours. Last time dp and ds saw a bear..that walked slowly along the river with them as they floated for 15 mins! Too bad they didn't have a camera!
Santa Rita is a great park...playground and plenty of space to run and play, right along the river..plus picnic tables and all that good stuff. I celebrated my 30th birthday there a few weeks ago, eating some yummy cupcakes right on the Animas river!
Last weekend the weather wasn't ideal for putting tubes in the river (storms) so our family all went to the Rec Center
. This place rules! Amazing indoor water area...lazy river, splash/wading pool, huge water slide!!!!, etc. My kids seriously love this place. My 1.5, 4, 6, 7 yr olds have gone a few times, 8 yr old just went & they spend hours there!! Plus there is an outdoor splash pad that is wicked fun! So if it's warm enough (no storms) you can still be out and enjoying the sun. You can also bring a lunch and eat it out there (either at the Rec Center outdoor playground or inside..or the splash pad.) Great for picnics! We picnic so much since we love being outside and we're a large family..easier on everyone!
We also go to different parks when we visit. We always meet wonderful locals and last weekend my kids had SO much fun at the little neighborhood playground. Durango has 32 parks and so much to do!
As for food...we hit up City Market when there (we live in a remote ski town 2.5 hrs N of Durango and use these trips to stock up!) and of course, buy lots of picnic/grilling foods. We also go to Natural Grocers. If you are there on a Saturday, be sure to hit up the Farmer's Market
. Probably a bit pricey for most (just like our FM here!) but it's a great time and some good eats! It's busy so be prepared for that (parking, etc).
One place I would not eat at again...Fiesta Mexicana in Durango. There are a few locations around and that particular one is not up to par with the others.
Great suggestion to check out Mesa Verde! We go to MV every time we head home...purchased a National Park pass just for it (and this area since there are so many in the SW). It is amazing and all humans should see it one day. Truly amazing.
It is located between Durango and Cortez. It is 15 slooooow miles to the Visitor Center from the entrance and also be crowded, keep that in mind. It is very much worth the visit, though!
On the way to MV there are some shops to see and stop at. This area of Colorado is so amazing...we enjoy our trips here very much! Hope you have a wonderful time...I look forward to hearing how it goes!