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Updated: 9/23/2014

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Morning

Take advantage of morning’s typically clear blue skies on a drive up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved highway in North America. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day (weather permitting), the road starts in Idaho Springs and climbs 7,000 feet in just 28 miles, peaking with top-of-the-world views of the entire Front Range, pristine alpine lakes and the snowcapped Continental Divide.

Keep your camera handy — standing at 14,264 feet above sea level you’ll be eye-to-eye with the few brawny animals that live above timberline, including rock-hopping mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

Cute shops in Idaho Springs, Colorado

Afternoon

Swing down to former gold camp Idaho Springs where mining heritage lives on through Miner Street’s well-preserved buildings. Bring your appetite to the original Beau Jo’s Pizza. Founders of deep-dish Colorado-style pizza, the legendary eatery serves up hearty pies with mountains of toppings and a hand-rolled crust. Eat it like a local and dip your crust in honey.

Pencil in some soothing spa time and soak in the therapeutic mineral pools at Indian Hot Springs. South of downtown on Soda Creek Road, the world-famous resort offers his and hers geo-thermal cave baths, private outdoor Jacuzzi baths, a mineral-water swimming pool and day spa.

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Journey farther west on I-70 to Georgetown. Take in the tiny town’s immaculately restored Victorian-era homes and silver-boom relics at the Hamill House and Hotel de Paris museums.

Board the Georgetown Loop Railroad for a narrow-gauge train ride to nearby Silver Plume and back. The trip affords open-air views of the Clear Creek Valley and an optional walking tour that takes you 500 feet into an 1870s mine tunnel at the Lebanon Silver Mine.

Evening

Step into Colorado’s mini Western-style Las Vegas for some nightlife action. The canyon-cradled hamlets of Black Hawk and Central City are just one mile apart and are lined with gambling saloons, historic storefronts and visitors hoping to strike it rich. Try your luck at craps or poker, dance to live music or settle in for a prime rib dinner while visiting “the richest square mile on earth.”

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More refined entertainment options reside at the Central City Opera House. The 550-seat jewel-box theater was built in 1878 by Welsh and Cornish miners and continues to draw international applause with classic to contemporary performances each summer.