Colorado’s historic districts are the windows into some of the state’s most enchanting, legend-filled nooks and crannies. Uncover fantastic Colorado lore with these walkable historic districts, just a few of the state's heritage areas.
Leadville Historic District
The United State’s highest incorporated city, Leadville sits at 10,152 feet and boasts a 70-square-block National Historic Landmark District and a 20-square-mile preserved mining district. Take the historic walking tour and see 50 buildings dating back to 1870, including the largest opera house west of the Mississippi and a saloon visited by Oscar Wilde.
Crested Butte National Historic District
Crested Butte is a Colorado mountain hideaway whose entire downtown is a registered National Historic District. Wander Elk Avenue and stop in to the brightly colored, perfectly restored mining-era buildings turned boutique shops; settle in at a cozy pub to sample some of the state’s finest brews; and visit the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum.
Breckenridge National Historic District
Once home to two dance halls, 10 hotels and 18 saloons, Breckenridge’s historic district reveals the ski town’s rich mining and frontier history. Breckenridge Heritage Alliance experts will show you around on a guided tour and share stories about gold seekers who lived here more than 100 years ago.
Downtown Denver Historic District
Encompassing 43 architecturally or historically significant buildings, the Downtown Denver Historic District was created in 2000. A walk among the warehouse and mercantile buildings showcases the present-day shopping and dining quarter’s late-19th-century roots. Don’t miss the carved sandstone Brown Palace, one of Denver’s finest hotels.
Salida Historic District
The popular rafting community sits on the western bank of the Arkansas River and is home to Colorado’s largest historic district. Take a walking tour of downtown Salida and visit detailed brick Victorian buildings that include the Sherman Hotel and Antiques on First.
Old Colorado City
Pair your history lesson with a side of shopping in a Wild West setting. Old Colorado City is the oldest city in the Pikes Peak Region, dating back to 1859. Originally home to outlaws and gold prospectors, the unique retail destination now features more than 120 shops and restaurants just outside Colorado Springs.
Cripple Creek Historic District
The rural ranching community of Cripple Creek was transformed into a renowned gold camp after a cowboy discovered gold here in 1891. Many of the mining-era buildings remain today, including the Imperial Hotel and St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Explore exhibits and a 1,000-foot-deep underground shaft on a Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour.
Durango Historic District
Situated in Colorado’s southwest corner, Durango’s attractive mix of Old West and Southwest flourishes in the downtown Nationally Registered Historic District. Visit the district’s restaurants, brewpubs, art galleries, shops and boutique hotels, including the landmark Strater Hotel where Louis L’Amour wrote the Sackett Series.
Old Town Historic District, Fort Collins
Ride a trolley to this lively college town’s historic district — Fort Collins is said to have inspired Disneyland’s Main Street USA. Old Town’s pedestrian mall is filled with independently owned bookstores, galleries, eateries and shops housed in 23 buildings that are part of national and local designated historic districts.
Georgetown-Silver Plume National Historic District
Laden with silver deposits, the Georgetown and Silver Plume area quickly became known for its ability to make people wealthy during Colorado's mining heyday. Today, the area is still rich with one thing: History. Stroll Victorian Georgetown's main street, hop on the Georgetown Loop Railroad and tour the preserved 1800s Hotel De Paris Museum and Hamill House Museum.
Boggsville National Historic District
Just south of Las Animas on Colorado’s southeastern plains, the Boggsville National Historic District gives visitors a close-up look at pioneer life. The former Santa Fe Trail trade stop traces the paths of Kit Carson and Wild Bill Hickock and hosts Old West reenactments during the summer months.
Photos: Fort Collins (courtesy of the Fort Collins Conventions & Visitors Bureau), Leadville, Crested Butte, Durango and Boggsville.