Nowhere in Colorado is the state's mining history more obvious than in Idaho Springs. Gold was first discovered in Colorado here in 1859.
Several mine tours give visitors insight into local mining history. In town is the Argo Gold Mine and Mill, where you can see what a working mill looked like. And not far from town is the Phoenix Gold Mine, a working mine, where you can learn about modern and historical mining techniques and do a little gold panning yourself.
A walk around town shows the many buildings that have been preserved — though most now have different uses than what they were originally.
Adjacent to Idaho Springs, due west of Denver, is Mount Evans. The road to the peak is a 14-mile ascent on the highest paved road in North America, rising to 14,200 feet above sea level. Keep on the lookout, as mountain goats often graze alongside the highway.
There are plenty of quality restaurants in Idaho Springs, including a popular brewpub. All are affordable, as is area lodging and unique shopping.
After a long day of playing tourist, enjoy the hot mineral waters of the springs for which the town is named. You can stay at the Indian Springs Resort lodge or just visit the geothermal springs and caves for a fitting end to your day.