Nestled among the Front Range mountains less than an hour from downtown Denver, Georgetown remains a picturesque oasis of mountain life. You won’t find massive ski resorts, but you will discover an approachable and relaxed high-elevation town.
Recharge for a weekend by eating delicious food in historic buildings, going for hikes off a scenic byway and sticking your head out of a historic train car as it speeds around mountain curves.
Lunch: Pho Bay III
As soon as you arrive in downtown Georgetown, head on over to Pho Bay III, an inviting cabin-style Vietnamese restaurant with lots of outdoor seating — you can sit near a burbling stream and enjoy expansive mountain views. Indulge in one of their aromatic pho bowls, made with savory broth, tender meat options and lots of crunchy veggies (including spicy jalapeño slices).
Afternoon: Museum Hop
To walk off all those lunchtime calories, enjoy a little museum tour of Georgetown. Explore at your own pace, or if you want the inside scoop on the many historic locations of the town, take a Silver Queen Walking Tour.
Begin at the Hotel De Paris Museum, a historic hotel modeled after European elegance listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to snag a photo in front of the hotel’s outdoor mural before proceeding to the Alpine Hose #2 Firefighter Museum.
What’s impressive about Georgetown is that it was never leveled by a fire, unlike many Gold Rush-era mountain towns — a feat that’s mainly attributed to the town’s fire department. At the Alpine Hose #2 Firefighter Museum, a museum dedicated to the historic firefighting efforts of the town, check out the 1,200-pound bell that still rings every half hour, and the hook-and-ladder truck your kids will love.
Next, venture to the Hamill House a country-style Gothic Revival dwelling built in 1867 that boasts original ornate wallpaper. This museum interprets 19th-century residential living in Georgetown, including the architecture, furniture and landscaping. Then round out your museum adventure at the free Georgetown Energy Museum, which has a working hydro-plant.
If you’re in town in late May, attend the Annual Burro Races, where burros are raced 8–9 miles from Georgetown to Empire and back. The event is fascinating to watch and is a reminder of the town’s mining history.
Dinner: Mountainbuzz Cafe & Pizzeria
You’ll be famished after learning about the days of old, so stop for a bite at Mountainbuzz Café & Pizzeria. The hand-tossed crusts (gluten-free is available) swirl in the air before being covered in toppings like buffalo chicken, mozzarella and Genoa salami.
Evening: Guanella Pass Brewery
Sitting at the foot of the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, Guanella Pass Brewery is the first brewery in Georgetown since Prohibition. In the summer, the floor-to-ceiling windows are open so you can sit and sip on the Liquid Gold double IPA or the Bernese Mountain brown ale while taking in the breeze.
Lodging: Hotel Chateau Chamonix
Framed by towering summits, the Hotel Chateau Chamonix will make you feel like you’re slumbering in the Swiss Alps. There are private hot tubs, fireplaces, mountain views, a welcome glass of wine when you check in and fresh croissants in the morning. The hotel is also a must-stay in the winter and is particularly cozy in the snow.
Breakfast: A Whistle Stop Cafe
Begin your morning with a stop at this tiny restaurant for a huge breakfast. Whistle Stop’s huevos rancheros, sprinkled with shredded cheese and served with roasted potatoes, will call your name.
Morning: Georgetown Loop Railroad
Chug up a canyon to Silver Plume, past the remains of gold and silver mines on this historic locomotive, which began its rides in 1884. The Georgetown Loop Railroad’s open train cars allow you to feel the wind in your hair and take in unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains. Want to get out and pan for gold? The railroad offers unique tours to learn more about Colorado’s Gold Rush and get your hands dirty.
Lunch: Lucha Cantina @ The Ram
Fill up on the El Capitán burrito — pulled smoked pork, cabbage, jack cheese, pico and chorizo mole — at Lucha Cantina, which is located in a historic downtown building. They make almost all of the ingredients they serve in-house, so eat up before your hike.
Afternoon: Hiking or Snowshoeing near Guanella Pass
Guanella Pass is ideal for exploring the great outdoors year-round. Lace up your hiking boots in the summer or strap on your snowshoes in the winter and get out on the 4.2-mile, well-marked Silver Dale Hiking Trail. For the more advanced, break off on the Highline Trail, which winds its way to the top of Saxon Mountain to views of snow-covered peaks.
Late Afternoon: Georgetown Lake
Continue your outdoor adventures at Georgetown Lake. It’s chock full of fish — even during the winter — and the water invites you to drop in a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. For views of the lake from all angles, take the Tom Benhoff Trail, which is perfect for families and is handicapped-accessible.
Dinner: Troia’s Cafe and Marketplace
Grab a table bedecked with a classic checkerboard cloth at Troia’s to devour a dish of homemade sausage lasagna or spicy penne with roasted tomato. This family-run Italian restaurant will make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time, to a simpler, yummy place. If you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday, they have live music to go along with their old-world recipes.
Lodging: Horstmann House Bed & Breakfast
Located in the heart of downtown Georgetown this bed-and-breakfast has marble baths, a hot-tub deck, a patio with a fireplace, and an extensive library with volumes highlighting the history of Georgetown. Another charming feature, much of Horstmann House’s furniture is original to the home, which has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years.
Breakfast: The Happy Cooker
Located in a quaint house off Rose Street, this is the spot to dine alfresco on a Sunday morning during the summer. Savor the Happy Cooker’s fresh-baked bread and the Waffle Surprise, served with your choice of fresh fruit, a dollop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
You can’t leave Georgetown without buying something from one of the adorable boutiques. The Buckskin Trading Company is a women’s boutique selling one-of-a-kind clothing, while the Colorado Mountain Art Gallery features more than 50 local artists. Meanwhile, Georgetown Jerky & Emporium has 120 different kinds of jerky, plus 12 flavors of licorice.
Buy some fine jewelry and mineral samples to take back to your relatives from Georgetown Rock Shop or get something for yourself at Kneisel and Anderson, Georgetown’s oldest store that’s stocked with imported Scandinavian, German, Swiss and Swedish foods. Looking to fill your home with antiques? Ophelia’s celebrates classic craftsmanship and period design.
If you’re in town in early December, make sure to visit the bustling Christmas Market. Pick up roasted chestnuts, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, watch carolers in Victorian costume and more.
Lunch: Coopers on the Creek
Before you head home, spend the lunch hour on Coopers on the Creek’s patio, where you can hear the rhythmic sounds of the creek flowing around you. Have the Zen Burger — topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese, arugula and Meyer lemon jalapeño preserves.