As much as we love mountain towns for their, well, mountains, some of these charming hamlets have more to offer than access to the slopes. Exhibit A: Georgetown, with its quirky shops, diverse food options, and illustrious history. (This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Georgetown–Silver Plume National Historic Landmark District.) Prime visiting times this month are December 3, 4, 10, and 11, when the annual outdoor Christmas market transforms the streets into a carol-worthy scene filled with roasted chestnuts and horse-drawn wagon rides. Just make sure you’re not so distracted by the market’s handmade tchotchkes that you miss the rest of Georgetown’s attractions.
The cooks at Breckenridge transplant Lucha Cantina use mostly local ingredients (Pueblo peppers, Longmont beef) to stuff massive burritos ranging from the Killer Kilo (beef, chicken, and green chile) to the Hippy Burrito packed with sweet potatoes, spinach, and other veggies. Or create your own midday spread from local goods such as Georgetown Jerky & Emporium’s Sriracha-flavored beef jerky, Georgetown Valley Candy Company’s decadent fudge, and Swedish cheeses from 123-year-old grocery Kneisel & Anderson.
Fine-art photographer Gary Haines has an impeccable eye for Colorado’s famous flora (think: Crested Butte’s wildflowers). Yet his many shots of bemused owls were what convinced us we couldn’t walk out of Grizzly Creek Gallery without one of the unique slate tiles on which his photos are printed. Devotion to rare objects also compels visits to Georgetown’s other Victorian-era storefronts: vintage dolls at Rocky Mountain Miniatures, Murano glass goblets at Shoppe Internationale, and nuggets of valuable mineral rhodochrosite at Georgetown Rock Shop.
While there’s plenty to do along the Sixth Street main drag this month, don’t overlook the surrounding avenues’ historic buildings. Call Historic Georgetown Inc. to schedule a private, off-season tour of the Alpine Hose No. 2 building, complete with a horse-drawn hook-and-ladder cart and a 1,200-pound bell that still tolls every half hour. A few blocks away sits the Hotel de Paris, a luxury lodge initially built to house fortune-seeking silver miners that now serves as a museum and ode to the Gilded Age.
IF YOU GO
Dates: December 3 to 4 and 10 to 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One Enchanted Evening: Add some extra magic to your stay on December 10 with Christmas at the Hamill House/Noel A La Carte ($150 per person), a night of Christmas tree lighting, carols, fine dining, and a reading of The Night Before Christmas.