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Photo by Victoria Carodine

First-Timer’s Guide: Georgetown

We know you’re in a hurry to get to the mountains come Saturday morning. But instead of zooming past, take exit 228 for Georgetown, a quaint and historic mountain town with a lot to offer.

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Georgetown is exactly what you would expect from a small mountain town—intimate and full of charm. Founded in 1859, Georgetown is also known as the “Silver Queen of the Rockies,” because silver was discovered here instead of gold during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Although Georgetown ceased its mining industry long ago, its rich history is what makes the town so unique. From museums and trails to train rides and local brews—Georgetown has something for every visitor, no matter the season.

Odometer: 45.3 miles (about 50 minutes), one-way

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Get Outside

Silver Dollar Lake Trail in the summertime. Photo by Victoria Carodine

Because it’s nestled between Silver Plume Mountain and Griffith Mountain, there are limitless options for outdoor adventure in and around Georgetown. While popular hikes like Herman Gulch and St. Mary’s Glacier are just up the road, Silver Dollar Lake Trail meanders for 3.2 miles (out and back) through the pines near Guanella Pass and up to the snowbanks of Arapaho National Forest. Although the trail can get busy, the best time to go is in the summer (from June through September), when the wildflowers are blooming and grass-covered mountains are bright green. About a half mile in, the trees open up to a view of Lake Naylor. The trail continues as a steady incline for the rest of the journey, but the hard work is worth it when your feet meet the edge of Silver Dollar Lake, situated alongside Square Top Mountain. Before making the trek back to the trailhead, a lakeside snack is a must.

Photo by Victoria Carodine

During the winter months, strap on your snowshoes and hit Georgetown’s snow-covered trails. The Silver Dale Trailhead is about two miles up the road from Historic Georgetown. When the snow is falling, walking along this trail feels like a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie. You can also connect with the Rutherford Trail to find an alternative route back into town.

If your body craves an adrenaline rush, Loveland Ski Area is only 13 miles up the road from Georgetown. The ski resorts spans 1,800 acres and offers discounted ($30) lift tickets for beginners. Regular lift tickets start at $65 in the early season.

Eat and Drink

Pretzel bites from Troia’s Cafe and Market Place. Dark saison from Guanella Pass Brewing Company. Photo by Victoria Carodine

Despite its small size, Georgetown boasts a delicious selection of bites and local brews. Whether you’re an early riser or just rolling out of bed at 11 a.m., the Historic Happy Cooker serves up fresh European-styled waffles all day long. For lunch, head to Lucha Catina for Mexican food made with all natural—and mostly local—ingredients. If you have a hard time deciding what to order, you can’t go wrong with the Nachos Clásicos. Before you let a food coma overcome you, walk over to Kaffehuset for a midday caffeine boost. Along with the classic espresso drinks, this cozy coffee shop features baked goods and seasonal beverages, like the tasty gingerbread latte.

If you’re not completely full from breakfast and lunch and have a DD in tow, stop by Guanella Pass Brewing Company for a beer or two. This small-scale brewery makes all its beer in-house, and brews seasonals like the Christmas Gift Belgian Strong Ale, a traditional Belgian ale with strong notes of caramel and toffee. If you’re craving a small bite to accompany your brews, you can order from the nearby Troia’s Cafe and Marketplace, a mother-daughter Italian joint in the center of Historic Georgetown, and they’ll deliver to the brewery.

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Grilled artichoke and baked brie from Cooper’s on the Creek. Photo by Victoria Carodine

When the sun sets on your adventure-filled day, head to Cooper’s on the Creek for a delicious and satisfying dinner. Start your meal off with the grilled artichoke (which is served with black garlic aioli dipping sauce) and baked brie with truffle honey. For your entrée, you can’t go wrong with the the blue crab mac and cheese. Pair your meal with one of the house-made specialty cocktails on Cooper’s substantial drink menu, and you might forget you’re not in one of Colorado’s culinary meccas.

Shop

Photo by Victoria Carodine

If you have some time to kill, spend it walking along Georgetown’s 6th Street. Here, you will find Shoppe Internaitonale—an eclectic shop with gifts from local artists and beyond (including a Christmas section during the holidays). The Trading Post, which is also on 6th Street, sells jewelry, cowboy hats, and locally made soaps. Across the street, the Georgetown Valley Candy Company will satisfy any sweet tooth with homemade candy, artisan chocolates, and fudge.

Stay

Photo by Victoria Carodine

This town is so lovely, you might want to stay awhile. Book a room at the picturesque Hotel Chateau Chamonix, an independently-owned hotel that was inspired by the classic chateaus found in the French Alps. To achieve the same kind of ambience found in Chamonix, the Hotel Chateau Chamonix features 10 luxurious rooms with mountain views and extra amenities, including private hot tubs, fireplaces, and balconies. Room rates start at $155 a night

If You Do One Thing

Photo by Victoria Carodine

You can’t leave town without taking a ride on the historic Georgetown Loop Railroad. Built in the late 1870s, the railroad was once an engineering marvel and the source of Georgetown’s growth during Colorado’s silver boom. Now a tourist attraction, the railroad is an hour and 15 minute journey through Georgetown’s backyard. The train departs from both Silver Plume and Devil’s Gate in Georgetown, and offers a variety of special events throughout the year, including Santa’s North Pole Adventure and Santa’s Lighted Forest rides during the holiday season. Tickets start at $28.95 for adults. 

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