Day Trip: Georgetown

Drive Time: One hour…or four, depending on traffic

Who It’s For: Scenic drivers, history buffs, boulderers, and anyone stuck on I-70 (pretty much everyone at some point)

This former silver mining town doesn’t look like much from I-70, but that’s because you can’t see most of the town (or at least the historic southern end) from the road—even while going 4 mph. Beyond the gas stations and fast food joints rests a quaint downtown that looks like scene out of a Sandra Dallas novel: Victorian storefronts line the streets of the historic central district, back-dropped by stony peaks and the subtle soundtrack of Clear Creek weaving through town on its way to Georgetown Lake. It’s the perfect trip for a quick taste of the mountains that will have you home for supper—or a prime pit stop when you simply can’t stare at the sea of slow-moving taillights in front of you for one more second.

History buffs in search of a fix will want to head immediately to Hamill House, a 147-year-old shining example of Victorian architecture that flourished here during Georgetown’s 19th century heyday as the “Silver Queen of Colorado.” Weekend tours start at 11 a.m. Continue your walk back through time by perusing the many antique shops lining Sixth Street, which serves as the major artery through the historic commercial quarter.

If you’ve packed a picnic, head for the wide shores of Georgetown Lake with your blanket—and fishing poles. Stocked with brown, rainbow, and brook trout, it’s a great place for smaller members of the family to test out their casting abilities. If you didn’t pack snacks from home, get thee to Lucha Cantina, home to an amazing array of house-made salsas (we both love and are terrified by the ghost pepper option) and a jaw-unhinging delight called the PBJBC: peanut butter, jam, bacon, and cheese on a double decker burger. It sounds weird, but then, so did a bacon maple doughnut once upon a time (ahem, Voodoo). Before you leave, be sure to visit the basement bar, where the low stone ceiling makes you feel like you’re inside one of the surrounding peaks.

If you’re looking to extend your adventure (and we highly recommend that you do), take a driving tour, or a partial tour, of Guanella Pass, the 23-mile route—only 10 miles of this former wagon route are paved—that connects Georgetown to Grant. Along the way you’ll pass shimmering aspen stands, fields of columbine, bighorn sheep, and more than a few postcard-worthy vistas, like the perspective on 14,060-foot Mt. Bierstadt. Boulders in particular will appreciate the collection of moderate problems and fairly flat landings just a few miles outside of town. If you’ve packed your crash pad, check in with the Mountain Project (and local climbers) for more details.

—Image courtesy Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Follow senior editor Kasey Cordell on Twitter @KaseyCordell.

Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell is the former Editorial Projects Director for 5280.