Denver embraces its past like it embraces its sports teams and its natural wonders. Make yourself at home at the Molly Brown House, the exquisite abode of the woman who was known as unsinkable, and the Byers-Evans House Museum, built in 1883 by Rocky Mountain News publisher Williams Byers. Take a break and head to the illustrious Brown Palace for afternoon tea, and down the road you’ll find the Colorado History Museum, where you can explore the recent and distant past of the Centennial State. Then head to the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant, for dinner and then to My Brother’s Bar, an institution for local drinkers and the oldest bar in Denver, for a drink…make sure it’s something well aged. coloradohistory.org
Tour the Mint: usmint.gov.
Gold Mines and Panning:
Visit the Argo Gold Mine Mill and Museum and the Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs.
Wake up in the antique five-star luxury of the Broadmoor Hotel. Your first stop is the Ghost Town Museum to experience Colorado life in the 1800s and early 1900s. Head into Manitou Springs and hit up Miramont Castle, a 46-room Victorian bastion complete with tearoom and luscious gardens. Take a walking tour of Manitou Springs’ springs, several of which have been restored (yes, you can take a drink), and check out the historic downtown. Spend the night at Victoria’s Keep Bed and Breakfast, a classic 1892 Victorian home-turned-inn, and in the morning, check out Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings & Museum, American Indian ruins and artifacts that date back to 1100 AD. At the Cave of the Winds, you’ll take a lantern tour of the geologic wonder said to be home of the Great Spirit of the Wind. Just to the north sits Glen Eyrie Castle, the English Tudor-style castle built by Colorado Springs’ founder General William Jackson Palmer. manitousprings.org
The 9th Annual Indian Market & Powwow:
May 16-17; tesorofoundation.org.
Explore one of the darker sides of American history at the Japanese internment camp located in Granada; amache.org.
The Colorado Trains Tour
Colorado has tremendous railroads, which offer visitors views that can’t be seen from their hybrid SUV. Head up I-70 to Georgetown, where you’ll hop aboard the restored Georgetown Loop. The hour-and-a-half trip will also include an optional tour of the Lebanon Silver Mine. From there, head to Leadville to get on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad. Along this 22-mile ride, you’ll witness vistas along the Arkansas River Valley and hear about Leadville’s intriguing past. Head south on US 24 and follow the road as it heads east. You’ll eventually run into Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This three-hour ride climbs to the Pikes Peak summit, the highest train in the United States. Take Highway 67 to Cripple Creek where you’ll ride the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge, which starts at the 1894 depot and follows the route of the Midland Terminal Roadbed.
Once you’ve had your share of Cripple Creek’s casinos, head to Canon City, home of the Royal Gorge. Opt for a “rail and raft” package to see the spectacular sites of the Royal Gorge and then raft down its rapids. If you have time, make your way to Durango to experience the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which follows the Animas River Canyon and provides stunning views of the surrounding peaks. canoncitycolorado.com