While neighboring Idaho Springs is famous for gold mines, Georgetown sprung up because of its silver mines. Today, this small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains preserves its original Victorian charm and offers plenty of opportunities for shopping, sightseeing, and recreational activities. It makes for a great day trip from the Denver area.
We arrived in Georgetown and started walking through the historic downtown along 6th Street. The street is lined with many beautifully restored historic buildings of various colors making it a very pleasant place to walk. It’s only a few blocks long but the buildings are loaded with all kinds of shops including antiques, art, and souvenirs.
The Hotel de Paris Museum sits on 6th Street and is a fantastic place to visit. We went into the main entrance which serves as a gift shop and asked the woman behind the desk for a tour of the hotel. It cost us US$7 per person. She was the only person working so she locked the doors, closed the shop, and off we went on an excellent tour of nearly every room in the hotel. The Hotel de Paris was opened for business in 1875 by a French immigrant who was injured in a mining accident. It was considered the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco.
If you visit one museum in town, make it Hotel de Paris. Not only is it a valuable piece of Georgetown history with a window into life during the Gold Rush, the story behind it is very intriguing. We were also impressed by the guide’s knowledge of every piece of furniture, dates, stories, and her ability to answer every question we had completely and without hesitation. The museum is open daily between Memorial Day and the end of September and by reservation only the rest of the year. Photos are forbidden inside the hotel.
A block off 6th Street is the Alpine Hose #2. It was built around 1880 and served as a fire station. It’s now a museum. When we passed by, it was closed. Check the official website for hours. Adult admission is US$5.
Another museum which was also closed during our visit is the Hamill House Museum. It was originally built in 1867 as a small house and was later expanded into a large estate. Many of the rooms contain original furniture and wallpaper. Check the official website for hours. Adult admission is US$7
The main attraction in town, which we declined to visit, is the Georgetown Loop Railroad. This narrow gauge railroad runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume two miles away through a deep canyon. The railroad was completed in 1884 and carried passengers and freight from 1899 to 1938 when it was abandoned. The line was reopened in the 1980s as a tourist attraction with many special events including dinners and Christmas rides. It’s also possible to ride the train and get a silver mine tour at the end of the line in Silver Plume. Check the official website for details on fares and schedules.
In addition, there are opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, a drive down the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, white water rafting, and ATV riding.
We highly recommend the one place we ate at, the Dusty Rose Tea Room. What better place to have a meal in a Victorian town than in a Victorian tea room? My friend Martin is English and can’t pass up an opportunity for real tea, so we decided to stop in and see what they had to offer.
The result was delicious scones made from scratch and excellent tea in a beautiful setting. We also had a wonderful chat with the hosts who told us the history of the tea room and how it came to be. Reservations are highly recommended. We were very lucky to get in on a packed afternoon and are happy we did.