Opened in 1884 the railroad is a 3-foot narrow gauge heritage track located in the Clear Creek County of the Rocky Mountains. It is a 45-mile drive from Denver, but not to be missed, as it’s a unique way to experience in real life what you may have read about in western novels and watched in movies. Step back in time to where railroads were the principal method of travel, besides horses; where outlaws lurked; and where gold and silver mining were a way of life. Now the railroad is working again as are the Lebanon and Everett mines. Try your hand at panning for gold, let the kids check out the burros at the mine, explore the underground passages, and learn about mining life during those times.
When: The operations are opening up again on April 28th, 2018 – advance reservations are already open as this experience is popular and trains sell out quite fast. Check the schedule for train times during the day.
Phone: 888-456-6777 to make reservations
Cost: Prices vary according to the type of coach selected, and which mines and activities are included. See the website for full details. Kids under 3 are free if seated on a parent’s lap.
This has to be the only place in the world you can enjoy lunch while watching people dive off a 30-foot cliff into a pool below the waterfall – inside a restaurant! Sure you can eat a picnic lunch and watch cliff divers in Thailand and other places, but this is all indoors. Order from the fairly extensive menu with Mexican dishes predominant, enjoy the puppet shows, watch the divers, explore the treasure cave, listen to the live music, but most importantly don’t miss out on the delicious sopapilla!
When: Open Sunday to Thursday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Jack A. Weill, who started the now 3rd generation family owned store, worked until he was 107 years old. Together with his son he developed the style cowboys’ love – slimmer fitting shirts, snap fastenings for easier wear (cowboys hate sewing on buttons), special pockets and other design innovations. Memorabilia and celebrity photos add to the charm of this shop selling authentic ranch wear. For kids the range in clothing is irresistible! This is where you come to get your boots, hats and western shirts – and more. The prices are consistent with quality clothing.
When: Open Mon to Fri 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Sat 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Cost: Boys denim western shirt from around $66, Men’s shirt from around $90.
William F. Cody was born in 1846, and experienced the unique period in American history of the Old West to its fullest extent. He gained the nickname of Buffalo Bill due to his skill as a buffalo hunter when the great herds thundered across the prairies in their thousands. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows traveled the world sharing a lasting vision of the American West with audiences. The museum has many artifacts from his shows, including intricately leather tooled western saddles, the bows and arrows of Sitting Bull and many beautifully crafted Native American crafts, as well as firearms used in the Old West. Take a stroll outside to the gravesite with its scenic views of the Great Plains and the Rockies where Buffalo Bill once roamed.
When: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Cost: Adults $5.00, seniors (65+) $4.00, children 6 – 15 $1.00 and kids aged 5 and under, free.
Once you have visited Buffalo Bill’s grave and the museum then it’s time for lunch or dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange started by Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz – a member of Buffalo Bill’s straight-shooting band of scouts. Zietz opened the bar and restaurant in 1893, catering to the cowboys, miners, railroad builders and Native American chiefs, and anyone else living in the Wild West. Now in its second century, The Buckhorn Exchange proudly holds the first liquor license ever issued by the State of Colorado and has numerous stuffed animals on display. The establishment has just won the 2018 True West Magazine Best in field Award! Dine in this National Heritage Landmark and Western Museum on alligator tail and buffalo sausage, elk, or rattlesnake. Yes, they do serve chicken and beef too if those unique dishes don’t appeal, and they have a special kids’ menu There are 500 pieces of taxidermy in the building plus the firearms used by the Zeitz family more than 80 years ago. The Dutch lunch was served to tycoons and renegades alike who visited back in the day, and includes the Buckhorn famous bean soup, platter of bratwurst, baby back pork ribs, beef brisket, baked beans and coleslaw at $14.50.
When: Open Monday to Thursday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Saturday 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm and Sunday 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Start off your visit with an introductory video that introduces the geology of the area, as well as ultraviolet minerals and critical materials. View Apollo 15 and 17 moon rocks and the Miss Colorado Crown! There are rotating exhibits to stimulate interest in this museum that was started in 1874 and has thousands of geological specimens on display including fossils, meteorites and gemstones as well as mining artifacts. Kids will enjoy the outdoor geological trail that has outcrops containing fossilized leaves, logs and dinosaur tracks, and it may inspire them to start collecting geological specimens. The gift shop has crystals priced from as little as $1 to fine specimens for the advanced collector.
When: Open Monday to Saturday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
About: Take a brewery tour of the regional division of Coors Brewing Company, the largest single brewing facility in the world. Coors beer is world famous, as are the vintage can designs. The shop has all sorts of Coors branded clothing and loads of other goodies including stuff for your home bar. There are even beer tasting opportunities for adults afterwards – and they are decent sized cups not shot glass size samples. They also have a non-alcoholic “beer” for tasting too. Take the kids along – the process of brewing beers is more interesting that you’d think and because it’s an audio guided tour you can proceed at your own pace, simply pressing the number corresponding to the station you arrive at. Lines can be long so try to go during the week or arrive early on weekends. Restrooms and vending machines make the wait tolerable with kids.
When: Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Cost: Tours and the beer tastings for adults are free.
Want to learn more about the unique history of the Wild West on a 90-minute tour through Denver that is interesting and entertaining? The bus is no ordinary one – the top has been cut off – it now has a pitched roof, some recliners and saddles – and wood on the sides to make it look like a miner’s shack – hence the name Banjo Billy. Denver tours depart from the Big Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center on the corner of 14th and California Street. Or try the 90-minute Boulder tour to find out about some of the crazy folklore, traditions, and history of the old mining supply town. Not only do they do history tours but ghost and brewery tours too. It is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
When: Tours take place from 2:00 pm daily.
Cost: $17 – 24. Children under 5 ride free with a paid adult.
This is one of those partly indoor and partly outdoor activities – there are the living-history farms showing what farming and life was like in the 1860s and 1890s in the Denver area, with farm cattle, log cabins, barns and volunteers dressed in period costumes going about activities like they would have done in the past, including a working blacksmith’s shop. The museum has local artifacts that highlight, among others, the gold rush and the unique history of the area, plus it has a children’s interactive gallery. Just remember food and beverages are not allowed in the museum or on the farm sites.
When: Tuesday to Thursday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Cost: Free admission.
The house was saved from demolition in the 1970’s and records the history and way of life of Margaret Brown – a survivor of the Titantic’s disastrous voyage. Not as well known as the main museums in Denver it still attracts a significant number of visitors each year.
When: Tues to Sat 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Sun 12:00 noon to 4:30 pm.
Cost: $12 Adults (ages 19-64), $10 juniors (ages 6-18) and seniors (65 and up), Free for kids under 6. Guided tours only.