Located about an hour west of Denver, Georgetown offers a fun variety of things to do with kids! Full of history and some old time charm, plus views that are reminiscent of Europe, it’s also a good home base for exploring nearby cities and attractions. We stayed five days, coming from a week long stay in Durango. Read on to learn what our family loved in and around Georgetown!
What We Did
Georgetown Lake – this lake is the highlight of the town! Not only is it large, but it’s so picturesque at almost any time of the day. Our AirBnB had the south end of the lake in our backyard, and the kids spent hours playing in the shallow water, building boats out of sticks and grass, climbing (and hiding) in the rocks, and even caught a little fish! You can use kayaks or paddleboards on the lake, and fish.
Another great feature is the walking path around the north section of Georgetown Lake. The 1.3 mile loop is open to walkers, joggers, and cyclists; it’s not paved, but is packed gravel so jogging strollers should work fine. Restrooms are located by the main parking lot.
Georgetown train and mine tour – we opted out of this experience mainly due to time (and we already took a mine tour while staying near Durango). But it’s on our list for next time! The train ride takes you over a picturesque bridge and alongside the mountains, lasting about an hour, and reminiscent of past travel. The mine tour allows only ages 5 and up inside the mine. But for those without littles, you’ll be taken 500 feet inside a real mine, and get to pan for gold afterwards. Get more information on their website.
Downtown Georgetown – we loved roaming the streets here! There are so many beautifully restored homes, some dating back to the 1870’s, and combined with the scenery and old time feel, it’s a relaxing way to spend a morning. The main downtown area consists of two main streets, full of shopping and restaurants. We picked up some unique souvenirs (and chatted with the sweet owner) at the Trading Post, on Sixth Street, and picked up icecream with handmade waffle cones at Georgetown Valley Candy Company! Also on our list was the Hamill House Museum. But it was sadly closed during our visit. Look it up if you visit!
Foster’s Place Playground (1001 Taos St, Georgetown, CO 80444) – this is the cutest park ever! It is also called City Park. There are two playgrounds, one for ages 2-5, and the other for 6 and up (although our toddler was fine on the larger one), with a wooden theme that matches the landscape. Kids will love the walkways, slides, tire swing, small climbing wall, and more! We spent over an hour here, and then walked 5 minutes to the downtown area for ice cream. There’s also a grassy area for running and picnics. No restrooms, but we did spot a port a potty at one end. The entire park is surrounded with a restored late 1800’s fence.
Mt Evans – back in June 2014, we made our first road trip to Denver. One of the best activities we did was driving up Mt. Evans! This 14,271 foot mountain boasts the highest paved road in North America. The starting point is in Idaho Springs, a short 15 minute drive from Georgetown. It’s a must do if you’re in the area! Be prepared for drastic weather difference even in the summer (we had snow flurries for our 2014 visit!), and some nerve racking twists and turns as you ascend and descend. But the views are fantastic!! And you might see wildlife along the way. Total drive time one way from Georgetown will likely be about 2hrs. Note that the road is only open seasonally, and can close if bad weather is present at the mountain top. Learn more here.
Echo Lake Park – if mountain driving isn’t for you (or the full road is closed due to weather), consider visiting Echo Lake Park. It’s about half the drive from Georgetown to Mt. Evans, and situated at about 10,000 feet and towering spruce trees. You can hike, fish, camp, bike and more! There’s also a lodge with a gift shop and general information.
Hiking trails around Georgetown – we had numerous hikes bookmarked for Georgetown. But it rained several days during our stay, and we were quickly realizing that hiking at 8,000 feet is no easy task for a desert family. So we had to save some plans for next time. Look up Silver Dollar and Murray Lake Trails, and St. Mary’s Glacier Trail. See the next highlight for an area we did hike and loved!
Guanella Pass Road – the kids are still talking about this afternoon mini-road trip we took! And it all starts right from Georgetown. Guanella Pass Road is a seasonal road that offers beautiful views of the town, but also winds around the mountains towards the south, taking you past streams, camping spots, lakes and wildlife! It’s about 24 miles, or 50 minutes, to drive from Georgetown to Grant, at which time you can choose the same route back, or loop around East or West. We opted for the in and out road.
There are a couple stops you will want to make on this road. First, there’s a lookout point with some information about Georgetown just a mile up the road. Second, keep an eye out for bighorn sheep! We were surprised to see a large herd right around the signs mentioning them, and pulled over to take some photos and enjoy them. (Don’t approach, just observe from a distance.)
We also loved hiking at Silverdale Trailhead! There are numerous trail options – take a photo of trail system before starting off. We mostly wandered and opted for the less strenuous trails. The creek was ice cold and so fun! We also found huge rocks to climb, teepees, an abandoned mill, stately aspen trees, and the cutest chipmunks.
Clear Lake was our next stop, cut short by a sudden rain shower. But you can fish here, as well as walk around half the lake. We wished we had brought a kayak. (In fact, next Colorado trip we are totally bringing kayaks as there are so many beautiful lakes to access and enjoy!) Another favorite activity was simply parking at a pull out alongside the road and enjoying random creeks and rivers. This was definitely our favorite activity. The kids built endless dams and skipped rocks. We even tried, unsuccessfully, to catch a fish. If you’re looking for free family bonding time in nature, this road is definitely for you.
Rocky Mountain National Park – if you have to choose one day trip from Georgetown, it must be Rocky Mountain National Park. We fell in love with this place, and only saw half of the beauty. You can access the west entrance, near Grand Lake, in about 1.5 hours, and the east entrance, near Estes Park, is about a 2 hour drive. We chose the west entrance, and drove and explored about half the park in a day, stopping often for hikes and enjoying the wildlife. Visit the official website for more information.
This park really deserves a blog post of its own. But here are some of our top recommendations:
- Adams Falls: this trail starts outside the official park boundaries, east of Grand Lake, but is inside the park and leads to an amazing waterfall! Continue the trail past the waterfall to a level area where kids can play and swim in the river! This loop trail is about 1.5 miles, and slightly rugged in places but totally possible with littles. Don’t miss this stop.
- Kawuneeche Visitor’s Center: pick you Junior Ranger booklets for the kids to work on while you drive!
- Coyote Valley Trailhead, or Bowen/Baker Trailhead: both of these stops have play areas in the Colorado River (yes, the same river that flows through the Grand Canyon). The kids loved playing in the cold water, and building rock bridges. We wanted to hike as well, but a thunderstorm prevented us. (Side note: daily thunderstorms are common in the summer! Plan for rain and be flexible in plans.)
- Fairview Curve Point: definitely stop here for the views!
- Lake Irene Picnic Area: this was our favorite stop on the drive! The lake was so beautiful, it was easy for kids too.
- Alpine Visitor’s Center: again, stop here for the views! It’s incredible to be above the tree line at 12,000 feet! The gift shop is extensive, and there’s a short, steep hike you can take up the ridge for more views.
Bonus: Great Sand Dunes National Park – this National Park is nowhere near Georgetown (probably about 2.5 hours south). But if you’re going from Durango to Georgetown like we did, it’s only a 40 min detour and will likely blow your mind. It’s literally huge sand dunes in the middle of nowhere, tucked against the mountains. How cool is that?? We should have planned our visit in more detail, because arriving in mid-afternoon was actually quite warm. We ended up not making it to the dunes, as it was a 20-30 minute hike across the sand plain. Instead, we opted to enjoy the scenery, learn more about the area, and made sandcastles in the shade.
Our plans for the next visit is to arrive before 9am, maybe even sooner. Bring sleds or something to slide down the dunes! Expect the walk across the sand to take half an hour with little ones. (And to your question as to WHY the parking lot isn’t closer to the actually sand dunes…in the spring, the snow melts off the mountains and floods the plain. So the flat area you must cross, is actually under 3-5 feet of water for half the year!) We’ve also heard that star gazing at Great Sand Dunes is incredible. So, arriving early evening, making the trek to the dunes, and enjoying the darkness beauty could be an option as well. No matter when you visit, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, plus hats for all. There are outdoor showers located at the main parking lot for you to rinse off after enjoying the sand. Learn more on the park website.
Where We Stayed
Wondering where else we went in Colorado? Browse these blog posts for our top things to do with kids in Durango, Aspen, and Telluride! Also, we shared the top places to stop along the drive between Phoenix and Colorado, and our favorite on the go activities. (If no links, blog posts are in progress.)