Like Rome, Colorado’s vibrant, eclectic identity wasn’t built in a day. From Ancestral Puebloan Native Americans to Wild West gunslingers and Gold Rush miners, legends have left their mark on every corner of the state. Each of these buildings holds a bit of a legend in its walls, preserved for generations to learn from.

1. Cliff Dwellings

Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde - Jerilee Bennett - The Gazette
Tourists encircle a “kiva” while touring the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park. The Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest area of Colorado. Photo credit: Jerilee Bennett (The Gazette)

Mesa Verde National Park is home to cliff dwellings where Ancestral Pueblo peoples lived from approximately A.D. 550 to 1300. Not only can you tour some of the dwellings, there is a Visitor and Research Center and the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to enhance your learning experience.

2. Molly Brown House

Molly Brown House - Denver - Ken Lund - flickr
Molly Brown House in Denver. Photo credit: Ken Lund (flickr)

Before she earned the nickname “Unsinkable,” Molly Brown lived in Denver in a gorgeous multi-story home. More than forty years after her death, Denver’s citizens restored the building and created the Molly Brown House Museum to honor and remember the famous activist, philanthropist, and Titanic survivor.

3. Cherokee Ranch & Castle

A combination of two former homesteads, Cherokee Ranch is a protected wildlife sanctuary and home to a 15th century Scottish-style castle that was built during the 1920s. Visitors can take classes, attend special events, and tour the castle. Hint: This one is a lovely venue for a wedding.

4. Hotel Colorado

Hotel Colorado - Glenwood Springs - Loco Steve - flickr
Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. Photo credit: Loco Steve (flickr)

Built in the 1890s, Hotel Colorado has hosted the Unsinkable Molly Brown, President William Howard Taft, and President Theodore Roosevelt. The hotel has been updated with modern amenities while maintaining its historic feel. Hint: If you walk the hotel you’ll find stories about more famous guests.

5. Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel - Lesley G/ CORunner - flickr
The Stanley Hotel. Photo Credit: Lesley G/ CORunner (flickr)

In Estes Park, you’ll find one of the spookiest options on the list. Though the hotel has a long, colorful history, it really gained popularity as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s book, The Shining. Guests can stay in one of the “spirited rooms” – the room King inhabited with his wife or one of the rooms preferred by the Ghost Hunters. Maybe you’ll be able to rub elbows with the paranormal, too.

6. The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa

Opened in 1892, this Denver gem is just oozes historical charm. Though the hotel has all of the modern amenities a guest could ask for, none of the historical charm has been compromised and everything from the front doors to the fixtures can only be described as elegant. Hint: Not sure you want to stay overnight? That’s okay, you can request a tour.

7. Rosemount Museum

Who needs a 37-room mansion? John A. and Margaret Thatcher, apparently, because they enlisted Henry Hudson Holly to build the Rosemount mansion in the late 1800s. Talk about a well-preserved home – almost everything from the paintings to the window treatments, furniture to paneling, is original.

8. Byers-Evans House

Byers-Evans House - Robert Cutts - flickr
The Byers-Evans House. Photo credit: Robert Cutts (flickr)

This 1880s home has been meticulously restored to an early 1900s feel and includes furniture from the Evans family. Guests can tour the home, have tea, and even participate in educational events at times.

9. Redstone Castle

Former home of the coal magnate, John Cleveland Osgood, Redstone Castle sits on a gorgeous hillside in Carbondale. At more than 100 years old, the Castle has more than forty rooms and has retained most of its original furnishings.

10. Hotel de Paris Museum

Talk about a colorful history! The Hotel de Paris was a labor of love. It started as a building with a bakery occupying the entire first floor and grew from there over decades and as ownership changed hands. Currently, it is owned and maintained by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Colorado. Guests are able to tour and learn about the history of the hotel and surrounding areas.

11. Historic Strater Hotel

Strater Hotel - Ken Lund - flickr
The Strater Hotel. Photo credit: Ken Lund (flickr)

Downtown Durango is home to one of America’s historic hotels. A real family affair, the Strater Hotel has been run by the same family for three generations and stays true to its Old West roots in both décor and entertainment. Hint: Do NOT miss out on the Diamond Belle Saloon.

12. Union Station

Though it’s more than 100 years old, Union Station once served as a connecting line to the Transcontinental Railroad and is one of the most historically significant buildings in Colorado with an interesting history (did you know kissing on the platforms was once outlawed because it slowed trains down).

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