To exit Interstate 70 and drop into Georgetown is to exit the modern world. Less than an hour's drive from the state's busiest metro, this hamlet sits amid Rocky Mountain splendor, largely defying the progress of man.
Georgetown opts for nostalgia over development, tradition over change. With the proximity to ski areas such as Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Winter Park, it's easy to think real estate moguls could've had their way here. Not in Georgetown.
Victorian buildings erected during the silver boom are forever protected by a National Historic District designation locals lobbied for in the 1960s. The buildings house businesses such as Kneisel & Anderson, a grocery and hardware store that has lasted since the 1890s. Other history is preserved at several museums.
And Christmas is king.
Last year saw the 60th celebration of the Georgetown Christmas Market. Locals once again dressed in old world attire and spread holiday cheer in song. Parades, roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn wagons and St. Nicholas are all known to accompany the festivities, typically held the first two weekends in December.
The spirit of the season is also on full display at Georgetown Loop Railroad, which offers Christmas-themed trips aboard a steam-powered locomotive.
Those are far from the only draws to the area.
Explore the merchandise
Boutiques, gift shops and galleries galore. Shopping could occupy a day in Georgetown.
You can start with coffee and go next door to the store specializing in plants and candles. Elsewhere on 6th Street is Buckskin Trading Co., with racks of fashion-forward women's attire, and The Trading Post, with hats, hides and jewelry fit for the old West. Shoppe Internationale is dedicated to Christmas trinkets year-round.
Kneisel & Anderson, the aforementioned oldest business in town, appears much like it did in its early days. The old, wooden shelves are stocked with imported goods from Scandinavia, Germany and Sweden.
Explore the underground
The mines that made Clear Creek County and the broader Centennial State come to life in the 19th century are year-round intrigues today. Prospectors didn't stop for winter; nor do modern-day visitors wondering how those before them lived.
Argo Mill and Tunnel is most prominent along I-70, the restored facility near Idaho Springs that was home to what was considered the world's longest gold mining tunnel at more than 4 miles. Closer to Georgetown, the Capital Prize Mine invites guests to venture 1,000 feet into the mountain and "see, feel and experience what it was like to be a hard rock miner over 100 years ago."
Don't let the frigid temperatures outside deter you as the mines are dry and warm.
Unwind and refuel
Georgetown's rustic aesthetic is accentuated by accommodations that you'll be eager to return to after a chilly day spent skiing on the slopes or ice fishing on the town's 55-acre lake.
Fresh-baked croissants go with the European hospitality at Hotel Chateau Chamonix, where wooden decks and hot tubs overlook the scenery. A family reunion could be had at Saxon Mountain Retreat, the big cabin tucked among tall trees and listed as sleeping 16.
At night, get a taste of apres at Cooper's on the Creek, or gather round for pizza at the Alpine Restaurant.