3 Day Summer Escape Near Denver

Looking for a cool summer trip near Colorado’s Front Range? The new Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit can help! Start your trip in Central City, just 40 miles west of Denver.

📷: Amanda Tipton Photography

Day 1

Enjoy opera in an ornate opera house, just like people did in the late 1800s.

Take in the Central City Opera’s Summer Festival, June 29 - August 4, 2024! This annual festival is full of events, from feature performances to special meals to talks and short works. Choose from

  • The Pirates of Penzance, with swashbuckling adventures and harmonious hijinks! This comedic operetta revolves around a young man mistakenly apprenticed to a band of pirates due to a communication mix-up.
  • The Girl of the Golden West, with passion, peril, and pursuit in the Wild West. Amidst the fervor of the Gold Rush, this opera by Giacomo Puccini paints a vivid picture of life in Central City in the 1840s, incorporating elements of folk music to evoke the spirit of the West.
  • Street Scene, where life’s a symphony on a city street. Taking place over two hot summer days in New York City, Kurt Weill’s two-act American opera Street Scene delves into the lives of the multi-ethnic residents of a tenement building, showcasing their hopes, dreams, and struggles.

Whether you pick an evening performance or a family matinee, spend the rest of the day exploring historic Central City!

Central City Teller House by Amanda Tipton Photography

📷: Amanda Tipton Photography

Browse historic Central City…or hit the casinos!

Tour the opera house itself! Read the names of Colorado pioneers and opera stars and supporters carved onto the opera house seats. History buffs will also love to tour the Teller House Hotel with a face painted on its barroom floor, a house built around a mine entrance, a beautiful 1872 church, and a print shop full of antique printing equipment. The Gilpin Historical Society leads these intriguing tours daily.

Feeling lucky? Head to Central City's casinos. Or simply stroll Central City's historic downtown, with galleries, shops, and delicious restaurants. For a unique experience, play disc golf in a ghost town.

Sleep well after a relaxing day.

Continue the history theme with a night in a historic bed and breakfast. Or book a hotel with amazing views. Get a good night’s sleep in Central City lodging.

Day 2

The next morning, travel to Leadville, about 80 miles away. While the last part of the drive is along the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway, the whole trip offers jaw-dropping views.

Tabor Opera House by Craig Hensel

📷: Craig Hensel Photography

Tour the Tabor Opera House or catch a show!

Visit the Tabor Opera House, built in 1879 in just 100 days. Now undergoing a historic rehabilitation, the building is open for tours in English from Thursdays through Sundays. Spanish-language tours take place on Saturdays. Peer at pieces of historic stage scenery; North America’s finest collection was found hidden in the Tabor’s attic in 2019.

Check for the Tabor's summer season performances, to be announced soon!

Mineral Belt Trail by @hehuang81

📷: @hehuang81 / Instagram

Explore Silver Rush mining history…inside or outside.

Round out your day by discovering your own treasures in this genuine and historic mountain town. Roam one of Leadville’s many museums—the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Temple Israel frontier synagogue, the House with the Eye, and more.

Enjoy fresh mountain air by walking or biking the Mineral Belt Trail, a 12-mile paved loop around Leadville. Marvel at historic mining structures and close-up views of Colorado’s two highest peaks. For an outside tour, visit the Matchless Mine. There, you can peer into a mining shaft and hear the famous riches-to-rags story of Baby Doe Tabor, told at the cabin where she lived out her life. Or drive to the historic village of Twin Lakes, on the shores of two large glacial lakes.

Have another restful night.

Choose from many great places to eat and places to stay in this Victorian town.

Turquoise Lake by @cheedo_the_fragile

📷: @cheedo_the_fragile / Instagram

Day 3

For your return trip, more mountains, trails, and small towns await.

Visit Colorado.com for more ideas on things to see and do!

Travel Tips

  • Check COTrip.org and GoI70.com and time your trip to avoid heavy travel times on I-70.
  • Leadville is North America’s highest city, at 10,200’. Drink plenty of water and take it easy when you arrive, to counter the effects of altitude.

📷: Amanda Tipton Photography (Top featured photo)