While many Colorado towns have gentrified over the years, Leadville puts the wild in Wild West. This high altitude town is still a little rough around the edges and that’s the way it’s citizens like it, and visitors too.
I’ve visited Leadville several times and I always leave with a story to tell. We were most recently in town this fall to ride the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad‘s photo train and to go on a cemetery tour with author Roger Pretti. Here are my recommendations for a three day getaway to this one-of-a-kind Colorado town.
Good eats in Leadville
You must eat at least one dinner at Quincy’s Steakhouse. We arrived in town on a Thursday, so we hit up this landmark for an $8.95 filet mignon dinner. Friday and Saturday night they serve prime rib and the rest of the week it’s filet. I like the filet best, but either way meat lovers won’t be disappointed. They may have a small menu, but Quincy’s knows how to cook beef. Plus, my $1.75 whiskey and coke was a steal of deal. If there’s a vegetarian in your group there’s always a veggie lasagna on the menu, although it’s not made in-house.
On this trip we finally made it to High Mountain Pies, widely considered by locals and Leadville lovers as the best pizza in Colorado. After destroying our huge pie, we completely agree. Order a ginormous side salad (enough for two) for just a few bucks more. It was a little chilly to play in their big backyard while we were there, but you can bring your own beer and enjoy a variety of fun adult games, such as Frisbee golf. High Mountain Pies is now a must-stop on our future Leadville visits.
For a quick and tasty meal try Casa Blanca. We ate a satisfying lunch and spent less than $20, including tip. It’s a real find, especially if you are traveling on a budget.
Skip the Golden Burro Cafe & Lounge, unless you need a stiff drink with your breakfast. I don’t know what’s happened at this restaurant, but on this visit the food was bland and service was unfriendly.Their website indicates that it’s for sale, as well.
A good sleep in Leadville
In the past we stayed at a bed and breakfast on our Leadville visit, but this time we opted for the historic Delaware Hotel. Situated in downtown, this hotel is ideally located, plus, if you like ghosts, they’ve got several (learn more here). The building is packed with antiques for sale and the place oozes with history. Our room was huge, with a four poster bed and sitting area.
There’s a free continental breakfast, served in the library room that also has the coolest old-fashion wooden confessional that I’ve ever seen in real life. It looks exactly like something out of the movies.
A good drink in Leadville
It’s not difficult to find a good drink in Leadville. Locals and visitors enjoy belling up to the bar at the famous Silver Dollar Saloon, where Doc Holiday is said to have “shot his last man.” There were no gun fights during our visit, although several large groups were whooping it up pretty good. Whiskey was flowing and so was the laughter.
We were thankful for the bartenders accommodating our request to put the Colorado Rapids match on one of the televisions.
Tennessee Pass is a newer restaurant in town with a great happy hour. We found that it was the perfect place to have an afternoon cocktail. Sunlight flooded the room as we chatted with the bartender about Leadville. Most people in this town are pretty friendly and happy to chat.
While Leadville no longer has a brewery (great business idea for someone), there is a brand new distillery and it is located right downtown. It seems highly appropriate for Leadville’s only distillery to be serving up craft moonshine and whiskey.
Two Guns Distillery‘s liquor is made from Colorado grown products and they are using old-fashion recipes. We tasted each and then ordered – a spicy whiskey drink for Ryan complete with a garnish of a whole jalapeno, and a moonshine mule for me.
Expect to pay top shelf, Denver prices at Two Guns, but these drinks have style and by drinking here you are supporting a Colorado born and bred business plus, a sip of these spirits really is a taste of history.
The art in the tasting room is worth mentioning. The owner, B.A. Dallas, painted the gunslinger art himself, and I love the modern twist on the Wild West theme that Two Guns’ interior decor has captured.
Learn more and plan your trip at VisitLeadvilleCo.com.
Dislcosure: On this trip we received a discounted stay at the Delaware Hotel and complementary passes to the Healey House Museum and cemetery tour.