This past weekend, we headed to Idaho Springs. We went with the expressed goal of watching the burro race which I have already written about. However, we were interested in exploring a town that is usually just a gas station stop for us.
The truth is, we haven’t spent much time in Idaho Springs as we are always passing through to somewhere else. Ryan has eaten pizza at Beau Jo Colorado Style Pizza as a kid, but other than that, we associate it with gas and Starbucks. We can report from personal experience that it is so much more.
Only 35 minutes west of Denver, and the architecture is truly beautiful. Downtown is colorful and steeped in Colorado history, plus there are two brewpubs and a cidery. This 162-year-old town can trace its origins directly to the gold rush. After all, the first substantial gold find in Colorado was made here in 1859.
We were booked at the Indian Hot Springs in the main building. The building with pool and hot bath rooms dates to around 1911. Before any infrastructure, these natural hot springs were used by the Native American tribes who frequented the area.
Our room, #207, located in the Historic Main Resort Building, was small with just enough room for a bed, little table and two chairs. These rooms include a sink and toilet but no shower or bath. I assume, in 1911, a shower and bath in your room at a bathhouse was sort of redundant and silly.
For a short stay, I had no problem with the rustic room. For a longer vacation, you may want to consider one of Indian Hot Springs other accommodations. Lucky for us, the windows opened out to the creek that runs in front of the main building, supplying the sounds of nature 24/7.
In Idaho Springs, we received some of the fastest restaurant service we’ve ever experienced in our travels around Colorado. Our first stop was lunch at Tommyknocker Brewery. It was Memorial Day Weekend and they had a nice table for one set in dedication of the missing men and women of the Armed Forces.
Despite the place being quite full, our food arrived hot and fast. Salmon deviled eggs appetizer, a pastrami sandwich for Ryan and a bowl of steaming green chile for me. As a bit of a green chile snob, I rate this green chile as tasty. It would be perfect after a day of skiing at nearby Loveland Ski Area.
Before dinner, we enjoyed an aperitif at Clear Creek Cidery. If you like cider, and we do, you must go here. We had a flight of ciders in which one tasted exactly like wine and another tasted like summer. Ciders come in a fantastic array of flavor profiles and this makes it super fun to do a flight.
Pickaxe Pizza provided me with the opportunity to eat a combination of two of my favorite things; pizza and tacos. We sat at the bar and had excellent service. My verdict on the Taco Pizza? It gets an A.
That evening we had an outdoor Jacuzzi reserved for one hour at Indian Hot Springs. The outside tub areas have a changing area and hooks for towels. It can be an intimate affair or a party with five of your closest friends. We were in Chief, which was hot (we found out later it was about 110 degrees). The tubs are filled with mineral water and while I sat with only my legs in the water most of the time, it was heaven on my feet and tight calves. I don’t run with a donkey, but I do walk every day.
The next morning, we enjoyed a soak in an indoor private bath. Guests get one free soak of their choice daily and free towels. The baths include a shower where you can wash up before and after the soak.
One of the highlights of the trip was breakfast at Main Street Restaurant. It’s located in the middle of downtown in a tiny location. I don’t know the history of the building but it feels quite historic and if you like breakfast, you will want to eat here.
The menu is a smorgasbord of breakfast items, and the number of different eggs Benedict is mind blowing. There are so many to choose from that they offer a flight, which I immediately decided that I must have. The Main Street Benedict with Maine lobster was my favorite, but every Benedict was heavenly.
Lastly, we hit up Westbound & Down for their Milder Dan Brown English Brown as we waited for the burro race to finish. We sat outside at one of their patio tables. They aren’t the only ones with outside dining. Miners Street Market kicked off downtown on Memorial Day Weekend. The market involves closing Miner Street to vehicle traffic and making it a pedestrian walkway. There is dining on the street, live music, produce vendors, a once-a-month petting zoo and more. It gives visitors another reason to visit Idaho Springs.
I am not much of a shopper, but I have to mention The Wild Grape. I adore this store and found so many things I wanted to buy, however, demonstrating a great deal of restraint, I only walked away with at a picture frame and two fridge magnets. One says, “If you want to impress me with your car, it better be a taco truck.”
Thank you to Visit Clear Creek County for hosting our stay in Idaho Springs.