Due to COVID-19, I’m now traveling by car & working remotely in different parts of the US. My “weekend guides” are from having spent significantly longer in each place. Hopefully, these will help you plan a safe trip, even if it’s short. Read more here or follow me on Instagram.
If you’re looking for the quintessential Colorado getaway, look no further than a weekend in Georgetown.
Georgetown, Colorado checks all the boxes. It has easy access to the mountains. It’s close to ski resorts and hiking trails. And it has multiple craft breweries. Add the occasional wildlife encounter and a cozy small town, and you feel like you’re in Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. Many of the Victorian houses in Georgetown were impeccably maintained since the 1800s. It’s truly like walking through a postcard.
Oh, and the mayor of Georgetown is a dog. I’m not kidding. This town is clearly ahead of the rest of the U.S. when it comes to electing the right leaders!
I spent a month there working remotely, and pulled together a list of my favorite activities that you could squeeze into just a weekend in Georgetown.
Explore Guanella Pass by Car & Foot
Guanella Pass is a scenic byway that starts at the edge of Georgetown. It’s filled with breathtaking views, especially in the fall, when Colorado’s aspens turn their leaves. (NOTE: In the winter, Guanella Pass closes to vehicle traffic but still offers backcountry skiing).
Popular among hikers, campers, and leaf peepers alike, 22-mile Guanella Pass offers a great mix of trails and alpine lakes that allow fishing. If you’re planning a weekend in Georgetown, you must plan a morning or afternoon to explore.
The Silverdale Heritage Trail, just a few minutes into the drive, also provides a slice of the area’s mining history.
If you’ve already had some time to adapt to the elevation, you could hike Mt. Bierstadt. Bierstadt is one of Colorado’s famous “14ers,” or peaks over 14,000 feet. This isn’t recommended if you’re only in Colorado for the weekend, since you’ll likely feel like crap (based on my personal experience!) for around 24 hours after.
Otherwise, there are plenty of shorter, lower elevation hikes that can be done in the morning or early afternoon.
Important PSAs for hiking in Colorado:
- Don’t forget to bring a mask. Colorado requires masks in public spaces, and popular trails on Guanella Pass can be crowded on weekends.
- Pack out your trash. There are no trash cans in the wilderness. I can’t tell you how many pieces of trash I put in my backpack while hiking in Colorado. I started bringing a plastic bag with me on hikes for this purpose so gross trash wasn’t mixing with my stuff.
- That includes your dog’s sh*t. I was horrified by how many people left their dog’s business in plastic baggies along every trail we visited, all over the state. Seriously, why even bother bagging it if you’re going to leave it behind? Worth noting: I didn’t not put dog crap (or discarded coronavirus masks) in my bag. No one should have to pick that kind of stuff up for you. Be an adult.
- Tag responsibly. I love sharing my hikes on social media, but try to avoid tagging the specific trails, especially in the backcountry, unless they are widely and obviously known (e.g. Mt. Bierstadt). Hikes in Colorado are already overwhelmingly crowded. As you can sense from the last two bullets, they are often filled with people who care very little about conservation. The last thing you want to do is contribute to a frenzy of Instagrammers leaving a place trashed. Keep your favorite spots a secret. =)
- Don’t forget a beverage! Capping a hike with a beer became tradition during our month in Colorado. I highly recommend either packing some in your car or hitting up one of the area breweries post-hike. Oh, and of course, you should bring at least two bottles of water with you on the hike!
Hit up the Local Outdoor Breweries
Normally, I’m not a craft beer drinker. But when in Colorado, right? To recover post-hike, there are two breweries located right in Georgetown. Both are dog-friendly, offer outdoor seating and require staff and patrons to wear masks when not seated at their tables. They also both offer beer and food to-go, for those who prefer takeout.
Guanella Pass Brewery is located – not surprisingly – right near the start of the pass in downtown Georgetown. The place bills itself as “the first brewery in Georgetown since Prohibition” and serves Detroit-style pizza in addition to beer.
Cabin Creek Brewing is at the opposite end of Georgetown in a truly picturesque setting right by Georgetown Lake. Cabin Creek has a full menu of pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. We loved how far away the outside tables were from each other. In addition to better enabling social distancing, it meant our friend’s dog who doesn’t love other dogs could sit with us safely. Cabin Creek also offers menus via a QR code for sanitized ordering.
Go for a Walk, Fish, or Look for Sheep at Georgetown Lake
Before or after hitting up Cabin Creek, I recommend a walk around beautiful Georgetown Lake. The path that loops the lake is relatively flat, although there is a brief opportunity to get higher up into the mountains for those seeking an elevation gain. It’s perfect for a casual morning or early evening walk.
You’ll notice as you stroll around Georgetown Lake that tons of people are fishing. In the winter, locals told us, the lake freezes over and is a popular ice fishing spot.
There’s also an area where you can scan the mountainside for bighorn sheep. While we never saw any when we were trying, we learned they do, in fact, exist. When we were pulling out of Georgetown on our last day, they appeared by the on ramp!
Dine Outdoors at Local Restaurants During Your Weekend in Georgetown
Georgetown doesn’t have many restaurants, but the ones it does have are damn delicious. My favorite spots to prioritize if you’re visiting for a just a weekend in Georgetown are:
- Pho Bay – I was pleasantly surprised to find a Vietnamese restaurant in this tiny town, and the food did not disappoint. Family-owned Pho Bay offered “make your own” pho as well as rice/noodle plates and boba drinks. The soup was perfect for a chilly night!
- Lucha Cantina – This Mexican restaurant unfortunately burned down. But they’re still serving delicious tacos, burritos, and more from a food truck on Main Street in downtown as they work toward reopening. Make sure you support this local business and help them get back on their feet. They also offer easy online ordering and pick up!
- Cooper’s on the Creek – If you’re planning a special meal in Georgetown, Cooper’s is your spot. The menu offers more upscale options than the typical pub fare you’ll find throughout town, but they also serve some of the best burgers you’ll find. Cooper’s has outdoor seating on a heated patio overlooking the creek. Just make sure to call a few days in advance and make a reservation if you’re visiting on a weekend. This place sells out!
Day Trips If You’re Staying More than a Weekend in Georgetown
Georgetown is centrally located right off I-70 for day trips within Colorado. So if you’re staying longer than just the weekend, here were a few of my favorites.
Loveland Pass & Breckenridge
Take the scenic route to Breckenridge by taking Loveland Pass instead of I-70 the whole way. You’ll drive through the mountains for some beautiful views (the fall foliage was *on* *point*) and can even stop to take a photo at the Continental Divide.
Once in Breckenridge, skip the crowded main downtown area for outdoor lunch — where you’ll likely be met with a long wait — and head to Castaways. They offer tiki cocktails, poke bowls, and patio seating by the creek.
We also stopped for a whiskey tasting at Breckenridge Distillery. While it was indoors, they offered our group a private tasting in a very spacious barrel room with just one staff member. The woman who served us was behind plexiglass, and used reusable cups for tastings. It was actually quite fun given that it felt like we were getting an exclusive experience for free!
Biking is one of the more popular adventures in Breckenridge, and there are many bike trails. While we didn’t have time ourselves, I’d recommend the 31-mile bike ride around Lake Dillon if you’re feeling energized.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which has 42 miles of hiking trails, is about an hour from Georgetown. If you’re looking for an alternative to Guanella Pass, this is a great spot to hike with different scenery.
Hike (or drive) to Panorama Point Scenic Overlook to see 100 miles of the Continental Divide.
Be careful though, you might run into a moose!
Rocky Mountain National Park
While the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is around 1.5 hours from Georgetown, it’s worth the drive. As of Tuesday, 10/13, the park no longer requires timed entry tickets like it did when we were there.
Driving around the park, you’ll see tons of wildlife including elk and deer. But don’t forget to pack your hiking boots! There are several great trails that are worth the trek, even for just a day. RMNP seriously offered some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever encountered in the US.
Pro tip: Don’t take the shuttle to hiking trails, especially for trails that are short and likely have high turnover in the parking lot. We were told to do this, and felt pretty uncomfortable with how tightly packed the shuttles were – with no windows open. The shuttle home also took over an hour, as they had to limit riders. Just drive yourself to the trailhead and wait for a spot!
Let me know in the comments – have you spent a weekend in Georgetown, Colorado?