See the ‘other’ side of mountain towns

Nov 15, 2005 3:04 AM

Don’t make the mistake of passing through Colorado gambling towns without checking out some of the abundant history and museums.

Central City is home to the Gilpin County Historic Museum and Black Hawk has the Lace House, both of which are "must" visits.

With the recent completion of the Central City Parkway, it’s easier than ever to get there. It’s also only a mile from Black Hawk and therefore also easy driving distance from Denver.

Central City is more preserved than Black Hawk. It is quite refreshing if you like a break from the crowds. Central City is home to the Dostal Alley Casino & Brewpub, which serves excellent micro-brew beers. Or have a gourmet coffee at Mountain Mud Coffee & Gifts.

There is also a wonderful Candy Store and Santa Fe Central South Western gift shop. Annie Oakleys provides a convenience store for the locals and a place to get movies and food!

But it wasn’t always like this. Central City was the first town to open casinos in Colorado. Gamblers lined up outside the Historic Teller House Casino for blocks. For those who saw the rise and fall of Central City, it is bittersweet. Once in the limelight, Black Hawk has taken things back.

Nevertheless, Central City offers a variety of casinos in all shapes and sizes. A favorite with the locals is the Dostal Alley Casino. This small but wonderfully old-style casino offers only slots and video machines, but it boasts the best Italian restaurant around — and it has it’s own brewery.

For those with a taste for larger and more modern casinos, Central City houses the Fortune Valley Hotel and Casino — a 3-diamond establishment with more than a thousand slots, video poker and keno machines as well as blackjack and poker tables.

This casino has top quality restaurants, live entertainment, and a gift shop. The casino and hotel offer valet parking, and the 118 hotel rooms are equipped with stocked mini bars, in-room coffee pots and direct-dial phones with data ports. Who needs Vegas when you can have all this while surrounded by the beauty of Colorado?

Cripple Creek has a rich history and a good place to start exploring it is The Cripple Creek District Museum. Cripple Creek has lots of activities including annual gravity races plus guided mine tours, gold panning adventures, theatre and much more.

Cripple Creek has done a great job of preserving its history and its authentic old west feel. Find out about everything at its wonderful Welcome Center.