Sitting at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado, Cripple Creek is a small town with a rich history and breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. The town sprung up in the late 1800s at the start of the gold rush, and the town's many museums tell the stories of this time in great detail. Visitors can take a tour of a working gold mine, but people also come to seek their fortunes in the town's gaming halls in casino. Whether you're looking to win big or simply learn about the area's history, here are the best things to do in Cripple Creek.
1.Old Homestead House Museum
© Old Homestead House Museum
Previously the best-known brothel in Cripple Creek, the Old Homestead House Museum is the only remaining former pleasure house on infamous Meyers' Avenue. Both the interior and the exterior of the building have been carefully restored to their original opulence, and an extensive collection of photographs allows visitors to see exactly how the site looked in its heyday. Guided tours give guests the chance to listen to stories about the lives of both the working girls and their elite clientele. The museum is open from June through October, and tours are offered every day between 11am and 5pm.
353 Myers Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-9090
2.Outlaws & Law Men Jail Museum
© Outlaws & Law Men Jail Museum
During the early gold rush days, the population of Cripple Creek grew from 15 to more than 50,000 in only ten years, and this incredible population boom brought its fair share of criminals and troublemakers. Today, the Outlaws & Law Men Jail Museum tells the story of these troublesome outlaws and the brave lawmen tasked with keeping them in line. Many of the original cells are still intact, so visitors can see exactly where famous offenders like Robert Curry served their time. There are also a number of exhibits that include everything from old police logs to newspaper clippings.
136 W Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813, Phone: 719-689-6556
3.The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum
© The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum
Located in the nearby town of Victor, the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum pays homage to one of the most revered broadcasters in America. Housed inside a former hardware store that dates back to 1899, the two-story museum is filled with a variety of local mining and pioneering artifacts that tell the story of Victor, beginning with its creation at the start of the gold mining era. The museum also features memorabilia that belonged to Lowell Thompson, and visitors can watch a selection of videos about the journalist's life and works. One hour of gold panning is included in the museum admission fee.
202 Victor Ave, Victor, CO 80860, Phone: 719-689-5509
4.Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
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Discovered in 1891, the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine descends 1,000 feet into the mountainside and is the only vertical shaft gold mine in the United States. Visitors will get to see exposed gold veins in their natural state, and the guides will share information about the history of the Cripple Creek Gold Camp as well as about modern day hard rock gold mining. It takes 2 minutes to descend into the mine, and tours last approximately 1 hour. Tickets can be purchased in the gift shop, and reservations are only available for groups of 25 people or more.
9388 CO-67, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-2466
5.Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
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Running between Cripple Creek and a deserted mining camp on the city’s outskirts, the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is a 2-foot heritage track that operates between mid-May and mid-October. Thanks to an informative audio narration, the scenic ride will transport visitors back to the area's old gold mining days. The track passes by a number of historical mines and over an old trestle, and the train stops at several photo spots and points of interest. The trains run every 45 minutes between 10am and 5pm, and the gift shop and ticket office open at 9:30.
520 E Carr Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-2640
6.Cripple Creek Candy & Variety
© Cripple Creek Candy & Variety
If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, there's no better place in town than Cripple Creek Candy & Variety. There's something here for everyone, including tasty homemade fudge and beautiful truffles that come in a wide range of flavors and designs. The opportunity to try the handmade candy is truly special, but there's also a selection of old-fashioned manufactured candies. It's almost impossible to leave the store without buying something for yourself, but if you're in search of a gift, the shop also sells a range of gift cards, balloons, and unique vintage packaging.
325 Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-5902
7.Cripple Creek District Museum
© Cripple Creek District Museum
The Cripple Creek District Museum has been working to preserve the town's history since 1953, and it consists of five historic buildings filled with educational exhibits. Visitors can explore four furnished living spaces, including two apartments depicting life in the Victorian era and a turn-of-the-century wooden cabin that provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of a miner during the gold rush. Souvenirs can be purchased from the gift shop, which sells everything from reproduction Victorian china to artwork done by local artists. The museum is open all year round, but hours vary according to the season.
510 Bennett Dr, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-9540
8.Bronco Billy's Casino
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Voted Best Casino by the Colorado Springs Gazette, Bronco Billy's Casino consists of three separate casinos: Bronco Billy’s, Billy’s, and Buffalo’s. All locations offer video poker, 800 state-of-the-art slot machines, and daily cash draws; guests can also participate in table games like blackjack, poker, and craps. Casino guests are also encouraged to spend a night or two at the historic Bronco Billy’s Hotel, rent out the private event space, or enjoy a meal at one of the five on-site restaurants. Reservations are recommended for the steakhouse, and live music nights with free cocktails and appetizers are held every Saturday in the lounge. Things to Do in Colorado
233 E Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-2142
9.Colorado Grande Casino
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Located in the historic Fairly-Lampman building, the Colorado Grande Casino is known for its friendly staff and intimate atmosphere. Guests can enjoy a wide range of both old and new games, including video poker, dollar reel slots, and table games such as live-action blackjack. There are also seven hotel rooms located above the casino; breakfast is included in the room rate, and qualified casino guests are sometimes eligible for a complimentary stay. Coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and other snacks can be purchased from the casino cafe, and the basement restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
300 E Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-3517
10.Cripple Creek Donkey Herd
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Donkeys were an important part of the mining industry in the early days of the gold rush era, and the Cripple Creek Donkey Herd is made up of the direct descendants of the donkeys who spent their lives making trips up and down the mountain. Miners would typically set their donkeys free when they had to leave the area, and today the donkey herd roams freely through the gold camp. To celebrate the contribution the donkeys made to the town, a donkey derby is held every June, where participants lead donkeys through an obstacle course in a race to the finish line.
11.Dynamite Dick's Dining Emporium
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Tucked away on the second level of the Midnight Rose, Dynamite Dick's Dining Emporium is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy casino. In addition to a selection of all-day breakfast items, the menu offers appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, steak and other meat entrees, and decadent desserts such as red velvet cake and stuffed cookies. The restaurant is open from 7am to 11pm, Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The dress code is informal, and there is plenty of parking nearby.
256 E Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-0303 ext. 6110
12.Gold Bar Room Theater
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Part of the Imperial Hotel, the Gold Bar Room Theater is a beloved local tradition that first began in 1946. The theater was closed in the early 1990s, but it was carefully restored in 2009 and the stage still sports the same hand-painted stage drop that it did in the 1990s. A wide range of performances take place here, including comedy nights, classical piano concerts, and historical performances about Wyatt Earp. Dinner and theater packages are available, and guests can also stay in the same hotel rooms that were once inhabited by some of the most famous guests to perform at the theater.
123 N 3rd St, Cripple Creek, CO, Phone: 719-689-2561
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13.Historical Tour of the Gold Camp
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A trip to Cripple Creek isn't complete without exploring the gold camp, and there's no better way to do it than a Historical Tour of the Gold Camp aboard one of the Cripple Creek trolleys. After meeting by the train car in the parking lot of the Cripple Creek District Museum, guests will be given a fascinating glimpse into the area's history complete with appearances by key historic figures. Tours last 1 hour and 40 minutes and take place on the first and third Saturday of every month between the beginning of June and Labor Day weekend.
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14.Imperial Hotel & Restaurant
© Imperial Hotel & Restaurant
Set inside a charming 19th century red brick building, the Imperial Hotel & Restaurant has a long history of providing accommodation for Cripple Creek's most distinguished guests. The hotel's 26 rooms have been lovingly refurbished and decorated with antiques, and although they retain their historical ambiance, they all come with their own private bathrooms and modern amenities like energy-efficient lighting. The historical kitchen has also been updated to meet current health regulations, and the hotel is proud to offer a menu of affordable Italian cuisine in a family-friendly environment. Other on-site amenities include a lively bar and a historical dinner theater.
123 N 3rd, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-2561
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Not only does it offer the largest single-level casino floor in Cripple Creek, but Wildwood Casino is also the town's only Vegas-style casino. In addition to more than 500 slot machines, the casino offers video poker and table games like blackjack, craps, and roulette. Player's Club Cards are available for free; they allow customers to collect bonus points and make them eligible for some of the casino's more exclusive giveaways and promotions. In addition to the casino floor, Wildwood also offers two casual dining options and a hotel with a free shuttle to and from the casino.
119 N Fifth St, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-244-9700
15 Best Things To Do in Cripple Creek, Colorado
- Old Homestead House Museum, Photo: Old Homestead House Museum
- Outlaws & Law Men Jail Museum, Photo: Outlaws & Law Men Jail Museum
- The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum , Photo: The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum
- Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, Photo: Courtesy of wdigital - Fotolia.com
- Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, Photo: Courtesy of Tom Oliveira - Fotolia.com
- Cripple Creek Candy & Variety, Photo: Cripple Creek Candy & Variety
- Cripple Creek District Museum, Photo: Cripple Creek District Museum
- Bronco Billy's Casino, Photo: Courtesy of Jeff - Fotolia.com
- Colorado Grande Casino, Photo: Courtesy of ipivorje - Fotolia.com
- Cripple Creek Donkey Herd, Photo: Courtesy of swkrullimaging - Fotolia.com
- Dynamite Dick's Dining Emporium, Photo: Courtesy of x4wiz - Fotolia.com
- Gold Bar Room Theater, Photo: Courtesy of JRey_Photo - Fotolia.com
- Historical Tour of the Gold Camp, Photo: Courtesy of Cmon - Fotolia.com
- Imperial Hotel & Restaurant, Photo: Imperial Hotel & Restaurant
- Wildwood Casino, Photo: Courtesy of igorkol_ter - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of teesixb - Fotolia.com