Colorado charms its visitors with its stunning landscape, from towering mountain peaks and deep canyons to its rushing rivers and vast mesas. But the state also lures in its visitors with its picturesque main streets.
Whether you’re in the mountains or near the city, there are numerous main streets that will charm even the hardest of hearts. From historic and quaint to vibrant and lavish, here are Colorado’s most charming downtown blocks.
Tucked away in a box canyon within the San Juan mountains is the legendary ski town of Telluride. While its ski resort certainly draws in the crowds, its charming downtown is easily the town’s other biggest attraction.
Telluride’s main street is also referred to as Colorado Avenue. It is probably one of the most photographed main streets in the state with its historic buildings that line the street and the iconic Ajax Peak that towers above the eastern end of town.
Colorado Avenue runs through the heart of the Telluride Historic District where visitors will find original buildings from the late 1800s with Victorian-era architecture. The downtown is a place to see and be seen with its high-end art galleries, 5-star hotels, fine dining restaurants, and boutique shops.
Best known as the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray is a picture-perfect town located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, surrounded by jagged snow-capped peaks and cascading waterfalls. Visitors come to admire its beauty, soak in its hot springs, ice climb in the winter, and walk the streets of its historic downtown to see places like the Beaumont Hotel and the Wright Opera House.
Ouray’s main street cuts through the center of town and is part of the legendary Million Dollar Highway that stretches between Silverton and Ouray. The entire street is registered as a historic district with its Victorian-era buildings converted into local shops, restaurants, and bars that visitors enjoy today.
Outdoor recreation is available directly from the main street as well. Catch the popular Perimeter Trail that follows the periphery of town from the mountains above. The trail can be caught from several parts of town but the primary starting point is at the Visitor Center at the north end of town.
Truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time with a visit to Silverton. Lying along the scenic Million Dollar Highway, Silverton is surrounded by beauty and history. Designated as a National Historic District, Silverton main street cuts through the center where visitors can quickly discover its past.
Silverton’s main street is called Green Street. The old mining town has done a great job in preserving the historic buildings along this main corridor. See iconic buildings like the Grand Imperial Hotel, the town hall, and the Mining Museum, just to name a few.
Parts of town still feel like the Wild West with unpaved dirt roads and some of the original Victorian-era houses that sprung up during its heyday. Today, visitors can find a plethora of shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels that dot the main street.
Every stop so far along the Million Dollar Highway (Ouray and Silverton) happens to have an amazing main street for you to soak in, and the southern-most is no exception. Continuing south from Silverton, on the US-550 stint of the San Juan Skyway, leads you down into historic Durango at 6500 ft.
The Animas River and US-550 run parallel with Main Avenue, one block over, which is one of the longest on our list. Stroll from north to south and you’ll finish your tour by the narrow gauge railroad the connects with Silverton. This bucket-list worthy item happens to run most of the year, so consider trips ranging from a summer loop or autumn blues fest, to a winter ride with Santa aboard the Polar Express.
Without a doubt, the most dominant structure on main street is the Strater Hotel. This giant red brick building adds to the rich past and current ambiance of the southwestern retreat. Other highlights include numerous shops, restaurants, brewpubs and attractions for all ages.
Best known for its proximity to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park and other nearby outdoor attractions, downtown Cañon City is often overlooked as a destination. Holding the claim as “country’s longest main street,” Cañon City’s downtown is listed on the National Historic Register for its abundance of turn-of-the-century architecture.
In recent years, the city has put in major efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown with major money pouring in to preserve and protect historic buildings and hotels, plus building new places of business.
Typical of most main streets in Colorado, visitors will find a plethora of shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. And because the area is known for its many prisons, a must-see is the Museum of Colorado Prisons, where the main street dead-ends at 1st Street.
Best known for its ski slopes in the winter and its colorful wildflowers in the summer, Crested Butte also draws in visitors year-round with its vibrant and historic downtown. Crested Butte’s main street, named Elk Avenue, runs through the town’s National Historic District. Its preservation of brightly-colored Victorian-style storefronts and homes is what makes Crested Butte’s main street so charming and loved by all.
Year-round, visitors can enjoy shopping, dining, an energetic nightlife, and a nice collection of art galleries along Elk Avenue. Notable stops include the Wooden Nickel (Crested Butte’s oldest saloon) for food and drinks, the Crested Butte Museum, and Kochevar’s (the oldest bar and gaming hall in town).
More than just a ski-town, Breckenridge is also home to a charming downtown well-equipped for a lively apres-ski scene. Established in 1859, Breckenridge boomed as a mining town before it became one of the country’s most favorite skiing and outdoor recreation destination.
From its boom in the mining days to the present day, Breckenridge is home to one of the largest historic districts in Colorado, including the town’s main street. Visitors today can see the area’s historic past come to life with plenty of opportunities for shopping, dining, socializing, and art ogling.
Nestled alongside the views of the Front Range, just 15 minutes northeast of Boulder, Niwot is a small town that lures visitors in with its quaint downtown. First established in 1875, Niwot is a historic town with much of what was originally built in the early 1900s still standing today.
The main street in Niwot is named Franklin Street and it is where you will find the main part of town. Here you can spend the day shopping, dining, and admiring the local art. The most noticeable pieces of art along the main drag are the left-hand sculptures. Each is uniquely painted by a local artist as part of the town’s Left Hand Chair Project.
Just north of the New Mexico border, three hours south of Denver lies the often-overlooked town of Trinidad. Once a stop along the Santa Fe Trail and home to traders and ranchers in the 1800s, Trinidad is a place where history can be experienced in town.
Visit historical landmarks like the Trinidad History Museum, a complex of three museums and historic gardens that overlook the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail. The complex includes the Baca House, Santa Fe Trail Museum, and Bloom Mansion.
Venture off Main Street to Commercial Street, a paved-over wagon trail, where you will find historical markers for the Santa Fe Trail. Observe its unique curvature and widening compared to the more modern streets later built in the city.
Trinidad is also a Certified Colorado Creative District. Named Corazon de Trinidad as the downtown creative district, which includes Main Street and Commercial Street. Attend the town’s First Friday art walk and discover local art galleries, live music, and so much more.
Beyond the walls of its art galleries, downtown Trinidad is also home to an impressive collection of Victorian architecture. Notable buildings include the Bloom Mansion, Frist National Bank of Trinidad, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, City Hall, and the Fox-West Theatre.
Parker is a large suburb 30 minutes south of downtown Denver that exudes small-town Victorian charm within its historic main street. This part of town dates back to the mid-1800s after the discovery of gold in Colorado but wasn’t officially established until 1981.
The picture-perfect main street feels quaint with a general store, coffee shop, a diner, and even a gazebo. But remains modern with local eateries, shops, art galleries, and more. But its most charming feature is the Victorian homes and buildings that can be seen throughout.
One of the most popular times to visit is during the holidays when the town goes all out with Christmas decorations. The main street is decked out with a blanket of lights and the town’s Christmas tree at the centerpiece of it all.
Just 20 minutes south of Denver is historic Littleton. With turn-of-the-century buildings and antique shops to modern eateries and bars, downtown Littleton has it all. With over 130 years of history, the downtown blends the old with the new making it one of our favorite main streets in Colorado.
Explore the 10 blocks of downtown with the main section on W Main Street from Santa Fe Drive to Rio Grande Street. They host a Frist Friday art walk, ghost tours, and a historical walking tour of downtown.
Fort Collins makes our list of Colorado’s most charming main streets for its resemblance to Disneyland’s Main Street USA, which is modeled after the downtown.
The main drag is College Avenue with Old Town just north of Old Mountain Avenue. In both areas, visitors will find an abundance of well-preserved historical buildings, shops, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and more.
But it’s not just the main street that draws in visitors, the downtowns alleyways have been given a facelift with European-style walkways featuring potted flowers, Tivoli lights, and local artwork.
Leadville is the highest incorporated city in America and is deeply rooted in its mining history, still to this day. Its colorful district and the main street are dotted with buildings built between 1880 and 1905. These historic structures include the largest opera house west of the Mississippi, a saloon visited by Oscar Wilde, and two historic churches.
Leadville’s past can also be discovered at its eight museums such as the Leadville National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, the Heritage Museum, and the Healy House Museum.
Much of the 70 square blocks that surround Harrison Avenue, the town’s main street, is designated a National Historic Landmark District due to its abundance of Victorian architecture. In addition to its history, visitors will find a plethora of art galleries, restaurants, breweries, and more.
Nestled in the heart of the Rio Grande National Forest, in south-central Colorado, lies the old mining town of Creede. The main street sits directly in the center of town with colorful historic buildings, all surrounded by sheer cliff walls making it one of Colorado’s most charming main streets.
Like many small mountain towns in Colorado, Creede was once a booming mining town in the late 1800s. Its past is still felt in the present with its historic buildings that line the main street. Visitors will find the Creede Repertory Theatre, the Creede Historical Museum, historic churches, and most of the town’s shops, restaurants, and art galleries are here as well.
One of the best parts about Creede’s main street is that you pick up many outdoor adventures right from in town. Hike local trails like the Inspiration Point Loop trail that begins and ends in town. Or hop in your car and take the scenic and historic drive along the Bachelor Gulch Loop to see the historic mining district that sits above Creede’s main street.
If you crave more, check out a few of these handsome historic districts around the Rocky Mountains. What will you discover on Colorado’s most charming main streets?